By Chris Hedges, Truthdig
Innocence, as defined by law, makes us complicit with the crimes of the state. To do nothing, to be judged by the state as an innocent, is to be guilty. It is to sanction, through passivity and obedience, the array of crimes carried out by the state.
To be innocent in America means we passively permit offshore penal colonies where we torture human beings, some of whom are children. To be innocent in America is to acquiesce to the relentless corporate destruction of the ecosystem that sustains the human species. To be innocent in America is to permit the continued theft of hundreds of billions of dollars from the state by Wall Street swindlers and speculators. To be innocent in America is to stand by as insurance and pharmaceutical companies, in the name of profit, condemn ill people, including children, to die. To be innocent in America is refusing to resist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that are not only illegal under international law but responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of people. This is the odd age we live in. Innocence is complicity.
The steady impoverishment and misery inflicted by the corporate state on the working class and increasingly the middle class has a terrible logic. It consolidates corporate centers of power. It weakens us morally and politically. The fraud and violence committed by the corporate state become secondary as we scramble to feed our families, find a job and pay our bills and mortgages. Those who cling to insecure, poorly paid jobs and who struggle with crippling credit card debt, those who are mired in long-term unemployment and who know that huge medical bills would bankrupt them, those who owe more on their houses than they are worth and who fear the future, become frightened and timid. They seek only to survive. They accept the pathetic scraps tossed to them by the corporate elite. The internal and external corporate abuse accelerates as we become every day more pliant.
Our corrupt legal system, perverting the concept that "all men are created equal," has radically redefined civic society. Citizens, regardless of their status or misfortune, are now treated with the same studied indifference by the state. They have been transformed from citizens to commodities whose worth is determined solely by the market and whose value is measured by their social and economic functions. The rich, therefore, are rewarded by the state with tax cuts because they are rich. It is their function to monopolize wealth and invest. The poor are supposed to be poor. The poor should not be a drain on the resources of the state or the oligarchic elite. Equality, in this new legal paradigm, means we are all treated alike, no matter what our circumstances. This new interpretation of equality, under which the poor are abandoned and the powerful are unchecked, has demolished the system of regulations, legal restraints and services that once protected the underclass from wealthy and corporate predators.
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Thursday, December 9, 2010
By Chris Hedges, Truthdig
By Brian Willson, Global Research
I am sick of being anti-war. Are wars inevitable? War crimes? If we really don't want wars, it behooves us to get serious about understanding their causes, and choose to radically address them. Otherwise, what's the point? Feeling a "rush" with like-minded folks at political actions only perpetuates our addiction to anti-war rallies, which do nothing to stop wars from occurring.
The inarticulate presidency of George Bush II successfully unmasked the US empire for everyone to see in its gruesome glory – laying bare all the lies, sordid details, and egregious consequences of unfettered greed. Then the hopium associated with Obama's election served as a soothing tranquilizer, quieting the movement, at least for a time. Yet, no matter who is in power, wars continue ad nauseum. To learn why we must examine the vertical/hierarchical, patriarchal political-economic system to which we humans have adapted over millennia.
First, let's look at US history. The record reveals a chronic, depressing pattern of war making – 550 direct military interventions since 1799 in more than 100 countries. More than 300 of these have occurred since World War II, including bombing of 28 countries. In addition, the US has conducted thousands of covert interventions, mostly in "Third World" countries.
The longer view: Since the advent of "civilization" around 3500 BC (55 centuries ago), there have been 14,600 recorded "decisive wars," not counting thousands of smaller, "indecisive" ones, according to the Norwegian Academy of Sciences. This coincides with development of writing and emergence of patriarchal, hierarchical kingdoms, most of which later became empires. The rulers of these kingdoms gained power by manipulating surplus that had grown out of the agricultural revolution. Another coincidence with the advent of civilization is a notable increase in findings of human remains for which the cause of death has been attributed to warfare injuries. Archaeologists have found little if any evidence of systemic warfare prior to this time.
