The Cable

State Department: The U.S. does not recognize the concept of ‘diplomatic asylum’

Siding with the Brits in their escalating feud with Ecuador about the status of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the State Department declared today that the United States does not believe in the concept of ‘diplomatic asylum' as a matter of international law.

Ecuador dragged Britain into an emergency meeting of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States Friday at OAS headquarters in Washington, calling for a foreign ministers' meeting following the British threat to go into the Ecuadoran embassy in London and get Assange, who is wanted for questioning in connection with sexual assault charges in Sweden.

Ecuador formally granted Assange political asylum Thursday, but today the State Department said the United States doesn't agree that such a thing exists.

"The United States is not a party to the 1954 OAS Convention on Diplomatic Asylum and does not recognize the concept of diplomatic asylum as a matter of international law," the office of Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in a Friday statement. "We believe this is a bilateral issue between Ecuador and the United Kingdom and that the OAS has no role to play in this matter."

That statement is a shift from the stance the State Department took yesterday, when Nuland said that Washington would stay out of the dispute and that the American position was that the Brits were making decisions based on British, not international law.

"This is an issue between the Ecuadorans, the Brits, the Swedes," Nuland said Thursday. "It is an issue among the countries involved and we're not planning to interject ourselves."

The United States can only formally grant asylum to political figures once they actually are on U.S. soil, as dictated by the Refugee Act of 1980. But the U.S. has a long record of protecting political targets inside U.S. embassy complexes, most recently with Chinese blind dissident Chen Guangcheng last December.

That might seem like a distinction without a difference to many. However, Chen never sought or was granted asylum; he simply asked to study in the United States and the Chinese government eventually assented.

In 1989, the U.S. granted "temporary refuge" to Feng Lizhi, a leader of the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement, who fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and stayed there for 384 days before Chinese authorities allowed him to go to the United States, but officially only for "medical treatment."

Joseph Stalin's daughter Svetlana sought refuge in 1967 via the U.S. Embassy in India and was eventually granted U.S. citizenship.

The Cable

Anti-Obama Navy SEAL leader: I’m a Birther

President Barack Obama is a socialist, was raised by communists, and wasn't born in the United States, according to the former Navy SEAL who founded the group Special Operations Speaks (SOS), which aims to portray Obama as anti-military in this election season.

Earlier this week, a different group of former Navy SEALS calling themselves the Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund rolled out its campaign to criticize Obama for leaking national security information and taking what it believes as undue credit for the killing of Osama bin Laden. That group claims to be non-political.

But the founder of SOS, a similar group with the same mission and the same tactics, says he has no problem admitting that he is against Obama's politics, personality, and believes that America's current president is lying about his origins.

"I have to admit that I'm a Birther," said SOS founder Larry Bailey, a retired 27-year veteran of the Navy SEALs, in an interview. "If there were a jury of 12 good men and women and the evidence were placed before them, there would be absolutely no question Barack Obama was not born where he said he was and is not who he says he is."

Bailey, who is part of the leadership of SOS's effort to mobilize thousands to take to the streets to denounce Obama's treatment of the military through an SOS project called Operation Street Corner, doesn't only believe that the president is a foreigner. He also believes that he is not actually the son of Barack Obama, Sr. Bailey trumpeted the conspiracy theory that the president is actually the love child of Ann Dunham and writer Frank Marshall Davis.

"In his books, Obama said his mentor was a fellow named Frank Marshall Davis. Frank Marshall Davis was a member of Communist Party USA, he wrote for the communist party's Hawaii newsletter, he was a close friend of Obama's mother, and there's a strong case that Frank Marshall Davis rather than Barack Obama, Sr. was Barack Obama, Jr.'s father and that Barack Obama, Sr. was just an administrative father of convenience," Bailey said.

Bailey isn't shy about his dislike of Obama personally and admits freely that his extensive efforts to mobilize special operations veterans and their supporters around the country is rooted in his personal dislike of the president and his desire to see him replaced.

"Barack Obama's a born red-diaper baby. He's a socialist. His beliefs are the very antithesis of my beliefs. As far as I am concerned he is one of the most unlikeable and unprepared politicians we've ever had," Bailey said. "I don't like him because he believes that America is responsible for most of the problems in the world and he wants to cut her down to size."

Bailey is also a veteran of efforts to portray Democrats as anti-military during previous presidential election cycles. He was involved in the 2004 effort called Vietnam Vets for the Truth, an organization that was separate from but worked with Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth to attack John Kerry's military record. Together they organized a "Kerry Lied" rally on Capitol Hill that had 5,000 attendees.

Bailey said he came up with the idea for SOS earlier this year and organized some fellow former special operations guys, mostly in their 60s and 70s, with the mission of helping Obama's opponent win.

"I had an idea that we could lend a hand to the effort of getting the White House expunged of what's there now and elect someone more to my liking," Bailey said.

The group has a Facebook page with more than 22,000 likes, and "Operation Street Corner" now has 30 coordinators spread out across 20 states to encourage and enable people to get out on the street and set up displays attacking Obama's handling of national security.

"What we're doing right now is establishing an infrastructure that will put us in good stead to influence the outcome on Nov. 6," said Bailey. "You can expect some television ads but we are more focused on prosecuting the ground war rather than the air war."

SOS now has former Army Rangers, Army Special Forces, Navy SEALS, Air Commands, Marine Special Operations Commands, and representatives from other special operations groups as well. The group has set up a quasi-military command structure Bailey calls a "Joint Task Force" to manage its operations. SOS has already raised thousands, but aims much higher.

"I want somebody to give me $1.5 million. We think we're going to get $1.5 million," said Bailey. We're going to be so effective with that $1.5 dollars getting the message out that people will be standing in line to help us help them."

Bailey wears his views on his sleeve and wants anyone who's interested to know he is fighting not only for the special operations community but also against an ideology he views as dangerous.

"The Obama administration and the liberal progressive path that our country is going down is going to be nothing less than disastrous for our civilization," he said.