LONDON (AP) — Daniel Ellsberg, one of the most famous whistleblowers in living memory, came to the defense of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Wednesday in his legal fight to avoid extradition to the United States from Britain, arguing that the pair had “very comparable political opinions.”
The 89-year-old, who is widely credited for helping to bring about an end to the Vietnam War through his leaking of the so-called Pentagon Papers in 1971, told London’s Central Criminal Court via a video link that there are echoes of his experience in the way Assange is being treated by the U.S. government.
He told the court that he concluded after his several meetings with Assange over the past decade that they shared the same aspirations, to shine a light on the “great lack of transparency” in decision-making circles in the U.S., especially when it comes to matters of war.
The cables relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that WikiLeaks published had shown, he said, that torture had become “normalized.”
“The American public needed urgently to know what was being done routinely in their name, and there was no other way for them to learn it than by unauthorized disclosure,” he said in his written testimony.
“I observe the closest of similarities to the position I faced, where the exposure of illegality and criminal acts institutionally and by individuals was intended to be crushed by the administration carrying out those illegalities,” he added.
U.S. prosecutors have indicted the 49-year-old Assange on 17 espionage charges, and one of computer misuse, over WikiLeaks’ publication of secret U.S. military documents a decade ago, largely around the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq a decade ago. The dump, similarly coordinated at various stages with some of the world’s leading newspapers, was arguably the biggest single leak since the Pentagon Papers four decades before. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 175 years in prison.
Like Assange, Ellsberg faced the prospect of decades, at least, in prison.
After leaking over 7,000 pages of classified documents to the press, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, Ellsberg was put on trial on 12 charges in connection with violations of the Espionage Act. They were punishable by up to 115 years in prison, but the charges were dismissed in 1973 because of government misconduct against him.
Ellsberg, who had worked at both the State Department and the Pentagon, said Assange won’t be able to provide a justification for his actions if he were to be extradited to the U.S. in the same way that he was denied the chance to raise a public interest defense for his leaking of the Pentagon Papers.
He said that Assange “cannot get a fair trial for what he has done under these charges in the United States.”
Pressed repeatedly by James Lewis, a lawyer acting on behalf of the U.S. government, about the consequences of the leaking of unredacted documents, Ellsberg said there was “zero evidence” that the actions of Assange and WikiLeaks had led to anyone being harmed. He also said that Assange took great care not to willfully expose anyone to harm.
While noting the “understandable anxiety” of those revealed to have helped out the U.S., he said any threats had to be “put into context.” He told the court that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had made refugees of millions as well as to the death of over 1 million people.
Ellsberg said it is “extremely cynical” for the U.S. government to feign concerns when it had spent much of the past 19 years showing “contempt.”
Ellsberg’s testimony was interrupted by an outburst from Assange in the dock before the Australian was silenced by the judge, Vanessa Baraitser.
Assange’s lawyers say the prosecution is politically motivated and that he won’t receive a fair trial in the United States. They also argue that the conditions he would face in prison would breach his human rights.
Assange has been in a British prison since he was ejected from his refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in April 2019.
The extradition hearing is due to last until early October.