Since 1500 AD, war scholar Quincy Wright documents 3,000 recorded "battles" which involved casualties of at least 1,000 in land battles, and 500 in naval ones, with an additional quarter million "hostile encounters." The US Army alone has been engaged in over 9,000 "battles and skirmishes" between 1775-1900, most against Native Americans, with the US Navy engaged in over 1,100 encounters in addition.
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Eric W. Dolan writes for The Raw Story:
Two distinguished scholars and activists, Noam Chomsky and Peter Singer, signed an open letter to the Prime Minister of Australia on Tuesday, urging the government to condemn calls for Australian citizen and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be assassinated.
[ ... ]
"The materials—we should understand—and the Pentagon Papers is another case in point—that one of the major reasons for government secrecy is to protect the government from its own population," Chomsky said in an interview with the Democracy Now's Amy Goodman. "In the Pentagon Papers, for example, there was one volume, the negotiations volume, which might have had bearing on ongoing activities, and Dan Ellsberg withheld that. That came out a little bit later."
The Pentagon Papers were a collection of top-secret Department of Defense documents on the history of the United States' involvement in Vietnam that were leaked by Daniel Ellsberg.
"But if you look at the Papers themselves, there are things that Americans should have known that the government didn't want them to know," he continued. "And as far as I can tell, from what I've seen here, pretty much the same is true. In fact, the current leaks are—what I've seen, at least—primarily interesting because of what they tell us about how the diplomatic service works."
Singer said there was a "clear parallel" between the Afghanistan war documents leak and the Pentagon Papers.
Although greater transparency has some bad consequences, Singer concludes that "a climate of openness makes it more likely that governments and corporations will act more ethically."
"In a world in which terrorists have committed atrocities and threaten to commit more, to seek complete government transparency is utopian," Singer wrote at Project Syndicate in August. "Sometimes it is possible to do good only in secret. Yet on the whole, a more transparent community is likely to be a better one – and the same applies to a more transparent world."
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By Milton Allimadi, Black Star News
The United States is concerned about possible Uganda army war crimes in its fight against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), while using U.S.-provided intelligence. Remarkably, the U.S. ambassador even warned Uganda to let American officials know in advance when it intended to commit war crimes while battling the LRA, according to revelations in memos provided by WikiLeaks.
The U.S. has been providing Uganda with intelligence and about $4.4 million in equipment to fight the LRA. Nevertheless, Washington is now disillusioned with Yoweri Museveni and is hoping that the February vote will restore the shine that the country has lost, a memo by the U.S. ambassador to Uganda, Jerry Lanier, states.
The explosive revelations comes in several memos sent to Washington by ambassador Lanier; they were provided to media by WikiLeaks.
The United States now seems so concerned with human rights abuses under the Museveni government including in fighting the LRA that embassy officials are even investigating killings going back eight years ago. A December 17 memo by Lanier discusses a notorious 2002 execution of a prisoner, Peter Oloya, on alleged orders by Col. Charles Otema Awany, the head of Uganda's military intelligence in northern Uganda. "On November 3, 2009, Gulu District Chairman Walter Ochora told PolOff that he, Lt. Col. Otema, and President Museveni discussed an intercepted message on September 16, 2002, revealing plans by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) to liberate prisoners from Gulu central prison," states the Lanier memo. "Ochora said President Museveni ordered Lt. Col. Otema to go to the prison, secure the prisoners, and bring them back to the military barracks."
The reference to PolOff is to the political officer in the U.S. embassy in Uganda, Aaron B. Sampson. The prisoner, Oloya, was reportedly shot in the back and later buried after being beheaded, which is probably why the U.S. is now keenly interested in exploring the full nature of the government it supports in Uganda. What's more, Otema Awany was subsequently promoted and is now a Brigadier in the Uganda People's Defense Force (UPDF). The investigation of the Oloya killing by the United States officials and it's time frame is critical. Oloya was killed after July 1, 2002, when the Rome Statute, the instrument that created the International Court of Justice (ICC) came into effect. Uganda is a signatory to the statute.
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Marc Ambinderreports for the National Journal:
The term "psychological operations" has a certain odor about it. It connotes deceit and manipulation -- even brainwashing. And in today's military, anything that smacks of the Pentagon's history of psychological warfare is not politically correct.
