Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Get Assange


Two writers with close ties to U.S. intelligence agencies published a shocking article Dec. 23rd in The Miami Herald asserting that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is “a narcissistic nut” with “blood on his hands” and President Obama should do “whatever it takes to shut down WikiLeaks.” Without giving a single example of how Assange’s disclosures caused blood to flow, co-authors Thomas Spencer and F. W. Rustmann warn, “No nation can operate without secrets. Unless we adopt an aggressive plan, adopt new tough laws and take immediate action—overt and covert—we face disaster.” The authors go on to state the president should be joined in this suppression of the press by “Congress and our entire intelligence, military and law-enforcement communities” because “(our)lives are depending” on it.

While the above is vaguely worded it does appear that Spencer and Rustmann are calling for “immediate” and “covert” action—to put a stop to Assange’s activities. In short, they appear to be saying Obama & Co. has the right to terminate Assange covertly, that is to say, secretly, and, as the word has come to mean in CIA parlance, “violently” as well. It is no surprise that two writers closely tied to U.S. spy agencies appear to be advocating covert action against Assange, but it is a bit of a shock that the Miami Herald would publish this seeming call for blood.

Pardon me for suspecting this hysterical screech for Assange’s scalp was published with the blessing of the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA). Rustmann spent 24 years as a CIA payroller and was an instructor in its covert training center, so he would know, if anybody, how to stick Assange’s feet into a block of cement and dump him in the Everglades. (Hollywood might even make a movie about it, with Rustmann’s intoning, “He sleeps with the alligators.”) As for Herald co-author Spencer, he is a lawyer who represents intelligence officers and is a Life Member in the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.

Rustmann’s former CIA employer, by the way, probably could have taught gangster Al Capone a thing or two. Capone’s record for murders at a single “massacre” was a measly seven, famously achieved in Chicago on Saint Valentine’s Day, 1929. The CIA’s covert killers, who do things globally, triggered a slaughter of 75,000 folks just in El Salvador alone in the 1980s. By some estimates, the CIA has been responsible for overthrowing a score of governments resulting in the murders of millions of people around the world.

Apparently, Spencer and Rustmann weren’t paying attention to former CIA Director Robert Gates, now our Secretary of Defense, who conceded there was no proof that Assange has blood on his hands. As Scott Horton pointed out in Harper’s: “When pressed by the Senate Armed Services Committee, Secretary Gates was forced to admit that these claims were hyperbole?’the leak? did not disclose any sensitive intelligence sources or methods.’ Gates went on to acknowledge that there was no evidence of any informant being killed or threatened or even requesting protection as a result of the WikiLeaks publications.”

In fact, the charge Rustmann and Spencer make about Assange having “blood on his hands” is true not of WikiLeaks but is true over and over again of the CIA. It is the world’s No. 1 gangster organization and it operates at the direction of the White House, and has done so for years. Only Dec. 21st, the Associated Press reported from Santiago that “A Chilean government lawyer is seeking to arrest four retired army officers for the killing of renowned folk singer Victor Jara during the 1973 coup.” And which U.S. Agency was behind that violent overthrow? At least 3,000 innocent Chileans were tortured and executed by the generals with the support of the CIA. And Spencer and Rustmann want WikiLeaks shut down? It is the CIA that needs to be abolished.

While Rustmann and Spencer do not cite a single instance of blood on Assange’s hands, investigative journalist William Blum in “Rogue State” (Common Courage Press) reels off a long list of CIA violent actions more than 20 pages long. Here are just a few:

Greece: The CIA set up an internal security agency for the neo-fascist government in 1949 that engaged in widespread torture.

Philippines: The CIA interfered in the elections, culminating in the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, the torture tyrant.

Iran: In 1953, the CIA overthrew a democratically-elected government. Thousands were subsequently tortured and killed. (Wonder why the Iranians hate the U.S. today?)

Guatemala: A CIA-led coup overthrew Jacobo Arbenz in 1953, ticking off 40 years of torture and murder that killed more than 200,000 people.

The Congo: The CIA was involved in the assassination of Patrice Lumumba and it pushed Mobutu Sese Seko into power “whose corruption and cruelty,” Blum wrote, “shocked even his CIA handlers.”

Ghana: In 1966, the CIA backed the military to overthrow Kwame Nkrumah.

Bolivia: The CIA helped the military in 1964 overthrow President Victor Paz by force and violence.

