Friday, December 03, 2010

Enemy of the State Updated

If any of you gentle readers were entertained and or amused by the cinematic 1998 production "Enemy of the State" starring Will Smith and Gene Hackman this humble blogster would hasten to call your attention to the present and ongoing saga of Julian Assange, an Australian citizen and founder of the notorious web site Wikileaks. Last year Wikileaks released many thousands of electronic documents dealing with the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The documents had been "classified" by agencies of the US government and were at variance with many official information releases. It was asserted that the publication of these sensitive documents could/would result in retributive actions on "innocent" assets of intelligence agencies of the US and its allies.

When recently questioned, Admiral Mike Mullen chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff was unable to cite one instance of an intelligence asset being harmed as a result of wikileaks' document dumps. Conversely:

"The major government players such as the CIA and the Pentagon do not stop at just Julian but also target many WikiLeaks volunteers or associates. Two volunteers and an American WikiLeaks spokesperson have been detained and questioned in the United States along with other individuals alleged to be participant to his publishing activities ... The result is a constant need for legal and political support and managing this from afar and throughout many continents is no small task. Furthermore Julian Assange does not take these matters lightly having been privy to bad experiences in the past - while working on the extra judicial assassinations taking place in Kenya, two WikiLeaks' affiliates [were] assassinated."

The most recent instance of political harassment of Mr Assange is the issuance of an interpol warrant for his arrest, by the government of Sweden; not for espionage or theft of documents but for "Sex by Surprise"(???) which involves a fine equivalent to US $715.00. The warrant arises from incidents occurring in August 2010 involving:

"The strange tale of Assange's brief flings with two Swedish women during a three-day period...and decisions by three different prosecutors to first dismiss rape allegations made by the women and then re-open the case...

[O]ne of Assange's accusers sounds tailor-made for those who think Assange is being set up in Sweden by dark CIA-backed operatives who want him smeared or silenced for his document dumping. She's a 31-year-old blond academic and member of the Social Democratic Party who's known for her radical feminist views, once wrote a treatise on how to take revenge against men and was once thrown out of Cuba for subversive activities."  Assange arrived in Sweden on Aug. 11 to speak at a weekend seminar sponsored by the Social Democratic Party and arranged to stay at a Stockholm apartment belonging to the event organizer, a member of the branch of the party who would become one of Assange's two accusers.

According to a police report obtained by the Daily Mail in August, she and Assange had sex, and at some point the condom broke. While she was apparently not happy about the condom breaking, the two were seen the next day at the seminar, and nothing appeared amiss.

Another woman at the seminar, a 27-year-old art photographer, said in her police statement that she'd come to hear Assange's lecture because of her fascination with him and his work. She can be seen in video footage on the Internet sitting in the front row during Assange's lecture, wearing a pink sweater and snapping pictures of him.

According to the police report, the woman managed to get an invitation to go out for lunch with Assange and his entourage after the seminar. They spent time together before he went back to stay at the event organizer's apartment.

Two days later, on Aug. 16, they reconnected by phone and the woman invited him to her apartment, more than 40 miles outside Stockholm. She paid for the ticket since Assange apparently had no cash and doesn't like to use credit cards because they could be traced.

She complained in her police statement that during the train ride to her hometown, "he paid more attention to his computer rather than me." She also said that by the time they arrived at her apartment, "the passion and excitement seemed to have disappeared."
 You can't make this stuff up.

It should be pointed out that none of the released wikileak documents have been challenged as unauthentic but are extremely embarrassing to many high powered players on the global political scene including US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

For this writer, the most disturbing issue of this entire sordid situation is the blood lust by many supposed conservative defenders of the rule of law.  There have been calls for Assange and his associates to be declared "terrorists" and enemy combatants indicating they should be dealt with outside the law. Jonah Goldberg, a conservative syndicated columnist asked "why wasn't Julian Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago?"

Enemy of the State indeed. It would appear that sunshine and truth are serious crimes in our Brave New World.

UPDATE 4 Dec 2010 12:13 hrs EST

As an update for anyone interested in evidence that the Swedish charges are a frameup please visit here and here. The "authorities" wish to have Assange returned to Sweden and enact Ex Post Facto legislation in order to criminalize acts which were at the time not  illegal. Sweden has no constitutional prohibition against bills of attainder or ex post facto laws.

cross posted at: Eternity Road

3 comments:

Nick Rowe said...