A few months ago, the U.S. Special Operations Command, which, by law, is the executive agency for psychological operations, or "PSYOPs," decided that a name change was in order: Operations aimed at influencing the emotions of people outside the United States would now be known as "Military Information Support Operations."
When the name change was first proposed, it took a millisecond for the thousands of active psychological operations officers and noncommissioned officers to deride the new acronym. "MISO" -- like the Japanese soup. "MISO" -- followed by references that aren't appropriate for an online news site that might be seen by children.
But up the chain of command it went, and as of late last week, it's official.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates put his signature on a memorandum officially changing the term. Marked "For Official Use Only," the memo notes that "PSYOPs" had become so toxic a term that commanders often failed to use vital tools at their disposal because of the negative connotations associated with the term.
"Although PSYOP activities rely on truthful information, credibly conveyed, the term 'PSYOP' tends to connote propaganda, manipulation, brainwashing and deceit. As a result, a wide range of military-information related activities and capabilities have become tarnished by the term," Gates wrote.
By Dan Kovalik, The Huffington Post
There is a lot of talk right now on Capitol Hill about the need to balance the federal budget. Sadly, both Democrats and Republicans alike are largely debating about how best to balance the budget upon the backs of the poor and working people (who are many times the very same people) and the elderly. First and foremost on the chopping block appears to be Social Security and Medicare -- the lifeline for millions of seniors in this country and the only hope for any sort of retirement for the vast majority of people in this country.
Meanwhile, belying any real interest in balancing the budget, the extension of unemployment benefits for millions of people out of work through no fault of their own is being made contingent upon tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans.
At the same time, what is largely absent from this debate is discussion of the war, which includes military actions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, allied Pakistan, military exercises in the Yellow Sea and elsewhere, and the maintenance of over 800 U.S. military bases throughout the world. To put the latter into perspective, Great Britain and Ancient Rome, at the very height of their Empires, never had more than 40 military bases internationally.
The U.S. is always at war, whether the pretext is fighting Communism or terrorism, or, as is usually the actual case, fighting against national liberation efforts and for the ability of U.S. corporations to expand their domain and control.
While President Obama had promised during his campaign to "change the mindset that leads us to war," and while many of us, myself included, believed him, Obama could not even wait until his first weekend in office before launching one of his many (many more than Bush) drone attacks into Pakistan, predictably killing mostly civilians. In addition, just after it was announced that he won the Nobel Prize for Peace, Obama, almost to spite the Nobel committee, announced the "surge" in Afghanistan which is putting 30,000 more American lives in jeopardy, leading to a massive increase of civilian deaths in Afghanistan over those killed during Bush's tenure, and further inflaming tensions in the Middle East.
Indeed, Obama has been more hawkish than Bush in a number of ways as seen, for example, in his re-commencing funding for the brutal "red berets" of Indonesia -- which even Bush refused to do on human rights grounds -- and in his re-commissioning the 4th Fleet in the Caribbean which Eisenhower had de-commissioned in the 1950's.
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...It's a War For The Future Of The Internet
Tom Mendelsohn writes for The Independent:
You'll have been following the Wikileaks saga, of course, because it is novel and interesting. Maybe you like it because it looks like a live action retelling of Enemy Of The State, or because history seems to be in the making. It feels big, doesn't it? It is, but it's bigger than that, too: what we're witnessing right now is the opening of hostilities in the first big infowar. The war for the Internet is very big indeed.
If you're not a digital native, or if you're some kind of hearty outdoors type, this may not seem important, but you're dead wrong. We could be spectators for the start of the cyber Great War – and they've just knocked over Franz Ferdinand.
We've seen cyber skirmishes before: Russian hackers targeted and sank Georgia's internet infrastructure during their brief conflict in 2008, while there've been hints of Chinese muscle flexing for some time – especially last month, when traffic through US government sites was rerouted through Chinese servers for 18 minutes in November.
The difference now is that this battle is extra-national; it isn't one country against another, so much as an establishment of nations fighting a global insurgency – with the soul of the Internet as the spoils.
