Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Julian Assange Is Arrested on Another Day in Infamy

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was today refused bail and remanded in custody until 14 December over claims he committed sex offenses in Sweden.

Assange writes today in the The Australian. My excerpts & emphasis:

In 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: “In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.”

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch’s expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.

I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.

These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia , was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain ‘s The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be “taken out” by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be “hunted down like Osama bin Laden”, a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a “transnational threat” and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister’s office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

..... Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, ... politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: “You’ll risk lives! National security! You’ll endanger troops!” Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes.

It can’t be both. Which is it?

It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US , with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan . NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn’t find a single person who needed protecting....

.... In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said
“only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government”. The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.
This is the second time I have posted on Julian Assange in these pages. The first was back on 26 July when I nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. I'm not sure I have much to add at this time, except to point out the irony, not to mention the mindless hypocrisy of the self-righteous western media and political leaders when they moralize over Nobel Peace Prize recipient Liu Xiaobo's incarceration. He is serving 11 years in China for "inciting subversion of state power".


  1. Hey, you don't go around screaming the emperor runs around naked and is also incompetent and a criminal without repercussions. Now I am not predicting anything but it would not surprise me in the least if Assange is found swinging from a bed sheet and/or all sorts of nasty and immoral stuff turns up about him.

  2. Hang'im. Even Todd Gitlin denounces Assange as an anarchist, not an anti-war advocate:

    "I know Daniel Ellsberg. Mr. Assange, you are no Daniel Ellsberg."

  3. I think it is instructive what Daniel Ellsberg says about Julian Assange:

    Having read a hell of a lot of diplomatic cables, I would confidently make the judgment that very little, less than one percent, one percent perhaps, can honestly be said to endanger national security.

    ....The embarrassment would be our awareness that we are supporting and facilitating dictators and corrupt and murderous governments, and we are quite aware of their nature.

    Any serious risk to that national security is extremely low. There may be 260,000 diplomatic cables. It’s very hard to think of any of that which could be plausibly described as a national security risk. Will it embarrass diplomatic relationships? Sure, very likely—all to the good of our democratic functioning. The embarrassment would be our awareness that we are supporting and facilitating dictators and corrupt and murderous governments, and we are quite aware of their nature.

    What advice would Ellsberg give Assange?

    Stay out of the U.S. Otherwise, keep doing what he is doing. It’s pretty valuable…He is serving our democracy and serving our rule of law precisely by challenging the secrecy regulations, which are not laws in most cases, in this country.

    He is doing very good work for our democracy. If [the alleged leaker, Bradley Manning] has done what he is alleged to have done, I congratulate him. He has used his opportunities very well.

    .... He’s obviously a very competent guy in many ways. I think his instincts are that most of this material deserves to be out. We are arguing over a very small fragment that doesn’t. He has not yet put out anything that hurt anybody’s national security.

    ....look over the 260,000 cables and exclude those which on their surface are dangerous. If the choice is between putting none of them out, as the State Department would like, and putting all of them out, I definitely feel our national security would be improved if they were put out. Between those two choices, I would rather see them all of them out. It would help understand our own foreign policy and give us the chance to improve it democratically. I hope they are out, I hope we get to see them.

  4. Julian Assange’s Wikileaks contributes a lot to the mental welfare of the world revealing lies and unfairness. Interpol should pay Assange a salary because he actually helps Interpol to catch rogues all over the world. He has appealed directly to our inborn morality which is human and not national. Human longing for certain moral things such as fairness and truth are inborn and many neuroscience experiments confirm it. Look through the recent neuroscience literature on morality since 2000 and you will see it. Assange’s Wikileaks embodies universal human inherent morality. National interest and the interest of a particular government is not the same thing. It is in the interests of the nation to know the truth about people’s servants, i.e. governmental or military higher officials. Perhaps it is time to send some of them to prison. The attempt to close Wikileaks is an anti-national act. The attempt to shut Assange up will be felt as the violence against personal inborn morality, i.e. the longing for truth and fairness, and will bring about moral anger. And moral anger is the most powerful aspect of human psychology. Our task is to study Assange’s information and try to improve our world. If a national government cares, indeed, for people it will say: “Thank you, Julian Assange!”

  5. You're vindicated vig, Russia is calling for him to receive the peace prize as a way of taking the heat off him. The more I look at all this I see nothing new and can't understand the big deal one side or the other.

  6. Patriot, Julian Assange is the real deal. To quote Paul Foot,

    “There's only one thing worse than believing people who are telling lies, and that is not believing people who are telling the truth. Scepticism may be the reporter's lifeline but cynicism is death.”

  7. Vladimir Putin:

    "If it is full democracy, then why have they hidden Mr. Assange in prison? That's what, democracy? So, you know, as they say in the countryside, some people's cows can moo, but yours should keep quiet. So I would like to shoot the puck back at our American colleagues."

  8. Ditto Nina! I am grateful for Julian Assange... he could be the first in a slew... another popped up just yesterday on HuffPo... but for media only... this is obvious a group of profiteers. I see JA as a much needed catalyst for change. Great post.