Written By: lprent - Date published: 9:15 am, December 8th, 2010 - 49 comments
Categories: australian politics, interweb, Media, Spying - Tags: joe leiberman, julia gillard, julian assange, sweden, wikileaks
Now that the Swedish prosecutors have finally given the British police a document that they can work with, Assange turned himself in, and has gone before a British court on the extradition request from Sweden. The court has remanded him without bail. I have already commented on exactly what I think of the charges – politically motivated (probably after pressure from the US), unlikely to be sustained, and making an arse of Swedish law.
There is a article in The Australian by Julian Assange this morning that is worth reading. He quite rightly points out that the other publishers of the leaked information, The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais, and Der Spiegel have not been targeted by the USA using its extra-legal means in trying to punish them for publishing leaked information. He also has unkind words about Australian prime minister Gillard, which is hardly surprising bearing in mind her gaffe a few days ago equating the publishing of leaked information with the illegal act of actually leaking the information.
One claim that Assange makes is that
Sweden is a covert member of NATO and US intelligence sharing is kept from parliament.
If this is substantiated then it could go a long way to explaining the political interference in resurrecting the ‘unrelated’ charges against him. I won’t bother going into some of the links between at least one of the complainants against Assange in the Swedish case and both the Swedish military and the alleged CIA backed anti-cuban fronts. But I’d anticipate a ripe field for conspiracy theorists.
The hysterical over reaction by US politicians reminds me of the similar political over reactions by the muslim world on Salman Rushdies book. It appears that rather than look at the issue of trying to maintain secrecy in a wired world, which is going to be steadily less possible over the coming decades, they’d prefer to just attack the messenger. Their ostensible rationale is that publishing such raw information is likely to cost lives. To date on previous leaks from WikiLeaks, by the US’s own admissions, this has not proved to be the case. As Assange points out
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. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.
Of course if you want to look at hysterics in America, you don’t have to go past the fools at Fox ‘News’. When you read through all of their blustering which looks increasingly like publicity statements for the ravings of Sarah Palin, you find that they only point to two consequences of the current round of leaks via WikiLeaks. That there are some US diplomats will have to be moved and the sources to those diplomats are becoming less free in what they are telling them. The latter is hardly surprising. For instance, a prominent German political staffer has resigned because amongst other things he’d been telling US diplomats about the proceedings of closed coalition meetings while forming a new government in Germany. I’d say that he shouldn’t have been reporting those sensitive talks to a foreign government. Now that has been exposed he is facing the consequences of the risk that he took.
But what is becoming quite clear is that US politicians across the political divides are frustrated with the limitations of rulings on freedom of the press and the first amendment. They have been taking extra-legal action against the publishers. For instance Joe Leiberman has been actively involved in pressuring organisations like Amazon and other suppliers of services to the Internet to drop services to WikiLeaks. This is less worrying than his recent call to trump up some charges against the New York Times for publishing parts of the leaked information.
In this context it becomes quite ironic that there was an announcement by the US State Department “The United States is pleased to announce that it will host UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day event in 2011 in Washington, D.C.“. As Joe Lieberman and his other fellow McCarthyism cronies attempt to shut down the freedom on the press in the US, they will follow the great traditions of Stalin and pretend that it never happened.
Like many, I am skeptical about what WikiLeaks is attempting to achieve as it is difficult to see how negotiation can operate completely in the open. But that is a subject for dialogue and the rules of law across international boundaries, very little of which has happened.
However the rogue elements in the US political system and elsewhere have made this a direct attack on the freedom of the net. As a consequence these terrorists need to be treated as the obstructions that they are to the dialogue of the net. WikiLeaks gets my support.
I couldn’t get the unanimity required for us to set up a WikiLeaks mirror server. However I’d note that in the 500 odd mirror sites set up in the 3 days (as of 2am yesterday) there are two .nz sites.