[ ... ]
Operation Payback is in full swing, lashing out with Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks – which flood a website with fake hits in order to overwhelm its servers. Armed with a simple hack tool called the Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC), hackers have been attacking the websites of those companies who slighted Wikileaks and Assange with surprising success, knocking them offline for hours at a time.
The Swiss bank that deserted Assange was down for the whole day yesterday, while MasterCard – which, lest ye forget, still allows you to donate to subsidiaries of the KKK – has now lost control of its own homepage. If people can't see www.mastercard.com, it'll certainly cost them money; infowar is waged on the bottom line.
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France has declared that it will recognize a free and independent Palestinian state based on borders before the 1967 war, becoming the first European nation to do so.
Bernard Valero, a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that Paris agrees with the formation of a Palestinian state based on the exchange of land between Israel and the Palestinians.
Valero also expressed hope that peace talks between the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel will resume.
During the past week, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have all sent letters to acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas, declaring that they recognize a free and independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders.
Human rights activists and international bodies are meanwhile vying for the United Nations membership for the Palestinian state.
The activists believe that Palestine already meets the required criteria for joining the world body.
Israel has protested the recent recognitions, claiming that the move is against the spirit of the Mideast talks.
Tel Aviv accuses the Latin American nations of ignoring the 2003 Middle East roadmap for peace, which said that a Palestinian state could be established through dialogue, but not through unilateral measures.
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"Assange met with Israeli officials in Geneva earlier this year and struck the secret deal. The Israel government, it seems, had somehow found out or expected that the documents to be leaked contained a large number of documents about the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza in 2006 and 2008-9 respectively. These documents, which are said to have originated mainly from the Israeli embassies in Tel Aviv and Beirut, where removed and possibly destroyed by Assange, who is the only person who knows the password that can open these documents, the sources added."
We should obviously all support WikiLeaks and its founder and spokesperson, Julian Assange, who has just been arrested in Britain, in this dirty war by states around the globe against transparency and openness. But in the world of politics, sadly, things are never as innocent as they appear. According to new revelations, Assange had allegedly struck a deal with Israel before the recent 'cable gate', which may explain why the leaks "were good for Israel," as the Israeli prime minister put it.
A number of commentators, particularly in Turkey and Russia, have been wondering why the hundreds of thousands of American classified documents leaked by the website last month did not contain anything that may embarrass the Israeli government, like just about every other state referred to in the documents. The answer appears to be a secret deal struck between the WikiLeaks "heart and soul", as Assange humbly described himself once , with Israeli officials, which ensured that all such documents were 'removed' before the rest were made public.
According to an Arabic investigative journalism website , Assange had received money from semi-official Israeli sources and promised them, in a "secret, video-recorded agreement," not to publish any document that may harm Israeli security or diplomatic interests.
The sources of the Al-Haqiqa report are said to be former WikiLeaks volunteers who have left the organisation in the last few months over Assange's "autocratic leadership" and "lack of transparency."
In a recent interview with the German daily Die Tageszeitung, former WikiLeaks spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg said he and other WikiLeaks dissidents are planning to launch their own whistleblowers' platform to fulfil WikiLeaks's original aim of "limitless file sharing." 
Mr Domscheit-Berg, who is about to publish a book about his days 'Inside WikiLeaks', accuses Assange of acting as a "king" against the will of others in the organisation by "making deals" with media organisations that are meant to create an explosive effect, which others in WikiLeaks either know little or nothing about. 
Furthermore, Assange's eagerness for headline-grabbing scoops meant that WikiLeaks had not been able to 'restructure' itself to cope with this surge of interest, insiders add. This has meant that smaller leaks, which might be of interest to people at a local level, are now being overlooked for the sake of big stories. 
According to the Al-Haqiqa sources, Assange met with Israeli officials in Geneva earlier this year and struck the secret deal. The Israel government, it seems, had somehow found out or expected that the documents to be leaked contained a large number of documents about the Israeli attacks on Lebanon and Gaza in 2006 and 2008-9 respectively. These documents, which are said to have originated mainly from the Israeli embassies in Tel Aviv and Beirut, where removed and possibly destroyed by Assange, who is the only person who knows the password that can open these documents, the sources added.
