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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

WikiLeaks: pressure mounts « Previous | |Next »
December 7, 2010

WikiLeaks continues the dump whilst the extra juridical attacks on Julian Assange and on WikiLeaks continue. The US, the defender of internet freedom and democratic governance, is doing all it can to stem the flow of this information. A compliant Australia, as a friend of the US, is doing everything it can to assist the US in its extra-judicial pursuit of WikiLeaks.

PettyB WikiiLeaks .jpg

John Naughton in Live with the WikiLeakable world or shut down the net. It's your choice in The Guardian say that this:

represents the first really sustained confrontation between the established order and the culture of the internet. There have been skirmishes before, but this is the real thing.....The response has been vicious, co-ordinated and potentially comprehensive, and it contains hard lessons for everyone who cares about democracy and about the future of the net.There is a delicious irony in the fact that it is now the so-called liberal democracies that are clamouring to shut WikiLeaks down.

The leaks expose how political elites in western democracies have been deceiving their electorates--especially over Afghanistan.

Though absolute transparency is not desirable or necessary, there has been too much secrecy and subterfuge in the name of diplomatic endeavour in the current system of governance with respect to Irq and Afghanistan. So a corrective towards transparency is a good idea.

Naughton adds that what WikiLeaks is really exposing is the extent to which the western democratic system has been hollowed out.

In the last decade its political elites have been shown to be incompetent (Ireland, the US and UK in not regulating banks); corrupt (all governments in relation to the arms trade); or recklessly militaristic (the US and UK in Iraq). And yet nowhere have they been called to account in any effective way. Instead they have obfuscated, lied or blustered their way through. And when, finally, the veil of secrecy is lifted, their reflex reaction is to kill the messenger.

The liberal democracies are opposed to the idea of an internet that further democratizes the public sphere. When challenged they show their authoritarian side and the due process of the law be dammed. And yet, after the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, Iran/Contra, the cruise missile attack on Sudan, Colin Powell's cooked-up testimony to the Security Council in 2002, how many of us are under that many illusions about the dark underbelly of U.S. foreign policy?

Glenn Greenward at says:
Just look at what the U.S. Government and its friends are willing to do and capable of doing to someone who challenges or defies them -- all without any charges being filed or a shred of legal authority. They've blocked access to their assets, tried to remove them from the Internet, bullied most everyone out of doing any business with them, froze the funds marked for Assange's legal defense at exactly the time that they prepare a strange international arrest warrant to be executed, repeatedly threatened him with murder, had their Australian vassals openly threaten to revoke his passport, and declared them "Terrorists" even though -- unlike the authorities who are doing all of these things -- neither Assange nor WikiLeaks ever engaged in violence, advocated violence, or caused the slaughter of civilians.

For those politicians crying treason and death penalty on Wikileaks founder Julian Assange the term 'terrorist' simply means someone impedes or defies the will of the U.S. Government with any degree of efficacy. The mainstream US media rolls over, despite the US's standard practice of CIA black sites, rendition, the torture regime, denial of habeas corpus, drones, assassinations, private mercenary forces, etc in defending its imperial interests. The media outlets appear to be devoted to serving, protecting and venerating US government authorities, turn a blind eye to secret governance and appear to do little to challenge the 'eradicate Assange' calls.

It is beginning to look as if the United States cannot be both a republic and an empire. At the moment it is acting like a wounded bear confronted by its demise as the global superpower. This empire may well unravel with unholy speed.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 7:18 AM | | Comments (22)


They are in the process of creating a folk hero others will want to emulate.

People working as agents for others instinctively look to hide their behaviour from the people whose interests they are supposed to be representing. Just as governments prefer citizens not to know what they are up to, managers do their best to conceal their actions from shareholders and elected directors of non-profits quickly develop their own agenda which they try to hide from members (the NRMA being a notorious case in point where the truth was eventually exposed).

It seems that human beings are genetically incapable of faithfully serving the interests of constituents in preference to their own. Given that reality, the more we know about what our servants are really up to, the better. The number of people in our 'free societies' who are outraged by the whole idea of freedom of information just testifies to the way they have been brainwashed to accept the idea of a nanny state.

US politicians' statements that Assange has caused deaths has got to be the most unconsciously hilarious response of all. Sort of like Jack the Ripper complaining that somebody was rude to him on the bus!

The relentless attacks on the servers hosting WikiLeaks indicates that this is cyber warfare waged against the cyber activists by the US government.

The latter is trying to demonize democratic activism on the web as a form of terrorism.

Mark Pesce likens the attacks on servers to the attacks on Napster.

shutting that down just taught people to do things differently next time.

Gillard persists in her claim that Assange has committed an illegal act with his diplomatic cable dump. What Australian law has Assange broken? Gillard declines to say.

Cablegate is an attack on the culture of secrecy and deception.

So what has happened to the presumption of innocence unless found guilty? Assange is an Australian citizen and the usual due process of any fair legal process should apply. Clearly, the compliant Australian Government is going to make an exception, under pressure from the US.

Trying to look like Andy Warhol is a crime isn't it?

Mark Pesce in WikiLeaks a blueprint for things to come at the ABC's Unleashed says of the cable dump:

None of it is very pretty, all of it is embarrassing, and the embarrassment extends well beyond the state actors - who are, after all, paid to lie and dissemble, this being one of the primary functions of any government - to the complicit and compliant news media, think tanks and all the other camp followers deeply invested in the preservation of the status quo. Formerly quiet seas are now roiling, while everyone with any authority everywhere is doing everything they can to close the gaps in the smooth functioning of power. They want all of this to disappear and be forgotten.

its only diplomatic gossip for heavens sake. So it is about power--challenging the power of the nation state that is built around secrets and lies.