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‘Fox & Friends’ Hosts Look On in Horror as Rudy Giuliani Blurts Out Biden Dementia Conspiracy Theory
Everyone knows that live television isn’t easy. Anything can go wrong—from a faulty connection, a verbal slip-up, or, as was the case on Tuesday morning’s Fox & Friends, Rudy Giuliani bellowing insane conspiracy theories at the nation with no obvious way to stop him.It’s always a risk to allow Giuliani to share his wildly unpredictable stream of consciousness live. The man who was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2001 has long since been reduced to sharing the latest Trumpist conspiracy theories on any cable news channel that has the budget to cover any possible subsequent defamation lawsuits.This time, his F&F hosts looked on with visible horror in their eyes as Giuliani shared his completely baseless belief that Joe Biden is suffering from dementia. If you have the time, it’s worth watching the clip at least three times so you can see each of the hosts panicking in their own unique way as the former New York City mayor rambles on and on.> On Fox & Friends, Rudy Giuliani says Joe Biden “has dementia. There’s no doubt about it. I’ve talked to doctors. … The president’s quite right to say maybe he’s taken adderall.” The hosts get visibly uncomfortable. pic.twitter.com/2Ma7DKNBpS> > — Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) September 29, 2020With a mischievous cackle, Giuliani began: “The man [Biden] has dementia. There’s no doubt about it. I’ve talked to doctors. I’ve had them look at a hundred different tapes of his five years ago and today.” Trying his very best to shut Giuliani down, host Steve Doocy interjected that Biden’s team has said the Democrat has no serious medical problems.Giuliani then made an extraordinary noise at Doocy that can best be typed as “Oowughawughawugh,” before continuing: “He can’t recite the Pledge of Allegiance and he’s fine? He was in the Senate for 160 years? I mean, he can’t do the prologue to the… to the… con… to the… uh… Constitution of the United States or the Declaration of Independence, any of them.”Getting louder and increasingly excited about his armchair diagnosis, Giuliani went on: “He can’t do NUMBERS. Wow, are the numbers screwed up. He actually displays symptoms that two gerontologists told me are classic symptoms of middle level dementia.” Doocy and co-host Ainsley Earhardt both responded to that claim by softly saying, “Right.” The third host, Brian Kilmeade, can just be seen blinking rapidly.Fox News Lobotomizes Its ‘Brain Room,’ Cuts Fact-Based JournalismNevertheless, Giuliani persisted. “That’s when [Biden] does that ‘I pledge allegiance to the United States… uh… uh… um… I think,’ he’s done that twice,” said the ex mayor. “That’s a classic symptom in the DSM-V, it’s the fifth symptom, of dementia, he’s got eight of the 10.”Then, seemingly remembering that he was on the show to talk about tonight’s presidential debate, he went on: “Look, that isn’t the debate. He can get through it. I think the president is quite right to say maybe he’s taken Adderall or some kind of attention deficit disorder thing.”As Giuliani began pulling prescription medicine brands out of the air, Doocy had finally had enough and told him firmly, “None of us are doctors, that is your opinion.” Giuliani fought back, saying it was actually the opinion of some very professional-sounding doctors that he knows.But the game was up. Kilmeade, in his first verbal interjection of the entire exchange, said with exasperation, “We can stay away from that.” Earhardt then moved on to pick Giuliani’s brain on the Supreme Court.This particular line of attack is one that Giuliani—whose work as President Trump’s lawyer and top dirt-digger on Hunter and Joe Biden kicked off a chain of events that got his client impeached last year—has enthusiastically embraced as one of his primary functions now for Team Trump.Shortly before midnight on Monday night, Giuliani started texting The Daily Beast to say that Trump did “great” in recent White House debate prep (for which the president said on Sunday that Giuliani and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie took part), and to rail against Biden as a “senile,” “broken down old crook” who’s supposedly suffering from “dementia” and needs “ADD drugs” to get through the Tuesday debate. The Trump attorney also claimed that someone had told him how stupid Biden was in law school.Giuliani also mentioned late Monday evening that he’d be flying with Trump on Air Force One on Tuesday and would be at the Cleveland debate. Asked about what kinds of questions he peppered the president with during the prep, the former New York City mayor replied, “It really doesn’t work like that with him. It’s much more of a discussion rather than a rehearsal. Plus you are dealing with a very smart, very alert human being, not a senile old man.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Magnite Inc. (MGNI): Hedge Funds Are Snapping Up
The latest 13F reporting period has come and gone, and Insider Monkey have plowed through 823 13F filings that hedge funds and well-known value investors are required to file by the SEC. The 13F filings show the funds' and investors' portfolio positions as of June 30th, when the S&P 500 Index was trading around the […]
Mass airline furloughs as Congress fails to reach deal
Upwards of 50,000 airline workers could be furloughed starting Thursday morning, after Congress failed to pass a last-minute deal to extend coronavirus relief aid to the embattled industry.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker confirmed late Wednesday that his airline would go ahead with 19,000 layoffs, but said it would “reverse” them if a deal were reached.
Substantial progress on the deal could not be made before the time limit, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox Business on Wednesday night.
Talks on an overall additional coronavirus relief package, including airline support, will continue Thursday, Mnuchin said, noting that “there’s money for airlines.”
However, those talks could be too late for many in the industry.
