After the Second World War, modern international law was established with the idea of countering "war propaganda" United Nations General Assembly Resolution 110 of November 3, 1947 and Resolution 381 of November 17, 1950 “Condemnation of propaganda against peace”. International legislators, i.e. sovereign states, soon agreed that war could only be fought against by ensuring the "free flow of ideas" resolution 819 of 11 December 1954 “Strengthening of peace through the removal of barriers to free exchange of ideas".
In recent years, however, we have witnessed an extraordinary backsliding that deprives us of the thoughts of others, exposes us to war propaganda, and ultimately leads us to a global conflict.
This phenomenon began with the private censorship on social networks of the incumbent president of the United States, and continued with the public censorship of Russian media in the West. Now the thoughts of others are no longer seen as a tool to prevent wars, but as a poison that threatens us.
Western states are setting up bodies to "rectify" information that they consider falsified (Fake News)“The West renounces freedom of expression”, by Thierry Meyssan. NATO is considering the creation of a unit, called Information Ramstein, which will be responsible for censoring not Russian information sources, but Russian ideas within the 30 member states of the Atlantic Alliance "A ’Ministry of Truth’ soon to be created within NATO".
This is a complete reversal of the values of the Atlantic Alliance, which was founded in the wake of the Atlantic Charter, which incorporated President Franklin Roosevelt’s "four freedoms". The first of these freedoms was the freedom of expression.
However, before the invention of the Internet, when the United States and the Soviet Union had just guaranteed the "free circulation of ideas" with the Helsinki Agreements, the United Nations and more particularly its agency in this field, UNESCO, were worried about "information imperialism". The technical superiority of the West allowed them to impose their view of the facts on developing countries.
In 1976, during the Nairobi conference, the UN raised the question of the functioning of the media with regard to "the strengthening of peace and international understanding, the promotion of human rights and the fight against racism, apartheid and incitement to war.
Former Irish Foreign Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner Seán MacBride formed a 16-member commission at Unesco. It included the Frenchman Hubert Beuve-Mery (founder of Le Monde), the Colombian Gabriel García Márquez (Nobel Prize for Literature) and the Canadian Marshall McLuhan (communication theorist). The United States was represented by Elie Abel, then dean of the Columbia University School of Journalism, and Russia by the director of the Tass agency, Sergei Losev. Only the fifth and final part of the report (Communication Tomorrow) was the subject of a general debate. The MacBride commission discussed the draft of the other parts, but could not question their final wording. In any event, its report, issued in 1978, seemed to be a consensus.
In fact, by pointing out that the same facts can be perceived differently and by opening up the question of the means of the media of the North and those of the South, he was opening a Pandora’s box. At the same time, Unesco was confronted with the propaganda of the South African apartheid regime and the propaganda of Israel, which denies Muslim and Christian cultures. In the end, the United States and the United Kingdom ended the debate by withdrawing from Unesco. We know today that the British Empire had ensured its intellectual domination by creating news agencies. Whitehall closed the Information Research Department (IRD) just before the MacBride report was published "Britain’s secret propaganda war, Paul Lashmar & James Oliver, Sutton". But the war against Syria has shown that the whole system has been reconstituted in another form “The fabrication of the myth of the "Syrian revolution" by the United States. Westerners continue to falsify information at its source.
In forty years, the media landscape has been transformed: the emergence of international television news channels, websites and social networks. At the same time, there has been a huge concentration of media in the hands of a few owners. However, none of the problems listed in 1978 have changed. On the contrary, with the unipolar world, they have become worse.
The journalistic profession today consists of either writing agency reports or contextualizing the news for the media. News agencies are factual and unsourced, while the media offer commentary and analysis by referring to news agencies. Contextualization requires a great deal of historical, economic and other knowledge, which today’s journalists are largely lacking. The immediacy of radio and television does not give them the time to read books and even less to consult archives, except during in-depth investigations. Commentary and analysis have thus become considerably impoverished.
The dominant ideology in the West, which tends to become "global", has become a religion without God. There are now only two camps: that of the Good and that of the apostates. Truth is determined by a consensus among the elites, while the people reject it. Any criticism is considered blasphemous. There is no more room for debate and therefore for democracy.
The alternative press has become just as poor because it relies on the same data as the international media: news agency reports. It is indeed enough to control AFP, AP and Reuters to impose a vision of the facts on us. You can season it according to this or that tendency, Republican or Democrat, conservative or progressive, etc., but it will always be the same dish.
Since the September 11 attacks, those who challenge the official version of events have been called "conspiracy theorists ». Since the election of Donald Trump, those who contest the data of press agencies are accused of distorting reality and imagining Fake News. Journalists, after refraining from relaying the thoughts of "conspiracists", i.e. dissidents, try to correct Fake News with Checked News.
Yet, at the same time, belief in the versions of the mainstream media has collapsed. In the United States, the Gallup Institute has been measuring trust in the print media since 1973 and in the broadcast media since 1993. Trust in newspapers has fallen from 51 percent to 16 percent, and trust in radio and television has fallen from 46 percent to 11 percent.
The only solution is to increase the number of news agencies, i.e. the sources of information. Not to make them numerous, but diverse. Only then will we realize that the way an event is reported determines the way we think about it.
For example, today the three news agencies mentioned above present the conflict in Ukraine as a "Russian invasion". They claim that Moscow has not been able to take Kiev and overthrow President Zelenky, but commits war crimes every day. This is one way of looking at it. We don’t have the means to publish dispatches all the time, but we publish a weekly identical bulletin. Our criterion is different. We refer to "International Law" and not to Western "rules". Therefore, we describe the same conflict as the application of the Security Council resolution 2202 and the "responsibility to protect" the oppressed populations since 2014. The events are the same, but for some the way they tell them leads to think that the Russians are wrong, while ours leads to think that the Russian position is legal. To tell the truth, there is another difference: we interpret the facts over time. For us and for the Security Council, there has been a civil war in Ukraine for eight years with 20,000 deaths, the three major agencies pretend to ignore it. For us, the "integral nationalists" have a long criminal history, having cost the lives of 4 million of their fellow citizens, the Western agencies also pretend to ignore it “Who are the Ukrainian integral nationalists?”.
This difference can be applied to all subjects. For example, the major news agencies tell us that the West has imposed sanctions to punish Russia for invading Ukraine. We do not read events in this way. Once again, referring to "International Law" and not to Western "rules", we note that the decisions of the Anglo-Saxons and the European Union violate the UN Charter. These are not "sanctions", since there has been no judgment, but economic weapons to wage war against Russia, just as castles were besieged in the past to starve those who had taken refuge there.
Each difference in the interpretation of events provokes another. For example, when we point out that the Western pseudo-sanctions have not been endorsed by the Security Council, we are told that this is quite normal since Russia has a veto right in the Council. This is to forget why the UN was organized the way it was. Its purpose is not to say what is right, but to prevent wars. This is precisely what allowed the Council to adopt resolution 2202 to resolve the civil war in Ukraine. However, the West, despite the commitment of Germany and France, did not apply it, forcing Russia to intervene.
We could go on endlessly with this double reading. The important thing to remember is that the presentation of the facts radically changes the way they are perceived. To conclude, I invite you to found news agencies that describe the facts in their own way and not in the way of our leaders. It is in this way and not by glossing over biased information that we will regain our lucidity.
The heads of state and government present at the Minsk II Agreement.
For the past seven years, it has been the responsibility of the guarantor powers of the Minsk II Agreement (Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia) to enforce it. They had been endorsed and legalized by the United Nations Security Council on February 17, 2015. But none of these states have done so, despite the rhetoric about the need to protect citizens threatened by their own governments.
While there was talk of possible Russian military intervention, on January 31, 2022, the Secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, Oleksiy Danilov, defied Germany, France, Russia and the UN Security Council by stating, "Compliance with the Minsk agreements means the destruction of the country. When they were signed under the armed threat of the Russians - and under the eyes of the Germans and the French - it was already clear to all rational people that it was impossible to implement these documents" [(#nb1 ""Ukraine security chief: Minsk peace deal may create chaos, Yuras Karmanau, (...)")].
When, after seven years, the number of Ukrainians killed by the Kiev government amounted to more than 12,000 according to the Kiev government and more than 20,000 according to the Russian Investigative Committee, only then did Moscow launch a "special military operation" against the Ukrainian "integral nationalists" (as they claim), who were described as "neo-Nazis".
Russia declared from the start of its operation that it would stick to rescuing the populations and “denazifying” Ukraine, not occupying it. Yet the West accused it of trying to take Kiev, overthrow President Zelensky and annex Ukraine, which they obviously never did. It was only after the execution of one of the Ukrainian negotiators, Denis Kireev, by his own country’s security services (SBU) and the suspension of talks by President Volodymyr Zelensky that his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, announced that he was toughening his demands. From now on, the Federation claims Novorussia, that is to say all of southern Ukraine, historically Russian since Tsarina Catherine II, with the exception of thirty-three years.
It should be understood that if Russia did nothing for seven years, it was not because it was insensitive to the massacre of the Russian-speaking population of Donbass, but because it was preparing to face the predictable Western response. According to the classic quotation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tsar Alexander II, Prince Alexander Gortchakov: "The Emperor is determined to devote, preferably, his solicitude to the well-being of his subjects and to concentrate, on the development of the internal resources of the country, an activity which would be poured outside only when the positive interests of Russia would require it absolutely. Russia is reproached for isolating itself and keeping silent in the presence of facts that are not in accordance with either law or equity. Russia is said to be sulking. Russia is not sulking. Russia is taking stock".
This police operation was called "aggression" by the West. One thing leading to another, Russia was portrayed as a "dictatorship" and its foreign policy as "imperialism". No one seems to have read the Minsk II Agreement, which was endorsed by the UN Security Council. In a telephone conversation between Presidents Putin and Macron, revealed by the Élysée Palace, the latter even expressed his lack of interest in the fate of the population of Donbass, i.e. his contempt for the Minsk II Agreement.
Today, the Western secret services are coming to the aid of the Ukrainian "integral nationalists" (the "neo-Nazis" in Russian terminology) and, instead of seeking a peaceful solution, are trying to destroy Russia from within .
In international law, Moscow has only implemented the 2015 Security Council resolution. It can be blamed for its brutality, but neither for rushing (seven years), nor for being illegitimate (resolution 2202). Presidents Petro Poroshenko, Francois Hollande, Vladimir Putin and Chancellor Angela Merkel had pledged, in a joint statement attached to the resolution, to do the same. If any of these powers had intervened earlier, they could have chosen other modalities of operation, but none did.
Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine has been reported by the Western establishment and its mainstream media (MSM) as an unprovoked act of naked aggression. Writing in The New York Times the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
Never in my life have I seen an international crisis where the dividing line between right and wrong has been so stark.
This story has been presented to us in order to maintain our trust in the institutions of our government. The Russian people have been given a different story, but for the same reason.
As discussed in Part 1, what we are told about the social, political and ethnic tensions in Ukraine by the Western hegemony isn’t accurate. This article will explore the wider geopolitical context within which Russia’s military action military action can be at least understood, even if we regard then as illegitimate.
Some of the terms used in this article, such as “Euromaidan coup,” directly contradict the Western MSM narrative. Please read Part 1 to familiarise yourself with some of the historical background and the named individuals and organisations.
Only Fools Rush In
In the West, the public is expected to accept the given narrativ without question. Anyone who challenges it is accused of being a Putin apologist or a far-right conspiracy theorist. Most Brits appear to have gone along with Johnson’s proffered fairy tale. This is unfortunate, because the reality is far more complex than he would have us believe.
To see celebrities and social media influencers uniformly demonstrating their compassion for the Ukrainian people is touching. But when reports of these virtue-signalling displays are used as propaganda to convince the public that they, too, should jump on the West-approved bandwagon, swaths of the population are at risk of forming a potentially dangerous opinion based upon nothing but pretension.
Currently the UK government, with celebrity assistance, is encouraging us to welcome Ukrainian refugees with open arms via its Homes For Ukraine scheme. The government has said that the Ukrainian applicants “will be vetted and will undergo security checks.”
Most of the people applying for refugee status will be in desperate need, and we certainly should do everything we can to assist them. However, there is also good reason for very careful vetting and security checks.
Stephen Fry has “open arms”
Ukraine does have a Nazi problem, and it is the Nazis who have most to fear from the Russian forces. In 2013, five days after his arrival in the UK, Ukrainian Nazi Pavlo Lapshyn murdered by an 82-year-old man before embarking upon a bombing campaign of British mosques. It was only thanks to sheer luck that he didn’t murder many more British people.
Lapshyn is only one man out of approximately 44 million people living in Ukraine. Unfortunately, he is also one among hundreds of thousands who share his extremist views. Then there’s the small minority of Ukrainians—which can nonetheless be measured in the millions—who have a degree of sympathy with those views.
For reasons we will discuss in Part 4, the UK government’s commitment to security checks is highly questionable. We are being asked to trust the UK government, but doing so is unwise, given its record. Of course we should act compassionately and help suffering people, but only fools rush in.
For those who believe the propaganda of the Western establishment, Russian president Vladimir Putin is a comic book villain whose evil intentions will stop at nothing short of creating a new Russian empire. The West’s propagandists depict Ukraine as the victim of Putin’s allegedly insane bloodlust and portray Russian military actions as unjustified and unlawful.
Swallowing their story leads us to believe that the US-led NATO alliance and the Kyiv government are the defenders of democracy. Russian actions, perceived as an attack on Ukrainian democracy, are therefore an assault upon the principle of democracy. This view is essentially the single version of the truth being peddled in the West.
The alternative view of Putin as some sort of bogatyr (heroic warrior) is equally callow. It wrongly assumes that Putin embodies Russia, thus ignoring a nation of 146 million people and the globalist forces that maintain Putin’s power for their benefit.
Initially, currently, and most acutely, it is the people in Ukraine who suffer as a result of this conflict. Ultimately however, we all will.
When the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, listed Russia’s claimed reasons for the invasion of Ukraine, he stressed NATO expansionism. Russia has repeatedly warned that Ukrainian membership in NATO, which would almost certainly see US troops and offensive weapons deployed on Russia’s southwestern border, was a redline that Russia would not allow NATO to cross. Putin said:
I spoke about our biggest concerns and worries, and about the fundamental threats which irresponsible Western politicians created for Russia consistently, rudely and unceremoniously from year to year. I am referring to the eastward expansion of NATO, which is moving its military infrastructure ever closer to the Russian border. [. . .] [T]he North Atlantic alliance continued to expand despite our protests and concerns. Its military machine is moving and, as I said, is approaching our very border.
Russia has warned repeatedly that it would “react” if Ukraine joined NATO. As yet, Ukraine has not done so. Russia’s attack is preemptive, and, despite Putin’s claimed “compassion” for the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR & LPR), Russia’s primary concern is for its own security and that of its ruling class. Even prior to Russian recognition, the DPR and LPR were de jure Russian satellite states and pawns in a greater game seemingly played out between Russia and NATO.
Equally, there has been a genuine humanitarian crisis in the DPR and LPR for eight years. Russia’s military operation has come as a relief to the people of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Regrettably, Russia has also escalated the conflict beyond Donbas borders, killing more innocent people.
In February 1990, during the “perestroika” reformation of the USSR, then-US Secretary of State James Baker met with the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. He famously gave Russia assurances that NATO would not expand “one inch eastward.” At the time, that meant no eastward expansion—except for by Turkey—in mainland Europe beyond Germany’s border.
Baker’s words weren’t the only reassurances the Russians received. In 1990, then-West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher gave a keynote speech with regard to German reunification, during which he said:
[T]he changes in Eastern Europe and the German unification process must not lead to an ‘impairment of Soviet security interests.’ Therefore, NATO should rule out an ‘expansion of its territory towards the east, i.e. moving it closer to the Soviet borders.’
Prior to signing the Two-Plus-Four Treaty reunifying Germany, the Russians sought and were given explicit commitments regarding NATO expansionism. In the rounds of diplomacy leading up to the agreement, Russia was offered assurances by political leaders from the US, France, the UK, Germany and other NATO aligned states. Russia agreed to German reunification only after German Chancellor Helmut Kohl convinced Gorbachev that NATO would not expand toward Russian borders.
This was an opportunity for the US, Europe and Russia to capitalise on the new, relatively open and transparent (glasnost) USSR as it transitioned to become the Russian Federation. In retrospect, it is now clear that the US-led NATO alliance took a triumphalist view. It embraced its own unipolar world order as the bipolar Cold War order evaporated.
From 1991 onwards NATO completely ignored both the assurances it had given and Russia’s security concerns. It systematically rolled eastward, and by 2005 Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria had become members of NATO.
In 2007, in response to NATO’s obvious expansionism, Vladimir Putin delivered a cutting speech at the Munich Security Conference:
[W]hat is a unipolar world? However one might embellish this term, at the end of the day it refers to one type of situation, namely one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision-making. It is world in which there is one master, one sovereign. [. . .] And this certainly has nothing in common with democracy. [. . .] I consider that the unipolar model is not only unacceptable but also impossible in today’s world. [. . .] [T]he model itself is flawed because at its basis there is and can be no moral foundations for modern civilisation. [. . .] We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. [. . .] [F]irst and foremost the United States has overstepped its national borders in every way. [. . .] [O]f course this is extremely dangerous. It results in the fact that no one feels safe. I want to emphasise this – no one feels safe! [. . .] I understood that the use of force can only be legitimate when the decision is taken by NATO, the EU, or the UN. [. . .] [W]e have different points of view. [. . .] The use of force can only be considered legitimate if the decision is sanctioned by the UN. And we do not need to substitute NATO or the EU for the UN. [. . .] I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernisation of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. [. . .] [W]e have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? [. . .] I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: “the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee”. Where are these guarantees?
In response, the NATO Council, as if to validate everything Putin said, issued a statement at the 2008 NATO Bucharest Summit. Clause 23 of the statement read:
NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.
In the decade-long lead-up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO had been pushing for Ukrainian membership. Indeed, in 2018 NATO added Ukraine to its list of so-called aspiring nations. In 2019, then-President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko signed a constitutional amendment committing Ukraine to membership in both the EU and NATO. This was swiftly followed in 2020 with the decision by NATO and Ukraine to enhance their partnership.
The current invasion of Ukraine by Russia has been presented by Western governments to their respective electorates in disingenuous and puerile terms. The West’s narrative was encapsulated by Johnson in his New York Times piece:
This is not a NATO conflict, and it will not become one. [. . .] The truth is that Ukraine had no serious prospect of NATO membership in the near future. [. . .] I and many other Western leaders have spoken to Mr. Putin to understand his perspective. [. . .] It is now clear diplomacy never had a chance. [. . .] Mr. Putin is attempting the destruction of the very foundation of international relations and the United Nations Charter: the right of nations to decide their own future, free from aggression and fear of invasion.
Contrary to Johnson’s deception, NATO and its member states have not only enticed, cajoled and encouraged Ukraine’s “aspirations” to join, they have taken firm steps to make it a reality. They did so in the certain knowledge that Russia could never countenance the move. This fact in no way excuses Russia’s actions, but it goes some way in explaining them.
From an official military perspective, NATO has seemingly abandoned Ukraine to its fate. We will discuss in Part 4 why what NATO is doing is not quite as it seems.
Thus far, NATO has ruled out any attempt to establish a no-fly zone (NFZ). As pointed out by 80 foreign policy experts who have written to advise the Biden administration, any attempt to impose an NFZ would necessitate NATO or US forces shooting down Russian military planes. This would almost certainly trigger a global war.
It is mind-blowing that this letter was written in response to a similar endeavour from 27 foreign policy experts who advocated the physically impossible concept of a “limited” NFZ. Judging the risk to be worth it, they suggested the West should call Russia’s bluff. This pro- NFZ lobby has close financial ties to the military-industrial complex. What these lunatics imagine they will spend their money on in the smouldering rubble of a post-nuclear holocaust is difficult to say.
Johnson’s point that the Ukraine has the right to determine its own future with regard to NATO membership is childish—and, from an international law perspective, wrong. Nation-states are not free to do whatever they like if their actions threaten the security of neighbouring states.
Article 2.3 of the United Nation’s Charter states:
All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
With NATO membership distinctly possible, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaking at the 2022 Munich Security Conference just before the Russian invasion, said:
Ukraine has received security guarantees for abandoning the world’s third nuclear capability. We don’t have that weapon. We also have no security. [. . .] Therefore, we have something. The right to demand a shift from a policy of appeasement to ensuring security and peace guarantees. Since 2014, Ukraine has tried three times to convene consultations with the guarantor states of the Budapest Memorandum. [. . .] I am initiating consultations in the framework of the Budapest Memorandum. [. . .] If they do not happen again or their results do not guarantee security for our country, Ukraine will have every right to believe that the Budapest Memorandum is not working and all the package decisions of 1994 are in doubt.
The 1994 Budapest Memorandum was a security assurance given to the Ukraine (and others) by the existing nuclear powers, including the Russian Federation, that their integrity and sovereignty would not be threatened in exchange for them giving up their nuclear arsenals. In Ukraine’s case, theirs was potentially the third largest in the world as they were left with more than 2000 strategic nuclear warheads after the dissolution of the USSR.
Zelenskyy was claiming that Russia had already breached the Budapest Memorandum when it “annexed” Crimea and supported the separatists in the Donbas. Therefore, he was threatening Russia, not only with a nuclear armed Ukraine, but a nuclear armed NATO power on its border.
Regardless of the intricacies of the Budapest deal, this was a clear threat to Russian security and an obvious provocation. One has to ask why Zelenskyy thought this wise.
Ukraine and Russia had been in international dispute for at least eight years but realistically for more than thirty. From both the Russian and the Ukrainian side, the manner of that dispute had consistently endangered international peace and security. Zelesnkyy’s threat appeared to take that risk to a new level.
In addition, NATO member states have been in dispute with Russia since 1991. Their total disregard for Russia’s security concerns also endangered international peace. Moreover, NATO expansionism was not in keeping with the principles of the UN Charter.
The Secretary-General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, has unequivocally condemned the Russian invasion. This appears to be a reflection of the UN’s partisan bias toward the US-led NATO military alliance and the EU rather than any genuine attempt to faithfully interpret the UN Charter. Guterres said:
The use of force by one country against another is the repudiation of the principles that every country has committed to uphold. This applies to the present military offensive. It is wrong. It is against the Charter. It is unacceptable.
Yet when the US decided it had the right to launch preemptive wars in the “war on terror,” the UN did not condemn that claim of right. For example, when the US-led coalition launched a “preemptive” invasion of Iraq in March 2003, in contravention of the UN Charter, the UN said little and did nothing.
In 2004, then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan acknowledged that the invasion and subsequent war in Iraq was illegal. Yet the UN has consistently ignored Article 39 of the UN Charter that would allow it to rule on the legality of the Iraq war. No one has ever imposed sanctions on the US or its allies for the war crimes they have committed.
Who Cares About International Law?
Lex iniusta non est lex is a fundamental principle of law. Translation: unjust law is not law. If we are going to suffer the violence of governments, then the concept of international law is certainly welcome. Unfortunately, that’s all it is: a concept.
The UN’s formal and public condemnation of preemptive wars is reserved for the actions of some nations but not others. Consequently, international law, partly encapsulated by the UN Charter, is practically meaningless.
Because it is applied neither equally nor reasonably, it has become little more than a big stick, currently in the hands the Western-led international rules-based order, used to beat opponents. This is what happens when juries are excluded from alleged justice. There is no “law.”
Prior to the Secretary-General’s statement, the globalist foreign policy think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, had already ruled that Russia’s military action in Ukraine violates international law. The CFR pointed out that the action contravenes Article 2.4 of the United Nations Charter, which states:
All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
Russia has certainly breached Article 2.4. Its war in Ukraine is therefore “illegal.”
However, Article 1.1 of the UN Charter also places an onus on the UN “to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace.” Persistent NATO expansionism and the threat of a NATO nuclear power on Russia’s border are breaches of the peace and a direct threat, from a Russian perspective. The UN has done nothing either to prevent or remove this threat.
US President Joseph Biden, upon announcing sanctions in response to Russia’s military action, said:
Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belonged to his neighbours? This is a flagrant violation of international law, and it demands a firm response from the international community.
But Russia did not “declare” DPR and LPR territorial legitimacy. Biden was deceiving his international audience.
In his speech on the 21st February, Putin said that the Russian Federation had decided to “immediately recognize the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.” Under international law, recognition is distinct from declaration.
There are two schools of legal thought on statehood. The “constitutive” approach suggests that a state can only be a state if it is recognised as such by other sovereign nations. In that case, with Russian recognition, the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) are now “legal” states.
However, the “declaratory” notion of a state usually takes precedence in international law. It defines a state as any autonomous territory that meets the criteria necessary for the formation of said state.
As defined by the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of a State, a sovereign state must have a population, a defined territory and a government able to engage in dialogue with other states. This makes the state a “sole person” in international law, and its existence is independent of recognition by other states. Such a state has the right to defend itself, irrespective of recognition.
On 7th April 2014 the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) declared itself a state. Its territory, within the Donetsk Oblast, extends for just under 9,000 square kilometres. Its capital is Donetsk. At the time, its population was approximately 2.4 million. The Donetsk People’s Militia is the military force that defends it. In 2018 the people of the DPR elected Denis Pushilin as the DPR’s head of state and 100 delegates were elected to form a government in the People’s Council in Donetsk.
Similarly, the Luhansk (or Lugansk) People’s Republic (LPR) consists of 17 administrative regions and encompasses just under 8,400 square kilometres inside the Luhansk Oblast. Its capital is Luhansk (Lugansk), and in 2014 the population was approximately 1.6 million. Leonid Pasechnik is the head of state, and 50 delegates form the government of the People’s Council in Luhansk.
Following the LPR independence referendum, held on 11th May 2014, Pasechik and the People’s Council were subsequently elected to form a government in November 2018. The Luhansk Peoples Militia defends the LPR.
Today approximately 1 million people have fled the region to escape the war. As a result, the combined population of both oblasts is probably closer to 5 million, down from 6.2 million. The populations of the DPR and LPR combined represent a percentage of the total population of the Donbas.
Recognition of a nation-state is ostensibly a political act that clarifies the official view of the nation-state (or nation-states) that are conferring that recognition. In this case, Russia was stating to the international community that it supported the right to independence of the DPR and LPR. Both new states have met the criteria for recognition under international law. Of course, the decision to not recognise them is equally a political act.
In 1992, the United States and the European Community “recognised” the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina without declaring Bosnia-Herzegovina an independent state. What followed was US—and later NATO—bombing as well as the training, arming and equipping of Islamist extremists—all part of a concerted effort to balkanise the entire European region previously called Yugoslavia.
Similarly, Russia acknowledges the independence of the new unitary republics of DPR and LPR but has not declared them independent states. Following recognition of their status, Russia launched a military attack on Ukraine. Truth be told, neither the Russian nor the US/NATO actions show any particular respect for international law.
Biden’s words were nothing more than propaganda. His legal interpretation was, at best, incomplete. So was Putin’s when he claimed that Russian military action was in keeping with Article 51 of the UN Charter, which states:
Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.
An armed attack had not been launched against Russia, and the DPR and LPR are not members of the United Nations. Putin’s citation of Article 51 doesn’t legitimise Russian military actions under international law. So what?
Claims and counterclaims concerning international law are merely attempts by global military powers to gain public support for their wars. Combined with propaganda and censorship, these claims convince some of the people some of the time.
The supposedly binding bilateral agreements between nation-states, the UN Charter, and the decisions of international courts and treaties form so-called international law. Unless this alleged “law” is applied equally and fairly, it is not law.
Nation-states like the US, UK, EU member states and Russia use international law merely as weapon of convenience to justify the killing and maiming of human beings or to berate other states when carnage doesn’t suit their objectives. This is the reality of nominal “international law.” It is no law at all.
Exactly the same can be said for the “morality” on display from most of those who now pontificate about welcoming Ukrainian refugees “with open arms.” This appears to be due either to ignorance or acceptance of the unconscionable concept of moral relativism.
While they proudly signal their moral virtue in regard to Ukraine they have said nothing about the horror that continues to unfold in Yemen, which is wholeheartedly backed by the US-led western alliance they continue to support. Just as law applied unfairly is no law at all, so morality that chooses a cause, while ignoring suffering elsewhere, has no value at all.
Gas, Gas, Gas
When Barack Obama became the 44th US President in 2009, Russia had been using its economic influence as the world’s largest crude oil and second largest dry gas producer to push back against NATO expansionism. Ukraine was the main transit hub for Russian gas pipelines to Europe, but it was politically unstable.
The political divisions in Ukraine, broadly pro-EU and anti-Russian on one side and pro-Russian and anti-EU on the other, became the focus of a tug of war for European influence between the US and Russia. The Obama administration wanted to maintain the transatlantic alliance, affording U.S. dominance and NATO cohesion in Europe, while Putin’s clique aimed to enhance Russian control of the European energy market to strengthen Russian security and weaken NATO.
For its part, the EU hierarchy was eager to establish its bloc as an independent military superpower. The 2007 Treaty of Lisbon came into force in December 2009, effectively creating the European Union and its Common Security and Defence Policy. The EU were then able pursue military defence union, potentially undermining US control and bolstering the EU’s hold on NATO.
Russia openly declared its support for Yanukovich in the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election. Its access to the Ukrainian pipelines and retention of its Sevastopol naval base were crucial to its—and, to a large extent, the EU’s—interests. In exchange for below- market, subsidised Russian gas, the Yanukovich government extended Russia’s Sevastopol lease until 2042, resulting in physical fights breaking out in the Verkhovna Rada.
In 2011, Russia and Germany opened the first Nord Stream gas pipeline, which runs under the Baltic Sea and supplies Russian gas to Germany. Nord Stream 1 runs from Vyborg to Greifswald. The proposed Nord Stream 2 will run from Ust-Luga. The purpose of Nord Stream pipelines was to enable Russia to sell much cheaper gas to the EU, via Germany, while eliminating both the EU’s and Russia’s 80% reliance upon the precarious Ukrainian pipelines. For obvious reasons, this aim had wide support among other EU member states.
