Huawei Technologies chief financial officer (CFO) Ms. Meng Wanzhou was arrested by Canadian police on Saturday, while changing planes in Vancouver. Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, who was previously an officer and engineer in China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). ( “7-Dec-18 World View – Canada arrests the chief financial officer of China […]
In 2018, a headline for an article in The Economist succinctly captured the paradox that is the global cancer industry: “Cancer is a Curse, but Also a Growth Market for Investors.” Cancer’s definitely a curse, that’s for sure, but cancer drugs, with chemotherapy drugs taking up the lion’s share, are on pace to become a $200 […]
In 2003 Katharine Gun told the world about a secret plan by the United States and British governments to spy on United Nations diplomats reluctant to support America’s decision to invade Iraq.
The story of Gun, who was hailed for her courage and only narrowly avoided legal consequences for the decision to speak out, is rightly celebrated in the recent movie Official Secrets, starring Keira Knightley. But, although more than 15 years have passed, little has changed for people like her. Government, intelligence, and national-security whistleblowers remain largely unsupported by law, and sometimes vulnerable to prosecution simply for speaking up. We see this clearly in the current Ukraine whistleblower case.
Katharine Gun’s revelations were profound. Her disclosures informed US and UK citizens that their governments had deceived them to pursue an illegal war in Iraq — a war that has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians and thousands of coalition troops.
Her impact was significant: a formal investigation commissioned by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and the resignation of the UK attorney general’s legal adviser and two senior Labour MPs, all of whom departed in protest of the activities she revealed.
But no whistleblower protection laws helped Gun during this time. She was charged on November 13, 2003, with breaking the Official Secrets Act. Although the case against her was dropped a year later for reasons that remain unclear, she was left to struggle largely on her own, with only a little support from the media, the human rights group Liberty, and a handful of politicians.
But that was then, right? Surely things are changing for the better, with recent calls from across the Western world to revise whistleblower protection laws.
However, isolating government and national-security whistleblowers, leaving them legally exposed, and in some cases prosecuting them still seems to be a global phenomenon. In the US, whistleblowing protections for intelligence staff are weak and largely ineffective.
A number of high-profile intelligence and national-security whistleblowers have been punished for revealing systematic human rights violations conducted by the state, including Chelsea Manning, Thomas Drake, and John Kiriakou. Reality Winner remains in prison for leaking a half-page document about Russian attempts to gain information about the US election process.
It is with this in mind that Edward Snowden refuses to return to the US. There is little doubt he would be convicted under the Espionage Act, which has been criticized for being unsuitable to whistleblower cases and for prohibiting a “public interest” defense.
It appears that state institutions in many places are happy to make laws to protect those who call out corruption, just so long as they don’t focus on the state’s own activities. In some instances, intelligence communities actively interfere with the passing of such whistleblower protections. According to Tom Devine of the Government Accountability Project, two senior House Intelligence Committee members threatened to kill the US Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act in 2010 if national-security rights were included.
This is not simply a US issue. Five months ago government transparency advocates celebrated the approval of the new EU whistleblowing directive in Brussels, the widest set of protections for whistleblowers to have been introduced anywhere in the world. Countries have 18 months to implement these new rules.
The changes are significant: They provide minimum standards for whistleblower protections across all member states. The EU directive is to be welcomed. But despite its sweeping measures to protect employees, one group remains out in the cold: government and national-security whistleblowers.
A 2019 whistleblowing-focused debate at the UK House of Commons called for improvements to the UK’s flawed Public Interest Disclosure Act. The debate and associated report focused on the importance of protecting National Health Service and financial services whistleblowers, but government whistleblowers were again ignored. There was a notable silence about the rights of staff in the very Westminster buildings where the debate was happening.
How should we respond? The best way to ensure healthy democratic institutions is to foster a culture of criticism from within, as enshrined in the US First Amendment and the idea of a free press. Edward Snowden has called for a transnational organization — similar in concept to the United Nations — for the protection of genuine whistleblowers who speak out against the state. Others argue for a reworking of the new EU Whistleblower Directive to include this group.
