Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The 9 Weirdest Things About the WikiLeaks Story

AlterNet, here are just a couple:

2. Julian Assange Has Not Broken Any Laws ... Yet Our Government and Others Treat Him Like He Has

A Canadian advisor called for Assange's assassination, Joe Lieberman pressured Amazon to hypocritically tear down the cables, and officials and media repeat accusations that he is a terrorist despite the fact that the Wikileaks' actions have resulted in no physical harm to anyone -- unlike, say, certain governments. But amid all this, it is important to note that neither Julian Assange nor WikiLeaks have broken any laws, whether American or Australian, in releasing the leaked documents. And yet some lawmakers are so hysterical, such as GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch O'Connell, they are suggesting the US invent new laws, solely for the purpose of bringing Assange to trial. Meanwhile, the government continues to intimidate companies who host the cables, with no actual legal ground whatsoever.


6. “Sex by Surprise?"

The charges against Assange in Sweden have now been characterized as “sex by surprise” -- and no one seems to know exactly what that even means.

Assange's London attorney, Mark Stephens, told AOL News today that Swedish prosecutors told him that Assange is wanted not for allegations of rape, as previously reported, but for something called "sex by surprise," which he said involves a fine of 5,000 kronor or about $715. "Whatever 'sex by surprise' is, it's only a offense in Sweden -- not in the U.K. or the U.S. or even Ibiza," Stephens said. "I feel as if I'm in a surreal Swedish movie being threatened by bizarre trolls. The prosecutor has not asked to see Julian, never asked to interview him, and he hasn't been charged with anything. He's been told he's wanted for questioning, but he doesn't know the nature of the allegations against him."
The charges have something to do with condoms, and their lack of use, or breakage, although it’s largely unclear exactly what. The women accusing Assange have stood behind their accounts, but he believes the Swedish government's seemingly wishy-washy actions are part of a larger conspiracy to nab him for WikiLeaks. The New York Times:
According to accounts the women gave to the police and friends, they each had consensual sexual encounters with Mr. Assange that became nonconsensual. One woman said that Mr. Assange had ignored her appeals to stop after a condom broke. The other woman said that she and Mr. Assange had begun a sexual encounter using a condom, but that Mr. Assange did not comply with her appeals to stop when it was no longer in use. Mr. Assange has denied any wrongdoing and has questioned the veracity of those accounts.
Yesterday, new warrants were issued for Assange and he is presently making arrangements to meet with Scotland Yard. The premise for the warrants has not been revealed.

here for the rest.

Okay, I'm really starting to love all this.

It is extraordinarily important to keep in mind when considering the Wikileaks story that the vast majority of governmental secrecy exists not for national security reasons, but for public relations reasons. This is really fucking important. We all have a template stuck in our heads, developed watching hundreds of hours of WWII movies throughout our lives, that tells us that protecting government secrets, especially during war time, is the sacred and patriotic responsibility of all citizens. The real life examples of this sacred responsibility that pop into most people's heads when they think about this shit is, indeed, the stuff of good film making: we've got the keep the Manhattan Project a deep dark secret, or we won't be able to blow up innocent civilians in Hiroshima or Nagasaki; we can't reveal that the Allies are invading Nazi occupied Europe at Normandy, or the Russians will win the war without us. Okay, those were some pretty important secrets. But they are the exception, not the rule.

The rule is that most of what the government classifies as secret is to protect our leaders from the ire of the citizens they rule. Like I said, secrecy these days is, by and large, about PR. And these are exactly the kind of secrets Wikileaks has been publishing.

Go back some fifteen years or so, and I, too, might be a bit outraged by what Assange is doing. But that was before the White House doctored intelligence on WMD in order to gain public support for its illegal and ill-fated invasion of Iraq. It was before Cheney's secret energy policy meeting with industry leaders back in 2001, which immediately preceded Enron's downfall, and was concurrent with the industry manufactured electricity crisis that stuck the state of California with bogus billion dollar charges, and which toppled Democratic governor Gray Davis. It was before the White House outed an undercover CIA agent just for political retaliation against a critic of the administration. It was before Obama's White House lied about the amount of oil that was leaking into the Gulf of Mexico.

We haven't been fighting WWII for sixty five years. The Cold War has been over for twenty years. And our current wars are far more morally murky than those earlier conflicts. This isn't about sabotaging America. It's about exposing corruption.

Assange may very well have kept having sex with these women after his condoms broke, but I seriously doubt it. The accusations are just too convenient: my expectation is that if he is extradited to Sweden, the next stop will be the United States to face charges of...well...because he didn't actually leak the stuff himself, because all he did was publish those leaks, like every major newspaper in the world did, too, I'm not sure what they'll charge him with. But I am certain that most of the American political establishment wants this guy in chains, the sooner the better. It makes no difference if he actually committed a crime. Just get him.

Hopefully, it won't come to that. Really, all this frothing-at-the-mouth about Assange indicates that he's doing something right. Personally, I'm starting to think of him as something of a hero.