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The Pronk Pops Show 1265, May 28, 2019, Story 1: President Trump Trying To Stop Nuclear Arms Race and Nuclear Proliferation In Far East and Middle East — Videos — Story 2:  Japan to Buy 105 F-35 Fighters From United States —  Japan converting Izumo-class into full-fledged aircraft carriers capable of launching the F-35B (Short takeoffs and vertical landings (STOVL) variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter ) — U.S./Japan Trade Deal By August with Japan Possible — Videos — Story 3: Trump Agrees With Chairman Kim — Biden Low IQ — Crowd Resistant Boring Biden Goes Into Hiding For Now — Joe Can Hide But Can He Win? No — Videos — Trump Agrees With Chairman Kim — Biden Low IQ — Crowd Resistant Boring Biden Goes Into Hiding For Now — Joe Can Hide But Can He Win? No — Videos — Story 4: Do Not Panic — Recession Warning or Economic Growth? — U.S. Steady Economic Growth Ahead — 3% Plus — Videos —

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Pronk Pops Show 1265 May 28, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1259 May 16, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1247 April 30, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1232 April 1, 2019 Part 2

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Pronk Pops Show 1209 February 15, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1206 February 12, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1205 February 11, 2019

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Story 1: President Trump Trying To Stop Nuclear Arms Race and Proliferation In Far East and Middle East Linked To Trade Agreement with China –Videos —

Trump wants Iran to agree on no nuclear weapon and that is all, nice attitude

Donald Trump: We will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons

Trump Dismisses Concerns About North Korea Missile Launches

Trump dismisses North Korean tests of ‘some small weapons’

Donald Trump: We will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons

Trump-Kim summit: How did North Korea build the bomb? | Asian Century | Full episode

Untangling the U.S. – China Narrative: Technology, Trade, and Tensions

May 20, 2019 — In partnership with the Committee of 100, speakers from all sectors come together for a lively discussion about the current state of U.S.-China relations. Speakers included Andy Rothman from Matthews Asia and a member of the Asia Society Northern California Advisory Board; Victor Wang with CEG Ventures; Buck Gee, co-founding board member of the Chinese American Community Foundation and member of both C100 and the Asia Society Northern California Advisory Board; and Mark Cohen, director at the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology Asian IP Project. The discussion was moderated by Frank H. Wu, president of Committee of 100, and featured opening remarks by Kenneth P. Wilcox, chair of Asia Society Northern California Advisory Board. (1 hr., 24 mins)

 

Story 2:  Japan to Buy 105 F-35 Fighters From United States —  Japan converting Izumo-class into full-fledged aircraft carriers capable of launching the F-35B (Short takeoffs and vertical landings (STOVL) variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter ) — U.S./Japan Trade Deal By August with Japan Possible — Videos

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Japan: Trump agrees with Kim Jong-un that Biden ‘probably’ has low IQ

Trump, Abe at odds over North Korean missile tests | FULL press conference

Abe, Trump Arrive at Japanese Naval Base

Trump inspects Japan’s largest warship as he concludes four-day visit

US President Donald Trump inspected Japan’s largest warship with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on May 28. According to the Japanese Defense Ministry, Mr Trump was the first US President to embark a Japanese destroyer.

 

Japan to buy 105 F-35 U.S. stealth warplanes: Trump

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Japan plans to buy 105 U.S.-made stealth warplanes, Donald Trump said on Monday, which the U.S. President said would give Tokyo the largest F35 fleet of any US ally.

Trump, in Tokyo for a state visit, said Japan “has just announced its intent to purchase 105 brand new F35 stealth aircraft. Stealth, because, the fact is you can’t see them.”

“This purchase would give Japan the largest F35 fleet of any U.S. ally,” added the president.

Trump appeared to be referencing a deal first announced by the F35’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, in December.

Japan’s government announced in its latest defense budget in December plans to buy 105 units of the F35A, which performs conventional take-off and landings.

Local media said at the time that the purchases could total more than one trillion yen ($9.1 billion).

The White House could not immediately comment on the timing of Trump’s comments about the deal Monday.

https://japantoday.com/category/politics/japan-to-buy-105-f-35-us-stealth-warplanes-trump

 

Trump Tours Japan’s Izumo-Class Carrier Hailing its Future F-35B Capability

Donald Trump today became the first U.S. president to board the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (JMSDF) largest flattop, the Izumo-class helicopter carrier JS Kaga, at the Yokosuka naval base south of Tokyo wrapping up the U.S. president’s four-day state visit to Japan.

Together with his Japanese counterpart, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump toured Japan’s largest warship on May 28 to demonstrate the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance and to “send a message to China,” according to a Japanese government source. Trump and Abe were accompanied by their wives during the inspection.

Abe and Trump addressed a group of about 500 U.S. and Japanese military personnel gathered in the hanger of the JS Kaga. “This is the first time the leaders of Japan and the United States have visited together to extend their encouragement to the SDF [Self Defense Force] and U.S. military,” Abe said. “The fact that we are both standing here today is evidence of the strength of the Japan-U.S. alliance.”

Abe also talked about the JMSDF flattop’s recent operational history. “The JS Kaga sailed through a vast area from the western Pacific through the Indian Ocean last year, to deepen the cooperation with navies of regional partners in close coordination with the U.S. Navy,” the prime minister said.

“Our mission is to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific, and to establish a foundation for regional peace and prosperity.” The JS Kaga’s sister ship, the JMSDF helicopter carrier JS Izumoconducted a number of naval exercises with allies and regional partners in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea.

Hailing the U.S.-Japanese alliance as “an incredible partnership,” the U.S. president in his speech on the carrier’s hangar deck noted that “this is the only port in the world where a U.S. Naval fleet and an Allied Naval fleet are working side by side with each other.”

Trump in his speech, also referenced the conversion of the Izumo-class into full-fledged aircraft carriers capable of launching the F-35B, the vertical or short takeoffs and vertical landings (STOVL) variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, as well as Japan’s decision to procure an extra 105 F-35s from the United States.

“Soon this very ship will be upgraded to carry this cutting-edge aircraft, Trump said. “With this extraordinary new equipment, the Kaga will help our nations defend against a range of complex threats in the region and far beyond.”

Notably, the U.S. president was expected to board the JS Kaga’s sister ship, the first-of-class JS Izumo during a state visit to Japan in October 2017. However, the visit did not take place.

Trump on May 28 also visited the nearby U.S. Yokosuka Naval Base, where he boarded the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Wasp. The USS Wasp is the size of a small aircraft carrier and can carry around 31 aircraft including the F-35B. In a speech in front of around 800 U.S. servicemen and women, whom the president called “daring and mighty warriors in the Pacific,” he emphasized the need for additional guided-missile destroyers,  submarines and F-35s.

Yokosuka is home to the headquarters of the JMSDF and also the home port of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, the largest of the U.S. Navy’s forward deployed fleets and consists of around 50-70 ships and submarines and around 20,000 sailors.

The president and the first lady of the United States, Melania Trump, were Japan’s first state guests in the new imperial era “Reiwa” following Emperor Naruhito’s ascension to the throne on May 1.

https://thediplomat.com/2019/05/trump-tours-japans-izumo-class-carrier-hailing-its-future-f-35b-capability/

Japan’s plan to remodel Izumo-class carriers: Needed upgrade or mere show of force?

BY REIJI YOSHIDA

STAFF WRITER

On April 30, the Izumo helicopter carrier — one of Japan’s two largest and arguably most controversial naval vessels — set off for a three-month deployment and this month it conducted two quadrilateral naval exercises over a two-week span — first in the South China Sea and then in the Indian Ocean.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump are scheduled to inspect the Kaga — the other vessel in the Izumo-class — in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.

On top of that, “Aircraft Carrier Ibuki,” a military thriller based on a manga series of the same name featuring a fictitious, though strikingly similar vessel to the Izumo ships, hits theaters on Friday.

The helicopter carrier Izumo is docked at the Maritime Self-Defense Force base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in March. | REIJI YOSHIDA
The helicopter carrier Izumo is docked at the Maritime Self-Defense Force base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in March. | REIJI YOSHIDA

The rising profile of the 19,500-ton flat-topped helicopter carriers is perhaps a reflection of the increasing awareness of the ministry’s future plans for the vessels: Their conversion into de facto aircraft carriers with the apparent purpose of keeping China in check.

Last December, the Abe administration included plans to remodel its Izumo-class vessels so they can carry F-35B stealth fighters under the National Defense Guidelines and Medium-Term Defense Program.

Since their development nearly a decade ago, speculation had swirled among the defense community that the Izumo ships could eventually be upgraded to accommodate fixed-wing aircraft to effectively become aircraft carriers — a type of vessel that has long been taboo in Japan’s postwar defense posture.

But along with raising questions over whether the Izumo’s upgrade will remain within the confines of the country’s long-standing “exclusively defense-oriented policy,” there seems to be a lack of consensus about the exact role that’s being plotted for the upgraded ships, aside from countering China.

A response to China

It is widely believed the Izumo was developed in large part in response to China’s increasing maritime assertiveness, though the Defense Ministry hasn’t publicly admitted as much, likely due to diplomatic considerations.

But in an interview with The Japan Times last month, a senior Defense Ministry official bluntly laid out the goal for the Izumo upgrades.

The official pointed to a chart depicting where Chinese warships, submarines and military aircraft repeatedly advanced into the Western Pacific, crossing the waters between Okinawa and Miyako Island, in 2017 and 2018.

The 19,500-ton Izumo, seen in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in March, cost around ¥120 billion to build and along with its sister ship, the Kaga, is the Self-Defense Forces' largest ship.
The 19,500-ton Izumo, seen in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in March, cost around ¥120 billion to build and along with its sister ship, the Kaga, is the Self-Defense Forces’ largest ship. | REIJI YOSHIDA

China’s emerging military presence in the Western Pacific — with forces that now include the aircraft carrier Liaoning, which is capable of carrying J-15 fighters — is a key reason Japan plans to upgrade the Izumo-class ships to allow them to carry F-35B stealth fighters, the senior Defense Ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“We won’t publicly name any country, but the fact is that the Chinese navy has frequently made incursions into the Pacific Ocean by passing through the Miyako Strait,” the official said. “They’ve become increasingly active (in the Pacific) over the past five years.”

The Miyako Strait is regarded as a critical “choke point” among military analysts that the Chinese Navy must pass through if it ever wants to advance into the Pacific from coastal areas and become a full-fledged “blue-water” navy capable of sustained operations in open water.

The Constitution controversy

The Izumo modification plan, however, immediately caused a stir and drew mixed reactions from politicians and former MSDF brass.

Opposition lawmakers criticized the plan, arguing it would exceed the scope of military power the country is entitled to under the war-renouncing Constitution.

During an Upper House budget committee session in early February, Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Satoshi Inoue cited the top law in his criticism of the plan: “If the Izumo carries fighter planes, it would allow Japan to be able to stage an overwhelming attack from anywhere on the sea, wouldn’t it?”

In response, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya argued that the upgraded Izumo-class vessels will not be designed for “the mass destruction of another country” and therefore they will be constitutional.

A U.S. F-35B stealth fighter flies above the USS Wasp in the Pacific Ocean in March 2018. | KYODO
A U.S. F-35B stealth fighter flies above the USS Wasp in the Pacific Ocean in March 2018. | KYODO

The Constitution has long been interpreted as banning Japan from owning any military power exceeding “the minimum required force” needed for self-defense. Since World War II, Japan has pledged not to own “offensive air carriers,” saying it would be beyond its exclusively defense-oriented posture.

But opponents of the plan argue the upgrade to the Izumo ships will allow the SDF to acquire offensive capabilities.

In the face of that criticism, the Defense Ministry refuses to refer to the to-be-revamped Izumo ships as aircraft carriers, instead saying they would each serve as a “multirole operation vessel.” The ministry insists they would not regularly carry fixed-wing fighters and would also be used for missions including anti-submarine and rescue operations.

Battle-ready or not?

Meanwhile, senior Defense Ministry officials and former MSDF officers are confused about the plan’s operational objectives.

A key question is whether upgraded Izumo-class vessels can actually be deployed for practical combat operations, or if the objective is to mainly showcase the country’s military presence.

That is because typically, an effective aircraft carrier fleet requires a rotation of more than three such vessels. “Usually you would need at least three vessels; one for actual deployment, one for training and one docked for maintenance,” a senior Defense Ministry official said.

Japan has no current plans to build more Izumo-class ships, which can cost as much as ¥120 billion each.

So if it has only one aircraft carrier on standby, the vessels would merely end up being ships to show off the “presence” of Japan’s naval force, the official said.

The Izumo is docked in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in March. The ship, whose air-traffic control cabin is pictured here, currently serves as a helicopter carrier, but there are plans to remodel the vessel so it can accommodate F-35B stealth fighters.
The Izumo is docked in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in March. The ship, whose air-traffic control cabin is pictured here, currently serves as a helicopter carrier, but there are plans to remodel the vessel so it can accommodate F-35B stealth fighters. | REIJI YOSHIDA

Japan would need at least four Izumo vessels if they were to be used as aircraft carriers in real naval combat operations, said Toshiyuki Ito, a retired MSDF vice admiral who is now a professor at Kanazawa Institute of Technology Toranomon Graduate School in Tokyo.

“If you only have two vessels, you can only use them for training personnel for taking off and landing operations,” Ito said. “So this plan doesn’t make sense for MSDF officers, frankly speaking.”

Ito also pointed out that MSDF officers would usually envision using an aircraft carrier of this class for fleet air defense. But a remodeled Izumo-class vessel is only capable of carrying about 10 F-35B fighters, which Ito says is too small a number to provide effective and adequate air defense for a naval fleet.

Because Japan would need more Izumo-class vessels and for those ships to be able to carry more fighter jets in order to be useful in combat operations, Ito concluded that the Izumo upgrade plan is not intended for actual naval combat, but merely to “send a message to China.”

“In 10 or 15 years, China will have four aircraft carriers and two of them could cruise around the Pacific Ocean right south of Japan, for example,” Ito said.

A political decision

Retired Vice Adm. Yoji Koda, former commander of a MSDF fleet, argued that the biggest problem regarding the Izumo’s upgrade is that the Defense Ministry made the decision without having military experts conduct sufficiently detailed naval combat simulations.

“A defense build-up program must be based on the assumption that those (weapons) can actually be used in an emergency situation,” Koda said. “Just showing off (a military presence) is not a legitimate way of thinking.”

In fact, in announcing the new National Defense Guidelines last December, Iwaya, the defense minister, admitted that the Izumo conversion plan was not based on requests or proposals from Self-Defense Forces leaders, but was adopted based on a top-down decision among high-ranking government officials.

“This way of thinking was not formed because of specific needs or requests from the MSDF or Air Self-Defense Force. We reached this conclusion after conducting studies from defense policy perspectives,” Iwaya told reporters.

Koda, like Ito, argued that Japan needs aircraft carriers capable of defending an MSDF fleet — but also noted that the government must be clear and transparent about the purpose of introducing such vessels if and when it intends to do so.

A helicopter sits inside the internal hangar of the Izumo at the Maritime Self-Defense Force base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in March.
A helicopter sits inside the internal hangar of the Izumo at the Maritime Self-Defense Force base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in March.

And is Japan getting enough bang for its buck by upgrading the Izumo class? The cost not only includes the upgrading fees for the ships; it also involves procurement fees for the F-35Bs, as well as training dozens of ASDF fighter pilots to be able to fly the state-of-the-art stealth fighters.

In December, the government decided to procure 147 F-35 stealth fighters, 42 of which are now expected to be F-35Bs capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings.

The remaining 105 will be land-based F-35A jet fighters for the ASDF. Each F-35A fighter costs more than ¥10 billion, and the procurement plan for F-35As and F-35Bs is likely to exceed ¥1 trillion.

The MSDF has been suffering from a chronic personnel shortage due to its tough working conditions and long periods of deployment, Ito said. Recruitment is expected to become a bigger headache as the nation’s population continues to shrink. “What the MSDF really needs is more investment to build smaller ships that require fewer personnel (to operate),” Ito said.

“I had hoped that the government would allocate more budget to address personnel issues, but that ship has sailed.”

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/05/23/national/izumo-needed-upgrade-mere-show-force/#.XO3GW66nGUk

Story 3: Trump Agrees With Chairman Kim — Biden Low IQ — Crowd Resistant Boring Biden Goes Into Hiding For Now — Joe Can Hide But Can He Win? No — Videos — Trump Agrees With Chairman Kim — Biden Low IQ — Crowd Resistant Boring Biden Goes Into Hiding For Now — Joe Can Hide But Can He Win? No — Videos —

Joe: You Don’t Attack A Former VP On Foreign Soil | Morning Joe | MSNBC

Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally in Philadelphia

Joe Biden Slams Trump as ‘Divider In Chief’ at Philadelphia Rally

Joe Biden Kicks Off Campaign With First Rally in Pittsburgh

Biden supporters line up for first campaign rally

Small Crowd Greets Creepy Joe Biden

 

Joe Biden is the front-runner by every measure — except big crowds

The former veep is leading the Democratic field in all the important categories except one.

He’s dominating in the polls, his fundraising is going gangbusters and he’s showing broad support from key political players in the early presidential states.

So where are the big energetic crowds, the lines around the block to get into Joe Biden’s events?

The question is no small matter in a party still recovering from a bitter 2016 defeat — a loss marked by a lack of enthusiasm for an establishment nominee in several critical states.

Attendance at the former vice president’s launch rally paled next to some of his rivals. In his first Iowa visit, he didn’t match the crowds that greeted Elizabeth Warren or even the less well-known Pete Buttigieg in their initial visits. So far, he’s kept his events to smaller venues where there’s little danger of empty seats.

In the eyes of Biden’s progressive critics — as well as President Donald Trump, who has publicly mocked him for it — the seeming lack of excitement or teeming masses at his events is a leading indicator of a lack of passion for his candidacy.

“I started to think the polls were wrong about Biden because it’s not what we’re seeing on the ground,” said Aimee Allison, founder and president of She the People, a national network devoted to promoting women of color.

“Inspiration is the X-factor and we’re waiting for the inspiration from Biden,” she said. “When the inspiration isn’t there, the turnout from the core of the Democratic base — women of color — isn’t there. And then we lose.”

To Biden’s campaign, attendance figures are a meaningless metric. Focusing on crowd size is Trump’s game, it says, an emphasis on style over substance that attempts to turn audience engagement into an argument about the 76-year-old Biden’s energy level.

Crowd size, after all, is an imperfect metric to measure a campaign’s vitality. While it can be a revealing indicator, it still lacks the scientific underpinning of polling or the fixed-dollar figures associated with fundraising. Nor does it account for the judgment of elected and influential Democrats across the country.

Just as critics doubted Biden’s popularity before he got in the race, his campaign is confident he’ll have the crowds when he needs them.

“We’re seeing enormous enthusiasm for Joe Biden’s candidacy across the country, beginning the very first day of the campaign when he got over 100,000 contributions — 65,000 of which were brand new to our lists — from all 50 states,” said Biden campaign spokesman T.J. Ducklo.

Even so, since announcing his candidacy more than a month ago, Biden has yet to draw anything near the 20,000 people who showed in Oakland to cheer on Kamala Harris when she announced, or the 13,000 who turned out in Brooklyn for Bernie Sanders’ launch.

Last Saturday, when Biden held a rally for his headquarters’ opening in Philadelphia, his campaign estimated the crowd size was 6,000 — a count thatsome local observers thought might be generous. One local elected Democrat who supports Biden privately told POLITICO the rally was smaller and less energetic than expected.

The event fell far short of the size his surrogates predicted in one of the nation’s largest Democratic cities. Just before Biden formally announced his candidacy last month, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who helped organize a fundraiser for Biden, had loftier expectations.

“He’s enormously popular here,” Rendell, a former Philadelphia mayor, said in a late April interview. “We could get tens and tens of thousands of people … For one rally, I think we could do that.”

The crowd size was similar to what President Barack Obama drew at a 2016 rally for Hillary Clinton at the same venue. As a candidate, however, in April 2008, some 35,000 people flooded Independence Mall to see Obama — before he was the nominee.

Trump — for whom crowd size borders on obsession — seized on Biden’s Philadelphia launch, mocking the former vice president two days later at a rival Pennsylvania speech in which he exaggerated the smallness of the crowd.

“We have thousands of people … look at the thousands and thousands of people we have,” Trump said at a Montoursville rally, for which his campaign declined to release an estimated crowd count. “They said [Biden] had 600 people … I’d say 150.”

It’s not the first time Trump has needled Biden over crowd sizes. In 2018, when the president and Biden held dueling Nevada rallies in the homestretch of the midterm campaign — and Trump’s Elko rally had more attendees than Biden’s Las Vegas rally — Trump used the occasion to point to Biden’s prior presidential race defeat and joked that Biden “was thrilled that’s one of the biggest crowds he’s ever had.”

It’s not just the size of Biden’s events that are modest, he’s also holding far fewer of them than his primary competitors. Since his launch, he’s visited Iowa only once. And while Democrats crisscrossed early presidential primary states during the long Memorial Day weekend, Biden took it off. (On Tuesday, he travels to Houston where he and his wife, Jill, will join an American Federation of Teachers town hall.)

There are signs that the theme could become more prominent as the campaign progresses. One of the president’s top surrogates, Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, said Biden won’t have the energy to campaign full time once he gets off “the French workweek campaign schedule” that the Democrat is currently on.

“He wants to make America bored again. It’s like he wants to put his audience to sleep,” Gaetz said.

“Trump’s rallies are big and raucous and enthusiastic. And the reason that matters is that in today’s politics, people want to be part of something,” Gaetz said. “Joe Biden’s rallies looks like an event where you would give a gold watch to the Democrat for a lifetime of service.”

James Carville, one of the masterminds behind Bill Clinton’s campaigns for president, said those criticisms miss an essential point about the kind of no-frills-no-thrills campaign he is running.

“He’s never been a candidate who has run on excitement. He has run on ‘you can trust me. I’m a good guy. My heart is in the right place. I’m human. You know me. I’m well-liked,’” Carville said. “Their theory of the case is people are tired of the circus. And it takes an experienced hand to settle everything down to get us back to some era of sanity.”

To that end, some Democrats say Biden’s sometimes listless crowds aren’t cause for concern, but merely reflective of the part of the electorate backing him: older, middle-of-the-road Democrats who are more likely to turn out to the polls than to boisterous megarallies.

Polk County Democratic Chair Sean Bagniewski said there weren’t lines around the block for Biden during his Iowa visit, but that at a local Democratic Party dinner, the former vice president’s campaign dominated local chatter.

“The polls are picking up the people who might not be going to the rallies, might not be going to the meetings. But the polls can still be right,” Bagniewski said. “The rank and file can be reliable Democrats. They’re the people who have been around for awhile.”

Brian Fallon, former spokesman for Hillary Clinton, said the Biden campaign isn’t going for big crowds and passion and is instead underpinned by “a very pragmatic argument. It’s not an argument designed to electrify. It revolves around electability … It’s not the type of message that inspires a movement. It’s very practical.”

There’s also the matter of Biden’s long tenure in politics. Crowds that flooded to Buttigieg or Beto O’Rourke in this cycle did so in part because they’ve never seen the candidates before.

Tad Devine, who was part of Sanders’ insurgent 2016 campaign against Clinton, added that Biden doesn’t need the big crowds the way Sanders did in the previous race because the former vice president doesn’t need to show he’s a legitimate candidate — he’s the front-runner.

“Biden’s not a crowd candidate. He’s not Obama. He’s not Bernie,” Devine said. “Drawing big crowds is more important for Beto [O’Rourke] or Mayor Pete to get into the mix.”

Holly Otterbein, Daniel Lippman, Christopher Cadelago and Anita Kumar contributed to this report.

https://japantoday.com/category/politics/japan-to-buy-105-f-35-us-stealth-warplanes-trump

 

Story 3: Do Not Panic — Recession Warning or Economic Growth? — Videos –

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Morgan Stanley says economy is on ‘recession watch’ as bond market flashes warning

KEY POINTS
  • Renewed trade tensions and a slump in economic data put U.S. profits and economic growth at risk, Morgan Stanley warned Tuesday.
  • “Numerous leading companies may be starting to throw in the towel on the second half rebound–something we have been expecting,” the bank writes.
  • Wilson adds that market risks have been reflected in the bond market, pointing to an unusual phenomenon in government debt yields.
GS: CBOE options pit 150917
Scott Olson | Getty Images

The stock market and economic outlook in the United States are “deteriorating,” according to an analysis from one of Wall Street’s top investment banks.

Renewed trade tensions and a slump in economic data — ranging from falling durable goods and capital spending to a downshift in the services sector — has put U.S. profits and economic growth at risk, Morgan Stanley warned Tuesday.

“Recent data points suggest US earnings and economic risk is greater than most investors may think,” wrote Michael Wilson, the firm’s chief U.S. equity strategist.

Specifically, the stock strategist highlighted a recent survey from financial data firm IHS Markit that showed manufacturing activity fell to a nine-year low in May. That report also revealed a “notable slowdown” in the U.S. services sector, a key area for an American economy characterized by huge job gains in health care and business services.

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Source: Morgan Stanley Cross Asset Research

Many recent reports reflect April data, “which means it weakened before the re-escalation of trade tensions,” Wilson continued. “In addition, numerous leading companies may be starting to throw in the towel on the second half rebound–something we have been expecting but we believe many investors are not.”

Wilson was one of the most bearish stock strategists last year, defending his initial S&P 500 call of 2,750 for year-end 2018 without adjusting it throughout the year. By the end of the year, his call was the most accurate of any strategist tracked by CNBC.

He’s stood by his gloomy case for 2019, often warning that investors could be caught in a “rolling bear market ” for the next several years. The market has thus far outpaced Wilson’s models for 2019, with the S&P 500 up 11.7% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 8.6% year to date.

The stock market sold off Tuesday, adding to steep losses for the month of May. The Dow fell 237 points and the S&P dropped 0.8% during the session; they are down 4.6% and 4.8%, respectively, this month.

VIDEO02:43
Bond market primary concern for investors, says chief economist

Still, many economists are predicting an anemic second half of the year. For their part, Morgan Stanley economists have lowered their second-quarter U.S. GDP forecast to 0.6% from 1.0%. That comes after J.P. Morgan last week cut its own second-quarter outlook to 1% from 2.25%.

“The April durable goods report was bad, particularly the details relating to capital goods orders and shipments. Coming on the heels of last week’s crummy April retail sales report, it suggests second quarter activity growth is sharply downshifting from the first quarter pace, ” the economists wrote.

Companies ranging from manufacturers like Deere and Polaris Industries to computer chip maker Microchip and toolmaker Snap-On have all bemoaned the Trump administration’s escalated trade war with China and have warned it could impact their business. The White House bumped the tariff rate on $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25% from 10% earlier this month, drawing a similar response against American goods from Beijing.