Katharine Gun sure could have used such protections. Her remarkable story shows us that real-life heroines deserve support. But vindication in the media is no substitute for the legal protections and real support that whistleblowers often lack after speaking out. These are absolutely essential if we are to avoid the kind of brutal and dramatic retaliation against whistleblowers depicted in Official Secrets. The openness of our democracies is at stake.
Eyewitnesses claim a second aircraft fired at the plane raising questions of British cover-up over the 1961 crash and its causes
New evidence has emerged in one of the most enduring mysteries of United Nations and African history, suggesting that the plane carrying the UN secretary general Dag Hammarskjöld was shot down over Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) 50 years ago, and the murder was covered up by British colonial authorities.
A British-run commission of inquiry blamed the crash in 1961 on pilot error and a later UN investigation largely rubber-stamped its findings. They ignored or downplayed witness testimony of villagers near the crash site which suggested foul play. The Guardian has talked to surviving witnesses who were never questioned by the official investigations and were too scared to come forward.
The residents on the western outskirts of the town of Ndola described Hammarskjöld’s DC6 being shot down by a second, smaller aircraft. They say the crash site was sealed off by Northern Rhodesian security forces the next morning, hours before the wreckage was officially declared found, and they were ordered to leave the area.
The key witnesses were located and interviewed over the past three years by Göran Björkdahl, a Swedish aid worker based in Africa, who made the investigation of the Hammarskjöld mystery a personal quest since discovering his father had a fragment of the crashed DC6.
“My father was in that part of Zambia in the 70s and asking local people about what happened, and a man there, seeing that he was interested, gave him a piece of the plane. That was what got me started,” Björkdahl said. When he went to work in Africa himself, he went to the site and began to question the local people systematically on what they had seen.
The investigation led Björkdahl to previously unpublished telegrams – seen by the Guardian – from the days leading up to Hammarskjöld’s death on 17 September 1961, which illustrate US and British anger at an abortive UN military operation that the secretary general ordered on behalf of the Congolese government against a rebellion backed by western mining companies and mercenaries in the mineral-rich Katanga region.
Hammarskjöld was flying to Ndola for peace talks with the Katanga leadership at a meeting that the British helped arrange. The fiercely independent Swedish diplomat had, by then, enraged almost all the major powers on the security council with his support for decolonisation, but support from developing countries meant his re-election as secretary general would have been virtually guaranteed at the general assembly vote due the following year.
Björkdahl works for the Swedish international development agency, Sida, but his investigation was carried out in his own time and his report does not represent the official views of his government. However, his report echoes the scepticism about the official verdict voiced by Swedish members of the commissions of inquiry.
Björkdahl concludes that:
- Hammarskjöld’s plane was almost certainly shot down by an unidentified second plane.
- The actions of the British and Northern Rhodesian officials at the scene delayed the search for the missing plane.
- The wreckage was found and sealed off by Northern Rhodesian troops and police long before its discovery was officially announced.
- The one survivor of the crash could have been saved but was allowed to die in a poorly equipped local hospital.
- At the time of his death Hammarskjöld suspected British diplomats secretly supported the Katanga rebellion and had obstructed a bid to arrange a truce.
- Days before his death, Hammarskjöld authorised a UN offensive on Katanga – codenamed Operation Morthor – despite reservations of the UN legal adviser, to the fury of the US and Britain.
The most compelling new evidence comes from witnesses who had not previously been interviewed, mostly charcoal-makers from the forest around Ndola, now in their 70s and 80s.
Dickson Mbewe, now 84, was sitting outside his house in Chifubu compound west of Ndola with a group of friends on the night of the crash.
“We saw a plane fly over Chifubu but did not pay any attention to it the first time,” he told the Guardian. “When we saw it a second and third time, we thought that this plane was denied landing permission at the airport. Suddenly, we saw another aircraft approach the bigger aircraft at greater speed and release fire which appeared as a bright light.
“The plane on the top turned and went in another direction. We sensed the change in sound of the bigger plane. It went down and disappeared.”
At about 5am, Mbewe went to his charcoal kiln close to the crash site, where he found soldiers and policemen already dispersing people. According to the official report the wreckage was only discovered at 3pm that afternoon.
