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There is mounting evidence (see below) that the siege of the Ecuador Embassy on the evening of Wednesday 15 August was indeed a raid in progress but that the raid was called off literally at the last moment while the police were inside the building and only minutes away from entering the embassy to arrest Mr. Julian Assange. Moreover this evidence (from an insider) supports the assertion that the raid had been organised largely as a result of pressure from the USA. As previously stated, that the raid was called off in the way it was may be partly due to the vigilance of a few cyber warriors who were conveying to the world via livestream video link and tweets exactly what was happening at the embassy, second by second.
Firstly, the aftermath… An Extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of American States was called and that meeting condemned the threat made by the British Government to raid the premises of the Embassy… Commentators around the world agreed that the threat was a huge mistake and had the raid proceeded then this would have set a precedent with embassies everywhere being subject to similar raids… In the end the British Government was forced into a total climbdown and issued a statement to the Government of Ecuador making it clear it would not seek to forcibly enter its premises… The British and Ecuadorian governments have now agreed to resume dialogue on finding a solution to the current impasse… There has been a call for the USA to impose economic and other sanctions against Ecuador.
Also, it has since been shown that specialist police units SO10 (Covert Operations, specialising in undercover work) and SO20 (Counter-terrorism) are or were involved in the policing of the Embassy. SO10 have a history of working closely with the Special Reconnaissance Regiment and it’s not inconceivable that some of their operatives are involved in the policing of the Ecuador Embassy too.
The new evidence that supports the assertion that a raid had been ordered comes from Craig Murray, the whistleblower who formerly spent 20 years in the British Diplomatic Service. Mr. Murray reports via his blog and via Wikileaks that on August 15th he had heard from a contact in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that a raid on the Embassy was imminent. Mr. Murray immediately blogged this.
I arrived in the UK from a trip abroad on 15 August 2012 and was immediately contacted by a very senior official within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who was very concerned. He had knowledge that an attempt by the British authorities to force entry to the Embassy of Ecuador was possibly imminent. I suggested that this must be impossible, and he said that unfortunately it was not. He said that he had been party to formal discussions over a three week period between different British government departments on the legality of such a move. It had concluded that the provisions of the Diplomatic Premises Act of 1987 gave the authorities the domestic power to do this, in spite of the Vienna Convention of 1961. My ex-colleague went on to say that he understood the government intended to act quickly to pre-empt any grant of political asylum to Mr Assange by the government of Ecuador. If there were any formal international recognition of Mr Assange as a political refugee, it might complicate matters. He also said there was tremendous discomfort at this development within the British diplomatic service because of the potential exposure of British embassies and diplomats abroad to similar action. I asked how on earth such an illegal decision could have been reached. My ex-colleague said that political pressure exerted by the administration of the United States of America on Mr William Hague and Mr David Cameron had outweighed the views of British diplomats.
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SO20, the other police unit referred to on the notes carried by the uniform plod (see photo above) outside the Ecuador Embassy in London, works closely with SO18, which provides aviation security. In this context, this means the prevention of any flight departing UK territory – i.e. a flight, whether scheduled or private that would have Mr. Assange as a passenger. That both SS10 (SO10) and SO20 are referred to on the same document provides an indication of how the police are looking at the Assange case – namely in terms of covert ops and terrorism.
SS20 is the Counter Terrorism Protective Security Command of the Metropolitan Police and it’s role is to protect public spaces and events against possible terrorist attacks. It is the Met’s coordinating unit for anti-terrorism policing. The current head of SO20 is Phil Maddock, who was previously the operations manager at the Metropolitan Police Service Air Support Unit before joining the SO13 anti-terrorist branch as a CT security coordinator in 2003, then SO20 chief earlier this year. The head of SO18 is Chief Superintendent Bert Moore.
Then there is the question of at what stage were either SO20 or SO10 (or SO18) deployed at the Ecuador Embassy op. Were they activated, for example, on that fateful night two weeks back when the police surrounded then entered the Embassy? If so, then the assertion that what happened was a raid that was called off at the last minute (possibly because the politicians realised the world was watching every move – see here for timeline – or because Foreign Secretary, William Hague, had overstepped the mark in discounting the legal advice he had been given) looks more likely.