While the number of companies explicitly airing their trade grievances remains comparatively small, they likely represent a larger number of American companies set for pain as bilateral tariffs threaten their bottom lines.

“Regular readers are likely familiar with our view that the US economy is vulnerable to a more significant slowdown due to overheating last year from the fiscal stimulus,” Wilson wrote. “This led to labor cost pressures for corporations, excessive inventories and an overzealous capex cycle that is now reverting to the mean, which means well below trend spending for several quarters.”

Those market risks have been reflected in the bond market, Wilson added, pointing to an unusual phenomenon in government debt yields.

When investors believe the economy is set for healthy growth, those that buy debt from the U.S. government for years are compensated with better interest rates than those who loan money for a matter of months. Under those normal circumstances, the plot of Treasury interest rates slopes upward, with investors earning more for holding debt for 10 years rather than a few months.

That usual upward slope can change, however, when investors think economic output growth is likely to fall. That occurred earlier this year, when the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield first dropped below that of the 3-month Treasury bill, a sign many on Wall Street read as a recessionary signal.

The curve flattened further Tuesday as the 3-month bill yielded 2.356% and the 10-year note yielded 2.269%.

Some investors wrote it off, saying “it’s different this time” thanks to the Federal Reserve’s lingering quantitative easing or by how quickly the curve appeared to correct to a steeper shape. But Morgan Stanley’s deeper dive into the data — controlling for the Fed’s tinkering — reveals a “much different picture.”

Morgan Stanley’s analysis shows the adjusted yield curve first inverted in November and has stayed in negative territory ever since.

“The adjusted yield curve inverted last November and has remained in negative territory ever since, surpassing the minimum time required for a valid meaningful economic slowdown signal,” Wilson wrote. “It also suggests the ‘shot clock’ started 6 months ago, putting us ‘in the zone’ for a recession watch.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/28/morgan-stanley-says-economy-on-recession-watch-amid-bond-warning.html

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1264, May 24, 2019, Story 1: President Trump on Failed Democrat Coup or Take Down of Presidency — No Redo of Mueller Report Will Be Allowed — No Collusion, No Obstruction, No Redo — Declassified All Documents Related To Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy or Failed Coup or Take Down of President Trump — Total Transparency — Videos — Story 2: British Prime Minister May Will Resign on June 7 For Failure to Negotiate An Acceptable Exit From European Union — Leave Means Leave — Lesson For American Political Elitist Establishment — Build Wall Means Build Wall — Videos — Story 3: Gun Barrel Diplomacy — Communist China’s Reneges on Trade Agreement Language With United States and Then Puppet North Korea Chairman Kim Says He Will not Resume Talks — Waste of Time Talking With Communist Dictatorships — Mao: “All power comes from the barrel of a gun.” — Videos —

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Story 1: President Trump on Failed Democrat Coup or Take Down of Presidency — No Redo of Mueller Report Will Be Allowed — No Collusion, No Obstruction, No Redo — Declassified All Documents Related To Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy or Failed Coup or Take Down of President Trump — Total Transparency — Videos —

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MUST WATCH: President Trump Takes On Pelosi, Iran, and “Witch Hunt”

 

Trump moves to escalate investigation of intel agencies

President Donald Trump on Thursday granted Attorney General William Barr new powers to review and potentially release classified information related to the origins of the Russia investigation, a move aimed at accelerating Barr’s inquiry into whether U.S. officials improperly surveilled Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Trump directed the intelligence community to “quickly and fully cooperate” with Barr’s probe. The directive marked an escalation in Trump’s efforts to “investigate the investigators,” as he continues to try to undermine the findings of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe amid mounting Democratic calls for impeachment proceedings.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement that Trump is delegating to Barr the “full and complete authority” to declassify documents relating to the probe, which would ease his efforts to review the sensitive intelligence underpinnings of the investigation. Such an action could create fresh tensions within the FBI and other intelligence agencies, which have historically resisted such demands.

Barr has already asked John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, to examine the origins of the Russia investigation to determine whether intelligence and surveillance methods used during the probe were lawful and appropriate. Still, Barr has been directly involved, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss it publicly, and is also working with CIA Director Gina Haspel, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Trump is giving Barr a new tool in his investigation, empowering his attorney general to unilaterally unseal documents that the Justice Department has historically regarded as among its most highly secret. Warrants obtained from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, for instance, are not made public — not even to the person on whom the surveillance was authorized.

Trump explicitly delegated Barr with declassification power — noting it would not automatically extend to another attorney general — and only for use in the review of the Russia investigation. Before using the new authority, Barr should consult with intelligence officials “to the extent he deems it practicable,” Trump wrote in a memo formalizing the matter.

Trump has frequently claimed his campaign was the victim of “spying,” though the intelligence community has insisted it acted lawfully in following leads in the Russia investigation and conducted surveillance under court order.

Wray vocally opposed the release by Congress last year of details from a secret surveillance warrant obtained by the bureau on a former campaign adviser, Carter Page. The White House had eagerly encouraged Republicans on the House intelligence committee to disclose that classified information, believing it could help undermine the Russia investigation.

Wray, though cooperating with Barr in a review of the origins of the Russia probe, would presumably balk at declassifying classified information that could reveal sensitive sources or methods of investigators.

Despite Mueller finding no evidence to support criminal charges against Americans related to Russia’s actions, his report documented extensive Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 campaign and willingness on the part of some in Trump’s orbit to accept their aid.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff accused Trump and Barr of trying to “conspire to weaponize law enforcement and classified information against their political enemies.”

“The coverup has entered a new and dangerous phase,” Schiff said in a statement released late Thursday. “This is un-American.”

Typically, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence coordinates declassification work by contacting various agencies where classified material originated to get their input on what should be released or not disclosed based on legal exemptions. The president, however, has the authority to declassify anything he wants.

A former senior intelligence official who served in the Obama administration said their principle concern is that the attorney general, hand-picked by Trump, could declassify and release selective bits to make the previous administration and former senior officials look bad. The former official spoke on the condition that the official would not be named in order to describe the concerns of intelligence professionals.

Thursday’s move further solidifies Barr’s position in Trump’s eyes as a legal warrior on fighting on his behalf.

After Mueller submitted his report to Barr in March, the attorney general released a four-page summary to Congress. Barr’s letter framed the debate about the probe over the next few weeks and, White House officials believe, allowed Trump to declare victory before the release of the full report, the contents of which are far more ambiguous.

Trump also appreciated Barr’s combative stance with lawmakers and reporters as he defended the Justice Department’s handling of the report, and again when he declined to appear before Congress and defied a subpoena, drawing a possible contempt charge. Trump has told close confidants that he “finally” had “my attorney general,” according to two Republicans close to the White House who were not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations.

“Today’s action will help ensure that all Americans learn the truth about the events that occurred, and the actions that were taken, during the last Presidential election and will restore confidence in our public institutions,” Sanders said.

Two of Trump’s congressional allies, Reps. Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, were seen by reporters earlier Thursday at the Justice Department.

__

Associated Press writers Mike Balsamo, Deb Riechmann and Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report.

https://apnews.com/9e926bfccb5947d5a5f8eb260cb0a7e6

Story 2: British Prime Minister May Will Resign on June 7 For Failure to Negotiate An Acceptable Exit From European Union — Leave Means Leave — Lesson For American Political Elitist Establishment — Build Wall Means Build Wall — Videos

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Prime minister Theresa May’s resignation speech in full

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The most emotional speech of Theresa May’s reign as Prime Minister: Read her tearful Downing Street address in full

Theresa May quit in tears today after a tumultuous two years and 315 days in office – making her the 36th longest serving Prime Minister in British history.

Watched by her husband Philip in Downing Street, Mrs May managed to keep her composure until the emotional moment she finished her 1,000-word speech, breaking down in tears.

The PM set out the things she had achieved in office but admitted she had to quit as Tory leader having failed to deliver her promise: delivering Brexit.

Ever since I first stepped through the door behind me as Prime Minister, I have striven to make the United Kingdom a country that works not just for a privileged few, but for everyone.

And to honour the result of the EU referendum.

Back in 2016, we gave the British people a choice.

Against all predictions, the British people voted to leave the European Union.

I feel as certain today as I did three years ago that in a democracy, if you give people a choice you have a duty to implement what they decide.

I have done my best to do that.

I negotiated the terms of our exit and a new relationship with our closest neighbours that protects jobs, our security and our Union.

I have done everything I can to convince MPs to back that deal.

Sadly, I have not been able to do so.

I tried three times.

I believe it was right to persevere, even when the odds against success seemed high.

But it is now clear to me that it is in the best interests of the country for a new Prime Minister to lead that effort.

So I am today announcing that I will resign as leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party on Friday 7 June so that a successor can be chosen.

I have agreed with the Party Chairman and with the Chairman of the 1922 Committee that the process for electing a new leader should begin in the following week.

I have kept Her Majesty the Queen fully informed of my intentions, and I will continue to serve as her Prime Minister until the process has concluded.

It is, and will always remain, a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit.

It will be for my successor to seek a way forward that honours the result of the referendum.

To succeed, he or she will have to find consensus in Parliament where I have not.

Such a consensus can only be reached if those on all sides of the debate are willing to compromise.

For many years the great humanitarian Sir Nicholas Winton – who saved the lives of hundreds of children by arranging their evacuation from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia through the Kindertransport – was my constituent in Maidenhead.

At another time of political controversy, a few years before his death, he took me to one side at a local event and gave me a piece of advice.

He said, ‘Never forget that compromise is not a dirty word. Life depends on compromise.’

He was right.

As we strive to find the compromises we need in our politics – whether to deliver Brexit, or to restore devolved government in Northern Ireland – we must remember what brought us here.

Because the referendum was not just a call to leave the EU but for profound change in our country.

A call to make the United Kingdom a country that truly works for everyone. I am proud of the progress we have made over the last three years.

We have completed the work that David Cameron and George Osborne started: the deficit is almost eliminated, our national debt is falling and we are bringing an end to austerity.

My focus has been on ensuring that the good jobs of the future will be created in communities across the whole country, not just in London and the South East, through our Modern Industrial Strategy.

We have helped more people than ever enjoy the security of a job.

We are building more homes and helping first-time buyers onto the housing ladder – so young people can enjoy the opportunities their parents did.

And we are protecting the environment, eliminating plastic waste, tackling climate change and improving air quality.

This is what a decent, moderate and patriotic Conservative Government, on the common ground of British politics, can achieve – even as we tackle the biggest peacetime challenge any government has faced.

I know that the Conservative Party can renew itself in the years ahead.

That we can deliver Brexit and serve the British people with policies inspired by our values.

Security; freedom; opportunity.

Those values have guided me throughout my career.

But the unique privilege of this office is to use this platform to give a voice to the voiceless, to fight the burning injustices that still scar our society.

That is why I put proper funding for mental health at the heart of our NHS long-term plan.

It is why I am ending the postcode lottery for survivors of domestic abuse.

It is why the Race Disparity Audit and gender pay reporting are shining a light on inequality, so it has nowhere to hide.

And that is why I set up the independent public inquiry into the tragedy at Grenfell Tower – to search for the truth, so nothing like it can ever happen again, and so the people who lost their lives that night are never forgotten.

Because this country is a Union.

Not just a family of four nations.

But a union of people – all of us.

Whatever our background, the colour of our skin, or who we love.

We stand together.

And together we have a great future.

Our politics may be under strain, but there is so much that is good about this country. So much to be proud of. So much to be optimistic about.

I will shortly leave the job that it has been the honour of my life to hold – the second female Prime Minister but certainly not the last.

I do so with no ill-will, but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7066453/The-emotional-speech-Theresa-Mays-reign-Prime-Minister-tearful-address-full.html

Story 3: Gun Barrel Diplomacy — Communist China’s Reneges on Trade Agreement Language With United States and Then Puppet North Korea Chairman Kim Says He Will not Resume Talks — Waste of Time Talking With Communist Dictatorships — Mao: “All power comes from the barrel of a gun.” — Videos

 

NKorea says talks won’t resume unless US changes position

today

North Korea said Friday that nuclear negotiations with the United States will never resume unless the Trump administration moves away from what Pyongyang described as unilateral demands for disarmament.

The statement by an unnamed North Korean foreign ministry spokesman published in state media was the country’s latest expression of displeasure over the stalled negotiations as it continues to press Washington to soften its stance on enforcing sanctions against the North’s crippled economy.

It came as President Donald Trump prepares to travel to Japan this weekend for a summit with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in which the North Korean nuclear issue will likely be high on the agenda.

In the statement carried by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency, the North Korean spokesman accused the U.S. of deliberately causing February’s collapse of talks between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with unilateral and impossible demands.

“We hereby make it clear once again that the United States would not be able to move us even an inch with the device it is now weighing in its mind, and the further its mistrust and hostile acts toward the DPRK grow, the fiercer our reaction will be,” the statement said, referring to North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“Unless the United States puts aside the current method of calculation and comes forward with a new method of calculation, the DPRK-U.S. dialogue will never be resumed and by extension, the prospect for resolving the nuclear issue will be much gloomy,” the statement added.

The U.S. has said the Trump-Kim talks broke down because of North Korean demands for sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities. Kim has since declared that the Trump administration has until the end of the year to come up with mutually acceptable terms for a deal.

Friday’s statement follows two separate launches of short-range missiles earlier this month, which ended a pause in North Korea’s ballistic missile launches that began in late 2017 and was seen as measured brinkmanship aimed at increasing pressure on Washington without actually causing the negotiations to collapse. The North has also strongly protested the recent U.S. seizure of a North Korean cargo ship that had been involved in banned coal exports and demanded the vessel to be immediately returned.

Following the collapse of the Trump-Kim summit, North Korea also significantly slowed the pace of its engagement with South Korea, which has been eager to improve bilateral relations and help revive discussions between Washington and Pyongyang.

South Korea earlier this week vowed to push ahead with plans to resume large-scale humanitarian aid to the North. But it’s unclear whether any aid package from South Korea would influence the behavior of North Korea, which has been demanding much bigger concessions from Seoul, such as the resumption of inter-Korean economic projects currently blocked by U.S.-led sanctions against Pyongyang.

https://apnews.com/c20ba627fe4c4c38a45246e4df5ffb8a

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1254, May 9, 2019, Story 1: North Korea Launches Short-Range Missile — Linkages — Trump Imposes 25% Tariff on All Communist China Exports to United States — Videos — Story 2: Islamic Republic of Iran Terrorist Attack on U.S. Bases — CIA Meeting — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Says Former Secretary of State John Kerry Should Be Prosecuted Under The Logan Act — Long Overdue — Videos — Story 4: No Constitutional Crisis — A Failure To Prosecute In Timely Manner The Clinton Obama Democratic Criminal Conspiracy — Videos

Posted on May 11, 2019. Filed under: 2020 President Candidates, 2020 Republican Candidates, Addiction, Addiction, American History, Barack H. Obama, Bill Clinton, Blogroll, Breaking News, Budgetary Policy, Cartoons, Central Intelligence Agency, China, Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspiracy, Coal, Congress, Countries, Crime, Culture, Deep State, Defense Spending, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Donald Trump, Eating, Economics, Education, Elections, Empires, Energy, Environment, European History, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, First Amendment, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Former President Barack Obama, Free Trade, Freedom of Speech, Government, Government Dependency, Government Spending, Health, Hillary Clinton, History, House of Representatives, Human, Human Behavior, Independence, Islamic Republic of Iran, James Comey, Killing, Life, Lying, Media, Mental Illness, Middle East, Mike Pompeo, Military Spending, MIssiles, Monetary Policy, National Interest, National Security Agency, Natural Gas, News, North Korea, Nuclear, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Polls, President Trump, Progressives, Public Corruption, Qatar, Radio, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulation, Robert S. Mueller III, Russia, Scandals, Second Amendment, Security, Senate, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Terrorism, Trade Policy, U.S. Negotiations with Islamic Republic of Iran, United States Constitution, United States of America, United States Supreme Court, Videos, Violence, War, Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

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Story 1: North Korea Launches Short-Range Missile — Communist Chinese Linkages — Trump Imposes 25% Tariff on All Communist China Exports to United States — Videos

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North Korea Launches New Missiles

Paul D. Shinkman, Senior National Security WriterMay 9, 2019, at 9:39 a.m.

The short-range missile launch is the second this week and further strains U.S.-led efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula

 

 

The Associated Press

A North Korean rocket takes off during a missile test on Saturday. North Korea launched two short-range missiles in a separate missile test on Thursday.THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NORTH KOREA ON THURSDAY launched two short-range missiles, marking the second weapons test in less than a week and further straining U.S.-led efforts toward denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

The South Korean joint chiefs of staff announced the launch in a statement, saying the missiles were fired from the northwest city of Kusong and traveled roughly 260 miles to the east. American negotiators are currently in South Korea for discussions on how to break the impasse following two high-level summits between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that failed to secure any lasting changes.

The launch comes less than a week after North Korea fired several short-range missiles on Saturday, the first such weapons test since November 2017. Trump has previously cited North Korea’s lull in missile and nuclear tests as evidence that his outreach to the Hermit Kingdom was proving successful.

North Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday defended Saturday’s launch as a “routine and self-defensive military drill.” A spokesman said the test was “nothing more than part of the regular military training, and it has neither targeted anyone nor led to an aggravation of [the] situation in the region.” In a separate statement, North Korean state media reported that the missiles did not threaten the U.S., South Korea or Japan and dropped into North Korean-controlled waters.

Analysts say the missile trajectory and the distance it traveled were not indicative of ballistic weapons.

The North Korean statement condemned the continuation of joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises in the region, which Kim has repeatedly condemned as provocative “war games.”

Neither the White House nor Trump immediately commented on the launch on Thursday. The president tweeted shortly after the Saturday launch that he believes Kim “realizes the great economic potential of North Korea and will do nothing to interfere or end it,” adding “he also knows that I am with him and does not want to break his promise to me.”

The launch likely challenges the patience of Washington and Seoul at a contentious time as the two powers struggle to determine how to proceed in denuclearization talks while North Korea seeks to increase its leverage.

Cartoons on North Korea

Kim traveled to eastern Russia last month to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss how the two countries could cooperate, representing their first face-to-face meeting and a North Korean leader’s first trip to the country in almost a decade.

Kim and Trump’s meeting in Vietnam in February – their second – ended at an impasse over American insistence that North Korea agree to denuclearize and Pyongyang’s demands that the U.S. provide sanctions relief first.

Earlier this week the Pentagon announced it had ceased efforts to recover the remains of American war dead, citing an inability to contact their North Korean counterparts. That arrangement had been one of the most highly touted results of Trump’s meetings with Kim.

In a phone call on Tuesday following Saturday’s launch, Trump reportedly encouraged South Korean President Moon Jae-in to continue providing food aid to the North – a crisis both South Korea and the United States say Pyongyang has manufactured – saying it is “timely and will be a positive move,” according to South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper. The White House readout of that call did not include the detail. As of Thursday morning, those shipments were still set to proceed.

The recent launches come at a particularly awkward time for Moon, who has made peace on the peninsula a cornerstone of his administration. On Tuesday, he touted his administration’s achievements in an op-ed published in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, writing that “the sounds of gunfire have disappeared in the air, on the sea and on the ground around the Korean Peninsula.”

And just hours before his defense ministry confirmed Thursday’s missile test, Moon’s official Twitter account posted a picture of his meeting with Kim as the two officials smiled, with the quotation, “peace has become a part of everyday life.”

https://www.usnews.com/news/world-report/articles/2019-05-09/north-korea-launches-new-missiles

U.S. seizes North Korean ship suspected of violating U.N. sanctions

The 17,000-ton freighter, called the Wise Honest, was stopped in Indonesia last year after it was found to be carrying coal.
Image: The North Korean ship, "Wise Honest."

The North Korean ship, “Wise Honest.”Department of Justice

The U.S. has seized a North Korean freighter that was caught shipping coal in violation of U.N. sanctions, the Justice Department revealed Thursday.

The 17,000-ton cargo ship, called the Wise Honest, was stopped in Indonesia last year after it was found to be carrying coal. The ship’s captain was charged with violating Indonesian law, and last July, the U.S. filed an action to seize the ship, according to court papers.

Federal prosecutors said the seizure marks the first time the U.S. has taken possession of a North Korean ship for violating international sanctions.

“This sanctions-busting ship is now out of service,” said John Demers, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

The North Korean ship, "Wise Honest."
The North Korean ship, “Wise Honest.”Department of Justice

The Wise Honest, North Korea’s second-largest ship for carrying bulk cargo, was on its way to American Samoa, U.S. officials said.

On Thursday, the Justice Department asked a federal judge to give the U.S. ownership of the vessel through a civil forfeiture action — the same thing prosecutors do when they seek to take ownership of planes or boats used by drug smugglers. The Justice Department says the U.S. is entitled to take this action because payments to maintain and equip the vessel were made through American banks.

“Our office uncovered North Korea’s scheme to export tons of high-grade coal to foreign buyers by concealing the origin of their ship, the Wise Honest,” said Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “This scheme not only allowed North Korea to evade sanctions, but the Wise Honest was also used to import heavy machinery to North Korea, helping expand North Korea’s capabilities and continuing the cycle of sanctions evasion.”

The announcement of the seizure came just hours after North Korea launched suspected short-range missiles — the second such weapons test in a week. But Berman said the effort to take control of the Wise Honest had been in the works for some time and was not spurred by North Korea’s overnight actions.

The Justice Department said the Korea Songi Shipping Company used the Wise Honest from at least November 2016 through April 2018 — and broke American law by paying U.S. dollars to “unwitting” banks for several improvements, equipment purchases and service expenditures for the vessel.

The March 2018 cargo shipment yielded payments totaling more than $750,000, the Justice Department said.

Berman declined comment when asked if the heavy machinery shipped back to North Korea was used in the country’s weapons program.

The seizure follows a report in March by a U.N. panel of experts that found North Korea is successfully evading United Nations sanctions through elaborate smuggling and deceptive tactics, allowing the regime to import oil and ship coal to China and other countries.

The sanctions are designed to deprive Pyongyang of cash for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs and force the regime to abandon its arsenal. The Trump administration has led international efforts to tighten sanctions against North Korea, vowing to impose “maximum pressure” to persuade North Korea agree to relinquish its weapons in return for an end to sanctions.

“These violations render the latest United Nations sanctions ineffective by flouting the caps on the import of petroleum products and coal oil” by North Korea imposed by the U.N. Security Council in 2017, according to the U.N. report. “These transfers have increased in scope, scale and sophistication,” it said.

Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics

Despite U.S. warnings to keep up the economic pressure on North Korea, the regime has not suffered a spike in fuel prices in recent months, a sign that analysts say shows the country is able to secure enough fuel to keep its economy afloat.

North Korea has adapted to sanctions over the years and now employs increasingly sophisticated methods, the U.N. panel found in its March report. Pyongyang used to alter sections of shipping documents but now creates entirely fake registration and other papers that enable it to smuggle illicit cargo through ports around the world.

The regime also steals the identities of other ships and spoofs the location of vessels on the global electronic tracking system for ships, according to the U.N. panel.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/justice-department/u-s-seeks-seize-north-korean-ship-suspected-violating-u-n1003811

Story 2: Islamic Republic of Iran Terrorist Attack on U.S. Bases — CIA Meeting — Videos

John Bolton Holds ‘Highly Unusual’ Meeting At CIA | Morning Joe | MSNBC

Trump’s top intelligence and military advisers held unusual meeting at CIA on Iran, officials say

Current and former officials said it is extremely rare for senior White House officials or Cabinet members to attend a meeting at CIA headquarters.
Image: National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks to reporters at the White House on May 1, 2019.

National security adviser John Bolton, outside the White House last week, has long advocated for regime change in Iran.Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Story 3: President Trump Says Former Secretary of State John Kerry Should Be Prosecuted Under The Logan Act — Long Overdue — Videos

Keane: John Kerry is undermining Trump’s foreign policy

Gutfeld: Did John Kerry violate the Logan Act?

John Kerry Hits Back at Trump Call for Logan Act Prosecution: ‘Simply Wrong, End of Story’

 

Trump says John Kerry ‘should be prosecuted’ for Iran contacts

President Trump on Thursday accused former Secretary of State John Kerry of breaking the law by meeting with Iranian officials last year — and went so far as to say he should be prosecuted under the Logan Act.

“You know John Kerry speaks to them a lot, and John Kerry tells them not to call. That’s a violation of the Logan Act, and frankly he should be prosecuted on that,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

TRUMP AND KERRY TRADE BARBS OVER EX-SECRETARY OF STATE’S MEETINGS WITH IRANIAN REGIME

“But my people don’t want to do anything, only the Democrats do that kind of stuff. If it were the opposite way, they’d prosecute him under the Logan Act,” he said.

Trump appears to be partially referring to a reported meeting between Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at the beginning of 2018, part of what the Boston Globecalled “an aggressive yet stealthy” mission to put pressure on the Trump administration to keep the Iran nuclear deal.

Such a push was unsuccessful as Trump would announce the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) just a few months later.

But Trump has repeatedly accused Kerry of being in violation of the Logan Act, which prohibits private citizens from negotiating on behalf of the U.S. government without authorization. No one has ever been successfully prosecuted under the law, however.

In September, Kerry acknowledged meeting with Zarif “three or four times” since leaving office, admitting to discussing the scrapped nuclear deal, among other issues.

CLINTON SLAMS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S ‘MAXIMUM PRESSURE’ CAMPAIGN 

“What I have done is tried to elicit from him what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better,” Kerry said on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show.

On Thursday, Trump indicated he believes the contact between Kerry and Tehran to be ongoing, accusing Kerry of having “many meetings and many phone calls and he’s telling them what to do — that is a total violation of the Logan Act.”

A spokesman for Kerry pushed back on Trump’s remarks, calling them “simply wrong, end of story.”

“He’s wrong about the facts, wrong about the law, and sadly he’s been wrong about how to use diplomacy to keep America safe. Secretary Kerry helped negotiate a nuclear agreement that worked to solve an intractable problem,” the spokesman said.

“The world supported it then and supports it still. We’d hope the President would focus on solving foreign policy problems for America instead of attacking his predecessors for theater.”

Trump’s remarks came as the administration imposed sanctions on Tehran’s steel, aluminum, copper and iron sectors this week, the latest pressure the administration is putting on Iran’s already fragile economy.

Iran, meanwhile, announced that it will keep excess uranium instead of selling it as required by the nuclear deal. It also issued an ultimatum to Europe that it will enrich its stockpile in 60 days unless new terms to the deal are negotiated.