“There was a group of white soldiers carrying a body, two in front and two behind,” he said. “I heard people saying there was a man who was found alive and should be taken to hospital. Nobody was allowed to stay there.”
Mbewe did not forward with that information earlier because he was never asked to, he said. “The atmosphere was not peaceful, we were chased away. I was afraid to go to the police because they might put me in prison.”
Another witness, Custon Chipoya, a 75-year-old charcoal maker, also claims to have seen a second plane in the sky that night. “I saw a plane turning, it had clear lights and I could hear the roaring sound of the engine,” he said. “It wasn’t very high. In my opinion, it was at the height that planes are when they are going to land.
“It came back a second time, which made us look and the third time, when it was turning towards the airport, I saw a smaller plane approaching behind the bigger one. The lighter aircraft, a smaller jet type of plane, was trailing behind and had a flash light. Then it released some fire on to the bigger plane below and went in the opposite direction.
“The bigger aircraft caught fire and started exploding, crashing towards us. We thought it was following us as it chopped off branches and tree trunks. We thought it was war, so we ran away.”
Chipoya said he returned to the site the next morning at about 6am and found the area cordoned off by police and army officers. He didn’t mention what he had seen because: “It was impossible to talk to a police officer then. We just understood that we had to go away,” he said.
Safeli Mulenga, 83, also in Chifubu on the night of the crash, did not see a second plane but witnessed an explosion.
“I saw the plane circle twice,” he said. “The third time fire came from somewhere above the plane, it glowed so bright. It couldn’t have been the plane exploding because the fire was coming on to it,” he said.
There was no announcement for people to come forward with information following the crash, and the federal government did not want people to talk about it, he said. “There were some who witnessed the crash and they were taken away and imprisoned.”
John Ngongo, now 75, out in the bush with a friend to learn how to make charcoal on the night of the crash, did not see another plane but he definitely heard one, he said.
“Suddenly, we saw a plane with fire on one side coming towards us. It was on fire before it hit the trees. The plane was not alone. I heard another plane at high speed disappearing into the distance but I didn’t see it,” he said.
The only survivor among the 15 people on board the DC6 was Harold Julian, an American sergeant on Hammarskjöld’s security detail. The official report said he died of his injuries, but Mark Lowenthal, a doctor who helped treat Julian in Ndola, told Björkdahl he could have been saved.
“I look upon the episode as having been one of my most egregious professional failures in what has become a long career,” Lowenthal wrote in an email. “I must first ask why did the US authorities not at once set out to help/rescue one of their own? Why did I not think of this at the time? Why did I not try to contact US authorities to say, ‘Send urgently an aircraft to evacuate a US citizen on secondment to UN who is dying of kidney failure?'”
Julian was left in Ndola for five days. Before he died, he told police he had seen sparks in the sky and an explosion before the crash.
Björkdahl also raises questions about why the DC6 was made to circle outside Ndola. The official report claims there was no tape recorder in the air traffic control tower, despite the fact that its equipment was new. The air traffic control report of the crash was not filed until 33 hours afterwards.
According to records of the events of the night, the British high commissioner to the Rhodesian and Nyasaland Federation, Cuthbert Alport, who was at the airport that evening, “suddenly said that he had heard that Hammarskjöld had changed his mind and intended to fly somewhere else. The airport manager therefore didn’t send out any emergency alert and everyone simply went to bed.”
The witness accounts of another plane are consistent with other insider accounts of Hammarskjold’s death. Two of his top aides, Conor Cruise O’Brien and George Ivan Smith, both became convinced that the secretary general had been shot down by mercenaries working for European industrialists in Katanga. They also believed that the British helped cover up the shooting. In 1992, the two published a letter in the Guardian spelling out their theory. Suspicion of British intentions is a recurring theme of the correspondence Björkdahl has examined from the days before Hammarskjöld’s death.
Formally, the UK backed the UN mission, but, privately, the secretary general and his aides believed British officials were obstructing peace moves, possibly as a result of mining interests and sympathies with the white colonists on the Katanga side.
