Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The Life and Trials Of Julian Assange

Guest post by Mara

Much of the media frenzy surrounding Assange is born of the fact that little is known about him. Thirty nine years old. Australian. No fixed address. Parents ran a touring company. Attended thirty seven schools. Has a child from a failed relationship. Malcolm Rifkind describes him as a ‘frighteningly amoral figure’, Edward Heathcoat-Armory as ‘paranoic and archaic’, one who lives a ‘bizarre peripatetic life’. Assange has been ritualistically demonized by the media as a shadowy, sinister and above all wicked figure who will stop at nothing in order to print a sensational story. In a savage evocation of the McCarthy era, politicians across the world have been baying for his arrest, his silence, and even his blood. It is ironic that some of these politicians, Attorney General Eric Holder who refused to prosecute the CIA for torture in particular, are now mounting a moral crusade using the ‘forces of darkness and light’ narrative to achieve their ends.

The latest move to silence Assange lies in the lap of a Swedish prosecutor who, despite a wealth of contradictory evidence, has issued a European Arrest Warrant in order to prosecute him for the alleged coercion and rape of two women. Prior to the issuing of said warrant, the case had been thrown out by a second Swedish prosecutor for lack of evidence. The first woman invited him to stay at her home, had intercourse with him, and threw a party for him the following evening. The second, evidently starstruck (describing him as ‘interesting, brave and admirable’), invited him to her home and paid for his rail fare in both directions. Later, the two women got together, the first “victim” having attempted to expunge an entry on her blog entitled ‘7 Steps to Get Legal Revenge’ and to erase a Tweet which read ‘Sitting outside ... nearly freezing, with the world’s coolest people. It’s pretty amazing!’ They appear to have blown the whistle based on the fact that Assange had Biblical knowledge of them both within a matter of days. Whether this is a case of ‘sexfalla’, which may be loosely translated as a ‘honeytrap’, or two women seething with indignation that Assange shared his sexual favours impartially, there is negligable evidence that any crime was committed. Indeed, Assange has been attempting to meet face-to-face with the Swedish prosecutor for over a year in order to set the record straight.

The typical media response, imbued as it is with a prurient need to know the explicit details of this and every other case involving sex and a kneejerkist Puritannical desire to punish those involved for their morality or lack thereof, has been to define Assange’s character in relation to the allegations. Sex, though a powerful motivation, is not sufficient to explain, or detract, from Assange’s desire to see justice done: to make public a file passed on to him by Bradley Manning, a man whose own character has been torn to shreds, in order that global governance may not get away with covering up its sins. The release of a number of diplomatic telegrams, which has prompted Sarah Palin to call for the death sentence to be imposed on Assange, is both important and necessary. The intelligence that the Obama administration views ours with suspicion, believing that our PM isn’t up to the job and our military is inadequate, has a profound effect on our supposedly ‘joint’ efforts to pacify Afghanistan. Why should we continue to expend resources and lives to assist those who have no faith in us?

The fact that Hilary Clinton deliberately gave orders to pervert the course of justice by covertly obtaining biometric and personal data of UN delegates, including the Secretary General, highlights the fact that the United States believes itself to be above petty legal concerns. Such a profound insult, perversely, may make those waiting to be groped by the TSA at US airports or exposed to radiation via body scanners feel a little more solidarity with the powers-that-be. In relation to Iraq, US troops were commanded not to release details or investigate tortures of Iraqis under an order called 'Frago 242’. And the latest ‘atrocity’ to be leaked, a list of defence facilities which has been characterised by the US State Department as ‘arrogant, misguided and ultimately not helpful in any way,’ a move that puts the ‘national security of the United States has been put at risk; the lives of people who work for the American people have been put at risk; the American people themselves’ at risk, despite the fact that said information has been available in the public domain for a considerable time. The claim that such an act is tantamount to ‘giving a targeting list to groups like al-Qaeda’ is risible. Though it is easy to represent those committing atrocious acts as the Other, an amorphous mass lacking both in intelligence and self-governance, it is more than likely that said group has both access to the Internet and a fair idea of what they want to target.