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/trump-kerry-prosecuted-iran

Story 4: No Constitutional Crisis — A Failure To Prosecute In Timely Manner The Clinton Obama Democratic Criminal Conspiracy — Videos

Gaetz: I don’t think Democrats know what ‘crisis’ means

Nancy Pelosi Declares Donald Trump Has ‘Triggered A Constitutional Crisis’ | Hallie Jackson | MSNBC

Jerrold Nadler On Holding Barr In Contempt: We Are In A ‘Constitutional Crisis’ | Deadline | MSNBC

Rep. Al Green Declares Constitutional Crisis Requiring Impeachment

What’s a real constitutional crisis?

Pelosi agrees US faces constitutional crisis

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday said she agreed with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler‘s (D-N.Y.) assertion that the U.S. is currently facing a “constitutional crisis” after the panel voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress.

“Yes, I do agree with Chairman Nadler,” Pelosi said during a press conference in the Capitol, “because the administration has decided that they’re not going to honor their oath of office.”

Yet Pelosi said even a constitutional crisis is not grounds to launch impeachment hearings against the president before Nadler and the heads of the other investigative committees are able to gather more evidence — and convince more voters — that such a step is necessary.

“This is very methodical, it’s very Constitution-based, it’s very law-based, it’s very factually based,” she said. “It’s not about pressure, it’s about patriotism.”

Pelosi’s remarks came a day after the Judiciary Committee voted along strict party lines to hold Barr in contempt for his refusal to comply with the panel’s subpoenas seeking an unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

“We’ve talked for a long time about approaching a constitutional crisis. We are now in it,” Nadler told reporters after the vote.

“Now is the time of testing whether we can keep a republic, or whether this republic is destined to change into a different, more tyrannical form of government,” he added. “We must resist this.”

Pelosi declined to say when the full House will vote on the contempt measure, suggesting Democrats are eyeing similar contempt resolutions targeting other administrative officials and packaging them all together before bringing it to the floor. She did not name names.

“In terms of timing, when we’re ready, we’ll come to the floor. And we’ll just see, because there might be some other contempt of Congress issues that we want to deal with at the same time,” Pelosi said.

“[Nadler] wants to do it as soon as possible, and so do we.”

The contempt resolution against Barr will have no immediate practical effect, as the Justice Department is highly unlikely to take action against the attorney general. But it escalates the already heightened tensions between the Democratically led House, which is seeking to delve deeper into Mueller’s findings, and a White House and Republicans in Congress fighting to put a lid on the years-long investigation.

The release of Mueller’s report has fueled a small but vocal group of liberals on and off of Capitol Hill clamoring to impeach Trump. Pelosi has consistently tamped down that effort, citing the lack of public support. On Thursday, she amplified that message, noting that the ouster of President Nixon took months of investigations to bring voters on board.

“Impeachment is one of the most divisive things that you can do, dividing a country,” she said. “Unless you really have your case with great clarity for the American people.”

But Pelosi has also adopted a new framing for the debate in recent days, arguing that Trump, by stonewalling Congress’s oversight efforts, is building the case for “self-impeachment.”

“As I said yesterday, the president is almost self-impeaching because he is, everyday, demonstrating more obstruction of justice, and disrespect for Congress’s legitimate role to subpoena,” Pelosi said. But for the impeachment advocates, she delivered a warning.

“We won’t go any faster than the facts take us, or any slower than the facts take us,” she said.

https://thehill.com/homenews/house/442889-pelosi-i-do-agree-we-are-in-a-constitutional-crisis

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1248, May 1, 2019, Story 1: Desperate Delusional Democrats of Lying Lunatic Left Losers Finally Realize Attorney General Barr Is Going After The Clinton Obama Democratic Criminal Conspirators — Videos — Story 2: Attorney General Barr Will Not Testify Before House Judiciary Committee on May 2, 2019 — Videos — Story 3: Fired Former FBI Director Comey Is One of The Conspirators in The Clinton Obama Democratic Criminal Conspiracy Getting Nervous — New York Times Editorial — Videos

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Story 1: Desperate Delusional Democrats of Lying Lunatic Left Losers Finally Realize Attorney General Barr Is Going After The Clinton Obama Democratic Criminal Conspirators — Videos

Sen. Graham presents full Mueller report at Senate hearing

Graham Questions Attorney General Barr at Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing

WATCH: Barr says Mueller did not suggest he had ‘misrepresented’ the special counsel’s report

Lindsey Graham’s real focus in Barr’s hearing: Hillary Clinton

Cruz rips Senate Democrats’ ‘weak argument’ at Barr hearing

WATCH: Barr says DOJ couldn’t show Trump’s instructions to McGahn were corrupt

Barr hearing gets heated: ‘You just slandered this man!’

Watch: Attorney General William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee

Complete exchange between Sen. Kamala Harris and Attorney General William Barr (C-SPAN)

WATCH: Normalizing Trump campaign’s behavior erodes American democracy, Booker says

AG Barr faces Senate in contentious Mueller report hearing

Lou Dobbs Tonight 4/30/19 [FULL| Lou Dobbs Breaking Fox News Today April 30, 2019

PBS NewsHour live show May 1, 2019

Barr will make members of Congress look unprepared: Lewandowski

 

Barr defends clearing Trump on obstruction, chides ‘snitty’ Mueller letter

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday fended off Democratic criticism of his decision to clear U.S. President Donald Trump of criminal obstruction of justice in the Russia inquiry and faulted Special Counsel Robert Mueller for not reaching a conclusion of his own on the issue.

In his first congressional testimony since releasing a redacted version of the report on April 18, Barr also dismissed Mueller’s complaints that he initially disclosed the special counsel’s conclusions on March 24 in an incomplete way that caused public confusion about critical aspects of the inquiry.

Illustrating tensions between the two men, Barr referred to as “a bit snitty” a March 27 letter from Mueller in which the special counsel urged him to release broader summaries of the findings to provide a fuller account – a step Barr rejected. Trump seized on Barr’s March 24 letter to declare that he had been fully exonerated.

Barr, the top U.S. law enforcement official and a Trump appointee, tangled with Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during roughly four hours of testimony at a sometimes testy hearing, with several Democrats calling for his resignation after the attorney general stoutly defended Trump.

“I don’t think the government had a prosecutable case,” said Barr, the first Trump administration official to testify about the contents of Mueller’s report.

The report detailed extensive contacts between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Moscow and the campaign’s expectation that it would benefit from Russia’s actions, which included hacking and propaganda to boost Trump and harm Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The report also detailed a series of actions Trump took to try to impede the investigation.

Mueller, a former FBI director, concluded there was insufficient evidence to show a criminal conspiracy. Mueller opted not to make a conclusion on whether Trump committed obstruction of justice, but pointedly did not exonerate him. Barr has said he and Rod Rosenstein, the Justice Department’s No. 2 official, then determined based on Mueller’s findings there was insufficient evidence to establish that Trump committed criminal obstruction.

 

Barr often appeared to excuse or rationalize Trump’s conduct, asserting that the president’s motives fell short of trying to derail Mueller’s investigation.

“You’ve chosen to be the president’s lawyer and side with him over the interests of the American people,” Democratic Senator Mazie Hirono told Barr, calling him a person who has sacrificed a “once-decent reputation for the grifter and liar that sits in the Oval Office.”

Senator Lindsey Graham, the committee’s Republican chairman, rushed to Barr’s defense, telling Hirono, “You’ve slandered this man.”

Trump has been unfairly smeared, Barr said, by suspicions he had collaborated with Russia in the election. “Two years of his administration have been dominated by the allegations that have now been proven false. To listen to some of the rhetoric, you would think that the Mueller report had found the opposite,” Barr said.

Barr was critical of Mueller for not reaching a conclusion himself on whether Trump obstructed the probe.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr returns to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “The Justice Department’s Investigation of Russian Interference with the 2016 Presidential Election.” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 1, 2019. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

“I think that if he felt that he shouldn’t go down the path of making a traditional prosecutorial decision, then he shouldn’t have investigated,” Barr said.

Barr was asked about the report’s finding that in June 2017 Trump directed White House counsel Don McGahn to tell Rosenstein that Mueller had conflicts of interest and must be removed. McGahn did not carry out the order. Rosenstein had appointed Mueller the prior month.

Barr, appointed by Trump after the president fired his predecessor Jeff Sessions, seemed to minimize the incident and said Trump believed “he never outright directed the firing of Mueller.”

“We did not think in this case that the government could show corrupt intent,” Barr said.

Barr told Senator Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s top Democrat, “There is a distinction between saying to someone, ‘Go fire him, go fire Mueller,’ and saying, ‘Have him removed based on conflict.’ … The difference between them is if you remove someone for a conflict of interest, then there would be – presumably – another person appointed.”

Feinstein, sounding unconvinced, responded, “Wouldn’t you have to have in this situation an identifiable conflict that makes sense, or else doesn’t it just become a fabrication?”

‘INTENTION WAS VERY CLEAR’

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin was more blunt.

“I think the president’s intention was very clear. He wanted this to end,” Durbin said, referring to Mueller’s investigation.

Under questioning by Democratic Senator Kamala Harris, Barr acknowledged he did not review the investigation’s underlying evidence before deciding to clear Trump of obstruction.

Barr disputed the view that Mueller was handing the baton to Congress for possible impeachment proceedings. “That would be very inappropriate,” Barr said. “That’s not what the Justice Department does.”

Democrats control the House of Representatives, which would start any such impeachment effort, while Trump’s fellow Republicans control the Senate, which would have to vote to remove the president.

Democrats asked Barr about Mueller’s March 27 letter complaining that Barr’s March 24 letter to lawmakers stating the inquiry’s main conclusions did not “fully capture the context, nature and substance of this Office’s work.” Barr testified Mueller was unhappy with the way the conclusions were being characterized in the media, not his account of the conclusions, though Mueller’s letter does not mention media coverage.

“The letter is a bit snitty,” Barr said, using a word meaning disagreeably ill-tempered, “and I think it was probably written by a member of his staff.”

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said Barr misled Congress when he testified in April he did not know whether Mueller was happy with his initial characterization of his findings.

Several Democrats demanded that Mueller testify before the committee, but Graham ruled that out.

Barr told the panel he believed Russia and other countries were still a threat to interfere in U.S. elections.

Committee Republicans did not focus on Trump’s conduct but rather on what they saw as the FBI’s improper surveillance during the 2016 race of Trump aides they suspected of being Russian agents, as well as on the Kremlin’s election meddling.

To that end, Barr defended his accusation in a previous congressional hearing this month that American intelligence agencies engaged in “spying” on Trump campaign figures. He said “spying” is “a good English word” without a pejorative meaning and that he would not back off his language, which echoed Trump’s complaints that the Justice Department had engaged in wrongdoing toward his campaign.

Barr indicated that to him, the matter was closed.

“The report is now in the hands of the American people,” he said. “We’re out of it. We have to stop using the criminal justice system as a political weapon.”

The Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee voted to adopt an aggressive questioning format for a hearing set for Thursday with Barr, and a Democratic lawmaker said the panel would subpoena Barr if he does not appear. The committee’s subpoena deadline for Barr’s department to hand over an unredacted copy of Mueller’s report and the underlying evidence expired on Wednesday.

Reporting by Andy Sullivan, Sarah N. Lynch and David Morgan; Writing by Andy Sullivan and James Oliphant; Editing by Will Dunham

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-barr/barr-defends-clearing-trump-on-obstruction-chides-snitty-mueller-letter-idUSKCN1S73HF

 

 

Mueller complained that Barr’s letter did not capture ‘context’ of Trump probe

By Devlin Barrett and

Matt Zapotosky

April 30 at 8:21 PM

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III wrote a letter in late March complaining to Attorney General William P. Barr that a four-page memo to Congress describing the principal conclusions of the investigation into President Trump “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of Mueller’s work, according to a copy of the letter reviewed Tuesday by The Washington Post.

READ THE DOCUMENT

Full PDF

The letter and a subsequent phone call between the two men reveal the degree to which the longtime colleagues and friends disagreed as they handled the legally and politically fraught task of investigating the president. Democrats in Congress are likely to scrutinize Mueller’s complaints to Barr as they contemplate the prospect of opening impeachment proceedings and mull how hard to press for Mueller himself to testify publicly.

At the time Mueller’s letter was sent to Barr on March 27, Barr had days prior announced that Mueller did not find a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian officials seeking to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. In his memo to Congress, Barr also said that Mueller had not reached a conclusion about whether Trump had tried to obstruct justice, but that Barr reviewed the evidence and found it insufficient to support such a charge.

Days after Barr’s announcement, Mueller wrote the previously undisclosed private letter to the Justice Department, laying out his concerns in stark terms that shocked senior Justice Department officials, according to people familiar with the discussions.

[Justice Dept., House Democrats at impasse over Barr hearing]

“The summary letter the Department sent to Congress and released to the public late in the afternoon of March 24 did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions,” Mueller wrote. “There is now public confusion about critical aspects of the results of our investigation. This threatens to undermine a central purpose for which the Department appointed the Special Counsel: to assure full public confidence in the outcome of the investigations.”

The letter made a key request: that Barr release the 448-page report’s introductions and executive summaries, and it made initial suggested redactions for doing so, according to Justice Department officials. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal deliberations.

A spokesman for Mueller declined to comment.

[The Mueller report, annotated]

Justice Department officials said Tuesday that they were taken aback by the tone of Mueller’s letter and that it came as a surprise to them that he had such concerns. Until they received the letter, they believed Mueller was in agreement with them on the process of reviewing the report and redacting certain types of information, a process that took several weeks. Barr has testified to Congress previously that Mueller declined the opportunity to review his four-page memo to lawmakers that distilled the essence of the special counsel’s findings.

[Read: Attorney General Barr’s letter on the Mueller report’s principal conclusions]

In his letter to Barr, Mueller wrote that the redaction process “need not delay release of the enclosed materials. Release at this time would alleviate the misunderstandings that have arisen and would answer congressional and public questions about the nature and outcome of our investigation.”

Barr is scheduled to appear Wednesday morning before the Senate Judiciary Committee — a much-anticipated public confrontation between the nation’s top law enforcement official and Democratic lawmakers, where he is likely to be questioned at length about his interactions with Mueller.

A day after Mueller sent his letter to Barr, the two men spoke by phone for about 15 minutes, according to law enforcement officials.

In that call, Mueller said he was concerned that media coverage of the obstruction probe was misguided and creating public misunderstandings about the office’s work, according to Justice Department officials. Mueller did not express similar concerns about the public discussion of the investigation of Russia’s election interference, the officials said. Barr has testified previously that he did not know whether Mueller supported his conclusion on obstruction.

When Barr pressed Mueller on whether he thought Barr’s memo to Congress was inaccurate, Mueller said he did not but felt that the media coverage of it was misinterpreting the investigation, officials said.

In their call, Barr also took issue with Mueller calling his memo a “summary,” saying he had never intended to summarize the voluminous report, but instead provide an account of its top conclusions, officials said.

Justice Department officials said that, in some ways, the phone conversation was more cordial than the letter that preceded it, but that the two men did express some differences of opinion about how to proceed.

Barr said he did not want to put out pieces of the report, but rather issue the document all at once with redactions, and that he didn’t want to change course, according to officials.

In prepared written remarks for Wednesday’s hearing, Barr said he “did not believe that it was in the public interest to release additional portions of the report in piecemeal fashion, leading to public debate over incomplete information.”

Barr also gave Mueller his personal phone number and told him to call if he had future concerns, officials said.

Throughout the conversation, Mueller’s main worry was that the public was not getting an accurate understanding of the obstruction investigation, officials said.

“After the Attorney General received Special Counsel Mueller’s letter, he called him to discuss it,” a Justice Department spokeswoman said Tuesday evening in a statement. “In a cordial and professional conversation, the Special Counsel emphasized that nothing in the Attorney General’s March 24 letter was inaccurate or misleading. But, he expressed frustration over the lack of context and the resulting media coverage regarding the Special Counsel’s obstruction analysis. They then discussed whether additional context from the report would be helpful and could be quickly released.

“However, the Attorney General ultimately determined that it would not be productive to release the report in piecemeal fashion,” the spokeswoman said. “The Attorney General and the Special Counsel agreed to get the full report out with necessary redactions as expeditiously as possible. The next day, the Attorney General sent a letter to Congress reiterating that his March 24 letter was not intended to be a summary of the report, but instead only stated the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions, and volunteered to testify before both Senate and House Judiciary Committees on May 1 and 2.”

Some senior Justice Department officials were frustrated by Mueller’s complaints because they had expected that the report would reach them with proposed redactions, but it did not. Even when Mueller sent along his suggested redactions, those covered only a few areas of protected information, and the documents required further review, these people said.

The Washington Post and the New York Times had previously reported some members of Mueller’s team were frustrated with Barr’s characterization of their work, though Mueller’s own attitude was unknown before now.

In some team members’ view, the evidence they had gathered — especially on obstruction — was far more alarming and significant than how Barr had described it. That was perhaps to be expected, given that Barr had distilled a 448-page report into a terse, four-page memo to Congress.

Wednesday’s hearing will be the first time lawmakers question Barr since the Mueller report was released on April 18, and he is expected to face a raft of tough questions from Democrats.

[Attorney general says he believes ‘spying did occur’ in probe of Trump campaign associates]

Republicans on the committee are expected to question Barr about an assertion he made earlier in April that government officials had engaged in “spying” on the Trump campaign — a comment that was seized on by the president’s supporters as evidence the investigation into the president was biased.

Barr is also scheduled to testify Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee, but that hearing could be canceled or postponed amid a dispute about whether committee staff lawyers will question the attorney general. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the panel’s chairman, called for a copy of the Mueller letter to be delivered to his committee by Wednesday morning.

Democrats have accused Barr of downplaying the seriousness of the evidence against the president. Mueller’s report described 10 significant episodes of possible obstruction of justice but said that because of long-standing Justice Department policy that says a sitting president cannot be indicted and because of Justice Department practice regarding fairness toward those under investigation, his team did not reach a conclusion about whether the president had committed a crime.

Devlin BarrettDevlin Barrett writes about national security and law enforcement for The Washington Post. He has previously worked at the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press and the New York Post, where he started as a copy boy. Follow 

Matt ZapotoskyMatt Zapotosky covers the Justice Department for The Washington Post’s national security team. He has previously worked covering the federal courthouse in Alexandria and local law enforcement in Prince George’s County and Southern Maryland. Follow 

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/mueller-complained-that-barrs-letter-did-not-capture-context-of-trump-probe/2019/04/30/d3c8fdb6-6b7b-11e9-a66d-a82d3f3d96d5_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.862d2baf5043

Harris fundraises off Barr testimony: Americans ‘deserve truth and integrity’

Democratic presidential hopefuls Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.) and Cory Booker (N.J.) sent out fundraising blasts Wednesday afternoon following their questioning of Attorney General William Barr on Capitol Hill.

Harris and Booker, who both sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined other Democrats on the panel in pressing Barr about his handling of special counsel Robert Mueller‘s report about his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

A former federal prosecutor, Harris made headlines Wednesday when Barr admitted in response to her questioning that he did not review Mueller’s underlying evidence before concluding that President Trump did not obstruct probes into Russia’s election meddling.

“Bill Barr is acting more like the President’s personal attorney than the Attorney General of the United States. His job is to defend the rule of law and serve the American people, not shield the President from justice. He made something very clear today: he must resign,” Harris wrote in her email to supporters.

“I’m running for president because the American people deserve truth and integrity from their elected leaders. That’s not what we’re getting right now. If you’re with me in this fight, I need you now,” she added.

“William Barr has shown with actions in his handling of the Mueller Report’s release and with words in his testimony to Congress today that he’s put his political loyalty to Donald Trump before his duty to our country,” Booker said in his email to supporters while also calling for Barr to resign.

The attorney general has emerged as a top target of Democratic presidential contenders after it was revealed Tuesday that Mueller expressed frustration to Barr about the attorney general’s four-page summary of the Russia probe sent to Congress in late March.

Mueller said in a letter to Barr that the summary of the special counsel probe “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this office’s work and conclusions.”

https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/441677-harris-fundraises-off-barr-testimony-americans-deserve-truth-and-integrity

 

Story 2: Attorney General Barr Will Not Testify Before House Judiciary Committee on May 2, 2019 — Videos

CONGRESS

Barr won’t testify before House panel Thursday

The attorney general is boycotting the hearing amid a fight with Democrats over the ground rules for his testimony.

Updated 

The Justice Department issued a double-barreled rebuff to Democrats Wednesday, informing the House Judiciary Committee that Attorney General William Barr would not show up for his scheduled testimony before the panel and that the department would not comply with a subpoena for special counsel Robert Mueller’s full report.

“The administration has the nerve to dictate our procedures. It’s simply part of the administration’s complete stonewalling of Congress — period,” Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) told reporters.

“Given his lack of candor in describing the work of the special counsel, our members were right to insist that staff counsel be permitted to question the attorney general,” Nadler told reporters, referring to Barr’s Senate Judiciary Committee testimony earlier Wednesday.

“I understand why he wants to avoid that kind of scrutiny,” Nadler added. “He is terrified of having to face a skilled attorney.”

Justice Department spokeswoman Kerri Kupec countered that Nadler had established “unprecedented and unnecessary“ conditions on the hearing, adding, “Congress and the executive branch are co-equal branches of government, and each have a constitutional obligation to respect and accommodate one another’s legitimate interests.”

The moves by the Justice Department are sure to intensify the ongoing war between the Trump administration and Capitol Hill over House Democrats’ various investigations and oversight demands.

Nadler said he would seek to hold Barr in contempt of Congress if the department doesn’t turn over the unredacted Mueller report and all of the underlying evidence “in the next day or two.” The chairman also said he could issue a subpoena to compel Barr’s attendance at a future hearing.

The committee had teed up the clash earlier Wednesday after a tense party-line vote on establishing the ground rules for Thursday’s hearing. Under the motion adopted by the committee, the attorneys for the Democratic and Republican sides of the panel would have had an hour, equally divided, to question Barr, who had threatened to back out of the hearing if that was the arrangement.

Democrats said that despite DOJ claims, there is ample precedent to use staff attorneys. Republicans, meanwhile, have jumped to Barr’s defense, asserting that it would be “disrespectful” to have anyone but lawmakers question the attorney general.

Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, accused Nadler of “torpedoing” the hearing over an unnecessary demand.

“By rejecting the chance to question Attorney General Barr or read the materials he’s provided, Democrats are trying to prolong an investigation the special counsel completed,” Collins said in a statement.

“What we have here is simply another opportunity to sidetrack and have a serial sideshow,” Collins said earlier Wednesday in opposing the Democrats’ ground rules for the hearing. “This has become nothing but theatre.”

Indeed, the committee’s meeting devolved into a shouting match at times, with Republicans haranguing Democrats with demands that it be adjourned.

Barr testified earlier Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, just hours after it was revealed that Mueller expressed concerns to Barr that his four-page summary of the special counsel’s findings “did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance” of the investigation.

In his March 27 letter to Barr, Mueller also said the attorney general sowed “public confusion” about the investigation, undermining public confidence in the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump.

“I think there are great difficulties with the attorney general at this point. He seems — besides the fact that he clearly misled the American people, he seems to have testified non-truthfully to the Senate and to the House, which raises major questions,” Nadler said Wednesday.

During his Senate testimony, Barr consistently challenged Mueller’s legal theories and appeared to undercut many aspects of the special counsel’s report, rankling Democrats who accused the attorney general of seeking to protect the president.

The revelation about Mueller’s letter prompted even more Democratic lawmakers to call for Barr’s resignation, including some Judiciary Committee members as well as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).

Nadler also said on Wednesday that the committee is eyeing May 15 as the date for Mueller himself to testify before the committee. Barr has said he does not oppose allowing Mueller to testify, but Nadler told reporters that the committee is still negotiating with the Justice Department.

https://www.politico.com/story/2019/05/01/barr-testimony-house-democrats-1296377

Story 3: Fired Former FBI Director Comey Is One of The Conspirators in The Clinton Obama Democratic Criminal Conspracy Getting Nervious — Videos

James Comey: How Trump Co-opts Leaders Like Bill Barr

Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive this president.

By James Comey

Mr. Comey is the former F.B.I. director.

CreditSarah Silbiger/The New York Times
Image
CreditCreditSarah Silbiger/The New York Times

People have been asking me hard questions. What happened to the leaders in the Trump administration, especially the attorney general, Bill Barr, who I have said was due the benefit of the doubt?

How could Mr. Barr, a bright and accomplished lawyer, start channeling the president in using words like “no collusion” and F.B.I. “spying”? And downplaying acts of obstruction of justice as products of the president’s being “frustrated and angry,” something he would never say to justify the thousands of crimes prosecuted every day that are the product of frustration and anger?

How could he write and say things about the report by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, that were apparently so misleading that they prompted written protest from the special counsel himself?

How could Mr. Barr go before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and downplay President Trump’s attempt to fire Mr. Mueller before he completed his work?

 

And how could Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, after the release of Mr. Mueller’s report that detailed Mr. Trump’s determined efforts to obstruct justice, give a speech quoting the president on the importance of the rule of law? Or on resigning, thank a president who relentlessly attacked both him and the Department of Justice he led for “the courtesy and humor you often display in our personal conversations”?

What happened to these people?

I don’t know for sure. People are complicated, so the answer is most likely complicated. But I have some idea from four months of working close to Mr. Trump and many more months of watching him shape others.

Amoral leaders have a way of revealing the character of those around them. Sometimes what they reveal is inspiring. For example, James Mattis, the former secretary of defense, resigned over principle, a concept so alien to Mr. Trump that it took days for the president to realize what had happened, before he could start lying about the man.

But more often, proximity to an amoral leader reveals something depressing. I think that’s at least part of what we’ve seen with Bill Barr and Rod Rosenstein. Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive Mr. Trump and that adds up to something they will never recover from. It takes character like Mr. Mattis’s to avoid the damage, because Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites.

It starts with your sitting silent while he lies, both in public and private, making you complicit by your silence. In meetings with him, his assertions about what “everyone thinks” and what is “obviously true” wash over you, unchallenged, as they did at our private dinner on Jan. 27, 2017, because he’s the president and he rarely stops talking. As a result, Mr. Trump pulls all of those present into a silent circle of assent.

Speaking rapid-fire with no spot for others to jump into the conversation, Mr. Trump makes everyone a co-conspirator to his preferred set of facts, or delusions. I have felt it — this president building with his words a web of alternative reality and busily wrapping it around all of us in the room.

I must have agreed that he had the largest inauguration crowd in history because I didn’t challenge that. Everyone must agree that he has been treated very unfairly. The web building never stops.

From the private circle of assent, it moves to public displays of personal fealty at places like cabinet meetings. While the entire world is watching, you do what everyone else around the table does — you talk about how amazing the leader is and what an honor it is to be associated with him.

Sure, you notice that Mr. Mattis never actually praises the president, always speaking instead of the honor of representing the men and women of our military. But he’s a special case, right? Former Marine general and all. No way the rest of us could get away with that. So you praise, while the world watches, and the web gets tighter.

