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Ray McGovern

Retired CIA analyst and Co-Founder, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

June 25th, 2012 7:24 PM

Asylum for Julian Assange -- Former Awardee for Integrity

(for Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence)

Holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London seeking political asylum sits Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, who has been responsible for spreading more truth around than any single journalist in recent memory. This, basically, is why he has been labeled all manner of things, including a terrorist, by several senior U.S. officials and others with acute allergies to the ground truth revealed in the WikiLeaks disclosures.

And that, basically, is why the U.S. government has been lusting to get its hands on Assange and prosecute him, stretching the provisions of the Espionage Act of 1917 well beyond its breaking point. Assange faced imminent extradition from the U.K. to Sweden and, he feared (with ample justification), on to the U.S. to face the tender mercies of what has become of American justice. Ecuador has given him sanctuary, pending a decision on his request for asylum.

Not many are aware (because the corporate media, for some reason, missed it) that at a large press conference in London on October 15, 2010, Daniel Ellsberg presented Julian Assange with the 8th annual Award for Integrity from The Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII). Last year's award was given, ex aequo, to former NSA official Thomas Drake and Jesselyn Radack, Director of National Security and Human Rights at the Government Accountability Project.

On Sunday, June 24, 2012, Sam Adams Associates delivered to the embassy of Ecuador in Washington a letter to the Hon. Nathalie Cely Suarez, Ambassadress of Ecuador to the United States, conveying an appeal to her government to approve Julian Assange's request for political asylum.

The letter is posted below, together with the texts of the following enclosures:

-The citation for the October 15, 2012 Integrity Award to Julian Assange;

-An Information Sheet about Sam Adams Associates (including a list of annual recipients);

-WikiLeaks and 9/11: What If?   Op-ed in Los Angeles Times, October 15, 2010 (published just eight days before Assange received the SAAII award).

****

Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence

June 24, 2010
Hon. Nathalie Cely Suarez
Ambassadress of Ecuador to the United States of America

Dear Ms. Ambassadress:

This is an urgent request from Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (SAAII) that the government of Ecuador grant political asylum to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.

By publishing on the WikiLeaks Website key material normally hidden from public view, Julian Assange has contributed immeasurably to real history at this time of unprecedented government secrecy and hunts after those who dare spread truth around. As you are no doubt aware, much good has come from WikiLeaks disclosures. The benefits run from the light they shine on manipulation of media, police, and intelligence forces and the atrocities of war, to the inspiration that helped catalyze the Arab spring in Tunisia and Egypt.

Two of our SAAII members have made a persuasive case that the seminal event of our times -- the attacks of September 11, 2001 -- might have been prevented had WikiLeaks been available to whistleblowers at the time. Coleen Rowley (an attorney with the FBI) and Bogdan Dzakovic of the Federal Aviation Administration, in a little-noticed Los Angeles Times op-ed of October 15, 2010, make that sad but telling point. The authors write that FBI and FAA agents, frustrated by their ossified bureaucracies, might well have used WikiLeaks to make public their anxious warnings about missed opportunities for investigation, and serious vulnerabilities at airports to impending attack.

Digesting the WikiLeaks disclosures at a time when so-called "mainstream" media have largely abdicated their watchdog role as the Fourth Estate, and knowing first-hand the courage it took on Julian Assange's and WikiLeaks' part to expose the dishonesty and crimes of the powerful, the SAAII nominating committee selected Julian Assange for our annual award for integrity in 2010. SAAII member Daniel Ellsberg presented the award to him in London on October 15, 2010.

Except for Julian Assange, only one of the other nine annual award recipients to date was imprisoned as a result of disclosures -- in this case, about bogus intelligence before the attack on Iraq in 2003. He is Danish Army Major Frank Grevil, an intelligence analyst who was jailed for giving the Danish press documents showing that then-Denmark's Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen disregarded Danish intelligence warnings that there was no authentic evidence of WMD in Iraq. Aping former-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld just before the war, Rasmussen declared: "Iraq has WMDs. It is not something we think; it is something we know." (Yes, this is the same Rasmussen who is now Secretary General of NATO.)