The Nord Stream pipelines were not in the interest of the US, however. Consequently, its foreign policy objectives were to stop Nord Stream 2 (which would double the pipelines’ gas flow to Europe from Russia) and install a Ukrainian government amenable to Washington’s demands.
If the US could break the EU’s blossoming trade relationship with Russia, it would not only secure US dominance over Europe, both in economic and collective defence terms, but would also open up the EU market to the US’ pricier Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports—an added bonus.
Initially, the US feted the Yanukovich government in hopes of convincing Ukraine to join NATO and the EU. Then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was dispatched to Kyiv, where she held discussions with Yanukovich. Among her comments:
We discussed ways that Ukraine and the United States can deepen and expand our strategic partnership. [. . .] [We hope] Ukraine will pursue close, constructive relationships with the United States and countries of the European Union. [. . .] We discussed energy reform and its potential to transform Ukraine into an energy producer and becoming more energy efficient. [. . .] We also discussed the importance of protecting Ukraine’s democracy. [. . .] [W]e thank Ukraine and the Ukrainian people for your important contributions to NATO and other international security operations.
The diplomacy failed. Despite fluffy rhetoric about “protecting Ukraine’s democracy,” the US turned to distinctly undemocratic methods when it decided to back a Ukrainian coup. In order to achieve this goal, the US empowered the darkest forces in Ukrainian politics: the neo-Nazis.
Something we will explore in Part 3: Ukraine War! What is It Good For? The Ukrainian Nazi Agenda
Please Note: The PDF (Book) will be available following publication of Part 4
STATE OF MAINE SUPERIOR COURT
KENNEBEC, ss. CIVIL ACTION
DOCKET NO. CV-21-158
COALITION FOR HEALTHCARE
WORKERS AGAINST MEDICAL
MANDATES, et al,
JEANNE M. LAMBREW and
NIRAV D. SHAH,
AFFIDAVIT OF DR. MERYL JAE NASS, M.D.
IN REBUTTAL TO NIRAV DINESH SHAH, M.D., J.D.
(The graphics and footnotes are missing. I will try to provide them later.)
BEFORE ME, the undersigned person, duly authorized to administer oaths, personally appeared, Dr. Meryl J. Nass, M.D., J.D., who, after being first duly cautioned and sworn, deposed and stated as follows:
My name is Meryl Jae Nass, M.D. I practice internal medicine in Ellsworth, Maine.
I have a Bachelor's degree in Biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
I attended New Jersey Medical School and transferred to the University of Mississippi Medical School when my husband became a professor there. I received my medical degree from the University of Mississippi and did a residency in internal medicine there.
I am board certified in internal medicine.
In addition to a 40 year career practicing medicine, I developed expertise in the identification, response and amelioration of bioterrorism and pandemic diseases, Gulf War syndrome, anthrax, and in the evaluation of vaccines and vaccine safety.
I am the first person in the world to have investigated an outbreak and proved it was due to biological warfare. The outbreak occurred in Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) during its civil war in 19978-80, and my research was published in 1992. I have been referred to as a "biowarfare epidemiologist" ever since.
I was a consultant to the Ministry of Health of Cuba in 1993 regarding an epidemic of optic and peripheral neuropathy, correctly diagnosing it as the result of cyanide exposure coupled with nutritional deficiency and advising on mitigation strategies.
I am considered an expert on the anthrax letters attacks of 2001 and the anthrax vaccine. I consulted for the World Bank's Interamerican Development Bank in 2002 regarding the evaluation and amelioration of anthrax and other potential bioterrorism and chemical weapon events.
I consulted for the U.S. Director of National Intelligence regarding the prevention and identification of domestic terrorism events, in 2008.
I have given requested testimonies to six different Congressional committees between 1999 and 2007.
I have provided expert testimony to two National Academy of Science committees and to a UK committee headed by its Law Lord investigating Gulf War syndrome.
While I have testified to state legislative committees on a variety of medical issues, in recent years I have testified in Vermont, Massachusetts, New Brunswick and Maine on the specific issue of vaccine mandates.
Since the 2020 start of this pandemic, I have been providing almost daily information and analysis to the public on all aspects of the pandemic, the pandemic response, potential COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. This information is posted on my website. Many of my articles have been reposted on other websites. I have also written original articles for websites and magazines. I have written the most comprehensive article on the deliberate suppression of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID, to date. I edited one Citizen Petition to the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") regarding the polymerase chain reaction ("PCR") tests that have been used to diagnose COVID-19, and I coauthored another Citizen Petition to the FDA challenging its response to the pandemic and its issuance of Emergency Use Authorizations ("EUA") for COVID-19 vaccines.
I have been interviewed by all major US newspapers and TV networks, as well as by many alternative media.
I am listed in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World.
The COVID-19 pandemic is due to a coronavirus which most likely was developed at the Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory, in collaboration with Professor Ralph Baric of the University of North Carolina. This research was partly funded by U.S. federal agencies, especially the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, which has devoted up to 51 million dollars/year to coronavirus research over the past 20 years, preceding the current pandemic.
I was asked to review and comment on Dr. Nirah Shah's affidavit and the following remarks provide my response to his statements. Unless stated otherwise, when I use the term "CDC" in the following discussion, it refers to the federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, GA and not the Maine CDC, which Dr. Shah directs.
Dr. Nirav Shah is incorrect in his discussion of the means of spread (#17) of SARS-CoV-2, the virus said to cause the disease called COVID-19. He has omitted aerosol spread, in which particles much smaller than droplet size can travel across a building and cause infection at a distance far greater than six feet. This is well known in the scientific literature, and it is the reason the CDC advised improved ventilation and opening windows to reduce the burden of virus suspended in air, potentially for hours. Even coughing and sneezing have been shown to spread droplets over a distance exceeding 20 feet.
The so-called Delta variant (#22) is defined differently in different countries. There is not just one Delta variant, because coronaviruses are continuously mutating. It is true that current variants, which the CDC defines as one entity, are more contagious than earlier variants. While some cases are indisputably very severe, detailed information from the United Kingdom ("UK") regarding 7 different variants that are being closely observed has revealed that overall, the Delta variant has the lowest mortality rate of all. For most individuals it is less severe. For some it is more severe than earlier variants.
It is true that the CDC has claimed that unvaccinated Americans are much more likely to be hospitalized than vaccinated Americans. However, data from the UK and Israel fail to confirm this. In fact, Israeli statistics show that both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals are approximately equally likely to be hospitalized for COVID at the present time.
This Israel Ministry of Health graph makes this clear. While the number of cases was approximately the same in the vaccinated and the unvaccinated, there were nearly twice as many vaccinated Israelis hospitalized as unvaccinated Israelis. Israel used the Pfizer vaccine almost exclusively.
The UK data tracks the Israeli data, and can be found at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1018547/Technical_Briefing_23_21_09_16.pdf
How is it that the federal CDC and Dr. Shah can claim otherwise? Unfortunately, the CDC is captured by pharmaceutical companies, which donate to the CDC Foundation.
CDC produces data that invariably support Executive branch policies. Dr. Shah is a liaison representative for CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and hews closely to the CDC's talking points.
CDC has employed several strategies to reduce artificially the number of reported breakthrough cases, and I have written about most of these. On May 1, 2021, the CDC stopped accepting reports of breakthrough (fully vaccinated but infected) cases from states and hospitals unless these cases died or were hospitalized and had been proven to be positive for COVID by using a PCR test with a strict cycle threshold of 28 or less. Unvaccinated cases, however, could be diagnosed using a highly permissive cycle threshold of 40 or even 45, even though Dr. Tony Fauci himself pointed out early in the pandemic that at cycle thresholds over 35, all you were finding were "dead nucleotides" rather than evidence of live virus.
Furthermore, CDC defines patients as fully vaccinated only two weeks after their final vaccination. Americans who developed COVID-19 between vaccine doses or before two weeks had elapsed after their last dose were defined as not fully vaccinated, and in some circumstances as unvaccinated.
CDC also employs a leaky method of collecting cases from hospitals, as described in a recent article in Politico.
Unless patients have their vaccination status clearly listed in their hospital record, they are probably going to be classified as unvaccinated. Hospital reporting of breakthrough cases to CDC is extremely patchy.
Unfortunately, while over 6,000 reports of U.S. deaths following vaccination have been submitted to the VAERS system, managed jointly by the FDA and CDC, 80% occurred within 2 weeks of a vaccination. It seems the CDC may be defining them as deaths in the unvaccinated. Otherwise it is difficult to understand how CDC claims none have been proven to be caused by vaccination. This CDC conclusion flies in the face of studies by a prominent pathology professor in Germany who found, based on autopsy studies he conducted, that 30-40% of deaths occurring soon after a COVID-19 vaccination were due to the vaccine.
Dr. Shah (#27) stated that the treatment of COVID-19 consists mainly of supportive care. While the federal CDC and recent NIH guidelines have made this claim, it is not supported by the medical literature, including the literature generated by these two agencies. CDC and NIAID have known about the benefits of chloroquine drugs for coronaviruses for many years. Hydroxychloroquine, chloroquine and ivermectin are very effective treatments for COVID when used early, during the first week of illness. The effectiveness of chloroquine antimalarial drugs (chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and mefloquine) against coronaviruses, especially SARS-1 and MERS, was known by the CDC and NIH long before the current pandemic, since papers were published beginning in 2004 through 2014 about their success, in vitro, using acceptable doses against these deadly viruses.
Remdesivir (#28) is a controversial drug that the US Department of Veterans Affairs found did not improve mortality and extended length of hospital stay in a recent study.
Remdesivir was ushered through its pivotal trial by NIAID Director Tony Fauci, and only succeeded because the desired endpoint was changed during the study, not once but twice.
The NIH Guidelines committee, formed by NIAID, included 16 members with financial conflicts of interest with Gilead, the maker of Remdesivir. This is the most likely explanation for why this committee supported the use of Remdesivir but failed to support its competitors ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine.
The W.H.O. recommends against the use of Remdesivir for COVID.
Hydroxychloroquine (#32), as I noted above, was known to be effective against SARS coronaviruses since 2004. Vast efforts were put in place at the start of the current pandemic to prevent its use for COVID-19. These efforts included using borderline lethal doses of the drug in several large clinical trials, and using too low a dose in others. Starting the drug in hospital, when viral replication was already over and the disease process was later due to autoimmunity, cytokine storm and thromboses, was a guaranteed way to demonstrate lack of efficacy, since the drug only acted to stop the growth of virus. The NIAID promised a large study of outpatient use in 2,000 patients early in the illness, then inexplicably cancelled the trial after only 20 subjects had been enrolled.
Early treatment works, as evidenced by the forest plot meta-analysis below:
Importantly, there is suggestive evidence that hydroxychloroquine is also effective for prophylactic use. The biggest study in this regard is COPCOV MORU, undertaken by Oxford University professor Nicholas White in countries around the world. The study is not yet completed. The principal investigators felt it important to dispel the myth that hydroxychloroquine was ineffective for prevention of COVID, and posted a critique of the flawed methodologies used in studies that claimed this.
Dr. Shah claims (#34) that Vitamin D has failed to show effectiveness in the treatment of COVID. However, a compilation of the studies (which can be found at vdmeta.com) on Vitamin D shows otherwise:
Ivermectin (#35-37) is a very useful drug in the treatment of COVID that I use regularly. It is highly effective, as shown in the following meta-analysis for early treatment, in which only 4 of 28 studies failed to show benefit. While Dr. Shah correctly notes that Merck, which developed the drug and got a Nobel prize for it in 2015, has advised against its use, he failed to tell you that Merck has developed a new drug for COVID, Molnupiravir, which will compete with ivermectin for market share. Ivermectin is a cheap, off-patent generic drug. According to the Washington Post, "The U.S. government made an advance purchase of 1.7 million treatment courses of the drug [Molnupiravir] at a cost of $1.2 billion."
It should be obvious from the forest plot below that ivermectin shows strong evidence of efficacy for COVID-19.
Ivermectin is on the WHO list of essential drugs. Over 3 billion doses have been used, and Merck has donated most of them to Africans in a joint venture with the WHO to prevent onchocerciasis, or River Blindness. It is used over the counter and is an exceedingly safe drug.
Only because Americans have been stopped from obtaining the drug through normal means have some sought to buy a veterinary version over the counter in farm stores. There has not been a single reported death in the US from such irregular use of the drug, nor from its use as prescribed.
Dr. Shah is probably aware that the Maine Board of Pharmacy recently encouraged pharmacists to refuse to dispense ivermectin. Dr. Shah was perhaps instrumental in encouraging the Maine Board of Pharmacy to interject itself and interfere with the doctor-patient relationship when it comes to doctors prescribing human ivermectin.
A few overdoses by consumers of animal ivermectin became the justification to refuse legitimate prescriptions for the pharmaceutical drug ivermectin. This does not make sense. FDA has used the same rationale to discourage physicians from prescribing it. Apparently conflating safe physician prescriptions with overdosing on over-the-counter horse paste was the best excuse CDC and FDA could come up with to issue warnings and proscriptions for legitimate prescriptions.
It seems ingenuous of Dr. Shah to note that ivermectin "carries a risk of side effects when not dosed properly." So do all drugs:
"Nearly 500 years ago, Swiss physician and chemist Paracelsus expressed the basic principle of toxicology: “All things are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison.”
It is the actions of public health officials such as Dr. Shah to prevent patients from obtaining effective COVID-19 drugs that have led patients to seek out inferior veterinary products, because they cannot obtain this potentially life-saving medicine from their physicians and pharmacies due to interference by public health authorities. It has now become impossible for me to obtain the drug for my patients in a timely manner when they develop COVID-19. This is criminal negligence or worse, in my opinion.
U.S. public health professionals, including Dr. Shah, created an artificial shortage of a drug that is most effective at treating COVID-19. Then they used the fact that desperate patients have purchased the animal medication as their justification for stopping use of the drug. I am not an attorney like Dr. Shah, but this seems to me to be criminal behavior, which will predictably result in patient deaths.
Regarding the prophylactic use of ivermectin (#37), the data are highly supportive. Many US physicians have used it to prevent infection in themselves. A meta-analysis of prophylaxis studies of ivermectin reveals that using ivermectin reduces your risk of developing COVID-19 by 86%. Why did Dr. Shah say "there are no data supporting the use of ivermectin as a prophylactic for those who have been exposed" unless he was aware that there is a plethora of literature regarding the benefit of the drug in those using ivermectin before they were exposed--and he wished to avoid including these studies? Should we refer to his carefully chosen verbiage as legalese or sophistry? Regardless, neither befits a physician who has taken the Hippocratic oath and whose primary responsibility is to heal patients, not hinder their care.
Dr. Shah claims that taking ivermectin "does not reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the way a vaccine does." This is a spurious claim, since I have shown that the drug is about 86% effective in preventing infection. Preventing infection prevents transmission.
The COVID vaccines, on the other hand, do not claim to stop transmission. Currently the head of the federal CDC says they prevent severe illness but no longer prevent infection or transmission.
A large outbreak of COVID-19 in July in Banstable County, MA that was well documented in the CDC publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Review revealed that 74% of COVID cases were fully vaccinated according to the CDC definition. Cycle thresholds, used as a surrogate for viral titers and infectivity, were the same in both vaccinated and non-vaccinated cases. Breakthrough cases (a.k.a. vaccine failures) had received each of the 3 vaccines types authorized for use in the US.
This extremely well done study provides solid evidence that vaccination did not and cannot break the chain of transmission and cannot generate herd immunity. Surely Dr. Shah is familiar with this widely read report by CDC, MIT, Harvard and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Regarding calls to poison control centers, it appears that the Associated Press was given false information. It claimed that 70% of calls to the Mississippi poison control center were about ivermectin. However, the story was later corrected, when Mississippi's state epidemiologist said ivermectin calls only accounted for about 2% of total calls.
Additional false information regarding overdoses of ivermectin in Oklahoma made the international news, only to be later corrected as false news.
Both ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine are WHO essential drugs that are used over the counter in much of the world. Both are considered extremely safe when taken at recommended doses. Hydroxychloroquine is even recommended during pregnancy.
Dr. Shah makes an interesting point in #38, in which he compares ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine prophylaxis with the prophylaxis gained through COVID-19 vaccination. Why compare them to each other? Dr. Shah is in fact addressing a statutory problem for the vaccine EUAs that was posed by the 2 mentioned drugs. Each of these drugs has an extremely long half-life in tissue (probably greater than a month) and therefore each is used routinely for prophylaxis of (respectively) river blindness and malaria. Were they to be used in this way to prevent COVID-19, and if their success at preventing and treating COVID-19 was acknowledged, no EUAs could have legally been issued for other, more expensive on-patent drugs and vaccines. In order to issue an EUA there must be "no adequate, approved, and available alternatives."
Had our federal public health agencies acknowledged that ivermectin and hydroychloroquine were effective prophylactics and treatments for COVID-19, no EUAs for remdesivir, monoclonal antibodies, other drugs, convalescent sera, and vaccines could have legally been issued. This appears to be the primary reason that knowledge about and use of these drugs has been suppressed. The fact that Dr. Shah raised the issue suggests he is well aware of this legal matter and is actively involved in these drugs' suppression.
In #39, Dr. Shah admits foreknowledge about these drugs before promulgating the Emergency Rule, Immunization Requirements for Healthcare Workers, 10-144 Code of Maine Rules, Chapter 264. One wonders what information he used to draw his conclusions, when the bulk of the published literature, as I have shown, suggests he should have drawn a very different conclusion about the respective benefits of these drugs versus COVID-19 vaccines. His claims are belied by the evidence.
In #38, Dr. Shah alleges that the drugs produce more side effects than the vaccines. This is untrue. One need only look at reports of myocarditis in boys aged 12-17 after COVID-19 vaccination: they report myocarditis cases at a rate 50 times that of men over 65. FDA's Doran Fink noted at the last CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices meeting that we do not know the rate of subclinical myocarditis caused by the COVID-19 vaccines. Furthermore, FDA admitted in its letter to Pfizer on August 23, 2021 that it was unable to determine the extent of myocarditis from Pfizer's vaccine, and would be unable to do so in future as well.
We also do not know the rate of thrombosis, heart attacks and strokes after vaccination, but reports to VAERS suggest they are high following COVID-19 vaccinations. We do know that anaphylaxis rates after the mRNA vaccines are about 100 times higher than expected from other vaccines, based on a Harvard study of employees at Mass General Hospital and the Brigham Hospital. No wonder the vaccines must be given only when resuscitation equipment and staff are on site.
I agree that safe and effective vaccines are a marvelous achievement of mankind and have made a huge difference in our quality of life and our longevity.
Herd immunity is achieved when a population is sufficiently immune (due to cross-immunity from related infections, recovered immunity from having had the disease, or vaccine-induced immunity) that it no longer supports continuing transmission of an infectious agent and an outbreak ends or never gets started. The definition of immunity inexplicably changed in the past year in some places to exclude the first two types of immunity I mentioned. This definitional change, used by Dr. Shah in #41, is duplicitous and unscientific. The definitions in my medical textbooks accord with what I have written above.
In number #43, Dr. Shah reveals he is not very cognizant of the details regarding vaccine induced immunity. Immunity from the Mumps and chickenpox vaccines probably never reaches 90-92%, or if it does, does not remain there for long. Most chickenpox cases in the U.S. occur in vaccinated children whose immunity has waned over time. The same is true for mumps. Rubella vaccine is probably more effective, as there is no transmission of rubella within the U.S. Measles vaccine was thought to provide very high protection, but it too wanes over time. That is why we now give 2 or 3 MMR vaccines to children, when initially it was believed one alone would convey life-long immunity.
If COVID-19 vaccines provided strong and long-lasting immunity from infection and transmission, and were very safe, then Dr. Shah would be correct in statement #44. But unfortunately, the vaccines fail to prevent transmission, as admitted by federal CDC Director Walensky and a recent CDC publication.
Their protection wears off quickly, and they have profound safety problems. Had they undergone the normal FDA approval process rather than a "warp speed" simulation of a rigorous approval process, they would never have been licensed or used beyond the clinical trials. The asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 was the basis for locking down and restricting the basic liberties of all of Maine's citizens, even the healthy, for over a year. But the makers of the COVID-19 vaccines state that they only reduce symptoms, rather than conferring immunity, or preventing infection or transmission. Vaccines for COVID-19 provide us with a charade of protection and a charade that the vaccinated cannot be asymptomatically infected and transmitting virus to patients. If the vaccines reduce symptoms but not infection or viral load (as suggested by a rigorous study in a hospital in Vietnam) then vaccinated individuals may actually be more likely to spread the disease than the unvaccinated.
We simply do not know if this is the case in the U.S., due to CDC's successful efforts to corrode the statistics on cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
The bottom line is that even if everyone in the U.S. was vaccinated, the flaws in the vaccines and the leaky protection they convey would prevent us ever achieving high levels of population immunity. Dr. Shah pretends that the COVID-19 vaccines work as well as the measles vaccine. But they most certainly do not. The massive numbers of "breakthrough" cases (which used to be called "vaccine failures") in the UK and Israel, with vaccination rates in their populations higher than ours, make clear that high rates of vaccination are not the solution to the spread of COVID-19. This is why the U.S. government just spent 1.2 billion dollars on Merck's Molnupiravir pill. For treatment. Federal agencies have begun to acknowledge that vaccinations will not end the pandemic. It seems Dr. Shah has not kept up with recent policy changes.
Regarding #52, I have reviewed the Pfizer filing to the European Medicines Agency and the Japanese agency. In them, I learned that Pfizer's lipid nanoparticle contains two novel ingredients, not used previously in any vaccines. I believe Dr. Shah is grossly mistaken regarding his assurance that these ingredients are commonly used. While PEG is commonly used, it is also the cause of life-threatening anaphylactic reactions, which Dr. Shah fails to acknowledge.
Furthermore, FDA and CDC have access to over a dozen databases from which calculations of vaccine safety should be derived. However, the public has only been given information from VAERS, V-safe and the VSD. Inappropriate algorithms have been employed by CDC and FDA to analyze the data.
As I noted earlier, FDA instructed Pfizer on August 23, 2021 that its surveillance systems are unable to assess the risk of myocarditis from Pfizer's vaccine, and therefore FDA asked Pfizer to assess the risk. Pfizer has reported anticipated earnings from its COVID-19 vaccines in 2021 of $33 billion dollars. Do you think Pfizer will identify a problem with myocarditis under these circumstances?
Regarding #54-63, it is certainly true that COVID-19 continues to spread in Maine, although given the federal CDC's idiosyncratic method of counting breakthrough cases in the vaccinated, there are doubts about the veracity of the statistics Dr. Shah provides. I agree that the methods that have been employed for the past 1.5 years, including injection with the COVID-19 vaccines, have not worked very well. Why are we continuing to use them?
Why are we continuing to prevent the use of medications that appear to be much more effective than the COVID-19 vaccines?
Why are so many healthcare workers still unvacccinated? The simple answer is that they are the people seeing the side effects from these vaccines. Healthcare workers are required to be vaccinated with many vaccines. They have never refused in large numbers like this before. They get yearly flu shots, and must have had the childhood shots and a hepatitis B series.
Why do 10-15% of those who got the first mRNA shot fail to return for the second shot? This does not happen with other vaccines. Clearly, thousands of Maine healthcare workers have direct knowledge of something that is being denied by our public health professionals. Why else would so many healthcare workers give up their careers, when they will go to less prestigious and remunerative jobs instead?
The Emergency Rule was promulgated in the absence of science, common sense, and a review of the existing literature on COVID-19. This is what happens when there are no checks and balances in the system, no legislative involvement, and our unelected public health professionals (who do not treat patients and may not even be physicians) are allowed to rule by fiat.
While they may, as Dr. Shah has, try to hide behind claims that they are acting to protect patients, healthcare workers, the healthcare infrastructure and reduce facility outbreaks, all 4 claims are fraudulent.
Clearly the infrastructure will be hard hit when 10 or 20% of healthcare workers are fired from their jobs. How does Maine CDC propose to ameliorate this mess and keep the infrastructure functioning?
How does Maine CDC propose to rebuild relationships with healthcare workers after imposing this draconian and scientifically insupportable mandate on them? Trust is gone.
Why has the administration of Governor Janet Mills made it impossible to use hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis of COVID-19? Why has it warned pharmacists not to dispense ivermectin? Are these the acts of an administration concerned with the health of the public and its healthcare workers? Or are these political acts that resulted from backroom deals to promote expensive but poorly effective drugs and vaccines--and the only way to do so is to suppress the already licensed, safe, cheap and effective treatments?
Furthermore, the FDA has allowed COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers to use antibody tests to determine immunity from previous infections in subjects in clinical trials. FDA accepts these results as valid. However, regular Americans are not being allowed to use a single test (and there are dozens available) to demonstrate that they are already immune, and would obtain no benefit from vaccination, only risk of an adverse event. The new technical procedural rulemaking being undertaken by Maine's Department of Health and Human Services to finalize the Emergency Rule expressly eliminates "proof of immunity" as a basis for exemption from the COVID-19 mandate. Why have the federal government and the Maine CDC and DHS adopted a new definition of immunity, reminiscent of Orwell's book 1984, that precludes immunity from prior infections? 2 + 2 = 5? This is nonsensical. It only makes sense if the inexorable drive to vaccinate everyone, regardless of their immune status, is being done for an ulterior motive. That motive might be to gain obeisance. It might be to justify vaccine passports. We simply do not know why it is being done. But we must not ignore these vitally important questions, simply because they are uncomfortable or run counter to a prevailing narrative.
#72, which claims that prior immunity resulting from a COVID-19 infection is uncertain, is a gross falsehood. There are now dozens of studies that show immunity after COVID-19 infection is strong, durable and long-lasting. There are just as many studies showing that the immunity obtained from existing vaccines is neither durable nor long-lasting.
But what we do know is that forcing immune Americans to be vaccinated with a risky vaccine is not medicine. It is the antithesis of medicine.
Testing alone is not the solution either. The tests are not perfect. One UK study showed that rapid tests might be only 58% accurate and it was suggested that they are not ready for use. However, they were rolled out anyway, in the UK and here, despite widespread knowledge of their flaws. Why were millions of tests thrown away at the Abbott plant in Westbrook? We have not been told the reason, and only learned of this when concerned employees told the press about it.
The solution to the pandemic has been known since 2004. It was demonstrated by CDC scientists in 2005, and by NIAID scientists in 2014. No doubt they have access to chloroquine and/or ivermectin drugs for their families. Recall that during Senate testimony 2 months ago, we learned that only about 60% of CDC, FDA's CBER and NIAID employees had been vaccinated.
Dr. Shah's affidavit is a tissue of lies that are consistent with the lies promulgated by federal agencies. Perhaps that is why he failed to cite a single reference to back up the claims in his affidavit. Unfortunately, these lies have created a huge rift between our patients and our medical establishment. They are about to create a crisis in healthcare when many healthcare workers have their employment terminated. These lies have led to a prolongation of the pandemic and a steep increase in morbidity and mortality.
Maine deserves and can do a lot better than this.
Let's open this posting with a definition:
"Antibody-Dependent Enhancement or ADE occurs when the antibodies generated during an immune response recognize and bind to a pathogen, but they are unable to prevent infection. Instead, these antibodies act as a “Trojan horse,” allowing the pathogen to get into cells and exacerbate the immune response.
On a few occasions ADE has resulted from vaccination:
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — RSV is a virus that commonly causes pneumonia in children. A vaccine was made by growing RSV, purifying it, and inactivating it with the chemical formaldehyde. In clinical trials, children who were given the vaccine were more likely to develop or die from pneumonia after infection with RSV. As a result of this finding, the vaccine trials stopped, and the vaccine was never submitted for approval or released to the public.
Measles — An early version of measles vaccine was made by inactivating measles virus using formaldehyde. Children who were vaccinated and later became infected with measles in the community developed high fevers, unusual rash, and an atypical form of pneumonia. Upon seeing these results, the vaccine was withdrawn from use, and those who received this version of the vaccine were recommended to be vaccinated again using the live, weakened measles vaccine, which does not cause ADE and is still in use today.
A more recent example of ADE following vaccination comes from dengue virus:
Dengue virus — In 2016, a dengue virus vaccine was designed to protect against all four serotypes of the virus. The hope was that by inducing immune responses to all four serotypes at once, the vaccine could circumvent the issues related to ADE following disease with dengue virus. The vaccine was given to 800,000 children in the Philippines. Fourteen vaccinated children died after encountering dengue virus in the community. It is hypothesized that the children developed antibody responses that were not capable of neutralizing the natural virus circulating in the community. As such, the vaccine was recommended only for children greater than 9 years of age who had already been exposed to the virus."
Here is another quote about ADE and SARS-CoV-2 vaccines from a paper entitled "Antibody-dependent enhancement and SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and therapies" by Wen She Lee et al as found in Nature Microbiology with my bolds throughout:
"Antibody-based drugs and vaccines against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are being expedited through preclinical and clinical development. Data from the study of SARS-CoV and other respiratory viruses suggest that anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies could exacerbate COVID-19 through antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). Previous respiratory syncytial virus and dengue virus vaccine studies revealed human clinical safety risks related to ADE, resulting in failed vaccine trials."
Here is the conclusion from the paper:
"ADE has been observed in SARS, MERS and other human respiratory virus infections including RSV and measles, which suggests a real risk of ADE for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and antibody-based interventions. However, clinical data has not yet fully established a role for ADE in human COVID-19 pathology. Steps to reduce the risks of ADE from immunotherapies include the induction or delivery of high doses of potent neutralizing antibodies, rather than lower concentrations of non-neutralizing antibodies that would be more likely to cause ADE.
Going forwards, it will be crucial to evaluate animal and clinical datasets for signs of ADE, and to balance ADE-related safety risks against intervention efficacy if clinical ADE is observed. Ongoing animal and human clinical studies will provide important insights into the mechanisms of ADE in COVID-19. Such evidence is sorely needed to ensure product safety in the large-scale medical interventions that are likely required to reduce the global burden of COVID-19."
To put it very simply, ADE can occur in vaccinated humans and animals when they are exposed to the wild virus (the challenge).
