CIA Plan to Poison Assange Wasn’t Needed–the US Found a ‘Lawful’ Way to Disappear Him
ANGLO AMERICA, 11 Oct 2021
30 Sep 2021 – A Yahoo News’ investigation reveals that, through much of 2017, the CIA weighed up whether to use wholly extrajudicial means to deal with the supposed threat posed by Julian Assange and his whistleblowers’ platform WikiLeaks. The agency plotted either to kidnap or assassinate him.
Shocking as the revelations are – exposing the entirely lawless approach of the main US intelligence agency – the Yahoo investigation nonetheless tends to obscure rather than shine a light on the bigger picture.
Assange has not been deprived of his freedom for more than a decade because of an unimplemented rogue operation by the CIA. Rather, he has been held in various forms of captivity – disappeared – through the collaborations of various national governments and their intelligence agencies, aided by legal systems and the media, that have systematically violated his rights and legal due process.
The reality of Assange’s years of persecution is far worse even than the picture of a thuggish, vengeful, power-mad CIA painted by Yahoo’s reporting.
More than 30 former senior officials, who either served in the US foreign intelligence agency or the Trump administration, helped to piece together for Yahoo the various components of the CIA’s plan. They show that the agency considered two main options for dealing with Assange in addition to then secret moves laying the groundwork for prosecuting the Wikileaks founder in the US courts.
One plan was to kidnap Assange from the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he had been seeking political asylum since 2012.
The aim was to smuggle him to the US – violating the sovereignty of Ecuador and the UK – in an operation that would have had all the hallmarks of “extraordinary rendition”. That was the illegal procedure the US used after 9/11 to abduct suspects in the “war on terror”, usually so they could be sent to “black sites” where they were tortured and held without judicial oversight.
The other CIA proposal was to assassinate Assange – or, perhaps more accurately, commit extrajudicial murder to silence him once and for all. Poisoning him was reportedly one of the methods considered.
These scenarios need to be borne in mind when we cast our minds back to 2012, to the moment Assange decided to seek sanctuary in Ecuador’s embassy, fearing the wrath of the US at his exposure of its war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Not a single corporate journalist gave credence to his concerns. In fact, they ridiculed them. These latest revelations confirm what was obvious to many of the rest of us: Assange had very good reasons indeed to seek political asylum.
Desire for revenge
Let us examine that bigger picture obscured by the reporting of the CIA’s plan.
1. The agency’s much greater interest in the Assange case – and its more openly hostile attitude towards him – were a result of Wikileaks’ release of parts of a cache of secret files on the CIA’s hacking capabilities known as “Vault 7”. The agency, considering it “the largest data loss in CIA history”, was deeply humiliated by the exposure.
The misleading impression created by the Yahoo investigation is that until 2017 a standard legal process was being pursued against Assange that only turned rogue after the Vault 7 release, when the CIA wanted vengeance and to intimidate Wikileaks to prevent any further leaks.
In the words of one Trump national security official: “There was an inappropriate level of attention to Assange given the [CIA’s] embarrassment, not the threat he posed in context. We should never act out of a desire for revenge.”
The implication is that, because the CIA’s various extrajudicial plots were never implemented, justice has otherwise been well served in Assange’s case.
But the CIA plans indicate something else entirely. They show that, once the CIA was as infuriated by Wikileaks’ exposure of the agency’s own crimes as the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House already were of theirs, it joined them in getting more actively involved in an existing extrajudicial process meant to finish off Assange and Wikileaks.
Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, since 2001. He is the author of: Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish State (2006); Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (2008); and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (2008). In 2011 he was awarded the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. The same year, Project Censored voted one of Jonathan’s reports, “Israel brings Gaza entry restrictions to West Bank”, the ninth most important story censored in 2009-10.
Tags: Activism, Assange, Big Brother, CIA, Ecuador, Human Rights, Journalism, Justice, Media, Surveillance, Sweden, Torture, UK, UN, USA, Violence, Whistleblowing, WikiLeaks
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