Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Hans Ulrich Obrist

Task Force 373: Drones targeting 2,000 on kill-list

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks revealed in an interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist the following piece of intelligence:

“One of the elements we discovered in “Afghan War Diary” (leaked in July 2010) was the existence of Task Force 373.  This is a special unit of the American army in charge of “liquidating” targets in a list of 2,000 names. There are no impartial rules to add or delete names from the list.  No one can warn you whether you are included on that list of “Joint Priority Effects List (JPEL)”, or potential dead by drone attacks.  From the document received, 50% of the targeted persons were simply killed: No alternatives to trying to capturing them alive.  In many instances, the drones just assassinated innocent kids and civilians, as collateral damages.

The dailies Der Spiegel (Germany) and The Guardian published articles on the bombing of a school that killed seven kids.Task Force 373 tried hard to “kill” this information and then extended its apology…Journalist Eric Schmitt of the New York Times, and in charge of the section national security, wrote an article on that subject, but it never was published.

On many occasions, the political leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan vented their anger at these drone attacks, to no avail so far.

Prior to the leaks on Task Force, WikiLeaks had divulged the two procedures of how the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay functions. We obtained the manual of 2003. The pentagon replied: “Yes, the manual is from 2003, during the period of General Miller…” (another scapegoat criminal).  We got the manual of 2004, and we realized that the procedure became even stricter, instead of improving…”

 published an article titled “US increases Yemen drone strikes”, on Saturday, September 17. She wrote:

“The Obama administration has significantly increased the frequency of drone strikes and other air attacks against the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen in recent months, amid rising concern about political collapse there.  A few of the strikes, carried out by the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have been focused in the southern part of the country, where insurgent forces have for the first time conquered and held territory, as the Yemeni government continues to struggle against escalating opposition to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year rule.

Unlike in Pakistan, where the CIA has presidential authorization to launch drone strikes at will, each U.S. attack in Yemen — and those being conducted in nearby Somalia, such as the most recent on Thursday near the southern port city of Kismayo — requires White House approval, senior administration officials said.

The officials, who were not authorized to discuss the matter on the record, said intended targets must be drawn from an approved list of key members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula deemed by U.S. intelligence officials to be involved in planning attacks against the West. 

White House counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, last week put their number at “a couple of dozen, maybe.”Although several unconfirmed strikes each week have been reported by local media in Yemen and Somalia, the administration has made no public acknowledgment of the escalated campaign, and officials who discussed the increase declined to provide numbers.

The heightened air activity coincides with the administration’s determination this year that AQAP, as the Yemen-based group is known, poses a more significant threat to the United States than the core al-Qaeda group based in Pakistan. The administration has also concluded that AQAP has recruited at least a portion of the main insurgent group in Somalia, al-Shabab, to its anti-Western cause.

From its initial months in office, the Obama administration has debated whether to extend the air attacks that have proved so effective in Pakistan to the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa. Military and intelligence officials have long argued in favor of attacks against al-Shabab camps in Somalia, which have been under overhead surveillance for years. Other officials have questioned the legal and moral justification for intervening in what, until recently, has been a largely domestic conflict.

The administration has said its legal authority to conduct such strikes, whether with fixed-wing planes, cruise missiles or drones, derives from the 2001 congressional resolution authorizing attacks against al-Qaeda and protection of the U.S. homeland, as well as the international law of self-defense.

“The United States does not view our authority to use military force against al-Qaeda as being restricted solely to ‘hot’ battlefields like Afghanistan,” Brennan said in remarks prepared for delivery Friday night at Harvard Law School. “We reserve the right to take unilateral action if or when other governments are unwilling or unable to take the necessary actions themselves.”

What’s going on? The US administrations always reserve the right to taking unilateral actions, such as launching a preemptive war on Iraq in 2003, without a UN resolution.  And the US administrations wonder why people are very upset with US political behaviors against the rudiment of human rights overseas.

Note: On October 2, a US drone assassinated US citizen Al Awlaki in Yemen.  Shouldn’t Al Awlaki be caught alive and tried, as any citizen should?


Who is controlling the Present? Controlled the Past? Is set to control the Future?

In 1948, author George Orwell, in an anticipatory vision, published “1984“.  Orwell wrote:

“Who controls the Present has the control of the Past; and who manages to control the Past can control the Future”

In the 10th century, western Europe civilization was far behind in civilization, culture, and knowledge compared to the Arabic, Indian, and Chinese civilizations.  Europe had the foresight of instituting this routine of keeping detailed records of all political, and economic transactions.

