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Breaking News
posted by FatPhil on Thursday April 11 2019, @01:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the shoulda-taken-the-tea-chest-option-years-back dept.

Breaking: Met police confirm that Julian Assange has been arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy.

Mr Assange took refuge in the embassy seven years ago to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault case that has since been dropped.

The Met Police said he was arrested for failing to surrender to the court.

Ecuador's president Lenin Moreno said it withdrew Mr Assange's asylum after his repeated violations to international conventions.

But WikiLeaks tweeted that Ecuador had acted illegally in terminating Mr Assange's political asylum "in violation of international law".

[...] Scotland Yard said it was invited into the embassy by the ambassador, following the Ecuadorian government's withdrawal of asylum.

After his arrest for failing to surrender to the court, police said he had been further arrested on behalf of US authorities under an extradition warrant.

He doesn't look happy, to say the least.

Update: As this is a breaking story, more information is coming out regularly - one source that updates their reports frequently is Zero Hedge - thanks boru!

Previously: New Analysis of Swedish Police Report Confirms Julian Assange's Version in Sweden's Case
Ecuador Reportedly Almost Ready to Hand Julian Assange Over to UK Authorities
UK Said Assange Would Not be Extradited If He Leaves Embassy Refuge
Inadvertent Court Filing Suggests that the U.S. DoJ is Preparing to Indict Julian Assange
U.S. Ramping Up Probe Against Julian Assange, WikiLeaks Says
Ecuador Denies That Julian Assange Will be Evicted From Embassy in London

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  • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday April 15 2019, @04:53PM (4 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 15 2019, @04:53PM (#829928) Journal

    I can't really "justify" firing on the van. All that I can offer you is, we are just Monday morning quarterbacks. I can sit here and tell myself that I probably wouldn't have fired on the van. But, we don't second-guess the man at the trigger. He answers to his superiors, and he was told to fire. I think it was wrong to shoot the van up, but even if we all agree that it WAS wrong - there was no war crime committed. The people in the van were rendering aid to a known enemy unit. It's justifiable under the rules of law. It's part of that "fog of war" you read about. That doesn't exactly make it justified in my opinion.

    Now, I ask one thing of you. Put yourself in the gunner's seat. You've just shot up a bunch of known bad guys. Some unknown people show up, attempting to rescue your bad guys. You report it, your superiors order you to fire. No matter at this point, yet, that you do, or do not, want to shoot the van up. You follow orders, unless you can clearly argue that those orders are unlawful. After you've shot the van, ground troops arrive, and inform you that you've shot up a bunch of unarmed dummies, AND THEIR KIDS.

    I can damned near guarantee that gunner lost nights of sleep, and probably had to visit a shrink. He may now be one of those homeless PTSD veterans we read about. It probably had an effect on the rest of the crew, but none so much as that gunner.

    And, it all boils down to "War is hell" and "shit happens" and fucking Murphy.

    THAT is why I was opposed to the invasion of Iraq. I put every bit of responsibility in Bush's and Cheney's laps. The sons of bitches violated a number of laws before, during, and after that war. Worse, they mutilated common sense.

    It would have been an outrage if the Pentagon told Bush they would not comply with his order to invade Iraq. It would have been the biggest scandal in US history. But, I think that would have been better than destroying a country, just to get the top 50 or so leaders.

    We've finally beat Medicare! - Houseplant in Chief
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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 15 2019, @05:32PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 15 2019, @05:32PM (#829941)

    True. We are criticizing after the fact. And you're correct, we're not there. I'll say that it was both indicative they had a problem with it and also a sign of trying to justify or grow emotional callouses about it when they say on the video, "Ah damn. Oh well." and later, "Well they shouldn't have brought kids into a war zone." They're already beginning the process of living with what they did, and to some degree making excuses for it.

    Now, I will do as you ask and place myself in their shoes - I did while watching it originally. (And yes, I've worn the uniform and carried a rifle).

    First, if unknown people show up rescuing the bad guys, if they are making pickups on wounded the big question is: What's the threat?