Mark Pesce is right on this. The failure of Napster was the blueprint for Gnutella and in exactly the same way:

- note for note -the failures of WikiLeaks provide the blueprint for the systems which will follow it, and which will permanently leave the state and its actors neutered. Assange must know this - a teenage hacker would understand the lesson of Napster. Assange knows that someone had to get out in front and fail, before others could come along and succeed. We’re learning now, and to learn means to try and fail and try again.

The conclusion is right too---what Assange has done can not be undone; this tear in the body politic will never truly heal.

Glenn Greenwald notes the extent to which 'democratic' governments have ignored the rule of law and used the power of the state to suppress an organisation which as yet has not even been charged with any offence, let alone convicted.

Perhaps the most pernicious line is from the Republican Senate leader: "I think the man is a high-tech terrorist. He’s done an enormous damage to our country, and I think he needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And if that becomes a problem, we need to change the law."

No tin-pot dictator could have said it better. If you find someone's behaviour politically inconvenient, just change the law to make it illegal so you can lock them up.

Never has the notion of American exceptionalism been more exposed as a myth. Ironically, however, the enduring narrative of one courageous individual defying the state continues on.

This is mostly about maintaining an illusion.

The past decade has seen a new high (low???) in attempts by the power elite to control the masses through misinformation It has also seen the utter failure of corporate media (and educators and artists) to expose this trend.

It's about keeping control and strengthening that control.

"...those in power must invent noble lies and pious frauds to keep the people in the stupor for which they are supremely fit.."

So far it worked quite well!

It probably won't make any difference, but you can put your name to an open letter over at the ABC.

Lyn done so.

The political class is complaining because a website and its allies in the press are publishing information that is credible.Those in the political establishment of the permanent national security state demanding Assange's blood are the architects and allies of disastrous policies that are being rejected even within the government. Therein lies the "corruption of governance”.

What is required is state scrutiny --scrutiny of the invisible government. The question is what will exposing secrets --practising civil disobedience through working to enable others to whistle-blow?--- actually accomplish?

In The Atlantic David Samuels states that:

he fact that so many prominent old school journalists are attacking him [Assange] with such unbridled force is a symptom of the failure of traditional reporting methods to penetrate a culture of official secrecy that has grown by leaps and bounds since 9/11, and threatens the functioning of a free press as a cornerstone of democracy.

He adds that Wikileaks is a powerful new way for reporters and human rights advocates to leverage global information technology systems to break the heavy veil of government and corporate secrecy that is slowly suffocating the American press.

The US is a national security state and its mentality is punitive. Tom Dispatch describes it this way:

It [the national security state] wants to lock you down, quietly and with full acquiescence if possible. Offer some trouble, though, or step out of line, and you'll be hit with a $10,000 fine or maybe put in cuffs. It’s all for your safety, and fortunately they have a set of the most inept terror plots in history to prove their point.

The oppressiveness of a national security state bent on locking down American life must be getting to some Americans? After all it exists in order to increase government power and decrease civil liberties.

Courtesy of Glenn Greenwald, this hilarious news release from the US State Department:

'The United States is pleased to announce that it will host UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day event in 2011, from May 1 - May 3 in Washington, D.C. UNESCO is the only UN agency with the mandate to promote freedom of expression and its corollary, freedom of the press.

The theme for next year’s commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age.'

As Greenwald observes, impossible to read without laughing out loud. But sadly, many otherwise intelligent people will see no irony whatsoever; Assange after all is ABUSING HIS FREEDOMS and is therefore beyond the pale.

Glenn Greenward notes that:

Journalists cheering for the prosecution of Assange are laying the foundation for the criminalization of their own profession, or at least of the few who actually do investigative journalism. There is simply no coherent way to argue that what WikiLeaks did with these cables is criminal, but what the NYT, the Guardian and other papers did is not.

It appears that the Obama administration thinks its OK for a democracy to just decide to run someone off the internet for doing something they wouldn't prosecute a newspaper for doing

What is likely to happen is that sexual assault charges levelled against Assange will be used to extradite him to Sweden. It is then expected the US will seek to extradite him on separate charges to American soil (what US law has he broken?) and place him in solitary confinement.

The 'little Americans' in the Gillard Government, by all accounts, will allow this to happen to an Australian citizen. The obligation of the Gillard Government to protect Australian's citizen will be found wanting. So much for their commitment to the idea of an internet that further democratizes the public sphere.

Contrary to the conservative framing of WikilLeaks as an enemy of the state, WikiLeaks is a media organization. Wikileaks did not steal the information--- they published it.

Assange is doing what journalists and editors have done for centuries, provide a public platform for material the powerful want to keep hidden, for reasons good or ill. Like traditional media, WikiLeaks releases material subject to assessment as to what impacts it will have on individuals and the public interest.

US Senator Joe Lieberman, has already suggested that the New York Times may have committed a crime by publishing the material -- at least this is targeting a media entity that is actually within the United States.

Imagine the hysteria if ,instead of plain old "Julian"... this bloke had a name like Abdul al-Raqeeb!!!!

Which makes me wonder how long it will be before the spooks start with the smear campaign.

The SMH this morning puts some names to the "little Americans" that Gary Sauer-Thompson refers to: Arbib, his brother, McMullen, Danby, Faulkner. But my favourite is this guy Pezzullo, who went from being a Beazley flunkey to Dep Sec at Defense, collaborating with the Americans all the time. A performance that makes Godwin Grech look almost honest.

Mark Arbib---America's little pet in Australia. What else can you call someone who provides inside information and commentary on the workings of the government and the ALP to a foreign power.

the best account of the Swedish rape charges against Julian Assange that I have come across.