Monday, January 4, 2021

Assange Avoids Extradition, Pending Appeal by USG

That's our Julian Assange update theme, in honor of the whitest-skinned person ever to come from Australia. The first thing he should do once he's sprung is to get a massive dose of vitamin D, if you ask me.

The news today from the UK is that a judge has decided to release Assange rather than extradite him to the U.S., where she fears he might kill himself if confined in a U.S. prison.

In 2018, a British court refused to extradite Lauri Love, a hacker accused of penetrating U.S. government networks, because of the risk he would kill himself. In 2012 then-Home Secretary Theresa May blocked the extradition of Gary McKinnon, who was accused of breaking into U.S. military and space networks, because of the risk he would end his life. So there is a clear pattern here.

On all the substantive issues raised by the U.S. government against Assange, the judge actually agreed. She said that the alleged offenses go beyond "encouraging a journalist." For instance, Assange called for people to join the CIA so they could access confidential information for WikiLeaks, something the judge found to be "beyond investigative journalism."

The judge also said the right to free speech does not give anyone "unfettered discretion" to disclose any document they wish, and she rejected Assange's assertion of free speech laws noting that the difficulty with this argument is it vests in Assange the right to sacrifice the safety of individuals named in leaked documents, in the name of free speech. Such as the 50-some persons who sought asylum in the United States after being so named.

Moreover, the judge pointed out Assange’s eventual "indiscriminate" release of some 800,000 State Department cables, in contrast to his first, more responsible and much smaller, release of cables to news media outlets who published them with redactions.

Warming up to the subject, the judge noted that any hurt caused to Assange's family by his extradition "is nothing unusual in these kind of proceedings." Damn! I am liking this judge.

Regarding the U.S. judicial system, the judge said she does not accept it would be impossible to find twelve impartial jurors, or that the plea bargaining system was unjust, or that U.S. prosecutors would prosecute Assange out of pure vengeance. She even noted that President Trump has publicly praised Assange.

So, then, what's her objection to extradition?

Only that Assange has a frail mental condition. She accepted testimony that Assange suffers from autism and clinical depression, and is at risk of self-harm. If confined in a U.S. prison under special administrative measures, Assange has the intellect and determination to get around suicide prevention measures, she thinks. Therefore, "extradition would be oppressive by reason of Assange’s mental health."

From the AP story:

Assange, who sat quietly in the dock at London’s Central Criminal Court for the ruling, wiped his brow as the decision was announced. His partner Stella Moris, with whom he has two young sons, wept.

Outside court, Moris said the ruling was “the first step towards justice,” but it was not yet time to celebrate.

“I had hoped that today would be the day that Julian would come home,” she said. “Today is not that day, but that day will come soon.”

“Mr. President, tear down these prison walls,” she said. “Let our little boys have their father.”

Ms. Moris is one of Assange’s lawyers and also his jailhouse squeeze, now age 37 with two little kids that he fathered during his years of self-imposed exile in London's Ecuadorian Embassy. Specifically, while in a tent set up inside his room in the embassy in order to avoid the secret cameras that the lovebirds assumed must have been trained on Assange by the CIA.

Ms. Moris says that by 2017 the pair were "secretly engaged,” and that Assange even proposed to her, kind of, via a virtual reality experience.

She is quite sure Assange wants to marry her. Good luck with that, but based on everything I've read about him, Assange does not seem the family-man domestic type.

It is not rare for even more or less normal women to marry convicts. Google “Hybristophilia.”

But Assange is only two weeks away from freedom, unless the USG's appeal of today's decision succeeds, which it probably won't. Like all famous outlaws, he has surely received tons of female fan mail. Once he’s out of his British prison, Assange will have a vastly expanded range of available females. Do you see marriage in that future? I don't.

Whereas, if he were to be extradited, well, the U.S. federal prison system provides many benefits to inmates who wish to marry, including a minimum of four visiting hours per month. (No conjugal visits, however.)

Think about it, Ms. Moris.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Keeping False Hope Alive, the Latest Update

From the the Daily Mail we learn the latest twist in the Harry Dunn story:

The Crown Prosecution Service has told Harry Dunn's parents it will continue to pursue the prosecution of their son's alleged killer, despite the High Court ruling she had diplomatic immunity.

-- snip --

Chief Crown Prosecutor for the East Midlands, Janine Smith, wrote to the 19-year-old motorcyclist's family just before the anniversary of the CPS's charging decision, to say she was 'satisfied that there remains sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.'

