Three Pentagon officials who were tasked with investigating sexual assault in the military say that they were either fired or suspended for reporting on cases of sexual assault and exposing attempts to cover up these crimes. They were essentially fired for doing what they were hired to do.
The three women spoke to CBS News this week, about their work with the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, and how they faced retaliation for properly investigating the crimes that were taking place within the military’s ranks, just as the victims themselves were facing retaliation.
US corporate media have buried coverage of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s extradition hearing in the UK, despite its being the media “Trial of the Century” (FAIR.org, 9/25/20). But even in the scarce coverage that does exist of this unprecedented case with immense implications for freedom of expression, one would hardly get the impression that the US and British governments are involved in an illegal conspiracy—in violation of their own laws—to punish Assange for the “crime” of journalism.
Coverage before and at the start of the trial by establishment media outlets like the New York Times (9/7/20), Wall Street Journal (9/7/20), USA Today (9/6/20) and the Associated Press (9/6/20) largely omitted simple facts, like Assange displaying signs of abuse. Of these reports, only USA Today cited Nils Melzer, a UN special rapporteur on torture, who observed that when he visited him last year, Assange displayed symptoms of “psychological torture,” likely caused by extreme stress, chronic anxiety and isolation.
None of the Bush or Obama administration officials who planned or executed the illegal war, nor any of the field commanders or even rank-and-file troops connected with any of the crimes revealed in the logs, were ever seriously punished.
The whistleblowers, on the other hand, suffered tremendously for exposing the truth. Both Manning and Assange were charged under the 1917 Espionage Act. Manning was convicted in 2013 and sentenced to 35 years in prison, although her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama just before he left office in January 2017.
Assange is today imprisoned in Britain’s notorious Belmarsh Prison as he awaits possible extradition to the United States, where he faces up to 175 years behind bars, most likely in a supermax facility a former warden described as a “fate worse than death.”
Mr. Amash, Michigan Libertarian, announced on Twitter that he signed on to become a co-sponsor of separate, similar resolutions urging the government to drop the charges facing the two secret-spillers.
Both resolutions were introduced by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii Democrat, and had already gained slight bipartisan support before Mr. Amash — the only registered Libertarian in Congress — joined in.
Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and longtime confidant of Julian Assange, has been fastidiously reporting on the Australian publisher’s extradition hearing to the United States. Yet few people have been reading it. This, according to Murray, is because of a deliberate decision by online media giants to downplay or suppress discussion of the case. On his blog, Murray wrote that he usually receives around 50 percent of his readers from Twitter and 40 percent from Facebook links, but that has dropped to 3 percent and 9 percent, respectively during the hearing. While the February hearings sent around 200,000 readers to his site daily, now that figure is only 3,000.
To be plain that is very much less than my normal daily traffic from them just in ordinary times. It is the insidious nature of this censorship that is especially sinister – people believe they have successfully shared my articles on Twitter and Facebook, while those corporations hide from them that in fact it went into nobody’s timeline,” he added.
Asked about the situation by former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges, Murray explained that
Anybody who is at all radical or takes any view of anything that is outwith the official establishment view gets used to occasional shadow banning, but I have never seen anything on this scale before.”
“90% of my traffic has just been cut off by what seems to be a general algorithm command of some kind to downplay Assange,” he added. “I think it is as simple as that.”