Wikileaks and Assange. Shoot the messenger

The apoplectic reaction by the US political establishment to the latest Wikileaks dossier has been revelatory in its illustration of an empire in decline, via its increasingly desperate attempts to maintain its reach through a combination of overt military aggression, threats, espionage, smear and the subversion of democracy wherever and whenever deemed necessary.

Calls for the execution of Wikileaks editor-in-chief and spokesperson, Julian Assange, by various US officials and politicians have nothing to do with threats to US national security, but everything to do with panic over the true nature of the US establishment and its attitude towards its assorted enemies, satraps and so-called allies around the world having been so comprehensively and embarrassingly revealed.

With the dossier dominating the headlines over the past week, Julian Assange and everyone else involved with Wikileaks deserve much credit for their courage in revealing to the world the truth behind the mask of US diplomacy and how the day to day banal business of empire is conducted around the world. His effectiveness in doing so is reflected in the fact that an Interpol arrest warrant has been issued for Assange at the behest of the Swedish authorities, the Wikileaks website has been removed by its US server, previously mentioned calls for Assange’s execution within the US have mounted, and he has come in for condemnation from governments around the world.

With this in mind one can only surmise that he must be doing something right.

Crossposted from Socialist Unity. Read the whole post.

Wikileaks, Julian Assange, and the ramifications. A Polizeros Podcast.

Josh Mull at FireDogLake and Rethink Afghanistan, Steve Hynd of Newshoggers, and myself discuss the continuing impact of Wikileaks in our very first podcast on BlogTalkRadio.

Click here to listen.


Part of the discussion is on the Joshua Foust and Glenn Greenwald brouhaha about Wikileaks. and in Salon. and in Registan.

Assange and Wikileaks

Harry’s Place responds to my posing the question, would they (and other left blogs) support Wikileaks publishing data from major US banks, even as they harrumph about the current Wikileaks possibly endangering lives?

While I appreciate Morris recognizing that we are indeed a “left blog,” I don’t think that’s what we’re harrumphing about. It’s more about the recklessness of Wikileaks in indiscriminately publishing leaked secret documents without concern for how their publication might, say, endanger lives.

I’ll presume to speak for Harry’s Place by answering: No [we would not object to bank data being published). I hope Morris can understand the difference.

US Defense Secretary Gates: Wikileaks “are embarrassing and awkward, but adds the consequences would be modest.” Now he could just be putting on a happy face, but perhaps it’s also true. The point is, we don’t know and may never know if any of the Wikileaks created danger for some. And if you think about it, some of the current leaked cables seem to bolster US aims, especially towards taking out Iran and North Korea.

So what is Assange up to? For the answer, go no further than his own writings.

Julian Assange, “State and Terrorist Conspiracies”

Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul this unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of statesmanship. (President Theodore Roosevelt)

To radically shift regime behavior we must think clearly and boldly for if we have learned anything, it is that regimes do not want to be changed. We must think beyond those who have gone before us, and discover technological changes that embolden us with ways to act in which our forebears could not.

Firstly we must understand what aspect of government or neocorporatist behavior we wish to change or remove. Secondly we must develop a way of thinking about this behavior that is strong enough carry us through the mire of politically distorted language, and into a position of clarity. Finally must use these insights to inspire within us and others a course of ennobling, and effective action.

Zunguzungu delves into Assange’s writings.

To summarize, Assange begins by describing a state like the US as essentially an authoritarian conspiracy, and then reasons that the practical strategy for combating that conspiracy is to degrade its ability to conspire, to hinder its ability to “think” as a conspiratorial mind. The metaphor of a computing network is mostly implicit, but utterly crucial: he seeks to oppose the power of the state by treating it like a computer and tossing sand in its diodes.

That’s crucial. Assange didn’t publish those cables just to make the US government look bad. He opposes the entire corrupt, interconnected nexus. What he’s doing sounds quite a lot like asymetrical warfare and 4GW. Clearly, he’s given all this much thought and is capable of high-level analytic thinking, tactics, and strategy.

Julian Assange says document dump targets ‘lying, corrupt and murderous leadership’

He was undaunted by vows from the U.S. and Australia to prosecute him and said the forthcoming diplomatic cables are aimed at “lying, corrupt and murderous leadership from Bahrain to Brazil.”

Again, he’s aiming at corrupt governments everywhere, not just the US.

By the way, the “sex crimes” Interpol wants Assange arrested for genuinely seem bogus.

There’s not much in the stories about forced sex or “molestation” or politically-driven hit jobs. Mostly it’s about two Julian Assange fans annoyed that the rock star Wikileaks founder charmed their pants off and then bolted.

