Monday, December 20, 2010
Wikileaks Under Attack
The Julian Assange/Wikileaks affair is taking on fascinating and bizarre twists. A couple weeks back it was announced that Assange was wanted on rape charges in Sweden dating back to August concerning two women. Then the chief prosecutor looked at the case and dismissed it out of hand, saying there was nothing there. A week or so later a prominent politician took up the cause, found a lesser prosecutor willing to take on the case and asked the UK to detain him for extradition to Sweden for questioning.
Wanting to play by the rules, considering the dangerous and precarious position he is in, he turned himself in to the police and asked to be released on bail. At first, at Sweden’s request, bail was denied saying he’s a flight risk; which is a bit disingenuous since he had just voluntarily given himself up.
Finally, after a week or so in solitary confinement, he’s granted bail of $320,000. The accusation, as far as I can tell, is that he didn’t use a condom in one case and in the other the condom malfunctioned. Seems like they’re going through a whole lot of trouble and asking a fantastic amount of bail money for an act of unprotected sex with two women who, as it happened, acted like nothing was amiss at the time: one went out to eat with him the same day, the other went to a party with him a day or so later.
At about the same time, the US government – obviously – pressured his web server to shut down the Wikileaks website and Paypal and credit card companies to turn off portals for donations. But this being the internet age, their pressure served to merely to harass Assange rather than actually prevent people from seeing the information since there are now over 1800 web sites that mirror the Wikileaks site. Moreover, an additional five international news organizations have the diplomatic cables and are also publishing the information.
Several prominent American politicians and news personalities have called for Assange’s assassination or that he be brought to the states on treason charges, which in fact doesn’t apply since he’s not an American citizen.
They can’t get back at him for his supposed crime of publishing confidential cables because there’s no law against that. The original leaker can be prosecuted but not Wikileaks or the New York Times which has also published the information.
He could be killed just for spite, but that’s not going to stop the dissemination of information. Assange is holding back an immense 1.5 gigabyte file which will be released automatically if anything happens to him. The file, in a 256 bit encryption and thus impossible to decode, has been distributed to hundreds of people who will receive the encryption key should harm come to Assange. In the words of his lawyer, it’s a thermonuclear device for the internet age - I can’t wait to see that one. Essentially, all the shit the US government is putting him through is just for fun, anger, revenge.
As for the diplomatic cables themselves, they are merely an embarrassment to the government. To anyone who gets their news outside the corporate media, there’s nothing the least bit surprising in the actual information. All the cables do is confirm the wide divergence from what the US government says publicly and what it does and thinks privately.
On another topic: While I’m at my computer I’ve got to bring up some of the austerity measures Greece and Ireland are having to make at the demand of the European Central Bank and the IMF in order to qualify for their bailout money. Greece is being required to water down union rules to weaken collective bargaining. You might ask how that is supposed to help the country balance its budget. In Ireland’s case it has to lower it’s minimum wage. One again you ponder how that can possibly be a solution to the country’s financial woes.
I guess the thinking goes like this. If you lower labor costs, investors will come with new business and the welfare cost of the unemployed will go down. On the other hand the government will also be collecting less taxes from poorer workers, so in reality it might be a wash. Meanwhile the financial overlords will have furthered their real agenda of austeritizing the workers so they can prosperitize the bosses.
Certainly can’t raise taxes on corporations or force bank owners to take a hit for the corruption and malfeasance of their bankster CEO’s or make the the wealthy pay a little more to balance the budget, that’s unthinkable.