It's beyond hyperbole to declare Assange a "terrorist." It doesn't come close to meeting the definition of the word. It's as self-defeating to dilute the word "terrorist" as it is to deny the existence of or make excuses for them.

Many of the documents were embarrassing, but they should have remained secret. They represent discussions and opinions we have had between officials in our government and with other governments about our "allies" and our enemies. Secrecy in such matters is much more necessary and appropriate than idle office gossip.

Intelligence reports contain information which has not always been corroborated. Memorandums often reflect opinions, not merely facts. Even statements of facts are not held in their proper contexts. We have no idea why the Afghan Vice President showed up with suitcases full of cash, and it's presumptuous for us to guess. The fact we knew about it means we are investigating it.

Imagine if everything you thought or everything you discussed in confidence about your boss, coworkers, neighbors, law enforcement agencies, etc. were revealed for everyone to see. Could you thereafter trust anyone you confided in?

Do we NOT want to "spy" on the United Nations? Frankly, I think we have all their offices in New York bugged.

If government officials cannot speak candidly with one another about their fears, suspicions, and observations, then truth will be suppressed. That will set back our diplomatic efforts and our intelligence gathering.

If one Chinese official confides to a US official that their ties with North Korea are weakening, this should not become public knowledge. That official could be dismissed (or worse) and we lose future information. The Chicoms might make overtures of solidarity with North Korea to counter the bad PR. It is not implausible that releasing the information could begin a chain of events that puts 10 million people in Seoul at risk of being vaporized.

The Department of State and the Department of Defense are Constitutionally recognized offices. Surely you can't be suggesting that they should be completely transparent about covert intelligence and confidential communications with foreign governments.

No good businessman would broadcast his intentions to acquire another firm. No police detective would tell the media all the information they had about a serial killer who might "go to ground."

Assange may be a filthy opportunist and America-hater, but the Private who leaked the information is a criminal. I'm not sure there is any controlling law or legal authority for releasing stolen documents with which to prosecute Assange.

Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait following a tepid response to his overtures by our weak-minded ambassador. We needn't prove that anyone has been or may be killed because of these leaks. They are classified precisely because our government considers there to be a potential for it. It is not up to a Private or a foreign citizen to determine what should or should not be revealed.

Frankly, I found absolutely nothing in the leaks surprising. It was blatantly obvious. But that is beside the point. The information could corroborate other intelligence gathered by our enemies, and covert agents and informants may die without us ever knowing their names.

Solaris said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds it irritating to see people demanding Assange's head on a plate. We're a nation founded not on common heritage, a shared race, or any of that other claptrap that other countries have. We're a nation founded on ideas and principles. If we assassinate Assange because it's more convenient, then we prove him right about us!

That said, I'd certainly like to see him come up on trial for espionage. I think my section chief put it best, that journalists are a soldier's worst enemy.

That Manning character, now that's someone I got a real issue with. Kid's a traitor, and I find an anger in that he betrayed his fellow soldiers more than I do that he betrayed the government. How many people working in MI are going to have their jobs so much harder because the local nationals can't trust they won't have their names released on WikiLeaks the next time some private gets his panties in a bunch?

To say nothing of the excuse this gives the Feds to tighten security even more. Assange and Manning lack the discretion to tell something that the public needed to know about from gossip or secrets better off staying secret. They bought us reduced transparency and an even shadier government for releasing gossip. That, I think, is perhaps their greatest crime.

Nick Rowe said...

@Solaris:

Agreed. I worked in Intelligence and, after Aldrich Ames and Robert Hannsen, the community gave all the rest of us an anal exam. My TS clearance took 18 months as they analyzed every possible flaw in my life's fabric.

Ironically, some 18 year old kid who had never lived any life outside his mother's womb had an easier time getting a clearance than someone who had traveled abroad, married and divorced, made a credit card payment late, got into a dispute with a landlord, or actually had responsibility for handling classified documents.

Get this: the federal government is actually forbidding employees from downloading or reading ANY of the leaked files. Talk about closing the barn door after the horse has left!

Aside from not making one bit of sense, there are actual criminal and career penalties for violating this edict.

The intrusiveness of government is always more dangerous, but the utter STUPIDITY and INCOMPETENCE of government is always more shocking.