Leon Panetta, who served as director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from 2009 to 2011, and then as the Obama administration’s secretary for defence, has let the cat out of the bag, telling interviewers that the US is seeking to prosecute WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange to send a threatening message to whistleblowers and publishers alike.
The comments were aired this week in a documentary produced by German public broadcaster ARD, entitled “Wikileaks – USA against Julian Assange.” The program was a compelling and objective account of the ten year US persecution of Assange and featured strong interviews with his father John Shipton, his partner Stella Moris, WikiLeaks’ lawyers, United Nations Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer and famous National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Panetta’s remarks were arguably the most significant, because they were confirmation from the horse’s mouth of the mafia-character of the US pursuit of Assange, its politically-motivated nature and flagrant disregard for international laws and fundamental democratic rights. His comments have, not only political, but potentially legal significance, refuting the lies of the US Justice Department, aimed at presenting the attempted extradition as a bona fide process conforming with judicial norms.
Panetta’s comments have probative value, because he was intimately involved in the initial stages of the US campaign to silence Assange. A decades-long Democratic Party political operative, Panetta was head of the CIA in 2010, when the US government responded to WikiLeaks’ exposures of war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan and global diplomatic conspiracies, by launching an unprecedented operation against Assange and denouncing him as a “spy” or a “high-tech terrorist”
Panetta would undoubtedly have been involved in the Obama administration’s establishment of a “WikiLeaks war room,” staffed by hundreds of military and intelligence operatives, with the sole purpose of “neutralising” Assange.
It can only be assumed that he was privy to the plans surrounding various dirty tricks against the WikiLeaks founder; the 2010 global tour by Hillary Clinton to mitigate the impact of the publication of hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables and to line up governments internationally against Assange, and the discussions that resulted in the establishment of a secret grand jury, convened for the purpose of concocting charges against Assange.