Robert Knight interviews Ray McGovern on Five O'Clock Shadow on WBAI 99.5FM.
Audio of the interview can be heard at http://www.radio4all.net/index.php/program/60926
RK: We turn now to the case of Julian Assange. In a followup to our previous conversation with attorney Michael Ratner and continue to keep our eyes on the ecuadorian Embassy in London where Julian Assange remains. At this date he is seeking political asylum and fighting extradition to Sweden, or possibly the US.
Ray McGovern has been long been working with the Assange team and the wikileaks team and manyy other organizations, including his former officership in the CIA where he was an analytic officer. He has most recently published on Constortium News the overnight article titled: Julian Assange's Artful Dodge, which begins saying: "Barring a CIA drone strike on the Ecuadorian embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s sudden appeal for asylum there may spare him a prison stay in Sweden or possibly the United States. Assange’s freedom now depends largely on Ecuadorian President Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado, a new breed of independent-minded leader like Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez."
Welcome to Five O'Clock Shadow, Ray.
Ray: Thank you Robert, glad to be here.
RK: Well what do you think are the prospects for release of Julian Assange
into arms other than those of the British bobbies who are after him for
Ray: Well, you know the editor who put that on my title there -
"Artful Dodge" - that's exactly what it is. Julian Assange was up against it. He was just on the verge of being extradited to Sweden on charges
that almost everyone believes were trumped up. I correct myself:
there were no charges. They didn't even have the kind of
evidence that would allow them to trump up charges. That's how bad it was. And yet, without any formal charges from Sweden, the High Court in London succombed to US pressure to have him extradited, and that was going to happen in another two weeks.
So he made this artful dodge to the Ecuadorian Embassy, and that leaves two questions:
The first question is. what kind of fellow is the President of
Ecuador? Now we have a new breed as you mentioned before,
Correa is educated at the Catholic University of Dubang in
Belgium, where they teach things like Liberation Theology - like,
give the underdog a break. If Assange is anything but an
underdog I'd like to know what it is. Besides that, Ecuador has a
record for almost two years of proposing to give succor, to give
some asylum to Assange. So it was kind of a no-brainer that
Assange would interview Correa exactly four weeks ago on
Assange's TV program on RT, and they got along so well together
that I'm sure there was an agreement that if in extremis,
Assagnge had to go ito the Ecuadorian Embassy, they would give
him at least a safe place to stay.
Now the big question here is, what is Correa going to do? He also studied not only at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, but at the University of Illinois, Urbana. Four years there - a master's degree and PHD
in Economics. My roommate on the US boat to Gaza a year ago,
Robert Naman, who is out there in Urbana, knew Correa and
describes him as a fellow who was part of the Teachers' Union-- a
very, very progressive fellow, who givien his druthers will almost
certainly agree to give Assange the kind of political asylum that
he is due. Now will he do the right thing? The Washington Post
today, taking its orders from the US government, warns in a major
editorial of 8 paragraphs, and says aha! Remember, a full third of
Ecuador's foreign sales - 10 billion in 2011 - go the the US,
supporting 400,000 jobs. These prefeences come up before
Congress for renewal early next year. If Correa seeks to appoint
himself America's chief Latin American enemy and give Julian
Assange protection between now and then, it's not hard to see
what the outcome will be. Well usually you have diplomats saying
those things in private. Here is the Washington Post
unashamedly warning Correa that he could face economic
catastrophe. Now I've had time to check with Robert Naman out
there -- an alumnus of the University of Illinois Urbana, and he
tells me - you know Ecuador would really not be too hurt no
matter what the US did. It's not clear what the rap would be since
Chevron and others are already trying to block renewal of the
trade preferences because of what Correa has done to Chevron.
And some people in Ecuador would probably be of the view that
renewing their preferences was a lost cause anyway. So this may
be a hollow threat. The bottom line here - I think - strengthened by
my friend Robart Naman -- that if Correa has his druthers, and it
seems like he does in Ecuador, that he'll grant asylun to Julian
Assange, as he should.