Finally, the question should be asked, why are the mainstream press not investigating further these policing matters? In recent days there has been a flood of articles on Assange, but nearly all on the sex allegations (an entirely legitimate subject for comment, of course) but none on the extraordinary policing aspects that have been in place over the last 10 days.
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If you ever wondered why you should support Bradley Manning, or why Wikileaks exists, or why Darker Net publishes what it does, or why there are so many wars in this world of ours – this documentary provides some of the answers. It’s all here: George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Bradley Manning, Noam Chomsky, Marshall McLuhan, Wikileaks…
In brief, the documentary connects the messages of Huxley´s Brave New World with the politics of modern US-warfare. It stresses the role of information overload through technical devices and the similarity between real war (“Collateral Murder”) and video games like “Call of Duty”. To blur the offline with the online reality is a precondition for rationalising a war on terror in Western democracies. The documentary includes interviews or quotes or references to the people quoted above and many more. This is a must see (and should be added to every school curricular). Note: thanks to Birgitta Jonsdottir for recommending this video.
Do not despair… while the above documentary paints a bleak picture, below is another that provides hope.
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Blackwater, the discredited private US security company that was operational in Iraq, has gone through two name changes and organised a spin-off company to secure clandestine programmes in Afghanistan, Libya as well as Syria. As part if it’s attempt to improve its image, Blackwater changed its name to Xe, then later to Academi (above photo taken from its website). It currently has a forward operations base in Afghanistan, boasts personnel present at the Gadaffi killing and, via its spin-off company, is assisting the Syrian resistance. See below for more..
1. SCG: the Blackwater spin-off
In March, James F. Smith, a former director of Blackwater and now Chief Executive of SCG International, a private security firm with experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, set up a covert op in Syria. SCG were also involved in training the Libyan resistance and their contacts were one of the first to confirm the killing of Gadaffi to Stratfor. See here for more on the Stratfor connection with SCG and it’s ops in Syria and Libya, as well as links to Stratfor emails, published by Wikileaks.
2. Transition: from Blackwater to Academi
Blackwater Security Consulting was formed in 2002 and was assigned to protect CIA headquarters in Iraq and another base that was responsible for hunting Bin Laden. Blackwater received US$1 billion in U.S. government contracts. Blackwater’s main training facility is in northeastern North Carolina. It also has a facility at Mount Carroll, Illinois, called the Impact Training Center.
In February 2009, Blackwater announced it would change its name to Xe Services LLC. Prince resigned as CEO in March 2009 but remained on as chairman of the board. Joseph Yorio was named as the new president and CEO, replacing Gary Jackson as president. Danielle Esposito was named the new chief operating officer and executive vice president. In late 2010, Prince moved to Abu Dhabi, where he started another security services company, Reflex Responses. In 2011, former NSA head and CIA executive, Bobby Ray Inman, became the head of Xe’s board of directors. An interactive map of Xe business connections is shown here (acknowledgement to Public Intelligence).
In December 2011, Xe changed its name to Academi.
3. The new Blackwater (Academi)
Academi was founded by Erik Prince, a former Navy SEAL. Cofer Black was the vice-chairman from 2006 through 2008 and was formerly the director of the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center (CTC) at the time of the September 11 attacks in 2001. Before joining Academi, Black was chair of Total Intelligence Solutions, Inc., as well as vice-chair of Blackwater. Robert Richer was vice-president of intelligence at Academi until January 2007, when he formed Total Intelligence Solutions. He was formerly the head of the CIA’s Near East Division.
The current HQ of Academi is in Arlington, VA. It also has a 7,000-acre training facility in Moyock, NC, training facilities in Salem, CT, and San Diego, CA. The forward operating base in Afghanistan is a 10-acre facility that provides a 24/7 manned operations center, fueling stations, vehicle maintenance facility, lodging (apartments), office space with conference room and a fortified armory.