On the morning of 13 September the separatist leader Moise Tshombe signalled that he was ready for a truce, but changed his mind after a one-hour meeting with the UK consul in Katanga, Denzil Dunnett.
There is no doubt that at the time of his death Hammarskjöld‚ who had already alienated the Soviets, French and Belgians, had also angered the Americans and the British with his decision to launch Operation Morthor against the rebel leaders and mercenaries in Katanga.
The US secretary of state, Dean Rusk, told one of the secretary general’s aides that President Kennedy was “extremely upset” and was threatening to withdraw support from the UN. The UK , Rusk said, was “equally upset”.
At the end of his investigation Björkdahl is still not sure who killed Hammarskjöld, but he is fairly certain why he was killed:
“It’s clear there were a lot of circumstances pointing to possible involvement by western powers. The motive was there – the threat to the west’s interests in Congo’s huge mineral deposits. And this was the time of black African liberation, and you had whites who were desperate to cling on.
“Dag Hammarskjöld was trying to stick to the UN charter and the rules of international law. I have the impression from his telegrams and his private letters that he was disgusted by the behaviour of the big powers.”
Historians at the Foreign Office said they could not comment. British officials believe that, at this late date, no amount of research would conclusively prove or disprove what they see as conspiracy theories that have always surrounded Hammarskjöld’s death.
At 10 p.m. on February 13-14, 1945, the Master Bomber broadcast the cryptic order: ‘Controller to Plate-Rack Force: Come in and bomb glow of red T.I.s as planned.’ The ill-famed R.A.F. attack on Dresden had begun. The target city was among Germany’s largest, but had little military or industrial value. It was a center for the evacuation of wounded servicemen, and schools, restaurants, and public buildings had been converted into hospitals.
The authorities expected that this, a city often compared with Florence for its graceful Baroque style, would be spared. By 1945 the legend was deeply entrenched that Dresden would never be bombed. It was not to be. In February 1945 with the war’s political and military directors meeting at Yalta, Mr Winston Churchill urgently needed some display of his offensive strength and of his willingness to assist the Russians in their drive westwards. Dresden just seven miles behind the eastern Front, became the victim of Mr Churchill’s desire for a spectacular ‘shattering blow’. As things turned out this, the most crushing air-raid of the war, was not delivered until the Yalta conference ended.
The city was undefended – even the Luftwaffe night fighter force was grounded. There were no proper air raid shelters. Dresden was housing hundreds of thousands of refugees from Silesia, East Prussia, and western Germany, in addition to its own population of 630,000 Up to a hundred thousand people, perhaps more, were killed in two or three hours, burned alive, that night. Yet until the first edition of this book appeared in 1963 the raid scarcely figured in the Allied war histories. A veil had been drawn across this tragedy.
Stung by foreign revulsion at this new St Valentine’s Day massacre, the British prime minister – who had ordered it – penned an angry minute to his Chief of Staff, even before the war ended, rasping that ‘the destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of allied bombing’. It is from this remarkably forgetful minute that the sub-title of this documentary account is taken. For the first time the full story, omitting nothing, of the historical background to this cruel blow and of its unexpected political consequences is told was told in David Irving’s Destruction of Dresden.
A great summary was given by Kevin Alfred Strom in a radio broadcast in 1993 that has been translated and distributed many times over the years. Here it is below: Or Listen:
THE NIGHT OF February 13th, and February 14th, Valentine’s Day, mark an ominous anniversary in the history of Western Civilization. For beginning on the night of February 13th, 1945, occurred the destruction of Dresden.
On the eve of Valentine’s Day, 1945, World War II in Europe was nearly over. For all practical purposes Germany was already defeated. Italy, and Germany’s other European allies, had fallen by the wayside. The Red Army was rushing to occupy vast areas of what had been Germany in the East, while the allies of the Soviets, the British and Americans, were bombing what was left of Germany’s defenses and food and transportation infrastructure into nonexistence.
