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Friday, December 31, 2010

Assange claims Arab officials spy on their own countries for the CIA

In an interview with al-Jazeera's Arabic language network on Wednesday, Wikileaker Julian Assenge claimed to have names of Arab diplomats who are spying on their own countries for the CIA.
“These officials are spies for the U.S. in their countries,” Assange said, according to Qatar's Peninsula newspaper. More:
The interviewer, Ahmed Mansour, said at the start of the interview which was a continuation of last week’s interface, that Assange had even shown him the files that contained the names of some top Arab officials with alleged links with the CIA. [...]

Some Arab countries even have torture houses where Washington regularly sends ‘suspects’ for ‘interrogation and torture’, he said.
He then complained, "Washington is also projecting me as a terrorist and wants to convince the world that I am another Osama bin Laden."

Observers have long speculated about the massive "insurance" file that WikiLeaks posted on the Pirate Bay, which has by now been downloaded by thousand of people all over the world. Opening the file requires an encryption key that presumably would be released upon Assange's incarceration or untimely death. I guess it's the motherlode.
At Foreign Policy, Blake Hounshell doesn't believe it.
I have my doubts about these new claims, though. The CIA vigorously protects the identities of its sources, and would have no reason to let any old schmo at a U.S. embassy know their names. It is also highly doubtful that the cables would talk about "torture houses" -- the United States has always denied that it (knowingly) outsources rough treatment to foreign governments. Not everyone believes this, mind you, but I'd be surprised if any embassy cables said otherwise.

Maybe Assange and Mansour are confusing ordinary visits of Arab officials to U.S. diplomats with "spying," but it's hard to say for sure without seeing the cables themselves.
Hounshell is too quick to dismiss the stories of outsourcing torture. You can watch a CBS 60 Minutes report on outsourcing torture to Egypt and Jordan here, and there are reports that US was outsourcing torture of terrorists to those countries dating as far back as 2002. (To make it clear, I'm not criticizing that; I'm acknowledging the reality).

As to disclosing the names of Arab officials who are spying for the CIA, Hounshell knows this region well enough (he's based in Qatar) to know that ironclad evidence that would hold up in court is not a necessity. The accusation - especially coming from someone like Assange who is seen as somewhat credible - would be sufficient to put these peoples' lives in danger. I'd bet on the Qatari government telling al-Jazeera not to discuss this again. Because it's probably true.

Read the whole thing.

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At 6:53 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

UK outsources torture to Morocco; it's just another business!

At 6:20 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

It wouldn't surprise me the same governments that complain loudest about Israel and the US deal quietly with them when they have to. Hypocrisy is the stock in trade in international politics. Julian Assange is no idealist.


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