Specifically, Academi specialises in: training and support for domestic and international clients; personnel and facility security services; mission support and staff augmentation; risk management and security services consulting; stability support, crisis response and forward base operations; training for civilians, law enforcement and military personnel. Academi serves U.S. Government departments and agencies, law enforcement organizations, allied government and corporate and individual customers worldwide.
4. Blackwater milestones
On March 31, 2004, Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah ambushed two SUVs, killing four armed Blackwater contractors inside. Local residents hung the charred bodies above a bridge across the Euphrates. In response, U.S. Marines attacked the city in Operation Vigilant Resolve, which became the first Battle of Fallujah. In the Autumn of 2007 a US congressional report found that Blackwater intentionally “delayed and impeded” investigations into the contractors’ deaths. The report also acknowledged that members of the now-defunct Iraqi Civil Defense Corps “led the team into the ambush, facilitated blocking positions to prevent the team’s escape.”
On February 16, 2005, four Blackwater guards escorting a U.S. State Department convoy in Iraq fired 70 rounds into a car. The guards stated that they felt threatened when the driver ignored orders to stop as he approached the convoy. The fate of the car’s driver was unknown because the convoy did not stop after the shooting. An investigation by the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service concluded that the shooting was not justified and that the Blackwater employees provided false statements to investigators. The false statements claimed that one of the Blackwater vehicles had been hit by insurgent gunfire, but the investigation found that one of the Blackwater guards had fired into his own vehicle by accident. John Frese, the U.S. embassy in Iraq’s top security official, declined to punish Blackwater or the security guards because he believed any disciplinary actions would lower the morale of the Blackwater contractors.
On Christmas Eve 2006, a security guard of the Iraqi vice-president, Adel Abdul Mahdi, was shot and killed while on duty outside the Iraqi prime minister’s compound. The Iraqi government has accused Andrew J. Moonen, a Blackwater employee at the time, of murdering him while drunk. Moonen was subsequently fired by Blackwater for “violating alcohol and firearm policy”, and travelled from Iraq to the United States days after the incident. United States Attorneys are currently investigating. The United States State Department and Blackwater USA had attempted to keep his identity secret for security reasons.
On September 16, 2007, Blackwater were involved in an incident in Nisoor Square, Baghdad. Seventeen Iraqi civilian fatalities and twenty injuries occurred when a Blackwater Personal Security Detail (PSD) was clearing the way for a convoy of US State Department vehicles transporting diplomats to a meeting in western Baghdad with officials of the United States Agency for International Development. See classified cable for details and the political fallout (published by Wikileaks).
In June 2009, an amended lawsuit was filed in US District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, alleging that Blackwater employees shot and killed three members of an Iraqi family, including a nine-year-old boy, who were traveling from Baghdad airport to Baghdad on July 1, 2007. The suit also alleged that Blackwater employees used three company aircraft to kidnap Iraqi citizens from Iraq and further accused the company of engaging in weapons smuggling, money laundering, tax evasion, child prostitution, illegal drug use and destruction of evidence. The child prostitution charge referred to young Iraqi girls allegedly being brought to the Blackwater compound in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, identified in the lawsuit as the “Blackwater Man Camp,” to provide oral sex to contractors for $1. If the court rules against Xe on the racketeering account, it could dissolve the company. The Justice Department was originally not expected to bring criminal charges against any employees of the corporation; however, in December 2008, the Justice Department announced they were charging five Blackwater employees. On December 31, 2009 Judge Ricardo Urbina threw out the criminal case against the five guards under indictment. In announcing the dismissal, Urbina said that the prosecutors violated the guards’ Fifth Amendment rights by using the statements they gave to the State Department as evidence. Urbina said that the guards would have lost their jobs had they not given the statements, thus making the statements inadmissible. The Iraqi government has asked the US Justice Department to appeal the decision, and also plans to sue the five guards accused of killing civilians.