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The following statement was released today, signed by Daniel Ellsberg, Frank Grevil, Katharine Gun, David MacMichael, Ray McGovern, Craig Murray, Coleen Rowley and Larry Wilkerson; all are associated with Sam Adams Associates for Integrity in Intelligence.
WikiLeaks has teased the genie of transparency out of a very opaque bottle, and powerful forces in America, who thrive on secrecy, are trying desperately to stuff the genie back in. The people listed below this release would be pleased to shed light on these exciting new developments.
How far down the U.S. has slid can be seen, ironically enough, in a recent commentary in Pravda (that's right, Russia's Pravda): "What WikiLeaks has done is make people understand why so many Americans are politically apathetic ... After all, the evils committed by those in power can be suffocating, and the sense of powerlessness that erupts can be paralyzing, especially when ... government evildoers almost always get away with their crimes. ..."
So shame on Barack Obama, Eric Holder, and all those who spew platitudes about integrity, justice and accountability while allowing war criminals and torturers to walk freely upon the earth. ... the American people should be outraged that their government has transformed a nation with a reputation for freedom, justice, tolerance and respect for human rights into a backwater that revels in its criminality, cover-ups, injustices and hypocrisies.
Odd, isn't it, that it takes a Pravda commentator to drive home the point that the Obama administration is on the wrong side of history. Most of our own media are demanding that WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange be hunted down -- with some of the more bloodthirsty politicians calling for his murder. The corporate-and-government dominated media are apprehensive over the challenge that WikiLeaks presents. Perhaps deep down they know, as Dickens put it, "There is nothing so strong ... as the simple truth."
As part of their attempt to blacken WikiLeaks and Assange, pundit commentary over the weekend has tried to portray Assange's exposure of classified materials as very different from -- and far less laudable than -- what Daniel Ellsberg did in releasing the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Ellsberg strongly rejects the mantra "Pentagon Papers good; WikiLeaks material bad." He continues: "That's just a cover for people who don't want to admit that they oppose any and all exposure of even the most misguided, secretive foreign policy. The truth is that EVERY attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time."
Motivation? WikiLeaks' reported source, Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, having watched Iraqi police abuses, and having read of similar and worse incidents in official messages, reportedly concluded, "I was actively involved in something that I was completely against." Rather than simply go with the flow, Manning wrote: "I want people to see the truth ... because without information you cannot make informed decisions as a public," adding that he hoped to provoke worldwide discussion, debates, and reform.
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Ignorance and courage in the age of Lady Gaga
By Joe Bageant, Information Clearing House
If you hang out much with thinking people, conversation eventually turns to the serious political and cultural questions of our times. Such as: How can the Americans remain so consistently brain-fucked? Much of the world, including plenty of Americans, asks that question as they watch U.S. culture go down like a thrashing mastodon giving itself up to some Pleistocene tar pit.
One explanation might be the effect of 40 years of deep fried industrial chicken pulp, and 44 ounce Big Gulp soft drinks. Another might be pop culture, which is not culture at all of course, but marketing. Or we could blame it on digital autism: Ever watch commuter monkeys on the subway poking at digital devices, stroking the touch screen for hours on end? That wrinkled Neolithic brows above the squinting red eyes?
But a more reasonable explanation is that, (A) we don't even know we are doing it, and (B) we cling to institutions dedicated to making sure we never find out.
As William Edwards Deming famously demonstrated, no system can understand itself, and why it does what it does, including the American social system. Not knowing shit about why your society does what it makes for a pretty nasty case of existential unease. So we create institutions whose function is to pretend to know, which makes everyone feel better. Unfortunately, it also makes the savviest among us -- those elites who run the institutions -- very rich, or safe from the vicissitudes that buffet the rest of us.
Directly or indirectly, they understand that the real function of American social institutions is to justify, rationalize and hide the true purpose of cultural behavior from the lumpenproletariat, and to shape that behavior to the benefit of the institution's members. "Hey, they're a lump. Whaddya expect us to do?"
Doubting readers may consider America's health institutions, the insurance corporations, hospital chains, physicians' lobbies. Between them they have established a perfectly legal right to clip you and me for thousands of dollars at their own discretion. That we so rabidly defend their right to gouge us, given all the information available in the digital age, mystifies the world.