RK: Ray you raise a prospect of some delicious speculation
in that the ankle bracelet, the GPS tracking the surveillance
teams of the United King dom that were presumably on the case
of Julian Assange, following monitoring of bad checking and such
like that -- somehow he uh slipped out of the ankle bracelet and
into the embassy. Now we know that Julian Assange is a very
technically adept person, but do you think this occurred because
Julian Assange is a great hacker? Or because the British
authorities were something of a slacker?
Ray: (laughs) Well Scotland Yard in this case was either grossly
negligent or wanted this to happen. Let's face it - the British,
including all the jurists and judges - maybe not all, but most of
them - are holding their nose from the stench that comes from the
High Court bowing to US pressure to extradite Julian Assange when Sweden hasn't even levelled any formal charges against him. I mean it's
transparently embarrasing for the Brits. So on the one hand they
would love to get rid of him. On the other, you know, they are
incompetent. I understand that he was allowed to walk around
London, it was just at night that he had to be under house arrest.
So it's equally possible that incompetence is the answer here, but
I don't think so, because as I said, the Ecuadorians had already
offered him asylum in November of 2010, so one would have
thought that precautions would have been taken, given the dire
circumstances, that the Ecuadorian Embassy would have been
covered to disallow or to bar Assange from going there. The
interesting thing here is Scotland Yard and the delicate question --
let's assume Correa does the right thing and says yes, you
qualify under any international standard for political asylum - and
we're going to take you back to Quito and give you a place to
Now what happens? Well the question is, what do the
British do? Most people tell me - and my best contact in the British
Foreign Office has warned me - that there's no way that the British
government will let him go off and go to Ecuador. Now that's tough
because you know, if they want to get rid of him - and he's just a
real headache there - are they gonna let him languish in the
Ecuadorian Embassy as long as Cardinal Mindszenty, who defected
to the US Embassy in Warsaw during the Cold War -- 15 years?
Are they prepared to deal with that? I don't know. So there has to
be some artful way for this artful dodger to get out of the embassy
to the airport and back to Ecuador. And I do really hope that more
imaginative minds than I working on that.
RK: Well Ray, one of the suggestions that we discussed with
Michael Ratner was that the Ecuadorian government adopt
Julian Assange as a citizen, then appoint him a diplomat, and then
he can leave under the courtesy of a dipomatic immunity
passport. Or perhaps stuff him in a diplomatic pouch in the trunk
of a limousine, and drive him out to the airport. But more seriously
Ray: Well I've looked into that Robert, and you might want to
know about this. I did share this suggestion with my very
knowledgeable contact, a retired Foreign Service officer from
London. He said if Julian were granted Ecuadorian citizenship as
opposed to asylum, that might be a way out, but he'd then have to
be notified or accredited with the British government. and the
British government would quite probably refuse to accept that
notification. There are procedures where the Court of St. James
as they call it, can refuse and as my friend thinks. they would probably reject any artifice like this. Now that's just one opinion, and if the British really want to get this fellow off their hands and get rid of this headache, then maybe they would grant him. So that's an imaginative possibility, I hope people are playing with it. I hope something like that will work.
RK: Well Ray, more seriously, there have been calls for the
assassination of Julian Assange, and some woman who ran for
Vice President some time ago - the former governor of a northern
state, said that "Julian Assange is an anti-American operative
with blood on his hands." And we have a situation now in which
the President has formally arrogated to himself the decision-
making ability to assassinate what are termed as "operatives
against the interests of the United States", and I think we must
discuss this to see if Julian Assange might be under any
jeopardy beyond the legal ones that he's facing.
