There was a time when I would automatically turn to the BBC for solid, unbiased, simple news. Now, like many others, I am turning elsewhere.
A case in point. Today the BBC reports on Julian Assange’s refusal to absent himself from the Ecuadorean embassy and present himself to the Metropolitan Police. The fourth paragraph, and remember that it is the first four paragraphs that also appear on Ceefax, says:
He wants to avoid being sent to Sweden to face rape and assault accusations.
Julian Assange ‘declines’ police order and Ceefax
These first four paragraphs are the ones read by most people, and seen probably by millions more on Ceefax. And that fourth paragraph misrepresents the truth so extensively it is effectively a lie. Assange repeatedly sought to have those charges properly investigated; but without the threat or possibility of subsequent, unrelated, extradition to the US.
The BBC gets closer, a little, to the truth, further on in the article:
Mr Assange fears that if he is sent to Sweden he could be sent on to the United States to face charges over Wikileaks and that there, he could face the death penalty.
There are two problems with this. Firstly, most people will have read the fourth paragraph, but not got as far as this tenth paragraph. Secondly, it is still carefully worded, so that ‘he could face the death penalty’. Most civilised people will dismiss this as paranoia: they will find it impossible to believe that the Land of the Free would execute someone for publishing genuine documents on a website. It’s simply beyond belief, therefore it can’t happen, therefore Assange is having a laugh. Therefore we don’t need to bother or even sympathise. And that is what this BBC report is designed to say; that is, what the authorities want us to hear.
The BBC report is actually about the statement by Susan Benn, a committee member on the Assange defense fund. Rather than read the sanitized BBC report, please read the full transcript here: Press Statement: By Julian Assange Defense Fund Outside the Ecuadorian Embassy. It includes this:
It should be made clear what would happen if Julian was extradited to the USA. The United Nations special rapporteur for torture, Juan Mendez has formally found that the United States has subjected Julian Assange’s alleged source in this matter, the young soldier Bradley Manning, to conditions amounting to torture. The UN found that the United States subjected Bradley Manning to “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”. Mr. Manning has been charged by the US government with the capital offense of “aiding the enemy” in relation to his alleged interaction with Mr. Assange. Bradley Manning has been detained without trial for two years and was placed into solitary confinement for 9 months in his cell for 23 hours a day, stripped naked and woken every 5 minutes. His lawyer and support team say these harsh measures were to coerce him into implicating Julian Assange.
This is the reality of what British justice is offering Julian Assange. And remember this: it took a British judge exercising unacceptable semantic contortions – by saying that UK law is dependent upon the French language translation of an EU requirement – in order to make the extradition from the UK to Sweden appear to be legal.
This is unacceptable. The UK should be protecting Julian Assange and the principle of free speech – not offering him up to an out-of-control United States courtesy of an increasingly worrying Swedish puppet. It makes me ashamed to be British. And ashamed to help pay for the BBC.
This document, WhistleBlowing Statement (short form), from which I have removed all supporting emails, was sent to me by Anonymous. It is a copy of an email sent to the FSA on 28 June 2012 – the day after, it is worth remembering, Barclays was fined £290m for manipulating Libor (the interbank lending rate on which the cost of all of our own loan repayments is based).
Barclay’s share value has plunged 17% on this news, and Bob Diamond’s position as CEO is considered precarious. The document I have, however, suggests that Barclay’s has not been reluctant to manipulate its share price in the other direction.
This document accuses Barclays of misrepresenting the state of the integration of Lehman’s systems (acquired less than 5 months earlier) with its own systems. Lehman’s was acquired on 16 September 2008, the day after it entered bankruptcy protection. On 22 January 2009, Barclays stated, “Barclays Capital, the investment banking division of Barclays PLC, today announces that it has completed the integration of the North American businesses of Lehman Brothers acquired in September 2008. As the final step in the integration, it has…”
Successful integration of the two worldwide financial organizations would lead to an efficient and effective company – but 5 months is an unbelievably short time to integrate such systems; and according to this document it should not have been believed.
Nevertheless, Barclays made the announcement and its share value immediately rose from a low of 51.20 on the 23 January 2009 to 88.70 on the 26 January 2009. “It was one of the speediest merger integrations in Wall Street history,” commented the New York Times at the time. And that’s because, according to the whistleblower, it never happened.
The author of the document was working for Barclay’s Capital at the time. He was involved in the integration.
I witnessed extreme pressure to complete the integration deliveries in any shape or fashion before February. Project governance and any professional integrity were sacrificed at every stage to demonstrate unrealistic/ inaccessible levels of success…
It is my belief that a meaningful completion was never fully achieved during the time boxed period up to the profit announcements made in February and that work pieces of it were moved to Day 3 because they could not be achieved within the required time frame. In other words integration work was being conveniently represented in this non industry standard format so that integration of the Banks systems could exist in different stages of completeness but still be represented as completed to interested parties external to BC.
Strangely, a report in Computerworld dated more than a year after Barclays’ own announcement, starts “Barclays has completed the integration of collapsed bank Lehman Brothers’ North American operations,” something that Barclays says it achieved more than 12 months earlier.
It is worth reading the Computerworld report together with the earlier Barclays announcement – and the whistleblower statement.
The whistleblower document has been sent to the FSA, complete with dozens of supporting emails. It is a serious accusation; and one that both Barclays and the FSA will need to address. Particularly, I repeat, because this comes to light just one day after Barclays is fined £290m for falsely manipulating the Libor rate for its own benefit.
By now we’ve all heard of the massive FBI bust: 24 worldwide arrests and counting. Many commentators have focused on the inclusion of JoshTheGod amongst those arrested, and the closure/seizure of the UGNazi website. My own account on Infosecurity Magazine is here: FBI arrests: was UGNazi a target or an instrument?
But there’s a fascinating side-story to this. Jester, the self-proclaimed antidote to Anonymous, declared war on UGNazi on 7 June. “Within 23 days of this date,” he declared, “justice will be served.” Well, 20 days later the core UGNazi members were arrested and the website seized – leading many to suspect that Jester played some hidden part in this.
Doubtful. In fact, seriously doubtful. Jester himself, of course, drops teasers to suggest he was in the know. Yesterday, the day of the bust, he did a major update to his ‘placeholder’ web post. Headed “FBI Arrests 37 In Massive International Cyber Fraud Scheme” (I’ve seen reference to 27 elsewhere, but never 37), he says:
Teaser: If I was a gambling man I might hazard a wager on the ‘CarderProfit Forum’ being a honeypot/sting that *someone* setup. Just a wild stab in the dark you understand.
Well, yes, the FBI had just said that; but also that they shut it down last month. When such a site suddenly disappears, it is either because its been busted or never was in the first place. It’s when you actually look closely at Jester’s account you see it’s full of innuendo but little substance.
I asked the other side what they thought about Jester. “Jester,” I was told, “is a past master at the art of hacking illusion – making matters that are essentially outside of his control appear to be part of a plan that he facilitates through his own hacking powers. Through his twitter and blog, with, sleight of his hand, he pretends he has the power to take down a hacking group such as UGNAZI, releasing a combination of verifiable but less descriptive pieces of info mixed in with unknown but more descriptive pieces. In truth Jester is the more competent master of the art that Reckz0r is still learning.”
Jester, according to Anonymous, is more a master of social engineering than hacking. In this instance he was in the right place at the right time; chasing UGNazi just when the FBI was closing in. And he’ll make the most of it because that’s his skill. Oh, and one other thing: don’t confuse UGNazi with Anonymous.