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America's Assault on Assange

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

America's Assault on Assange

Andrew Ryan

In the last month, Julian Assange has been all over the media, and I’m finding it exciting, stressful, terrifying and a little bit sexy, all at once. The editor in chief of Wikileaks has been thrust into the eyes of the general public after the website published leaked documents of correspondence between the US State department and their diplomatic missions around the world. Within days of this stuff getting out, American politicians lost their collective shit and start calling him a terrorist, Wikileaks a terrorist organisation, and have seemingly embarked on a complicated campaign to figure out how they can legitimately arrest Assange and cut his fucking head off so no one ever does anything like this again.

Ever since I noticed the hoo-hah, I haven’t stopped thinking about it. Wikileaks emails have popped up in my mail box for a few years, but I’ve never taken the time to actually read an article. When it comes down to it, any knowledge I gain from the organisation would be lost on me anyway, and would only serve to depress the already depressed drunks I serve at the bar, or piss off my friends and acquaintances if I were to talk about it because we all know that right now, as hospitality workers/drunks in the middle of Melbourne, there isn‘t really much any of us can do about political events in the rest of the world. However, I have always found it comforting to know that there are people out there who are dedicated to truth and justice, people who are using the internet for it’s true purpose, and it gives me hope that our race isn’t completely doomed.

Which is why I am so excited by Assange’s elevation to a household name. Now EVERYBODY, in the western world at least, knows who he is, what he does, and anyone with half a brain and a healthy amount of curiosity has made an attempt to find out what the fuck has happened here. Here are the two most important facts that are required knowledge for any opinion on this matter, both of which most conservative politicians and media organisations around the world have been veiling with political bias and fear mongering.

-Wikileaks is not acting illegally. It would be illegal if they conspired with people who have the classified information, but there is no proof of activity of this kind. They simply offer a platform for this information, if anyone feels the need to share it.

-Julian Assange did not rape anyone. Both women involved in the Swedish case said they engaged in consensual sexual encounters. He is getting charged because he did not use a condom after he said he would in both cases, and under Swedish law, that is very naughty. However, one of the women cooked him breakfast the day after their night together. Just sayin’.

I enjoy discussing this situation more than anything else at the moment, and am flabbergasted when people claim they are “sick of it”; regardless of how much I like them, my first reaction is to slap them across the face and shake them until they open their eyes. This is easily the most important event of the last 20 years. The way the US government plays this game over the next few months, as well as the outcome of any resulting trials, will be the precedent for any laws governing internet information sharing and transparency in governments. It is my personal belief that if Julian Assange is put away, or executed- which is what a whole bunch of people are calling for- then something is obviously very, very wrong, and it is the responsibility of all humans with an ethical understanding of information sharing, a care for the wellbeing of all other human beings, and a desire to live in within a healthy society to stay informed, keep focussed, and actually have that revolution everyone has been half-arsedly talking about for the last 40 years.

Claims made by some that Assange is anti-democratic, and wants only to bring down the US (see: he’s a god-damned terrorist!) are sickeningly low brow and narrow minded. Wikileaks has information on pretty much every country and system of government, including his birth country (which, funnily enough, includes some tasty morsels about how the US played a part in replacing our anti-Afghan-war Prime Minister with the lady who falsely stated Mr. Assange has broken laws… yes, little puppet, good girl…), and has been pumping it out since 2006. No one gave much of a shit about Wikileaks until the recent “Cablegate” because the US peed their pants so obviously in public about it. As Assange said in his blog in 2007: “The more secretive or unjust an organisation is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. … Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.” Earlier this year, at the Oslo Freedom Forum, he stated that :“We have a trans-political ideology; it is not right, it is not left, it is about understanding.” Damn fucking straight Julian.

It is impossible to view this man, and the website he helps run, as anti anything except corruption, dishonesty and the unjust treatment of human beings. Which is a completely valid feeling for any fucking human being to have toward the society they live within. The people who pass on the information in the first place are the individuals that have broken the law, as they would no doubt have signed agreements that state they are not allowed to pass on their knowledge. That being said, it is a risk that every informant has obviously deemed worthwhile. The fact that the man who released this “Cablegate” stuff to Wikileaks has provoked such a reaction from certain members of American media and politics so that they want him executed too, is proof enough that it was important to the government that the world didn’t find out about it, and I doubt very much that it is for the sake of innocent civilians and our boys and girls in Afghanistan. Tut-tut America. If you really cared about the lives of those people, you wouldn’t have kept this war going for so long, wouldya? Huh? Maybe? Yeah, you don’t have a god-damned leg to stand on.