That Dane was performing tricks taught by Washington. Truth-teller Grevil blew the whistle and paid the price. It appears that the U.S. expects President Correa to roll over in a similar way. This could be seen in a long editorial on June 20 in the Establishment's mouthpiece, the Washington Post. The editors made an undisguised threat of serious economic retaliation: "If Mr. Correa seeks to appoint himself America's chief Latin American enemy and Julian Assange's protector [before Congress decides on trade preferences], it's not hard to imagine the outcome."

It is an open secret that Establishment Washington is lusting to get Julian Assange to the U.S. and try him for espionage, no less. What a wonderful boon that would be for the re-election prospects of President Barack Obama, who is trying hard to appear tough. First taking out Osama bin-Laden -- and now Julian Assange! An automatic four more years, is the way White House strategists would see it. And, if he were sent to Sweden, there is every reason to expect the Swedes, based on recent past performance, to hand him over to Washington.

Little attention has been given to Assange's repeated offers to make himself available for questioning during almost five weeks in Sweden and at the Swedish embassy in London and Scotland Yard under conditions foreseen and set down for such cases in a treaty between Sweden and the UK.

We believe it reasonable to assume that Assange would similarly be willing to submit himself to such questioning at your embassy in London. Why the Swedes have resisted questioning him, either in Sweden or in London, but rather insisted he be extradited, before even being questioned, much less charged, feeds suspicion that they are dancing to Washington's baton.

For many of us, Monsenor Romero put it correctly in reminding us to speak out for Justice: "Ser cristiano hoy en dia significa no temer, no callar por miedo."

And so we choose not to remain silent. We are convinced not only that your President and his advisers will know the right thing to do, but that they will have the courage to do it.

Thank you for your help in passing this along to your government.

Respectfully,

/s/

Raymond L. McGovern (for Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence)
703-994-1459 (mobile phone)

Enclosures

-SAAII citation for 2010 integrity award to Julian Assange

-WikiLeaks and 9/11: What if? Los Angeles Times, October 15, 2010

-Information Sheet: Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence (with list of annual recipients)

ENCLOSURE A

Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence Award for 2010 to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks

It seems altogether fitting and proper that this year's award be presented in London, where Edmund Burke coined the expression "Fourth Estate." Comparing the function of the press to that of the three Houses then in Parliament, Burke said: "... but in the Reporters Gallery yonder, there sits a Fourth Estate more important far than they all."

The year was 1787 -- the year the U.S. Constitution was adopted. The First Amendment, approved four years later, aimed at ensuring that the press would be free of government interference. That was then.

With the Fourth Estate now on life support, there is a high premium on the fledgling Fifth Estate, which uses the ether and is not susceptible of government or corporation control. Small wonder that governments with lots to hide feel very threatened.

It has been said: "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." WikiLeaks is helping make that possible by publishing documents that do not lie.

Last spring, when we chose WikiLeaks and Julian Assange for this award, Julian said he would accept only "on behalf or our sources, without which WikiLeaks' contributions are of no significance."

We do not know if Pvt. Bradley Manning gave WikiLeaks the gun-barrel video of July 12, 2007 called "Collateral Murder."   Whoever did provide that graphic footage, showing the brutality of the celebrated "surge" in Iraq, was certainly far more a patriot than the "mainstream" journalist embedded in that same Army unit. He suppressed what happened in Baghdad that day, dismissed it as simply "one bad day in a surge that was filled with such days," and then had the temerity to lavish praise on the unit in a book he called "The Good Soldiers."

Julian is right to emphasize that the world is deeply indebted to patriotic truth-tellers like the sources who provided the gun-barrel footage and the many documents on Afghanistan and Iraq to WikiLeaks. We hope to have a chance to honor them in person in the future.