The family had contested the diplomatic immunity asserted on behalf of the suspect, but High Court judges accepted the Foreign Office's position that Sacoolas 'enjoyed immunity from UK criminal jurisdiction'. In Ms Smith's letter to Mrs Charles and Mr Dunn she said: 'I wanted to take the opportunity to provide an update following our consideration of the recent High Court judgment.

'Having considered the judgment, and notwithstanding the outcome in respect of diplomatic immunity, I am satisfied that there remains sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and that it remains in the public interest for the prosecution to continue.

'The CPS remains of the view that Mrs Sacoolas should return to the UK to stand trial.

'I do hope this confirmation is of some small comfort to Harry's family and friends at this challenging time of the year.'

Evidently Ms. Janine Smith, Chief Crown Prosecutor for the East Midlands, believes the best way she can be of some small comfort to the Dunn family and friends at this challenging time of year is to keep alive their false hope that, someday, maybe far in the future, there will be an extradition and prosecution of the American driver despite that driver’s immunity to the criminal jurisdiction of the UK.

That is, frankly, an abomination.

If the officials of the Crown Prosecution Service for the East Midlands cannot summon up the moral courage to speak simple fact to the family – such as the fact that diplomatic immunity is an absolute bar to extradition short of a waiver by the U.S. Secretary of State, and that is something which the U.S. has never granted in such cases – then it would be better for them to say nothing.

Step back from this ill-advised servicing of the family’s sentiments, Ms. Smith. Return to your daily business of keeping the public safe from offensive tweets and such, and leave it to the family’s spokesman to do the damage.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Most Head Shakingly Bad Thing of the Week

Former Mafioso and confessed murderer of 19 (that he admits to - bada-bing!) Sammy 'The Bull' Gravono has pulled the trigger on a podcast about his life of organized crime.

Have an espresso and stir up some tomato sauce with sauted onion, garlic, and olive oil while you make your bones on this cold piece of anti-social media at: Our Thing podcast.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Watch the Sky For Secret Signals Over RAF Croughton

Well, it's finally come to this. The Dunn family's favorite charlatan is out of threats and arguments and is reduced to imagining secret signals in the sky over RAF Croughton. 

Check out this tweet:
We’ve always known that the good people of the 422nd Air Base Group at RAF Croughton have been on our side. The mast at the base lit up tonight in Kawasaki green in support of #justice4harry. Thank you so much guys from the bottom of our hearts for that lovely touch.
What is this? Have those (previously) evil Americans at RAF Croughton flashed a coded signal in the night straight from the covert heart of the U.S. military-intelligence complex to the supporters of Harry Dunn's family?

Uh, not so fast. That lovely touch is, in fact, just RAF Croughton's annual star lighting. It is done every December, and it is in support of nothing except raising “holiday cheer for the community and local village.”

Come on, man!© Just go to RAF Croughton's Facebook page if you want to know why that star is there:
The 422nd Communications Squadron Cable and Antenna Systems, “CABLE DAWGZ,” prepare the 250 ft tower at RAF Croughton for the upcoming 422 ABG official Star Lighting ceremony.
“The lighting happens annually to raise holiday cheer for the community and local village." said Tech. Sgt. Donnie Parsons, 422nd Communications Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of cable and antenna systems.
#Pathfinders Light the Way!

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Most Head Shakingly Bad Thing of the Week

Adolf Hitler Wins Election in Namibia, Has No Plans for World Domination - Newsweek

Adolf Hitler Uunona has been elected with 85 percent of the vote for a seat on the regional council in the former German colony, where street names, people and places still have German names ... He told German tabloid paper Bild: "My father named me after this man. He probably didn't understand what Adolf Hitler stood for. As a child I saw it as a totally normal name. Only as a teenager did I understand that this man wanted to conquer the whole world."

He appears on the election nomination list as Adolf H. Uunona. He won the seat on the ticket of the ruling SWAPO party which has ruled Namibia since independence from apartheid South Africa in 1990.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Harry Dunn Case Update: Demands to Meet Bo-Jo in Person After Loss at Judicial Review

Another Harry Dunn case update, just before the holiday lull sets in, which should last until late January when the family's civil suit in the U.S. has its next milestone. Anyway, the issues in that case captivate me, whereas Joe Biden does not, so it's the Dunn case again. 

Last Saturday we learned from the UK Mirror that the mother of the victim wants Boris Johnson to meet her following the dismissal of the family's judicial appeal:
The mother of tragic Harry Dunn wants Boris Johnson to meet her following a High Court ruling that his alleged killer has diplomatic immunity.
-- snip --
Charlotte said: “We still haven’t been able to meet the Prime Minister. We’ve asked him on no end of occasions to meet with us, but because he refuses, we’ve never been able to ask him questions directly and get an honest answer. Boris just will not meet us. It’s bizarre. We’ve met President Trump half-way around the world, but we still haven’t met our own Prime Minister who is an hour up the road. It makes no sense to me," she added.
You have to meet him in person in order to ask him a question? I’m not so sure that’s really necessary.