CIA lies to its own government have resulted in horrific wars in which thousands died. As Tim Weiner writes in his book, “Legacy of Ashes: The History of The CIA”(Anchor), on August 9, 1974, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger received information that “the CIA had been lying about what it had been doing in Athens, deliberately misleading the American government—and those lies had helped start the war consuming Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus, a war in which thousands died.” Blood on whose hands?

Herald writers Rustmann and Spencer seemingly want to silence Assange the same way the CIA has often silenced its enemies. During my college days, when I worked on The Herald, it would have been unthinkable for any editor to allow a contributor to advocate “covertly” attacking another individual in the pages of a newspaper. Apparently, times have changed.

Today, as the CIA overthrows one government after another, it follows the philosophy of Karl Marx, who declared, “Force is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one.” And as the CIA illegally ships weapons to its friendly dictators around the world, it advances the famous thesis of Red China’s Mao Tse-tung, who believed “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Abolishing the CIA, which has now adopted the old violent Communist approach in its operations, and transferring its budget to the Peace Corps, is a step that would cause bells to ring around the world. Meanwhile, Assange might do well to hire a few body guards.

SHERWOOD ROSS is a Miami-based writer who once worked for The Miami Herald. Today, he runs the Anti-War News Service. You can reach him at



More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 28, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Inside the Invisible Government; War, Propaganda, Clinton & Trump
Andrew Levine
The Hillary Era is Coming: Worry!
Gary Leupp
Seven World-Historical Achievements of the Iraq Invasion of 2003
Paul Street
Standing Rock Water-Protectors Waterboarded While the Cleveland Indians Romped
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel: 1984 Everlasting
Michael Brenner
American Foreign Policy in the Post-Trump Era
Luciana Bohne
Crossing the Acheron: Back to Vietnam
Robert Hunziker
The Political Era of Climate Refugees
Stephen Cooper
Alabama’s Last Execution was an Atrocity
Pete Dolack
Work Harder So Speculators Can Get More
Joyce Nelson
Canadians Launch Constitutional Challenge Against CETA
John Laforge
US Uranium Weapons Have Been Used in Syria
Paul Edwards
The Vision Thing ’16
Arshad Khan
Hillary, Trump and Sartre: How Existentialism Disrobes the Major Presidential Candidates
Peter Lee
It’s ON! Between Duterte and America
Joseph Grosso
Starchitects in the City: Vanity Fair and Gentrification
Patrick Carr
Economic Racial Disparity in North Carolina
David Swanson
Public vs. Media on War
Chris Gilbert
Demo Derby in Venezuela: The Left’s New Freewheeling Politics
Binoy Kampmark
Nobel Confusion: Ramos-Horta, Trump and World Disorder
Stephen Cooper
Alabama’s Last Execution Was an Atrocity
Binoy Kampmark
Nobel Confusion: Ramos-Horta, Trump and World Disorder
Russell Mokhiber
Lucifer’s Banker: Bradley Birkenfeld on Corporate Crime in America
Ron Jacobs
Death to the Fascist Insect! The SLA and the Cops
Cesar Chelala
Embargo on Cuba is an Embarrassment for the United States
Jack Smith
And the Winner Is….
Ken Knabb
Beyond Voting: the Limits of Electoral Politics
Matt Peppe
An Alternate Narrative on Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
James Rothenberg
Water Under the Bridge
Louis Yako
Remembering Rasul Gamzatov: The Poet of the People
Brian Cloughley
The US, NATO and the Pope
Louis Proyect
The Outsider-Insider: Isaac Babel’s Big Mistake
Martin Billheimer
Now and Then, Ancient Sorceries
October 27, 2016
Paul Street
An Identity-Politicized Election and World Series Lakefront Liberals Can Love
Matthew Stevenson
Sex and the Presidential City
Jim Kavanagh
Tom Hayden’s Haunting
CJ Hopkins
The Pathologization of Dissent
Mike Merryman-Lotze
The Inherent Violence of Israel’s Gaza Blockade
Robert Fisk
Is Yemen Too Much for the World to Take?
Shamus Cooke
Stopping Hillary’s Coming War on Syria
Jan Oberg
Security Politics and the Closing of the Open Society
Ramzy Baroud
The War on UNESCO: Al-Aqsa Mosque is Palestinian and East Jerusalem is Illegally Occupied
Colin Todhunter
Lower Yields and Agropoisons: What is the Point of GM Mustard in India?
Norman Pollack
The Election: Does It Matter Who Wins?
Nyla Ali Khan
The Political and Cultural Richness of Kashmiriyat