Ray: Well the legal ones you are describing are clear: it's not only
Sarah Palin but the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee,
Dianne Feinstein, who said back on December 7, 2010 that
Assange should be "vigorously prosecuted for espionage", not
just prosecued but vigorously prosecuted for violating the US
Espionage Acto of 1917. "He claims to be a journalist" says
Dianne Feinstein, "but he is an agitator intent on damaging our
government." So... First Amendment? Out the window. We've
seen as you just mentioned, the Fifth Amendment, which
guarantees all persons the right not to lose life, liberty or property
without due process, we've seen that out the window with
President Obama arrogating to himself the possibility or the
authority to assassinate people by drone strike, even US citizens.
So put yourself in Assange's position -- he has no way out. It's
not an ideal situation for him now, but at least he's not going to
languish in a Swedish prison -- there's no bail in Swedish prisons,
by the way -- and then expect to face the likes of Sarah Palin
and Dianne Feinstein and the tender mercies of US justice on the
other hand. So that's one thing. The other thing, and I think what
you may be driving at here is, what could happen to Assange
before he got out of prison?
Well, you know, the British pretend to be very nice diplomatically and observe all the customs, but there's one custom they're very good at, and that is -- well how shall we say it -- eliminating people with extreme prejudices, which is the way we used to say it at the CIA. And I'm very mindful of Dr. David Kelly, who 9 years ago publicly told the BBC that the
case for the war agaist Iraq was a crock. He was a scientist. He
worked for the MOD - Ministry of Defense - in London, and he
told the BBC: "look, there aren't any biological weapons, much less
nuclear weapons. I know because I was a UN Inspector." And
what happened to David Kelly? A week or so after he did that he
went for a walk along the river and he "committed suicide". The
vein that he was alleged to have cut spilled very little blood. The
autopsy has been kept secret for 70 years, Give me a break! Most of
my friends in Britain believe that David Kelly was done in by the
likes of the plumbers in our country - by the likes of not rogue
elements, but by what the Russians call the "wet affairs people"
who do these kinds of things. So if that happened to Dr. David
Kelly -- and there's no proof of that, of course, but there is ample
circumstantial evidence -- what's going to happen to Assange on
his way to the airport?
I think they have to find some other artful way to get him out other than to subject him to the tender mercies of the security forces acting not only at London's direction, but at Obama's direction. Just think of what would
happen -- think of Obama's situation - he must be really tough. He
got Osama bin Laden -- he killed Osama bin Laden -- yay!!! Most
Americans say that's great! Well let's say something happens to
Assange. Who's gonna be President in the next election? Obama's got it sewed up.
There's two for two -- that's how bad it is in this country right now. No respect at all for iternational law, or for the Constitution of the United States, and that for me Robert, I have to tell you, is a big problem, because when I was sworn in I took a solemn oath to support and defend
the Constitution of the US from all enemies, foreign and domestic. That oath has no expiration date. I am in a quandry here. I am trying to piece together what the current situation requires of someone like me, and millions of others who took that oath, as we watch the President of the United States tear up our Constitution, revoke the Fifth Amendment, the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment -- you name it, it doesn't matter any more. What is my duty, as one sworn to uphold the Constitution against
all enemies, foreign and domestic? What is my requirement right
now? I'm serious about this - I dont know what it is but I'm trying
to figure it out, because one option is not an option - and that is
just to sit by and watch it all happen, and watch my children and
grandchildren have to live in a very different country fromn the
one that I was privileged to grow up in.
RK: Well I thank you for bringing that focus to us today, Ray
McGovern, former Army Officer and Officer of the Central
Intelligence Agency, and on the list for 30 years for Presidential
briefings and many other things, and recently the author of a
piece at Consortium News, called Julian Assange’s Artful Dodge
Thank you so much for being with us today, Ray.
Ray: You're most welcome Robert.
RK: This is Five O'Clock Shadow on the Pacifica Radio Network,
originating at WBAI. My name is Robert Knight. And now we hear
the actual words of Julian Assange himself, speaking with the
President of Ecuador, which nation he is now in the Embassy of
in London, seeking political asylum. This is from a recent
television program of Julian Assange, called The World Tomorrow
- the actual words of Julian Assange himself speaking with the
president of Ecuador on television.