That aside, I have an idea why her own PM won’t meet with her. If you want to have private meetings with a head of state, it helps if you do not rely on a maniac ‘advisor’ to do all your reading-writing-speaking-and-listening for you, which is the role she allows him to play. 

The problem is, that guy is bad!, as the PM's staff knows, and no head of state will be caught in the same room as him. 

His recent over-the-top reaction to U.S. Embassy London's disinclination to include him in a private meeting that the mother had requested pretty much defines the word "manic." 

Speaking of that bad advisor, The Mirror's story included this latest announcement from him:
The family’s spokesman Radd Seiger has already spoken to officials from the US Embassy in London and the foreign office since Monday’s high court verdict.
“Officials.” Really? What officials are those? He did not disclose that information to The Mirror, so let me guess. It was the telephone operator at the embassy, and whichever Foreign Office duty officer got stuck with taking calls from random crackpots on Tuesday last week. 

It's hard to believe how thoroughly in thrall the family is to an obvious blowhard bullshitter, but see for yourself. Watch the video clip in which the mother - responding to that same embassy invitation which did not include her Svengali - describes how completely he interprets for her everything she sees and hears. 

Maybe someday the mother and the rest of the family will look back and see that everything he has told them about international law was wrong, that none of his assurances have ever worked out, and that none of the government agencies and officials who receive his frequent demarches care in the least about the demands he makes of them. 

"Come on, man!," to allow myself one small Bidenism. Get red-piled on that guy. Until then he’s keeping you out of discerning circles.


Further Update as of December 1

The Dunn family announced today that they have dropped their legal dream team and are going with new representation for the appeal. 

Makes sense to me. If your legal dream team had been shot down as badly as their legal dream team was shot down at the judicial review, you'd want a new team, too. 

To recap, this is what the High Court justices thought of the old dream team's arguments:
Creative though they are, the Claimants' arguments under Ground 1 [whether diplomatic immunity existed] ultimately amount to playing with language in order to address the weakness in the case arising from the lack of an express waiver. This play is easily identified: they seek to avoid the effect of the VCDR [Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations] by re-classifying the advance waiver of Mr Sacoolas' immunity as a new creature ("limited immunity") and then arguing that this limited immunity, by implication, has also silently attached to the family members (whose full immunity has never been in fact waived expressly in accordance with the mandatory language of Article 32).
For completeness we should record that there was nothing in the case law and textbooks relied upon by the Claimants in relation to the so-called "derivative" nature of a family member's immunity which affects this conclusion.

 Yeah, I'd switch horses in the middle of the stream, too.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Judicial Review Decision in Harry Dunn Case Handed Down: Diplomatic Immunity Upheld

The UK High Court has ruled on the judicial review brought by the family of Harry Dunn in which they asked the court to find that the American driver did not have diplomatic immunity. The court concluded that the driver, in fact, was covered by immunity from UK criminal jurisdiction, affirming the position of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office. Read the decision here

In short, the justices found: “Our conclusion is that Mrs Sacoolas enjoyed immunity from UK criminal jurisdiction at the time of Harry’s death. We do not come to this conclusion with any enthusiasm for the result, but it is compelled by the operation of the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations.” 

Regarding the merits of the case brought by the family, the justices said this:
114. Creative though they are, the Claimants' arguments under Ground 1 [whether diplomatic immunity existed] ultimately amount to playing with language in order to address the weakness in the case arising from the lack of an express waiver. This play is easily identified: they seek to avoid the effect of the VCDR [Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations] by re-classifying the advance waiver of Mr Sacoolas' immunity as a new creature ("limited immunity") and then arguing that this limited immunity, by implication, has also silently attached to the family members (whose full immunity has never been in fact waived expressly in accordance with the mandatory language of Article 32).
115. For completeness we should record that there was nothing in the case law and textbooks relied upon by the Claimants in relation to the so-called "derivative" nature of a family member's immunity which affects this conclusion.
120. We grant permission to apply for judicial review in relation to Ground 1, but we dismiss that ground on the merits.
Is that the end of the matter? Of course not, because the family have refused all along to acknowledge the operation of the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations. Because, you know, they only listen to their ‘advisor.’ 

The mother of Harry Dunn was quoted today saying "Right from the start our team have advised us that Anne Sacoolas did not have diplomatic immunity when she killed Harry and that advice is just (as) strong now as it was at the start of our campaign.” 

