Silenced Voices, Tainted Freedoms: The Unseen Cost of Our Information War

Marco Travaglio explores the clash between Julian Assange's pursuit of truth and Giuliano Ferrara's CIA connections, shedding light on media silence and freedom's cost.
Giuliano Ferrara: La spia che venne dal Pincio

In the editorial “The Spy Who Came from the Pincio” by Marco Travaglio, featured in Il Fatto Quotidiano on February 22, 2024, we are taken back to Giuliano Ferrara’s 2003 confession. Ferrara, once at the helm of Il Foglio, a newspaper with Berlusconi leanings, divulged his stint as a CIA informant during 1985-86. He candidly recounted how he was effortlessly swayed by an American agent, with their clandestine exchanges unfolding at the Pincio. The incident, though shocking, elicited no action from the Order of Journalists. Today, Ferrara, in a twist of irony, casts aspersions on Julian Assange and downplays his ordeal following 13 years of detention, prompting us to reflect on the repercussions of Assange’s actions. Travaglio juxtaposes the persecution of Assange, targeted for exposing truths, against the unscathed Ferrara, despite his own admission. The piece also criticizes the Italian media’s lukewarm coverage of the Assange saga, highlighting the jeopardies faced by truth and press freedom amidst prevailing interests and hypocrisies. It underscores the disparity in treatment between political dissenters and those shielded for the crimes unveiled by Wikileaks.

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The Spy Who Came from the Pincio

by Marco Travaglio

In 2003, Giuliano Ferrara, the director of the pro-Berlusconi paper Il Foglio, boldly admitted to being a “paid informant for the CIA” in 1985-86, confessing he had “allowed himself to be corrupted without much fuss” by a “charming and astute young American agent” who compensated him with “dollars wrapped in a delightful little yellow envelope, just the right weight. And losing one’s innocence was wonderful. Some conversations took place at the Pincio” and “the handover of the envelope had an erotic charge to it”. The Order of Journalists managed to do absolutely nothing, and now we must endure spy Ferrara lecturing Assange on ethics. He even dares to mock Assange’s dire situation after 13 years of captivity: “He got married, had two lovely children” and now “let’s hope the heating works better in prison than in a Siberian wolf den”, but above all that the condemned man reflects “on his dissemination of stolen agency reports, otherwise 175 years might seem too lenient” (besides being a spy, Ferrara is also a well-known advocate of due process). The difference between the Empire of Good and that of Evil is stark: the former, if you’re a journalist reporting the truth, arrests you, buries you alive but sick in jail, then sentences you to death or life; the latter, if you’re a xenophobic dissenter, arrests you, sentences you to 21 years, and lets you die.

Let’s be clear: in a country where La Stampa doesn’t spare a line for Assange’s hearing in London, Repubblica buries it in a brief mention amidst seven daily pages on Navalny, and Corriere delivers a scolding from Aldo Grasso to Riccardo Iacona for “taking up Assange’s cause”, described as an “activist who has never done investigative journalism” (compare that with Grasso’s investigations), but has committed “crimes” (which, since he hasn’t been convicted?), it’s a relief to see Il Foglio at least put Assange on the front page. Then, of course, it shamelessly lies as is its wont: accustomed to fabrications from a young age, Ferrara could only detest Assange, who dealt in truths. Indeed, he accuses Assange of “seriously endangering the safety of CIA and Pentagon informants and soldiers” and their “misdemeanors without which our freedom wouldn’t exist”. Yet, Assange endangered no one’s life, and our freedom would still be intact if the CIA and Pentagon hadn’t annihilated a million innocents in Afghanistan and Iraq or tortured prisoners in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo (where torture continues). In fact, if the crimes documented by Wikileaks hadn’t been committed, we might have more grounds to lecture Putin on democracy. Speaking of which: “journalists” paid by the CIA should attach their pay slips beneath their bylines and follow up with an article. If there’s room left.

Il Fatto Quotidiano, February 22, 2024


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