With that background, let's look at a very little-reported article that appeared on the National Institutes of Health National Liberary of Medicine website entitled "Informed consent disclosure to vaccine trial subjects of risk of COVID-19 vaccines worsening clinical disease" by Timothy Cardozo and Ronald Veazey as shown here:
The authors open by noting the following:
"Patient comprehension is a critical part of meeting medical ethics standards of informed consent in study designs. The aim of the study was to determine if sufficient literature exists to require clinicians to disclose the specific risk that COVID-19 vaccines could worsen disease upon exposure to challenge or circulating virus."
Here is another definition, also from the NIH website:
"Informed consent is the process in which a health care provider educates a patient about the risks, benefits, and alternatives of a given procedure or intervention. The patient must be competent to make a voluntary decision about whether to undergo the procedure or intervention. Informed consent is both an ethical and legal obligation of medical practitioners in the US and originates from the patient's right to direct what happens to their body. Implicit in providing informed consent is an assessment of the patient's understanding, rendering an actual recommendation, and documentation of the process. The Joint Commission requires documentation of all the elements of informed consent "in a form, progress notes or elsewhere in the record." The following are the required elements for documentation of the informed consent discussion: (1) the nature of the procedure, (2) the risks and benefits and the procedure, (3) reasonable alternatives, (4) risks and benefits of alternatives, and (5) assessment of the patient's understanding of elements 1 through 4.
It is the obligation of the provider to make it clear that the patient is participating in the decision-making process and avoid making the patient feel forced to agree to with the provider. The provider must make a recommendation and provide their reasoning for said recommendation."
In other words, medical practitioners have the legal and moral obligation to ensure that the people that they are treating understand the risks and benefits of the medical procedure (including vaccinations) and that they do not feel coerced into receiving the medical procedure.
Let's go back to the article by Cardozo and Veazey. The authors reviewed published literature and clinical trial protocols to identify evidence that COVID-19 vaccines could worse disease if the vaccine recipients are exposed to the wild virus. Here are the results of the study:
"COVID-19 vaccines designed to elicit neutralising antibodies may sensitise vaccine recipients to more severe disease than if they were not vaccinated. Vaccines for SARS, MERS and RSV have never been approved, and the data generated in the development and testing of these vaccines suggest a serious mechanistic concern: that vaccines designed empirically using the traditional approach (consisting of the unmodified or minimally modified coronavirus viral spike to elicit neutralising antibodies), be they composed of protein, viral vector, DNA or RNA and irrespective of delivery method, may worsen COVID-19 disease via antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). This risk is sufficiently obscured in clinical trial protocols and consent forms for ongoing COVID-19 vaccine trials that adequate patient comprehension of this risk is unlikely to occur, obviating truly informed consent by subjects in these trials."
Since the technocracy has a way of making things disappear from the internet in this post-truth era, here is a screen capture of the entire article:
The authors concluded that the specific risk of ADE linked to the COVID-19 vaccines should have been prominently and independently disclosed to research subjects in trials and for future patients after the vaccines are approved for use. Given that the current crop of COVID-19 vaccines are not scheduled for completion for at least another year and that they are currently being used under an Emergency Use Authorization, one would think that providing informed consent to all vaccine recipients would be critical.
In closing, as one example, let's look at the COVID-19 vaccine consent form for the State of New York:
This is the only warning given to vaccine recipients about the nature of the COVID-19 vaccine that they are about to receive:
Here is Walgreen's Informed Consent document for COVID-19 and other vaccines:
I wonder how many recipients actually read all of the fine print which, as you will notice, says nothing about ADE? Note that recipients are stating that they were given the "chance to ask questions which were answered to my satisfaction" and that they "understand the benefits and risks of the vaccination as described". How many laypeople actually understand the risks and benefits of the mRNA vaccine technology let alone know what questions to ask? How many laypeople understand that the "jab" could well lead to a greater susceptibility to ADE, making future exposures to the new variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus even riskier?
This study is the smoking gun in the COVID-19 narrative and is should be of particular interest to all of us given that it appears on the website of Anthony Fauci's employer. Recipients of COVID-19 vaccines are not properly being informed of the risks of antibody-dependent enhancement by governments, vaccine manufacturers, the mainstream media and public health officials. Most people have absolutely no concept of ADE and its potential impact on their future health and are being coerced into accepting an unproven vaccine with the promise of a return to societal normalcy by their governments (the carrot) and the threat of having their freedom restricted for the indefinite future (the stick), contradicting the very concept of informed consent.
John Cunnington is a dear friend, and former McMaster University associate professor. After a 38-year career as a respirologist and internal medicine physician, he retired in 2018.
_Long before COVID-19 appeared, I benefited from John’s insight into how the medical system works. I_n recent months, my mild-mannered friend has grown increasingly concerned. It seems to him that the medical ethics that guided his entire career are being tossed aside. I invited him to write down his thoughts. This is the first guest essay published on this blog:
By John Cunnington, MD
At the top of the medical hierarchy is the neurosurgeon. Neurosurgeons are surrounded by a mystique of omniscience and omnipotence. Imagine my surprise, therefore, as a lowly medical student, to discover that the senior neurosurgeon in our institution, Robert Hughes, was being sued for malpractice. In fact, Robert Hughes, to his chagrin, went on to make Canadian medical and legal history on the issue of informed consent.
In 1970 Hughes performed a carotid endarterectomy (cleaning out of the carotid artery to the brain) on a 44-year-old man, John Reibl, who then went on to suffer a stroke that left him paralyzed on one side and unable to continue working. Reibl sued Hughes, claiming that he was not informed that he might suffer a stroke from this elective surgery, and that had he known this he would have delayed the surgery until he’d become eligible for a Ford Motor Company pension less than two years later.
Here is Reibl’s testimony to the Court:
Q. Did he talk to you about what would happen if you didn’t have the operation?
A. Yes, he said, “It is up to you if you want to have it or not. You can live a few years. You can live about 7 or 10 years or longer. One of these days you are going to fall on your nose, and that’s it. If you are going to do it now in the beginning you are not going to have any problem later.”
Q. Did Dr. Hughes say anything else about any risks of the operation?
A. He didn’t mention anything.
Reibl v Hughes went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada and in 1980 the Court articulated the current standard for informed consent, specifically that the physician (or other health care provider) “must give the patient sufficient information so that an objective, reasonable person in the patient’s position would be able to make an informed choice about a medical procedure”. The court defined failure to disclose the attendant risks as negligence.
Thus, in Canada, to receive a treatment or procedure, the subject must not just verbally agree and sign a consent form, but must give informed consent after having the risks explained to them.
Forty-one years after the Supreme Court decision our federal and provincial governments are engaged in a program of administering to the entire Canadian population above the age of 12, a completely new, untried, experimental, non-FDA approved, gene therapy treatment. This therapy, according to US and European government adverse vaccine reaction databases, is reasonably suspected of having killed thousands of people, and created serious injury in tens of thousands. Meanwhile, the long-term consequences of the therapy are simply unknown.
Are Canadians who are receiving this treatment getting this information? Are they being told what they need to know to give informed consent? A friend of mine recently got the injection. I asked him if he was informed of the possibility of side effects. He said none were mentioned!
As far as I can determine, Canadians are not being informed that there are risks. When they show up at the injection site it appears that they are told to sign a form and hold out their arm. Those giving the treatment are not discussing with them the pros and cons, the risks and benefits of the injection prior to “vaccine” administration. Most Canadians taking the shot have no idea that there is a risk of blood clotting disorders, such as pulmonary embolism and stroke, of life-threatening immune processes such as vaccine-induced thrombocytopenia, or that young people taking the shot are at risk of the potentially fatal complication of myocarditis (nor are they informed that the risk of Covid itself is almost negligible for the young and healthy). Such lack of information is a violation of the Supreme Court decision on consent. If you are injured by the vaccine and did not provide informed consent, you have grounds to sue your health authorities for negligence and damages.
Note: The onus is not on patients to do their own research. The onus is on the health care provider to inform patients of the risks so that an objective, reasonable person in the patient’s position would be able to make an informed choice. Does anyone really believe that a 12 to 15-year-old child is able to sufficiently understand the complex issues involved in experimental gene therapy to give informed consent? Does enticing children with ice cream (Toronto), or adults with a lottery (Alberta), constitute informed consent?
If Reibl v Hughes sets the standard for approved treatments, what then should be the standard for unapproved treatments, for experimentation on humans with new and untried technologies? As a consequence of experiments performed by Nazi doctors on concentration camp prisoners and the subsequent Nuremberg trials, that Court articulated ten research ethics principles to guide medical experimentation in humans. The first principle is that “the voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential”. Although the Nuremberg Code, created more than 70 years ago, did not use the word “informed”, it did use the word “consent,” and it is hardly a stretch to conclude that the consent they spoke of was “informed consent”. Most Canadians taking these novel gene therapy injections have no idea that these “vaccines” are not an approved therapy, like a flu shot, and they are unaware that they are in fact being enrolled in clinical trials which are still ongoing.
Our federal and provincial governments, premiers, public health administrators and personnel are negligent in administering the Covid vaccines to tens of millions of Canadians without clearly informing them that this is an experimental therapy, one which could result in serious adverse events, including life-altering injuries or death, and that the long-term side effects, for example potential auto-immune diseases, are as yet unknown.
When governments use all the means in their power, including control of the media and widespread censorship of dissenting voices, to induce people to get a medical treatment without adequately informing them of the risks, they are violating the fundamental trust between the people and their government.
I had not planned to travel abroad this year, especially after the UK government’s announcement in early 2021 that foreign holidays were forbidden. Even heading towards the airport with an intent to go on a foreign holiday could result in a £5000 fine or imprisonment! Surreal.
Where we live in London under a flight path to Heathrow, we notice that although there are fewer flights, they have not ceased completely. So how do people travel? It’s not something I have thought about.
One day at the end of April I receive a message that my elderly father’s condition is critical. Within an hour I am looking at flights back home in Eastern Europe and checking the UK government travel ‘advice’ webpages.
I say ‘advice’ but that word belongs to the past. Today, ‘command’ might be more appropriate. According to the government, only “essential” international travel is permitted for named valid reasons; ‘medical and compassionate’ is the category which applies to me.
I wonder whose compassion this is a reference to: mine, for wanting to be with my sick father, or the government’s for including this as a possibility. Reassured that I can go, it is now a question of buying the plane tickets, checking in and packing, right? Not quite.
Wading through the red tape
Since holiday travel has effectively been banned, the government created intricate webpages full of information on what is and what is not allowed, where citizens cannot travel, and if they must, what documents they need to prepare. So complicated travel advice alone has become that the webpage now includes a step by step flowchart with endless links within each step to be followed.
Getting through this information would take at least a day. It’s like a cross between a maze and a vortex. I soon understand that I cannot buy my tickets until I have uploaded the right Covid related paperwork onto the airline website!
First, I need to fill a Declaration for International Travel (since the 17th May it is no longer required) which asks for personal details including my date of birth, passport number, home address and destination.
The key question is the reason for international travel – and in the actual online questions, the phrase is: ‘What is your excuse for travel?’ My excuse? What kind of language is that? Am I asking a teacher to let me leave the classroom? Am I asked to explain why I haven’t done my homework?
That really shocks me, although I have already noticed my own reaction to the very idea that I need permission to leave the country, as if I was back in Eastern Europe before 1989…I read the following declaration and tick the right box out of the given options.
I hereby declare that my reason for being outside my home to travel internationally is for:
– Medical or compassionate reasons
– Ending a temporary visit (non-UK resident)
– Allowing access to parents with children who do not live in the same country
– Other reasonable excuse – please specify
Next, I am required to sign to ‘certify that the information I have provided is true. I understand that if I provide false or misleading information, I may be issued with a fixed penalty notice and/or a direction to return home or be arrested’.
So, by signing this, and I have no choice not to if I want to get my ticket, I have given the UK authorities permission to arrest or fine me should my excuse to travel turn out to be incorrect. What if my father is not that ill, then what?
But of course, that is not enough. I now need to provide evidence of my father’s illness. How do you do that when the whole of the world is still in lockdown; imagine having to get a doctor’s note on demand. I am still just trying to get a ticket.
I want to travel tomorrow morning, my sister-in-law tells me, Dad is given a couple of days. I ask my brother to send me an email confirming the family crisis, he does that within an hour. He is also trying to copy the notes from my father’s last doctor’s visit and the most recent diagnosis.
Then, still before I buy a return ticket, I need to get a kit of two Covid tests which I will need to take upon return to UK. Another link takes me on to a list of government-approved Covid test providers. A whole list of them, each can be accessed via a separate link. I try a few. They average around £200 each. The cheapest ones are £99 but are sold out.
Why can’t I see any free NHS ones? The ones given out like sweets in schools and local pharmacies? Why are these not available? Why could I not just pick a free one at the airport?
But of course, there is no to answer these questions, I am desperate to leave so agree to this, too. No test, no flight. So, I order one of these almost £200 test kits, get an email confirming the order, upload all the documents and finally I can complete the purchase of my tickets which, as usual, turn out not so low cost after all.
I check in. My boarding card (lucky I had just bought a printer the previous week) says at the top of the page ‘Covid Documentation Uploaded’. So, now I have the boarding card and a pile of printed pages which presumably I will need to show at UK border control in order to prove my excuse for leaving the country is legitimate.
Finally, I download and fill in the compulsory Passenger Locator Form for the destination country that will enable the system to track and trace me. It is nearly bedtime and I now need to pack.
On the go
My husband drives me to Stansted in the middle of the night. An early morning flight, no public transport available but at least it’s quiet and there is no traffic. The airport is still closed; a group of families with young children are waiting for the door to open.
These are not holidaymakers breaking the law to get some forbidden fun. No idea where they are travelling but they look like they are going home somewhere south, southeast perhaps? Turkey, Bulgaria or Ukraine? No idea but they do look like part of the globalised chain of workforce escaping poverty and perhaps the lockdown has pushed them to return. Better to be jobless and poor in your own village. The weather tends to be better and the environment less hostile.
Finally, the doors open. I push the scarf up over my face, my hand clutching a plastic folder with a wad of documents allowing me to leave. It is quiet, no waiting. I go through security, passport control seems non-existent, shops still closed so nothing to stop for. I wonder at which point someone will ask me to see the papers. Ask me what my excuse for leaving is. Strangely, that never happens. I am almost disappointed. I spent about four hours sorting out all that paperwork the night before and now this is not even checked!
Immediately I catch myself: why am I disappointed? Because no one will give me the all-clear? Have I been conditioned to want to be waved through the green light already?
Perhaps that is how normalising oppression works. But of course, there is no need to check, the documents been uploaded and recorded somewhere and someone now knows everything about me, my plans, my reason (“excuse”) for leaving the country. Or perhaps the intimate details of my family crisis; my father’s terminal illness and my attempt to get to him before it’s too late have now just been converted into big data slushing around the corpo-government’s control AI machine, and turned into useful predictions.
I guess this type of authoritarianism does not even need stern looks from border control officials, no need to divulge private dramas in public. Hours of stress of getting the documents turned into a discreet but vital small print on my boarding card; the only visible proof that my travel is acceptable to the corpo-state. It is all so neat, tidy, hi-tech and invisible that we can just pretend that all is just normal.
After all, the airport trimmings look all the same; with adverts, duty-free shopping, same old queues at departure gates and same safety drills on the plane, down to the irritating Ryanair voice thanking us for choosing to fly with them (no one chooses to fly with Ryanair, just like no one chooses to go to the dentist, you do it because you have to and you hope it won’t be too unpleasant).
We can pretend nothing has changed. Except the masks on faces, of course. Slow drinking and eating is my solution. During the flight many noses protrude against the regulations, of course. People do need to breathe.
We land on time. I send a message to my father, anxious, hoping he is still there. He is not responding. I am worried. From the tarmac I can see the arrivals hall is full. There is no way of entering so the crowd from my plane stops outside and waits in the drizzle. I wonder why that is. Is that Brexit or is it that people’s papers are now checked after all?
The queue moves very slowly, twenty minutes after landing I send my father another message saying that I’m still waiting for border control. I have no idea why this is so slow; each person seems to spend a good few minutes at the control desk. Finally, an hour and a half after landing I get into the taxi. As the driver pulls away, I notice a long queue of passengers outside the arrivals hall waiting to get a Covid test. I arrive home and find my father hanging on.
My father’s illness
There is a twist to this story. My father has been treated for cancer but has been still doing quite well and has been planning to spend the summer away from his flat, in the countryside. His sudden deterioration it unexpected to me but I have not had time to think of reasons. I only learnt of this yesterday. But now I am in the flat, taking my shoes off when my brother drops the bombshell: ‘you know, Dad took the vaccine’.
I am shocked. He told me he was not going to, because he found the registration process too difficult, so he decided to stop trying. I was relieved; I had been persuading him that he should not, that being immunocompromised, his system might not cope. I told him what I knew and what I worried about. My brother tells me another family member helped organize his jab and took him there. Jesus. But I am to pretend I don’t know about it; Dad asked my brother not to tell me.
So, I learn that the day after the Pfizer jab he started to feel weak, and within ten days he was prescribed blood thinning injections, a daily drip and he became bedbound. My brother has hired a hospital-style bed and an oxygen machine, set them up in father’s bedroom and organized a private nurse for daily visits. Dad had not wanted to go to hospital: he believed that hospitals were overrun by contagious Covid patients and that going to hospital would mean certain death under a ventilator.
Luckily (I never thought I would say this), unlike the UK, this ex-communist country never managed to build up its own national health service to a level able to deliver comprehensive care, so a secondary private sector filling the gaps exists and is not beyond the means of many people. So here he is, in his own bedroom and getting care at home.
He is happy to see me but asks me not to touch him. I feel sad, guessing he might worry I am bringing contagion. That hurts. I pretend I know nothing about the jab. Later, much later, I remember this moment and think that, he might have wanted to protect me. He knew the jab made him ill and he worried he was fighting vaccine induced-Covid and did not want to give it to me.
He never told me about the vaccine, I never told him I knew.
Sunset in quarantine
Quarantine One: The App
The day after arriving I receive a text message telling me I am now under statute of law obliged to download a particular app and use it during my 10-day home quarantine. I start the download but can’t complete it. Something is stuck and I have no idea how to fix it. I try for a while and then abandon it. I spend most of the time caring for my father who now slips in and out of consciousness.
The next morning I get a phone call but it stops ringing before I have time to answer it. The following day the same happens. I realise this is the local track and trace. They ring but don’t wait for me to answer. Their call is logged, the box gets ticked but the robot or a human cannot be bothered to do the job properly. Actually, it must be a human as a robot would not give up. Good. The tyranny will fail due to human error or sheer laziness.
I don’t know what possessed me but somehow, I manage to complete installing the Quarantine App. The system springs into action. I get a message from the app that I must take a selfie within the next 30 minutes and submit it. I take a selfie from the app which gives me as many times as I like to choose the best shot. I choose the worst shot.
Of course, there is a way to cheat: after doing my selfie I could leave the phone at home and go out for a walk. Trouble is, the selfie demand comes at a different time each day, usually towards the end of the day. But I have no reason to go anywhere, really, I have come here to be with him, and his condition continues to be critical. And at some point, during this journey I decided that I would do everything by the book, just to see what the new normal travel feels and looks like, and what exactly they want us to experience.
Well, here I am, in a 10-day quarantine in a flat with my dying father. We are lucky. I have my brother to get the shopping in and kind neighbours ready to help. We are lucky my father is at home. What would be the point of coming here all this way, only to be stuck in quarantine if he was in a hospital with no visitors allowed? So, all in all, we are lucky.
Days go by, my father’s condition improves a little, I am his nurse, and of course I touch him – he stopped protesting as soon as he needed a glass of water; I continue to take my selfies. We talk, I read to him, feed him, then he sleeps. He dies two days after my quarantine ends. That is good timing.
There is a lot to do now, and I will not be breaking the law trying to organize the funeral…I remember my favourite literature lesson at school when we debated who was right: Creon or Antigone. Even then, I was in team Antigone.
A doctor arrives to certify death. She is nice and takes her time. Talks a little. Does not look like a corporate bot. She is sitting at a coffee table doing the paperwork. For the cause of death, she writes ‘Thrombosis’. I ponder for a bit and then hesitatingly say: ‘Did you know he was vaccinated?’.
Her face changes and she asks: ‘No, when?’ We tell her, ‘Four weeks ago, exactly’.
‘I am not allowed to say anything,’ she says, ‘but I can tell you I have seen a lot lately. A lot!’ We try to encourage her to talk more but she is cautious. I just ask her: ‘Why would a person on cancer treatment be given a vaccine? Surely that had not been done before?’ She looks at me and says: ‘Because they want to vaccinate us all.’ So, she knows.
This kind of conversation would have been typical in the days of strict communist authoritarianism before 1989. You never knew whom you could trust so you just dropped hints and checked for people’s response. In those days careless talk was dangerous, and I am too young to remember the worst times: the Stalinist years when children were encouraged to denounce their parents; many were imprisoned, tortured and killed.
Now the threat is only a loss of income and public humiliation and yet the new order based on lies, fraud and corrupt science is already in place. Everyone is just doing their job. A perfect example of Hannah Arendt’s banality of evil in which those, following orders in this elaborate house of cards, often do not even know their active contribution to harm inflicted on others. They do not realise because they refuse to look and to know. They stopped taking responsibility for their individual part in the whole.
There is a small group of doctors in the country who are challenging the official narrative, attempt to offer treatment for Covid patients and warn against the untested ‘vaccines’, particularly now that governments want to jab children. Their voices are censored, the people get smeared, ridiculed and shamed by the professional licensing medical body. The modern-day governance in Western democracies!
As the funeral preparations get underway, I need to organise my return travel. I check the UK government website again. Travelling from an ‘amber’ coded country, I must test negative for Covid within 72 hours prior to departure. Tricky when the flight is on Monday afternoon.
I start to search for UK government-approved tests available in the city. Only a handful provide the specified UK approved antigen test with results in English. They are also open only in the mornings so if I test on Friday morning, I might be testing a few hours too early to fit within the 72 hours.
After hours of online searching, I find one that looks almost right. I pay the equivalent of £35 online and am told to come on the day, without an appointment. The laboratory website provides useful advice, how to prepare for the test. I learn that I should not brush my teeth or use mouthwash on the morning of test. So now I know what to do.
I arrive at the testing centre early, having heard that queues can be quite long. It is, and it is in the street. The lab’s waiting room only allows three people at a time so the rest stand outside. After about an hour it is my turn. I am allowed inside the surgery.
On the right, by the door, a masked man sitting at a desk behind a glass screen is checking my name and the type of test I have purchased. Then, a young tall, man in full white hazmat suit, his face covered, and in protective glasses ushers me to sit on a chair and tip my head backwards.
This is my first Covid test ever and I am terrified. I have rehearsed telling them how sensitive my face feels and asking not to go deep but there is no eye contact, no talk trying to help me feel comfortable, no attempt to put me at ease. He just tells me to tip my head back far.
I just manage to ask him to go into the left nostril as my right one is not straight. He happily obliges and shoves the long stick into my nostril. As soon as the tip enters my nose I feel shock, a feeling of something unnatural, wrong and threatening happening. The area he just touched is too soft, sensitive and the sensation so unfamiliar I involuntarily, and to my own shock, find myself pushing the man’s arm away. He moves back and looks at me, his body language (there is no face available) disapproves of my behaviour.
I say, please don’t go that deep, you already have some but he insists, tells me not to defend myself and does it again. And again, that feeling that a part of me which is vulnerable and should not be touched, gets scraped. He gets his sample and nods for me to go. I am frozen in that chair, unable to move for what seems like a while. I have tears in my eyes, and I am alone with two hazmat wearing robots. No word is uttered as I leave.
I get my negative result within hours. I recover with an old friend. By then I have a splitting headache and my left nostril is moist with a slight leak. The headache lasts for a couple of days but the leak persists for at least ten.
I arrive at the airport early because I have difficulties completing the UK Passenger Locator Form which UK needs from all passengers. I pass through a manned gate with an automatic wrist temperature check. The airport is unusually quiet, and the staff help me identify the problem which stops me from completing the form. The reference number for the double Covid test needed for the Passenger Locator Form is wrong. I ring home and ask my husband to read the reference number off the Covid test kit. Surely it has arrived now. It hasn’t. It looks like the Day 2 and 8 Test I ordered has not been paid for.
I am told I need to buy a new kit if I want to get this flight. I do as I’m told. No form, no flight. I stand next to the luggage drop off counter feeling sweats, and with my hands shaking I battle the website on my phone. Again, all the ‘cheap’ ones are sold out and somehow, at the last minute I manage to make a purchase for £180, get an email, a reference number, complete the form and have my luggage accepted.
I hurry to my gate and make it just in time as passengers are starting to board. I slow down to join the Ryanair herd waiting on the tarmac for the aircraft to be processed before we are told we can travel.
The pavement is marked with lines at 2-meter intervals. Two men behind me are joking loudly that we must stand on the lines correctly, otherwise the virus will jump on us. I turn and smile (no mask, we are still outside) and make eye contact with the fellow humans.
Quarantine Two: Track and Trace
Back home in London, the following day I get my first out of ten phone calls from Track and Trace. Each time a different voice reads the same script.
I am contacting you on behalf of the NHS Test and Trace as you have recently travelled into the UK from abroad. Are you happy to continue in English?”
No idea what would happen if I said ‘no’.
Before we proceed, I need to make you aware that this call will be recorded for training and quality improvement purposes and should just take a few minutes of your time. I can confirm I have completed the necessary data security training and all information you provide today will be stored securely. NHS Test and Trace may need to share your details with other organisations including the Home Office, and further information on data security and privacy can be found on www.gov.uk/coronavirus. Sharing information in the call today means you consent for it to be stored in the ways I have described. Are you happy to proceed with the call?”
I wish I could say, no, I am not. Once or twice I ask how long the data is going to be stored. The caller is not sure and advises me to find this out from the government website. The call proceeds with them checking my year of birth. Then they ask if I have opted into a ‘test to release’ – I frankly don’t even know it is my option, so I say ‘no’.
I later learn that the Test to Release scheme does not replace the compulsory Day 2 and 8 test. The ten-day quarantine can be shortened to 5 days by ‘opting into’ Test to Release for an additional £99. I realise they ask this question to advertise another product!
Can you confirm that you are quarantining at the address you provided on the passenger locator form and will continue to do so for ten days starting on the day after you arrive in the UK.”
So, again, I confirm, yes. What would happen if I said no?
As part of the Covid 19 response you are legally required to take the test on Day 2 and Day 8 and a failure to do so may result in prosecution.”
That answers my previous question…
Has your test arrived? And have you taken or do you intend to take your test?”
Then I am asked if I got my test from the NHS or from a private provider. I am confused as I had no option to get an NHS test and I tell the caller. They seem happy with my answer and continue:
If your Day 2 test is positive confirming Covid 19, you do not need to take another test on Day 8.”
I think, on one occasion, I ask how I am expected to post the test if I am not allowed to leave the house. Of course, the assumption is there is someone else in the house, and if I still have difficulties, again, the go-to place is another NHS number. Amazing what they can do these days; they can even pick up your mail for you!
The call continues:
If you develop any of the three coronavirus symptoms which are: a new continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss or change to your sense of taste or smell, please visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus for further advice. You should not go to the GP, hospital or a pharmacy. If you require medical advice, please ring the NHS on 111 or in an emergency dial 999”.
So here we have the admission of medical malpractice: if I fall ill, I must not seek help from NHS, not even by going to my local pharmacy. I must stay home without help, except of course, if I qualify for 999 ie, a ventilator…
The call continues:
I must advise you that if you test positive for coronavirus or are identified as a close contact of someone who has coronavirus you will be notified by NHS Test and Trace and may be contacted again. Is there anything you would like me to repeat?”
Of course, if someone I sat next to on the (half-empty) plane gets a positive result, my quarantine will stretch to a fortnight or longer! Each time, the call ends with a friendly, youthful, ‘have a great day’. All those who have called me are young voices, all kinds of accents, probably desperate for any job in the current climate. They are trained to stick to the script and any departure from it by my questions seems to trip them up.
And most of them probably think they are doing something socially useful and valuable.
The quarantine DIY tests
The one I have purchased in haste at the airport is a kit with two PCR tests to be administered at home on Day 2 and Day 8. The instructions tell me that the test is run at less than a 30-cycle value threshold.
The first thing to say about the swab is that it is long. It looks like a cotton bud used for everyday use, but on closer inspection it is different. The stick itself is about 12 cm long, that’s 6”, and designed to break off after the sample is collected and put into a small tube provided. The tip itself is 2 cm long, quite thin and covered in almost translucent spiky bristles protruding outwards. It looks a bit like a miniature harsh brush designed to scratch the delicate tissue inside the mouth and nose.
I am told to swab the back of the throat for 3-5 seconds over the posterior pharynx and tonsillar areas but to avoid tongue, teeth and the sides of the mouth. Then I am told to insert the same swab to each nostril about 2 cm deep and to rotate it for 3-5 seconds each time.
The form which I have to complete for each test is yet another mandated opportunity for the corpo-government to harvest my personal data, to store it for as long as it sees fit, yet, as is often the case in abusive relationships I have to (I repeat:) I have to give my consent for all this to happen, and even consent for my possible positive test result which may include my personal details: name, date of birth, gender, home address, telephone number, occupation, place of work, ethnicity and the fact that I have tested positive for Covid 19 to be communicated to Public Health England. Luckily, both of my test results are negative.
Eleven days after arrival in the UK my quarantine is officially over. It takes me a couple of days before I venture outside, I detect a bit of agoraphobia. In the last six weeks I spent twenty days in house arrest. They say it takes six weeks to develop a new habit.
I doubt very much I will travel internationally any time soon. Not planning to take the experimental Covid jab and so will not be enjoying the privilege of freedom promised to those with the vaccine passport. At the time of writing, it is no longer illegal to leave England but the elaborate hoops and the red tape remain and the government website reminds us that “to protect public health in the UK and the vaccine rollout, you should not travel to countries or territories on the red or amber lists”.