Today we honor WikiLeaks and one of its leaders, Julian Assange, for their ingenuity in creating a new highway by which important documentary evidence can make its way, quickly and confidentially, through the ether and into our in-boxes.   Long live the Fifth Estate!

Presented this 23rd day of October 2010 in London, England by admirers of the example set by former CIA analyst, Sam Adams.

ENCLOSURE B

Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence

Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence is a movement of former CIA colleagues and other associates of former intelligence analyst Sam Adams, who hold up his example as a model for those in intelligence who would aspire to the courage to speak truth to power. In honoring his memory, SAAII confers an award each year to a person exemplifying Sam Adam's courage, persistence, and devotion to truth -- no matter the consequences.

It was Adams who discovered in 1967 that there were more than a half-million Vietnamese Communists under arms -- roughly twice the number that the U.S. command in Saigon would admit to, lest Americans learn that claims of "progress" were bogus. As proven later in court, Gen. William Westmoreland had put an artificial limit on the number Army intelligence was allowed to carry on its books. The reason? His deputy, Gen. Creighton Abrams put it down in writing -- letting the cat out of the bag.

A SECRET/EYES ONLY cable from Abrams on August 20, 1967 stated: "We have been projecting an image of success over recent months," and cautioned that if the higher figures became public, "all available caveats and explanations will not prevent the press from drawing an erroneous and gloomy conclusion."

The Communist countrywide offensive during Tet (January/February 1968) made it clear that the generals had been lying and that Sam Adams' higher figures were correct. Senior intelligence officials were aware of the deception, but lacked the courage to stand up to Westmoreland. Still, Sam remained reluctant to go "outside channels."  

A few weeks after Tet, however, Daniel Ellsberg rose to the occasion. Dan learned that Westmoreland was asking for 206,000 more troops to widen the war into Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam -- right up to the border with China, and perhaps beyond. Someone else promptly leaked to the New York Times Westmoreland's troop request, emboldening Ellsberg to do likewise with Sam Adams' story. Dan had come to the view that leaking truth about a deceitful war would be a "patriotic and constructive act." It was his first unauthorized disclosure. On March 19, 1968 the Times published a stinging story based on Adams' figures.

On March 25, President Johnson complained to a small gathering, "The leaks to the New York Times hurt us...We have no support for the war. This is caused by the 206,000 troop request [by Westmoreland] and the leaks. I would have given Westy the 206,000 men." On March 31, 1968, Johnson introduced a bombing pause, opted for negotiations, and announced that he would not run for another term in November.

Sam Adams continued to press for honesty but stayed "inside channels," and failed. He died at 55 of a heart attack, nagged by the thought that, had he gone to the media, thousands of lives might have been saved. His story is told in War of Numbers, published posthumously.

The annual Sam Adams Award has been given in previous years to truth-tellers Coleen Rowley of the FBI; Katharine Gun of British Intelligence; Sibel Edmonds of the FBI; Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan; Sam Provance; former US Army Sgt; Maj. Frank Grevil of Danish Army Intelligence; Larry Wilkerson, Col., US Army (ret.), former chief of staff to Colin Powell at State; Julian Assange, of WikiLeaks; and (ex aequo) to Thomas Drake former senior official of NSA, and Jesselyn Radack, Director of National Security and Human Rights, Government Accountability Project.


ENCLOSURE C

October 15, 2010

Author: Coleen Rowley, Bogdan Dzakovic

Source: Los Angeles Times

Category: COMMENTARY

WikiLeaks and 9/11: What If?

If WikiLeaks had been around in 2001, could the events of 9/11 have been prevented? The idea is worth considering.

The organization has drawn both high praise and searing criticism for its mission of publishing leaked documents without revealing their source, but we suspect the world hasn't yet fully seen its potential. Let us explain.