Next comes Mr. Trump attacking institutions and values you hold dear — things you have always said must be protected and which you criticized past leaders for not supporting strongly enough. Yet you are silent. Because, after all, what are you supposed to say? He’s the president of the United States.

You feel this happening. It bothers you, at least to some extent. But his outrageous conduct convinces you that you simply must stay, to preserve and protect the people and institutions and values you hold dear. Along with Republican members of Congress, you tell yourself you are too important for this nation to lose, especially now.

You can’t say this out loud — maybe not even to your family — but in a time of emergency, with the nation led by a deeply unethical person, this will be your contribution, your personal sacrifice for America. You are smarter than Donald Trump, and you are playing a long game for your country, so you can pull it off where lesser leaders have failed and gotten fired by tweet.

And then you are lost. He has eaten your soul.

James Comey is the former F.B.I. director and author of “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.”

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1238, April 11, 2019, Breaking News — Story 1: Wikileaks Co-Founder Julian Assange Arrested In Great Britain — Videos — Story 2: Obama vs. Trump Using Drones To Kill Terrorists and Many Innocent Civilians — Videos — Story 3: Fake Sanctuary Cities Oppose Sending Illegal Aliens To Their Cities — Videos

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Pronk Pops Show 1232 April 1, 2019 Part 2

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Pronk Pops Show 1231 March 28, 2019

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The Real Reason Julian Assange Was Arrested

Collateral Murder?

WikiLeaks video: ‘Collateral murder’ in Iraq

Published on Apr 7, 2010
WikiLeaks, a website that publishes anonymously sourced documents, has released a video showing what apparently is a US military helicopter firing at unarmed civilians in Iraq. WikiLeaks said the footage, filmed from a helicopter cockpit, shows a missile strike and shooting on a square in a Baghdad neighbourhood in July 2007. The website said 12 civilians were killed in the attack, including two journalists, Namir Nour El Deen and Saeed Chmagh, who worked for the Reuters news agency. This is the full, unedited version of the footage.

WikiLeaks’ Collateral Murder: U.S. Soldier Ethan McCord

Controversial WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested in London

What U.S. charges against Julian Assange mean for journalists

WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Arrested In London, Facing Possible US Extradition

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested in London

‘The Five’ reacts to Julian Assange’s charges

Former MI5 Agent on Assange’s arrest

Bill Binney (former NSA) on the Arrest of Julian Assange

Former intel chief reacts to Assange arrest

LIVE: Wikileaks Editor in chief holds press briefing on Assange’s “new criminal case”

‘The arrest of Julian Assange is spiteful self-interested politics’

Julian Assange: Wikileaks co-founder arrested in London- BBC News

Wikileaks Co-founder Julian Assange Arrested

How Julian Assange Became a Household Name

Why has Julian Assange been holed up? BBC News

Who Is Julian Assange? (2010)

Secret World of US Election: Julian Assange talks to John Pilger (FULL INTERVIEW)

What 33,000 pages of leaked emails teach us about Hillary Clinton

CIA Hacking Tools Released in Wikileaks Vault 7 – Threat Wire

WikiLeaks Vault 7 explained

CIA declines to comment on WikiLeaks document dump

WikiLeaks releases documents on CIA hacking

CIA Director Calls WikiLeaks Hostile Intelligence Service

SEVEN officers, found guilty of skipping UK bail and charged by American government with hacking 750,000 classified documents

  • Wikileaks founder dragged out of Ecuadorian Embassy in handcuffs by a large group of police officers today 
  • Arrest was for skipping bail in 2012 and also for a US extradition request over computer hacking charges 
  • Ecuador said decision came after he behaved badly and interfered with its affairs during his seven-year stay
  • Appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court where he was found guilty of breaching bail conditions in 2012
  • He faces a further court hearing in May relating to his possible extradition to the US on the hacking charges 
  • He has not left embassy since 2012, when he was offered refuge from allegations of sexual assault in Sweden
  • Assange has always feared extradition to the US, where he’s wanted for a leak of highly-classified documents 
  • Corbyn told Government not to extradite Assange for ‘exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan’

Julian Assange is facing up to 12 months in a British prison after he was found guilty of skipping bail to avoid being extradited to Sweden in 2012 to face allegations of rape and sexual assault.

The Wikileaks founder finally appeared in court today after he was sensationally expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been claiming political refuge for the past seven years.

A judge branded Assange’s defence ‘laughable’ and his behaviour that of a ‘narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests’ after he pleaded not guilty to breaching his bail conditions, claiming he did so because he could never expect a fair trial in the UK.

Ecuador’s decision to revoke his political asylum this morning saw a diplomatic falling of dominoes, with seven British police officers entering the embassy at 10am before restraining him as he tried to flee to his private room.

They then dragged the fugitive away kicking and screaming into a van as he shouted ‘this is unlawful’ and ‘the UK must resist’.

In a dramatic turn of events, he was then also charged by US government prosecutors with conspiring with American whistleblower Chelsea Manning to break the password of a classified government computer in 2010.

Assange participated in the hacking in ‘real-time’ and encouraged the act, which led to one of the largest leaks of classified information in US history, according to a statement.

The US department of justice confirmed he has been charged with computer crimes, which if he is found guilty of could result in a five-year jail term. Addressing Assange at today’s court hearing, District Judge Michael Snow told him to ‘get over to the US’ and ‘get on with your life’.

While he awaits sentencing for jumping bail, Assange, 47, also faces a court hearing on May 2 relating to his possible extradition to the US to contest the hacking charges.

His lawyer Jennifer Robinson said he will fight extradition, adding that he thanked supporters and said ‘I told you so’ when she visited him in his police cell.

Ecuadorian president Lenin Moreno dramatically withdraw Assange’s asylum status this morning, blaming his ‘discourteous and aggressive behaviour’ in continuing to work with Wikileaks while housed at the embassy.

In a scathing statement, President Moreno accused Assange of violating the terms of his asylum by ‘interfering in internal affairs of other states’ as well as ‘blocking security cameras’ and ‘mistreating guards’. Its interior minister even alleged he had smeared faeces on the embassy’s walls.

The arrest came just 24 hours after Wikileaks had accused Ecuador of an ‘extensive spying operation’, adding that it assumed intelligence had been handed over to the Trump administration.

Mr Trump, who had declared ‘I love WikiLeaks’ during his 2016 campaign when the website released damaging emails concerning Hillary Clinton, said following Assange’s arrest that ‘I know nothing really about him’.

Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates' Court today

Assange on the way to court

Julian Assange gestures to the media from a police vehicle on his arrival at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today

The Wikileaks founder was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in handcuffs by a large group of men as stunned supporters and protesters watched on in central London

The Wikileaks founder was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in handcuffs by a large group of men as stunned supporters and protesters watched on in central London

V

The court heard how Assange resisted arrest and tried to barge past officers in an attempt to return to his private room within the embassy when they introduced themselves at about 10am, telling them: 'This is unlawful'+32

The court heard how Assange resisted arrest and tried to barge past officers in an attempt to return to his private room within the embassy when they introduced themselves at about 10am, telling them: ‘This is unlawful’

The US Department of Justice said Julian Assange had been arrested over an alleged conspiracy with Chelsea Manning “to break a password to a classified US government computer”

Indictment form for Julian Assange

The US Department of Justice, releasing this indictment form, said Julian Assange had been arrested over an alleged conspiracy with Chelsea Manning ‘to break a password to a classified US government computer’

A judge described Assange's defence that he could never expect a fair trial in the UK as 'laughable', calling his behaviour that of a 'narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests' as the court heard he tried to fight off arresting officers

A judge described Assange’s defence that he could never expect a fair trial in the UK as ‘laughable’, calling his behaviour that of a ‘narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests’ as the court heard he tried to fight off arresting officers

Assange gestures to photographers as he is driven away from Westminster Magistrates' Court after he hearing today

A large crowd of Press and supporters were gathered outside the court to wait for him to come out

Assange gestures to photographers as he is driven away from Westminster Magistrates’ Court after he hearing today

Assange pictured as he was led out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in handcuffs following his sensational arrest by British police today

Assange pictured as he was led out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in handcuffs following his sensational arrest by British police today

Assange (pictured bottom left) as he is arrested by police after being ejected from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London

His lawyer Jennifer Robinson and Kristinn Hrafnsson, Editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, address the media outside of Westminster Magistrates Court today

His lawyer Jennifer Robinson and Kristinn Hrafnsson, Editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, address the media outside of Westminster Magistrates Court today

The decision to expel Assange followed months of gradually souring relations between the Ecuadorian government and its unwelcome guest.

‘He exposed atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan’: Corbyn urges the UK not to extradite Assange to America – as luvvies and Russia slam his arrest

Jeremy Corbyn has called on the Government not to extradite Julian Assange, saying he had exposed evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Almost 12 hours after Assange was arrested, the Labour leader tweeted: ‘The extradition of Julian Assange to the US for exposing evidence of atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan should be opposed by the British government.’

He accompanied his social media post with a video tweeted by shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, which she said showed leaked Pentagon footage of a 2007 air strike in Iraq which implicated American armed forces in the killing of civilians and two journalists.

Corbyn (pictured today) broke this silence this evening to urge the UK government not to extradite Assange

Addressing the House of Commons on Thursday, Ms Abbott said Assange was in the ‘cross-hairs of the US administration’ over his whistle-blowing activities.

She claimed this was the reason why the WikiLeaks founder would be subject to an extradition warrant from the US.

She said: ‘On this side of the House we want to make the point that the reason we are debating Julian Assange this afternoon, even though the only charge he may face in this country is in relation to his bail hearings, is entirely due to the whistle-blowing activities of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.’

Ms Abbott went on: ‘It is this whistle-blowing into illegal wars, mass murder, murder of civilians and corruption on a grand scale, that has put Julian Assange in the cross-hairs of the US administration.

‘It is for this reason that they have once more issued an extradition warrant against Mr Assange.’

In response, Home Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘Why is it whenever someone has a track record of undermining the UK and our allies and the values we stand for, you can almost guarantee that the leadership of the party opposite will support those who intend to do us harm?

‘You can always guarantee that from the party opposite.’

Pamela Anderson arrives to meet Assange at the embassy in 2017

Pamela Anderson arrives to meet Assange at the embassy in 2017

Corbyn and Abbott were joined by the likes of Pamela Anderson, Edward Snowden, Vivienne Westwood and Peter Tatchell in voicing their concern.

 US whistleblower Snowden warned the arrest was a ‘dark moment for press freedom,’ while fashion designer Westwood protested outside Westminster Magistrates Court.

Snowden, a former CIA agent tweeted: ‘Images of Ecuador’s ambassador inviting the UK’s secret police into the embassy to drag a publisher of-like it or not-award-winning journalism out of the building are going to end up in the history books.’

Snowden is currently living in exile Russia having fled the US after leaking a huge cache of declassified documents back in 2013.

Assange’s close friend Pamela Anderson also blasted the arrest on Twitter, calling the UK ‘America’s b****’ and claiming it was a ‘diversion from Brexit’.

She said:  ‘How could you Equador ? (Because he exposed you). How could you UK? Of course – you are America’s b**** and you need a diversion from your idiotic Brexit b*******. ‘

She also called out the USA and described President Donald Trump as ‘toxic’.

She added:  ‘This toxic coward of a President He needs to rally his base? – You are selfish and cruel. You have taken the entire world backwards.

‘You are devils and liars and thieves. And you will ROTT And WE WILL RISE ✊.’

Ms Anderson then re-tweeted videos of Assange’s arrest before posting a photo of him with the caption ‘veritas valebit’, which is Latin for ‘truth will prevail’.

And the Russian Foreign Ministry claimed the move was ‘the hand of democracy squeezing the throat of freedom’.

President Moreno, who entered the office in 2017, was personally targeted by Wikileaks in February, when a set of documents were leaked that allegedly linked the president and family members to financial corruption and money laundering.

Wikileaks has previously called Moreno’s pursuit of Assange a ‘diversion tactic’ aimed at pointing attention away from the scandal and scoring political points with the US, with whom he is believed to want to improve relations.

The revival of US-Ecuadoran diplomacy, led by Moreno, saw the International Monetary Fund in Washington approve a $4.2billion payment to the Ecuadorian government in March, a month to the day that Assange was arrested and charged.

The Ecuadorian ambassador to the UK, Jaime Marchan, said that in the time Assange remained in the embassy he had been disrespectful, ‘continually a problem’ and interfered in elections, politics and the internal affairs of other countries.

Mr Marchan said: ‘He was continually a problem to us, he was very disrespectful to the authorities, he has said that we were spying on him, he has said we were lying, we were agents of the United States.’

A Downing Street spokesman insisted the UK had not lobbied the Ecuadorians to revoke Assange’s asylum status.

She said: ‘In terms of contact, there has been a sense of dialogue with the Ecuadorian government from the onset.

‘The decision to revoke asylum was one for them entirely and you’ll have seen from their statements that they have set that out.

‘Beyond that, this is now a matter for the police and the court system.’

When asked if the British Government had lobbied the Ecuadorians, she said: ‘No, and as I’ve said the decision to revoke his asylum status is one taken entirely by them and they have confirmed that in their statements today.’

Assange, who has overseen the publication of thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables through Wikileaks, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court a few hours after his was brought into custody by police.

James Hines, for the US government, told the court: ‘Officers attended the embassy around 9.15am where they met the ambassador.

‘The ambassador said he was proposing to serve documents ending Assange’s asylum.’

The court heard that the officers met Assange at 10pm. Mr Hines said: ‘The officers tried to introduce themselves to him but he barged past them attempting to return to his private room.

‘He was arrested at 10.15am. He resisted that arrest and had to be restrained. Officers were struggling to handcuff him. They received assistance from other officers outside.’ He told the court that Assange kept saying: ‘This is unlawful.’

Mr Hines said: ‘He was in fact lifted into the police van and taken to West Central police station. There he was more formally arrested.’

News of his arrest was praised by Home Secretary Sajid Javid, who said ‘no one was above the law’, while Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt added Assange was ‘no hero’ and claimed he had ‘hidden from the truth for years’.

In a statement, the Home Office said: ‘We can confirm that Julian Assange was arrested in relation to a provisional extradition request from the United States of America.

‘He is accused in the United States of America computer related offences.’

Scotland Yard said Assange was held for failing to appear in court in June 2012 and ‘further arrested on behalf of the United States authorities, at 10.53am after his arrival at a central London police station’.

US authorities claim Assange helped former US military analyst Chelsea Manning crack a password to gain entry to secure a computer network and download material to share with WikiLeaks.

The Wikileaks editor tonight claimed Assange was thrown ‘overboard’ by Ecuador to face decades in jail or even the death penalty in the US.

Kristinn Hrafnsson said the extradition request from the US for the Australian, on charges of conspiring to break into a classified government computer, was ‘only a part of the story’.

She said believed ‘that there will be more later, that will be added on, more charges’.

The Icelandic editor of the whistle-blowing site said: ‘It probably adds to the likelihood that he will be extradited from the UK if it’s on relatively smaller charges.

‘The legal codes proceeding in the Grand Jury investigation include various legal codes and the Espionage Act of 1917 which carries the death penalty and at least elements of decades in prison.’

Assange has always feared extradition to the US where his lawyers have claimed he could face the death penalty for the leaking of highly-classified documents.

However, the UK government has insisted it would not extradite Assange if there was a risk of him being executed. The Ecuadorian government said it had asked Britain for this guarantee.

The Wikileaks founder (pictured over a seven-year period) finally appeared in court today after he was sensationally expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been claiming political refuge

The Wikileaks founder (pictured over a seven-year period) finally appeared in court today after he was sensationally expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been claiming political refuge

A protestor is handled by police officers standing outside Westminster Magistrates Court after the arrest of Julian Assange

A police van sits outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police and taken into custody following the Ecuadorian government's withdrawal of asylum

A police van sits outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police and taken into custody following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum

This graphic shows how Assange's dramatic arrest unfolded this morning at the Ecuadorian Embassy

The US charges were announced shortly after Assange was taken into custody this morning.

What is UK’s extradition agreement with the US and how long could it take to send Assange to America?

The UK to US extradition process is in place to seek justice for serious crimes affecting both countries and its citizens.

It protects the rights of those accused and victims.

The latest version of the  treaty updated the formal extradition relationship between the US and UK following changes in the UK’s own extradition laws and corrected a previous imbalances.

It was previously required that the US would have to  present its evidence in ‘prima facie’ form, when the US had never required that from the UK.

In the case of Assange experts have now said that he is likely to receive a custodial sentence in the UK and that and extradition to the US will follow.

Extradition lawyer Thomas Garner: ‘Given Assange’s public statements in the past it is clear that he would attempt to raise many bars to his extradition.

‘The extradition court here would not come to any conclusions on the merits of the US case in the proceedings here.

‘Its sole concern would be whether there are any legal bar to his being extradited to stand trial in the US. The process would take many months to conclude.

‘If there were an extradition request from the US, given the likely complexity of the case, it is doubtful that any final hearing would be heard this year.’

In a statement, US Department of Justice said Assange’s arrest was ‘in connection with a federal charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified US government computer’.

If found guilty, he could face a maximum sentence of five years in prison, it said.

Ms Manning, a transgender woman formerly known as Bradley Manning, was convicted in 2013 after leaking 700,000 military and State Department documents to WikiLeaks.

She was released in 2017 after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence, which was commuted by former president Barack Obama.

It is alleged Ms Manning and Assange had ‘real-time discussions’ on how to share the classified records, with Assange ‘actively encouraging’ Ms Manning to provide more.

During an exchange, Ms Manning allegedly told Assange that ‘after this upload, that’s all I really have got left’, to which Assange replied ‘curious eyes never run dry in my experience’.

The statement added: ‘Assange is charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

‘If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.

‘A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the US Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.’

Ms Manning was jailed in the US last month after she refused to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

Spanish lawyer Baltasar Garzon, who is coordinating Assange’s defence, claimed today he was the target of ‘political persecution’.

‘There is evident political persecution which started precisely with the massive publication by WikiLeaks in 2010 of cables and very serious information’ which Assange had published, including a trove of classified Pentagon documents detailing alleged US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq,’ he said.

‘The threats against Julian Assange for political reasons, persecution on the part of the United States, are more current than ever.’

Mr Garzon also accused Ecuador’s president of lying about the reasons behind the revoking of Assange’s citizenship of the South American state, acquired in 2017.

Moments after the arrest, Wikileaks said Ecuador had acted illegally in terminating Assange's political asylum 'in violation of international law'

Moments after the arrest, Wikileaks said Ecuador had acted illegally in terminating Assange’s political asylum ‘in violation of international law’

British police are pictured arriving at the embassy moments before the Wikileaks founder was dragged outside in handcuffs

Media gathers outside Westminster Magistrates Court where Julian Assange is set to appear after his arrest by Metropolitan Police

Media gathers outside Westminster Magistrates Court where Julian Assange is set to appear after his arrest by Metropolitan Police

Mr Trump, who had declared 'I love WikiLeaks' during his 2016 campaign when the website released damaging emails concerning Hillary Clinton, said following Assange's arrest that 'I know nothing really about him'

Who is former US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning and how is she linked to Assange?

Chelsea Manning is a US Army intelligence analyst and delivered hundreds of thousands of classified documents that he found troubling to WikiLeaks.

In 2009 Manning was sent to Iraq where she had access to ‘troubling’ information.

She gave this information to WikiLeaks and was later arrested after her actions were reported to the US government.

In 2010 Assange was accused of conspiring with Manning and other conspirators to publish secret military and diplomatic documents that Manning had collected.

In 2013 she was sentenced to 35 years in prison for espionage and theft.

Chelsea Manning leaving court in March after testifying before a grand jury in the investigation against Julian Assange

Chelsea Manning leaving court in March after testifying before a grand jury in the investigation against Julian Assange

A year later Manning, who is transgender, was granted the right to be legally recognized as Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, after living as Bradley Manning.

In 2017 President Barack Obama commuted her sentence and she was released from prison.

Earlier this year, Manning revealed that she was fighting a subpoena to testify before a grand jury about her interactions with WikiLeaks.

On March 5 she testified before a grand jury in the investigation against Julian Assange.

On March 9 she was taken into custody after a federal judge found her in contempt for her refusal to cooperate.

Jennifer Robinson, who is also representing Assange, said: ‘Since 2010 we’ve warned that Julian Assange would face prosecution and extradition to the United States for his publishing activities with WikiLeaks. Unfortunately today, we’ve been proven right.

‘Mr Assange was arrested this morning at about 10am at the Ecuadorian Embassy after the ambassador formally notified him that his asylum would be revoked, and he was arrested by British police.

‘We’ve today received a warrant and a provisional extradition request from the United States, alleging that he has conspired with Chelsea Manning in relation to the materials published by WikiLeaks in 2010.

‘This sets a dangerous precedent for all media organisations and journalists in Europe and elsewhere around the world.

‘This precedent means that any journalist can be extradited for prosecution in the United States for having published truthful information about the United States.

‘I’ve just been with Mr Assange in the police cells. He wants to thank all of his supporters for their ongoing support and he said: ‘I told you so’.’

It was accidentally revealed in November that Assange had been secretly indicted by the US Justice Department, but the exact nature of the charges against the 47-year-old was not disclosed.

Assange has not left Ecuador’s diplomatic soil since 2012, when the country offered diplomatic protection from allegations of sexual assault in Sweden.

The case was eventually dropped as investigators were unable to formally notify Assange of the allegations, however Swedish prosecutors revealed today that the case could now be revisited following his arrest.

Moments after the arrest, during which Assange held on to a Gore Vidal book on the history of the national security state, Wikileaks said Ecuador had acted illegally and ‘in violation of international law’.

Shortly after his arrest, vocal supporter and former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson tweeted a black and white photo of Assange along with the caption ‘Veritas Valebit’, which is Latin for ‘the truth will prevail’.

The 51-year-old, who claims she was previously in a relationship with Assange, said she was in shock at the arrest.

Taking to Twitter she commented on his appearance and said he looked ‘very bad’.

She said: ‘How could you Equador? (Because he exposed you). How could you UK? Of course – you are America’s b***h and you need a diversion from your idiotic Brexit b*******. ‘

She also called out the USA and described President Donald Trump as ‘toxic’.

She added: ‘This toxic coward of a President He needs to rally his base? – You are selfish and cruel. You have taken the entire world backwards.

‘You are devils and liars and thieves. And you will ROTT And WE WILL RISE ✊.’

Shortly after his arrest, vocal supporter and former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson tweeted a black and white photo of Assange along with the caption 'Veritas Valebit', which is Latin for 'the truth will prevail'

Taking to Twitter she commented on his appearance and said he looked 'very bad'

Shortly after his arrest, vocal supporter and former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson tweeted a black and white photo of Assange along with the caption ‘Veritas Valebit’, which is Latin for ‘the truth will prevail’

Fidel Narvaez (left), former consul of Ecuador to London, looks at some of the footage, alongside WikiLeaks editor in chief Kristinn Hrafnsson and barrister Jennifer Robinson today

Fidel Narvaez (left), former consul of Ecuador to London, looks at some of the footage, alongside WikiLeaks editor in chief Kristinn Hrafnsson and barrister Jennifer Robinson today

Mr Narvaez, Mr Hrafnsson and Ms Robinson at Doughty Street Chambers in London today

Mr Narvaez, Mr Hrafnsson and Ms Robinson at Doughty Street Chambers in London today

Meanwhile, US whistleblower Edward Snowden warned the arrest was a ‘dark moment for press freedom’.

Snowden tweeted: ‘Images of Ecuador’s ambassador inviting the UK’s secret police into the embassy to drag a publisher of-like it or not-award-winning journalism out of the building are going to end up in the history books.

How Assange has cost UK taxpayers more than £12million while holed up in embassy

Julian Assange first entered the Ecuadorian embassy in 2012 after he was granted conditional bail in 2010 after his supporters paid £240,000 in cash and sureties.

In 2015 the Met Police announced it would end its 24-hour guard as part part of a three-year police operation.

Scotland Yard released figures in 2015 which suggested that Assange being in the UK is estimated to have cost over £12million.

At the time the Met said the figure included £6.5million of costs incurred for police officer pay costs that would be incurred during normal duties, as well as a £2.7million price tag for police overtime.

Another £1.1million is said to have been ran up due to administration costs.

MailOnline has contacted the Met Police for an updated figure.

‘Assange’s critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom.’

Snowden is currently living in exile Russia having fled the US after leaking a huge cache of declassified documents back in 2013.

The Former CIA agent has been a longstanding supporter of Assange’s cause having allegedly been helped by the Wikileaks founder in handing over the secret documents to journalists.

Assange’s arrest comes a day after Wikileaks accused the Ecuadorean Government of an ‘extensive spying operation’.

In a press conference yesterday, it was alleged that the Wikileaks founder’s meetings with lawyers and a doctor inside the Ecuador embassy in London over the past year had been secretly filmed.

The anti-secrecy organisation said it had been offered all the material from an unnamed person in Spain, if it paid €3million (£2.6million).

Wikileaks also told how it assumed the information had been handed over to the administration of US President Donald Trump.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said following the arrest: ‘What we have shown today is that nobody is above the law – Julian Assange is no hero.

‘He’s hidden from the truth for years and years and it’s right that his future should be decided in the British judicial system.’

He added: ‘What has happened today is the result of years of careful diplomacy by the Foreign Office.’

Mr Hunt added: ‘[It’s] a very courageous decision by President Moreno in Ecuador to resolve this situation that’s been going on for nearly seven years.

‘It’s not so much that Julian Assange was being held hostage in the Ecuadorian Embassy, it was actually Julian Assange holding the Ecuadorian Embassy hostage. It was a situation that was absolutely intolerable to them.’

How judge who called Assange a ‘narcissist’ has slammed celebrity chef Marco Pierre White’s son

Judge Michael Snow was appointed as District Judge for the south east in 2004.

He is based at the City of Westminster Magistrates in London.

In 2011 he accused prosecutors of ‘double standards’ over a drunk who allegedly racially abused an Irish worker at Westminster Cathedral.

He had also previously dealt with the case of Jacqueline Woodhouse, a woman who in 2012 launched a tirade of explicit rants on the central line tube in London.

A court sketch of Assange and Judge Snow

A court sketch of Assange and Judge Snow

At the time Judge Snow said she had been grossly offensive.

In 2016, he also criticised the son of British celebrity chef Marco Pierre White, Marco Pierre White Jr, after he pleaded guilty to dishonestly using his ex-girlfriend’s bank card.

He has also ruled over a number of recent cases including that of Lovel Bailey, who murdered Good Morning Britain’s Alex Beresford’s cousin Nathaniel Armstrong.

His term of office is set to be renewed in August 2020.

In a statement this morning, Scotland Yard said: ‘Julian Assange, 47, has today, Thursday 11 April, been arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) at the Embassy of Ecuador, Hans Crescent, SW1 on a warrant issued by Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 29 June 2012, for failing to surrender to the court.

