Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Julian Assange, Ladies in White, the NED, the CIA, and the terrorist that Republicans love

The notion that Anna Ardin might be involved with the CIA came up on August 23, the same day her name was published by the Swedish press. From the comments on Newzglobe confirms Anna Ardin as one of the women that made the rape allegations against Assange:
Anna Ardins cousin and near friend is Lieutenant Colonel Mattias Ardin, Deputy Head of Operations, Swedish Joint Forces Land Component Command, who works with Nato Operations ... in Afghanistan. There´s a possible CIA connection.
The case for a CIA connection was argued most famously by Israel Shamir and Paul Bennett in "Assange Beseiged". Since it's been publicized that Shamir is a Holocaust-denier, the possibility of CIA involvement has roundly been mocked.

But it hasn't been examined.

We know that she was in Cuba and suspected of being a spy. From her thesis:
In June 2006 I traveled to Cuba with the intention of staying for at least two months interviewing leaders, members and supporters of various Cuban political parties. Only a couple of days after my arrival to José Martí International Airport in Havana I managed to get my first interviews. During the first two weeks I met one or two representatives from each of the four chosen parties and a few other organizations, including my field tutor, the ex-diplomat Miriam Leiva. Miriam is also a key person for the network known as Damas de Blanco (Ladies in White) which fights for the rights of political prisoners in Cuba. I owe Miriam greatly for the help she has given, having provided me with, addresses, phone numbers and other input for this thesis, but maybe it was my frequent visits to her and her dissident husband Oscar Chepe’s home that upset the authorities.

One night a young man from the interior ministry came to the house where I rented my room. He told me that I had to stay home the next day because someone would come and ask me a few questions. At eight-thirty the following morning two uniformed men in a police Lada came to take me in for interrogation. They took me to Control de Extranjeros (foreigner control) and put me in a hot waiting room. Finally, after many hours, three anonymous men in civilian clothing questioned me: With whom had I spoken? Why? What did I ask them? How did I get their contacts? What had I been doing the other times I had visited Cuba? Who paid for my trip? Who was my boyfriend in Sweden? Was the cook my Cuban boyfriend? Was I going to publish the facts? This is just an indication of the type of questions I was asked during the two-hour interrogation. After the interrogation they told me the ”truth” that I did not appear to understand: All of the Cubans I had met were liars. They were not opposing to the political system because “here in Cuba we have unity”[1]. They were not political opponents but mercenaries who were paid to say whatever they said to me. They also told me that with a tourist visa I was supposed to do “touristy things”, and their suggestions were: going to the beach, dancing salsa, going to the pool and visiting museums. If I did something else they would kick me out of the country. I could not interview the people I had chosen with the kind of visa I had. So I asked if it was possible to get another visa for this type of interview, to which they replied ”no”. I explained that I had to say goodbye and cancel the appointments I had already made but again they said ”no”. I had to break the contact immediately to be able to stay in the country, and they would know what I did, as they knew what I had been doing until then. At three o’clock they let me out to walk the long way back, in the Cuban summer sun.

It had become too difficult to continue, and I did not want to put my informants at risk, so I decided to leave Cuba. Instead I went to Miami in December 2006 and continued interviewing Cubans there.
So, who are Las damas de blanco? They're an anti-Castro group that has at least one former CIA operative for a supporter, the terrorist, Luis Posada Carriles. (See The devil wore white: Luis Posada Carriles and Ladies in White go out on a limb in Miami with Gloria Estefan, and the CIA File on Luis Posada Carilles.)

Just as the CIA-funded Reporters Without Borders chose a name to sound like a better group, Doctors Without Borders, Cuba's Ladies In White took their style from an Argentinian group. From Ladies in White:
Hebe de Bonafini, president of the Argentine Madres de Plaza de Mayo, has criticized the symbolic use of the white scarf, stating 'Our white scarf symbolises life while those women, that you are talking about Ladies in White, represent death.' Bonafini went on to remark that 'the so-called Ladies in White defend the terrorism of the United States, the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo symbolise our love for our children who were murdered by tyrants imposed by the United States.'
After Ardin left Cuba, she wrote two articles, Vad Händer När Castro Dör? and Kuba Behöver en Ny Politik for Revista de Asignaturas Cubanas, which is published by Misceláneas de Cuba and edited by Alexis Gaínza, who, according to the Cuban press, has CIA ties. Misceláneas de Cuba is associated with Unión Liberal Cubana, whose president is Carlos Alberto Montaner, a supporter of the illegal coup in Honduras and another suspected CIA agent.

Oh what a (not so) tangled web we weave: Is Carlos Montaner Really a CIA Agent? has this about the NED connection to anti-Castro activity:
...the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), accused by some of being a CIA front, gave $225,000 dollars to the Asociación Encuentro de la Cultura Cubana this year, which edits Encuentro, among other things. It’s known that historically, this group has been a recipient of funds coming from the United States, specifically from USAID and the CIA, and so this figure should be surprising to no-one.
Macheteria needn't have qualified the CIA connection. One of the NED's founders, Allen Weinstein, admitted, "A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA." (For more about the NED, see National Endowment for Democracy - SourceWatch or click here for my posts about the National Endowment for Democracy.)

However, as Macheteria notes in On Anna Ardin, Israel Shamir and glass houses, these connections do not mean Ardin ever received a penny from the CIA. Anyone who says with certainty that she's working for the CIA is making an association fallacy, just like the people who say Assange must be guilty of rape because the majority of men who are accused of rape are guilty. The intellectually honest position is simple: don't reject possibilities, and don't embrace them. Everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt until something conclusive is known.

ETA: Possibly relevant: Wikileaks Honduras: State Dept. Busted on Support of Coup | Just Foreign Policy.

ETA 2: Expanded the middle part of this after a quibble in the comments.