Assange Assassination 'I make no apologies': Pompeo says Trump administration was protecting 'sensitive information'

Assange Assassination 'I make no apologies': Pompeo says Trump administration was protecting 'sensitive information'...
news.yahoo.com 29/09/2021 Military

Keywords:#2020, #Al_Arabiya, #American, #American_Terrorism, #Assange_Assassination, #Assassination, #Australian, #Britain, #British, #CIA, #Chinese, #Dana_Rohrabacher, #Donald_Trump, #Dubai, #Ecuador, #European, #First_Amendment, #Foreign_Affairs, #Geneva, #Germany, #Guantanamo, #Guantanamo_Bay, #Guardian, #Human_Rights, #Internet, #Investigative, #January, #Jen_Psaki, #Julian_Assange, #Kremlin, #London, #Mike_Pompeo, #Moscow, #NSA, #National_Committee, #News, #News.yahoo.com, #Obama, #Obama_administration, #Petersburg, #Pompeo, #President, #Qatar, #Reality_Winner, #Russia, #Russian, #Senate, #September, #St._Petersburg, #Sweden, #Swedish, #Swiss, #The_Guardian, #Trump, #UK, #US, #United_States, #United_States_House_Committee_on_Foreign_Affairs, #University, #University_of_Texas, #University_of_Texas_at_Austin, #Vault_7, #Washington, #White_House, #WikiLeaks, #Yahoo