‘He has been taken into custody at a central London police station where he will remain, before being presented before Westminster Magistrates’ Court as soon as is possible.

‘The MPS had a duty to execute the warrant, on behalf of Westminster Magistrates’ Court, and was invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum.’

Wikileaks tweeted: ‘URGENT: Ecuador has illigally (sic) terminated Assange political asylum in violation of international law.

‘He was arrested by the British police inside the Ecuadorian embassy minutes ago.’

Lenin Moreno, President of Ecuador, said in a statement on Assange: ‘Ecuador is a generous country and a nation with open arms.

‘Ours is a government respectful of the principles of international law, and of the institution of the right of asylum.

‘Granting or withdrawing asylum is a sovereign right of the Ecuadorian state, according to international law.

‘Today, I announce that the discourteous and aggressive behaviour of Mr Julian Assange, the hostile and threatening declaration of its allied organisation, against Ecuador, and especially the transgression of international treaties, have led the situation to a point where the asylum of Mr Assange is unsustainable and no longer viable.

‘Ecuador sovereignly has decided to terminate the diplomatic asylum granted to Mr Assange in 2012.

‘For six years and 10 months, the Ecuadorian people have protected the human rights of Mr Assange and have provided for his everyday needs at the facilities of our Embassy in London.

‘When I became the President of Ecuador, I inherited this situation and decided to adopt a protocol to set the daily life rules at the Embassy, which is less than anyone may expect from a guest hosted at his own house.

‘Ecuador has fulfilled its obligations in the framework of international law.

‘On the other hand, Mr Assange violated, repeatedly, clear cut provisions of the conventions on diplomatic asylum of Havana and Caracas; despite the fact that he was requested on several occasions to respect and abide by these rules.’

Rafael Correa, who was Ecuadorian president when Assange was granted asylum, has strongly condemned his successor’s decision.

He tweeted that Lenin Moreno was the ‘greatest traitor in Ecuadorian and Latin American history’.

Minister of State for Europe and the Americas Alan Duncan (right) and Ecuadorian Ambassador Jaime Marchan (left) pose jubilantly at a press conference in Victoria Gardens, Westminster, after WikiLeaks founder Assange was arrested

An Assange supporter outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London's Knightsbridge last week, where protesters have gathered for seven years in support of the Wikileaks founder

The Swedish lawyer of Julian Assange’s alleged rape victim is pushing to reopen the case that was dropped in 2017.

Lawyer Elisabeth Massi Fritz says she would ‘do all we can to make prosecutors reopen investigation’ in the wake of the Wikileaks founder’s arrest today.

She said: ‘My client and I have just received the news that Assange has been arrested.

‘The fact that what we have been waiting and hoping for for nearly seven years is now happening, of course, comes as a shock to my client.

‘We will do all we can to get prosecutors to reopen the Swedish preliminary criminal investigation so that Assange can be extradited to Sweden and be prosecuted for rape.’

Julian Assange, centre, arrives for his extradition hearing at the High Court in London in 2011. He would walk into the Ecuadorian embassy as a political asylum seeker the following year

Julian Assange, centre, arrives for his extradition hearing at the High Court in London in 2011. He would walk into the Ecuadorian embassy as a political asylum seeker the following year

Assange was arrested by British police today after Ecuador dramatically withdrew political asylum seven years after he was given refuge in the country’s London embassy.

The 47-year-old has not left Ecuador’s diplomatic soil since 2012, when the country offered political protection from allegations of sexual assault in Sweden.

While the case was eventually dropped, Assange has always feared extradition to the US where his lawyers have claimed he could face the death penalty for the leaking of highly-classified documents.

Edward Snowden brands Julian Assange’s arrest ‘a dark moment for press freedom’

US whistleblower Edward Snowden has warned the arrest of Julian Assange is ‘a dark moment for press freedom’.

Soon after Assange’s arrest in London today, Snowden tweeted: ‘Images of Ecuador’s ambassador inviting the UK’s secret police into the embassy to drag a publisher of-like it or not-award-winning journalism out of the building are going to end up in the history books.

Edward Snowden (pictured) said critics would cheer at the arrest

Edward Snowden (pictured) said critics would cheer at the arrest

‘Assange’s critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom.’

Snowden is currently living in exile Russia having fled the US after leaking a huge cache of declassified documents back in 2013.

The Former CIA agent has been a longstanding supporter of Assange’s cause having allegedly been helped by the Wikileaks founder in handing over the secret documents to journalists.

An international warrant for arrest was issued on November 18 2010 for Assange on suspicion of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion – which he denies.

He has since lived inside the embassy in Knightsbridge for seven years when Swedish authorities requested his extradition as a suspect in the rape case.

A into his time at the embassy, Assange told journalists he would not leave even if the sex charges against him were dropped, due to fears he would be extradited to the US for questioning over the activities of WikiLeaks.

In 2015, investigations into the sex allegations were dropped because Swedish authorities ran out of time to question him – but the case of suspected rape remained open.

A senior Swedish prosecutor interviewed Assange a year later over the course of two days over the allegations of rape. But in 2017, Swedish authorities suddenly dropped the rape allegations.

The Wikileaks founder was dragged head-first in handcuffs today by a group of seven men today as stunned supporters and protesters watched on in central London as he screamed out ‘the UK must resist’.

Assange, who has overseen the publication of thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables through Wikileaks, is currently in custody and is set to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court ‘as soon as possible’.

Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno said the decision to withdraw Assange’s asylum status came after the ‘repeated violations to international conventions and daily-life protocols’ and his ‘discourteous and aggressive behaviour’.

In a statement today, Ecuador’s president added that he had asked Britain to guarantee that Assange would not be extradited to any country where he could face torture or the death penalty.

The news of his arrest was immediately confirmed by Home Secretary Sajid Javid on Twitter, who said that ‘no one was above the law’.

In a statement this morning, Scotland Yard said: ‘Julian Assange, 47, has today, Thursday 11 April, been arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) at the Embassy of Ecuador, Hans Crescent, SW1 on a warrant issued by Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 29 June 2012, for failing to surrender to the court.

‘He has been taken into custody at a central London police station where he will remain, before being presented before Westminster Magistrates’ Court as soon as is possible.

‘The MPS had a duty to execute the warrant, on behalf of Westminster Magistrates’ Court, and was invited into the embassy by the Ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government’s withdrawal of asylum.’

Who is Julian Assange and why is he wanted by Sweden, Britain and the US?

Assange (pictured above) has overseen the publication of more than 10 million documents

Assange (pictured above) has overseen the publication of more than 10 million documents

Julian Assange sought asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy almost seven years ago.

He has become a poster boy for campaigners against state spying and censorship.

To his critics, he is a danger to national security and his work could make him the subject of espionage charges in the US.

The Australian started hacking into networks of the powerful elite when he was part of the ‘computer underground’ in his late teens.

The 47-year-old shot to public attention after founding the pro-transparency website in 2006 as an online library of otherwise secret documents from governments, intelligence agencies, political parties and multinational corporations.

WikiLeaks servers are located all over the world, but the central server is located in an underground nuclear bunker in Stockholm, Sweden.

As the self-styled editor-in-chief of the site, he has overseen the publication of more than 10 million documents and attracted high-profile supporters including Pamela Anderson, novelist Tariq Ali, filmmaker Ken Loach and Jemima Goldsmith (nee Khan).

He has been quoted as saying: ‘It is the role of good journalism to take on powerful abusers.’

Among the major leaks since the site’s foundation were battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, diplomatic communications and a military video showing a US helicopter attack that killed at least 11 men.

Assange has also been forced to deny Russian intelligence sources provided a trove of tens of thousands of emails from senior figures within the Democratic National Congress (DNC) during the US election campaign.

He published these alongside thousands of emails from the private server of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, originating from her time as Secretary of State, which the site obtained through freedom of information laws.

Assange stood down as editor of Wikileaks in September last year.

Little detail is known about his personal life.

His parents reportedly met at a demonstration against the Vietnam war and he was born in Townsville, Australia in 1971.

He passed through 37 different schools when he was on the road with his mother’s travelling theatre company. Later, while studying at the University of Melbourne between 2003 and 2005, he was vice-president of the mathematics and statistics society.

He left university without graduating after becoming disillusioned with academia, according to the society’s magazine Paradox.

Julian Assange's cat has her own Twitter and Instagram accounts, although it is not clear whether Assange runs them personally

Julian Assange’s cat has her own Twitter and Instagram accounts, although it is not clear whether Assange runs them personally

Assange took refuge inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012 after being bailed during extradition court hearings. A short time later he was granted political asylum by the South American country.

For more than a year, doctors have warned of the Australian’s declining health due to the ‘prolonged uncertainty of indefinite detention’.

Visitors during his nearly seven years in residence have included Anderson and former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, while one member of his inner sanctum has attracted its own following.

His cat has her own Twitter and Instagram accounts, although it is not clear whether Assange runs them personally.

She was a gift from his young children to keep their father company.

Julian Assange’s fight for freedom: A timeline of the WikiLeaks founder’s decade in the limelight

2006

Assange creates Wikileaks with a group of like-minded activists and IT experts to provide a secure way for whistleblowers to leak information. He quickly becomes its figurehead and a lightning rod for criticism.

2010

March: U.S. authorities allege Assange engaged in a conspiracy to hack a classified U.S. government computer with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. 

July: Wikileaks starts releasing tens of thousands of top secrets documents, including a video of U.S. helicopter pilots gunning down 12 civilians in Baghdad in 2007.  What followed was the release of more than 90,000 classified US military files from the Afghan war and 400,000 from Iraq that included the names of informants. 

August: Two Swedish women claim that they each had consensual sex with Assange in separate instances when he was on a 10-day trip to Stockholm. They allege the sex became non-consensual when Assange refused to wear a condom.

First woman claims Assange was staying at her apartment in Stockholm when he ripped off her clothes. She told police that when she realized Assange was trying to have unprotected sex with her, she demanded he use a condom. She claims he ripped the condom before having sex.

Second Swedish woman claims she had sex with Assange at her apartment in Stockholm and she made him wear a condom. She alleges that she later woke up to find Assange having unprotected sex with her.

He was questioned by police in Stockholm and denied the allegations. Assange was granted permission by Swedish authorities to fly back to the U.K.

November: A Swedish court ruled that the investigation should be reopened and Assange should be detained for questioning on suspicion of rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion. An international arrest warrant is issued by Swedish police through Interpol.

Wikileaks releases its cache of more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables.

December: Assange presents himself to London police and appears at an extradition hearing where he is remanded in custody. Assange is granted conditional bail at the High Court in London after his supporters pay £240,000 in cash and sureties.

2011

February: A British judge rules Assange should be extradited to Sweden but Wikileaks found vows to fight the decision.

April:  A cache of classified U.S. military documents is released by Wikileaks, including intelligence assessments on nearly all of the 779 people who are detained at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

November: Assange loses High Court appeal against the decision to extradite him.

2012

June: Assange enters the Ecuadorian embassy in London requesting political asylum.

August: Assange is granted political asylum by Ecuador.

2013

June: Assange tells a group of journalists he will not leave the embassy even if sex charges against him are dropped out of fear he will be extradited to the U.S.

2015

August: Swedish prosecutors drop investigation into some of the sex allegations against Assange due to time restrictions. The investigation into suspected rape remains active.

2016

July: Wikileaks begins leaking emails U.S. Democratic Party officials favoring Hillary Clinton.

November: Assange is questioned over the sex allegation at the Ecuadorian Embassy in the presence of Sweden’s assistant prosecutor Ingrid Isgren and police inspector Cecilia Redell. The interview spans two days.

2017

January: Barack Obama agrees to free whistleblower Chelsea Manning from prison. Her pending release prompts speculation Assange will end his self-imposed exile after Wikileaks tweeted he would agree to U.S. extradition.

April: Lenin Moreno becomes the new president of Ecuador who was known to want to improve diplomatic relations between his country and the U.S.

May: An investigation into a sex allegation against Assange is suddenly dropped by Swedish prosecutors.

2018

January: Ecuador confirms it has granted citizenship to Assange following his request.

February: Assange is visited by Pamela Anderson and Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel.

March: The Ecuadorian Embassy suspends Assange’s internet access because he wasn’t complying with a promise he made the previous year to ‘not send messages which entailed interference in relation to other states’.

August: U.S. Senate committee asks to interview Assange as part of their investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

September: Assange steps down as editor of WikiLeaks.

October: Assange reveals he will launch legal action against the government of Ecuador, accusing it of violating his ‘fundamental rights and freedoms’.

November: U.S. Justice Department inadvertently names Assange in a court document that says he has been charged in secret.

2019

January: Assange’s lawyers say they are taking action to make President Trump’s administration reveal charges ‘secretly filed’ against him.

April 6: WikiLeaks tweets that a high level Ecuadorian source has told them Assange will be expelled from the embassy within ‘hours or days’. But a senior Ecuadorian official says no decision has been made to remove him from the London building.

April 11: Assange has his diplomatic asylum revoked by Ecuador.

The police bill? £13m and counting…

Scotland Yard has given the figure of £13.2million as the cost of guarding the Ecuadorian embassy while Assange was inside – but the true figure is likely to be far higher.

Uniformed officers were permanently stationed outside the embassy in Kensington, west London, from when the WikiLeaks founder arrived in June 2012 until October 2015.

At this point, the permanent deployment was stood down as police deemed it was ‘no longer proportionate’.

Under Freedom of Information laws, the Metropolitan Police has revealed that it cost at least £13.2million to guard the embassy from 2012 to 2015.

It said £7.2million had been incurred in police pay, £3.8million in overtime and £2.2million in admin overheads and costs to supporting departments.

Scotland Yard has refused to reveal costs incurred after 2015 for undercover officers and other surveillance.

It argued the release of such information would ‘cause operational harm’.

It also said it would ‘allow extremists to gauge the level of policing deployed to a specific site’ and adversely affect relations with Ecuador.

Last night the Metropolitan Police said it was ‘looking into’ whether it could provide an updated figure.

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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, April 11, 2019

WikiLeaks Founder Charged in Computer Hacking Conspiracy

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Julian P. Assange, 47, the founder of WikiLeaks, was arrested today in the United Kingdom pursuant to the U.S./UK Extradition Treaty, in connection with a federal charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified U.S. government computer.

According to court documents unsealed today, the charge relates to Assange’s alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.

The indictment alleges that in March 2010, Assange engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications. Manning, who had access to the computers in connection with her duties as an intelligence analyst, was using the computers to download classified records to transmit to WikiLeaks. Cracking the password would have allowed Manning to log on to the computers under a username that did not belong to her. Such a deceptive measure would have made it more difficult for investigators to determine the source of the illegal disclosures.

During the conspiracy, Manning and Assange engaged in real-time discussions regarding Manning’s transmission of classified records to Assange. The discussions also reflect Assange actively encouraging Manning to provide more information. During an exchange, Manning told Assange that “after this upload, that’s all I really have got left.” To which Assange replied, “curious eyes never run dry in my experience.”

Assange is charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, John C. Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the charges were unsealed. First Assistant U.S. Attorney Tracy Doherty-McCormick, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kellen S. Dwyer, Thomas W. Traxler and Gordon D. Kromberg, and Trial Attorneys Matthew R. Walczewski and Nicholas O. Hunter of the Justice Department’s National Security Division are prosecuting the case.

The extradition will be handled by the Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:18-cr-111.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

https://www.justice.gov/usao-edva/pr/wikileaks-founder-charged-computer-hacking-conspiracy

Glenn Greenwald Rages Against Assange Arrest, Battles Journos: ‘It’s the Criminalization of Journalism’

Glenn Greenwald went on the warpath Thursday morning following the arrest of Julian Assange in London.

In a lengthy Twitter rant, Greenwald — founder of The Intercept — blasted those in the media who are not speaking out against the arrest, arguing it is a direct attack on press freedom.

“If you’re a US media star who has spent 2 years claiming to be so concerned about press freedoms over Trump’s mean tweets about your friends, but don’t raise your voice in protest over this grave attack on press freedom, take a hard look in the mirror,” Greenwald wrote.

Glenn Greenwald

@ggreenwald

If you’re a US media star who has spent 2 years claiming to be so concerned about press freedoms over Trump’s mean tweets about your friends, but don’t raise your voice in protest over this grave attack on press freedom, take a hard look in the mirror https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/09/the-guardian-view-on-julian-assange-it-would-be-wrong-to-extradite-him?utm_term=Autofeed&CMP=twt_gu&utm_medium=&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1554831501 

2,579 people are talking about this

Some journalists on Twitter issued similar warnings as Greenwald — but backed off their criticism of the arrest after the Department of Justice formally announced its charge, one count of conspiracy of hacking by helping Chelsea Manning break into a Department of Defense computer. Greenwald, though, maintained that the DOJ was still out of bounds.

“The DOJ says part of what Assange did to justify his prosecution – beyond allegedly helping Manning get the documents – is he encouraged Manning to get more docs for him to publish,” Greenwald wrote. “Journalists do this with sources constantly: it’s the criminalization of journalism.”

Glenn Greenwald

@ggreenwald

The DOJ says part of what Assange did to justify his prosecution – beyond allegedly helping Manning get the documents – is he encouraged Manning to get more docs for him to publish. Journalists do this with sources constantly: it’s the criminalization of journalism

In a lengthy Twitter rant, Greenwald — founder of The Intercept — blasted those in the media who are not speaking out against the arrest, arguing it is a direct attack on press freedom.

“If you’re a US media star who has spent 2 years claiming to be so concerned about press freedoms over Trump’s mean tweets about your friends, but don’t raise your voice in protest over this grave attack on press freedom, take a hard look in the mirror,” Greenwald wrote.

Glenn Greenwald

@ggreenwald

If you’re a US media star who has spent 2 years claiming to be so concerned about press freedoms over Trump’s mean tweets about your friends, but don’t raise your voice in protest over this grave attack on press freedom, take a hard look in the mirror https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/09/the-guardian-view-on-julian-assange-it-would-be-wrong-to-extradite-him?utm_term=Autofeed&CMP=twt_gu&utm_medium=&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1554831501 

2,579 people are talking about this

Some journalists on Twitter issued similar warnings as Greenwald — but backed off their criticism of the arrest after the Department of Justice formally announced its charge, one count of conspiracy of hacking by helping Chelsea Manning break into a Department of Defense computer. Greenwald, though, maintained that the DOJ was still out of bounds.

“The DOJ says part of what Assange did to justify his prosecution – beyond allegedly helping Manning get the documents – is he encouraged Manning to get more docs for him to publish,” Greenwald wrote. “Journalists do this with sources constantly: it’s the criminalization of journalism.”

Glenn Greenwald

@ggreenwald

The DOJ says part of what Assange did to justify his prosecution – beyond allegedly helping Manning get the documents – is he encouraged Manning to get more docs for him to publish. Journalists do this with sources constantly: it’s the criminalization of journalism

View image on Twitter

Glenn Greenwald

@ggreenwald

The security state agents for NBC/MSNBC cheering the Trump administration for arresting Assange because they’re authoritarians who only pretend to care about press freedom when it advances their partisan interests.This is what happens when news outlets merge with the US Govt

1,610 people are talking about this

Eventually, Greenwald focused his ire on NBC News.

Glenn Greenwald

@ggreenwald

I’m not surprised to see NBC journalists uniting behind Trump DOJ to justify the criminalization of WikiLeaks – NBC is fully aligned with the CIA/NSA long obsessed with destroying WL – but this tweet is false: the indictment also charges Assange with *encouraging* his source:

Tom Winter

@Tom_Winter

Replying to @Tom_Winter

The indictment makes it clear that this has nothing to do with the publishing of materials.

Assisting someone to break the law and access classified information is not protected by the 1st Amendment or the SCOTUS ‘NY Times vs. United States’ decision.

765 people are talking about this

Glenn Greenwald

@ggreenwald

I’m not surprised to see NBC journalists uniting behind Trump DOJ to justify the criminalization of WikiLeaks – NBC is fully aligned with the CIA/NSA long obsessed with destroying WL – but this tweet is false: the indictment also charges Assange with *encouraging* his source:

Glenn Greenwald

@ggreenwald

US journalists have long hated WikiLeaks because they have published stories of far greater importance & impact than most of those journalists in the lifetime will ever publish, all without being part of their little club. But to cheer the Trump DOJ prosecution is just grotesque.

738 people are talking about this

Glenn Greenwald

@ggreenwald

NBC News made the decision to hire a team of former military & intelligence officials to “report” & “analyze” the news – starting with the highly compromised ex-CIA DIrector now on its payroll – and as a result the have full-on fascists & authoritarians saying things like this:

1,070 people are talking about this

Glenn Greenwald

@ggreenwald

NBC is the official organ of whatever you call it: the military-industrial complex, the Deep State, the Blob. I’m glad they made it official by putting CIA & intel officials on their payroll. The above psychopathic tweet is what you’d expect to hear at Langley, not a news outlet.

828 people are talking about this

At one point, MSNBC justice and security analyst Matthew Miller decided to engage Greenwald — leading to this debate:

Matthew Miller

@matthewamiller

how is hacking a legitimate journalistic technique?

35 people are talking about this

Glenn Greenwald

@ggreenwald

So you’re saying the Obama DOJ searched for years to find evidence that Assange “hacked” those documents but failed to find any evidence, but the Trump DOJ found what you couldn’t. Pretty humiliating for you. Hacking is a crime, but they’re emphasizing “encouragement”:

59 people are talking about this

Matthew Miller

@matthewamiller

no, not humiliated at all. I’m glad when DOJ does its job, under any admin. The indictment shows an attempt to hack a password, which is a crime. It’s certainly not a legit journalistic technique, and prosecuting it does not threaten journalism or the first amendment.

39 people are talking about this

Glenn Greenwald

@ggreenwald

I love how you blindly trust the Trump DOJ’s accusations in a press release. It doesn’t surprise me at all to watch Democrats unite behind Trump to imprison their political enemy. The indictment doesn’t allege he hacked. Manning had access. It alleges he tried to help her hide it

89 people are talking about this

Prominent documentarian Alex Gibney jumped in the fray as well.

Alex Gibney

@alexgibneyfilm

Not accurate. The charge is “conspire…to knowingly access a computer…without authorization…” 15 (A) in the following document: https://www.justice.gov/usao-edva/press-release/file/1153481/download 

See Alex Gibney’s other Tweets

Glenn Greenwald

@ggreenwald

Manning had access. The indictment says that. It claims Assange’s efforts were designed to help her cover her tracks and, it seems clear,it did not work. It also alleges that he encouraged her to get more: something journalists do constantly with sources.

The seven-year itch: Assange’s awkward stay in the embassy

The WikiLeaks founder’s visit became uncomfortable for both him and his hosts

Julian Assange in a police van in London after his arrest.
 Julian Assange in a police van in London after his arrest. Photograph: Henry Nicholls/Reuters

When Julian Assange, disguised as a motorcycle courier, first walked up the steps of Ecuador’s small embassy behind Harrods in central London and asked for asylum, few people – including, surely, Assange himself – could have imagined it would be almost seven years before he next exited the front door.

It was mid-June 2012, and as Britain expectantly awaited the opening of the Olympics just over a month later, the WikiLeaks publisher had exhausted every legal avenue in his attempts to avoid extradition to Sweden, where two women had made allegations of rape and sexual assault during a visit by Assange to Stockholm in 2010.

 Julian Assange removed from Ecuadorian embassy in London – video

Assange, who had been briefly imprisoned and then on bail for more than a year, argued that Swedish prosecutors should interview him in London. But as well as resisting extradition to Sweden, he also feared being handed over to the US for potential prosecution over the so-called Cablegate documents (published in the Guardian and elsewhere) and other releases. The WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning was already in custody on espionage charges (she would be sentenced to 35 years in prison, later commuted by President Obama. Manning was reimprisoned last month).

Q&A

Why was Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy?

Show

Ecuador offered Assange almost his last option to avoid extradition, his last appeal having failed at the supreme court. The country’s then president, the leftwinger Rafael Correa, was sympathetic and Assange was granted asylumtwo months later.

It was never a very comfortable arrangement at the poky embassy, however. An office was repurposed as a bedroom and workspace, but he was forced, initially at least, to sleep on a mattress on the floor, sharing a bathroom and with access only to a tiny basic kitchen.

Chelsea Manning has recently been reimprisoned on espionage charges.
Pinterest
 Chelsea Manning has recently been reimprisoned on espionage charges. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA

With the Swedes determined to extradite him, however, and a US grand jury hearing into WikiLeaks already under way, the Australian resolved to stay put. High-profile visitors came and went – Vivienne Westwood, Lady Gaga and the footballer Eric Cantona among them – and a small group of supporters maintained a periodic vigil outside. But still Assange remained.

Much has happened in the time he has been inside the embassy. WikiLeaks has continued to publish, exposing details of US tactics in trade negotiations, of the country’s surveillance of other governments, and of CIA hacking methods, among other revelations. A WikiLeaks staff member accompanied the whistleblower Edward Snowden to Moscow after he leaked classified NSA documents about US surveillance programmes to newspapers including the Guardian.

Assange has been the subject of a biopic starring Benedict Cumberbatch, which flopped, and a documentary, which premiered at Cannes. He even acquired a cat.

More significantly for the Australian’s legal position, after years of torturous wrangling, his Swedish problem appeared to go away, thanks simply to the passage of time. An investigation into one of the Swedish women’s accusations, of sexual assault, was discontinued in 2015 after the statute of limitations expired, and in 2017, Sweden’s chief prosecutor said she was dropping her investigation into the outstanding allegation of rape after concluding there was no practical way of continuing. She gave herself the option of reopening the case if he later “made himself available”.

But even the apparent resolution of that seven-year legal standoff did not persuade Assange to leave the embassy, despite reports that the Obama administration had concluded it would not be able to prosecute him without pursuing the newspapers that had published WikiLeaks releases, including the New York Times and potentially the Guardian.

And, now that he has been removed from the embassy, the outstanding allegation of rape could be raised again if prosecutors decide to reopen the case. Elisabeth Massi Fritz, who represents his unnamed accuser, on Thursday told the Associated Press that “we are going to do everything” to have the case reopened “so Assange can be extradited to Sweden and prosecuted for rape”.

Assange’s Ecuadorian stay may have spanned two UK general elections (and two major referendums), but successive British governments have remained resolute, insisting that he would be subject to arrest if he left for alleged breaches of his bail conditions when he first sought asylum.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange in a scene from the biopic The Fifth Estate.
Pinterest
 Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange in a scene from the biopic The Fifth Estate. Photograph: Frank Connor/AP

A finding by a UN panel in 2016 that Assange’s continued confinement in the embassy amounted to “arbitrary detention” was dismissed by the UK Foreign Office, which maintained that his presence there was voluntary.