Officials, anywhere they were assigned, had to send detailed reports of daily transactions, behavior of the people, and communicating the existing culture of the indigenous communities.

Archives were centralized, kept secured and well maintained, and opened to the public for further investigation and analysis of trends and changes.

This habit is currently applicable:  Secret files and reports are made public after a set period for researchers to dig in and dust off the manuscripts and mine old pieces of intelligence.

Most other civilizations barely kept archives on topics related to the common people and the general interests. Their Past is almost forgotten.  What remains are altered customs and traditions…

For example, if the new Arab Empire didn’t translate Greek works, we would never had any Greek civilization to ponder upon or try valiantly referring to Greek culture as European sources for democracy, liberty, freedom of opinions, and ….

Western Europe controlled their present, and consequently, managed to control their Past by interpreting what suited their present conditions.  Currently, many ethnic minorities, even those with a written language, are being assimilated within the dominant culture.  Why?

It is expensive and not readily profitable to encourage people to write and publish in their own language: Lacking a large pool of dedicated readers to support conserving the memory of the present.

It is also a daunting task to find academics willing to learn and translate original works and manuscripts in minority languages.

To the question “Have you dreams for the future?”, asked by Hans Ulrich Obrist to Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, Assange replied:

“What I am dreaming of is starting to happen. my project is that every published digitized documents, articles, intellectual work, musical works, movies, videos, pieces of intelligence in social platforms…carries a particular name, (a sort of alphanumeric code), a system of indexing, so that any editing or revision or modification in any document will necessarily receive another name and keep track of the original version…This is one of my dreams for ensuring the continuation of this Tower of Babel, of pure knowledge…”

Why Assange is having this daydream project?

For example, since the advent of digitized  technology, many documents have been tampered with, if not literally killed, destroyed, and removed from public scrutiny.  As if this piece of knowledge and intelligence has never existed.

For example, a court order or an injunction to retire an article will result in “page not found” on the internet if you search for a specific article including “banned” keywords.

In 2008, an Iraqi billionaire during Saddam Hussein regime, named Nadhim Auchi, hired the British law firm of Carter-Ruck to attack in justice dailies that published articles in 2003 related to his indictment in France to 15 months of prison term in the affair of Elf.

Why Auchi wanted these articles retired from public scrutiny?

It turned out that Auchi had contributed $3.5 million to President Obama Presidential campaign via Tony Rezko.  Rezko was indicted for corruption in 2008.  Consequently, the British court ordered the published article retired from circulation.  Eight articles were deleted, among them 3 in the The Guardian and one in The Daily Telegraph.

For example, if WikiLeaks didn’t publish the 400, 000 leaked documents, the information on the Task Force 373 with order to assassinate 2,000 individuals on a list, would have certainly be erased for ever… Examples of killing documents abound, even during ancient times.

Mind you that neuro sciences have established that the area of memory of the past is the same that is activated when you plan for any project.

No memory, no good potential for planning out the future 

Note 1: You may read on banned manuscripts

Note 2:  European adventurers since the 16th centuries left a wealth of information on countries they traveled too, using any means, adding hand drawn pictures and hand drawn maps…

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks: On how the leaks affected “Arab Spring” uprising

Julian Assange gave an extensive interview to Hans Ulrich Obrist, published in 4 parts in the French weekly Courrier International.  To the question on the contribution of WikiLeaks on Arab uprising, Assange had this to say:

“We tried in WikiLeaks to have an impact on the Arab societies. At least, we managed to pour oil on the fire.  Studying the interactions among the leaks and the uprising are still to be written.  The Lebanese daily Al Akhbar (The Stories) started publishing in December 2010 analyses of the US diplomatic telegrams that related to Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

The domain name of Al Akhbar was attacked and redirected to a porno site in Saudi Arabia.  As Al Akhbar recovered from the attack, it had to face denials of services, and dealing with hackers erasing the contents of cables, articles, and pieces of analyses.  WikiLeakes supporters intervened and redirected to us the official Tunisian sites.

The New Yorker divulged a leak from the US ambassador to Tunisia, exposing the rampant corruption of President Ben Ali and his entourage. One leak announced the readiness of the US to supporting the Tunisian army against Ben Ali.  This piece of intelligence was a strong message and a signal to getting on the move.  When we witnessed the Tunisian uprising, we knew that Egypt of Mubarak is next in line.

