There is something not quite right about this whole story, it bothers me but I can’t quite put my finger on it – time will tell and hopefully it will render some of the confusion with some clarity.
It starts with the allegations brought by the Swedish authorities against Assange, which, at this stage, have not resulted in a charge. These centre around sexual encounters with 2 women whilst he was in Sweden. The alleged misconducts are subject to Swedish Law and particularly the stringent laws around rape. Fortuitously, or otherwise, this has coincided with the most recent high-profile publication of US Government cables which have further escalated him into something of a “celebrity”, an icon of the left, and a celebrity cause-celebre. Having handed himself in to the Police, he has been blessed by the attentions of people who have chosen to view him as a metaphor for freedom of speech, rather than a man who is in the judicial system for sex crimes. Jemima Khan states that she has never met Assange, and is not involved because of the case itself – “I was there because I believe that this is about censorship and intimidation”. How has she arrived at this conclusion.
We also have very well-respected people – Ken Loach, John Pilger (new film on ITV 14 Dec 2010), Yvonne Ridley, Tariq Ali, Bianca Jagger to name but a few.
The speed with which these people jump into the limelight is startling, on a case which they probably know little about, and for which we should let due legal process take its course. Their perennial anti-establishment scepticism may have validity – but at this stage this can only be based on paranoid speculation rather than fact. This is not the result of investigative journalism – this is opportunist publicity?
The release of classified and secret information is justified by the anti-establishment clique on the basis of transparency and freedom of speech. Is this still justified if it results in one death of an innocent person? How can any of us be sure that through indiscriminate release of information that this many not happen – does the cause justify the end?
Julian Assange is one of many people associated with Wikileaks – whilst he is the charismatic front man, and visionary – there are plenty of very clever people waiting in the wings, no doubt, who could ably take his place, Given Assange’s profile, if the US Government managed to conspire to incarcerate him in a dubious way then his profile would multiply overnight, and the negative impact of his political capital would be quite devastating. Would the US really be as transparently conspiratorial as the sceptics suggest given the outcome and publicity? I would have though a more subtle tactic would have been more appropriate.
Despite the above past evidence of questionable dealings that have involved the US Government, and Intelligence agencies anything is possible – but somehow it doesn’t seem likely – it’s far too obvious.
The allegations regarding the sexual encounters and whether they amount to rape under Swedish law is another aspect of the question. It has been reported that Assange has exploited his “celebrity” status, infamy and semi-anonymous lifestyle as a form of aphrodisiac, and benefited from alot of female attention. When power and sexual opportunity is laid in front of any of us, it would be a very pious man ( or woman) who would turn the other cheek, and maintain total discretion. As Oscar Wilde said ” Sex is about power” and Baron Acton famously said “Power corrupts: absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Assange is a very clever man, with a long history of developing highly sophisticated software ( as well as being a hacker at the age of 16), as well as studying physics, maths, philosophy and neuroscience. His background in hacking and taking control and sharing information is all about exercising power, about controlling people and information…and manipulation. The sniff and lure of power and sex can become uncontrollable – it can take you down avenues with a passion that prove regrettable.
The latest twist in the story is the rise of the Anonymous (@anon_operation) hacktivist who is the torch-bearer for on-line injustices against Wikileaks. They claim to have caused disturbances on Mastercard, Visa, Paypal, Amazon – and possibly others. Their twitter account has now been deleted. They are not in league with Assange but are using the Wikileaks cause as a bandwagon for bringing down certain sites which, in their view, have blocked the growth and progress of Wikileaks. How effective this is , is debatable, what true justification there is for this is questionable. Who are they truly representing? Is it anything more than puerile mischief with no definable end to bring annoyance on a wide group of innocent people. They may feel that they are soldiers of the common man, the repressed masses etc – but in reality it is all rather pointless.
They are trying to do what Assange did in 1987 which is to show their intelligence and power by controlling and affecting a computer system – they want to take the power from the corporations – just as Assange is trying to do with the US Government. Through the power, there is the sex, and finally the manipulation – the manipulation of the people who put up £240,000 in cash guarantees and sureties on 14 December 2010.
But the story is nowhere near finished…..