Two significant things changed, however – both of them presidential elections.

Donald Trump was initially a great fan of Assange, praising WikiLeaks repeatedly during the 2016 presidential campaign after emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and his rival Hillary Clinton’s campaign were published by the website. But other US Republicans have remained hostile, and following Trump’s election to the presidency, his administration has vowed to attempt to prosecute Assange.

In February 2017 the then attorney general Jeff Sessions said arresting Assange was priority, while a mistake in a document filed last Novembersuggested criminal charges had been secretly filed against him. Trump and Sessions’s successor, William Barr, now have the yet-to-be-published report by special counsel Robert Mueller into Trump’s links to Russia, including allegations that the DNC releases published by WikiLeaks were obtained by Russian hackers.

But aside from events in the US, Assange has also had an increasing Ecuadorian problem. WikiLeaks’s DNC publications in 2016 prompted Ecuador’s discomfort at its sometimes troublesome houseguest to flare into irritation, and it temporarily cut off the Australian’s internet access saying he was using it to interfere in the US election.

Julian Assange speaks to reporters and supporters on a balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, in May 2017.
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 Julian Assange speaks to reporters and supporters on a balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy, London, May 2017. Photograph: Xinhua/Barcroft Images

The relationship between Assange and his hosts deteriorated further after Lenín Moreno was elected to the Ecuadorian presidency in 2017. Moreno had described Assange as a “stone in the shoe”, but said before his election that he could remain in the embassy if he agreed to abide by certain conditions.

In January 2018 it emerged that the country had made Assange an Ecuadorian citizen in a bid to resolve the impasse (its request to have him recognised as a diplomat was dismissed by the UK).

But the Ecuador-Assange relationship remained strained, and last year the country cut off his internet access again, saying he had breached an agreement not to interfere with other states. Assange had tweeted in support of the Catalan independence movement, causing a rift between Quito and Madrid, and challenged the UK’s accusation that Russia was responsible for the poisoning of a Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

Moreno later ordered the removal of an additional multimillion-pound security operation set up by his predecessor to protect Assange. In July last year the president said that Assange would ultimately have to leave the embassy, and by October the Australian was suing his hosts, saying their conditions for his stay violated his “fundamental rights and freedoms”. On Wednesday, WikiLeaks held a press conference to say it had uncovered a surveillance operation against him in the embassy, leading to private legal and medical information being offered for sale in what it said was an extortion attempt.

On Thursday morning, finally, Ecuador’s patience had “reached its limit”, Moreno said in a statement justifying his decision to revoke Assange’s asylum status. He is now, once again, in British custody.

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WikiLeaks

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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WikiLeaks
1Graphic of hourglass, coloured in blue and grey; a circular map of the eastern hemisphere of the world drips from the top to bottom chamber of the hourglass.

The logo of WikiLeaks, an hourglass with a globe leaking from top to bottom

show

Screenshot
Type of site
Document archive and disclosure
Available in English, but the source documents are in their original language
Owner Sunshine Press
Created by Julian Assange
Website WikiLeaks.org[1]
Alexa rank Negative increase 25,736 (October 2018)[2]
Commercial No[3]
Registration None
Launched 4 October 2006; 12 years ago[4]
Current status Online

WikiLeaks (/ˈwɪkilks/) is an international non-profit organisation that publishes secret information, news leaks,[5] and classified media provided by anonymous sources.[6] Its website, initiated in 2006 in Iceland by the organisation Sunshine Press,[7] claims a database of 10 million documents in 10 years since its launch.[8] Julian Assange, an Australian Internet activist, is generally described as its founder and director.[9] Since September 2018, Kristinn Hrafnsson has served as its editor-in-chief.[10][11]

The group has released a number of prominent document dumps. Early releases included documentation of equipment expenditures and holdings in the Afghanistan war and a report informing a corruption investigation in Kenya.[12] In April 2010, WikiLeaks released the Collateral Murder footage from the 12 July 2007 Baghdad airstrike in which Iraqi journalists were among those killed. Other releases in 2010 included the Afghan War Diary and the “Iraq War Logs“. The latter allowed the mapping of 109,032 deaths in “significant” attacks by insurgents in Iraq that had been reported to Multi-National Force – Iraq, including about 15,000 that had not been previously published.[13][14] In 2010, WikiLeaks also released the US State Department diplomatic “cables”, classified cables that had been sent to the US State Department. In April 2011, WikiLeaks began publishing 779 secret filesrelating to prisoners detained in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.[15]

During the 2016 US presidential election campaign, WikiLeaks released emails and other documents from the Democratic National Committee and from Hillary Clinton‘s campaign manager, John Podesta.[16] These releases caused significant harm to the Clinton campaign, and have been attributed as a potential contributing factor to her loss.[17] The U.S. intelligence community expressed “high confidence” that the leaked emails had been hacked by Russia and supplied to WikiLeaks, while WikiLeaks denied their source was Russia or any other state.[18] During the campaign, WikiLeaks promoted conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.[19][20][21] In private conversations from November 2015 that were later leaked, Julian Assange expressed a preference for a GOP victory in the 2016 election, explaining that “Dems+Media+liberals woudl [sic] then form a block to reign [sic] in their worst qualities. With Hillary in charge, GOP will be pushing for her worst qualities, dems+media+neoliberals will be mute.”[22] In private correspondence with the Trump campaign on election day (8 November 2016), WikiLeaks encouraged the Trump campaign to contest the election results in case they lost.[23]

WikiLeaks has drawn criticism for its absence of whistleblowing on or criticism of Russia, and for criticising the Panama Papers‘ exposé of businesses and individuals with offshore bank accounts.[24][25] WikiLeaks has also been criticised for inadequately curating its content and violating the personal privacy of individuals. WikiLeaks has, for instance, revealed Social Security numbers, medical information, credit card numbers and details of suicide attempts.[26][27][28][29]

History

Staff, name and founding

Julian Assange was one of the early members of the WikiLeaks staff and is credited as the website’s founder.

The wikileaks.org domain name was registered on 4 October 2006.[4] The website was established and published its first document in December 2006.[30][31] WikiLeaks is usually represented in public by Julian Assange, who has been described as “the heart and soul of this organisation, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organiser, financier, and all the rest”.[32][33] Sarah Harrison, Kristinn Hrafnsson and Joseph Farrell are the only other publicly known and acknowledged associates of Assange who are currently living.[34] Harrison is also a member of Sunshine Press Productions along with Assange and Ingi Ragnar Ingason.[35][36] Gavin MacFadyen was acknowledged by Assange as a ″beloved director of WikiLeaks″ shortly after his death in 2016.[37]

WikiLeaks was originally established with a “wiki” communal publication method, which was terminated by May 2010.[38] Original volunteers and founders were once described as a mixture of Asian dissidents, journalists, mathematicians, and start-up company technologists from the United States, Taiwan, Europe, Australia, and South Africa.[39] As of June 2009, the website had more than 1,200 registered volunteers.[39][40][41]

Despite some popular confusion, related to the fact both sites use the “wiki” name and website design template, WikiLeaks and Wikipedia are not affiliated.[42] Wikia, a for-profit corporation affiliated loosely with the Wikimedia Foundation, purchased several WikiLeaks-related domain names as a “protective brand measure” in 2007.[43]

On 26 September 2018, it was announced that Julian Assange had appointed Kristinn Hrafnsson as editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks while the organisation’s statement said Assange was remaining as its publisher. His access to the internet had been ended by his then hosts in the Ecuadorian embassy in March 2019 as he had broken a commitment “not to issue messages that might interfere with other states”.[11][44][45]

Purpose

According to the WikiLeaks website, its goal is “to bring important news and information to the public … One of our most important activities is to publish original source material alongside our news stories so readers and historians alike can see evidence of the truth.” Another of the organisation’s goals is to ensure that journalists and whistleblowers are not prosecuted for emailing sensitive or classified documents. The online “drop box” is described by the WikiLeaks website as “an innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information to [WikiLeaks] journalists”.[46]

Some describe WikiLeaks as a media or journalistic organisation. For example, in a 2013 resolution, the International Federation of Journalists, a trade union of journalists, called WikiLeaks a “new breed of media organisation” that “offers important opportunities for media organisations”.[47] Harvard professor Yochai Benkler praised WikiLeaks as a new form of journalistic enterprise,[48] testifying at the court-martial of Chelsea Manning (then Bradley Manning) that “WikiLeaks did serve a particular journalistic function,” and that the “range of the journalist’s privilege” is “a hard line to draw”.[49] Others do not consider WikiLeaks to be journalistic in nature. Media ethicist Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies wrote in 2011: “WikiLeaks might grow into a journalist endeavor. But it’s not there yet.”[50] Bill Keller of The New York Times considers WikiLeaks to be a “complicated source” rather than a journalistic partner.[50] Prominent First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams writes that WikiLeaks is not a journalistic group, but instead “an organization of political activists; … a source for journalists; and … a conduit of leaked information to the press and the public”.[51] Noting Assange’s statements that he and his colleagues read only a small fraction of information before deciding to publish it, Abrams writes: “No journalistic entity I have ever heard of—none—simply releases to the world an elephantine amount of material it has not read.”[51]

Administration

According to a January 2010 interview, the WikiLeaks team then consisted of five people working full-time and about 800 people who worked occasionally, none of whom were compensated.[52] WikiLeaks does not have any official headquarters. In November 2010 the WikiLeaks-endorsed[53] news and activism site WikiLeaks Central was initiated and was administrated by editor Heather Marsh who oversaw over 70 writers and volunteers.[54] She resigned on 8 March 2012.[55]

WikiLeaks describes itself as “an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking”.[56] The website is available on multiple servers, different domain names and has an official Darkweb version (available on the Tor Network) as a result of a number of denial-of-service attacks and its elimination from different Domain Name System (DNS) providers.[57][58]

Until August 2010, WikiLeaks was hosted by PRQ, a Sweden-based company providing “highly secure, no-questions-asked hosting services”. PRQ is said to have “almost no information about its clientele and maintains few if any of its own logs“.[59] Currently, WikiLeaks is hosted mainly by the Swedish Internet service provider Bahnhof in the Pionen facility, a former nuclear bunker in Sweden.[60][61] Other servers are spread around the world with the main server located in Sweden.[62] Julian Assange has said that the servers are located in Sweden and the other countries “specifically because those nations offer legal protection to the disclosures made on the site”. He talks about the Swedish constitution, which gives the information–providers total legal protection.[62] It is forbidden, according to Swedish law, for any administrative authority to make inquiries about the sources of any type of newspaper.[63] These laws, and the hosting by PRQ, make it difficult for any authority to eliminate WikiLeaks; they place an onus of proof upon any complainant whose suit would circumscribe WikiLeaks’ liberty, e.g. its rights to exercise free speech online. Furthermore, “WikiLeaks maintains its own servers at undisclosed locations, keeps no logs and uses military-grade encryption to protect sources and other confidential information.” Such arrangements have been called “bulletproof hosting“.[59][64]

After the site became the target of a denial-of-service attack on its old servers, WikiLeaks moved its website to Amazon‘s servers.[65] Later, however, the website was “ousted” from the Amazon servers.[65] In a public statement, Amazon said that WikiLeaks was not following its terms of service. The company further explained: “There were several parts they were violating. For example, our terms of service state that ‘you represent and warrant that you own or otherwise control all of the rights to the content … that use of the content you supply does not violate this policy and will not cause injury to any person or entity.’ It’s clear that WikiLeaks doesn’t own or otherwise control all the rights to this classified content.”[66] WikiLeaks was then moved to servers at OVH, a private web-hosting service in France.[67] After criticism from the French government, the company sought two court rulings about the legality of hosting WikiLeaks. While the court in Lille immediately refused to force OVH to deactivate the WikiLeaks website, the court in Paris stated it would need more time to examine the complex technical issue.[68][69]

WikiLeaks used EveryDNS, but was dropped by the company after distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against WikiLeaks hurt the quality of service for its other customers. Supporters of WikiLeaks waged verbal and DDoS attacks on EveryDNS. Because of a typographical error in blogs mistaking EveryDNS for competitor EasyDNS, the sizeable Internet backlash hit EasyDNS. Despite that, EasyDNS (upon request of a customer who was setting up new WikiLeaks hosting) began providing WikiLeaks with DNS service on “two ‘battle hardened’ servers” to protect the quality of service for its other customers.[70]

WikiLeaks restructured its process for contributions after its first document leaks did not gain much attention. Assange stated this was part of an attempt to take the voluntary effort typically seen in “Wiki” projects, and “redirect it to … material that has real potential for change”.[71] Some sympathisers were unhappy[citation needed] when WikiLeaks ended a community-based wiki format in favour of a more centralised organisation. The “about” page originally read:[72]

To the user, WikiLeaks will look very much like Wikipedia. Anybody can post to it, anybody can edit it. No technical knowledge is required. Leakers can post documents anonymously and untraceably. Users can publicly discuss documents and analyse their credibility and veracity. Users can discuss interpretations and context and collaboratively formulate collective publications. Users can read and write explanatory articles on leaks along with background material and context. The political relevance of documents and their verisimilitude will be revealed by a cast of thousands.

However, WikiLeaks established an editorial policy that accepted only documents that were “of political, diplomatic, historical or ethical interest” (and excluded “material that is already publicly available”).[73] This coincided with early criticism that having no editorial policy would drive out good material with spam and promote “automated or indiscriminate publication of confidential records”.[74] The original FAQ is no longer in effect, and no one can post or edit documents on WikiLeaks. Now, submissions to WikiLeaks are reviewed by anonymous WikiLeaks reviewers, and documents that do not meet the editorial criteria are rejected. By 2008, the revised FAQ stated: “Anybody can post comments to it. [ … ] Users can publicly discuss documents and analyse their credibility and veracity.”[75] After the 2010 reorganisation, posting new comments on leaks was no longer possible.[38]

Legal status

The legal status of WikiLeaks is complex. Assange considers WikiLeaks a protection intermediary. Rather than leaking directly to the press, and fearing exposure and retribution, whistleblowers can leak to WikiLeaks, which then leaks to the press for them.[76] Its servers are located throughout Europe and are accessible from any uncensored web connection. The group located its headquarters in Sweden because it has one of the world’s strongest laws to protect confidential source-journalist relationships.[77][78] WikiLeaks has stated it does not solicit any information.[77] However, Assange used his speech during the Hack in the Box conference in Malaysia to ask the crowd of hackers and security researchers to help find documents on its “Most Wanted Leaks of 2009” list.[79]

Potential criminal prosecution

The US Justice Department began a criminal investigation of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange soon after the leak of diplomatic cables began.[80][81] Attorney General Eric Holder affirmed the investigation was “not saber-rattling”, but was “an active, ongoing criminal investigation”.[81] The Washington Post reported that the department was considering charges under the Espionage Act of 1917, an action which former prosecutors characterised as “difficult” because of First Amendment protections for the press.[80][82] Several Supreme Court cases (e.g. Bartnicki v. Vopper) have established previously that the American Constitution protects the re-publication of illegally gained information provided the publishers did not themselves violate any laws in acquiring it.[83] Federal prosecutors have also considered prosecuting Assange for trafficking in stolen government property, but since the diplomatic cables are intellectual rather than physical property, that method is also difficult.[84] Any prosecution of Assange would require extraditing him to the United States, a procedure made more complicated and potentially delayed by any preceding extradition to Sweden.[85] One of Assange’s lawyers, however, says they are fighting extradition to Sweden because it might result in his extradition to the United States.[86] Assange’s attorney, Mark Stephens, has “heard from Swedish authorities there has been a secretly empanelled grand jury in Alexandria [Virginia]” meeting to consider criminal charges for the WikiLeaks case.[87]

In Australia, the government and the Australian Federal Police have not stated what Australian laws may have been violated by WikiLeaks, but then Prime Minister Julia Gillard has stated that the foundation of WikiLeaks and the stealing of classified documents from the United States administration is illegal in foreign countries.[88] Gillard later clarified her statement as referring to “the original theft of the material by a junior U.S. serviceman rather than any action by Mr Assange.”[89] Spencer Zifcak, president of Liberty Victoria, an Australian civil liberties group, notes that without a charge or a trial completed, it is inappropriate to state that WikiLeaks is guilty of illegal activities.[90]

On threats by various governments towards Julian Assange, legal expert Ben Saul argues that Assange is the target of a global smear campaign to demonise him as a criminal or as a terrorist, without any legal basis.[91][92] The US Center for Constitutional Rights has issued a statement emphasising its alarm at the “multiple examples of legal overreach and irregularities” in his arrest.[93]

Use of leaked documents in court

In a UK Supreme Court judgement given on 8 February 2018, the court unanimously decided that a document leaked through WikiLeaks “could be admitted into evidence”.[94][95]

The appeal that led to this ruling centred on a US government cable provided by Chelsea Manning and published by WikiLeaks. The Chagos islanders argued that the document showed the UK’s motive for setting up a marine park on their territory was improper, but it had been excluded from proceedings earlier in the case.[96]

In an “important test of Vienna Convention in relation to Wikileaks documents” The Court ruled that “the cable should have been admitted into evidence before the Administrative Court”, addressing the main issue. During this decision, the leaked document was said to not meet the criteria necessary to help the Chagos Refugee Group recover their homeland.[95][96]

Financing

WikiLeaks is a self-described not-for-profit organisation, funded largely by volunteers, and it is dependent on public donations. Its main financing methods include conventional bank transfers and online payment systems. According to Assange, WikiLeaks’ lawyers often work pro bono. Assange has said that in some cases legal aid has been donated by media organisations such as the Associated Press, the Los Angeles Times, and the National Newspaper Publishers Association.[52] Assange said in 2010 that WikiLeaks’ only revenue consists of donations, but it has considered other options including auctioning early access to documents.[52] During September 2011, WikiLeaks began auctioning items on eBay to raise funds, and Assange told an audience at Sydney’s Festival of Dangerous Ideas that the organisation might not be able to survive.[citation needed]

On 24 December 2009, WikiLeaks announced that it was experiencing a shortage of funds[citation needed] and suspended all access to its website except for a form to submit new material.[97] Material that was previously published was no longer available, although some could still be accessed on unofficial mirror websites.[98] WikiLeaks stated on its website that it would resume full operation once the operational costs were paid.[97] WikiLeaks saw this as a kind of work stoppage “to ensure that everyone who is involved stops normal work and actually spends time raising revenue”.[52] While the organisation initially planned for funds to be secured by 6 January 2010,[citation needed] it was not until 3 February 2010 that WikiLeaks announced that its minimum fundraising goal had been achieved.[citation needed]

The Wau Holland Foundation helps to process donations to WikiLeaks. In July 2010, the Foundation stated that WikiLeaks was not receiving any money for personnel costs, only for hardware, travelling and bandwidth.[99] An article in TechEye stated:

As a charity accountable under German law, donations for WikiLeaks can be made to the foundation. Funds are held in escrow and are given to WikiLeaks after the whistleblower website files an application containing a statement with proof of payment. The foundation does not pay any sort of salary nor give any renumeration [sic] to WikiLeaks’ personnel, corroborating the statement of the site’s former German representative Daniel Schmitt [real name Daniel Domscheit-Berg][100] on national television that all personnel works voluntarily, even its speakers.[99]

However, in December 2010 the Wau Holland Foundation stated that 4 permanent employees, including Julian Assange, had begun to receive salaries.[101]

In 2010, Assange said the organisation was registered as a library in Australia, a foundation in France, and a newspaper in Sweden, and that it also used two United States-based non-profit 501c3 organisations for funding purposes.[102]

On 22 January 2010, the Internet payment intermediary PayPal suspended WikiLeaks’ donation account and froze its assets. WikiLeaks said that this had happened before, and was done for “no obvious reason”.[citation needed] The account was restored on 25 January 2010.[citation needed] On 18 May 2010, WikiLeaks announced that its website and archive were operational again.[citation needed]

In June 2010, WikiLeaks was a finalist for a grant of more than half a million dollars from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation,[31] but did not make the final approval.[103] WikiLeaks commented via Twitter: “WikiLeaks was highest rated project in the Knight challenge, strongly recommended to the board but gets no funding. Go figure.”[104] WikiLeaks said that the Knight foundation announced the award to “’12 Grantees who will impact future of news’ – but not WikiLeaks” and questioned whether Knight foundation was “really looking for impact”.[103] A spokesman of the Knight Foundation disputed parts of WikiLeaks’ statement, saying “WikiLeaks was not recommended by Knight staff to the board.”[104] However, he declined to say whether WikiLeaks was the project rated highest by the Knight advisory panel, which consists of non-staffers, among them journalist Jennifer 8. Lee, who has done PR work for WikiLeaks with the press and on social networking websites.[104]

During 2010, WikiLeaks received €635,772.73 in PayPal donations, less €30,000 in PayPal fees, and €695,925.46 in bank transfers. €500,988.89 of the sum was received in the month of December, primarily as bank transfers as PayPal suspended payments 4 December. €298,057.38 of the remainder was received in April.[105]

The Wau Holland Foundation, one of the WikiLeaks’ main funding channels, stated that they received more than €900,000 in public donations between October 2009 and December 2010, of which €370,000 has been passed on to WikiLeaks. Hendrik Fulda, vice-president of the Wau Holland Foundation, mentioned that the Foundation had been receiving twice as many donations through PayPal as through normal banks, before PayPal’s decision to suspend WikiLeaks’ account. He also noted that every new WikiLeaks publication brought “a wave of support”, and that donations were strongest in the weeks after WikiLeaks started publishing leaked diplomatic cables.[106][107]

The Icelandic judiciary decided that Valitor (a company related to Visa and MasterCard) was violating the law when it prevented donation to the site by credit card. A justice ruled that the donations will be allowed to return to the site after 14 days or they would be fined in the amount of US$6,000 a day.[108]

Leaks

2006–08

WikiLeaks posted its first document in December 2006, a decision to assassinate government officials signed by Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys.[31] In August 2007, the UK newspaper The Guardian published a story about corruption by the family of the former Kenyan leader Daniel arap Moi based on information provided via WikiLeaks.[109] In November 2007, a March 2003 copy of Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta detailing the protocol of the US Army at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp was released.[110][111] The document revealed that some prisoners were off-limits to the International Committee of the Red Cross, something that the US military had in the past denied repeatedly.[112] In February 2008, WikiLeaks released allegations of illegal activities at the Cayman Islandsbranch of the Swiss Bank Julius Baer, which resulted in the bank suing WikiLeaks and obtaining an injunction which temporarily suspended the operation of wikileaks.org.[113] The California judge had the service provider of WikiLeaks block the site’s domain (wikileaks.org) on 18 February 2008, although the bank only wanted the documents to be removed but WikiLeaks had failed to name a contact. The website was instantly mirrored by supporters, and later that month the judge overturned his previous decision citing First Amendment concerns and questions about legal jurisdiction.[114][115] In March 2008, WikiLeaks published what they referred to as “the collected secret ‘bibles’ of Scientology“, and three days later received letters threatening to sue them for breach of copyright.[116] In September 2008, during the 2008 United States presidential election campaigns, the contents of a Yahoo account belonging to Sarah Palin (the running mate of Republican presidential nominee John McCain) were posted on WikiLeaks after being hacked into by members of a group known as Anonymous.[117][118] In November 2008, the membership list of the far-right British National Party was posted to WikiLeaks, after appearing briefly on a weblog.[119] A year later, in October 2009, another list of BNP members was leaked.[120]

2009

In January 2009, WikiLeaks released 86 telephone intercept recordings of Peruvian politicians and businessmen involved in the 2008 Peru oil scandal.[121] During February, WikiLeaks released 6,780 Congressional Research Service reports[122] followed in March by a list of contributors to the Norm Coleman senatorial campaign[123][124] and a set of documents belonging to Barclays Bank that had been ordered removed from the website of The Guardian.[125] In July, it released a report relating to a serious nuclear accident that had occurred at the Iranian Natanz nuclear facility in 2009.[126] Later media reports have suggested that the accident was related to the Stuxnet computer worm.[127][128] In September, internal documents from Kaupthing Bank were leaked, from shortly before the collapse of Iceland’s banking sector, which caused the 2008–2012 Icelandic financial crisis. The document shows that suspiciously large sums of money were loaned to various owners of the bank, and large debts written off.[129] In October, Joint Services Protocol 440, a British document advising the security services on how to avoid documents being leaked, was published by WikiLeaks.[130] Later that month, it announced that a super-injunction was being used by the commodities company Trafigura to stop The Guardian (London) from reporting on a leaked internal document regarding a toxic dumping incident in Côte d’Ivoire.[131][132] In November, it hosted copies of e-mail correspondence between climate scientists, although they were not leaked originally to WikiLeaks.[133][134] It also released 570,000 intercepts of pager messages sent on the day of the 11 September attacks.[135][136][137] During 2008 and 2009, WikiLeaks published the alleged lists of forbidden or illegal web addresses for Australia, Denmark and Thailand. These were originally created to prevent access to child pornography and terrorism, but the leaks revealed that other sites featuring unrelated subjects were also listed.[138][139][140]

2010

Gun camera footage of the airstrike of 12 July 2007 in Baghdad, showing the slaying of Namir Noor-Eldeen and a dozen other civilians by a US helicopter.