And there it is. Exactly that, that right-from-the-start denial of legal and political reality on the part of her shady advisor in his encouragement of her wish fulfillment, is the cause of this tragic woman’s refusal to acknowledge the fact of diplomatic immunity. 

In the callous fantasy land that her ‘advisor’ has created for the family, there will be no grieving or acceptance until international law is overturned and diplomatic immunity denied. In other words, until they get the one thing they cannot get. 

The judicial review by the High Court was the deus ex machina wherein the family had invested all its hopes, until today. Now, the firm rejection by the High Court of the family’s weak arguments is "just a blip along the way" according to the victim’s mother. Now, they’ll appeal and make the same losing arguments to a Higher Court, where presumably they will lose again and then appeal again to the Highest Court in the UK. And after that to the Higher-than-the-Highest Court, if such a thing exists, and then to the World Court and beyond. It will never end. 

Here are the predictable further plot points in this tragedy.

January 20, 2021 – The family will now invest all its new hopes in President Joe Biden being more than happy to reverse the USG’s position and create a precedent by violating the diplomatic immunity of the spouse of an Administrative and Technical staffer. 

January 29, 2021 – The family’s civil lawsuit against the American driver will be challenged by the defendant in U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The suit was filed there under the very inventive premise that a U.S. court could have jurisdiction over a UK traffic accident. We’ll see. If not laughed out of court, a civil suit could end in a financial settlement, which is an outcome that might buy some temporary peace. However, a civil case cannot end in extradition and trial, and that is the one and only thing that will end this drama, or so the family has been convinced. 

February, 2021 – Biden’s presumptive SecState Antony Blinken will probably be asked by the UK to approve a new extradition request. My odds on that request not being approved are 99 to 1. When has the USG ever waived diplomatic immunity and allowed an employee to be tried overseas? The answer is once (here), and that was in a war-time espionage case that had profound political consequences for FDR’s 1940 reelection if the employee in question had not been locked up abroad. 

TBD, 2021 – When a new Ambassador to the UK is confirmed by the Senate, the family will have a new shuffle of the cards at Embassy London and a new clutch of long-suffering embassy people to approach with more demands for in-person meetings featuring their omnipresent ‘advisor’ in the role of stage manager, interpreter, and press release writer. 

Can we really be so sure Biden won't cave? Well, consider this Presidential statement which summed up the USG’s position on immunity during a particularly trying case in the recent past:
"We've got a very simple principle here that every country in the world that is party to the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations has upheld in the past and should uphold in the future, and that is, if our diplomats are in another country, then they are not subject to that country's local prosecution," Obama said in a press conference today. "We expect Pakistan, that's a signatory and recognizes Mr. Davis as a diplomat, to abide by the same convention... I'm not going to discuss the specific exchanges that we've had [with the Pakistani government], but we've been very firm about this being a priority."
That was Obama. But now, you may wonder, will the Biden administration have the nerve, or better yet the bottle, to say “no” to emotional coercion from the Dunn family? 

I can easily see Biden's people trying to find some sneaking half-way compromise that would placate the family. But then, the family insists on all or nothing. All is not possible, short of POTUS and the SecState breaking faith with our covered employees abroad, so it will be nothing. 

Lastly, an unseen actor in this drama is the American driver, who for over a year has been subjected to a constant stream of threats, insults, harassment, and obnoxious psychoanalyzing by the British tabloids and those U.S. media that are following along. She is the target of a daily Two Minutes Hate led by the victim’s family and joined in by the kind of online spectators (some of whom live in our common Northern Virginia neighborhoods) who are always eager to take a gratuitous wallow in someone else’s misery. 

Moreover, all of that abuse is directed at her, personally, as if there were no national interests involved. But the matter of diplomatic immunity is far from personal; asserting immunity is a matter of international law and diplomatic practice between nations. It is, as Obama said, a principle that every nation in the world has adopted in their mutual interests. It is not a personal choice by the covered individuals, it cannot be surrendered by them, nor does it depend on their wishes. 

The American driver in this case is receiving all that abuse because the U.S. government, and not her personally, is upholding the principle of diplomatic immunity in our national interest. It is upholding that principle even regardless of what she may, in fact, wish. 

I’ll say this: all of you USG employees and family members who are now abroad and covered by diplomatic or consular immunity, or will be in the future, ought to hope that President Biden will hold firm to the “very simple principle here that every country in the world that is party to the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations has upheld in the past and should uphold in the future.” 

What is happening to one family member now might well happen to any of you next, and it is more likely to do so if the incoming administration compromises on that very simple principle.