    Yes, they're amped up, they just took out what looked like --- and you're right, likely was --- a squad of armed insurgents and they're still thinking in that mindset. Even properly marked and badged medics have been killed in combat "by accident" and as someone else pointed out these people weren't marked as medics.

    But a couple of distinguishing things - these guys are in helicopters. There are no indicators they were ever in any danger at all, at any point.... Now they're up there protecting the ground troops and that's an important and high-adrenaline thing to be doing. In fact, it can be even more nerve wracking than being on the ground. But it was the chopper crew who told the superiors that they were picking up bodies and weapons. If you're the superior officer back at base and you're told people are collecting weapons, that's not a hard call to make to clear the engagement. I'm sure that I would do that and so would you.

    But the reality is that they helicopter crew was given permission to engage, not orders to engage, and that permission came because of the way they described the situation. Which, as far as the video shows, is false. If they had radioed in, "Looks like this black van has two people who are making pickup on one of the wounded down there," does that change how you as the commander would clear them? Me, I'd ask, "What else are they doing that makes them a target?" I'd realize from my protected position back at base that U.S. position has always been that wounded individuals who aren't fighting are always afforded Rule 110 [] protection, and that many nations recognize that just because they're not afforded enemy combatant status or the pickups aren't properly credentialed is not an exception to that. What would you do if you were the clearing authority and were given a different picture of what happened?

    I've read some things that did say, though, that the black van did come from a compound that was suspected of being an insurgent stronghold. (And who knows, maybe the van was seen picking up weapons earlier by those crews). But neither of those carries weight to automatically qualify the van as a belligerent force.

    And yes, were I the gunner it would cause me a lot of lost sleep and probably some counseling. (Then we can look at how those who want to get that kind of help in bang-bang units are often pressured into not doing so). But I don't assume that everyone else feels that way (guilt or remorse) because there are a lot of amoral SOB's in the world, too. Some of them wear uniforms. And it doesn't cut them a free pass that it's OK because war, any more than a commander who says, "Yep, if an IED goes off waste everyone you can see." They are paid way too little and have way too much responsibility, but as soldiers it is their job to make the right calls about whom they kill. (Which doesn't mean they should be locked up, either. But discharged without prejudice, or ensured that they'll never be promoted and they're removed from combat duty and will never advance - that I can live with. Maybe the next crew will think, then, before firing.)

    I can empathize with them. But I won't sympathize or say "well, that was OK, then."

    • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday April 15 2019, @05:50PM (2 children)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 15 2019, @05:50PM (#829946) Journal

      Dayum. I've argued what happened in that video many times. You're the first person who makes me want to go back and check what I saw and heard. Yeah, I think you're right - the chopper crew reported that they were picking up weapons. I want to look, see if they actually picked up anything that looked like a weapon.

      Thanks for the perspective.

      Let me ask one more question before I go looking for the video again, maybe you'll answer before I get back:

      How convinced are you that those erroneous reports that you allude to might constitute a war crime? Like, 1%, or 20%, or 50%?


      We've finally beat Medicare! - Houseplant in Chief
      • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Monday April 15 2019, @06:51PM (1 child)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Monday April 15 2019, @06:51PM (#829975) Journal []

        Ethan McCord testimony on the incident. He specifically states that when he arrived on scene, he saw an RPG and an AK-47. He does describe pretty graphically how bad it was. As he testifies, the Wikileaks video is played. That report to superiors seems to be accurately transcribed at the bottom of the video:

        Yeah, Bushmaster, we have a van that's approaching, and picking up the bodies. . . . . Where's that van at? . . . Right down there by the bodies. . . . Okay, yeah. . . . Bushmaster, Crazyhorse. We have individuals going to the scene, looks like possibly uh picking up bodies and weapons . . . Let me engage . . . Can I shoot? . . . Roger. break.