In August, 2012, Blackwater agreed to pay $7.5 million in fines to the US government after being charged with 17 counts of arms smuggling and other violations of US law, including possessing automatic weapons without registration, lying to federal firearms regulators about weapons provided to the king of Jordan, passing secret plans for armored personnel carriers to Sweden and Denmark, and illegally shipping body armor overseas.
A complete list of Blackwater/Xe front companies, prior to the change to Academi, can be found here.
See also video of Blackwater killings.
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Darker Net can confirm that officers specialising in infiltration and undercover operations and who liaise with armed units, may already be amongst those policing the Ecuador Embassy in London. A press photographer captured notes (see photo) held by a uniformed police officer on duty outside the embassy, revealing that SS10, otherwise known as Specialist Crime Directorate 10 and formerly SO10, are being deployed. The notes ominously refer to possible “risk of life”. The role of SS10 is Intelligence-gathering. SS10 were involved in the events that led to the murder of Brazilian national, Jean de Menezes, in south London and who had been wrongly identified as a terrorist. SS10 are also the branch that employed Mark Kennedy (aka Stone) who infiltrated several protest groups and who is now working for Densus, a private surveillance company in the USA. Below, we present some more background on these two infamous SS10-led operations.
First… The notes carried by the police officer outside the embassy said that Julian Assange should be taken even if he emerges in a vehicle, under diplomatic immunity or in a diplomatic bag, which may involve “risk to life”. They add that there had been speculation that Mr. Assange could be smuggled out of the building in a parcel or given a post in the United Nations by Ecuador in an attempt to evade arrest. The operational guidance, marked “restricted”, also warned of the “possibility of distraction”, suggesting that Scotland Yard feared Mr Assange’s supporters could try to create a commotion outside the embassy, providing cover under which he could flee. Further details of the notes, which were obscured by the officer holding them, appeared to relate to the “everyday business” of the embassy and the possible need for “additional support” from SS10. Scotland Yard later said it did not know what this referred to. It’s interesting to note, too, S020, the Met’s counter-terrorism protective security command, is written near the bottom right-hand corner of the document.
1. The killing of Jean Charles de Menezes
In 2005, police from SO10, now SS10, were involved in the surveillance operation of Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian national, that led directly to his murder at Stockwell Underground station by officers of SO19, the Armed response Unit. It was a case of mistaken identity. Two officers from SO19 fired a total of eleven shots, according to the number of empty shell casings found on the floor of the train afterwards. Menezes was shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder at close range, and died at the scene. An eyewitness later said that the eleven shots were fired over a thirty second period, at three second intervals. It is believed that at least one member of the elite Special Reconnaissance Regiment was present at the shooting. Note: in the resulting inquiry into the murder, Gareth Peirce, who is the lawyer acting for Julian Assange, was one of two lawyers representing the Menezes family. For more, see here.
2. Mark Kennedy
Mark Kennedy worked for SO10 (now SS10) and was involved in several undercover ops, the most celebrated of which involved environmental activists who were opposed to coal-fired power stations. The activists had stopped a train conveying coal to the Drax power station in 2008. Kennedy had infiltrated the group and assisted them with reconnaissance and also drove them to a rendezvous. For more on what happened, see here. See here too for what happened eventually to the activists and how Kennedy and his operations were discredited. Note: Kennedy/Stone is now working for Densus in the USA, which is a surveillance company that spies on Occupy protesters and other protests groups.
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Recently, there has been a flurry of articles and commentary from the mainstream press and bloggers on Julian Assange, the sex allegations made against him and the attempt to extradite him to Sweden. These range from those that argue that the two complainants in Sweden have been victimised and must have their ‘day in court’; to those defending the two complainants’ absolute right to have their case heard whilst arguing there must be no US assault on Wikileaks; to those that argue the whole thing has been a set up from the beginning in order that Assange can be extradited to the USA, thus affecting the fate of all whistleblowers, particularly Bradley Manning. Some of these comments focus, further, on the matter of sexual consent; others, on the legalistic aspects of extradition treaties and arrest warrants.