And what was Dresden? Most of you have probably heard of Dresden China, and that delicately executed and meticulously detailed porcelain is really a perfect symbol for that city. For centuries Dresden had been a center of art and culture, and refined leisure and recreation. She was a city of art museums and theatres, circuses and sports stadia, a town of ancient half-timbered buildings looking for all the world like those of medieval England, with venerable churches and centuries-old cathedrals gracing her skyline. She was a city of artists and craftsmen, of actors and dancers, of tourists and the merchants and hotels that served them. Above all, what Dresden was, was defined during the war by what she was not. She had no significant military or industrial installations. Because of this, Dresden had become, above all other things that she was, a city of children, of women, of refugees, and of the injured and maimed who were recovering from their wounds in her many hospitals.
These women and children, these wounded soldiers, these infirm and elderly people, these refugees fleeing from the brutal onslaught of the Communist armies to the East, had come to Dresden because it was commonly believed at the time that Dresden would not be attacked. Its lack of strategic or military or industrial significance, and the well-known presence of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilian refugees and even Allied prisoners of war, seemed to guarantee safety to the city. Surely, it was thought, not even the most powerful and determined enemy would be so depraved and sadistic, and so wasteful of that enemy’s own resources, to attack such a city. But the people of Dresden, who were happily attending the cinema or eating dinner at home or watching the show-horses in the circus on that fateful night were wrong, wrong, wrong. And their leaders were also wrong, for the city was virtually open and undefended and only minimal civil defense preparations had been made.
Dresden’s population had almost doubled in the months before the attack, mainly as a result of the influx of refugees from the Eastern Front, most of them women and young children. According to British historian David Irving, the briefings given to the British bomber squadrons before the attack on Dresden were curiously different. In one, the soldiers were told that their target was the railway center of Dresden. In another, they were told that the target was a poison-gas factory. In yet another, they were told that the target was a marshalling-grounds for troops in the city. Another was told that the target was a major arsenal. These were all lies.
The only marshalling-grounds for what few troops were in the area were located well outside the city. The arsenal had burned down in 1916. There were factories for toothpaste and baby-powder in Dresden, but none for poison gas. There were, in fact, no fewer than eighteen railway stations in Dresden, but only one was hit by the bombing, and that was barely touched and in fact was operating again just three days later.
According to copious documentation unearthed by David Irving from the archives of the American and British governments, the point of the attack was in fact to inflict the maximum loss of life on the civilian population and particularly to kill as many refugees as possible who were fleeing from the Red Army. In achieving these goals it was highly successful. It was thus planned and executed by those at the very highest levels of the British and American governments, who to attain their purposes even lied to their own soldiers and citizens, who to this day have never been told the full story by their leaders.
How was this devastating effect accomplished?
At 10:10 PM on February 13th, the first wave of the attack, consisting of the British Number 5 Bomber Group, began. The attacking force consisted of about 2,000 bombers with additional support craft, which dropped over 3,000 high explosive and 650,000 incendiary bombs (more commonly known as firebombs) on the center of the city. Incendiary bombs are not known for their efficiency per pound in destroying heavy equipment such as military hardware or railroad tracks, but are extremely effective in producing maximum loss of human life. The loads carried by the bombers were over 75 per cent incendiaries. In fact, the goal of the first wave of the attack was, according to British air commander Sir Arthur “Bomber” Harris, to set the city well on fire. That he did.
The lack of any effective anti-aircraft defenses allowed the bombers to drop to very low altitudes and thus a relatively high degree of precision and visual identification of targets was achieved. Despite the fact that they could clearly see that the marked target area contained hospitals and sports stadia and residential areas of center city Dresden, the bombers nevertheless obeyed orders and rained down a fiery death upon the unlucky inhabitants of that city on a scale which had never before been seen on planet Earth. Hundreds of thousands of innocents were literally consumed by fire, an actual holocaust by the true definition of the word: complete consumption by fire.