There were a lot of us in the run-up to Sept. 11 who had seen warning signs that something devastating might be in the planning stages. But we worked for ossified bureaucracies incapable of acting quickly and decisively. Lately, the two of us have been wondering how things might have been different if there had been a quick, confidential way to get information out.

One of us, Coleen Rowley, was a special agent/legal counsel at the FBI's Minneapolis division and worked closely with those who arrested would-be terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui on an immigration violation less than a month before the World Trade Center was destroyed.

Following up on a tip from flight school instructors who had become suspicious of the French Moroccan who claimed to want to fly a jet as an "ego boost," Special Agent Harry Samit and an INS colleague had detained Moussaoui. A foreign intelligence service promptly reported that he had connections with a foreign terrorist group, but FBI officials in Washington inexplicably turned down Samit's request for authority to search Moussaoui's laptop computer and personal effects.

Those same officials stonewalled Samit's supervisor, who pleaded with them in late August 2001 that he was "trying to keep someone from taking a plane and crashing into the World Trade Center." (Yes, he was that explicit.) Later, testifying at Moussaoui's trial, Samit testified that he believed the behavior of his FBI superiors in Washington constituted "criminal negligence."

The 9/11 Commission ultimately concluded that Moussaoui was most likely being primed as a Sept. 11 replacement pilot and that the hijackers probably would have postponed their strike if information about his arrest had been announced.

WikiLeaks might have provided a pressure valve for those agents who were terribly worried about what might happen and frustrated by their superiors' seeming indifference. They were indeed stuck in a perplexing, no-win ethical dilemma as time ticked away. Their bosses issued continual warnings against "talking to the media" and frowned on whistle-blowing, yet the agents felt a strong need to protect the public.

The other one of us writing this piece, Federal Air Marshal Bogdan Dzakovic, once co-led the Federal Aviation Administration's Red Team to probe for vulnerabilities in airport security. He also has a story of how warnings were ignored in the run-up to Sept. 11. In repeated tests of security, his team found weaknesses nine out of 10 times that would make it possible for hijackers to smuggle weapons aboard and seize control of airplanes. But the team's reports were ignored and suppressed, and the team was shut down entirely after 9/11.

In testimony to the 9/11 Commission, Dzakovic summed up his experience this way: "The Red Team was extraordinarily successful in killing large numbers of innocent people in the simulated attacks [and yet] we were ordered not to write up our reports and not to retest airports where we found particularly egregious vulnerabilities. Finally, the FAA started providing advance notification of when we would be conducting our 'undercover' tests and what we would be checking." 

The commission included none of Dzakovic's testimony in its report.

Looking back, Dzakovic believes that if WikiLeaks had existed at the time, he would have gone to it as a last resort to highlight what he knew were serious vulnerabilities that were being ignored.

The 9/11 Commission concluded, correctly in our opinion, that the failure to share information within and between government agencies -- and with the media and the public -- led to an overall failure to "connect the dots."

Many government careerists are risk-averse. They avoid making waves and, when calamity strikes, are more concerned with protecting themselves than with figuring out what went wrong and correcting it.

Decisions to speak out inside or outside one's chain of command -- let alone to be seen as a whistle-blower or leaker of information -- is fraught with ethical and legal questions and can never be undertaken lightly. But there are times when it must be considered. Official channels for whistle-blower protections have long proved illusory. In the past, some government employees have gone to the media, but that can't be done fully anonymously, and it also puts reporters at risk of being sent to jail for refusing to reveal their sources. For all of these reasons, WikiLeaks provides a crucial safety valve.

***
Coleen Rowley, a FBI special agent for more than 20 years, was legal counsel to the FBI field office in Minneapolis from 1990 to 2003. Bogdan Dzakovic was a special agent for the FAA's security division. He filed a formal whistle-blower disclosure against the FAA for ignoring the vulnerabilities documented by the Red Team. For the past nine years he has been relegated to entry-level staff work for the Transportation Security Administration.

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