Darker Net has kept a log of these articles/comments and, below, present a selection for comparison. They include articles/comments published by The Guardian The Independent, Huffington Post, the New York Times, London Review of Books and others. Authors include Michael Moore, Oliver Stone, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Wolf, John Pilger, Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Harding, Jaclyn Friedman and others.
Note: the Comments box beneath this posting is there should you wish to take the opportunity to add your own response/thoughts on these matters.
A. Recent articles (in no particular order)
Wikileaks: whose debate are we having?, by Kate Connelly (blog)
Who is Julian Assange? By the people who know him best. Interviews with several people including, Christine Assange, Ken Loach, John Pilger, Vaughan Smith, and others (The Guardian)
It’s nice to think only evil men are rapists, by Laurie Penny (The Independent)
The bizarre, unhealthy, blinding media contempt for Julian Assange, by Glenn Greenwald (The Guardian)
Something Rotten in the State of Sweden: 8 Big Problems with the ‘Case’ Against Assange, by Naomi Wolf (blog)
I could’ve sold to Russia or China, by Jeremy Harding (London Review of Books)
It’s trigger warning week, by Penny Red (blog)
Why Wikileaks is worth defending despite all its flaws, by Mathew Ingram (blog)
There should be no immunity for Julian Assange from these allegations, by Owen Jones (The Independent)
Assange is a true democrat: Chomsky, by Tamara Fenjan (New Matilda)
Legal myths about the Assange extradition, by David Allen Green (New Statesman)
Wikileaks and free speech, by Michael Moore and Oliver Stone (New York Times)
Don’t lose sight of why US is out to get Julian Assange, by Seumas Milne (The Guardian)
Rape: collateral damage in a bigger political crusade, by Karen Pickering (ABC, Australia)
Ecuador’s dismissive media portrayal smacks of post-colonial arrogance, by Jonathon Glennie (The Guardian)
The enemy of my enemy – notes on not having really shit politics, by Phil (LibCom)
Some shit I’m hearing regarding rape and Assange, by Kate Harding (blog)
The pursuit of Julian Assange is an assault on freedom and a mockery of journalism, by John Pilger (New Statesman)
We are Women Against Rape but we do not want Julian Assange extradited, by Katrin Axelsson and Lisa Longstaff (The Guardian)
No one else will protect Assange so Ecuador will, by Greg Barns (ABC, Australia)
B. Some older articles:
Assange as journalist: An inconvenient truth?, by Kellie Tranter (June 2012, blog)
What no one is saying about Julian Assange, by Julia May (June 2012, Daily Life)
How Julian Assange’s private life helped conceal the real triumph of WikiLeaks, by Patrick Cockburn (July 2012, The Independent)
Julian Assange’s right to asylum, by Glenn Greenwald (June, 2012, The Guardian)
Naomi Wolf vs. Jaclyn Friedman: Feminists Debate the Sexual Allegations Against Julian Assange (Democracy Now, December 2010)
J’Accuse Sweden, Britain and Interpol: insult rape victims worldwide, by Naomi Wolf (December 2010, Huffington Post)
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Researchers – Barrett Brown, Asher Wolf, Justin Ferguson as well as investigators from Darker Net – have been contemporaneously looking into the links between TrapWire, Abraxas, Ntrepid, Cubic Corporation and (more recently) Tartan from different directions, but have come to more or less the same conclusion: that not all these links are about financial ownership, though there is a perceivable web that connects these companies via personal contacts at senior level and an implied sharing of knowledge and expertise. Below is a summary of what is known to date about the linkages that Darker Net has found, as well as two scenarios on how knowledge-sharing between these organisations might work in practice (or otherwise).