Consequently, we worked hard to release leaks concerning Mubarak’s vast and deep network of collaborators and far-reaching corruption to even small municipalities and shop owners. In collaboration with the British The Daily Telegraph, we published 480 telegram leaks on Libya of Qadhafi.

These leaks tarnished and weakened the massive support that the US and western States lavished on Mubarak and Qadhafi.

For example, vice President Joseph Biden, refrained from repeating that “The regime of Mubarak is most probably democratic“.  Leaks exposed the close cooperation and technical support of the FBI with Egypt internal security services and procedures for torture activities, against human rights…

For example, another leaks divulged instructions to soccer clubs to not using Facebook and Twitter. The Egyptian revolutionary had a field day disseminating this leak of forbidding the usage of social platform.

From the 20 dailies we cooperated with, only The Daily Telegram thought it worthwhile analyzing leaks on Egypt and Libya and publishing any articles relative to these leaks they had.

Conversation with Julian Assange: Conducted by Hans Ulrich Obrist

The professions of my parents were  in theater, and I moved to over 50 cities in Australia of the 70,s and attended 37 schools in rural areas.  You can imagine Tom Sawyer in this modern time:  I rode horses, explored caves, dived and did motorcyclist….

In Adelaide, my mother helped whisk out nuclear documents of the British testing site in Maralinga. At the age of 15 I started decoding systems meant to preventing the dissemination of open programs.

Before the advent of Internet, Australia was kind living in the outback and it was a pleasure to discover the outside world and get inside the Pentagon archives of the 8th Air Force, (the strategic nuclear air force in the USA).

At 17, I had founded an underground magazine and the Federal police rounded us.  I had already set the foundation for Australia Internet using a provider that I created. I used cryptography and mathematics to protect my sources and get inside systems.

You see, there are three kinds of information: Knowledge disseminated by schooling systems, books, and manuscripts that are slowly degrading and in the way out of circulation; information related to the economic industrial functioning of societies such as the “know how” of hydraulic systems …which are protected by lobbies; and the third type of information that are actively censored and prevented from entering the public domain.  “The secret type of information” is a serious handicap for a just, fair, and intelligent interaction among communities.

Until I was 20 of age, I was basically a hacker continuing his university studies in Melbourne.  I edited an underground magazine called “International Subversive”.  In that period, every developed State had its own Internet system and its own network, but they were not interconnected.  For example, you had Arpanet and Well in the US connecting universities, and X.25 connecting telecommunication industries, QSD in France, Altos in Germany…We were a very restricted community of hackers, scientists, and people in power; we were young, active, and motivated and we invested the embryonic internet.

Our phones were bugged and we witnessed six years of legal prosecutions in the US, England and Australia.  We were mostly young geniuses with the faculty of easy adaptation to this newer intellectual horizon, even though many of us did not finish formal higher education.  I was inspired by the book of Alexander Solzhenitsyn “The God of darkness”, Louis Fischer, Arthur Koestler, Ignazio Silone, Stephen Spender, Richard Wright and the Black Panthers radical traditions.

1994 witnessed the apogee of the micro-movement “Cypherpunk”  (decoding punk).  True hackers disliked the absurd term of cyberpunk.  The “Cypherpunk” community were mostly from California, Europe and Australia and we had understood the nature of the power relation among individuals and States, mainly based on the science of cryptography. We had no founding members or a guiding philosophy, but had starting principles originating from John Young, Eric Hughes, and Timothy C. May…We formed circles of discussion and we had this concept that with talents in mathematics and programming we can empower individuals to confront the power of States, to say No to public power. We could code and decode as efficiently as States could.  WikiLeaks was a combination of various ideas circulated during the discussion groups.  The economic feasibility in internet communication was not exorbitant to start a internet-type enterprise.

There was abundance of information and the critical problem was “which piece of intelligence is worth saving and analyzing even further”?  We discovered that information with “feeble light” (not widely diffused) must have been undergoing economic censorship to take out of the public domain, thus, highly important to State powers and affecting the safety and stability of the regular people.

Once a State or institution endeavor to censor anything, it means the power-to-be feels threatened by the information.  Unless most power relationships are transformed by financial interests, political censorship will be highly dangerous.  Thus, free expression and free gathering are dangerous to political ideological systems.

Note: Hans Ulrich Obrist is an artist from Switzerland and organizes biennial in Vienna and Berlin.  He is the director of international projects at the Serpentine Gallery in London.




March 2023

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