The incendiaries started thousands of fires and, aided by a stiff wind and the early-on destruction of the telephone exchanges that might have summoned firefighters from nearby towns, these fires soon coalesced into one unimaginably huge firestorm. Now such firestorms are not natural phenomena, and are seldom created by man, so few people have any idea of their nature. Basically, what happened was this: The intense heat caused by the huge column of smoke and flame, miles high and thousands of acres in area, created a terrific updraft of air in the center of the column. This created a very low pressure at the base of the column, and surrounding fresh air rushed inward at speeds estimated to be thirty times that of an ordinary tornado. An ordinary tornado wind-force is a result of temperature differences of perhaps 20 to 30 degrees centigrade. In this firestorm the temperature differences were on the order of 600 to 1,000 degrees centigrade. This inward-rushing air further fed the flames, creating a literal tornado of fire, with winds in the surrounding area of many hundreds of miles per hour–sweeping men, women, children, animals, vehicles and uprooted trees pell-mell into the glowing inferno.
But this was only the first stage of the plan.
Exactly on schedule, three hours after the first attack, a second massive armada of British bombers arrived, again loaded with high explosive and massive quantities of incendiary bombs. The residents of Dresden, their power systems destroyed by the first raid, had no warning of the second. Again the British bombers attacked the center city of Dresden, this time dividing their targets–one half of the bombs were to be dropped into the center of the conflagration, to keep it going, the other half around the edges of the firestorm. No pretense whatever was made of selecting military targets. The timing of the second armada was such as to ensure that a large quantity of the surviving civilians would have emerged from their shelters by that time, which was the case, and also in hopes that rescue and firefighting crews would have arrived from surrounding cities, which also proved to be true. The firefighters and medics thus incinerated hadn’t needed the telephone exchange to know that they were needed — the firestorm was visible from a distance of 200 miles.
It is reported that body parts, pieces of clothing, tree branches, huge quantities of ashes, and miscellaneous debris from the firestorm fell for days on the surrounding countryside as far away as eighteen miles. After the attack finally subsided, rescue workers found nothing but liquefied remains of the inhabitants of some shelters, where even the metal kitchen utensils had melted from the intense heat.
The next day, Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day, 1945, medical and other emergency personnel from all over central Germany had converged on Dresden. Little did they suspect that yet a third wave of bombers was on its way, this time American. This attack had been carefully coordinated with the previous raids. Four hundred fifty Flying Fortresses and a support contingent of fighters arrived to finish the job at noon. I quote from David Irving’s The Destruction of Dresden:
Just a few hours before Dresden had been a fairy-tale city of spires and cobbled streets . . . now total war had put an end to all that. . . . The ferocity of the US raid of 14th February had finally brought the people to their knees . . . but it was not the bombs which finally demoralised the people . . . it was the Mustang fighters, which suddenly appeared low over the city, firing on everything that moved . . . one section of the Mustangs concentrated on the river banks, where masses of bombed-out people had gathered. . . . British prisoners who had been released from their burning camps were among the first to suffer the discomfort of machine-gunning attacks . . . wherever columns of tramping people were marching in or out of the city they were pounced on by the fighters, and machine-gunned or raked with cannon fire.
Ladies and gentlemen, on this program I can only give you a bare glimpse of the inhuman horror of the holocaust of Dresden. In Dresden, no fewer than 135,000 innocent victims died, with some estimates as high as 300,000. More died in Dresden than died in the well-known attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. More destruction befell Dresden in one day than was inflicted on the whole of Britain during the entire war. And yet you haven’t been told.
I urge every one of you to read The Destruction of Dresden by David Irving. I assure you, after reading Irving’s book, you will never take seriously the Establishment’s version of what happened in that war again.
What you ought to take seriously, though, is the fact that the same clique that controlled the traitorous Roosevelt and Churchill governments, whose hatred of our race and civilization and whose alliance with Communism were the real causes of the holocaust of Dresden, still controls our government and our media today. It is they who are pushing for a disarmed, racially mixed America. It is they who promote the teaching of sodomy to our young children. It is they who are destroying our industrial infrastructure in the name of a global economy. It is they who created the drug subculture and then also the police state agencies which pretend to fight it. The hour is very late for America and indeed for all of Western civilization. But if patriots will heed our call, then there is no reason for despair. For the enemies of our nation may have power, but their power is based on lies. Won’t you help us cut through the chain of lies that holds our people in mental slavery?