2. TrapWire (which runs global surveillance systems using CCTV linked to its database, TrapWire Net) was previously owned by Abraxas Applications (which in turn was owned by Abraxas Corporation but sold off when Cubic Corporation merged with Abraxas)
3. Ntrepid (which runs ‘sock puppet’ fake Twitter accounts to spread disinformation) was assigned to the shareholders of Abraxas Corporation as part of the merger between Cubic Corporation and Abraxas
4. Some of the expertise relating to Anonymizer (a so-called anonymous email system) was migrated to Ntrepid as part of the deal in 2010 when Cubic Corporation took over Abraxas Corporation, though many of the staff working on Anonymizer stayed on with Abraxas
5. Tartan (which specialises in targeting protesters, including Occupy and anarchists) is a subsidiary of Ntrepid
6. Stratfor entered a partner agreement in 2009 with Abraxas Applications (which at the time owned Trapwire) to contribute to TrapWire
7. Cubic Corporation and TrapWire share their senior board directors and officers with Abraxas Dauntless (also owned by Cubic Corporation). The person who appears to link all these companies together is ex-CIA executive, Richard Hollis Helms: here is a Tartan-style mapping of his network.
1. Some of the staff who were involved with Anonymizer prior to the merger between Cubic Corporation and Abraxas Corporation moved to Ntrepid: are they working there on the same Anonymizer, too, or were their skills applied to develop the Tartan programme?
2. A 2010 Tax Return by Cubic Corporation showed that they wholly owned Ntrepid. However it is not clear if that is still the case today, or whether ownership is more obtuse – i.e. via Cubic Corporation shareholders.
3. The functions of Abraxas Dauntless are unclear.
C. Scenario One
Given the personnel links between the companies listed above it is not inconceivable that there is a sharing of knowledge and expertise. Moreover, there may well be informal data sharing between the companies. There have been no denials from any of these companies that this is not true. On this basis, we present the following scenarios:
A group of four political protesters in Oakland, California, are preparing for a demonstration. One of them – call him Bill – reports to the FBI via private surveillance company, Densus. Bill is keen to implicate the rest of the group in an action that could get them arrested: he provides equipment and other materials and keeps his contacts in the FBI in the loop. Individuals in the group have been using Facebook and Twitter and other social networking channels to communicate with each other about the demonstration but are unaware of Bill’s plans. Their postings and messages are captured and fed into a database run by Tartan, which then passes on what has been analysed to TrapWire. Each individual is identified by Tartan as a ‘node’ who forms part of this particular group, which in turn, via individuals within that group, are connected to other groups in Oakland and to groups elsewhere. Two of the individuals with the Oakland group still use a nyms email from Anonymiser and their messages are also captured, then passed on to the Trapwire Net database. CCTV cameras are monitoring their movements and, again, this footage is fed into the TrapWire database, which uses facial recognition technology to confirm who they are. Their transportation movement on the Oakland transit system is also recorded via their Cubic owned smart cards. All this information is then compiled and analysed further before being passed on to the Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative, the National Clandestine Service, local Fusion Centre and the FBI (which then updates their mole, Bill, in the Oakland group). On the way to the demonstration, the four individuals (including the FBI agent provocateur) are stopped and in the boot of the vehicle they are travelling in is found incriminating evidence: the four are arrested and charged with conspiracy (though the FBI agent is later released and he disappears into a new identity).
D. Scenario Two
In the same city, another four protesters are getting ready to join the demonstration. One of them is new to the group, but has been ‘vetted’ by the others and they are satisfied he can be trusted. Each member has either refrained from referring to their political interests on Twitter or Facebook or has a dummy account for this purpose. When using computers they use Tor and a VPN to disguise who they are. They do not use phones to communicate their political interests either. On the day of the demonstration they travel to it by taxi, which they have booked via a phone booth. They pay for the taxi ride by cash. On arrival at the demonstration they don masks. They take part in the demonstration but avoid arrest. They return home the same way they came. They were further helped in their avoidance of arrest by the downing of CCTV cameras, hacked by the local Anonymous group.
Note: the above two scenarios could apply to any city in the world where TrapWire and/or Cubic and/or Tartan, or their respective equivalents, and Government surveillance agencies with similar technologies, are in place – New York, London, Sydney, Moscow, etc…
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