By Zach Dorfman· National Security Correspondent
Wed, September 29, 2021, 1:11 AM
In his first public comments since a Yahoo News investigation revealed discussions within the Trump administration in 2017 about kidnapping or even killing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he makes “no apologies” for the Trump administration’s actions to protect “real national security secrets.”
“I make no apologies for the fact that we and the administration were working diligently to make sure we were able to protect this important sensitive information from whether it was cyber actors in Russia, or the Chinese military, or anyone who was trying to take this information away from us.”
Pompeo declined to deny the individual allegations in the story, saying only that Yahoo News’ “sources didn’t know what we were doing.”
Pompeo, who served as CIA director during the period when these extreme options were under consideration, spearheaded the campaign against Assange and WikiLeaks, former officials told Yahoo News.
“We’re going to become a much more vicious agency,” Pompeo said in an October 2017 talk at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a Washington, D.C., think tank.
Concerned about what they believed were plans by Russia to sneak Assange out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder had lived since 2012, and onward to Moscow, CIA and Trump administration officials also discussed crashing a car into a Russian diplomatic vehicle carrying Assange and ripping him out of it; potential gunfights with Kremlin operatives on the streets of London; and shooting out the tires of a Russian plane carrying Assange before it could take off, among other measures, according to former officials.
Pompeo did not respond to multiple interview queries by Yahoo News, and a detailed request for comment, sent over a two-month period prior to the story’s publication.
White House spokesperson Jen Psaki also declined to comment Tuesday on the Trump-era discussions about kidnapping Assange, referring questions to the Justice Department and CIA.
Saying he was “all about a big, bold, strong First Amendment,” Pompeo told conservative media personality Glenn Beck on Monday that, as CIA director, he concluded that WikiLeaks was “one of the first non-state hostile intelligence entities” that “weren’t engaged in even crappy reporting” like Yahoo News’, but were instead working to “steal secrets themselves and pay others to do the same.”
Pompeo disparaged one of the co-authors of the Yahoo News investigation during his interview with Beck and in response to a question about the Yahoo News story at an appearance at Hillsdale College on Monday.
During his tenure as CIA director, Pompeo spoke repeatedly about the threat he believed WikiLeaks posed. “We need to develop a structure, an analytical rubric and an operational methodology to go take down these non-state intelligence services in the same way the CIA has perfected its ability to do it against those who are state actors,” Pompeo said during an October 2017 talk at the University of Texas at Austin. (He later clarified that by “take down” he had meant “penetrate and report on” organizations like WikiLeaks.)
Pompeo’s characterization of Assange and WikiLeaks may deviate from the president under whom he served. In a statement to Yahoo News denying that he ever discussed killing Assange, former President Donald Trump seemed to express sympathy for the WikiLeaks founder, saying he had “been treated very badly.”
Assange was indicted during the Trump presidency, after the Obama administration declined to do so.
Pompeo’s anger at WikiLeaks was sparked in March 2017 when the organization began publishing highly classified materials from the CIA’s hacking division, which WikiLeaks dubbed “Vault 7.”
Pompeo seemed to allude to the Vault 7 leaks in his interview with Beck on Monday. “We were very worried about the fact that we had bad actors who were stealing really, really sensitive material from the United States,” he said.
In March 2017, WikiLeaks began releasing the largest leak of CIA documents in history, codenamed Vault 7. The documents included details of the CIA's hacking capabilities and software tools used to break into smartphones, computers and other Internet-connected devices. In April, CIA director Mike Pompeo called WikiLeaks "a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia". Assange accused the CIA of trying to "subvert" his right to freedom of speech. According to former intelligence officials, in the wake of the Vault 7 leaks, the CIA plotted to kidnap Assange from Ecuador's London embassy, and some senior officials discussed his potential assassination. Yahoo! News found "no indication that the most extreme measures targeting Assange were ever approved." Some of its sources stated that they had alerted House and Senate intelligence committees to the plans that Pompeo was allegedly suggesting.
American Terrorism
On 6 June 2017, Assange tweeted his support for NSA leaker Reality Winner, who had been arrested three days earlier. Winner had been identified in part because a reporter from The Intercept showed a leaked document to the government without removing possibly incriminating evidence about its leaker. WikiLeaks later offered a $10,000 reward for information about the reporter responsible.
On 16 August 2017, US Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher visited Assange and told him that Trump would pardon him on condition that he said Russia was not involved in the 2016 Democratic National Committee email leaks. At his extradition hearings in 2020, Assange's lawyers told the court that Rohrabacher had said the offer was made "on instructions from the president". Trump and Rohrabacher said they had never spoken about the offer and Rohrabacher said he had made the offer on his own initiative.
In August 2017, in the midst of the Qatar diplomatic crisis, Dubai-based Al Arabiya said Assange had refrained from publishing two cables about Qatar after negotiations between WikiLeaks and Qatar. Assange said Al Arabiya had been publishing "increasingly absurd fabrications" during the dispute. In September 2017, Assange released "Spy Files Russia," revealing "how a St. Petersburg-based technology company called Peter-Service helped Russian state entities gather detailed data on Russian cellphone users, part of a national system of online surveillance called System for Operative Investigative Activities (SORM)." According to Moscow-based journalist Fred Weir, "experts say it casts a timely spotlight on the vast surveillance operations mounted by Russian security services."
Assange was granted Ecuadorian citizenship in December 2017.
In February 2018, after Sweden had suspended its investigation, Assange brought two legal actions, arguing that Britain should drop its arrest warrant for him as it was "no longer right or proportionate to pursue him" and the arrest warrant for breaching bail had lost its "purpose and its function". In both cases, Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot ruled that the arrest warrant should remain in place.
In March 2018, Assange used social media to criticise Germany's arrest of Catalonian separatist leader Carles Puigdemont. On 28 March 2018, Ecuador responded by cutting Assange's internet connection because his social media posts put at risk Ecuador's relations with European nations. In May 2018, The Guardian reported that over five years Ecuador had spent at least $5 million (£3.7m) to protect Assange, employing a security company and undercover agents to monitor his visitors, embassy staff and the British police. Ecuador reportedly also devised plans to help Assange escape should British police forcibly enter the embassy to seize him. The Guardian reported that, by 2014, Assange had compromised the embassy's communications system. WikiLeaks described the allegation as "an anonymous libel aligned with the current UK-US government onslaught against Mr Assange". In July 2018, President Moreno said that he wanted Assange out of the embassy provided that Assange's life was not in danger. By October 2018, Assange's communications were partially restored.
On 16 October 2018, congressmen from the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs wrote an open letter to President Moreno which described Assange as a dangerous criminal and stated that progress between the US and Ecuador in the areas of economic co-operation, counter-narcotics assistance and the return of a USAID mission to Ecuador depended on Assange being handed over to the authorities.
In October 2018, Assange sued the government of Ecuador for violating his "fundamental rights and freedoms" by threatening to remove his protection and cut off his access to the outside world, refusing him visits from journalists and human rights organisations and installing signal jammers to prevent phone calls and internet access. An Ecuadorian judge ruled against him, saying that requiring Assange to pay for his Internet use and clean up after his cat did not violate his right to asylum.
In November 2018, Pamela Anderson, a close friend and regular visitor of Assange, gave an interview in which she asked the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, to defend Assange. Morrison rejected the request with a response Anderson considered "smutty". Anderson responded that "ather than making lewd suggestions about me, perhaps you should instead think about what you are going to say to millions of Australians when one of their own is marched in an orange jumpsuit to Guantanamo Bay – for publishing the truth. You can prevent this."
On 21 December 2018, the UN's Working Group on Arbitrary Detention urged the UK to let Assange leave the embassy freely. In a statement, the organisation said that the "Swedish investigations have been closed for over 18 months now, and the only ground remaining for Mr Assange's continued deprivation of liberty is a bail violation in the UK, which is, objectively, a minor offense that cannot post-facto justify the more than six years' confinement that he has been subjected to".
In February 2019, the parliament of Geneva passed a motion demanding that the Swiss government extend asylum to Assange. In January 2020, the Catalan Dignity Commission awarded Assange its 2019 Dignity Prize for supporting the Catalan people during the 2017 Catalan independence referendum.
In March 2019, Assange submitted a complaint to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights asking the Ecuadorian government to "ease the conditions that it had imposed on his residence" at the embassy and to protect him from extradition to the US. It also requested US prosecutors unseal criminal charges that had been filed against him. Assange said the Ecuadorian embassy was trying to end his asylum by spying on him and restricting his visitors. The commission rejected his complaint.
---In comments after a Yahoo News investigation revealed discussions within the Trump administration in 2017 about kidnapping or even killing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he makes “no apologies.” ---...

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