In mid-February 2010, WikiLeaks received a leaked diplomatic cable from the United States Embassy in Reykjavik relating to the Icesave scandal, which they published on 18 February.[141] The cable, known as Reykjavik 13, was the first of the classified documents WikiLeaks published among those allegedly provided to them by United States Army Private Chelsea Manning (then known as Bradley). In March 2010, WikiLeaks released a secret 32-page US Department of Defense Counterintelligence Analysis Report written in March 2008 discussing the leaking of material by WikiLeaks and how it could be deterred.[142][143][144] In April, a classified video of the 12 July 2007 Baghdad airstrike was released, showing two Reuters employees being fired at, after the pilots mistakenly thought the men were carrying weapons, which were in fact cameras.[145] After the mistaken killing, the video shows US forces firing on a family van that stopped to pick up the bodies.[146] In the week after the release, “wikileaks” was the search term with the most significant growth worldwide during the last seven days as measured by Google Insights.[147] In June 2010, Manning was arrested after alleged chat logs were given to United States authorities by former hacker Adrian Lamo, in whom she had confided. Manning reportedly told Lamo she had leaked the “Collateral Murder” video, in addition to a video of the Granai airstrike and about 260,000 diplomatic cables, to WikiLeaks.[148]

In July, WikiLeaks released 92,000 documents related to the war in Afghanistan between 2004 and the end of 2009 to the publications The GuardianThe New York Times and Der Spiegel. The documents detail individual incidents including “friendly fire” and civilian casualties.[149] About 15,000 of the 92,000 documents have not yet been released by WikiLeaks, as the group is currently reviewing the documents to remove some of the sources of the information. WikiLeaks asked the Pentagon and human-rights groups to help remove names from the documents to reduce the potential harm caused by their release, but did not receive assistance.[150] After the Love Parade stampede in Duisburg, Germany, on 24 July 2010, a local resident published internal documents of the city administration regarding the planning of Love Parade. The city government reacted by securing a court order on 16 August forcing the removal of the documents from the website on which it was hosted.[151] On 20 August 2010, WikiLeaks released a publication entitled Loveparade 2010 Duisburg planning documents, 2007–2010, which comprised 43 internal documents regarding the Love Parade 2010.[152][153] After the leak of information concerning the Afghan War, in October 2010, around 400,000 documents relating to the Iraq War were released. The BBC quoted the US Department of Defense referring to the Iraq War Logs as “the largest leak of classified documents in its history”. Media coverage of the leaked documents emphasised claims that the US government had ignored reports of torture by the Iraqi authorities during the period after the 2003 war.[154]

On 29 July 2010 WikiLeaks added an “Insurance file” to the Afghan War Diary page. The file is AES encrypted.[155][citation needed] There has been speculation that it was intended to serve as insurance in case the WikiLeaks website or its spokesman Julian Assange are incapacitated, upon which the passphrase could be published.[156][157] After the first few days’ release of the US diplomatic cables starting 28 November 2010, the US television broadcasting company CBS predicted that “If anything happens to Assange or the website, a key will go out to unlock the files. There would then be no way to stop the information from spreading like wildfire because so many people already have copies.”[158] CBS correspondent Declan McCullagh stated, “What most folks are speculating is that the insurance file contains unreleased information that would be especially embarrassing to the US government if it were released.”[158]

Diplomatic cables release

On 28 November 2010, WikiLeaks and five major newspapers from Spain (El País), France (Le Monde), Germany (Der Spiegel), the United Kingdom (The Guardian), and the United States (The New York Times) started simultaneously to publish the first 220 of 251,287 leaked documents labelled confidential – but not top-secret – and dated from 28 December 1966 to 28 February 2010.[159][160] WikiLeaks planned to release the entirety of the cables in phases over several months.[needs update][160]

WikiLeaks supporters protest in front of the British Embassy in Madrid, 11 December 2010

The contents of the diplomatic cables include numerous unguarded comments and revelations regarding: critiques and praises about the host countries of various United States embassies; political manoeuvring regarding climate change; discussion and resolutions towards ending ongoing tension in the Middle East; efforts and resistance towards nuclear disarmament; actions in the War on Terror; assessments of other threats around the world; dealings between various countries; United States intelligence and counterintelligence efforts; and other diplomatic actions. Reactions to the United States diplomatic cables leak varied. On 14 December 2010 the United States Department of Justice issued a subpoena directing Twitter to provide information for accounts registered to or associated with WikiLeaks.[161] Twitter decided to notify its users.[162] The overthrow of the presidency in Tunisia of 2011 has been attributed partly to reaction against the corruption revealed by leaked cables.[163][164][165]

On 1 September 2011, it became public that an encrypted version of WikiLeaks’ huge archive of unredacted US State Department cables had been available via BitTorrent for months and that the decryption key (similar to a password) was available to those who knew where to find it.[166][167] Guardian newspaper editor David Leigh had just published the decryption key in his book, so the files were now publicly available to anyone. Rather than let malicious actors publish selected data, WikiLeaks decided to publish the entire, unredacted archive in searchable form on its website.[citation needed]

2011–2015

In late April 2011, files related to the Guantanamo prison were released.[168] In December 2011, WikiLeaks started to release the Spy Files.[169] On 27 February 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing more than five million emails from the Texas-headquartered “global intelligence” company Stratfor.[170] On 5 July 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing the Syria Files (emails from Syrian political figures 2006–2012).[171] On 25 October 2012, WikiLeaks began publishing The Detainee Policies, files covering the rules and procedures for detainees in US military custody.[172] In April 2013 WikiLeaks published more than 1.7 million US diplomatic and intelligence documents from the 1970s, including the Kissinger cables.[173]

Placard in front of Embassy of Ecuador, London, 22 August 2012

In 2013, the organisation assisted Edward Snowden (who is responsible for the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures) in leaving Hong Kong. Sarah Harrison, a WikiLeaks activist, accompanied Snowden on the flight. Scott Shane of The New York Times stated that the WikiLeaks involvement “shows that despite its shoestring staff, limited fund-raising from a boycott by major financial firms, and defections prompted by Mr. Assange’s personal troubles and abrasive style, it remains a force to be reckoned with on the global stage.”[174]

In September 2013, WikiLeaks published “Spy Files 3“, 250 documents from more than 90 surveillance companies.[175] On 13 November 2013, a draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership‘s Intellectual Property Rights chapter was published by WikiLeaks.[176][177] On 10 June 2015, WikiLeaks published the draft on the Trans-Pacific Partnership‘s Transparency for Healthcare Annex, along with each country’s negotiating position.[178] On 19 June 2015 WikiLeaks began publishing The Saudi Cables: more than half a million cables and other documents from the Saudi Foreign Ministry that contain secret communications from various Saudi Embassies around the world.[179]

On 23 June 2015, WikiLeaks published documents under the name of “Espionnage Élysée”, which showed that NSA spied on the French government, including but not limited to then President Francois Hollande and his predecessors Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac.[180] On 29 June 2015, WikiLeaks published more NSA top secrets intercepts regarding France, detailing an economic espionage against French companies and associations.[181]In July 2015, WikiLeaks published documents which showed that the NSA had tapped the telephones of many German federal ministries, including that of the Chancellor Angela Merkel, for years since the 1990s.[182] On 4 July 2015, WikiLeaks published documents which showed that 29 Brazilian government numbers were selected for secret espionage by the NSA. Among the targets there were also the President Dilma Rousseff, many assistants and advisors, her presidential jet and other key figures in the Brazilian government.[183]

WikiLeaks supporters protest in front of the Ecuadorian embassy in London

On 29 July 2015, WikiLeaks published a top secret letter from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) Ministerial Meeting in December 2013 which illustrated the position of negotiating countries on “state-owned enterprises” (SOEs).[184] On 31 July 2015, WikiLeaks published secret intercepts and the related target list showing that the NSA spied on Japanese government, including the Cabinet and Japanese companies such as Mitsubishi and Mitsui. The documents revealed that United States espionage against Japan concerned broad sections of communications about the US-Japan diplomatic relationship and Japan’s position on climate change issues, other than an extensive monitoring of the Japanese economy.[185] On 21 October 2015 WikiLeaks published some of John O. Brennan‘s emails, including a draft security clearance application which contained personal information.[186]

2016

On 4 July 2016, WikiLeaks tweeted a link to a trove of emails sent or received by then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and released under the Freedom of Information Act.[187] The link contained 1258 emails sent from Clinton’s personal mail server which were selected in terms of their relevance to the Iraq War and were apparently timed to precede the release of the UK government’s Iraq Inquiry report.[188]

On 19 July 2016, in response to the Turkish government’s purges that followed the coup attempt,[189] WikiLeaks released 294,548 emails from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development party (AKP).[190] According to WikiLeaks, the material, which they claim to be the first batch from the “AKP Emails”, was obtained a week before the attempted coup in the country and “is not connected, in any way, to the elements behind the attempted coup, or to a rival political party or state”.[191] After WikiLeaks announced that they would release the emails, the organisation stayed for over 24 hours under a “sustained attack”.[citation needed] Following the leak, the Turkish government ordered the site to be blocked nationwide.[192][193][194][195] WikiLeaks had also tweeted a link to a database which contained sensitive information, such as the Turkish Identification Number, of approximately 50 million Turkish citizens, including nearly every female voter in Turkey.[196] This information first appeared online in April of the same year and was not in the files uploaded by WikiLeaks,[197] but in files archived by Michael Best, who then removed it when the personal data was discovered.[198][199][200]

On 22 July 2016, WikiLeaks released approximately 20,000 emails and 8,000 files sent from or received by Democratic National Committee (DNC) personnel.[201] Some of the emails contained personal information of donors, including home addresses and Social Security numbers.[202] Other emails appeared to criticise Bernie Sanders and showed apparent favouritism towards Clinton.[203][204]

On 7 October 2016, WikiLeaks started releasing series of emails and documents sent from or received by Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta, including Hillary Clinton’s paid speeches to banks.[205][206][207][208] According to a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, “By dribbling these out every day WikiLeaks is proving they are nothing but a propaganda arm of the Kremlin with a political agenda doing Vladimir Putin‘s dirty work to help elect Donald Trump.”[209] The New York Times reported that when asked, president Vladimir Putin replied that Russia was being falsely accused. “The hysteria is merely caused by the fact that somebody needs to divert the attention of the American people from the essence of what was exposed by the hackers.”[210][211]

On 17 October 2016 WikiLeaks announced that a “state party” had severed the Internet connection of Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy. WikiLeaks blamed United States Secretary of State John Kerry of pressuring the Ecuadorian government in severing Assange’s Internet, an accusation which the United States State Department denied.[212] The Ecuadorian government stated that it had “temporarily” severed Assange’s Internet connection because of WikiLeaks’ release of documents “impacting on the U.S. election campaign,” although it also stated that this was not meant to prevent WikiLeaks from operating.[213]

2017

On 16 February 2017, WikiLeaks released a purported report on CIA espionage orders (marked as NOFORN) for the 2012 French presidential election.[214][215][216] The order called for details of party funding, internal rivalries and future attitudes toward the United States. The Associated Press noted that “the orders seemed to represent standard intelligence-gathering.”[217]

On 7 March 2017, WikiLeaks started publishing content code-named “Vault 7“. In a series of tweets and a Facebook Live + Periscope press conference, WikiLeaks announced these documents contain CIA internal documentation of their “massive arsenal” of hacking tools including malware, viruses trojects, weaponised “zero day” exploits and remote control systems to name a few.[218][219][220] Leaked documents, dated from 2013 to 2016, detail the capabilities of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to perform electronic surveillance and cyber warfare, such as the ability to compromise carssmart TVs,[220] web browsers (including Google ChromeMicrosoft EdgeMozilla Firefox, and Opera Software ASA),[221][222][223] and the operating systems of most smartphones (including Apple‘s iOS and Google‘s Android), as well as other operating systems such as Microsoft WindowsmacOS, and Linux.[224]

On 5 May 2017, WikiLeaks posted links to e-mails purported to be from Emmanuel Macron’s campaign in the French 2017 presidential election.[225] The documents were first relayed on the 4chan forum and by pro-Trump Twitter accounts, and then by WikiLeaks, who indicated they did not author the leaks.[225][226] Experts have asserted that the WikiLeaks Twitter account played a key role in publicising the leaks through the hashtag #MacronLeaks just some three-and-a-half hours after the first tweet with hashtag appeared.[227][228]The campaign stated that false documents were mixed in with real ones, and that “the ambition of the authors of this leak is obviously to harm the movement En Marche! in the final hours before the second round of the French presidential election”.[225][229] France’s Electoral Commission described the action as a “massive and coordinated piracy action”.[229][225] France’s Electoral Commission urged journalists not to report on the contents of the leaks, but to heed “the sense of responsibility they must demonstrate, as at stake are the free expression of voters and the sincerity of the election”.[229] Cybersecurity experts initially believed that groups linked to Russia were involved in this attack. The Kremlin denied any involvement.[230][231][232] The head of the French cyber-security agency, ANSSI, later said that they did not have evidence connecting the hack with Russia, saying that the attack was so simple, that “we can imagine that it was a person who did this alone. They could be in any country.”[233]

In September 2017, WikiLeaks released “Spy Files Russia,” revealing “how a St. Petersburg-based technology company called Peter-Service helped state entities gather detailed data on Russian cellphone users, part of a national system of online surveillance called System for Operative Investigative Activities (SORM).”[234]

Claims of upcoming leaks

In January 2011, Rudolf Elmer, a former Swiss banker, passed data containing account details of 2,000 prominent people to Assange, who stated that the information will be vetted before being made publicly available at a later date.[235] In May 2010, WikiLeaks said it had video footage of a massacre of civilians in Afghanistan by the US military which they were preparing to release.[236][237] In an interview with Chris Anderson on 19 July 2010, Assange showed a document WikiLeaks had on an Albanian oil-well blowout, and said they also had material from inside British Petroleum,[238] and that they were “getting enormous quantity of whistle-blower disclosures of a very high calibre” but added that they had not been able to verify and release the material because they did not have enough volunteer journalists.[239] In December 2010, Assange’s lawyer, Mark Stephens, told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC Television that WikiLeaks had information it considered to be a “thermo-nuclear device” which it would release if the organisation needs to defend itself against the authorities.[240]

In a 2009 interview by the magazine Computerworld, Assange claimed to be in possession of “5GB from Bank of America“. In 2010, he told Forbes magazine that WikiLeaks was planning another “megaleak” early in 2011, from the private sector, involving “a big U.S. bank” and revealing an “ecosystem of corruption”. Bank of America’s stock price decreased by 3%, apparently as a result of this announcement.[241][242] Assange commented on the possible effect of the release that “it could take down a bank or two”.[243][244] In August 2011, Reuters announced that Daniel Domscheit-Berg had destroyed approximately 5GB of data cache from Bank of America, that Assange had under his control.[245]

In October 2010, Assange told a major Moscow newspaper that “The Kremlin had better brace itself for a coming wave of WikiLeaks disclosures about Russia”.[246][247] Assange later clarified: “we have material on many businesses and governments, including in Russia. It’s not right to say there’s going to be a particular focus on Russia”.[248]

Authenticity

WikiLeaks has contended that it has never released a misattributed document and that documents are assessed before release. In response to concerns about the possibility of misleading or fraudulent leaks, WikiLeaks has stated that misleading leaks “are already well-placed in the mainstream media. WikiLeaks is of no additional assistance.”[249] The FAQ states that: “The simplest and most effective countermeasure is a worldwide community of informed users and editors who can scrutinise and discuss leaked documents.”[250]According to statements by Assange in 2010, submitted documents are vetted by a group of five reviewers, with expertise in different topics such as language or programming, who also investigate the background of the leaker if his or her identity is known.[251] In that group, Assange has the final decision about the assessment of a document.[251]

Columnist Eric Zorn wrote in 2016 that “it’s possible, even likely, that every stolen email WikiLeaks has posted has been authentic.”[252] (Writer Glenn Greenwald goes further, asserting that WikiLeaks has a “perfect, long-standing record of only publishing authentic documents.”[253]) However, cybersecurity experts agree that it is trivially easy for a person to fabricate an email or alter it, as by changing headers and metadata.[252] Some of the more recent releases, such as many of the emails contained in the Podesta emails, contain DKIM headers. This allows them to be verified as genuine to some degree of certainty.[254]

In July 2016, the Aspen Institute‘s Homeland Security Group, a bipartisan counterterrorism organisation, warned that hackers who stole authentic data might “salt the files they release with plausible forgeries.”[252] Russian intelligence agencies have frequently used disinformation tactics, “which means carefully faked emails might be included in the WikiLeaks dumps. After all, the best way to make false information believable is to mix it in with true information.”[255]

Promotion of conspiracy theories

Murder of Seth Rich

WikiLeaks has promoted conspiracy theories about the murder of Seth Rich.[256][257][258] Unfounded conspiracy theories, spread by some right-wing figures and media outlets, hold that Rich was the source of leaked emails and was killed for working with WikiLeaks.[259]WikiLeaks fuelled the conspiracy theories by offering a reward of $20,000 for information leading to the capture of Rich’s killer and hinting that Rich may have been the source of the leaked emails.[260] No evidence supports the claim that Rich was the source of the leaks.[20][261]

The Guardian wrote that WikiLeaks, along with individuals and groups on the hard right, had been involved in the “ruthless exploitation of [Rich’s] death for political purposes”.[262] The executive director of the Sunlight Foundation, an organization that advocates for open government, was critical of WikiLeaks’ fueling of conspiracy theories surrounding the murder of Seth Rich: “If they feel like they have a link to the staffer’s death, they should say it and be responsible about it. The insinuations, to me, are just disgusting.”[263]

Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton

WikiLeaks has popularized conspiracies about the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton, such as tweeting an article which suggested Clinton campaign chairperson John Podesta engaged in satanic rituals (which was later revealed to be false),[19][264][265] implying that the Democratic Party had Seth Rich killed,[20] suggesting that Clinton wore earpieces to debates and interviews,[266] claiming that Hillary Clinton wanted to drone strike Assange,[267] promoting conspiracy theories about Clinton’s health,[21][268][269] and promoting a conspiracy theory from a Donald Trump–related Internet community tying the Clinton campaign to child kidnapper Laura Silsby.[270]

Criticism and controversies

Allegations of anti-Americanism

Short of simply disclosing information in the public interest, WikiLeaks has been accused of purposely targeting certain states and people, and presenting its disclosures in misleading and conspiratorial ways to harm those people.[264] Writing in 2012, Foreign Policy‘s Joshua Keating noted that “nearly all its major operations have targeted the U.S. government or American corporations.”[271] In a 2017 speech addressing the Center for Strategic and International Studies, CIA Director Mike Pompeo referred to WikiLeaks as “a non-state hostile intelligence service” and described founder Julian Assange as a narcissist, fraud, and coward.[272]

Allegations of anti-Clinton and pro-Trump bias

Assange wrote on WikiLeaks in February 2016: “I have had years of experience in dealing with Hillary Clinton and have read thousands of her cables. Hillary lacks judgement and will push the United States into endless, stupid wars which spread terrorism. …  she certainly should not become president of the United States.”[273] In July 2017, during an interview by Amy Goodman, Julian Assange said that choosing between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is like choosing between cholera or gonorrhea. “Personally, I would prefer neither.”[274] WikiLeaks editor, Sarah Harrison, has stated that the site is not choosing which damaging publications to release, rather releasing information that is available to them.[275]

In an Election Day statement, Assange criticized both Clinton and Trump, saying that “The Democratic and Republican candidates have both expressed hostility towards whistleblowers.”[276] In conversations that were leaked in February 2018, WikiLeaks expressed a preference for a Republican victory in the 2016 election.[22]

Having released information that exposed the inner working of a broad range of organisations and politicians, WikiLeaks started by 2016 to focus almost exclusively on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.[277] In the 2016 US presidential election, WikiLeaks only exposed material damaging to the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton. WikiLeaks even rejected the opportunity to publish unrelated leaks, because it dedicated all its resources to Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. According to The New York Times, WikiLeaks timed one of its large leaks so that it would happen on the eve of the Democratic Convention.[278] The Washington Post noted that the leaks came at an important sensitive moment in the Clinton campaign, as she was preparing to announce her vice-presidential pick and unite the party behind her.[279] The Sunlight Foundation, an organisation that advocates for open government, said that such actions meant that WikiLeaks was no longer striving to be transparent but rather sought to achieve political goals: “It’s become something else. It’s not striving for objectivity. It’s more careless. When they publish information it appears to be in service of some specific goal, of retribution, at the expense of the individual.”[263]

WikiLeaks explained its actions in a 2017 statement to Foreign Policy: “WikiLeaks schedules publications to maximize readership and reader engagement. During distracting media events such as the Olympics or a high profile election, unrelated publications are sometimes delayed until the distraction passes but never are rejected for this reason.”[277] On 7 October 2016, an hour after the media had begun to dedicate wall-to-wall coverage of the revelation that Trump had bragged on video about sexually harassing women, WikiLeaks began to release emails hacked from the personal account of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.[280][281] CNN notes that due to extensive coverage of the Trump tapes, the leaks were an “afterthought” in news coverage.[280] Podesta suggested that the emails were timed to deflect attention from the Trump tapes.[281]

In 2010, Donald Trump called WikiLeaks “disgraceful” and suggested that the “death penalty” should be a punishment for WikiLeaks’ releases of information.[282] Following the dump of e-mails hacked from the Hillary Clinton campaign, Donald Trump told voters, “I love WikiLeaks!”[283] Trump made many references to WikiLeaks during the course of the campaign; by one estimate, he referenced disclosures by WikiLeaks over 160 times in speeches during the last 30 days of the campaign.[284]

Correspondence between WikiLeaks and Donald Trump Jr.

In November 2017, it was revealed that the WikiLeaks Twitter account corresponded with Donald Trump Jr. during the 2016 presidential election.[23] The correspondence shows how WikiLeaks actively solicited the co-operation of Trump Jr., a campaign surrogate and advisor in the campaign of his father. WikiLeaks urged the Trump campaign to reject the results of the 2016 presidential election at a time when it looked as if the Trump campaign would lose.[23] WikiLeaks asked Trump Jr. to share a claim by Assange that Hillary Clinton had wanted to attack him with drones.[23] WikiLeaks also shared a link to a site that would help people to search through WikiLeaks documents.[23] Trump Jr. shared both. After the election, WikiLeaks also requested that the president-elect push Australia to appoint Assange as ambassador to the US. After The New York Times published a fragment of Donald Trump’s tax returns for one year, WikiLeaks asked Trump Jr. for one or more of his father’s tax returns, explaining that it would be in his father’s best interest because it would “dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality” and not come “through the most biased source (e.g. NYT/MSNBC).”[23] WikiLeaks also asked Trump Jr. to leak his own e-mails to them days after The New York Times broke a story about e-mail correspondence between Trump Jr. and a Kremlin-affiliated lawyer; WikiLeaks said that it would be “beautifully confounding” for them to publish the e-mails and that it would deprive other news outlets from putting a negative spin on the correspondence.[23] Trump Jr. provided this correspondence to congressional investigators looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election.[23]

Allegations of Russian influence

In August 2016, after WikiLeaks published thousands of DNC emails, it was claimed that Russian intelligence had hacked the e-mails and leaked them to WikiLeaks. At the time, DNC officials made such claims, along with a number of cybersecurity experts and cybersecurity firms.[285][286] In October 2016, the US intelligence community announced that it was “confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from U.S. persons and institutions, including from U.S. political organizations”.[18] The US intelligence agencies said that the hacks were consistent with the methods of Russian-directed efforts, and that people high up within the Kremlin were likely involved.[18] On 14 October 2016, CNN reported that “there is mounting evidence that the Russian government is supplying WikiLeaks with hacked emails pertaining to the U.S. presidential election.”[287] WikiLeaks has denied any connection to or co-operation with Russia.[287] President Putin has strongly denied any Russian involvement in the election.[210][211]

In September 2016, the German weekly magazine Focus reported that according to a confidential German government dossier, WikiLeaks had long since been infiltrated by Russian agents aiming to discredit NATO governments. The magazine added that French and British intelligence services had come to the same conclusion and said Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev receive details about what WikiLeaks publishes before publication.[288] The Focus report followed a New York Times story that suggested that WikiLeaks may be a laundering machine for compromising material about Western countries gathered by Russian spies.[289]

On 10 December 2016, several news outlets, including The Guardian and The Washington Post, reported that the Central Intelligence Agency concluded that Russia intelligence operatives provided materials to WikiLeaks in an effort to help Donald Trump’s election bid. The Washington Post article stated: “The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.”[290] The Guardian article reported, “individuals linked to the Russian government had provided WikiLeaks with thousands of confidential emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and others.”[291] WikiLeaks has frequently been criticised for its absence of whistleblowing on or criticism of Russia.[24] The Guardian notes that journalists are killed frequently in Russia, and notes that Freedom House has ranked Russian press freedom as “not free … The main national news agenda is firmly controlled by the Kremlin. The government sets editorial policy at state-owned television stations, which dominate the media landscape and generate propagandistic content.[292]

In April 2016, WikiLeaks tweeted criticism of the Panama Papers, which had among other things revealed Russian businesses and individuals linked with offshore ties (Vladimir Putin’s associates had as much as $2 billion in offshore accounts).[293][277] The WikiLeaks Twitter account tweeted, “#PanamaPapers Putin attack was produced by OCCRP which targets Russia & former USSR and was funded by USAID and [George] Soros”.[25] Putin would later go on to dismiss the Panama Papers by citing WikiLeaks: “WikiLeaks has showed us that official people and official organs of the U.S. are behind this.”[25] According to The New York Times, both Assange claims are substance-free: “there is no evidence suggesting that the United States government had a role in releasing the Panama Papers.”[294] Assange also falsely asserted that the Panama Papers gave Western figures a free pass, when the leaks in fact reported on a number of high-profile Western politicians, including UK Prime Minister David Cameron.[277]

In 2012 when WikiLeaks began to run out of funds, Assange began to host a television show on Russia Today, Russia’s state-owned news network.[295] Assange has never disclosed how much he or WikiLeaks were paid for his television show.[295]

After President Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn resigned in February 2017 due to reports over his communications with Russian officials and subsequent lies over the content and nature of those communications, WikiLeaks tweeted that Flynn resigned “after destabilization campaign by U.S. spies, Democrats, press.”[296][297]

In April 2017, the WikiLeaks Twitter account suggested that the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack, which international human rights organisations and governments of the United States, United Kingdom, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, and Israel attributed to the Syrian government, was a false flag attack.[298] WikiLeaks stated that “while western establishment media beat the drum for more war in Syria the matter is far from clear”, and shared a video by a Syrian activist who claimed that Islamist extremists were probably behind the chemical attack, not the Syrian government.[298]

In May 2017, cybersecurity experts stated that they believed that groups affiliated with the Russian government were involved in the hacking and leaking of e-mails associated with the Emmanuel Macron campaign; these e-mails were published on Pastebin but heavily promoted by WikiLeaks social media channels.[230][231][232]

In April 2017, CIA Director Mike Pompeo stated: “It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is – a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.” Pompeo said that the US Intelligence Community had concluded that Russia’s “primary propaganda outlet,” RT had “actively collaborated” with WikiLeaks.[299]

In August 2017, Foreign Policy reported that WikiLeaks had in the summer of 2016 turned down a large cache of documents containing information damaging to the Russian government.[277][300] WikiLeaks justified this by saying “As far as we recall these are already public … WikiLeaks rejects all information that it cannot verify.[301] WikiLeaks rejects submissions that have already been published elsewhere”.[277] Whereas news outlets had reported on some contents of the leaks in 2014, the information that news outlets reported on was less than half of the data that was made available to WikiLeaks in the summer of 2016.[277]

In October 2017, it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a company working on behalf of the Trump presidential campaign, had contacted WikiLeaks about missing Hillary Clinton e-mails and the possibility of creating a searchable database for the campaign to use.[302][303] After this was reported, Assange confirmed that WikiLeaks had been approached by Cambridge Analytica but had rejected the approach.[302][303] WikiLeaks did not disclose what the subject of Cambridge Analytica’s approach was.[304]

Allegations of anti-semitism

WikiLeaks has been accused of anti-semitism both in its Twitter activity and hiring decisions.[305][306][307][308] According to Ian Hislop, Assange claimed that a “Jewish conspiracy” was attempting to discredit the organization. Assange denied making this remark, stating “‘Jewish conspiracy’ is completely false, in spirit and in word. It is serious and upsetting.”[305][309]