One thing I don’t get, why did he move Wikileaks to the Amazon cloud after the DDOS attack, as this would appear to put the site within the grasp of the US government.

What’s your take on Assange? I think we’re living in a pivot point moment now. The corruption of governments and the financial system is so obvious now that they can no longer lie about it convincingly. Thus, what Assange is doing is crucial.

The brilliance and necessity of Julian Assange’s Wikileaks

Since Bob Morris has pointed out that even some who are typically rebellious in their rhetoric are condemning Julian Assange, I think it’s worth pointing out how historically important Assange (and Wikileaks, of course) could be.  With the caveat that we have all yet to see the effects of what Wikileaks is doing, he has the potential to play two essential roles.

The first is the obvious role of rebel against authoritarianism.  As former Senator Mike Gravel noted in August,

I do question a classification system so prone to abuse by those in authority whose actions in the past and whose present conduct continues to derail the proper functioning of a democracy in a free society…

…accepting and tolerating unbridled secrecy… in effect subvert[s] our democracy by accepting secrecy as “the way Washington works.”

Without a doubt, the United States government is an authoritarian entity in more ways than not – spying on peaceful activists, arresting peace activists, torturing prisoners, violating its citizens’ rights at airports, waging war on four fronts, partaking in propoganda campaigns, and so much more!  The Wikileaks crew has done their duty in opposing what would have otherwise been a largely unchallenged exponential growth in despotic behavior by American, and in some cases international, government.

Assange’s unabashedely radical anti-authoritarianism is his second, complementary role.  He IS more radical than even many self-proclaimed radicals.  He has the courage to put his life at risk for the principle of democracy, as can be seen in the explanation of Wikileaks’ actions posted on the website (which is down as I write this):

The cables show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in “client states”; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.

This document release reveals the contradictions between the US’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors – and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes.

Through his radicalism, Assange has not only possibly furthered the cause in an extremely effective way, he has made it safe for more moderate people to be radical small “d” democrats.  For instance, the following was published in The Guardian as a response to the leaks:

The job of the media is not to protect power from embarrassment. If American spies are breaking United Nations rules by seeking the DNA biometrics of the UN director general, he is entitled to hear of it…

…Clearly, it is for governments, not journalists, to protect public secrets. Were there some overriding national jeopardy in revealing them, greater restraint might be in order. There is no such overriding jeopardy, except from the policies themselves as revealed.

Glenn Greenwald has an insightful piece today in which he points out, in other words, the benefits of Wikileaks’ far tilt toward transparency.  A key passage:

Like all organizations, WikiLeaks has made mistakes in the past, including its failure to exercise enough care in redacting the names of Afghan informers.  Moreover, some documents are legitimately classified, probably including some among the documents that were just disclosed.Nonetheless, our government and political culture is so far toward the extreme pole of excessive, improper secrecy that that is clearly the far more significant threat.  And few organizations besides WikiLeaks are doing anything to subvert that regime of secrecy, and none is close to its efficacy.

While some who support the corporate state are calling for Assange’s assassination and some self-proclaimed rebels are wary of Assange, we could do well to learn from his courage to act, and act in a way that is uncompromisingly radical.

Wikileaks to release documents on US bank showing corruption

But first, Ecuador offers asylum to WikiLeaks founder and even liberal and left blogs that should know better are harrumphing like neanderthal conservatives about how Assange has gone beyond the pale and isn’t it tragic that governments can have their sleazy lies and evasions exposed for all to see on the Intertubes. I expect they’ll be wrapping themselves in their respective flags soon, as they’ll need something to cover themselves after their tissue-thin protest garb proved to be so flimsy and disposable.

In a Forbes interview, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange details the damning documents they have on a major US bank (and will those same left blogs be getting their panties in a twist over this too?)

It will give a true and representative insight into how banks behave at the executive level in a way that will stimulate investigations and reforms, I presume.

Usually when you get leaks at this level, it’s about one particular case or one particular violation. For this, there’s only one similar example. It’s like the Enron emails. Why were these so valuable? When Enron collapsed, through court processes, thousands and thousands of emails came out that were internal, and it provided a window into how the whole company was managed. It was all the little decisions that supported the flagrant violations.

This will be like that. Yes, there will be some flagrant violations, unethical practices that will be revealed, but it will also be all the supporting decision-making structures and the internal executive ethos that cames out, and that’s tremendously valuable. Like the Iraq War Logs, yes there were mass casualty incidents that were very newsworthy, but the great value is seeing the full spectrum of the war.

You could call it the ecosystem of corruption.