Two hundred years ago no one would have thought sheer volume of available facts in the digital information age would produce informed Americans. Founders of the republic, steeped in the Enlightenment as they were, and believers in an informed citizenry being vital to freedom and democracy, would be delirious with joy at the prospect. Imagine Jefferson and Franklin high on Google.
The fatal assumption was that Americans would choose to think and learn, instead of cherry picking the blogs and TV channels to reinforce their particular branded choice cultural ignorance, consumer, scientific or political, but especially political. Tom and Ben could never have guessed we would chase prepackaged spectacle, junk science, and titillating rumor such as death panels, Obama as a socialist Muslim and Biblical proof that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs around Eden. In a nation that equates democracy with everyman's right to an opinion, no matter how ridiculous, this was probably inevitable. After all, dumb people choose dumb stuff. That's why they are called dumb.
But throw in sixty years of television's mind puddling effects, and you end up with 24 million Americans watching Bristol Palin thrashing around on Dancing with the Stars, then watch her being interviewed with all seriousness on the networks as major news. The inescapable conclusion of half of heartland America is that her mama must certainly be presidential material, even if Bristol cannot dance. It ain't a pretty picture out there in Chattanooga and Keokuk.
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Arrest Warrant for "Sex Crimes" Against Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange Is for "Sex Without a Condom"
According to Washington's Blog:
Interpol has issued an arrest warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for "sex crimes".
Everyone assumed it was for rape.
But it turns out it was for violating an obscure Swedish law against having sex without a condom.
As Newsweek wrote in August:
A Swedish lawyer representing two women whose allegations triggered a sexual-misconduct investigation of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has given [Newsweek column] Declassified the first on-the-record confirmation of the allegations that led to the issuance—and then rapid cancellation—of a warrant on a rape charge and to a parallel investigation into alleged “molestation." Claes Borgstrom of the Stockholm law firm Borgstrom and Bostrom, who is representing two women who said they had sexual relationships with Assange, said his clients complained to the police of Assange's reluctance to use condoms and unwillingness to be tested for sexually transmitted disease.
Borgstrom said that specific details about the the allegations had not yet appeared in Swedish media. But he acknowledged that the principal concern the women had about Assange’s behavior—which they reported to police in person—related to his lack of interest in using condoms and his refusal to undergo testing, at the women’s request, for sexually transmitted disease. A detailed, chronological account of the women’s alleged encounters with Assange—which in both cases began with consensual sexual contact but later included what the women claimed was nonconsensual sex, in which Assange didn’t use a condom—was published on Tuesday by The Guardian; aDeclassified item included a more explicit reference than The Guardian to Assange’s declining to submit to medical tests.
Similarly, the Daily Mail reported in August:
'When they got back they had sexual relations, but there was a problem with the condom - it had split.
'She seemed to think that he had done this deliberately but he insisted that it was an accident.’
Whatever her views about the incident, she appeared relaxed and untroubled at the seminar the next day where Assange met Woman B, another pretty blonde, also in her 20s, but younger than Woman A.
The [second] woman admitted trying to engage her hero in conversation.
Assange seemed pleased to have such an ardent admirer fawning over him and, she said, would look at her ‘now and then’. Eventually he took a closer interest.
What he did not tell her was that the party was being hosted by the woman he had slept with two nights before and whose bed he would probably be sleeping in that night.
‘The passion and attraction seemed to have disappeared,’ she said.
Most of what then followed has been blacked out in her statement, except for: ‘It felt boring and like an everyday thing.’
One source close to the investigation said the woman had insisted he wear a condom, but the following morning he made love to her without one.
This was the basis for the rape charge. But after the event she seemed unruffled enough to go out to buy food for his breakfast.
Today, a former attorney for Assange - James D. Catlin - has confirmed that the charges are for having sex without using a condom. He notes that:
The consent of both women to sex with Assange has been confirmed by prosecutors.
He also accuses the prosecutors of "making it up as they go along", and said that Sweden's justice system is destined to become "the laughingstock of the world" for pursuing the case against Assange.
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