On balance, I would applaud Assange’s stance. He has, at personal risk, sought to expose the prim-lipped hypocrisy employed by Western governments towards each other, towards those nations they attempt to subdue and subvert in the name of ‘democracy’ and towards their citizens. This information is very much in the national interest. It is in the interest of each and every working man and woman because they are the ones who bear the financial and moral burden, and the after-effects, of governmental decisions taken on their behalf. Far from villifying Assange, we should applaud his endeavours; to hold those responsible for gross travesties of justice, rather than embarking on a witch hunt. We should overcome the Washington-driven jargon that seeks to make a laughing stock of Assange in order to sweep their dirty dealings under the carpet. Media analyst Glenn Greenwald noted that:

‘this kind of character smear (‘he's not in his right mind,’ pronounced a 25-year-old who sort of knows him) is reserved for people who don't matter in the world of establishment journalists - i.e., people without power or standing in Washington and, especially, those whom American Government authorities scorn. In official Washington, Assange is a contemptible loser - the Pentagon hates him and wants him destroyed, and therefore the ‘reporters’ who rely on, admire and identify with Pentagon officials immediately adopt that perspective - and that's why he was the target of this type of attack.’

And, in making such an attack so personal, all accountability passes to the person being demonised. Higher standards need to be employed by those journalists who, despite bleating about impartiality, hop on to whatever political bandwagon happens to be rolling out that week so they gain approval. Where the bravery, where the unflinching honesty, that once used to epitomise reporting, from Deep Throat to the Killing Fields? Ironically, what most party line journalists seem to have overlooked is that in villifying one of their own, they are encouraging the establisment of a system wherein their own right to free speech, should they ever use it, could be revoked. An unhappy notion for the ‘global’ world we live in. And harping on about ‘responsibility’ and the ‘balance of liberty and power’ simply won’t cut it, for if they are willing to shore up the system unquestioningly, they are willing to shore up its abuses of liberty and power too. As Assange stated, ‘when governments stop torturing and killing people, and when corporations stop abusing the legal system, then perhaps it will be time to ask if free-speech activists are accountable.’

Guest post by Mara



17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wikileaks isn't about 'free speech', it is about handling stolen goods.

Free speech is when YOU choose to air YOUR thoughts, it isn't someone else broadcasting them without your permission. We all have thoughts that are best kept private and that applies to governments too.

Wikileaks has fouled its own nest and the fall-out will be more control, monitoring and censorship on everyone else. Wikileaks is to free speech as spammers are to e-mail, selfish b***ards!

Anonymous said...

Oy, where to even start, I just don't have the time right now.

But I will say this, no one discredited Bradley Manning's character. Bradley Manning was demoted for assaulting another soldier. He was set to be released early from the military, or more precisely, thrown out on his ass. How the hell he had access to classified info and why he was allowed to bring in a recording device to a secured area is a huge problem and someone's head should roll for that. Manning certainly had an ax to grind. Releasing classified information makes him a traitor.

Anonymous said...

"villifying one of their own"

Clearly he isn't one of them.

The craven party hacks who pose as journalists are not just less talented at discovering and broadcasting the unvarnished truth, they have been assimilated to the propaganda machine to such an extent that they no longer even care. Hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

It has been noted that Liberals are fanatically determined to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" and allow gays to serve openly in the military. The mole who allegedly gave WikiLeaks the mountains of secret documents is Pfc. Bradley Manning, Army intelligence analyst and angry gay.

The most damaging spies in British history were the Cambridge Five, also called "the "Magnificent Five": Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, Anthony Blunt, Donald Maclean and John Cairncross. The only one who wasn't gay was Philby.

So many Soviet spies were gay that one may have referred to the intelligence apparatus as the "Gay GB".

Obviously, the vast majority of gays are loyal citizens -- and witty and stylish to boot! But a small percentage of gays are going to be narcissistic hothouse flowers like Bradley Manning.

Look at the disaster one gay created under the punishing "don't ask, don't tell" policy. What else awaits America with the overturning of a policy that was probably put there for a good reason reason

Anonymous said...

What utter bullshit. This is, as was mentioned in a previous comment, all about handling stolen goods.

Mara MacSeoinin said...

Has Assange jeopardised current military operations? No. Has he released intelligence related to troops' location? No. Has he leaked the intel of Allied commanders on the ground? No. Assange's leaks have all been post hoc, after the fact.
Handling stolen goods implies directly that one is stealing that which does not belong to one. Incorrect. The State belongs to us; we do not belong to the State. We are not owned, nor do they own the exclusive right - unless we give them said right - to cover up gross abuses of power, liberty, and all those things people like to protest about once they realise they're gone. Government officials aren't private individuals, they're public servants. They deserve much greater scrutiny because they're using our money to subsidise their position. It is worthwhile to know what said servants actually think about their so-called allies, because, should they for example have great contempt for those supporting them, the public should be able to say 'no, we don't choose to deploy our boys for those who have no time for us; we don't choose to shore up whatever position they are attempting to uphold, be it in the name of democracy or otherwise". Human life is worth infinitely more than safeguarding the privacy of the powers-that-be. Being asked to choose between truth or treason indicates that something is very rotten in the state of Denmark.
Manning's sexuality, like Assange's, is entirely irrelevant. Being an 'angry gay' has no bearing on his motivation, just as my heterosexuality has no bearing on my writing this article or buying a fish for supper. But you will note that a head of state is never described in terms of their sexuality. This is reserved entirely for those whom the establishment wishes to deride and dismiss. A red herring. It should be treated with absolute disdain.