In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in 2015, the WikiLeaks Twitter account wrote that “the Jewish pro-censorship lobby legitimized attacks”, referring to the trial of Maurice Sinet.[307] In July 2016, the same account suggested that triple parentheses, or (((echoes))) – a tool used by neo-Nazis to identify Jews on Twitter, appropriated by several Jews online out of solidarity – had been used as a way for “establishment climbers” to identify one another.[306][308] In leaked internal conversations, Assange discussed an article critical of WikiLeaks by Associated Press reporter Raphael Satter. He went on call the journalist “a rat”, adding “but he’s Jewish” and encouraged others to troll him.[22]

Exaggerated and misleading descriptions of the contents of leaks

WikiLeaks has been criticised for making misleading claims about the contents of its leaks.[310][311] Media outlets have also been criticised for reporting on WikiLeaks’ claims about the CIA leak, which were later retracted.[310]

According to University of North Carolina Professor Zeynep Tufekci, this is part of a pattern of behaviour. After the 2016 Turkish coup d’état attempt, WikiLeaks announced that it would release e-mails belonging to Turkey’s ruling conservative Justice and Development Party. WikiLeaks released Turkish emails and documents as a response to the Turkish government’s crackdown on real or alleged government opponents that followed the coup attempt.[189] When these e-mails were released, however, it “was nothing but mundane mailing lists of tens of thousands of ordinary people who discussed politics online. Back then, too, the ruse worked: Many Western journalists had hyped these non-leaks.”[310] According to Tufekci, there are three steps to WikiLeaks’ “disinformation campaigns”: “The first step is to dump many documents at once — rather than allowing journalists to scrutinise them and absorb their significance before publication. The second step is to sensationalise the material with misleading news releases and tweets. The third step is to sit back and watch as the news media unwittingly promotes the WikiLeaks agenda under the auspices of independent reporting.”[310]

Inadequate curation and violations of personal privacy

WikiLeaks has drawn criticism for violating the personal privacy of a multitude of individuals and inadequately curating its content. These critics include transparency advocates, such as Edward Snowden, the Sunlight Foundation and the Federation of American Scientists.[26]

WikiLeaks has published individuals’ Social Security numbers, medical information, and credit card numbers.[27] An analysis by the Associated Press found that WikiLeaks had in one of its mass-disclosures published “the personal information of hundreds of people – including sick children, rape victims and mental health patients”.[27] WikiLeaks has named teenage rape victims, and outed an individual arrested for homosexuality in Saudi Arabia.[27] Some of WikiLeaks’ cables “described patients with psychiatric conditions, seriously ill children or refugees”.[27] An analysis of WikiLeaks’ Saudi cables “turned up more than 500 passport, identity, academic or employment files … three dozen records pertaining to family issues in the cables – including messages about marriages, divorces, missing children, elopements and custody battles. Many are very personal, like the marital certificates that reveal whether the bride was a virgin. Others deal with Saudis who are deeply in debt, including one man who says his wife stole his money. One divorce document details a male partner’s infertility. Others identify the partners of women suffering from sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and Hepatitis C.”[27] Two individuals named in the DNC leaks were targeted by identity thieves following WikiLeaks’ reveal of their Social Security and credit card information.[27] In its leak of DNC e-mails, WikiLeaks revealed the details of an ordinary staffer’s suicide attempt and brought attention to it through a tweet.[312][313]

WikiLeaks’ publishing of Sony’s hacked e-mails drew criticism for violating the privacy of Sony’s employees and for failing to be in the public interest.[314][315] Michael A. Cohen, a fellow at the Century Foundation, argues that “data dumps like these represent a threat to our already shrinking zone of privacy.”[314] He noted that the willingness of WikiLeaks to publish information of this type encourages hacking and cybertheft: “With ready and willing amplifiers, what’s to deter the next cyberthief from stealing a company’s database of information and threatening to send it to Wikileaks if a list of demands aren’t met?”[314]

The Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for open government, has criticised WikiLeaks for inadequate curation of its content and for “weaponised transparency,” writing that with the DNC leaks, “Wikileaks again failed the due diligence review we expect of putatively journalistic entities when it published the personal information of ordinary citizens, including passport and Social Security numbers contained in the hacked emails of Democratic National Committee staff. We are not alone in raising ethical questions about Wikileaks’ shift from whistleblower to platform for weaponised transparency. Any organisation that ‘doxxes’ a public is harming privacy.”[316] The manner in which WikiLeaks publishes content can have the effect of censoring political enemies: “Wikileaks’ indiscriminate disclosure in this case is perhaps the closest we’ve seen in reality to the bogeyman projected by enemies to reform — that transparency is just a Trojan Horse for chilling speech and silencing political enemies.”[316]

In July 2016, Edward Snowden criticised WikiLeaks for insufficiently curating its content.[28] When Snowden made data public, he did so by working with the Washington Post, the Guardian and other news organisations, choosing only to make documents public which exposed National Security Agency surveillance programs.[28] Content that compromised national security or exposed sensitive personal information was withheld.[28] WikiLeaks, on the other hand, makes little effort to remove sensitive personal information or withhold content with adverse national security implications. WikiLeaks responded by accusing Snowden of pandering to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.[28]

University of North Carolina Professor Zeynep Tufekci has criticised WikiLeaks for exposing sensitive personal information: “WikiLeaks, for example, gleefully tweeted to its millions of followers that a Clinton Foundation employee had attempted suicide … Data dumps by WikiLeaks have outed rape victims and gay people in Saudi Arabia, private citizens’ emails and personal information in Turkey, and the voice mail messages of Democratic National Committee staff members.”[29] She argues these data dumps which violate personal privacy without being in the public interest “threaten our ability to dissent by destroying privacy and unleashing a glut of questionable information that functions, somewhat unexpectedly, as its own form of censorship, rather than as a way to illuminate the maneuverings of the powerful.”[29]

In January 2017, the WikiLeaks Task Force, a Twitter account associated with WikiLeaks,[317] proposed the creation of a database to track verified Twitter users, including sensitive personal information on individuals’ homes, families and finances.[318][317][319] According to the Chicago Tribune, “the proposal faced a sharp and swift backlash as technologists, journalists and security researchers slammed the idea as a ‘sinister’ and dangerous abuse of power and privacy.”[318] Twitter furthermore bans the use of Twitter data for “surveillance purposes,” stating “Posting another person’s private and confidential information is a violation of the Twitter rules.”[317]

Internal conflicts and lack of transparency

Within WikiLeaks, there has been public disagreement between founder and spokesperson Julian Assange and Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the website’s former German representative who was suspended by Assange. Domscheit-Berg announced on 28 September 2010 that he was leaving the organisation due to internal conflicts over management of the website.[100][320][321]

Julian Assange (left) with Daniel Domscheit-Berg. Domscheit-Berg was ejected from WikiLeaks and started a rival “whistleblower” organisation named OpenLeaks.

On 25 September 2010, after being suspended by Assange for “disloyalty, insubordination and destabilisation”, Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the German spokesman for WikiLeaks, told Der Spiegel that he was resigning, saying “WikiLeaks has a structural problem. I no longer want to take responsibility for it, and that’s why I am leaving the project.”[322][323][324] Assange accused Domscheit-Berg of leaking information to Newsweek, claiming the WikiLeaks team was unhappy with Assange’s management and handling of the Afghan war document releases.[324] Daniel Domscheit-Berg wanted greater transparency in the articles released to the public. Another vision of his was to focus on providing technology that allowed whistle-blowers to protect their identity as well as a more transparent way of communicating with the media, forming new partnerships and involving new people.[325] Domscheit-Berg left with a small group to start OpenLeaks, a new leak organisation and website with a different management and distribution philosophy.[322][326]

While leaving, Daniel Domscheit-Berg copied and then deleted roughly 3,500 unpublished documents from the WikiLeaks servers,[327] including information on the US government’s ‘no-fly list’ and inside information from 20 right-wing organisations, and according to a WikiLeaks statement, 5 gigabytes of data relating to Bank of America, the internal communications of 20 neo-Nazi organisations and US intercept information for “over a hundred Internet companies”.[328] In Domscheit-Berg’s book he wrote: “To this day, we are waiting for Julian to restore security, so that we can return the material to him, which was on the submission platform.”[329] In August 2011, Domscheit-Berg claims he permanently deleted the files “in order to ensure that the sources are not compromised.”[330]

Herbert Snorrason, a 25-year-old Icelandic university student, resigned after he challenged Assange on his decision to suspend Domscheit-Berg and was bluntly rebuked.[324] Iceland MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir also left WikiLeaks, citing lack of transparency, lack of structure, and poor communication flow in the organisation.[331] According to the periodical The Independent (London), at least a dozen key supporters of WikiLeaks left the website during 2010.[332]

Non-disclosure agreements

Those working for WikiLeaks are reportedly required to sign sweeping non-disclosure agreements covering all conversations, conduct, and material, with Assange having sole power over disclosure.[333] The penalty for non-compliance in one such agreement was reportedly £12 million.[333] WikiLeaks has been challenged for this practice, as it seen to be hypocritical for an organisation dedicated to transparency to limit the transparency of its inner workings and limit the accountability of powerful individuals in the organisation.[333][334][335]

Lawsuit by the Democratic National Committee

On 20 April 2018, the Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit in federal district court in Manhattan against Russia, the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, alleging a conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 United States presidential election in Trump’s favor.[336] WikiLeaks called the lawsuit a “publicity stunt” by the DNC and said, “As an accurate publisher of newsworthy information @WikiLeaks is constitutionally protected from such suits.” WikiLeaks added that they were considering filing a countersuit against the DNC.[337]

Reception

Graffiti in Bilbao “We want to know.”

Awards and praise

From interested parties

WikiLeaks has received praise as well as criticism. The organisation won a number of awards in its early years, including The Economist‘s New Media Award in 2008 at the Index on Censorship Awards[338] and Amnesty International‘s UK Media Award in 2009.[339][340] In 2010, the New York Daily News listed WikiLeaks first among websites “that could totally change the news,”[341] and Julian Assange received the Sam Adams Award[342] and was named the Readers’ Choice for TIME’s Person of the Year in 2010.[343] The UK Information Commissioner has stated that “WikiLeaks is part of the phenomenon of the online, empowered citizen.”[344] During its first days, an Internet petition in support of WikiLeaks attracted more than six hundred thousand signatures.[345]

Support for good use of free speech

Sympathisers of WikiLeaks in the media and academia commended it during its early years for exposing state and corporate secrets, increasing transparency, assisting freedom of the press, and enhancing democratic discourse while challenging powerful institutions.[346][347][348][349][350][351][352] In 2010, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern over the “cyber war” being led at the time against WikiLeaks,[353] and in a joint statement with the Organization of American States the UN Special Rapporteur called on states and other people to keep international legal principles in mind.[354]

Public positions By U.S. politicians

Several Republicans who had once been highly critical of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange began to speak fondly of him after WikiLeaks published the DNC leaks and started to regularly criticise Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.[355][356] Having called WikiLeaks “disgraceful” in 2010, President-Elect Donald Trump praised WikiLeaks in October 2016, saying, “I love WikiLeaks.”[357][358] Newt Gingrich, who called for Assange to be “treated as an enemy combatant” in 2010, praised him as a “down to Earth, straight forward interviewee” in 2017.[355] Sean Hannity, who had in 2010 said that Assange waged a “war” on the United States, praised him in 2016 for showing “how corrupt, dishonest and phony our government is”.[356] Sarah Palin, who had in 2010 described Assange as an “anti-American operative with blood on his hands”, lavished praise on him in 2017.[359] Ann Coulter called for Assange to be awarded the presidential medal of freedom.[355]

Concerns from U.S. government

At the same time, several US government officials have criticised WikiLeaks for exposing classified information and claimed that the leaks harm national security and compromise international diplomacy.[360][361][362][363][364] Several human rights organisations requested with respect to earlier document releases that WikiLeaks adequately redact the names of civilians working with international forces, to prevent repercussions.[365] Some journalists have likewise criticised a perceived lack of editorial discretion when releasing thousands of documents at once and without sufficient analysis.[366] In 2016, Harvard law professor and Electronic Frontier Foundation board member Jonathan Zittrain argued that a culture in which one constantly risks being “outed” as a result of virtual Watergate-like break-ins (or violations of the Fourth Amendment) could lead people to hesitate to speak their minds.[367]

In April 2017, CIA Director Mike Pompeo called WikiLeaks “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia”.[368]

Also in April 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that arresting Julian Assange of WikiLeaks was a priority: “We have professionals that have been in the security business of the United States for many years that are shocked by the number of leaks and some of them are quite serious. So yes, it is a priority. We’ve already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail.”[369]

Campaigns to discredit Wikileaks

In 2011, hacktivist group Anonymous published a secret proposal presented by a Palantir Technologies employee to Hunton & Williams, a Washington, D.C. law firm, to attempt to discredit WikiLeaks and supporters such as Glenn Greenwald with disinformation and cyberattacks.[370] Two other private security firms, Berico Technologies and HBGary, were also involved in the proposal.[371][372][373][374] Palantir temporarily suspended the employee, its CEO Alex Karp apologised to Greenwald, and a spokesperson said the company would have collapsed if it had carried out the proposal.[370]

Spin-offs

Release of United States diplomatic cables was followed by the creation of a number of other organisations based on the WikiLeaks model.[375]

  • OpenLeaks was created by a former WikiLeaks spokesperson. Daniel Domscheit-Berg said the intention was to be more transparent than WikiLeaks. OpenLeaks was supposed to start public operations in early 2011 but despite much media coverage, as of April 2013it is not operating.[376]
  • In December 2011, WikiLeaks launched Friends of WikiLeaks, a social network for supporters and founders of the website.[377]
  • On 9 September 2013[378] a number of major Dutch media outlets supported the launch of Publeaks, which provides a secure website for people to leak documents to the media using the GlobaLeaks whistleblowing software.[379]
  • RuLeaks is aimed at being a Russian equivalent to WikiLeaks. It was initiated originally to provide translated versions of the WikiLeaks cables but the Moscow Times reports it has started to publish its own content as well.[380]
  • Leakymails is a project designed to obtain and publish relevant documents exposing corruption of the political class and the powerful in Argentina.[381][382][383]
  • Honest Appalachia,[384] initiated in January 2012, is a website based in the United States intended to appeal to potential “whistleblowers” in West VirginiaVirginiaPennsylvaniaOhioKentuckyTennessee and North Carolina, and serve as a replicable model for similar projects elsewhere.[385][386]

In popular culture

Both The Fifth Estate and We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks have received heavy criticism from Wikileaks itself, over fabrications and irresponsibility.[392] [393]

See also

References …

External links

Story 2: Obama vs. Trump Using Drones To Kill Terrorist and Many Innocent Civilians? —  No Transparency and No Accountability —  Videos

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US drone strikes in Yemen continue to kill civilians

The US has been waging a drone war in Yemen for the last 16 years, trying to suppress Al Qaeda’s branch in the country. But the campaign has had a hidden cost: civilians killed by the strikes. #USDroneWar #Yemen #drones

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Trump cancels Obama policy of reporting drone strike deaths

The reporting requirement was the first-ever effort by the U.S. government to account for how many people have been killed in targeted strikes.
US Conducts Air War Against ISIL From Secret Base In Persian Gulf Region

Contract workers load a Hellfire missile onto a U.S. Air Force MQ-1B Predator unmanned aerial vehicle at a secret air base in the Persian Gulf region on Jan. 7, 2016.John Moore / Getty Images file

By Ken Dilanian and Courtney Kube

In the latest step toward rolling back Obama-era rules for targeted killings, President Donald Trump will no longer require U.S. intelligence officials to publicly disclose the numbers of people killed in drone strikes and other attacks on terrorist targets outside of war zones.

Trump ended the reporting requirement by signing an executive order Wednesday. The move had been expected since the administration last year failed to release an annual accounting of civilian and enemy casualties required under an order signed in 2016 by then-President Barack Obama.

The order signed by Trump revokes a specific requirement that the administration release an unclassified summary of “the number of strikes undertaken by the United States government against terrorist targets outside areas of active hostilities, as well as assessments of combatant and noncombatant deaths resulting from those strikes, among other information.”

Obama dramatically expanded the use of targeted strikes with drone strikes against al Qaeda and the Islamic State group. He also sought to put in place a set of rules designed to promote accountability and encourage policymakers to minimize civilian casualties. Critics said those rules placed unwarranted constraints on counterterrorism operatives.

Among the rules was a requirement that there be a “near certainty” of no civilian casualties before the CIA launched a strike. That rule did not apply in war zones, where the standard is less strict. It’s unclear whether that rule remains in place.

The reporting requirement was the first-ever effort by the U.S. government to account for how many people have been killed in targeted strikes in places such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Obama’s first report in 2016 said the U.S. launched 473 strikes from Jan. 20, 2009, until Dec. 31, 2015, killing 2,372 to 2,581 combatants and 64 to 116 noncombatants.

Outside groups have much higher estimates for the death toll in American drone strikes.

That requirement is now repealed.

Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director at the Human Rights Watch, called Trump’s decision “deeply troubling.”

“Unless Congress wants to leave open the possibility that the CIA can be a secret killing squad, it should immediately act to mandate robust unclassified and appropriately classified reports on the use of all force by the United States, and assessments of any and all civilian deaths, injury or other harm, caused by the United States,” Prasow said.

A spokesperson for the National Security Council (NSC) insists the administration is committed to “acknowledging responsibility” when civilian casualties occur, but called the reporting requirement “superfluous.”

“This action eliminates superfluous reporting requirements, requirements that do not improve government transparency, but rather distract our intelligence professionals from their primary mission,” the NSC spokesperson said.

Trump’s order does not affect a separate law that Congress passed last year requiring the Department of Defense to provide Congress with a report of civilian casualties resulting from military operations. But that does not apply to many areas where CIA drone strikes take place.

Under Trump, CIA drone strikes have not reached the level they did in the early Obama years, when the agency was pummeling targets in Pakistan on a weekly basis.

But in 2017, there were a record 156 counterterrorism strikes in Yemen and Somalia, according to Long War Journal, a website that tracks the attacks through credible U.S. and foreign media reports.

Last year, that number fell to 82, the website reported.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-cancels-obama-policy-reporting-drone-strike-deaths-n980156

Trump outpacing Obama in drone strikes; 80 in first year: Report

But analysts warn Trump administration far too secretive with drone program

A U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

Civilian casualties from U.S. drone strikes

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

President Trump is outpacing his predecessor in the number of U.S. drone strikes abroad and has made it easier for the CIA to use the craft to eliminate targets, according to a new study released Thursday — but specialists warn the use of the unmanned killing machines remains shrouded in secrecy with rules of engagement that haven’t been publicly explained.

The comprehensive report from the nonpartisan Stimson Center examined U.S. drone policy since Sept. 11, 2001, and found that the steady rise in the frequency of drone strikes during former President Barack Obama’s tenure has continued since Mr. Trump came to power. During his eight years in office, Mr. Obama authorized roughly 550 drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and other nations in which the U.S. wasn’t explicitly at war.

In just his first 12 months, Mr. Trump green-lighted at least 80 strikes in those countries and “is on pace to surpass the strike tempo of both of his predecessors, which perhaps signals a great willingness to use lethal force,” the survey says.

The figures do not include military action in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan, where the U.S. has has a formal military presence for more than a decade, and the strikes in countries such as Yemen and Somalia are typically overseen by the CIA, not the Pentagon.

Analysts argue that one reason for the uptick in the use of drones could be the Trump administration’s relaxation of the rules governing drone strikes. The administration reportedly has lessened the certainty required about a target’s whereabouts before launching a drone strike, and has declared parts of Yemen and Somalia to be area of “active hostilities,” which allow greater flexibility in the use of drones.

But the details of those and other drone policies remain secret, and some analysts contend that whatever progress on drone transparency had been made during the Obama administration has been swiftly reversed.

“The Trump administration appears to be rolling back initial, albeit limited, efforts to increase transparency in the U.S. drone program, which impedes the ability of the public to assess whether the use of drones is appropriate and responsible and to hold the government accountable for any mistakes or wrongful killings resulting from the use of drones in lethal operations,” wrote Rachel Stohl, managing director at Stimson who oversaw the drone study. “A lack of transparency also undermines the legitimacy of the U.S. drone program and the policy underpinning it, and implies that the United States has something to hide.”

A host of other groups, such as the ACLU, Amnesty International, and others, earlier this year released a joint statement calling on the Trump administration to make public much more information about the extent of its drone program, the rules of engagement it is using, and a host of other information.

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jun/7/donald-trump-outpacing-barack-obama-drone-strikes-/

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Since the September 11 attacks, the United States government has carried out drone strikes in Pakistan (see drone strikes in Pakistan), Yemen (see drone strikes in Yemen), Somalia (see drone strikes in Somalia), Afghanistan, and Libya (see drone strikes in Libya).[1][2]

Drone strikes are part of a targeted killing campaign against jihadist militants; however, non-combatant civilians have also been killed in drone strikes.[1][2] Determining precise counts of the total number killed, as well as the number of non-combatant civilians killed, is impossible; and tracking of strikes and estimates of casualties are compiled by a number of organizations, such as the Long War Journal (Pakistan and Yemen), the New America Foundation (Pakistan), and the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism (Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan).[1] The “estimates of civilian casualties are hampered methodologically and practically”;[3] for example, “estimates are largely compiled by interpreting news reports relying on anonymous officials or accounts from local media, whose credibility may vary.”[1]

 

 

Total numbers

According to the Long War Journal, which follows US anti-terror developments, as of mid-2011, drone strikes in Pakistan since 2006 had killed 2,018 militants and 138 civilians.[4] The New America Foundation stated in mid-2011 that from 2004 to 2011, 80% of the 2,551 people killed in the strikes were militants. The Foundation stated that 95% of those killed in 2010 were militants and that, as of 2012, 15% of the total people killed by drone strikes were either known civilians or unknown.[5] The Foundation also states that in 2012 the rate of known civilian and unknown casualties was 2 percent, whereas the Bureau of Investigative Journalism say the rate of civilian casualties for 2012 is 9 percent.[6] The Bureau, based on extensive research in mid-2011, claims that at least 385 civilians were among the dead, including more than 160 children.[7] The Obama administration estimated in June 2016 that US drone strikes under Obama had killed 64 individuals conclusively determined to be non-combatants, in addition to 52 individuals whose status remained in doubt.[8]

It has been reported that 160 children have died from UAV-launched attacks in Pakistan[9] and that over 1,000 civilians have been injured.[10] Moreover, additional reporting has found that known militant leaders have constituted only 2 percent of all drone-related fatalities.[11] These sources run counter to the Obama administration’s claim that “nearly for the past year there hasn’t been a single collateral death” due to UAV-based attacks.[12]

The New America Foundation estimates that for the period 2004-2011, the non-militant fatality rate was approximately 20%.[13]

President Donald Trump, on March 6, 2019, signed an executive order revoking the requirement that U.S. intelligence officials publicly report the number of civilians killed in drone strikes and other attacks on terrorist targets outside of war zones. The Trump administrationhad previously ignored a May 2018 deadline for an annual accounting of civilian and enemy casualties required under Executive Order 13732[14] signed in 2016 by Barack Obama.[15][16]

Afghanistan

After more than 30 UAV-based strikes hit civilian homes in Afghanistan in 2012, President Hamid Karzai demanded that such attacks end, but the practice continues in areas of Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has criticized such use of UAVs: “We don’t know how many hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in these attacks … This would have been unthinkable in previous times.”[17]

Pakistan

In October 2013, the Pakistani government revealed that since 2008, civilian casualties made up 3 percent of deaths from drone strikes. Since 2008, it alleges there have been 317 drone strikes that killed 2,160 Islamic militants and 67 civilians. This is less than previous government and independent organization calculations of collateral damage from these attacks.[18] S. Azmat Hassan, a former ambassador of Pakistan, said in July 2009 that American UAV attacks were turning Pakistani opinion against the United States and that 35 or 40 such attacks killed 8 or 9 top al-Qaeda operatives.[19]

Yemen

An attack by the US in December 2013, in a wedding procession in Yemen, killed 12 men and wounded at least 15 other people, including the bride. US and Yemeni officials said the dead were members of the armed group Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), but witnesses and relatives told Human Rights Watch the casualties were civilians. Witnesses and relatives told Human Rights Watch that no members of AQAP were in the procession and provided names and other information about those killed and wounded. They said the dead included the groom’s adult son and the bride received superficial face wounds. The local governor and military commander called the casualties a “mistake” and gave money and assault rifles to the families of those killed and wounded – a traditional gesture of apology in Yemen. A few days after the incident, Yemeni MPs voted for a ban against the use of drones in Yemen, though it is unclear what effect this will have on drone usage.[20][21]

Criticism

There are a number of vocal critics of the use of UAVs to track and kill terrorists and militants. A major criticism of drone strikes is that they result in excessive collateral damage. David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum wrote in the New York Times[22] that drone strikes “have killed about 14 terrorist leaders”. It has also killed an unknown number of militants. But, according to Pakistani sources, they have also killed some 700 civilians. Grégoire Chamayou’s analysis, of one three hour long surveillance and attack operation on a convoy of three SUVs that killed civilians in Afghanistan in February 2010, shows a typical, if notorious, case. Throughout the operation there is a sense of the drone controllers’ desperation to destroy the people and destroy the vehicles — whatever the evidence of their clearly civilian nature. The transcript is full of statements like “that truck would make a beautiful target”; “Oh, sweet target!”; “the men appear to be moving tactically”; and “They’re going to do something nefarious”.[23]

It is difficult to reconcile these figures because the drone strikes are often in areas that are inaccessible to independent observers and the data includes reports by local officials and local media, neither of whom are reliable sources. Critics also fear that by making killing seem clean and safe, so-called surgical UAV strikes will allow the United States to remain in a perpetual state of war. However, others maintain that drones “allow for a much closer review and much more selective targeting process than do other instruments of warfare” and are subject to Congressional oversight.[24] Like any military technology, armed UAVs will kill people, combatants and innocents alike, thus “the main turning point concerns the question of whether we should go to war at all.”[24]

See also

References

  1. Jump up to:abcd Cora Currier, Everything We Know So Far About Drone Strikes, Pro Publica (February 5, 2013).
  2. Jump up to:ab Obama’s covert drone war in numbers: ten times more strikes than Bush, Bureau of Investigative Journalism (January 17, 2017).
  3. ^ Counting Drone Strike DeathsColumbia Law School Human Rights Clinic (October 2012).
  4. ^ Roggio, Bill, and Alexander Mayer, “Charting the data for US airstrikes in Pakistan, 2004 – 2016“, Long War Journal, 5 July 2011. Retrieved 11 July 2011. Archived February 18, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ “Out of the blue”The Economist. 30 July 2011. Retrieved 16 December 2011.
  6. ^