The ‘red and amber’ lists cover most countries of the world and returning from an amber list country will involve three or four tests which could come to £240-£340 per person plus the time spent completing all the online forms.
As to the red list countries; even a short spell there ends in an expensive £1750 per person prison-like stay at an airport hotel, as can be seen here.
So whilst not forbidden, even essential travel has been made into a series of expensive, degrading and time-consuming obstacles. Vaccine passports are being rolled out precisely to convince people they will magically bring freedom back to their lives. Do they not realise, that once they have their passports, the vaccine will need regular boosters?
Those still asleep; trusting the governments and the mainstream media think that easy travel is only temporarily put on hold but once the pandemic is ‘under control’, things will get back to the way they used to be. They do not realise the plan is to make travel an exclusive and rare event beyond reach of ordinary people.
This is done to us not just by the predatory elite class. Disappointingly, the pro-lockdown left continues to cheer these restrictions on and dismiss people’s desire and need to travel, as undeserved indulgence or middle-class privilege (interestingly, unrestricted travel around Europe was, until so recently, one of the main reasons for their fierce anti-Brexit position. What happened to their cherished principle of freedom of movement?). They could not be further from the truth.
They forget that, according to official migration data for the end of 2019, the UK is home to 6.2 million people – that is 9% of the total population – who have the nationality of a different country! And that data does not even include naturalised UK citizens like me, first-generation settled migrants who have close relatives all over the world and that unrestricted travel is an essential means to family life, something which is protected by Human Rights Act 1998.
The irony for those like myself, who grew up in communist Eastern Europe, is that freedom of movement, so taken for granted in the West, the right to travel and to have your own passport at home at all times is what we did not have then. The state set limits on where ‘citizens’, treated like its property, could travel.
For many who experienced those times, even as children, a return to state-mandated travel restrictions will feel like going back into tyranny.
As for my own journey: I will never forgive those responsible and all those lockdown fanatics for stealing my Dad’s, and so many other elderly people’s, last year by locking them up in the prison of fear and isolation, and then for pushing them to take the dangerous experimental jab which – for so many – was the last straw in their already weakened bodies.
Joanna Sharp is an academic living in London.
Imagine a world where you can be jailed for attempting to protect your child from medical assault. A future where you can no longer object to your child being subjected to medicalized gay conversion ‘therapy.’ A country where the government can legally enforce a belief system and criminalize anyone who goes against that system of belief. No, I’m not talking about Iran… I’m talking about Canada.
On Friday, April 16, a father in Canada, Rob Hoogland, was sentenced to serve 6 months in jail for the crime of attempting to protect his child from medical assault, for speaking up, for refusing to abide by a legally enforced belief system — gender ideology. For parents in Canada, this is their new reality. And other countries, like the US, aren’t far behind.
The ordeal began several years ago, when Hoogland discovered that his 12-year-old daughter’s name had been changed in the 7th grade yearbook. From there, the truth unraveled — His child had been shown SOGI 123 ‘education’ videos (gender ideology indoctrination propaganda) at her school. She then decided she was a boy, the school ‘affirmed’ the child as a transexual and ‘socially transitioned’ her without informing her parents. The school kept this all a secret from the parents in accordance with the B.C. Ministry of Education’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) Policy, which dictates that parents have no right to know what their child’s “preferred sex, gender, or name” is at school.
The school sent the child to see a psychologist, Wallace Wong, who treats “transgender” children as young as 2, and who, at an event hosted by Vancouver Public Library, admitted that he advises kids to fake being suicidal. Wong sent the family to the endocrinology unit at the B.C. Children’s Hospital.
“So what you need is, you know what? Pull a stunt. Suicide, every time, [then] they will give you what you need…” — Wallace Wong
On their first visit to the endocrinology unit, the doctor laid out a plan to medically ‘change’ Hoogland’s, then 13-year-old, child’s sex (to male), including injections of testosterone. Hoogland wouldn’t sign off. He noted his child said she was a lesbian, prior to deciding she was a boy, and thought she might be going through a phase. He also noted his child had obsessive tendencies and mental issues — His daughter had been infatuated with 2 male teachers, to the extent the school had to intervene, and in the 8th grade, while being ‘affirmed’ as a boy, his daughter had attempted suicide.
When his daughter was 14, the hospital informed Hoogland that they would be medicalizing his child in accordance with the B.C. Infants Act, and that according to the B.C. Infants Act, they didn’t need parental consent to do so.
Young people do not reach full cognitive brain development till around the age of 25, yet the B.C. Infants Act says a minor can consent to medical treatments. While this makes sense in the context of life-saving surgery (where, for example, a Jehovah’s Witness can otherwise prevent a hospital from saving their child’s life), when it comes to something as serious as chemical castration or the surgical removal of a minor’s sex organs, a young person can not possibly give “informed consent.” The prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that determines our ability to understand repercussions, consequences, and develops our sense of identity, among other things, simply isn’t fully developed until the mid-twenties.
Furthermore, most youth who are diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” would otherwise grow up to be LGB, if they are allowed to grow up — Statistically speaking, 75% would grow up to be LGB, and 85% would grow up to be LGB or straight. What’s being legally enforced is a massive human rights violation of gay and lesbian youth, and a human rights violation of youth in general. Not to mention a violation of every single adult forced, legally, to lie and go along with it.
In 2019, Judge Francesca Marzari convicted Hoogland of “family violence” for using female pronouns when speaking about his daughter, and signed an order authorizing the police to arrest him if he was caught using language in a way that acknowledged his child as biologically female.
In March, Hoogland was arrested and held behind bars without bail. Hoogland’s lawyer, Carey Linde, commented, “He’s been sitting out in a government-supplied bed cot, in a small cement cubicle with iron bars, for speaking his mind, and he will stay there until the trial starts at 2 p.m. on the 12th of April.”
On Friday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Michael Tammen, said Hoogland had “blatantly, willfully and repeatedly” broken the rules, speaking out, and that a “strong denunciatory sentence” was necessary.
Hoogland has been ordered to serve six-months in jail. Additionally, the judge — noting the father’s crowdfunding website, which raised $56,000 to help him in this case — was ordered to donate $30,000 to Ronald McDonald House of B.C. and the Yukon, after he is released from jail.
Youtube: Rob Hoogland
On April 16, Chris Elston, a father and activist who sat in on the hearings, tweeted that Hoogland “pleaded guilty to violating the gag order by speaking out, naming the doctors involved, and publishing documents like this consent form that his daughter signed when she was only 13 years old,” commenting, “many young women get prophylactic hysterectomies after about 5 years on testosterone because the risk of cancer is so high. Prolonged testosterone use also causes abdominal pain, and vaginal and uterine atrophy, requiring hysterectomies. Can a 13-year-old girl consent to her own sterilization? The doctor at B.C. Children’s Hospital thought so after meeting with the child for just one hour.”
On April 14, Elton tweeted “Linde gets back to the Tavistock decision. The issue at the heart of this is whether a child can give informed consent. Seeing as we know very little about the long-term effects of these drugs, obviously they cannot.” However, it seems as though the judge wasn’t all too interested in whether or not a young person can give “informed consent.”
While it may be clear, to anyone logical, that this father was speaking out in an attempt to protect his child from medical malpractice, the judge said he didn’t accept that the father’s “intention was otherwise than to attempt to undermine the authority of the courts and overall administration of justice.”
After the judge implied that he planned to inflict a longer jail term than the Crown recommended, the father took another turn on the stand and explained that during his time held in jail, he thought about his actions and realized he might’ve been used as a “pawn” and “played,” and influenced by new friends.
On Friday, the judge said he went with less jail time than he initially considered, due to the father’s last minute expression of remorse, his agreement to make efforts to remove information on his case from the internet, and the “eloquent” plea made on his behalf by Jenn Smith (a trans-identified advocate who publicly challenges gender ideology).
In recent years, a number of clinicians have come forward to say they left their jobs because their gender clinic was knowingly performing gay conversion therapy. A modest number of independent doctors have stepped up and spoken up as well.
In October, the Keira Bell (Tavistock) case demonstrated that young people have been subjected to medical malpractice. We have been seeing, and will be seeing a lot more, young people come out of this system feeling deeply violated. And rightly so… They’re being sexually and medically assaulted by the medical field.
Parents who send their kids to school, and let their kids access the internet, where gender ideologists run rampant, now run the risk of being forced to watch (or worse still, be jailed) as their children are ripped away, drugged, sterilized, and assaulted by the medical field — a field that’s forever been obsessed with pathologizing and medicalizing those who don’t conform.
The efforts to require every American to be injected with an experimental vaccine for Covid-19 are based on the false notion that vaccination will protect recipients from becoming infected with SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, or protect them from passing along the infection to other people.
The FDA, the CDC, the NIH and the pharmaceutical companies involved have all stated very clearly that there is no evidence to support this idea.
None of the three experimental Covid-19 vaccines now being distributed in the United States have been demonstrated to protect against infection with or transmission of the virus believed to cause Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2), or even prevent symptoms of Covid-19 disease from developing.
This fact is indisputable, yet media, medical providers, and politicians continue to repeat the lie that vaccination provides “immunity to Covid” and even sources like the Mayo Clinic make irresponsible and unsubstantiated claims that vaccination “might prevent you from getting” or “spreading” Covid-19. The same lies are the basis for President Biden’s hard press for mass vaccination to “make this Independence Day truly special.”
On February 27, 2021, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it had “issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the third vaccine for the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19),” the Janssen (Johnson&Johnson) Covid-19 vaccine.
This announcement is virtually identical to the EUAs previously issued for Covid-19 vaccines produced by Pfizer-Biontech and Moderna.
In each of the EUAs, the FDA has been careful to avoid any claim that the vaccines provide protection against infection or transmission of the virus. Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have each publicly stated that the vaccines have NOT been shown to prevent infection or transmission.
All of their regulatory documents and commentary addressing the issue state clearly that there is no evidence that the vaccines affect either infection with or transmission of the virus, nor do they prevent symptoms of Covid-19 from appearing.
The US Government Position
The FDA’s Briefing Document analyzing clinical trial data for the Pfizer vaccine, released the day before the FDA’s issuance of an EUA for that vaccine, noted (on page 47):
Data are limited to assess the effect of the vaccine against asymptomatic infection
Data are limited to assess the effect of the vaccine against transmission of SARS-CoV-2 [virus] from individuals who are infected despite vaccination.”
The FDA Briefing Document on the Moderna vaccine stated the same fact, while also describing plans for a future clinical trial to measure infection prevention, but that will not be completed until December 31, 2023 (p.47). The FDA’s review of the Janssen vaccine noted the same “limited” data…
to assess the effect of the vaccine in preventing asymptomatic infection… and definitive conclusions cannot be drawn at this time.”
“Limited data” means there is in fact no evidence to support those conclusions.
The CDC Advisory Committee that recommended emergency use of the Moderna vaccine noted:
“the level of certainty for the benefits of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine was… type 4 (very low certainty) for the estimates of prevention of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection and all-cause death.”
The CDC guidance to Covid vaccine administrators (January 2, 2021) asks:
Can a person who has received a Covid-19 vaccine still spread COVID-19? At this time, we do not know if COVID-19 vaccination will have any effect on preventing transmission.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) on January 26, 2021 similarly admitted:
We do not know whether the vaccines will prevent infection and protect against onward transmission.”
This is all very confusing due to the language the FDA, NIH and other agencies use to describe the potential effectiveness of the vaccines. For example, in the NIH analysis of the Janssen vaccine data, the authors note the vaccine’s reported effectiveness in “preventing moderate and severe COVID-19 in adults.”
This deliberately blurs the distinction between infection with a virus (SARS-Cov-2) and the illness called Covid-19.
The NIH claims the Janssen vaccine prevents or lessens symptoms of the illness Covid-19, but is silent on whether the vaccine prevents infection or transmission of the virus said to cause Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2). The similar analysis for the Moderna vaccine notes, however:
“[T]here is not yet enough available data to draw conclusions as to whether the [Moderna] vaccine can impact SARS-CoV-2 transmission.”
Unfortunately, we have seen many reports over the last few months of deaths attributed to Covid-19 days and weeks after vaccination (see here and here (video)), confirming that vaccinated people can and do become infected with the virus.
Health officials have avoided blaming these deaths on side effects from the vaccines themselves. Instead, they say these deaths are the result of infections with the virus (SARS-Cov-2) acquired after receiving the vaccines.
Particularly devastating reports from an isolated Kentucky monastery describe how two nuns died of Covid-19 after receiving Covid-19 vaccines, despite the complete absence of any cases of infection in the monastery during the ten months prior to vaccination.
Moderna’s chief science officer was quoted in the British Medical Journal about the clinical trials in 2020 that resulted in the FDA’s decision to grant a EUA to the Moderna shot:
Our trial will not demonstrate prevention of transmission,” Zaks said, “because in order to do that you have to swab people twice a week for very long periods, and that becomes operationally untenable.”
The most important questions about the experimental Covid-19 vaccines were not even asked during the clinical trials: Do these experimental vaccines prevent infection with the virus and do they prevent transmission of that virus? The short answer is No.
The FDA has stated clearly in each of the Covid vaccine Briefing Documents (see Moderna document here, Pfizer here, Janssen here) that the trials were not even designed prove or disprove a hypothesis that the vaccines prevent infection or transmission of the virus, or even prevent symptoms of Covid-19 from developing.
The FDA issued Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) for the Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen vaccines on December 11 and December 18, 2020, and on February 27, 2021, respectively.
The EUAs indicate that the vaccines “prevent severe Covid-19,” that is, they don’t prevent infection or development of symptoms after infection, but they may make the illness less severe.
The EUAs explicitly deny any evidence that the Pfizer, Moderna or Janssen vaccines prevent infection, or prevent hospitalization or even death from Covid-19 after vaccination. The highly publicized “success rates” of the vaccines refer only their potential ability to lessen the severity of those symptoms, but there is “no data” that they prevent the infection that could cause those symptoms.
Mandating Vaccination Under Emergency Use Authorization is Impermissible
An EUA is not “FDA Approval.”
An EUA indicates that a product has not been fully tested but, despite the obvious risks, distribution is permitted because the government declared a “public health emergency” in January 2020.
As the FDA notes in its Information Sheet for the Moderna shot:
The Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine has not undergone the same type of review as an FDA- approved or cleared product.”
The FDA granted EUAs for all three experimental vaccines after less than five months of clinical trials, with most of trial data still to be collected. All three vaccines will be in clinical trial status through January 31, 2023.
According to comments from vaccine scientists in September 2020 (prior to the Covid-19 EUA issuances), no vaccine had ever before been distributed on an EUA basis.
“We don’t do EUAs for vaccines,” [Dr. Peter] Hotez said, “It’s a lesser review, it’s a lower-quality review, and when you’re talking about vaccinating a large chunk of the American population, that’s not acceptable.”
Three months later, the FDA issued EUAs for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but with explicit guidance that the vaccine “has not undergone the same type of review as an FDA- approved or cleared product.”
Indeed, the highly experimental nature of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, in particular, is extraordinary as that vaccine is the first and only product the company has ever been allowed to distribute, and it was allegedly developed in only two days.
Any use of an experimental vaccine under an EUA must be voluntary and recipients must be informed “of the option to accept or refuse administration of the product, of the consequences, if any, of refusing administration of the product, and of the alternatives to the product that are available and of their benefits and risks.
This information is repeated in small print on each of the FDA Covid-19 vaccine Fact Sheets, but it is largely ignored.
Dr Amanda Cohn, the executive secretary of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, was asked in October 22, 2020, if the new Covid-19 vaccines could be legally required. She responded that, under a EUA:
Vaccines are not allowed to be mandatory. So, early in this vaccination phase, individuals will have to be consented and they won’t be able to be mandatory.”
Under EUA status, the government is not permitted to require Covid-19 vaccinations because the vaccines are not FDA-approved and recipients are clinical trial participants. This is why states cannot legally require vaccination, despite suggestions by some legislators to do just that.
Indeed, the US military is barred from mandating the vaccines. This ban on government vaccine mandates explains why some private companies are trying to require vaccination of employees, which makes the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidance on this issue potentially relevant.
The EEOC Guidance on Covid-19 Vaccination Does Not Authorize Vaccine Mandates
The EEOC updated its guidance on the issue of Covid-19 vaccination on December 16, 2020.
This update appeared five days after the FDA issued an EUA for the Pfizer vaccine and two days prior to issuing the Moderna EUA. Based on this timing, we can safely assume that the EEOC was well-aware of the contents of the FDA briefing documents and Fact Sheets, specifically the FDA statements about the lack of proof that the vaccines prevent infection with or transmission of the virus (SARS-CoV-2).
The EEOC guidance evaluates the idea of employer Covid-19 vaccine mandates under the Americans with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) “direct threat” analysis:
The ADA allows an employer to have a qualification standard that includes ‘a requirement that an individual shall not pose a direct threat to the health or safety of individuals in the workplace.’“
But the EEOC’s analysis presupposes that vaccines protect against infection, which is false.
The “direct threat” doctrine is an employer’s potential defense to a claim of disability discrimination under the ADA. According to the EEOC, “A conclusion that there is a direct threat would include a determination that an unvaccinated individual will expose others to the virus at the worksite.”
The specific but theoretical “direct threat” described here is one allegedly posed by an unvaccinated person who might become infected with the virus (SARS-CoV-2) and then spread infection to the workplace.
But no “determination” of such a threat is possible. The EEOC was careful to state only that a direct threat defense “would include” such a “determination.” The EEOC took no position on this issue because officials there were likely aware there has been no determination that vaccination prevents infection or transmission, and none is possible with current data.
Aspirational claims that vaccination “might” [be eventually be shown to] prevent infection or that “some data tends to show” such an effect are insufficient bases for a direct threat defense.
The US Supreme Court ruled in Bragdon v Abbott (1988) that the assertion of a direct threat defense must be evaluated “in light of the available medical evidence,” noting that “the views of public health authorities, such as the U.S. Public Health Service, CDC, and the National Institutes of Health, are of special weight and authority.”
Overcoming the long-standing protections of the right to bodily integrity and informed, voluntary consent to medical treatment requires articulation of an actual and imminent, not theoretical, threat presented by an unvaccinated person in the workplace.
The CDC, the National Institutes of Health and numerous other “public health authorities” have all stated that there is no evidence to show that vaccination prevents viral infection or transmission, a fact the EEOC should have presented but did not.
The EEOC guidance does not provide any legal cover for employers to require vaccination. The guidance proposes that employers might be successful in proving a direct threat if they were able to prove facts which, it turns out, cannot be proven.
Even more importantly, according to the CDC, more than 29 million Americans (and likely many, many more) have already contracted the virus (SARS-CoV-2) and recovered from it.
A recent NIH study demonstrates that these millions of “recovered” people have long-lasting, and likely permanent protection from re-infection. They present no threat of infection or transmission of the virus. However, under a blanket employer vaccine requirement, these people who are already immune would still be required to get vaccinated. It makes no sense logically or legally to require the vaccination of people who already have more protection from the virus than people who get vaccinated.
What is the Threat Prevented by Mandatory Vaccination?
Outside the employment context, companies are demanding proof of vaccination from travelers and even movie- and concert-goers, based on the same debunked idea that vaccination with one of the Covid-19 vaccines will prevent the theoretical spread of the virus in trains, planes, movie theaters and concert halls among low-risk populations. But the relevant government agencies have all stated clearly that that the vaccines do not prevent infection or the spread of infection.
The benefit from any vaccination lies with the recipient of the vaccine. In the case of Covid-19 vaccines, vaccinated people may have fewer symptoms after becoming infected. While this is an important consideration for many people, this benefit has nothing to do with preventing the spread of the virus SARS-Cov-2.
A vaccinated person presents at least the same “risk” of infection and transmission of the virus (if not more risk) as a person who is not vaccinated. At best, vaccination might prevent a more serious case of Covid-19 illness from developing. The vaccines do not prevent infection or the spread of the virus that causes Covid-19. They can have little or no impact on stopping transmission.
Because no one has shown that vaccination prevents infection or transmission of the virus SARS-CoV-2, a fact undisputed by all official sources, this also means that vaccination cannot help to achieve the goal of herd immunity.
“Herd immunity” means that a population can be protected from a virus after enough of the population has become immune to infection, either through exposure to the virus and later recovery, or through vaccination.
But with Covid-19, there is no proof that vaccination makes anyone immune to the virus SARS-CoV-2. Covid-19 vaccination cannot play any meaningful role in the pursuit of herd immunity because the Covid-19 vaccines do not provide immunity from infection.
Oddly, the WHO contradicts itself in arguing that Covid-19 vaccination promotes herd immunity to the virus that causes Covid-19, claiming:
To safely achieve herd immunity against COVID-19, a substantial proportion of a population would need to be vaccinated, lowering the overall amount of virus able to spread in the whole population.”
This statement is simply false. It also contradicts the WHO’s prior admission that “We do not know whether the vaccines will prevent infection and protect against onward transmission.”
If the WHO has already acknowledged that it “does not know if” the Covid-19 vaccines protect people from becoming infected or transmitting the virus, it is a deliberate lie to claim that somehow these vaccines can lead to herd immunity.
A far more useful strategy than forcing people to accept an experimental vaccine that does not even protect them from infection would be to instead protect those most vulnerable to serious illness or death as a result of infection. Tens of thousands of renowned doctors and scientists in the U.S. and around the world proposed such a strategy in October 2020.
Unfortunately, the media and Silicon Valley tech monopolies attacked and effectively censored discussion of this common sense approach as “anti-science” and “right wing” by removing discussion of the proposal from nearly all media platforms.
Yet the fake “scientific” approach to herd immunity touted by the WHO, US government agencies and politicians, and media monopolists is blatantly dishonest, and has nothing to do with “science.” The push by private companies to require vaccination and “immunity passports” is similarly based on private financial interests, not scientific research.
Government scientists admit that the Covid-19 vaccines do not prevent infection or transmission of the virus they say causes Covid-19, but many of these same scientists also dishonestly claim the vaccines will somehow prevent the spread of the virus, leading to herd immunity.
Such an approach is not only unscientific and dishonest. It’s nonsense.
P Jerome is civil rights attorney based in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at [email protected]
On Monday, without comment, the Supreme Court ended the last of the 2020 election cases, rejecting Trump v. Wisconsin Election Commission in a one-line order. It was a quiet ending to a tumultuous election season, but like a football game with a contentious call at the end, the debate over who really won will likely go on much longer.
The courts have always served as a pressure-relief valve on our internal disagreements. From the battle with an unscrupulous car dealer to a nasty divorce that requires discernment over how to split everything from the antique Corvette to the kids, wise judges can help to bring peace and healing. Surely, for a nation reeling after a tempestuous presidential election filled with strange occurrences, the courts were needed to bring us together.
We needed the steady hand of impartial jurists. Most of all, the losing side needed to know that a fair shake was given, and that justice prevailed, even if it wasn’t the outcome they wanted. That did not happen after Nov. 3. Despite a stack of cases that worked their way through the legal system, we remain bitterly divided.
A Rasmussen survey last month found that 61 percent of Republicans say Joe Biden did not win the election fairly. That number hasn’t changed much since early January, when 69 percent of GOP voters voiced the same concern. That 34 percent of all voters and 36 percent of independents agree with them is a strong signal that something went terribly amiss in the maelstrom of election cases.
The election is over. There has been an inauguration. So why did ABC’s George Stephanopoulos feel the need to berate a U.S. senator and his audience with the demand, “Can’t you just say the words: This election was not stolen?” Why must he shout, “There were 86 challenges filed by President Trump and his allies in court. All were dismissed!”
Perhaps, the answer lies in the details of those cases, as much in how they were adjudicated as in the final rulings.
Taking Stock of the 2020 Election Case List
Let’s start with some clarity: The list of more than 80 cases includes both the same cases that were appealed through various courts and many that had no direct tie to the president’s legal team or the Republican Party. In reality, there were 28 unique cases filed across the six contested states by President Trump or others on his behalf.
Twelve were filed in Pennsylvania, six in Georgia, and two or three in each of the other states. Of course, there was also the lawsuit filed by the state of Texas against the state of Pennsylvania that had the potential to change the outcome. So let’s call it 29.
To be sure, that is still a lot of cases. Yet to understand why there is still widespread unease with the election, would it not be better to stop demanding conformity and instead dig deeper to see what the courts told us in those cases, and what they did not? A review of them shows that, contrary to a common narrative, few were ever considered on the merits.
Death by Technicalities
First of all, we can recognize that many of the cases produced no useful information relative to election integrity. We learned nothing from a lawsuit dismissed by a state judge in Georgia (Boland v. Raffensperger) on the basis that the plaintiff had sued an “improper party” rather than hearing the merits of why the ballot rejection rate allegedly dropped from 1.53 percent in 2018 to 0.15 percent in the 2020 general election.
Also, did 20,000 people vote who do not live in the state, when Georgia’s electoral votes were allotted by an approximately 12,000 margin to Biden? We never learned the answers to those questions nor even examined the evidence, because Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was not a candidate for office nor the election superintendent who conducted the election, and therefore per state law, was not liable.
Similarly, a Trump lawsuit in Michigan (Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. v. Benson) alleging state law was violated by the failure to allow access by observers, and seeking to stop counting, was ruled moot since it was not filed until 4:00 p.m. on Nov. 4, after votes were counted. The judge simultaneously relieved the secretary of state of responsibility for any wrongdoing because she had issued guidance requiring admission of credentialed challengers.
So we are left with the memory of the videos of vote counters clapping as Republican observers were evicted and of covers being placed over windows. The judge on this case also said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson bore no legal responsibility for video monitoring of drop boxes nor of making video from such surveillance available, despite a recently passed law requiring surveillance of all drop boxes installed after Oct. 1.
A lawsuit in Pennsylvania, Metcalfe v. Wolf, claimed “approximately 144,000 to 288,000 completed mail-in and/or absentee ballots” in Pennsylvania may have been illegal based on testimony from a U.S. Postal Service contractor. The contractor said he was hired to haul a truck of what he believed to be this many completed mail-in ballots from New York to Pennsylvania. The complaint also alleged there was “evidence” of ballots that were backdated at a postal facility in Erie.
The judge tossed it since the state’s Election Code required their request to be filed within 20 days of the alleged violation, which was Nov. 23. They filed Dec. 4. We’ll never know if that truck brought in pallets of completed ballots—an amount sufficient to overturn the state’s Electoral College vote.
In Wisconsin, the Trump v. Evers suit alleged that violations of state election law had occurred in Milwaukee and Dane Counties as municipal clerks issued absentee ballots without the required written application, that they illegally completed missing info on ballots, that absentee ballots were wrongly cast by voters claiming “Indefinite Confinement” status (and for which no ID was provided), and that Madison’s “Democracy in the Park” event violated election laws.
A divided Wisconsin Supreme Court refused to hear the lawsuit, sidestepping a decision on the merits of the claims and instead ruling the case must first wind its way through lower courts—an effective death sentence given the timing.
Absurdities: When ‘Shall’ Doesn’t Mean Shall
At times, judges resorted to Clintonian wordsmithing to relieve a word of its recognized meaning. A state Supreme Court judge in Pennsylvania was tasked with reviewing the eligibility of 2,349 mail-in ballots that were purportedly defective according to the state Election Code (Ziccarelli v. Allegheny County Board of Elections).
In the court’s decision, he noted “We agree with the Campaign’s observation that…the General Assembly set forth the requirements for how a qualified elector may cast a valid absentee or mail-in ballot … We further agree that these sections of the Election Code specifically provide that each voter ‘shall (emphasis added) fill out, date, and sign’ the declaration on the outside envelope. We do not agree with the Campaign’s contention, however, that because the General Assembly used the word ‘shall’ in this context, it is of necessity that the directive is a mandatory one …”
Indeed. Why even write laws? Perhaps the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would feel differently if their rulings were subjected to such an open interpretation.
A federal lawsuit in the same state (Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. v. Boockvar) included a claim that some Democrat counties implemented a “notice and cure” policy, allowing defective ballots to be fixed and counted, while Republican counties did not, thereby creating an equal protection issue.
The judge found that two individual plaintiffs had indeed been harmed by the denial of their votes, but that they lacked standing since the defendant (Democrat) counties “had nothing to do with the denial of Individual Plaintiff’s ability to vote” as their “ballots were rejected by Lancaster and Fayette [Republican] Counties, neither of which is a party to this case.”
So the judge effectively created a legal “Catch 22” in which one must show direct harm from an unrelated party in order to prevail. Logically, under this standard, no equal protection claim could ever be substantiated.
In a Nov. 5 filing (Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. v. Philadelphia County Board of Elections), Republicans alleged that the Philadelphia County Board was “intentionally refusing to allow any representatives and poll watchers for President Trump and the Republican Party … [and] continuing to count ballots, without any observation” by Republican poll watchers. The Commonwealth Court agreed on appeal that observers be allowed within six feet of vote counting while complying with COVID-19 protocols.
However, the state Supreme Court reversed that ruling, finding that the Election Code allows the board to make rules “for protecting its workers’ safety from COVID-19 and physical assault,” and that the only requirement is that “one authorized representative of each candidate in an election and one representative from each political party shall be permitted to remain in the room”— not necessarily within close-enough range to observe vote-counting (emphasis original in court decision). So what is the point of an observer who cannot observe anything?
In the case of Ward v. Jackson et al. in Arizona, an issue over election observers was ruled as “untimely” since “the observation procedures for the November general election were materially the same as for the August primary election, and any objection to them should have been brought at a time when any legal deficiencies could have been cured.” Lacking in that statement was an explanation as to why any Republican observers would have been needed in a Democrat-only party primary.
Judicial Blindness: See No Evil
In the same lawsuit (Ward v. Jackson et al.) the judge also rejected a claim of improper signature verification after allowing a review of 100 sample ballots. Plaintiff and defense experts found 6 and 11 percent of signatures, respectively, to be “inconclusive.”
On the same page of his opinion, the judge noted that out of the total 1.9 million mail-in ballots, only approximately 20,000 had been identified as having a signature issue, or 1 percent. There was no explanation as to why poll workers found six times fewer issues with signatures. The math would suggest either a bias to accept, despite signature issues, or that the sample examined was statistically invalid.