“While government leaders have stated they will continue talks tomorrow, for many pilots, tomorrow will be too late — their jobs will already be gone,” said Joe DePete, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, in a statement released Wednesday night. “The consequences of this inaction has a serious impact on those who are set to be furloughed at midnight tonight.”
Amanda Steinbrunn, a flight attendant who has been with United Airlines for five years, told NBC News, “I feel like I’m being left behind and there’s nothing we can do. It’s extremely out of our hands, and we’re just sitting around terrified.”
She herself contracted Covid-19, recovered — and went on to help transport nurses and doctors. Last month the airline told her that she would “absolutely” be losing her job Oct. 1 if there was no extension passed to the payroll support program, she said. “I don’t have a backup plan. I’m going to be on the unemployment line like so many other people.”
In May, Congress passed HEROES Act legislation that bailed out nearly 75 percent of the airline’s payroll expenses with $25 billion in grants and $25 billion in loans, with another $10 billion for cargo airlines, with the stipulation that airlines not let any workers go until Oct. 1. At stake are close to 50,000 jobs for pilots, flight attendants, baggage handlers, counter agents and other airline and airport personnel.
It was expected that, by October, the U.S. would have had enough time to get the coronavirus under control and return to more typical travel and expenditure levels. However, garbled national guidance and inconsistent adherence to safety precautions squandered the bought time for travel and other industries.
Now, airline workers are hanging on for hopes of assistance from Congress to save their livelihoods.
“Without aid from the federal government, I will be laid off on October 1 and will lose my paycheck and my health insurance,” said Toni Valentine, who works for United Airlines Reservations in Detroit. “Hundreds of thousands of airline workers are facing financial ruin through no fault of our own. How will we take care of our families without a paycheck and health insurance?” she said.
After hitting rock bottom during coronavirus lockdowns, airline travel began to slowly rise again, but has plateaued well below previous year-over-year average levels. Despite new cleaning procedures from the airlines, passengers so far are largely unwilling to fly unless they have to, absent a safe and widely available vaccine.
Airlines have been feverishly negotiating with their labor unions and offering deals to employees to try to pursue all available options to reduce or delay costs and cuts, such as early retirement and long-term sabbaticals. Hard-hit commercial legacy carriers in particular have been under pressure.
United Airlines negotiated a deal with its pilot union to avoid furloughs until at least June 2021, but the rest of their workforce still faces furloughs, the company announced Monday. Last week, Delta announced it would delay furloughs until Nov. 1, allowing the airline more time to assess its financial situation. American Airlines is still on track to begin furloughs on Oct. 1 across its workforce.
“The airline industry and many of its employees are like Thelma and Louise, racing toward the abyss,” independent aviation analyst Bob Mann told NBC News in an email. “We’ve seen the movie. So, absent a rescue, we know the ending.”
But he said that reaching deeper into the government pockets to keep the industry afloat was well within the country’s interest.
“Does the nation want an airline industry ready to drive the economy when vaccines have been widely administered? If so, pay up, now, to keep the industry vital until then,” he said.
The critical national infrastructure that the airline industry provides — and that will be key to the nation’s economic recovery — could be severely affected by the sweeping industry cuts, Parker told NBC News earlier this month. “We want to make sure that when the economy recovers, we are here.”
Many airline hubs are located in swing states, so the proposed cuts are in areas President Donald Trump needs to win, come Nov. 3. That could put pressure on his Republican allies in Congress to make a deal with Democrats.
Labor unions have strongly urged Congress to step up.
“The Machinists Union stands shoulder to shoulder with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in their effort to get a coronavirus relief package passed for all Americans,” said Robert Martinez Jr., president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
“It is an outrage that working families have already waited more than four months since the House passed the HEROES Act,” Martinez said. “The Machinists Union will do anything to support our membership and the tens of thousands of our airline members who will be laid off on Oct. 1.”
A major U.S. carrier could even be forced out of business, one industry leader cautioned earlier in the pandemic.
“I don’t want to get too predictive on that subject. But yes, most likely,” Boeing CEO David Calhoun said in an interview with Savannah Guthrie on NBC’s “TODAY” show in May, when asked if he thought a major U.S. carrier would have to go out of business.
“Something will happen when September comes around [and the aid expires]. Traffic levels will not be back to 100 percent. They won’t even be back to 25 percent. So there will definitely be adjustments that have to be made on the part of the airlines,” Calhoun said.
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