Anonymous said...

@Mara: Your argument implies that everything that is done or owned by the state belongs to its citizens. Should the combination number of Fort Knox be in the public domain?

There is a world of difference between 'whistle blowing' that could reveal corrupt or criminal practice and what Wikileaks is doing which is open espionage - they haven't got a buyer so they are giving away their stolen information to all.

There is another aspect. We have no way of knowing if any of the 'revealed' information is true, it might have been created by Wikileaks just to create mischief.

Travelgall said...

Mara
Has he released intelligence related to troops' location? No

Err Actually Yes.
http://www.politics.co.uk/news/foreign-policy/uk-condemns-wikileaks-release-of-terror-targets--$21386083.htm

"and a BAE systems centre critical for the F-35 joint strike fighter". Which will have military personnel in it.

"Has he leaked the intel of Allied commanders on the ground? No".
Err Yes actually.

After the fact doesn't mean that the asset cannot be of future use, at least he could have been used had the man in question not had a Taliban bullet in his back from wikileaks blowing his cover.

"Human life is worth infinitely more than safeguarding the privacy of the powers-that-be".
I agree, which is why I wouldn't release information that CIA source is Former National Fencing Champion of Iran who has worked for an Azerbaijan Oil company for the last 10 years. Especially since Iran sends Death Squads abroad to kill what it considers traitors. The fact is, this is not a leak of Mp's expenses, it is a leak of information directly related to a war that is being fought.

When it comes to war "Tell them nothing till its over and then tell them who won".

Anonymous said...

Mara,

I agree that the rape charges against Assange are ridiculous. Even though he may not be a rapist his actions regarding the two women certainly speak to his character. It does suggest that he is perhaps not so truthful, transparent, and ethical. One would have to wonder how these character traits cross over into other areas of his life such as his business dealings.

Everything about Assange sets off every alarm in my body. My instincts are of distrust and evil. I certainly would not trust him to go back to his apartment to listen to him drone on about light engine repair or sprocket adjustments. Even your first sentence states we don't know much about him and then you list several details about his life that could make for an unstable person. But yet, you lift him up as a hero.

I see Assange as a master manipulator and controller. He has secrets. He releases information based upon targets of his choosing and his timing. Do we know if he has secrets on certain corporations, countries, and governments that he may be supressing because it doesn't fit his agenda? We don't know because he is the controller. His thinking is not normal. He threatens world governments telling them they better not do anything to him or he will release a poison pill. There is abnormal, grandiose thinking on his part. No, I do not trust him and I agree in all liklihood he did not rape those women but I'm not willing to wave my pom-poms for him either. Be careful on who you support. He turns everyone against the government (and we all know they have much improvement to do) but Julian Assange is not the place to turn for trust when you have given up on the government.

Assange is carrying out a master plan to cause chaos and distrust among people. People against people and people against governments. They would love for people to rise up in anger only to have the government come in and restore order and squash the people by taking away their freedoms and giving themselves more control. This is a great way to advance the one world order plan. Don't fall for it. And somehow, Soros is involved in all of this. Perhaps Julian is just a pawn used by Soros. Soros will provide Julian and Manning with a great lawyer and if they get off great for them, but if they don't they are just collateral damage for Soros.

Mara, you state how terrible to choose between truth and treason. You have fallen for a typical progressive tactic. They blur the lines between right and wrong confusing the populace of such basics. We may not agree on everything but people should agree treason is wrong. If Manning had an issue he should have taken it up the chain of command, then to the inspector General. If that didn't work you take it your congressman and representatives.

Anonymous said...

It's not like you, Jackart, to be more or less a lone voice in a discussion of your own post, but your analysis is surprising for a Tory. As a counter to the fervour for the (reckless) obsession with freedom of information, you may wish to see this post: http://www.city-journal.org/2010/eon1202td.html.

What sort of society contends that nothing should be private and (ostensibly) all is equally public property...yes that of the
totalitarian Marxist variety.