Further mystifying, he wrote that “there is no evidence that the manner in which signatures were reviewed was designed to benefit one candidate or another.” But surely fraud can easily benefit the offender alone, even with use of a uniform vote-count procedure. Fill out 1,000 ballots consisting of 500 for Trump and 500 for Biden, then mix in 100 more that are fraudulent for Biden and count them using any method. Who wins? It’s not a hard possibility to imagine, but the judge ignored it.
He also concluded “the evidence does not show illegal votes”—in a state in which an estimated 419,000 illegally present foreign citizens reside, and which went to Biden by a margin of just more than 10,000 votes out of a total of more than 3.2 million.
Importantly, the judge noted at the outset that “the Plaintiff in an election contest has a high burden of proof and the actions of election officials are presumed to be free from fraud and misconduct.” It’s a fair statement of the law. It’s also an indication of the difficulty in prevailing, even when issues exist. Every case across the nation was evaluated under a similar high hurdle, with the status quo treated as sacrosanct.
Too Early and Too Late
Republicans also often found themselves in an impossible “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation on the timing of challenges to election laws.
In Georgia Republican Party, Inc. et al. v. Raffensperger et al, candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue sued prior to their U.S. Senate run-offs, alleging harm would occur from unconstitutional election procedures. Their counsel noted (on appeal) that the court “dismissed the case for lack of standing, reasoning that ‘the Supreme Court instructs that a theory of future injury is too speculative to satisfy the well-established requirement that threatened injury must be certainly impending.’” Filed too early.
In the same state, a federal judge dismissed Sidney Powell’s lawsuit (Pearson v. Kemp), in part citing that it was filed too late—it should have been filed before the election. As another example, in Trump v. Wisconsin Elections Commission, a judge dismissed the president’s suit saying it involved “issues he plainly could have raised before the vote occurred.”
Together, it demonstrated the hurdle that many election cases faced—denied before the election as “speculative,” or afterward as too late.
The Clock Ran Out: January 6
Several lawsuits were resolved not by a weighing of merits, but as a practical consequence of the electoral vote on Jan. 6 that certified Biden as the winner of the presidency.
Trump had filed suit on Dec. 4 in Georgia (Trump v. Raffensperger) alleging violations of state election law and the inclusion of specific ineligible votes: 66,247 underage votes, 2,423 persons not registered, 15,700 who had changed address, 1,043 who illegally listed a P.O. box address as their address, 8,718 who died prior to their votes being cast, 92 absentee ballots counted prior to the date those voters requested a ballot, 217 ballots shown as applied for and sent out and received on the same day, and 2,560 votes from felons with uncompleted sentences. These were significant numbers in an election that was decided by fewer than 12,000 votes.
The suit had also noted that 305,701 had applied for an absentee ballot more than 180 days prior to election, thereby violating state law.
The suit had also noted that 305,701 had applied for an absentee ballot more than 180 days prior to election, thereby violating state law. Importantly, it also took issue with the secretary of state’s Consent Decree with Democrats, which allowed signature matching on envelopes and applications, but not versus registration rolls. And it cited the low 0.34 percent rejection rate of mail-in ballots, a tenth of the rate of prior elections, despite a six-fold increase in number of such ballots cast.
The suit was withdrawn on Jan. 7, with none of the issues resolved, the day after Congress met and the matter was rendered moot.
Another Georgia suit (Still v. Raffensperger) alleged that Coffee County Board had been unable to replicate electronic recount results, and that the error was sufficient to put the outcome of that county in doubt, with a potentially similar issue in others across the state. It noted that Raffensperger had forced an arbitrary Dec. 4 deadline to certify the results despite the county’s letter of the same date saying the results “should not be used.”
The legal battle continued, and the state’s counsel eventually demanded in a Jan. 3 letter that all lawsuits against Kemp, Raffensperger, and the State Elections Board be dropped in order to “cooperatively share information.” Otherwise, they would remain in a “litigation posture”—quite a telling comment. Why was cooperation ever resisted?
Trump’s counsel accepted the offer of dismissal to get information they had requested, but it came as the timeframe to use it ended on Jan. 6. The suit was withdrawn on Jan. 7.
The Supreme Court Punted
The nation’s highest court showed some early inclination for involvement in the brewing election issues, such as Justice Samuel Alito’s order to separate certain late ballots in Pennsylvania in Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Boockvar. Yet it soon took a different tone. A petition to expedite a hearing was denied and later the court refused the case.
In December, the court rejected a key lawsuit filed by the state of Texas (Texas v. Pennsylvania), and joined by 18 other state attorneys general, alleging that Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin violated the U.S. Constitution by changing election procedures through non-legislative means. The justices ruled that Texas lacked standing under Article III of the Constitution to challenge the results of the election held by another state.
The court could have held these claims up to the objective light of justice, and either exposed it all as painfully true or wildly false, but it didn’t.
In Kelly v. Pennsylvania, Rep. Mike Kelly claimed that the recently enacted Act 77 to expand mail-in balloting violated the state constitution, as amended in 1967, that “allowed for absentee ballots to be cast in the four (4) exclusive circumstances authorized under Article VII, Section 14.”
He also noted that “the legislature first recognized their constitutional constraints and the need to amend the constitution in order to enact mail-in voting, sought to amend the constitution to lawfully allow for the legislation they intended to pass, and subsequently abandoned their efforts to comply with the constitution and instead enacted Act 77 irrespective of their actual knowledge that they lacked the legal authority to do so unless and until the proposed constitutional amendment was ratified by approval of a majority of the electors …”
A Commonwealth Court judge agreed on Nov. 25 and ordered that any action to certify the election be stopped, pending an evidentiary hearing two days later. However, on Nov. 28, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reversed that decision, saying the “Petitioners sought to invalidate the ballots of the millions of Pennsylvania voters who utilized the mail-in voting procedures established by Act 77 and count only those ballots that Petitioners deem to be ‘legal votes.’”
Yes, that is exactly what the plaintiffs sought—the counting of only legal votes. But again, like many other courts, this one relied on a philosophy that excluding any ballots would disenfranchise voters. So they set aside the state constitution for their own preference.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to expedite an appeal on this case when it would have mattered, then recently refused to hear it at all, a decision Justice Clarence Thomas called “inexplicable” in his dissent.
The Supreme Court also refused to hear any of Sidney Powell’s cases—in Arizona, Wisconsin, and Michigan—and in doing so, deprived Americans of the chance to hear evidence for and against very serious claims that electronic voting machines could be manipulated. Of all of the allegations, perhaps none more so instilled fear into voters as the possibility that our votes could be tampered with and changed, thwarting democracy itself.
Did the machines really show decimal totals for votes rather than integers? Were they designed to flip votes, and in such a way that no audit could trace it? Were these machines connected to the internet on election night, and did data show that foreign actors accessed it? Voters will never know. The court could have held these claims up to the objective light of justice, and either exposed it all as painfully true or wildly false, but it didn’t.
When most needed, the court that once took the time to render a decision on whether a tomato is a fruit or vegetable chose to punt on each of the key presidential election cases. American voters are worse off for it as confidence in elections erodes.
President Trump always had a very uphill climb to prevail. This wasn’t a one-state battle as in the George W. Bush versus Al Gore contest. Trump was effectively required to play six-dimensional chess, in six states, all in the span of a few months.
Trump was effectively required to play six-dimensional chess, in six states, all in the span of a few months.
As Andy McCarthy noted, “a brutally tight time frame took effect [upon contesting the election], imposed by state and federal deadlines. It is a drastic departure from the normal litigation pace of investigation, legal research, and the formulation of cognizable claims.” Indeed, it was a nearly impossible task. It was even harder when Trump’s attorneys were influenced and threatened.
In the end, should we be surprised that voters retain a strong sense of skepticism over the outcome of the presidential election? That a man who largely campaigned from his basement, who exhibited signs of age-related mental decline, could handily defeat a vigorous incumbent who drew immense crowds is naturally hard to believe.
The election of 2020, which included more than 155 million votes, was decided by approximately 300,000 votes in six states, or 0.2 percent of the electorate, all of which came by an unnatural flip of results late on election night. Despite judges’ repeated hand-wringing that any court action would disenfranchise millions of voters, the reality is that millions of others may have been disenfranchised, and they instinctively suspect so.
The one thing many voters seem to have learned through the legal chaos is that it’s easier to commit election violations than to stop them. So the electorate remains divided—even after “86 election cases.”
Nineteen years ago, I warned of the broad power grab that proposed legislation would bring when a pandemic or bioterrorism was declared. We are now living through the results of this usurpation of the citizens' authority.
The Model Emergency Health Powers Act Creates Its Own Emergency
THIS IS NOT A HEALTHY PIECE OF LEGISLATION
Meryl Nass, MD
April 8, 2002 - One year ago, the Centers for Disease Control began negotiations for a model piece of legislation that would help states deal with a bioterrorism epidemic. Why focus on the states rather than the federal government? Because control of the practice of medicine is regulated at the state, not federal level. Some emergency responses are also handled at the state level, such as disasters in which the national guard (really a state militia) is called to assist. Other preparations for emergencies are made at the federal level.
The CDC negotiations concluded rapidly after September 11, and Georgetown and Johns Hopkins University Professor of Law and Public Health Lawrence O. Gostin received a CDC contract to write and do public relations to help pass such a bill in every state. He says, "America is experiencing a tragedy of unprecedented proportions, but there is one silver lining: the political community is coming together with a clear determination to protect the civilian population from harm."
The silver lining for him was a $300,000 per year contract for up to three years for his services.
By October 30 (was it a trick or a treat?) the first version of the Model Emergency Health Powers Act was unveiled, and presented to every governor and state legislature for review. Outside the halls of government, the bill bombed. A wide variety of pundits blasted its unprecedented incursions of our civil liberties. George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley points out that "what the Act does not mention is that governors in most states already have all of the authority contained in the Act."
The bill allows a governor to declare an emergency on almost any infectious basis (emergencies are loosely defined in the bill) — and once declared, would then give the governor "unchecked and unfettered power," according to Turley. He also notes, "What is most astonishing is the triggering of this absolute authority is left entirely to the discretion of each governor."
According to Jennifer King, Director of the Health and Human Services Task Force of the American Legislative Exchange Council, "Most unusual is the fact that there are no provisions for judicial or legislative review of the emergency declaration. In fact, the legislature is pointedly prohibited from reviewing the declaration for 60 days."
She also points out the bill’s "blatant disregard for personal privacy and individual liberties... All information gathered by medical professionals and pharmacists [must] be reported to public health authorities," who may share it with "persons who have a legitimate need," including law enforcement authorities. But ‘legitimate need’ is not defined.
That is only the beginning. The bill further gives the authorities the right to seize or destroy property, food, medicines, firearms, etc. Citizens can be subjected to medical examinations and treatments against their will. The bill’s first draft made refusal of medical care a misdemeanor! In addition to compulsory acceptance of medications and vaccinations, citizens can be forcibly quarantined. According to Jennifer King, "public health authorities may determine who gets what drugs when, ‘without any additional legislative authorization.’"
Dr. Jane Orient, Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, has pointed out what should be an obvious problem: "Public health officials are not omniscient." For example, "They were silent as the WHO destroyed tens of millions of smallpox vaccine doses in the 1990s for want of $25,000 per year to buy electricity for the storage freezers." More recently, CDC made a number of poor decisions when it came to handling the anthrax crisis.
Dr. Orient sums up what the Act provides, compared to what would really be needed in an actual emergency: "In improving emergency preparedness, States should emphasize abilities to mitigate the situation, not powers to seize, commandeer, coerce, punish and disrupt. Better laboratories with surge capacity; stockpiles of vaccine, drugs, medical equipment and supplies; protective gear; decontamination equipment; and improved training of both officials and citizens would all be very helpful, but are not part of the Emergency Health Powers Act."
The Model Emergency Health Powers Act will be coming to your state for a vote sometime this year, if it has not already done so. Consider letting your representatives know what you think about this bill.
Professor Gostin’s Center for Law and the Public Health
Power Grab: The states in a state of emergency. Jennifer King
“The Fight for the Soul of Seattle” examines the role of Seattle’s City Council in allowing the situation to reach what many experts consider epidemic levels under the guise of a compassionate approach to people who suffer from substance addiction and who commit crimes to feed their habit.
It documents the heartbreaking condition of people on the streets, and the crushing decisions Seattle entrepreneurs are forced to contemplate as their life savings and dreams are destroyed by theft, vandalism and a dwindling customer base. This documentary also explores potential bold solutions to treat those living on the streets and pair them with agencies and assistance that can provide a clear path away from the endless circle of addiction and crime.
00:03:20 - Seattle eBike store, Brian Nordwell
00:07:20 - Mark Sidran, Former Seattle City Attorney
00:12:16 - Scott Lindsey, Former Public Safety for Mayor Ed Murray
00:14:35 - Ginny Burton
00:17:30 - Tom Wolf
00:20:50 - Seattle PD difficult job
00:29:00 - CHOP, Lorenzo Anderson
00:32:00 - East precinct taken back
00:33:21 - Court house protection
00:37:00 - Former Judge Ed Mckenna
00:49:07 - Seattle City Council, defund police
00:52:20 - Business fighting for survival
00:58:00 - Mental health issues, support
01:06:28 - Drug and homeless epidemic reform
01:13:30 - Travis Berge, repeat offenders
01:20:00 - Kevan Carter Jr.'s mental illness
01:26:40 - What can be done? What's the plan?
Trump at the Rubicon
How the Insurrection Act and Militia Act Empower Trump to Cast the Die
In the closing days of 50 BC, the Roman Senate declared that Julius Caesar’s term as a provincial governor was finished. Roman law afforded its magistrates immunity to prosecution, but this immunity would end with Caesar’s term. As the leader of the populares faction, Caesar had many enemies among the elite optimates, and as soon as he left office, these enemies planned to bury him in litigation. Caesar knew he would lose everything: property, liberty, even his life.
Caesar decided it was better to fight for victory than accept certain defeat. In January 49 BC, he crossed the Rubicon River with his army, in violation of sacred Roman law, and begin a civil war. “Alea iacta est,” said Caesar: The die is cast.
In the closing days of 2020 AD, the American media has declared that Donald Trump’s term as president is finished. As the leader of the deplorables faction, Trump has many enemies among the elite irates, and as soon as he leaves office, these enemies plan to bury him in litigation. Bill Pascrell, the Chairman of the House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Oversight, has officially called for the prosecution of President Trump for “government crimes” following his term in office. In his thirst for vengeance, Pascrell has made it clear there will be no Nixonian escape by pardon:
Donald Trump, along with his worst enablers, must be tried for their crimes against our nation and Constitution. Any further abuse of the sacred pardon power to shield criminals would itself be obstruction of justice, and any self-pardons would be illegal.
Like Caesar, Trump now must fight for victory or lose everything. Come January 2021, will Donald Trump decide to cast the die and cross the Rubicon? He might.
The same people who warned us that Trump is worse than Hitler will now scoff: “Donald Trump is no Caesar!” That’s true. Trump is in a much better position than Caesar was.
Unlike Caesar, Trump can cross the Rubicon legally. He need violate no sacred law. He has all of the legal power he needs to act and win. Congress has given it to him. All he needs to do is invoke the Insurrection Act.
Invoking the Insurrection Act
During the 2020 summer protests and riots, commentators on both the Left and Right argued about whether Trump would use the so-called Insurrection Act against the crowds. Strangely, no one seems to be considering the fact that Trump could use it now.
The history of the Insurrection Act dates back all the way to 1797, and the legislative record is so long and tortured that it’s woeful to contemplate. Suffice to say that in the 21st century, the Insurrection Act has been pleasantly re-titled “The Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order Act” and codified in four sections of the US Code:
10 USC § 252 Use of Militia and Armed Forces to Enforce Federal Authority
Of the four provisions, the most recent and the most powerful is 10 USC § 253, which was written in 2006. This is the one that liberal pundits always forget to mention when they blab about Posse Comitatus and governors. It reads:
The President, by using the militia or the armed forces, or both, or by any other means, shall take such measures as he considers necessary to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy, if it-
so hinders the execution of the laws of that State, and of the United States within the State, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law, and the constituted authorities of that State are unable, fail, or refuse to protect that right, privilege, or immunity, or to give that protection; or
opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.
That’s powerful language! Consider:
The authority is vested solely in the President. He does not need the invitation of state governors to intervene, nor does he need the approval of the Supreme Court. Older provisions of the Insurrection Act required either a governor or a judicial proceeding to authorize its use, but these limits were purposefully removed by Congress in § 253.
There is no time limit on the President’s activities. Older versions of the Insurrection Act limited the use of force to brief periods of time and then required legislative approval. Those limits, too, are also gone.
The President is allowed to use any means that he (and again, he needs no one else) considers necessary. This includes using the armed forces (which enables him to bypass the Posse Comitatus Act) and using the militia (which we’ll discuss in more detail below).
The President’s ability to use force isn’t restricted to actual rebellion or insurgency. He can act against merely unlawful combinations and conspiracies. To be clear: If the President decides that a conspiracy has deprived people of a right and believes that authorities fail or refuse to protect the right, he can send in the troops.
In blunt terms, Congress has given the power to President Trump to proclaim:
“I, President Trump, have determined that a conspiracy has deprived 70 million Americans of their right to vote and that the other authorities are refusing to protect this right. I therefore order the suppression of this conspiracy by any means necessary.”
And with that, Trump will cross the Rubicon.
Horror and Denial: He Shouldn’t! He Wouldn’t!
If you are of libertarian leanings, you are likely to feel horror: “Why on Earth did a free republic vest so much power into one man?”
You should feel horror. The Romans required a Senate vote to appoint a Dictator with emergency powers, and that Dictator served a strict six-month term limit. In America, we’ve given the President the right to decide when he should become a Dictator and for how long he can retain his emergency powers.
This was certainly unwise; but it is done. “Game over, man.” The power has been given. The power can be used. And it probably will be used if the Democrats continue on their foolish campaign to seek vengeance on Trump.
If you are in the grip of normalcy bias, you are likely to be in denial: “Trump wouldn’t dare! The US Armed Forces would remove him from office! The troops wouldn’t respond to his call!”
Pompey said the same about the Roman legions. He was wrong. He was so wrong, in fact, that his decapitated head ended up in a stylish gift box presented to Caesar as a present when he landed in Egypt. Don’t be Pompey.
Now, I don’t expect beheadings (just helicopters) but I do expect that the US Armed Forces would obey Trump’s orders. Although he is not popular with the Pentagon, Trump remains popular with actual soldiers, especially with white middle-class men who make up a disproportionate number of the infantry, armor, pilots, special forces, and other combat arms. (His support among law enforcement personnel is even higher. The men with guns love Trump.)
But let’s assume the Armed Forces are paralyzed, split, or neutral. If so, Trump still has millions of troops available: The militia.
Calling Up the Militia
The militia is defined by 10 U.S. Code § 246:
(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and… under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are—
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.
This is, again, an incredibly powerful piece of legislation. Put into plain English, and ignoring a few minor exemptions (postal workers, etc), Trump commands an unorganized militia consisting of every able-bodied man between the ages of 17 and 45. The men don’t need to be in the National Guard. They don’t need to be veterans. They don’t need to be anything except 17 to 45 and able-bodied.
Remember that 10 USC § 253 grants the President the power to use the militia to take such measures as he considers necessary to suppress conspiracy. The militia is statutorily defined to include the unorganized militia.
Therefore, when you combine 10 USC § 253 with 10 USC § 246, the President can call on every able-bodied male age 17 to 45 to take any means he deems necessary to suppress the conspiracy to deny Americans their voting rights.
How many men is that? With 328M Americans, 50% of them male, and 40% of them between 18 and 45, that’s 65M militia members.
Organizing the Unorganized
When Trump calls up the unorganized militia, how does it get organized? What Federal statutes, regulations, and case law govern what happens next? The answer… Well, there isn’t one.
“The Citizen-Soldier under Federal and State Law”, a lengthy law review article published in 94 W. Va. L. Rev (1992), reviewed all of the available statutes, regulations, and case law relating to the use of citizen-soldiers. Turns out, there’s not much about the unorganized militia. In fact, in the entirety of the 20th century, there has only been one case:
In 1946 Virginia Governor William Mumford Tuck issued a call to the state's unorganized militia to come to the aid of the state and to quell a labor dispute.
Let’s quickly look at what happened. According to the Encyclopedia Virginia, the crisis began when the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union announced that its members would strike against the Virginia Electric and Power Company unless its demands were met by a deadline of April 1, 1946.
At the time, “Virginia law divided its militia into four classes: the National Guard, the Virginia Defense Force, the naval militia, and the unorganized militia. This latter unit hypothetically consisted of all able-bodied males between the ages of sixteen and fifty-five who could be summoned by the governor if needed.” (Virginia law thus mirrored 10 U.S. Code § 246.)
Two days before the strike deadline, Governor Tuck “unilaterally decreed that all IBEW employees were summarily drafted into the unorganized militia and ordered, on pain of court-martial, to continue at their jobs.” Shortly thereafter, the dispute was resolved and questions as to the constitutionality of Tuck's actions were left unresolved. However, the next month, US President Harry S. Truman “used a similar tactic in threatening to draft into the U.S. Army railway workers whose union, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, was calling for a nationwide strike; as in the VEPCO affair, the two sides reached a settlement at the eleventh hour.”
So in the only recorded instance in the last 100 years, an unorganized militia was called up, drafted, and ordered to perform particular duties on pain of court-martial, unilaterally by a governor, without any other legislative action, new statute, or court order. And rather than condemn the governor, the US President thought this idea was so awesome he used it himself the next month on the federal militia.
With no apparent limits whatsoever, the Insurrection Act combined with the Militia Act isn’t just a blank check; it’s a blank check book. Apparently our government can call on its citizens to do whatever it wants! I would protest this, but I’m currently on lockdown.
The Balance of Forces
Let’s return to our earlier assumption that Trump has invoked the Insurrection Act and then used it to call up the militia. Let’s continue to assume that the US Armed Forces are either paralyzed with indecision, split in their loyalties, or opting to stay neutral, and just look at the militia. So who is going to fight?
Now, no matter what the law says, not every eligible militia man would respond to Trump’s call. But it seems likely there’d be a large number who did respond, and an even larger number of noncombatant supporters. Right now, 70% of Republicans don’t think the election was free and fair. If Trump calls on the unorganized militia to save the Republic from voter fraud, a militia will come.
So too would an anti-militia or resistance. In fact, lots of people who are willing to fight are fighting on the streets already. It seems likely that if Trump crosses the Rubicon, he will trigger a civil war, just like Caesar triggered a civil war.
When Caesar crossed the Rubicon, he had only one legion against the might of Rome. What would Trump and his opponents be able to muster?
Let’s assess the balance of forces. Trump’ voters consisted of 58% of 98M white men; 55% of 98M white women; 36% of 30M Hispanic men, 28% of 30M Hispanic women, 20% of 22M black men, and 9% of 22M black women.
Meanwhile, the demographics of gun ownership in the US are as follows: 48% of white men own a gun, while only 24% of white women own a gun, 24% of non white men, and 16% of non-white women.
Assuming that women largely don’t fight (which is the historical norm), the balance of forces looks like this:
98 million white men x 58% Trump voters x 48% gun owners x 40% 18-45 = 11 million white gun-owning Trump militia
36 million Hispanic men x 30% Trump voters x 24% gun owners x 40% 18-45 = 1 million Hispanic gun-owning Trump militia
22 million black men x 20% Trump voters x 24% gun owners x 40% 18-45 = 0.4 million black gun-owning Trump militia
98 million white men x 42% Biden voters x 48% gun owners x 40% 18-45 = 8 million white gun-owning anti-Trump resisters
36 million Hispanic men x 70% Biden voters x 24% gun owners x 40% 18-45 = 2.4 million Hispanic gun-owning anti-Trump resisters
22 million black men x 80% Biden voters x 24% gun owners x 40% 18-45 = 1.7 million black gun-owning anti-Trump resisters
This basic math suggests 12.4 million potential Trump gun owners and 12.1 million potential anti-Trump gun owners.
However, it’s likely the odds would stack more favorably to Trump. Although only 39% of Americans are Republicans, gun owners are actually 64% Republican. In other words, those who own guns are disproportionately Republican by a factor of 1.64! If we replace the percentage of Trump voters with the percentage of Republican gun-owners, then the balance of forces changes to 17.6M pro-Trump and 6.9M anti-Trump.
3% of Americans fought in the Continental Army during the Revolution. If 3% respond to the call for the militia, that would mean between 450,000 to 700,000 militia and 210,000 to 450,000 resisters. To put that in context, there’s only 60,000 soldiers in the Infantry Branch of the US Army.
Of the militia who do respond, those on Trump’s side will be much better trained. As noted earlier, the military’s combat arms are disproportionately white, with the infantry being 79% white and only 9% black. Since the United States has now been at war for 20 years, there are millions of combat veterans, and the vast majority of those who fought as infantry are likely to be on Trump’s side. Likewise, the vast majority of LEO veterans seem likely to fight on Trump’s side, if they chose a side.
The Oathkeepers, a hundred-thousand-strong organization made up of military and law enforcement veterans and personnel, has already stated that it will refuse to recognize a Biden presidency. “We’ll be very much like the founding fathers. We’ll end up nullifying and resisting,” said founder Stewart Rhodes.
The founding fathers resisted, of course, with guns.
This Is Not a Drill
Meanwhile, those in the grip of normalcy bias still think that the ‘nuclear option’ is for Trump to ask the state legislatures to appoint some electors to the college. Using legislative ballots isn’t the nuclear option. It’s barely a grenade. The nuclear option is Insurrection Act and the Militia.
Left-wing media is a parade of ostriches marching heads down in the sand. “Trump will lose in a landslide!” Wrong. “Trump has already lost!” Wrong. “There is no evidence of fraud!” Wrong. “Civil War could never happen!” Wrong. Maybe it won’t happen. The future is unpredictable. But it really, really could happen.
If I had told you last November that in the next 12 months the US would endure the worst pandemic since Spanish Flu, AND the worst depression since the Great Depression, AND the worst Constitutional crisis since the Civil War, AND the worst civil unrest since the summer of 1968, AND an unprecedented nation-wide lockdowns that led to the end of sports, bars, restaurants, movies, in-class attendance at school, and commuting to work, AND that it would culminate in the World Economic Forum announcing a Great Reset to the global economy to lock in this new normal, would you have believed me? No, you’d have laughed me off as a tinfoil nutjob. Yet here we are.
To repeat a statistic from earlier: 70% of Republicans think that the most recent election is illegitimate. In a functioning democracy, if 70% of the second-largest political party in the country thinks an election has been stolen, the elites come together to cooperate to investigate and restore legitimacy in the eyes of the voters.
In the US, that’s not happening. Instead, an enormous machine, consisting of tech oligopolies, liberal media, watchdog groups, and partisan activists, is doing everything it can to silence and suppress the dissenters. Simultaneously, this same machine is making enemy lists and actively declaring that when it wins, it will be taking vengeance, against Trump, against everyone who helped him, and against everyone who voted for him.
This is not a drill. This is where we are. If Trump is standing on the banks of the Rubicon, it’s because the leftist machine has purposefully widened the Rubicon River until it reaches his feet.
Clear-headed left-wingers — if there are any left — need to step in and deescalate the threats against Trump and his supporters, and listen to 70 million Americans clamoring for fair and fraud-free voting. There is still time.
Otherwise, as another great military leader put it, “when on death ground, you must fight.”
Update (1230AM 11/20/20): This afternoon, Trump’s legal team made serious allegations of election fraud in the Presidential election and indicated their intent to pursue these allegations in as many as 10 states. In response, Democrat thought leaders have declared the litigation efforts to be an attempted coup, begun a #sedition hashtag on Twitter, and written op-eds demanding felony charges against the entire legal team for treason — a legal team led by one of the nation’s most respected prosecutors and mayors in history! Taking the position that litigating before the Supreme Court is sedition is a perfect example of purposefully widening the Rubicon River until it reaches Trump’s feet.
If there is one expression that has defined the political arguments of 2020 it is Black Lives Matter and its many derivatives like All Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter and so on. But why is this the case? There is something in these statements that is very powerful, political and deeply ideological. Something about this reasoning is very effective. So, let’s take a look at its internal mechanics. When people scream Black Lives Matter what do they really mean and why this particular wording has dominated recent political discourse?
Image: Just what exactly would lives “mattering” look like?
A Utopian Statement and the Dangers of Utopian Thinking
The first question we should ask is at what point someone’s life begins to matter to us. What does this “mattering” amount to? For something to matter to someone it has to be of enough importance to dedicate time/action/resources to it. If someone owns a dog (a non-human thus neutral entity to discuss) then providing it with food, time for interaction, and some degree of medical care would show that this dog’s life matters to its owner. If someone just leaves their animal on a chain outside in winter, throwing it the occasional rotting loaf of bread, then it would seem to not matter very much. Then again perhaps compared to being abandoned in the woods life on the chain might not be so bad for it.
But if we look beyond the individual dog owner, then all the millions of dogs in far off lands that live very well or conversely are eaten for meat do not matter because there is no means by which one could possibly somehow be supportive of all canines around the globe.
The dog owner could delude himself into thinking that by sharing videos about the evils of that dog meat festival he is somehow caring for all of man’s best friends planetwide. Perhaps hitting “share” is more than doing nothing, but anything seems massive when compared to absolute zero. The dog owner can provide care for his dog which is within the scope of his direct influence, he simply cannot exert concerned action across the entire Earth’s dog population.
One could argue that the above example doesn’t apply because governments can have influence over the lives of their subjects universally. The State can and does have vastly more power, wealth, resources and the ability to change lives than any one individual. So can a massive entity like the U.S. government with its millions of employed minds in theory make every dog’s life matter?
Apparently not, because all the efforts made by the government to solve problems x, y, and z, although they may improve the situation, never truly solve them. There has never been a moment in human existence where the U.S. government was able to care for every member of a certain group to the extent that a pet owner looks after their furry friend. Governments try to solve problems with law, bureaucracy and some occasional carrots and sticks. These are Technocratic Approaches which on their surface show some level of concern for a specific issue. But has any law ever proven beyond a reasonable doubt that XXX Lives Matter?
