I would be willing to bet money that Julian Assange is going to be named Man of the Year by someone. Who else has upset so many applecarts and forced such lively debate?
I was in my car three times today and each time the subject on the radio was WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Some people think he is despicable and some people think he is a hero. It’s a very polarized world out there
For those who hate him, they warn that his careless acts are going to put our troops in harms way and cause injury. Trouble is, it is the careless acts of our GOVERNMENT that are putting our troops in harms way and causing injury.
They say he is self-righteous. When he admitted that he carefully selected the documents he released and held back the most damaging ones, they say, “Who does he think HE is to make the decision on what is secret and what is not?” Let’s ask the same thing of the people who run the government. Who do they think they are to decide what is secret and what is not? Remember, the government is just people.
WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are going to force a very important question: Can a government censor the internet? If the government doesn’t like what someone is saying, can they take away their right to say it on the internet?
This country was founded on the principle of free speech, and it is what we fight for, but it is all a lie if we say that our freedoms are contingent on whether someone likes what we say or, god forbid, actually speaks the truth.
Should the Rush Limbaugh’s of the world be hounded off the airwaves? Should the Julian Assanges of the world be hounded off the internet? I say no to both questions. I believe they both have the right to do what they do, even if I don’t like it. Nobody forces me to listen to Rush Limbaugh. Nobody forces me to go to WikiLeaks. Inherent in their right to say what they want is my right to not listen to them. It isn’t my right to shut them up. It is only my right not to listen to them.
The trouble with our fascination with Julian Assange is that it takes our focus off the real issues here. Julian is just the messenger and it makes no sense to shoot the messenger because he brought the news.
The real story that should be explored is how a 22-year old private in the Army had access to this much classified information. The story as I have heard it so far is that Bradley Manning was a young IT guy for the Army. Every day he came to work with headphones and a CD that was labeled as if it were music, like “Lady Gaga” or something. As he sat down at his console each day he popped his CD into the computer, mouthed the words of the song as he worked, and promptly erased the CD and started compressing files and putting them on it. He did this every day for months. Sometimes he even used a flash drive to download data. The full extent of what he got is unknown to anyone other than Bradley and maybe Julian Assange, but it clearly could number over a million documents.
How lax is our internal security if Bradley Manning could do this? How many others have done this and not gone public with it? It probably happens all the time and nobody in the Army is stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility. Where are the stories about his immediate supervisors who allowed this to happen? Where are the stories about how stupid they are for allowing classified access to privates? Where is the accountability that the system itself should assume?
They have put Bradley in an isolation cell in Kuwait and he’ll probably stay in prison for a long time. Among the current charges, the maximum term is 52 years. If he gets charged with espionage the penalty could be death.
You know, if they arrest you in a foreign land there is a whole different set of rules they can apply against you. Democracy? Forget about it. Bradley Manning is the equivalent of a Guantanamo Bay prisoner. Rules of engagement allow them to throw democracy out the window.
Each of us lives by an internal code that tells us “If the truth would make you uneasy if it came out in public, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.” I think the government wouldn’t be screaming so loud about Assange if they lived by that tenet. If people of the government weren’t behaving badly none of this would make a bit of difference. It is the exposure of their dishonesty that angers them. That’s why their wrath is turned on Julian Assange. He exposed their dishonesty and now they are out to destroy him.
Why can’t we have an honest government? Is it really such an incredible idea? Secrets are fine, but they shouldn’t be secrets about lies, manipulation, and deceit.
I’ll tell you why Julian Assange fascinates me. Like me, he adores the truth. He really wants to strip off the veils and see the raw truth. He calmly and logically explains why he does what he does. He’s an Australian but he’s got the heart of a German, I swear. I like Germans. They’ve got a certain resolve to them that is tough and firm. I think Julian could pass as a German if he wanted to.
Julian seems resolved and firm in his approach to this. He surrendered himself to the UK police, which was a pretty stand-up kind of act, but has been held without bail and without charges ever since. They are ostensibly deliberating whether they should extradite him, but the truth is they are detaining him while they figure out a crime to charge him with.
The story of the sex charges against him is rather convoluted. Assange’s supporters are convinced that these charges are politically motivated and it makes sense. By politically motivated I mean that the governments who were embarrassed by Wikileaks asked Sweden to pursue the charges and extradition. It has been a long-standing policy of smear campaigns to suggest sexual impropriety. Who wants to support a rapist, after all?
Sweden issued charges of rape and sexual molestation against Assange several weeks ago and then withdrew the charges. After a brief calm (during which time government officials were no doubt trying to convince Sweden to resume their witch hunt) the charges were reinstated with new details. I can’t be sure that I have the facts correct, but the following is what appears to be the story behind the sex charges.
Julian Assange is a bit of a nomadic type and travels throughout Europe crashing on people’s couches. The first woman named in the charges, Miss A, admitted that she invited Assange to stay at her house. Eventually they developed a sexual relationship. At some point in their relationship she asserts that Assange forcibly spread her legs and had sex with her without a condom. Assange left her residence and they continued to have contact with each other that seemed amicable according to friends. In the meantime, another woman, Miss B, became infatuated with Assange after hearing him speak at a lecture. She invited him to stay at her home and Assange accepted. They had sex without a condom and Miss B became concerned about sexually transmitted diseases. After Assange left her residence she began searching for him in an effort to force him to undergo tests for STDs. In her efforts to find Assange, she ran into Miss A and they shared stories. They then teamed up and eventually a prosecutor decided to seek the arrest of Assange.
So the rape charge stems from Miss A who says Assange forced her to have unprotected sex, and the sexual molestation charges stem from both Miss A and Miss B who say that Assange refused to use a condom. In Sweden that is a crime I guess. One of the reasons that the UK has dragged their feet on extradition is that the sexual molestation charge is not recognized as such in the UK. Assange has stated publicly that he has never had non-consensual sex with anyone, whether in Sweden or any other country. Somehow, I am inclined to believe Assange because I understand the motives of sexual smear campaigns.
The purpose of a sexual smear campaign is to cast doubt upon the moral character of Assange so that people will not support him. The purpose is to deflect attention away from those who might be exposed by his actions. The purpose is to blur the focus so that we spend more time talking about Julian and less time talking about the defects of our government and our security system.