        It is not clear whether Ethan actually saw an RPG, or he mistook the camera for an RPG. I have absolutely zero doubt that he properly identified an AK lying on the ground among the dead. []
        The unedited version of the collateral murder video. I see no evidence that any of the four men in the van, or the reporter reached for anything that looked like a weapon. As I've already said, I, personally, cannot justify firing on the van. There were both dismounted and mounted troops very close by to apprehend the people in the van. But, as we've already agreed, neither of us were there. In my mind, still no war crime.

        And, I will note that "war crime" is a kind of emotional thing. If the chopper crew were put on trial, in Iraq, with a jury consisting of Iraqis, they would probably be found guilty. A trial in Europe, it would depend on the jurists. We could stack the jury with SJW's and convict them, or we could stack the jury with veterans, and they would walk. A trial in the US, very much the same as Europe.

        I've watched this video too many times now. Bottom line, I'm not 100% in agreement with that final call, but I stand with the troops who were there. I see no wrongdoing, and certainly not a war crime.

        You may ask, could I, or would I, condemn the troops, if things had been just a little different? Well, yes, I could. Let us speculate that the chopper crew had said something like this: "There are no weapons nearby, all the weapons were dropped at the corner, in the street." "Yeah, well we ought to stop those people trying to rescue our wounded guy." "Yeah, well, screw it, let's light them up."

        In that case, yes, I would condemn the flight crew.

        Yes, there were some callous remarks after the fact. Can't condemn them for that. As you stated yourself, they have to cope somehow.

        I want to thank you for your thoughtful and informed comments. I get so frustrated with people who know nothing, but have all the answers. Salutes, brother.

        We've finally beat Medicare! - Houseplant in Chief
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 15 2019, @07:49PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 15 2019, @07:49PM (#829991)

          Yes, and there are people who doubt McCord's version of the events (I'm saying people disputed it defending the troops who were there). And likewise, I've become much more convinced that the group was carrying weapons which justifies the initial burst. One thing we haven't looked at, at all... The vast majority of journalists are in fact just journalists who do a dangerous job. But there's nothing that doesn't say that they embedded with that group and the photographer was doing recon for the insurgents peering around the corner with his camera. (The camera was examined afterwards and they did find digital images of the Humvee that the Apache was concerned about.... That's why I think it was the reporter aiming his camera around the corner that the Apache thought was an RPG.) And I'm actually most convinced by the image that the DoD says was an RPG round and the radio traffic identified as such. Add all that up, and that initial burst of fire could in fact be justified.

          Do I think this was a "War Crime," akin to Nuremberg or Yugoslavia? No. It's not a War Crime. I do believe it could be a crime that happened in a combat environment. One for which there certainly are mitigating circumstances, but nevertheless a crime. And one that the United States very conveniently swept under the rug until Chelsea Manning supplied Wikileaks with this evidence. And the sort of thing that if you believe the critics does happen frequently. When you get ground commanders who give orders like "an IED goes off shoot everybody in the area," it reveals something. That things like this video pop up and happen and never become news not only degrades ourselves as a nation but also turns people over to the other side. (i.e. Of course the enemy will pop off an IED when 'innocents' are in the area because every mistaken kill becomes another link by which both our government and the one we back becomes the enemy and loses legitimacy to the people there who don't care about the politics). Sorry for the soapbox. TLDR is no, not a war crime but an ordinary crime.

          I wouldn't even want the flight crew to get a BCD, nor do I think they should have jail time. But administrative punishment for a lapse in judgment (the hosing of the black van) seems very appropriate and never happened. To truly understand whether it was in fact a crime we'd have to have access and spend time analyzing the Rules of Engagement. Wikileaks has published them IIRC, but I won't go to that length. That it is classified information, in my mind, is questionable at best exactly because of situations like this. Yes, there are some security implications (as in the enemy will find and exploit the flaws in the any such plan) - but why exploits should be in such a plan is a good question. The biggest problem is it puts the military beyond civilian review of their actions - something that should never occur in a democracy where the military are in fact subject to the citizenry. And yes, the reporters should have been wearing Press garb.

          You're right - horrid things happen in war. That doesn't justify everything that happens in warfare, though. (Nor does it means mistakes happen, either).

          Thanks for being reasonable, yourself!