It is impossible for all lives of any large group to matter, it is not the way our minds or government works. As the quantity of faces grows in any group their names start to fade and they blur into a statistical mass. This is where the whole “One man’s death is a tragedy…” logic comes from.
This means that the belief in XXX Lives Matter is a Utopian belief. It is impossible for all lives of a certain group to matter due to the massiveness of the scope and debatable nature of the definition of “matters” as stated above. Thus, to believe in this line of thinking means the believer is confident that either…
- Utopian Heaven-on-Earth style goals are achievable via protesting/activism/government.
- The impossibility of this demand is a means of delegitimizing the regime in power.
Firstly, Utopian thinking sounds like another word for good-hearted optimism or hopefulness for the future, but it has a dark side. When one is sure that paradise can be achieved on Earth, then any barriers in the way of progress towards perfection can and must be crushed. You have to crack a few eggs to make a Utopian omelette. The French Revolutionaries, were sure that if they just got rid of the nobility everything would work out, The Russian Revolutionaries were sure that if they deleted the Kulaks from history then a Communist Utopia would start, and we all Know what Nazi Germany’s “Final Solution” entailed. When we believe in an impossibly idyllic state of existence we can often fall prey to Extremism as a means to achieve it.
Regarding the second point, if we look at the demands of Color Revolutionaries they are always vague. They usually revolve around freedom or ending repression or something else that is abstract and hard to measure. Somehow in the country that Washinton does not like X situation is happening and must be resolved, the current regime is the cause of X or cannot stop it and must be removed so this X issue can be settled. The key to this equation is making X impossible like giving everyone freedom or convincing a group of millions that their lives will matter, all you need to do is get in a new leader by hook or by crook.
Image: Street violence may determine whose lives actually matter.
Conflicting Statements vie for Dominance
If we shift away from Utopian thought to the perspective of straight bigotry then the picture looks very different. When one wears a T-shirt that says XXX Lives Matter, regardless of what is going on in the individual’s subconscious, what they are demanding is in effect preference for their favoured group. If a group is actually in danger or is repressed does not matter, the individual activist believes that this group’s plight deserves preferential attention in the media and government. This means that any of these sorts of statements could be an assertion of dominance. If XXX Lives Matter then YYY and ZZZ Lives are of less importance and do not need to be discussed or pandered to in Washington.
Furthermore, when one screams that certain lives matter they are trying to assert a dominant narrative. When someone says Black Lives Matter this ranges from a firm belief that Blacks in America are not living the American Dream on equal footing to a full-blown Cultural Marxist view that Blacks are inherently the victims of some sort of colonial racial hierarchy. When someone in their MAGA hat yells out that Blue Lives Matter they are basically saying that they are a Statist and the State is good. This person despite their “Don’t Tread on Me” and “Taxation is Theft” bumper stickers believes deep down that the authorities that rule over them are not only good but generally benevolent and that you should just submit to power like they do. These two examples are derived from very different narratives about what has and is happening in America.
It Cannot Be Denied
XXX Lives Matter also functions as an “if-then” statement. If Black Lives Matter then you must pursue some Radical Leftist agenda, hate Trump and knock over statues. If Blue Lives Matter then you must always stand for the national anthem, vote Trump and side with the police even when a Black man in handcuffs winds up bleeding out from bullet holes in the gutter.
Essentially, the conclusions that one should draw from these statements has already been worked out and is not up for discussion. Any form of rejection or questioning of the “then” part of this if-then statement means that you are against XXX group. It is the classic “if you don’t agree with me you’re a bad person” style reasoning which continues to win ideological battles deep into our 21st century.
As a lad of America’s Rust Belt I would argue that the death of decent paying medium-skilled jobs especially those at factories are a core issue for race relations in my hometown. It was a lot easier to get along when Blacks and Whites went to factory jobs together, got the same salaries, had face-to-face interactions and felt stability in their lives. If Black Lives Matter why does employment rarely come up as an issue and if it does it is only in terms of “Affirmative Action” which only furthers racial stress?
That is because reasoned debate is not part of XXX Lives Mattering. Any attempt to sway away from the preconceived mainstream conclusion of this given social problem is pure heresy. My desire to see Blacks and Whites have the value of their lives improved through labor is probably racist. XXX Lives Matter cannot be denied or debated.
And the Ideological Weapon of the Year Award goes to…
Each type of XXX Lives Matter comes with it a deep seeded historical narrative and ideological worldview that is very often in conflict with one or more of its competitors and in many ways the street and political conflicts of America in 2020 will very much determine whose lives will actually matter in the upcoming decades. Whoever will scream the loudest will matter the most.
In Thursday’s separate hearing on allowing Assange out of the armoured box to sit with his legal team, I witnessed directly that Baraitser’s ruling against Assange was brought by her into court BEFORE she heard defence counsel put the arguments, and delivered by her entirely unchanged.
I might start by explaining to you my position in the public gallery vis a vis the judge. All week I deliberately sat in the front, right hand seat. The gallery looks out through an armoured glass window at a height of about seven feet above the courtroom. It runs down one side of the court, and the extreme right hand end of the public gallery is above the judge’s bench, which sits below perpendicular to it. Remarkably therefore from the right hand seats of the public gallery you have an uninterrupted view of the top of the whole of the judge’s bench, and can see all the judge’s papers and computer screen.
Mark Summers QC outlined that in the case of Belousov vs Russia the European Court of Human Rights at Strasbourg ruled against the state of Russia because Belousov had been tried in a glass cage practically identical in construction and in position in court to that in which Assange now was. It hindered his participation in the trial and his free access to counsel, and deprived him of human dignity as a defendant.
Summers continued that it was normal practice for certain categories of unconvicted prisoners to be released from the dock to sit with their lawyers. The court had psychiatric reports on Assange’s extreme clinical depression, and in fact the UK Department of Justice’s best practice guide for courts stated that vulnerable people should be released to sit alongside their lawyers. Special treatment was not being requested for Assange – he was asking to be treated as any other vulnerable person.
The defence was impeded by their inability to communicate confidentially with their client during proceedings. In the next stage of trial, where witnesses were being examined, timely communication was essential. Furthermore they could only talk with him through the slit in the glass within the hearing of the private company security officers who were guarding him (it was clarified they were Serco, not Group 4 as Baraitser had said the previous day), and in the presence of microphones.
Baraitser became ill-tempered at this point and spoke with a real edge to her voice. “Who are those people behind you in the back row?” she asked Summers sarcastically – a question to which she very well knew the answer. Summers replied that they were part of the defence legal team. Baraitser said that Assange could contact them if he had a point to pass on. Summers replied that there was an aisle and a low wall between the glass box and their position, and all Assange could see over the wall was the top of the back of their heads. Baraitser said she had seen Assange call out. Summers said yelling across the courtroom was neither confidential nor satisfactory.
I have now been advised it is definitely an offence to publish the picture of Julian in his glass box, even though I didn’t take it and it is absolutely all over the internet. Also worth noting that I am back home in my own country, Scotland, where my blog is based, and neither is within the jurisdiction of the English court. But I am anxious not to give them any excuse to ban me from the court hearing, so I have removed it but you can see it here.
This is the photo taken illegally (not by me) of Assange in the court. If you look carefully, you can see there is a passageway and a low wooden wall between him and the back row of lawyers. You can see one of the two Serco prison officers guarding him inside the box.
Baraitser said Assange could pass notes, and she had witnessed notes being passed by him. Summers replied that the court officers had now banned the passing of notes. Baraitser said they could take this up with Serco, it was a matter for the prison authorities.
Summers asserted that, contrary to Baraitser’s statement the previous day, she did indeed have jurisdiction on the matter of releasing Assange from the dock. Baraitser intervened to say that she now accepted that. Summers then said that he had produced a number of authorities to show that Baraitser had also been wrong to say that to be in custody could only mean to be in the dock. You could be in custody anywhere within the precincts of the court, or indeed outside. Baraitser became very annoyed by this and stated she had only said that delivery to the custody of the court must equal delivery to the dock.
To which Summers replied memorably, now very cross “Well, that’s wrong too, and has been wrong these last eight years.”
Drawing argument to a close, Baraitser gave her judgement on this issue. Now the interesting thing is this, and I am a direct eyewitness. She read out her judgement, which was several pages long and handwritten. She had brought it with her into court in a bundle, and she made no amendments to it. She had written out her judgement before she heard Mark Summers speak at all.
Her key points were that Assange was able to communicate to his lawyers by shouting out from the box. She had seen him pass notes. She was willing to adjourn the court at any time for Assange to go down with his lawyers for discussions in the cells, and if that extended the length of the hearing from three to six weeks, it could take as long as required.
Baraitser stated that none of the psychiatric reports she had before her stated that it was necessary for Assange to leave the armoured dock. As none of the psychiarists had been asked that question – and very probably none knew anything about courtroom layout – that is scarcely surprising
I have been wondering why it is so essential to the British government to keep Assange in that box, unable to hear proceedings or instruct his lawyers in reaction to evidence, even when counsel for the US Government stated they had no objection to Assange sitting in the well of the court.
The answer lies in the psychiatric assessment of Assange given to the court by the extremely distinguished Professor Michael Kopelman (who is familiar to everyone who has read Murder in Samarkand):
“Mr Assange shows virtually all the risk factors which researchers from Oxford
have described in prisoners who either suicide or make lethal attempts. … I
am as confident as a psychiatrist can ever be that, if extradition to the United
States were to become imminent, Mr Assange would find a way of suiciding.”
The fact that Kopelman does not, as Baraitser said, specifically state that the armoured glass box is bad for Assange reflects nothing other than the fact he was not asked that question. Any human being with the slightest decency would be able to draw the inference. Baraitser’s narrow point that no psychiatrist had specifically stated he should be released from the armoured box is breathtakingly callous, dishonest and inhumane. Almost certainly no psychiatrist had conceived she would determine on enforcing such torture.
So why is Baraitser doing it?
I believe that the Hannibal Lecter style confinement of Assange, this intellectual computer geek, which has no rational basis at all, is a deliberate attempt to drive Julian to suicide. The maximum security anti-terrorist court is physically within the fortress compound that houses the maximum security prison. He is brought handcuffed and under heavy escort to and from his solitary cell to the armoured dock via an underground tunnel. In these circumstances, what possible need is there for him to be strip and cavity searched continually? Why is he not permitted to have his court papers? Most telling for me was the fact he is not permitted to shake hands or touch his lawyers through the slit in the armoured box.
They are relentlessly enforcing the systematic denial of any basic human comfort, like the touch of a friend’s fingertips or the blocking of the relief that he might get just from being alongside somebody friendly. They are ensuring the continuation of the extreme psychological effects from isolation of a year of virtual solitary confinement. A tiny bit of human comfort could do an enormous amount of good to his mental health and resilience. They are determined to stop this at all costs. They are attempting to make him kill himself – or create in him the condition where his throttling death might be explained away as suicide.
This is also the only explanation that I can think of for why they are risking the creation of such obvious mistrial conditions. Dead people cannot appeal.
I would remind you that Julian is a remand prisoner who has served his unprecedentedly long sentence for bail-jumping. His status is supposedly at present that of an innocent man facing charges. Those charges are for nothing except for publishing Chelsea Manning’s revelations of war crimes.
That Baraitser is acting under instructions seems to me certain. She has been desperate throughout the trial to seize any chance to deny any responsibility for what is happening to Julian. She has stated that she has no jurisdiction over his treatment in prison, and even when both defence and prosecution combined to state it was normal practice for magistrates to pass directions or requests to the prison service, she refused to accept it was so.
Baraitser is plainly attempting psychologically to distance herself from any agency in what is being done. To this end she has made a stream of denials of jurisdiction or ability to influence events. She has said that she has no jurisdiction to interfere with the strip searching, handcuffing and removal of Assange’s papers or with his being kept in solitary. She has said she has no jurisdiction to request that his defence lawyers have more access to their client in jail to prepare his defence. She has said she has no jurisdiction over his position in the courtroom. Se has suggested at various times it is up to Serco to decide if he may pass notes to his lawyers and up to Group4 to decide if he can be released from the armoured dock. The moments when she looks most content listening to the evidence, are those when prosecution counsel James Lewis argues that she has no decision to make but to sign the extradition because it is in good form and that Article 4 of the Treaty has no legal standing.
A member of the Assange family remarked to me at the end of week one that she seems very lazy, and thus delighted to accept any arguments that reduce the amount she needs to do. I think it is different to that. I think there is a corner of the mind of this daughter of dissidents from apartheid that rejects her own role in the torture of Assange, and is continually urging “I had no choice, I had no agency”. Those who succumb to do evil must find what internal comfort they may.
With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible. I wish to stress again that I absolutely do not want anybody to give anything if it causes them the slightest possibility of financial strain.
This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.
Please try this experiment for me.
Try asking this question out loud, in a tone of intellectual interest and engagement: “Are you suggesting that the two have the same effect?”.
Now try asking this question out loud, in a tone of hostility and incredulity bordering on sarcasm: “Are you suggesting that the two have the same effect?”.
Firstly, congratulations on your acting skills; you take direction very well. Secondly, is it not fascinating how precisely the same words can convey the opposite meaning dependent on modulation of stress, pitch, and volume?
Yesterday the prosecution continued its argument that the provision in the 2007 UK/US Extradition Treaty that bars extradition for political offences is a dead letter, and that Julian Assange’s objectives are not political in any event. James Lewis QC for the prosecution spoke for about an hour, and Edward Fitzgerald QC replied for the defence for about the same time. During Lewis’s presentation, he was interrupted by Judge Baraitser precisely once. During Fitzgerald’s reply, Baraitser interjected seventeen times.
In the transcript, those interruptions will not look unreasonable:
“Could you clarify that for me Mr Fitzgerald…”
“So how do you cope with Mr Lewis’s point that…”
“But surely that’s a circular argument…”
“But it’s not incorporated, is it?…”
All these and the other dozen interruptions were designed to appear to show the judge attempting to clarify the defence’s argument in a spirit of intellectual testing. But if you heard the tone of Baraitser’s voice, saw her body language and facial expressions, it was anything but.
The false picture a transcript might give is exacerbated by the courtly Fitzgerald’s continually replying to each obvious harassment with “Thank you Madam, that is very helpful”, which again if you were there, plainly meant the opposite. But what a transcript will helpfully nevertheless show was the bully pulpit of Baraitser’s tactic in interrupting Fitzgerald again and again and again, belittling his points and very deliberately indeed preventing him from getting into the flow of his argument. The contrast in every way with her treatment of Lewis could not be more pronounced.
So now to report the legal arguments themselves.
James Lewis for the prosecution, continuing his arguments from the day before, said that Parliament had not included a bar on extradition for political offences in the 2003 Act. It could therefore not be reintroduced into law by a treaty. “To introduce a Political Offences bar by the back door would be to subvert the intention of Parliament.”
Lewis also argued that these were not political offences. The definition of a political offence was in the UK limited to behaviour intended “to overturn or change a government or induce it to change its policy.” Furthermore the aim must be to change government or policy in the short term, not the indeterminate future.
Lewis stated that further the term “political offence” could only be applied to offences committed within the territory where it was attempted to make the change. So to be classified as political offences, Assange would have had to commit them within the territory of the USA, but he did not.
If Baraitser did decide the bar on political offences applied, the court would have to determine the meaning of “political offence” in the UK/US Extradition Treaty and construe the meaning of paragraphs 4.1 and 4.2 of the Treaty. To construe the terms of an international treaty was beyond the powers of the court.
Lewis perorated that the conduct of Julian Assange cannot possibly be classified as a political offence. “It is impossible to place Julian Assange in the position of a political refugee”. The activity in which Wikileaks was engaged was not in its proper meaning political opposition to the US Administration or an attempt to overthrow that administration. Therefore the offence was not political.
For the defence Edward Fitzgerald replied that the 2003 Extradition Act was an enabling act under which treaties could operate. Parliament had been concerned to remove any threat of abuse of the political offence bar to cover terrorist acts of violence against innocent civilians. But there remained a clear protection, accepted worldwide, for peaceful political dissent. This was reflected in the Extradition Treaty on the basis of which the court was acting.
Baraitser interrupted that the UK/US Extradition Treaty was not incorporated into English Law.
Fitzgerald replied that the entire extradition request is on the basis of the treaty. It is an abuse of process for the authorities to rely on the treaty for the application but then to claim that its provisions do not apply.
“On the face of it, it is a very bizarre argument that a treaty which gives rise to the extradition, on which the extradition is founded, can be disregarded in its provisions. It is on the face of it absurd.” Edward Fitzgerald QC for the Defence
Fitzgerald added that English Courts construe treaties all the time. He gave examples.
Fitzgerald went on that the defence did not accept that treason, espionage and sedition were not regarded as political offences in England. But even if one did accept Lewis’s too narrow definition of political offence, Assange’s behaviour still met the test. What on earth could be the motive of publishing evidence of government war crimes and corruption, other than to change the policy of the government? Indeed, the evidence would prove that Wikileaks had effectively changed the policy of the US government, particularly on Iraq.
Baraitser interjected that to expose government wrongdoing was not the same thing as to try to change government policy. Fitzgerald asked her, finally in some exasperation after umpteen interruptions, what other point could there be in exposing government wrongdoing other than to induce a change in government policy?
That concluded opening arguments for the prosecution and defence.
MY PERSONAL COMMENTARY
Let me put this as neutrally as possible. If you could fairly state that Lewis’s argument was much more logical, rational and intuitive than Fitzgerald’s, you could understand why Lewis did not need an interruption while Fitzgerald had to be continually interrupted for “clarification”. But in fact it was Lewis who was making out the case that the provisions of the very treaty under which the extradition is being made, do not in fact apply, a logical step which I suggest the man on the Clapham omnibus might reason to need rather more testing than Fitzgerald’s assertion to the contrary. Baraitser’s comparative harassment of Fitzgerald when he had the prosecution on the ropes was straight out of the Stalin show trial playbook.
The defence did not mention it, and I do not know if it features in their written arguments, but I thought Lewis’s point that these could not be political offences, because Julian Assange was not in the USA when he committed them, was breathtakingly dishonest. The USA claims universal jurisdiction. Assange is being charged with crimes of publishing committed while he was outside the USA. The USA claims the right to charge anyone of any nationality, anywhere in the world, who harms US interests. They also in addition here claim that as the materials could be seen on the internet in the USA, there was an offence in the USA. At the same time to claim this could not be a political offence as the crime was committed outside the USA is, as Edward Fitzgerald might say, on the face of it absurd. Which curiously Baraitser did not pick up on.
Lewis’s argument that the Treaty does not have any standing in English law is not something he just made up. Nigel Farage did not materialise from nowhere. There is in truth a long tradition in English law that even a treaty signed and ratified with some bloody Johnny Foreigner country, can in no way bind an English court. Lewis could and did spout reams and reams of judgements from old beetroot faced judges holding forth to say exactly that in the House of Lords, before going off to shoot grouse and spank the footman’s son. Lewis was especially fond of the Tin Council case.
There is of course a contrary and more enlightened tradition, and a number of judgements that say the exact opposite, mostly more recent. This is why there was so much repetitive argument as each side piled up more and more volumes of “authorities” on their side of the case.
The difficulty for Lewis – and for Baraitser – is that this case is not analogous to me buying a Mars bar and then going to court because an International Treaty on Mars Bars says mine is too small.
Rather the 2003 Extradition Act is an Enabling Act on which extradition treaties then depend. You can’t thus extradite under the 2003 Act without the Treaty. So the Extradition Treaty of 2007 in a very real sense becomes an executive instrument legally required to authorise the extradition. For the executing authorities to breach the terms of the necessary executive instrument under which they are acting, simply has to be an abuse of process. So the Extradition Treaty owing to its type and its necessity for legal action, is in fact incorporated in English Law by the Extradition Act of 2003 on which it depends.
The Extradition Treaty is a necessary precondition of the extradition, whereas a Mars Bar Treaty is not a necessary precondition to buying the Mars Bar.
That is as plain as I can put it. I do hope that is comprehensible.
It is of course difficult for Lewis that on the same day the Court of Appeal was ruling against the construction of the Heathrow Third Runway, partly because of its incompatibility with the Paris Agreement of 2016, despite the latter not being fully incorporated into English law by the Climate Change Act of 2008.
VITAL PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
It is intensely embarrassing for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) when an English court repudiates the application of a treaty the UK has ratified with one or more foreign states. For that reason, in the modern world, very serious procedures and precautions have been put into place to make certain that this cannot happen. Therefore the prosecution’s argument that all the provisions of the UK/US Extradition Treaty of 2007 are not able to be implemented under the Extradition Act of 2003, ought to be impossible.
I need to explain I have myself negotiated and overseen the entry into force of treaties within the FCO. The last one in which I personally tied the ribbon and applied the sealing wax (literally) was the Anglo-Belgian Continental Shelf Treaty of 1991, but I was involved in negotiating others and the system I am going to describe was still in place when I left the FCO as an Ambassador in 2005, and I believe is unchanged today (and remember the Extradition Act was 2003 and the US/UK Extradition Treaty ratified 2007, so my knowledge is not outdated). Departmental nomenclatures change from time to time and so does structural organisation. But the offices and functions I will describe remain, even if names may be different.
All international treaties have a two stage process. First they are signed to show the government agrees to the treaty. Then, after a delay, they are ratified. This second stage takes place when the government has enabled the legislation and other required agency to implement the treaty. This is the answer to Lewis’s observation about the roles of the executive and legislature. The ratification stage only takes place after any required legislative action. That is the whole point.
This is how it happens in the FCO. Officials negotiate the extradition treaty. It is signed for the UK. The signed treaty then gets returned to FCO Legal Advisers, Nationality and Treaty Department, Consular Department, North American Department and others and is sent on to Treasury/Cabinet Office Solicitors and to Home Office, Parliament and to any other Government Department whose area is impacted by the individual treaty.
The Treaty is extensively vetted to check that it can be fully implemented in all the jurisdictions of the UK. If it cannot, then amendments to the law have to be made so that it can. These amendments can be made by Act of Parliament or more generally by secondary legislation using powers conferred on the Secretary of State by an act. If there is already an Act of Parliament under which the Treaty can be implemented, then no enabling legislation needs to be passed. International Agreements are not all individually incorporated into English or Scottish laws by specific new legislation.
This is a very careful step by step process, carried out by lawyers and officials in the FCO, Treasury, Cabinet Office, Home Office, Parliament and elsewhere. Each will in parallel look at every clause of the Treaty and check that it can be applied. All changes needed to give effect to the treaty then have to be made – amending legislation, and necessary administrative steps. Only when all hurdles have been cleared, including legislation, and Parliamentary officials, Treasury, Cabinet Office, Home Office and FCO all certify that the Treaty is capable of having effect in the UK, will the FCO Legal Advisers give the go ahead for the Treaty to be ratified. You absolutely cannot ratify the treaty before FCO Legal Advisers have given this clearance.
This is a serious process. That is why the US/UK Extradition Treaty was signed in 2003 and ratified in 2007. That is not an abnormal delay.
So I know for certain that ALL the relevant British Government legal departments MUST have agreed that Article 4.1 of the UK/US Extradition Treaty was capable of being given effect under the 2003 Extradition Act. That certification has to have happened or the Treaty could never have been ratified.
It follows of necessity that the UK Government, in seeking to argue now that Article 4.1 is incompatible with the 2003 Act, is knowingly lying. There could not be a more gross abuse of process.
I have been keen for the hearing on this particular point to conclude so that I could give you the benefit of my experience. I shall rest there for now, but later today hope to post further on yesterday’s row in court over releasing Julian from the anti-terrorist armoured dock.
With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible. I wish to stress again that I absolutely do not want anybody to give anything if it causes them the slightest possibility of financial strain.
This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.
In yesterday’s proceedings in court, the prosecution adopted arguments so stark and apparently unreasonable I have been fretting on how to write them up in a way that does not seem like caricature or unfair exaggeration on my part. What has been happening in this court has long moved beyond caricature. All I can do is give you my personal assurance that what I recount actually is what happened.
As usual, I shall deal with procedural matters and Julian’s treatment first, before getting in to a clear account of the legal arguments made.
Vanessa Baraitser is under a clear instruction to mimic concern by asking, near the end of every session just before we break anyway, if Julian is feeling well and whether he would like a break. She then routinely ignores his response. Yesterday he replied at some length he could not hear properly in his glass box and could not communicate with his lawyers (at some point yesterday they had started preventing him passing notes to his counsel, which I learn was the background to the aggressive prevention of his shaking Garzon’s hand goodbye).
Baraitser insisted he might only be heard through his counsel, which given he was prevented from instructing them was a bit rich. This being pointed out, we had a ten minute adjournment while Julian and his counsel were allowed to talk down in the cells – presumably where they could be more conveniently bugged yet again.
On return, Edward Fitzgerald made a formal application for Julian to be allowed to sit beside his lawyers in the court. Julian was “a gentle, intellectual man” and not a terrorist. Baraitser replied that releasing Assange from the dock into the body of the court would mean he was released from custody. To achieve that would require an application for bail.
Again, the prosecution counsel James Lewis intervened on the side of the defence to try to make Julian’s treatment less extreme. He was not, he suggested diffidently, quite sure that it was correct that it required bail for Julian to be in the body of the court, or that being in the body of the court accompanied by security officers meant that a prisoner was no longer in custody. Prisoners, even the most dangerous of terrorists, gave evidence from the witness box in the body of the court nest to the lawyers and magistrate. In the High Court prisoners frequently sat with their lawyers in extradition hearings, in extreme cases of violent criminals handcuffed to a security officer.
Baraitser replied that Assange might pose a danger to the public. It was a question of health and safety. How did Fitzgerald and Lewis think that she had the ability to carry out the necessary risk assessment? It would have to be up to Group 4 to decide if this was possible.
Yes, she really did say that. Group 4 would have to decide.
Baraitser started to throw out jargon like a Dalek when it spins out of control. “Risk assessment” and “health and safety” featured a lot. She started to resemble something worse than a Dalek, a particularly stupid local government officer of a very low grade. “No jurisdiction” – “Up to Group 4”. Recovering slightly, she stated firmly that delivery to custody can only mean delivery to the dock of the court, nowhere else in the room. If the defence wanted him in the courtroom where he could hear proceedings better, they could only apply for bail and his release from custody in general. She then peered at both barristers in the hope this would have sat them down, but both were still on their feet.
In his diffident manner (which I confess is growing on me) Lewis said “the prosecution is neutral on this request, of course but, err, I really don’t think that’s right”. He looked at her like a kindly uncle whose favourite niece has just started drinking tequila from the bottle at a family party.
Baraitser concluded the matter by stating that the Defence should submit written arguments by 10am tomorrow on this point, and she would then hold a separate hearing into the question of Julian’s position in the court.
The day had begun with a very angry Magistrate Baraitser addressing the public gallery. Yesterday, she said, a photo had been taken inside the courtroom. It was a criminal offence to take or attempt to take photographs inside the courtroom. Vanessa Baraitser looked at this point very keen to lock someone up. She also seemed in her anger to be making the unfounded assumption that whoever took the photo from the public gallery on Tuesday was still there on Wednesday; I suspect not. Being angry at the public at random must be very stressful for her. I suspect she shouts a lot on trains.
Ms Baraitser is not fond of photography – she appears to be the only public figure in Western Europe with no photo on the internet. Indeed the average proprietor of a rural car wash has left more evidence of their existence and life history on the internet than Vanessa Baraitser. Which is no crime on her part, but I suspect the expunging is not achieved without considerable effort. Somebody suggested to me she might be a hologram, but I think not. Holograms have more empathy.
I was amused by the criminal offence of attempting to take photos in the courtroom. How incompetent would you need to be to attempt to take a photo and fail to do so? And if no photo was taken, how do they prove you were attempting to take one, as opposed to texting your mum? I suppose “attempting to take a photo” is a crime that could catch somebody arriving with a large SLR, tripod and several mounted lighting boxes, but none of those appeared to have made it into the public gallery.
Baraitser did not state whether it was a criminal offence to publish a photograph taken in a courtroom (or indeed to attempt to publish a photograph taken in a courtroom). I suspect it is. Anyway Le Grand Soir has published a translation of my report yesterday, and there you can see a photo of Julian in his bulletproof glass anti-terrorist cage. Not, I hasten to add, taken by me.
We now come to the consideration of yesterday’s legal arguments on the extradition request itself. Fortunately, these are basically fairly simple to summarise, because although we had five hours of legal disquisition, it largely consisted of both sides competing in citing scores of “authorities”, e.g. dead judges, to endorse their point of view, and thus repeating the same points continually with little value from exegesis of the innumerable quotes.
As prefigured yesterday by magistrate Baraitser, the prosecution is arguing that Article 4.1 of the UK/US extradition treaty has no force in law.
The UK and US Governments say that the court enforces domestic law, not international law, and therefore the treaty has no standing. This argument has been made to the court in written form to which I do not have access. But from discussion in court it was plain that the prosecution argue that the Extradition Act of 2003, under which the court is operating, makes no exception for political offences. All previous Extradition Acts had excluded extradition for political offences, so it must be the intention of the sovereign parliament that political offenders can now be extradited.
Opening his argument, Edward Fitzgerald QC argued that the Extradition Act of 2003 alone is not enough to make an actual extradition. The extradition requires two things in place; the general Extradition Act and the Extradition Treaty with the country or countries concerned. “No Treaty, No Extradition” was an unbreakable rule. The Treaty was the very basis of the request. So to say that the extradition was not governed by the terms of the very treaty under which it was made, was to create a legal absurdity and thus an abuse of process. He cited examples of judgements made by the House of Lords and Privy Council where treaty rights were deemed enforceable despite the lack of incorporation into domestic legislation, particularly in order to stop people being extradited to potential execution from British colonies.
Fitzgerald pointed out that while the Extradition Act of 2003 did not contain a bar on extraditions for political offences, it did not state there could not be such a bar in extradition treaties. And the extradition treaty of 2007 was ratified after the 2003 extradition act.