I agree with the earlier comment that this will do nothing but make those 'in the know' redouble their efforts for secrecy, or perhaps just blunt the frankness with which opinions can be expressed in the grey area of diplomacy/foreign affairs. This crusade, by someone decidedly weird, is not helped by the calibre of his supporters either - e.g., John Pilger (dubious at best) and Jemima Goldsmith (useful celebrity idiot).

Anonymous said...

Mara
You said....."The intelligence that the Obama administration views ours with suspicion, .......Why should we continue to expend resources and lives to assist those who have no faith in us?"

This is exactly why a person like Assange is so dangerous.

Obama is not the American people, and it is the business of intelligence agencies to look at everyone with "suspicion".

The special relationship that has existed between Britain and the United States has been overwhelmingly in the best interests of both.

You sound like the football player who found out that the head cheerleader was only dating him so that she could be more popular, so now you are going to quit the team, take your ball and go home.

Grow up. Every bit of information that exists is not necessarily meant for public consumption and knowledge thereof is not necessarily in the best
interest of those involved.. This is true in all relationships. Assange is a criminal guilty of espionage.

matthewmtt

Mara MacSeoinin said...

Interesting that commentators stigmatise this writer as Assange's cheerleader; that I view him with the same doe-eyed hero-worship apparently exhibited by one of the women he's deemed to have insulted. I'm not. I believe it's dangerous to elevate anyone to an heroic status; far too easy to topple them thereafter. For all I know, Assange may be a deeply unpleasant individual, or he may possess boatloads of Mother Theresa-esque piety. That's not the point. I don't know, and therefore I don't wish to judge his character or apply the kind of labels to him that would never be attributed to a head of state, only the kind of individuals the establishment wants to take down.
One Anonymous commentator wonders whether I'd suggest making the combination of Fort Knox publically available. A fatuous suggestion, and an entirely different premise to the one *I'm* suggesting. Were everyone to have equal access to everyone else's money, we'd be living in a Communist state the likes of which I despise. The contents of a bank account isn't quite the same as a telegram illustrating the fact that the Yanks were complicit in covering up torture of Iraqis now, was it?
Another Anon labels me a progressivist. Deeply offensive, and a spectacular misreading of my character - but then, today, people are far too keen to skim across the surface and make wild judgment calls based upon little or no evidence. I'm as Whiggish as they come. A firm fan of status, hierarchy, tradition and honour. In order for such things to be maintained, however, the status quo has to be impeccable. Unimpeachable. Which means if it's acting solely in its own interest and lying barefaced to those who shore it up, it must be revised or renewed immediately. This is not to support revolution - I would undoubtedly have been guillotined in the 1790s - but to call for accountability on the part of those who control the redistribution of wealth, decide whether or not to go to war, and establish themselves as major world powers.
The final Anon advises me to 'grow up'. No, I thank you; I'd rather remain my own special kind of wide eyed, naive idealist than to be so brainwashed by collective governments that I a) believe that a 'special relationship' which works for mutual interests exists of b) that anyone in the United States has as much executive power as the President, who speaks on its behalf and therefore can be said reasonably to function as its mouthpiece.
Of course every piece of information is not for public consumption. But that which implicates the public in acts of gross immorality which, by having voted in the government which perpetrates them, is deemed complicit in their enactment, both *is* and *should* be made known. If only to prevent said acts from being repeated ad infinitum.

Anonymous said...

"Another Anon labels me a progressivist. Deeply offensive"

Of course using the label Yank is okay. I got it Limey.

Mara MacSeoinin said...

Is "Limey" meant to be upsetting? Makes me think of Limehouse in the 1800s, of pigtailed Mandarins and the sweet wreathing scent of opium and costermongers in greasy neckcloths wagering on the sporting chances of a fierce cockerel. Slang terms for other nations aren't particularly offensive in my book - call me a Limey, call me a Yid, I care not; what is more important is the integrity and courage of its inhabitants.

Anonymous said...

Fine.

Mara you sound like a snob.

Good Day.

Jackart said...

Anonymous. What does a "snob" sound like? Never been sure, because I've met snobs with MANY accents. Do you mean 'posh'? Or perhaps 'Educated'? Either way, you sound like a twat.

Anonymous said...

And Jackart, what exactly does a twat sound like?

When reading "The life and Trials of Julian Assange" I couldn't help to feel that there was a bit of anti-Americanism in the piece. Perhaps it is just me but I could hear the contempt and disdain in the words. It sounded snobby to me.

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