At this stage Baraitser interrupted that it was plain the intention of parliament was that there could be extradition for political offences. Otherwise they would not have removed the bar in previous legislation. Fitzgerald declined to agree, saying the Act did not say extradition for political offences could not be banned by the treaty enabling extradition.
Fitzgerald then continued to say that international jurisprudence had accepted for a century or more that you did not extradite political offenders. No political extradition was in the European Convention on Extradition, the Model United Nations Extradition Treaty and the Interpol Convention on Extradition. It was in every single one of the United States’ extradition treaties with other countries, and had been for over a century, at the insistence of the United States. For both the UK and US Governments to say it did not apply was astonishing and would set a terrible precedent that would endanger dissidents and potential political prisoners from China, Russia and regimes all over the world who had escaped to third countries.
Fitzgerald stated that all major authorities agreed there were two types of political offence. The pure political offence and the relative political offence. A “pure” political offence was defined as treason, espionage or sedition. A “relative” political offence was an act which was normally criminal, like assault or vandalism, conducted with a political motive. Every one of the charges against Assange was a “pure” political offence. All but one were espionage charges, and the computer misuse charge had been compared by the prosecution to breach of the official secrets act to meet the dual criminality test. The overriding accusation that Assange was seeking to harm the political and military interests of the United States was in the very definition of a political offence in all the authorities.
In reply Lewis stated that a treaty could not be binding in English law unless specifically incorporated in English law by Parliament. This was a necessary democratic defence. Treaties were made by the executive which could not make law. This went to the sovereignty of Parliament. Lewis quoted many judgements stating that international treaties signed and ratified by the UK could not be enforced in British courts. “It may come as a surprise to other countries that their treaties with the British government can have no legal force” he joked.
Lewis said there was no abuse of process here and thus no rights were invoked under the European Convention. It was just the normal operation of the law that the treaty provision on no extradition for political offences had no legal standing.
Lewis said that the US government disputes that Assange’s offences are political. In the UK/Australia/US there was a different definition of political offence to the rest of the world. We viewed the “pure” political offences of treason, espionage and sedition as not political offences. Only “relative” political offences – ordinary crimes committed with a political motive – were viewed as political offences in our tradition. In this tradition, the definition of “political” was also limited to supporting a contending political party in a state. Lewis will continue with this argument tomorrow.
That concludes my account of proceedings. I have some important commentary to make on this and will try to do another posting later today. Now rushing to court.
With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.
This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.
This afternoon Julian’s Spanish lawyer, Baltasar Garzon, left court to return to Madrid. On the way out he naturally stopped to shake hands with his client, proffering his fingers through the narrow slit in the bulletproof glass cage. Assange half stood to take his lawyer’s hand. The two security guards in the cage with Assange immediately sprang up, putting hands on Julian and forcing him to sit down, preventing the handshake.
That was not by any means the worst thing today, but it is a striking image of the senseless brute force continually used against a man accused of publishing documents. That a man cannot even shake his lawyer’s hand goodbye is against the entire spirit in which the members of the legal system like to pretend the law is practised. I offer that startling moment as encapsulating yesterday’s events in court.
Day 2 proceedings had started with a statement from Edward Fitzgerald, Assange’s QC, that shook us rudely into life. He stated that yesterday, on the first day of trial, Julian had twice been stripped naked and searched, eleven times been handcuffed, and five times been locked up in different holding cells. On top of this, all of his court documents had been taken from him by the prison authorities, including privileged communications between his lawyers and himself, and he had been left with no ability to prepare to participate in today’s proceedings.
Magistrate Baraitser looked at Fitzgerald and stated, in a voice laced with disdain, that he had raised such matters before and she had always replied that she had no jurisdiction over the prison estate. He should take it up with the prison authorities. Fitzgerald remained on his feet, which drew a very definite scowl from Baraitser, and replied that of course they would do that again, but this repeated behaviour by the prison authorities threatened the ability of the defence to prepare. He added that regardless of jurisdiction, in his experience it was common practice for magistrates and judges to pass on comments and requests to the prison service where the conduct of the trial was affected, and that jails normally listened to magistrates sympathetically.
Baraitser flat-out denied any knowledge of such a practice, and stated that Fitzgerald should present her with written arguments setting out the case law on jurisdiction over prison conditions. This was too much even for prosecution counsel James Lewis, who stood up to say the prosecution would also want Assange to have a fair hearing, and that he could confirm that what the defence were suggesting was normal practice. Even then, Baraitser still refused to intervene with the prison. She stated that if the prison conditions were so bad as to reach the very high bar of making a fair hearing impossible, the defence should bring a motion to dismiss the charges on those grounds. Otherwise they should drop it.
Both prosecution and defence seemed surprised by Baraitser’s claim that she had not heard of what they both referred to as common practice. Lewis may have been genuinely concerned at the shocking description of Assange’s prison treatment yesterday; or he may have just had warning klaxons going off in his head screaming “mistrial”. But the net result is Baraitser will attempt to do nothing to prevent Julian’s physical and mental abuse in jail nor to try to give him the ability to participate in his defence. The only realistic explanation that occurs to me is that Baraitser has been warned off, because this continual mistreatment and confiscation of documents is on senior government authority.
A last small incident for me to recount: having queued again from the early hours, I was at the final queue before the entrance to the public gallery, when the name was called out of Kristin Hrnafsson, editor of Wikileaks, with whom I was talking at the time. Kristin identified himself, and was told by the court official he was barred from the public gallery.
Now I was with Kristin throughout the entire proceedings the previous day, and he had done absolutely nothing amiss – he is rather a quiet gentleman. When he was called for, it was by name and by job description – they were specifically banning the editor of Wikileaks from the trial. Kristin asked why and was told it was a decision of the Court.
At this stage John Shipton, Julian’s father, announced that in this case the family members would all leave too, and they did so, walking out of the building. They and others then started tweeting the news of the family walkout. This appeared to cause some consternation among court officials, and fifteen minutes later Kristin was re-admitted. We still have no idea what lay behind this. Later in the day journalists were being briefed by officials it was simply over queue-jumping, but that seems improbable as he was removed by staff who called him by name and title, rather than had spotted him as a queue-jumper.
None of the above goes to the official matter of the case. All of the above tells you more about the draconian nature of the political show-trial which is taking place than does the charade being enacted in the body of the court. There were moments today when I got drawn in to the court process and achieved the suspension of disbelief you might do in theatre, and began thinking “Wow, this case is going well for Assange”. Then an event such as those recounted above kicks in, a coldness grips your heart, and you recall there is no jury here to be convinced. I simply do not believe that anything said or proved in the courtroom can have an impact on the final verdict of this court.
So to the actual proceedings in the case.
For the defence, Mark Summers QC stated that the USA charges were entirely dependent on three factual accusations of Assange behviour:
1) Assange helped Manning to decode a hash key to access classified material.
Summers stated this was a provably false allegation from the evidence of the Manning court-martial.
2) Assange solicited the material from Manning
Summers stated this was provably wrong from information available to the public
3) Assange knowingly put lives at risk
Summers stated this was provably wrong both from publicly available information and from specific involvement of the US government.
In summary, Summers stated the US government knew that the allegations being made were false as to fact, and they were demonstrably made in bad faith. This was therefore an abuse of process which should lead to dismissal of the extradition request. He described the above three counts as “rubbish, rubbish and rubbish”.
Summers then walked through the facts of the case. He said the charges from the USA divide the materials leaked by Manning to Wikileaks into three categories:
a) Diplomatic Cables
b) Guantanamo detainee assessment briefs
c) Iraq War rules of engagement
d) Afghan and Iraqi war logs
Summers then methodically went through a), b), c) and d) relating each in turn to alleged behaviours 1), 2) and 3), making twelve counts of explanation and exposition in all. This comprehensive account took some four hours and I shall not attempt to capture it here. I will rather give highlights, but will relate occasionally to the alleged behaviour number and/or the alleged materials letter. I hope you follow that – it took me some time to do so!
On 1) Summers at great length demonstrated conclusively that Manning had access to each material a) b) c) d) provided to Wikileaks without needing any code from Assange, and had that access before ever contacting Assange. Nor had Manning needed a code to conceal her identity as the prosecution alleged – the database for intelligence analysts Manning could access – as could thousands of others – did not require a username or password to access it from a work military computer. Summers quoted testimony of several officers from Manning’s court-martial to confirm this. Nor would breaking the systems admin code on the system give Manning access to any additional classified databases. Summers quoted evidence from the Manning court-martial, where this had been accepted, that the reason Manning wanted to get in to systems admin was to allow soldiers to put their video-games and movies on their government laptops, which in fact happened frequently.
Magistrate Baraitser twice made major interruptions. She observed that if Chelsea Manning did not know she could not be traced as the user who downloaded the databases, she might have sought Assange’s assistance to crack a code to conceal her identity from ignorance she did not need to do that, and to assist would still be an offence by Assange.
Summers pointed out that Manning knew that she did not need a username and password, because she actually accessed all the materials without one. Baraitser replied that this did not constitute proof she knew she could not be traced. Summers said in logic it made no sense to argue that she was seeking a code to conceal her user ID and password, where there was no user ID and password. Baraitser replied again he could not prove that. At this point Summers became somewhat testy and short with Baraitser, and took her through the court martial evidence again. Of which more…
Baraitser also made the point that even if Assange were helping Manning to crack an admin code, even if it did not enable Manning to access any more databases, that still was unauthorised use and would constitute the crime of aiding and abetting computer misuse, even if for an innocent purpose.
After a brief break, Baraitser came back with a real zinger. She told Summers that he had presented the findings of the US court martial of Chelsea Manning as fact. But she did not agree that her court had to treat evidence at a US court martial, even agreed or uncontested evidence or prosecution evidence, as fact. Summers replied that agreed evidence or prosecution evidence at the US court martial clearly was agreed by the US government as fact, and what was at issue at the moment was whether the US government was charging contrary to the facts it knew. Baraitser said she would return to her point once witnesses were heard.
Baraitser was no making no attempt to conceal a hostility to the defence argument, and seemed irritated they had the temerity to make it. This burst out when discussing c), the Iraq war rules of engagement. Summers argued that these had not been solicited from Manning, but had rather been provided by Manning in an accompanying file along with the Collateral Murder video that showed the murder of Reuters journalists and children. Manning’s purpose, as she stated at her court martial, was to show that the Collateral Murder actions breached the rules of engagement, even though the Department of Defense claimed otherwise. Summers stated that by not including this context, the US extradition request was deliberately misleading as it did not even mention the Collateral Murder video at all.
At this point Baraitser could not conceal her contempt. Try to imagine Lady Bracknell saying “A Handbag” or “the Brighton line”, or if your education didn’t run that way try to imagine Pritti Patel spotting a disabled immigrant. This is a literal quote:
“Are you suggesting, Mr Summers, that the authorities, the Government, should have to provide context for its charges?”
An unfazed Summers replied in the affirmative and then went on to show where the Supreme Court had said so in other extradition cases. Baraitser was showing utter confusion that anybody could claim a significant distinction between the Government and God.
The bulk of Summers’ argument went to refuting behaviour 3), putting lives at risk. This was only claimed in relation to materials a) and d). Summers described at great length the efforts of Wikileaks with media partners over more than a year to set up a massive redaction campaign on the cables. He explained that the unredacted cables only became available after Luke Harding and David Leigh of the Guardian published the password to the cache as the heading to Chapter XI of their book Wikileaks, published in February 2011.
Nobody had put 2 and 2 together on this password until the German publication Die Freitag had done so and announced it had the unredacted cables in August 2011. Summers then gave the most powerful arguments of the day.
The US government had been actively participating in the redaction exercise on the cables. They therefore knew the allegations of reckless publication to be untrue.
Once Die Freitag announced they had the unredacted materials, Julian Assange and Sara Harrison instantly telephoned the White House, State Department and US Embassy to warn them named sources may be put at risk. Summers read from the transcripts of telephone conversations as Assange and Harrison attempted to convince US officials of the urgency of enabling source protection procedures – and expressed their bafflement as officials stonewalled them. This evidence utterly undermined the US government’s case and proved bad faith in omitting extremely relevant fact. It was a very striking moment.
With relation to the same behaviour 3) on materials d), Summers showed that the Manning court martial had accepted these materials contained no endangered source names, but showed that Wikileaks had activated a redaction exercise anyway as a “belt and braces” approach.
There was much more from the defence. For the prosecution, James Lewis indicated he would reply in depth later in proceedings, but wished to state that the prosecution does not accept the court martial evidence as fact, and particularly does not accept any of the “self-serving” testimony of Chelsea Manning, whom he portrayed as a convicted criminal falsely claiming noble motives. The prosecution generally rejected any notion that this court should consider the truth or otherwise of any of the facts; those could only be decided at trial in the USA.
Then, to wrap up proceedings, Baraitser dropped a massive bombshell. She stated that although Article 4.1 of the US/UK Extradition Treaty forbade political extraditions, this was only in the Treaty. That exemption does not appear in the UK Extradition Act. On the face of it therefore political extradition is not illegal in the UK, as the Treaty has no legal force on the Court. She invited the defence to address this argument in the morning.
It is now 06.35am and I am late to start queuing…
With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.
This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.
Woolwich Crown Court is designed to impose the power of the state. Normal courts in this country are public buildings, deliberately placed by our ancestors right in the centre of towns, almost always just up a few steps from a main street. The major purpose of their positioning and of their architecture was to facilitate public access in the belief that it is vital that justice can be seen by the public.
Woolwich Crown Court, which hosts Belmarsh Magistrates Court, is built on totally the opposite principle. It is designed with no other purpose than to exclude the public. Attached to a prison on a windswept marsh far from any normal social centre, an island accessible only through navigating a maze of dual carriageways, the entire location and architecture of the building is predicated on preventing public access. It is surrounded by a continuation of the same extremely heavy duty steel paling barrier that surrounds the prison. It is the most extraordinary thing, a courthouse which is a part of the prison system itself, a place where you are already considered guilty and in jail on arrival. Woolwich Crown Court is nothing but the physical negation of the presumption of innocence, the very incarnation of injustice in unyielding steel, concrete and armoured glass. It has precisely the same relationship to the administration of justice as Guantanamo Bay or the Lubyanka. It is in truth just the sentencing wing of Belmarsh prison.
When enquiring about facilities for the public to attend the hearing, an Assange activist was told by a member of court staff that we should realise that Woolwich is a “counter-terrorism court”. That is true de facto, but in truth a “counter-terrorism court” is an institution unknown to the UK constitution. Indeed, if a single day at Woolwich Crown Court does not convince you the existence of liberal democracy is now a lie, then your mind must be very closed indeed.
Extradition hearings are not held at Belmarsh Magistrates Court inside Woolwich Crown Court. They are always held at Westminster Magistrates Court as the application is deemed to be delivered to the government at Westminster. Now get your head around this. This hearing is at Westminster Magistrates Court. It is being held by the Westminster magistrates and Westminster court staff, but located at Belmarsh Magistrates Court inside Woolwich Crown Court. All of which weird convolution is precisely so they can use the “counter-terrorist court” to limit public access and to impose the fear of the power of the state.
One consequence is that, in the courtroom itself, Julian Assange is confined at the back of the court behind a bulletproof glass screen. He made the point several times during proceedings that this makes it very difficult for him to see and hear the proceedings. The magistrate, Vanessa Baraitser, chose to interpret this with studied dishonesty as a problem caused by the very faint noise of demonstrators outside, as opposed to a problem caused by Assange being locked away from the court in a massive bulletproof glass box.
Now there is no reason at all for Assange to be in that box, designed to restrain extremely physically violent terrorists. He could sit, as a defendant at a hearing normally would, in the body of the court with his lawyers. But the cowardly and vicious Baraitser has refused repeated and persistent requests from the defence for Assange to be allowed to sit with his lawyers. Baraitser of course is but a puppet, being supervised by Chief Magistrate Lady Arbuthnot, a woman so enmeshed in the defence and security service establishment I can conceive of no way in which her involvement in this case could be more corrupt.
It does not matter to Baraitser or Arbuthnot if there is any genuine need for Assange to be incarcerated in a bulletproof box, or whether it stops him from following proceedings in court. Baraitser’s intention is to humiliate Assange, and to instill in the rest of us horror at the vast crushing power of the state. The inexorable strength of the sentencing wing of the nightmarish Belmarsh Prison must be maintained. If you are here, you are guilty.
It’s the Lubyanka. You may only be a remand prisoner. This may only be a hearing not a trial. You may have no history of violence and not be accused of any violence. You may have three of the country’s most eminent psychiatrists submitting reports of your history of severe clinical depression and warning of suicide. But I, Vanessa Baraitser, am still going to lock you up in a box designed for the most violent of terrorists. To show what we can do to dissidents. And if you can’t then follow court proceedings, all the better.
You will perhaps better accept what I say about the Court when I tell you that, for a hearing being followed all round the world, they have brought it to a courtroom which had a total number of sixteen seats available to members of the public. 16. To make sure I got one of those 16 and could be your man in the gallery, I was outside that great locked iron fence queuing in the cold, wet and wind from 6am. At 8am the gate was unlocked, and I was able to walk inside the fence to another queue before the doors of the courtroom, where despite the fact notices clearly state the court opens to the public at 8am, I had to queue outside the building again for another hour and forty minutes. Then I was processed through armoured airlock doors, through airport type security, and had to queue behind two further locked doors, before finally getting to my seat just as the court started at 10am. By which stage the intention was we should have been thoroughly cowed and intimidated, not to mention drenched and potentially hypothermic.
There was a separate media entrance and a media room with live transmission from the courtroom, and there were so many scores of media I thought I could relax and not worry as the basic facts would be widely reported. In fact, I could not have been more wrong. I followed the arguments very clearly every minute of the day, and not a single one of the most important facts and arguments today has been reported anywhere in the mainstream media. That is a bold claim, but I fear it is perfectly true. So I have much work to do to let the world know what actually happened. The mere act of being an honest witness is suddenly extremely important, when the entire media has abandoned that role.
James Lewis QC made the opening statement for the prosecution. It consisted of two parts, both equally extraordinary. The first and longest part was truly remarkable for containing no legal argument, and for being addressed not to the magistrate but to the media. It is not just that it was obvious that is where his remarks were aimed, he actually stated on two occasions during his opening statement that he was addressing the media, once repeating a sentence and saying specifically that he was repeating it again because it was important that the media got it.
I am frankly astonished that Baraitser allowed this. It is completely out of order for a counsel to address remarks not to the court but to the media, and there simply could not be any clearer evidence that this is a political show trial and that Baraitser is complicit in that. I have not the slightest doubt that the defence would have been pulled up extremely quickly had they started addressing remarks to the media. Baraitser makes zero pretence of being anything other than in thrall to the Crown, and by extension to the US Government.
The points which Lewis wished the media to know were these: it is not true that mainstream outlets like the Guardian and New York Times are also threatened by the charges against Assange, because Assange was not charged with publishing the cables but only with publishing the names of informants, and with cultivating Manning and assisting him to attempt computer hacking. Only Assange had done these things, not mainstream outlets.
Lewis then proceeded to read out a series of articles from the mainstream media attacking Assange, as evidence that the media and Assange were not in the same boat. The entire opening hour consisted of the prosecution addressing the media, attempting to drive a clear wedge between the media and Wikileaks and thus aimed at reducing media support for Assange. It was a political address, not remotely a legal submission. At the same time, the prosecution had prepared reams of copies of this section of Lewis’ address, which were handed out to the media and given them electronically so they could cut and paste.
Following an adjournment, magistrate Baraitser questioned the prosecution on the veracity of some of these claims. In particular, the claim that newspapers were not in the same position because Assange was charged not with publication, but with “aiding and abetting” Chelsea Manning in getting the material, did not seem consistent with Lewis’ reading of the 1989 Official Secrets Act, which said that merely obtaining and publishing any government secret was an offence. Surely, Baraitser suggested, that meant that newspapers just publishing the Manning leaks would be guilty of an offence?
This appeared to catch Lewis entirely off guard. The last thing he had expected was any perspicacity from Baraitser, whose job was just to do what he said. Lewis hummed and hawed, put his glasses on and off several times, adjusted his microphone repeatedly and picked up a succession of pieces of paper from his brief, each of which appeared to surprise him by its contents, as he waved them haplessly in the air and said he really should have cited the Shayler case but couldn’t find it. It was liking watching Columbo with none of the charm and without the killer question at the end of the process.
Suddenly Lewis appeared to come to a decision. Yes, he said much more firmly. The 1989 Official Secrets Act had been introduced by the Thatcher Government after the Ponting Case, specifically to remove the public interest defence and to make unauthorised possession of an official secret a crime of strict liability – meaning no matter how you got it, publishing and even possessing made you guilty. Therefore, under the principle of dual criminality, Assange was liable for extradition whether or not he had aided and abetted Manning. Lewis then went on to add that any journalist and any publication that printed the official secret would therefore also be committing an offence, no matter how they had obtained it, and no matter if it did or did not name informants.
Lewis had thus just flat out contradicted his entire opening statement to the media stating that they need not worry as the Assange charges could never be applied to them. And he did so straight after the adjournment, immediately after his team had handed out copies of the argument he had now just completely contradicted. I cannot think it has often happened in court that a senior lawyer has proven himself so absolutely and so immediately to be an unmitigated and ill-motivated liar. This was undoubtedly the most breathtaking moment in today’s court hearing.
Yet remarkably I cannot find any mention anywhere in the mainstream media that this happened at all. What I can find, everywhere, is the mainstream media reporting, via cut and paste, Lewis’s first part of his statement on why the prosecution of Assange is not a threat to press freedom; but nobody seems to have reported that he totally abandoned his own argument five minutes later. Were the journalists too stupid to understand the exchanges?
The explanation is very simple. The clarification coming from a question Baraitser asked Lewis, there is no printed or electronic record of Lewis’ reply. His original statement was provided in cut and paste format to the media. His contradiction of it would require a journalist to listen to what was said in court, understand it and write it down. There is no significant percentage of mainstream media journalists who command that elementary ability nowadays. “Journalism” consists of cut and paste of approved sources only. Lewis could have stabbed Assange to death in the courtroom, and it would not be reported unless contained in a government press release.
I was left uncertain of Baraitser’s purpose in this. Plainly she discomfited Lewis very badly on this point, and appeared rather to enjoy doing so. On the other hand the point she made is not necessarily helpful to the defence. What she was saying was essentially that Julian could be extradited under dual criminality, from the UK point of view, just for publishing, whether or not he conspired with Chelsea Manning, and that all the journalists who published could be charged too. But surely this is a point so extreme that it would be bound to be invalid under the Human Rights Act? Was she pushing Lewis to articulate a position so extreme as to be untenable – giving him enough rope to hang himself – or was she slavering at the prospect of not just extraditing Assange, but of mass prosecutions of journalists?
The reaction of one group was very interesting. The four US government lawyers seated immediately behind Lewis had the grace to look very uncomfortable indeed as Lewis baldly declared that any journalist and any newspaper or broadcast media publishing or even possessing any government secret was committing a serious offence. Their entire strategy had been to pretend not to be saying that.
Lewis then moved on to conclude the prosecution’s arguments. The court had no decision to make, he stated. Assange must be extradited. The offence met the test of dual criminality as it was an offence both in the USA and UK. UK extradition law specifically barred the court from testing whether there was any evidence to back up the charges. If there had been, as the defence argued, abuse of process, the court must still extradite and then the court must pursue the abuse of process as a separate matter against the abusers. (This is a particularly specious argument as it is not possible for the court to take action against the US government due to sovereign immunity, as Lewis well knows). Finally, Lewis stated that the Human Rights Act and freedom of speech were completely irrelevant in extradition proceedings.
Edward Fitzgerald then arose to make the opening statement for the defence. He started by stating that the motive for the prosecution was entirely political, and that political offences were specifically excluded under article 4.1 of the UK/US extradition treaty. He pointed out that at the time of the Chelsea Manning Trial and again in 2013 the Obama administration had taken specific decisions not to prosecute Assange for the Manning leaks. This had been reversed by the Trump administration for reasons that were entirely political.
On abuse of process, Fitzgerald referred to evidence presented to the Spanish criminal courts that the CIA had commissioned a Spanish security company to spy on Julian Assange in the Embassy, and that this spying specifically included surveillance of Assange’s privileged meetings with his lawyers to discuss extradition. For the state trying to extradite to spy on the defendant’s client-lawyer consultations is in itself grounds to dismiss the case. (This point is undoubtedly true. Any decent judge would throw the case out summarily for the outrageous spying on the defence lawyers).
Fitzgerald went on to say the defence would produce evidence the CIA not only spied on Assange and his lawyers, but actively considered kidnapping or poisoning him, and that this showed there was no commitment to proper rule of law in this case.
Fitzgerald said that the prosecution’s framing of the case contained deliberate misrepresentation of the facts that also amounted to abuse of process. It was not true that there was any evidence of harm to informants, and the US government had confirmed this in other fora, eg in Chelsea Manning’s trial. There had been no conspiracy to hack computers, and Chelsea Manning had been acquitted on that charge at court martial. Lastly it was untrue that Wikileaks had initiated publication of unredacted names of informants, as other media organisations had been responsible for this first.
Again, so far as I can see, while the US allegation of harm to informants is widely reported, the defence’s total refutation on the facts and claim that the fabrication of facts amounts to abuse of process is not much reported at all. Fitzgerald finally referred to US prison conditions, the impossibility of a fair trial in the US, and the fact the Trump Administration has stated foreign nationals will not receive First Amendment protections, as reasons that extradition must be barred. You can read the whole defence statement, but in my view the strongest passage was on why this is a political prosecution, and thus precluded from extradition.
For the purposes of section 81(a), I next have to deal with the question of how
this politically motivated prosecution satisfies the test of being directed against
Julian Assange because of his political opinions. The essence of his political
opinions which have provoked this prosecution are summarised in the reports
of Professor Feldstein [tab 18], Professor Rogers [tab 40], Professor Noam
Chomsky [tab 39] and Professor Kopelman:-
i. He is a leading proponent of an open society and of freedom of expression.
ii. He is anti-war and anti-imperialism.
iii. He is a world-renowned champion of political transparency and of the
public’s right to access information on issues of importance – issues such
as political corruption, war crimes, torture and the mistreatment of
5.4.Those beliefs and those actions inevitably bring him into conflict with powerful
states including the current US administration, for political reasons. Which
explains why he has been denounced as a terrorist and why President Trump
has in the past called for the death penalty.
5.5.But I should add his revelations are far from confined to the wrongdoings of
the US. He has exposed surveillance by Russia; and published exposes of Mr
Assad in Syria; and it is said that WikiLeaks revelations about corruption in
Tunisia and torture in Egypt were the catalyst for the Arab Spring itself.
5.6.The US say he is no journalist. But you will see a full record of his work in
Bundle M. He has been a member of the Australian journalists union since
2009, he is a member of the NUJ and the European Federation of Journalists.
He has won numerous media awards including being honoured with the
highest award for Australian journalists. His work has been recognised by the
Economist, Amnesty International and the Council of Europe. He is the winner
of the Martha Gelhorn prize and has been repeatedly nominated for the Nobel
Peace Prize, including both last year and this year. You can see from the
materials that he has written books, articles and documentaries. He has had
articles published in the Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post
and the New Statesman, just to name a few. Some of the very publications for
which his extradition is being sought have been refereed to and relied upon in
Courts throughout the world, including the UK Supreme Court and the
European Court of Human Rights. In short, he has championed the cause of
transparency and freedom of information throughout the world.
5.7.Professor Noam Chomsky puts it like this: – ‘in courageously upholding
political beliefs that most of profess to share he has performed an
enormous service to all those in the world who treasure the values of
freedom and democracy and who therefore demand the right to know
what their elected representatives are doing’ [see tab 39, paragraph 14].
So Julian Assange’s positive impact on the world is undeniable. The hostility
it has provoked from the Trump administration is equally undeniable.
The legal test for ‘political opinions’
5.8.I am sure you are aware of the legal authorities on this issue: namely whether
a request is made because of the defendant’s political opinions. A broad
approach has to be adopted when applying the test. In support of this we rely
on the case of Re Asliturk  EWHC 2326 (abuse authorities, tab 11, at
paras 25 – 26) which clearly establishes that such a wide approach should be
adopted to the concept of political opinions. And that will clearly cover Julian
Assange’s ideological positions. Moreover, we also rely on cases such as
Emilia Gomez v SSHD  INLR 549 at tab 43 of the political offence
authorities bundle. These show that the concept of “political opinions” extends
to the political opinions imputed to the individual citizen by the state which
prosecutes him. For that reason the characterisation of Julian Assange and
WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence agency” by Mr Pompeo makes
clear that he has been targeted for his imputed political opinions. All the
experts whose reports you have show that Julian Assange has been targeted
because of the political position imputed to him by the Trump administration –
as an enemy of America who must be brought down.
Tomorrow the defence continue. I am genuinely uncertain what will happen as I feel at the moment far too exhausted to be there at 6am to queue to get in. But I hope somehow I will contrive another report tomorrow evening.
With grateful thanks to those who donated or subscribed to make this reporting possible.
This article is entirely free to reproduce and publish, including in translation, and I very much hope people will do so actively. Truth shall set us free.
«A murderous system is being created before our very eyes»
A made-up rape allegation and fabricated evidence in Sweden, pressure from the UK not to drop the case, a biased judge, detention in a maximum security prison, psychological torture – and soon extradition to the U.S., where he could face up to 175 years in prison for exposing war crimes. For the first time, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, speaks in detail about the explosive findings of his investigation into the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
An interview by Daniel Ryser, Yves Bachmann (Photos) and Charles Hawley (Translation), 31.01.2020
1. The Swedish Police constructed a story of rape
Nils Melzer, why is the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture interested in Julian Assange?
That is something that the German Foreign Ministry recently asked me as well: Is that really your core mandate? Is Assange the victim of torture?
What was your response?
The case falls into my mandate in three different ways: First, Assange published proof of systematic torture. But instead of those responsible for the torture, it is Assange who is being persecuted. Second, he himself has been ill-treated to the point that he is now exhibiting symptoms of psychological torture. And third, he is to be extradited to a country that holds people like him in prison conditions that Amnesty International has described as torture. In summary: Julian Assange uncovered torture, has been tortured himself and could be tortured to death in the United States. And a case like that isn’t supposed to be part of my area of responsibility? Beyond that, the case is of symbolic importance and affects every citizen of a democratic country.
Why didn’t you take up the case much earlier?
Imagine a dark room. Suddenly, someone shines a light on the elephant in the room – on war criminals, on corruption. Assange is the man with the spotlight. The governments are briefly in shock, but then they turn the spotlight around with accusations of rape. It is a classic maneuver when it comes to manipulating public opinion. The elephant once again disappears into the darkness, behind the spotlight. And Assange becomes the focus of attention instead, and we start talking about whether Assange is skateboarding in the embassy or whether he is feeding his cat correctly. Suddenly, we all know that he is a rapist, a hacker, a spy and a narcissist. But the abuses and war crimes he uncovered fade into the darkness. I also lost my focus, despite my professional experience, which should have led me to be more vigilant.
Fifty weeks in prison for violating his bail: Julian Assange in January 2020 in a police van on the way to London’s maximum security Belmarsh prison. Dominic Lipinski/Press Association Images/Keystone
Let’s start at the beginning: What led you to take up the case?
In December 2018, I was asked by his lawyers to intervene. I initially declined. I was overloaded with other petitions and wasn’t really familiar with the case. My impression, largely influenced by the media, was also colored by the prejudice that Julian Assange was somehow guilty and that he wanted to manipulate me. In March 2019, his lawyers approached me for a second time because indications were mounting that Assange would soon be expelled from the Ecuadorian Embassy. They sent me a few key documents and a summary of the case and I figured that my professional integrity demanded that I at least take a look at the material.
It quickly became clear to me that something was wrong. That there was a contradiction that made no sense to me with my extensive legal experience: Why would a person be subject to nine years of a preliminary investigation for rape without charges ever having been filed?
Is that unusual?
I have never seen a comparable case. Anyone can trigger a preliminary investigation against anyone else by simply going to the police and accusing the other person of a crime. The Swedish authorities, though, were never interested in testimony from Assange. They intentionally left him in limbo. Just imagine being accused of rape for nine-and-a-half years by an entire state apparatus and by the media without ever being given the chance to defend yourself because no charges had ever been filed.
You say that the Swedish authorities were never interested in testimony from Assange. But the media and government agencies have painted a completely different picture over the years: Julian Assange, they say, fled the Swedish judiciary in order to avoid being held accountable.
That’s what I always thought, until I started investigating. The opposite is true. Assange reported to the Swedish authorities on several occasions because he wanted to respond to the accusations. But the authorities stonewalled.
What do you mean by that: «The authorities stonewalled?»
Allow me to start at the beginning. I speak fluent Swedish and was thus able to read all of the original documents. I could hardly believe my eyes: According to the testimony of the woman in question, a rape had never even taken place at all. And not only that: The woman’s testimony was later changed by the Stockholm police without her involvement in order to somehow make it sound like a possible rape. I have all the documents in my possession, the emails, the text messages.
«The woman’s testimony was later changed by the police» – how exactly?
On Aug. 20, 2010, a woman named S. W. entered a Stockholm police station together with a second woman named A. A. The first woman, S. W. said she had had consensual sex with Julian Assange, but he had not been wearing a condom. She said she was now concerned that she could be infected with HIV and wanted to know if she could force Assange to take an HIV test. She said she was really worried. The police wrote down her statement and immediately informed public prosecutors. Even before questioning could be completed, S. W. was informed that Assange would be arrested on suspicion of rape. S. W. was shocked and refused to continue with questioning. While still in the police station, she wrote a text message to a friend saying that she didn’t want to incriminate Assange, that she just wanted him to take an HIV test, but the police were apparently interested in «getting their hands on him.»
What does that mean?
S.W. never accused Julian Assange of rape. She declined to participate in further questioning and went home. Nevertheless, two hours later, a headline appeared on the front page of Expressen, a Swedish tabloid, saying that Julian Assange was suspected of having committed two rapes.
Yes, because there was the second woman, A. A. She didn’t want to press charges either; she had merely accompanied S. W. to the police station. She wasn’t even questioned that day. She later said that Assange had sexually harassed her. I can’t say, of course, whether that is true or not. I can only point to the order of events: A woman walks into a police station. She doesn’t want to file a complaint but wants to demand an HIV test. The police then decide that this could be a case of rape and a matter for public prosecutors. The woman refuses to go along with that version of events and then goes home and writes a friend that it wasn’t her intention, but the police want to «get their hands on» Assange. Two hours later, the case is in the newspaper. As we know today, public prosecutors leaked it to the press – and they did so without even inviting Assange to make a statement. And the second woman, who had allegedly been raped according to the Aug. 20 headline, was only questioned on Aug. 21.
What did the second woman say when she was questioned?
She said that she had made her apartment available to Assange, who was in Sweden for a conference. A small, one-room apartment. When Assange was in the apartment, she came home earlier than planned, but told him it was no problem and that the two of them could sleep in the same bed. That night, they had consensual sex, with a condom. But she said that during sex, Assange had intentionally broken the condom. If that is true, then it is, of course, a sexual offense – so-called «stealthing». But the woman also said that she only later noticed that the condom was broken. That is a contradiction that should absolutely have been clarified. If I don’t notice it, then I cannot know if the other intentionally broke it. Not a single trace of DNA from Assange or A. A. could be detected in the condom that was submitted as evidence.
How did the two women know each other?
They didn’t really know each other. A. A., who was hosting Assange and was serving as his press secretary, had met S. W. at an event where S. W. was wearing a pink cashmere sweater. She apparently knew from Assange that he was interested in a sexual encounter with S. W., because one evening, she received a text message from an acquaintance saying that he knew Assange was staying with her and that he, the acquaintance, would like to contact Assange. A. A. answered: Assange is apparently sleeping at the moment with the “cashmere girl.” The next morning, S. W. spoke with A. A. on the phone and said that she, too, had slept with Assange and was now concerned about having become infected with HIV. This concern was apparently a real one, because S.W. even went to a clinic for consultation. A. A. then suggested: Let’s go to the police – they can force Assange to get an HIV test. The two women, though, didn’t go to the closest police station, but to one quite far away where a friend of A. A.’s works as a policewoman – who then questioned S. W., initially in the presence of A. A., which isn’t proper practice. Up to this point, though, the only problem was at most a lack of professionalism. The willful malevolence of the authorities only became apparent when they immediately disseminated the suspicion of rape via the tabloid press, and did so without questioning A. A. and in contradiction to the statement given by S. W. It also violated a clear ban in Swedish law against releasing the names of alleged victims or perpetrators in sexual offense cases. The case now came to the attention of the chief public prosecutor in the capital city and she suspended the rape investigation some days later with the assessment that while the statements from S. W. were credible, there was no evidence that a crime had been committed.
But then the case really took off. Why?
Now the supervisor of the policewoman who had conducted the questioning wrote her an email telling her to rewrite the statement from S. W.
The original copies of the mail exchanges between the Swedish police.
What did the policewoman change?
We don’t know, because the first statement was directly written over in the computer program and no longer exists. We only know that the original statement, according to the chief public prosecutor, apparently did not contain any indication that a crime had been committed. In the edited form it says that the two had had sex several times – consensual and with a condom. But in the morning, according to the revised statement, the woman woke up because he tried to penetrate her without a condom. She asks: «Are you wearing a condom?» He says: «No.» Then she says: «You better not have HIV» and allows him to continue. The statement was edited without the involvement of the woman in question and it wasn’t signed by her. It is a manipulated piece of evidence out of which the Swedish authorities then constructed a story of rape.
Why would the Swedish authorities do something like that?
The timing is decisive: In late July, Wikileaks – in cooperation with the «New York Times», the «Guardian» and «Der Spiegel» – published the «Afghan War Diary». It was one of the largest leaks in the history of the U.S. military. The U.S. immediately demanded that its allies inundate Assange with criminal cases. We aren’t familiar with all of the correspondence, but Stratfor, a security consultancy that works for the U.S. government, advised American officials apparently to deluge Assange with all kinds of criminal cases for the next 25 years.
2. Assange contacts the Swedish judiciary several times to make a statement – but he is turned down
Why didn’t Assange turn himself into the police at the time?
He did. I mentioned that earlier.
Then please elaborate.
Assange learned about the rape allegations from the press. He established contact with the police so he could make a statement. Despite the scandal having reached the public, he was only allowed to do so nine days later, after the accusation that he had raped S. W. was no longer being pursued. But proceedings related to the sexual harassment of A. A. were ongoing. On Aug. 30, 2010, Assange appeared at the police station to make a statement. He was questioned by the same policeman who had since ordered that revision of the statement had been given by S. W. At the beginning of the conversation, Assange said he was ready to make a statement, but added that he didn’t want to read about his statement again in the press. That is his right, and he was given assurances it would be granted. But that same evening, everything was in the newspapers again. It could only have come from the authorities because nobody else was present during his questioning. The intention was very clearly that of besmirching his name.
The Swiss Professor of International Law, Nils Melzer, is pictured near Biel, Switzerland.
Where did the story come from that Assange was seeking to avoid Swedish justice officials?
This version was manufactured, but it is not consistent with the facts. Had he been trying to hide, he would not have appeared at the police station of his own free will. On the basis of the revised statement from S.W., an appeal was filed against the public prosecutor’s attempt to suspend the investigation, and on Sept. 2, 2010, the rape proceedings were resumed. A legal representative by the name of Claes Borgström was appointed to the two women at public cost. The man was a law firm partner to the previous justice minister, Thomas Bodström, under whose supervision Swedish security personnel had seized two men who the U.S. found suspicious in the middle of Stockholm. The men were seized without any kind of legal proceedings and then handed over to the CIA, who proceeded to torture them. That shows the trans-Atlantic backdrop to this affair more clearly. After the resumption of the rape investigation, Assange repeatedly indicated through his lawyer that he wished to respond to the accusations. The public prosecutor responsible kept delaying. On one occasion, it didn’t fit with the public prosecutor’s schedule, on another, the police official responsible was sick. Three weeks later, his lawyer finally wrote that Assange really had to go to Berlin for a conference and asked if he was allowed to leave the country. The public prosecutor’s office gave him written permission to leave Sweden for short periods of time.
The point is: On the day that Julian Assange left Sweden, at a point in time when it wasn’t clear if he was leaving for a short time or a long time, a warrant was issued for his arrest. He flew with Scandinavian Airlines from Stockholm to Berlin. During the flight, his laptops disappeared from his checked baggage. When he arrived in Berlin, Lufthansa requested an investigation from SAS, but the airline apparently declined to provide any information at all.
That is exactly the problem. In this case, things are constantly happening that shouldn’t actually be possible unless you look at them from a different angle. Assange, in any case, continued onward to London, but did not seek to hide from the judiciary. Via his Swedish lawyer, he offered public prosecutors several possible dates for questioning in Sweden – this correspondence exists. Then, the following happened: Assange caught wind of the fact that a secret criminal case had been opened against him in the U.S. At the time, it was not confirmed by the U.S., but today we know that it was true. As of that moment, Assange’s lawyer began saying that his client was prepared to testify in Sweden, but he demanded diplomatic assurance that Sweden would not extradite him to the U.S.
Was that even a realistic scenario?
Absolutely. Some years previously, as I already mentioned, Swedish security personnel had handed over two asylum applicants, both of whom were registered in Sweden, to the CIA without any legal proceedings. The abuse already started at the Stockholm airport, where they were mistreated, drugged and flown to Egypt, where they were tortured. We don’t know if they were the only such cases. But we are aware of these cases because the men survived. Both later filed complaints with UN human rights agencies and won their case. Sweden was forced to pay each of them half a million dollars in damages.
Did Sweden agree to the demands submitted by Assange?
The lawyers say that during the nearly seven years in which Assange lived in the Ecuadorian Embassy, they made over 30 offers to arrange for Assange to visit Sweden – in exchange for a guarantee that he would not be extradited to the U.S. The Swedes declined to provide such a guarantee by arguing that the U.S. had not made a formal request for extradition.
What is your view of the demand made by Assange’s lawyers?
Such diplomatic assurances are a routine international practice. People request assurances that they won’t be extradited to places where there is a danger of serious human rights violations, completely irrespective of whether an extradition request has been filed by the country in question or not. It is a political procedure, not a legal one. Here’s an example: Say France demands that Switzerland extradite a Kazakh businessman who lives in Switzerland but who is wanted by both France and Kazakhstan on tax fraud allegations. Switzerland sees no danger of torture in France, but does believe such a danger exists in Kazakhstan. So, Switzerland tells France: We’ll extradite the man to you, but we want a diplomatic assurance that he won’t be extradited onward to Kazakhstan. The French response is not: «Kazakhstan hasn’t even filed a request!» Rather, they would, of course, grant such an assurance. The arguments coming from Sweden were tenuous at best. That is one part of it. The other, and I say this on the strength of all of my experience behind the scenes of standard international practice: If a country refuses to provide such a diplomatic assurance, then all doubts about the good intentions of the country in question are justified. Why shouldn’t Sweden provide such assurances? From a legal perspective, after all, the U.S. has absolutely nothing to do with Swedish sex offense proceedings.
Why didn’t Sweden want to offer such an assurance?
You just have to look at how the case was run: For Sweden, it was never about the interests of the two women. Even after his request for assurances that he would not be extradited, Assange still wanted to testify. He said: If you cannot guarantee that I won’t be extradited, then I am willing to be questioned in London or via video link.
But is it normal, or even legally acceptable, for Swedish authorities to travel to a different country for such an interrogation?
That is a further indication that Sweden was never interested in finding the truth. For exactly these kinds of judiciary issues, there is a cooperation treaty between the United Kingdom and Sweden, which foresees that Swedish officials can travel to the UK, or vice versa, to conduct interrogations or that such questioning can take place via video link. During the period of time in question, such questioning between Sweden and England took place in 44 other cases. It was only in Julian Assange’s case that Sweden insisted that it was essential for him to appear in person.
3. When the highest Swedish court finally forced public prosecutors in Stockholm to either file charges or suspend the case, the British authorities demanded: «Don’t get cold feet!!»
Why was that?
There is only a single explanation for everything – for the refusal to grant diplomatic assurances, for the refusal to question him in London: They wanted to apprehend him so they could extradite him to the U.S. The number of breaches of law that accumulated in Sweden within just a few weeks during the preliminary criminal investigation is simply grotesque. The state assigned a legal adviser to the women who told them that the criminal interpretation of what they experienced was up to the state, and no longer up to them. When their legal adviser was asked about contradictions between the women’s testimony and the narrative adhered to by public officials, the legal adviser said, in reference to the women: «ah, but they’re not lawyers.» But for five long years the Swedish prosecution avoids questioning Assange regarding the purported rape, until his lawyers finally petitioned Sweden’s Supreme Court to force the public prosecution to either press charges or close the case. When the Swedes told the UK that they may be forced to abandon the case, the British wrote back, worriedly: «Don’t you dare get cold feet!!»
«Don’t you dare get cold feet!!»: Mail from the English law enforcement agency CPS to the Swedish Chief Prosecutor Marianne Ny. This Document was obtained by the Italian investigative journalist, Stefania Maurizi, in a five-year long FOIA litigation which is still ongoing.
Are you serious?
Yes, the British, or more specifically the Crown Prosecution Service, wanted to prevent Sweden from abandoning the case at all costs. Though really, the English should have been happy that they would no longer have to spend millions in taxpayer money to keep the Ecuadorian Embassy under constant surveillance to prevent Assange’s escape.
Why were the British so eager to prevent the Swedes from closing the case?
We have to stop believing that there was really an interest in leading an investigation into a sexual offense. What Wikileaks did is a threat to the political elite in the U.S., Britain, France and Russia in equal measure. Wikileaks publishes secret state information – they are opposed to classification. And in a world, even in so-called mature democracies, where secrecy has become rampant, that is seen as a fundamental threat. Assange made it clear that countries are no longer interested today in legitimate confidentiality, but in the suppression of important information about corruption and crimes. Take the archetypal Wikileaks case from the leaks supplied by Chelsea Manning: The so-called «Collateral Murder» video. (Eds. Note: On April 5, 2010, Wikileaks published a classified video from the U.S. military which showed the murder of several people in Baghdad by U.S. soldiers, including two employees of the news agency Reuters.) As a long-time legal adviser to the International Committee of the Red Cross and delegate in war zones, I can tell you: The video undoubtedly documents a war crime. A helicopter crew simply mowed down a bunch of people. It could even be that one or two of these people was carrying a weapon, but injured people were intentionally targeted. That is a war crime. «He’s wounded,» you can hear one American saying. «I’m firing.» And then they laugh. Then a van drives up to save the wounded. The driver has two children with him. You can hear the soldiers say: Well it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle. And then they open fire. The father and the wounded are immediately killed, though the children survive with serious injuries. Through the publication of the video, we became direct witnesses to a criminal, unconscionable massacre.
What should a constitutional democracy do in such a situation?
A constitutional democracy would probably investigate Chelsea Manning for violating official secrecy because she passed the video along to Assange. But it certainly wouldn’t go after Assange, because he published the video in the public interest, consistent with the practices of classic investigative journalism. More than anything, though, a constitutional democracy would investigate and punish the war criminals. These soldiers belong behind bars. But no criminal investigation was launched into a single one of them. Instead, the man who informed the public is locked away in pre-extradition detention in London and is facing a possible sentence in the U.S. of up to 175 years in prison. That is a completely absurd sentence. By comparison: The main war criminals in the Yugoslavia tribunal received sentences of 45 years. One-hundred-seventy-five years in prison in conditions that have been found to be inhumane by the UN Special Rapporteur and by Amnesty International. But the really horrifying thing about this case is the lawlessness that has developed: The powerful can kill without fear of punishment and journalism is transformed into espionage. It is becoming a crime to tell the truth.
Nils Melzer: «Let’s see where we will be in 20 years if Assange is convicted – what you will still be able to write then as a journalist. I am convinced that we are in serious danger of losing press freedoms.»
What awaits Assange once he is extradited?
He will not receive a trial consistent with the rule of law. That’s another reason why his extradition shouldn’t be allowed. Assange will receive a trial-by-jury in Alexandria, Virginia – the notorious «Espionage Court» where the U.S. tries all national security cases. The choice of location is not by coincidence, because the jury members must be chosen in proportion to the local population, and 85 percent of Alexandria residents work in the national security community – at the CIA, the NSA, the Defense Department and the State Department. When people are tried for harming national security in front of a jury like that, the verdict is clear from the very beginning. The cases are always tried in front of the same judge behind closed doors and on the strength of classified evidence. Nobody has ever been acquitted there in a case like that. The result being that most defendants reach a settlement, in which they admit to partial guilt so as to receive a milder sentence.
You are saying that Julian Assange won’t receive a fair trial in the United States?
Without doubt. For as long as employees of the American government obey the orders of their superiors, they can participate in wars of aggression, war crimes and torture knowing full well that they will never have to answer to their actions. What happened to the lessons learned in the Nuremberg Trials? I have worked long enough in conflict zones to know that mistakes happen in war. It’s not always unscrupulous criminal acts. A lot of it is the result of stress, exhaustion and panic. That’s why I can absolutely understand when a government says: We’ll bring the truth to light and we, as a state, take full responsibility for the harm caused, but if blame cannot be directly assigned to individuals, we will not be imposing draconian punishments. But it is extremely dangerous when the truth is suppressed and criminals are not brought to justice. In the 1930s, Germany and Japan left the League of Nations. Fifteen years later, the world lay in ruins. Today, the U.S. has withdrawn from the UN Human Rights Council, and neither the «Collateral Murder» massacre nor the CIA torture following 9/11 nor the war of aggression against Iraq have led to criminal investigations. Now, the United Kingdom is following that example. The Security and Intelligence Committee in the country’s own parliament published two extensive reports in 2018 showing that Britain was much more deeply involved in the secret CIA torture program than previously believed. The committee recommended a formal investigation. The first thing that Boris Johnson did after he became prime minister was to annul that investigation.
4. In the UK, violations of bail conditions are generally only punished with monetary fines or, at most, a couple of days behind bars. But Assange was given 50 weeks in a maximum-security prison without the ability to prepare his own defense
In April, Julian Assange was dragged out of the Ecuadorian Embassy by British police. What is your view of these events?
In 2017, a new government was elected in Ecuador. In response, the U.S. wrote a letter indicating they were eager to cooperate with Ecuador. There was, of course, a lot of money at stake, but there was one hurdle in the way: Julian Assange. The message was that the U.S. was prepared to cooperate if Ecuador handed Assange over to the U.S. At that point, the Ecuadorian Embassy began ratcheting up the pressure on Assange. They made his life difficult. But he stayed. Then Ecuador voided his amnesty and gave Britain a green light to arrest him. Because the previous government had granted him Ecuadorian citizenship, Assange’s passport also had to be revoked, because the Ecuadorian constitution forbids the extradition of its own citizens. All that took place overnight and without any legal proceedings. Assange had no opportunity to make a statement or have recourse to legal remedy. He was arrested by the British and taken before a British judge that same day, who convicted him of violating his bail.
What do you make of this accelerated verdict?
Assange only had 15 minutes to prepare with his lawyer. The trial itself also lasted just 15 minutes. Assange’s lawyer plopped a thick file down on the table and made a formal objection to one of the judges for conflict of interest because her husband had been the subject of Wikileaks exposures in 35 instances. But the lead judge brushed aside the concerns without examining them further. He said accusing his colleague of a conflict of interest was an affront. Assange himself only uttered one sentence during the entire proceedings: «I plead not guilty.» The judge turned to him and said: «You are a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own self-interest. I convict you for bail violation.»
If I understand you correctly: Julian Assange never had a chance from the very beginning?
That’s the point. I’m not saying Julian Assange is an angel or a hero. But he doesn’t have to be. We are talking about human rights and not about the rights of heroes or angels. Assange is a person, and he has the right to defend himself and to be treated in a humane manner. Regardless of what he is accused of, Assange has the right to a fair trial. But he has been deliberately denied that right – in Sweden, the U.S., Britain and Ecuador. Instead, he was left to rot for nearly seven years in limbo in a room. Then, he was suddenly dragged out and convicted within hours and without any preparation for a bail violation that consisted of him having received diplomatic asylum from another UN member state on the basis of political persecution, just as international law intends and just as countless Chinese, Russian and other dissidents have done in Western embassies. It is obvious that what we are dealing with here is political persecution. In Britain, bail violations seldom lead to prison sentences – they are generally subject only to fines. Assange, by contrast, was sentenced in summary proceedings to 50 weeks in a maximum-security prison – clearly a disproportionate penalty that had only a single purpose: Holding Assange long enough for the U.S. to prepare their espionage case against him.
As the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, what do you have to say about his current conditions of imprisonment?
Britain has denied Julian Assange contact with his lawyers in the U.S., where he is the subject of secret proceedings. His British lawyer has also complained that she hasn’t even had sufficient access to her client to go over court documents and evidence with him. Into October, he was not allowed to have a single document from his case file with him in his cell. He was denied his fundamental right to prepare his own defense, as guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. On top of that is the almost total solitary confinement and the totally disproportionate punishment for a bail violation. As soon as he would leave his cell, the corridors were emptied to prevent him from having contact with any other inmates.
And all that because of a simple bail violation? At what point does imprisonment become torture?
Julian Assange has been intentionally psychologically tortured by Sweden, Britain, Ecuador and the U.S. First through the highly arbitrary handling of proceedings against him. The way Sweden pursued the case, with active assistance from Britain, was aimed at putting him under pressure and trapping him in the embassy. Sweden was never interested in finding the truth and helping these women, but in pushing Assange into a corner. It has been an abuse of judicial processes aimed at pushing a person into a position where he is unable to defend himself. On top of that come the surveillance measures, the insults, the indignities and the attacks by politicians from these countries, up to and including death threats. This constant abuse of state power has triggered serious stress and anxiety in Assange and has resulted in measurable cognitive and neurological harm. I visited Assange in his cell in London in May 2019 together with two experienced, widely respected doctors who are specialized in the forensic and psychological examination of torture victims. The diagnosis arrived at by the two doctors was clear: Julian Assange displays the typical symptoms of psychological torture. If he doesn’t receive protection soon, a rapid deterioration of his health is likely, and death could be one outcome.
Half a year after Assange was placed in pre-extradition detention in Britain, Sweden quietly abandoned the case against him in November 2019, after nine long years. Why then?
The Swedish state spent almost a decade intentionally presenting Julian Assange to the public as a sex offender. Then, they suddenly abandoned the case against him on the strength of the same argument that the first Stockholm prosecutor used in 2010, when she initially suspended the investigation after just five days: While the woman’s statement was credible, there was no proof that a crime had been committed. It is an unbelievable scandal. But the timing was no accident. On Nov. 11, an official document that I had sent to the Swedish government two months before was made public. In the document, I made a request to the Swedish government to provide explanations for around 50 points pertaining to the human rights implications of the way they were handling the case. How is it possible that the press was immediately informed despite the prohibition against doing so? How is it possible that a suspicion was made public even though the questioning hadn’t yet taken place? How is it possible for you to say that a rape occurred even though the woman involved contests that version of events? On the day the document was made public, I received a paltry response from Sweden: The government has no further comment on this case.
What does that answer mean?
It is an admission of guilt.
As UN Special Rapporteur, I have been tasked by the international community of nations with looking into complaints lodged by victims of torture and, if necessary, with requesting explanations or investigations from governments. That is the daily work I do with all UN member states. From my experience, I can say that countries that act in good faith are almost always interested in supplying me with the answers I need to highlight the legality of their behavior. When a country like Sweden declines to answer questions submitted by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, it shows that the government is aware of the illegality of its behavior and wants to take no responsibility for its behavior. They pulled the plug and abandoned the case a week later because they knew I would not back down. When countries like Sweden allow themselves to be manipulated like that, then our democracies and our human rights face a fundamental threat.
You believe that Sweden was fully aware of what it was doing?
Yes. From my perspective, Sweden very clearly acted in bad faith. Had they acted in good faith, there would have been no reason to refuse to answer my questions. The same holds true for the British: Following my visit to Assange in May 2019, they took six months to answer me – in a single-page letter, which was primarily limited to rejecting all accusations of torture and all inconsistencies in the legal proceedings. If you’re going to play games like that, then what’s the point of my mandate? I am the Special Rapporteur on Torture for the United Nations. I have a mandate to ask clear questions and to demand answers. What is the legal basis for denying someone their fundamental right to defend themselves? Why is a man who is neither dangerous nor violent held in solitary confinement for several months when UN standards legally prohibit solitary confinement for periods extending beyond 15 days? None of these UN member states launched an investigation, nor did they answer my questions or even demonstrate an interest in dialogue.
5. A prison sentence of 175 years for investigative journalism: The precedent the USA vs. Julian Assange case could set
What does it mean when UN member states refuse to provide information to their own Special Rapporteur on Torture?
That it is a prearranged affair. A show trial is to be used to make an example of Julian Assange. The point is to intimidate other journalists. Intimidation, by the way, is one of the primary purposes for the use of torture around the world. The message to all of us is: This is what will happen to you if you emulate the Wikileaks model. It is a model that is so dangerous because it is so simple: People who obtain sensitive information from their governments or companies transfer that information to Wikileaks, but the whistleblower remains anonymous. The reaction shows how great the threat is perceived to be: Four democratic countries joined forces – the U.S., Ecuador, Sweden and the UK – to leverage their power to portray one man as a monster so that he could later be burned at the stake without any outcry. The case is a huge scandal and represents the failure of Western rule of law. If Julian Assange is convicted, it will be a death sentence for freedom of the press.
What would this possible precedent mean for the future of journalism?
On a practical level, it means that you, as a journalist, must now defend yourself. Because if investigative journalism is classified as espionage and can be incriminated around the world, then censorship and tyranny will follow. A murderous system is being created before our very eyes. War crimes and torture are not being prosecuted. YouTube videos are circulating in which American soldiers brag about driving Iraqi women to suicide with systematic rape. Nobody is investigating it. At the same time, a person who exposes such things is being threatened with 175 years in prison. For an entire decade, he has been inundated with accusations that cannot be proven and are breaking him. And nobody is being held accountable. Nobody is taking responsibility. It marks an erosion of the social contract. We give countries power and delegate it to governments – but in return, they must be held accountable for how they exercise that power. If we don’t demand that they be held accountable, we will lose our rights sooner or later. Humans are not democratic by their nature. Power corrupts if it is not monitored. Corruption is the result if we do not insist that power be monitored.
«It has been an abuse of judicial processes aimed at pushing a person into a position where he is unable to defend himself.»
You’re saying that the targeting of Assange threatens the very core of press freedoms.
Let’s see where we will be in 20 years if Assange is convicted – what you will still be able to write then as a journalist. I am convinced that we are in serious danger of losing press freedoms. It’s already happening: Suddenly, the headquarters of ABC News in Australia was raided in connection with the «Afghan War Diary». The reason? Once again, the press uncovered misconduct by representatives of the state. In order for the division of powers to work, the state must be monitored by the press as the fourth estate. WikiLeaks is a the logical consequence of an ongoing process of expanded secrecy: If the truth can no longer be examined because everything is kept secret, if investigation reports on the U.S. government’s torture policy are kept secret and when even large sections of the published summary are redacted, leaks are at some point inevitably the result. WikiLeaks is the consequence of rampant secrecy and reflects the lack of transparency in our modern political system. There are, of course, areas where secrecy can be vital. But if we no longer know what our governments are doing and the criteria they are following, if crimes are no longer being investigated, then it represents a grave danger to societal integrity.
What are the consequences?
As the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and, before that, as a Red Cross delegate, I have seen lots of horrors and violence and have seen how quickly peaceful countries like Yugoslavia or Rwanda can transform into infernos. At the roots of such developments are always a lack of transparency and unbridled political or economic power combined with the naivete, indifference and malleability of the population. Suddenly, that which always happened to the other – unpunished torture, rape, expulsion and murder – can just as easily happen to us or our children. And nobody will care. I can promise you that.