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“The point of WikiLeaks is to make WikiLeaks unnecessary” (Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder)
Make no bones about it: I’m utterly appalled and outraged by the attempts to silence and to criminalise WikiLeaks.
That doesn’t mean I’m surprised at the crude knee-jerk reactions of power élites in government and corporate circles. These consist of individuals who seem to me to think they have the divine right to hide the truth from those they should be serving: that’s us, the citiziens and customers they rely on to keep them in their positions of trust and power. If, as a teacher, I knowingly denied my students access to important information about the subjects I teach, however uncomfortable that information may be, I’d rightly be called a liar and duly thrown out of the profession. Yes, it’s the shameless hypocrisy of it all that bugs me most. But first a statement for those who may be tempted to think I’m part of a conspiracy.
I hereby certify that in preparing this page I’ve acted as an entirely independent individual. I’ve had no contact with any organisation whatsoever in this matter and no-one has urged me in any way to take any action concerning WikiLeaks. I simply think that the attempts to quash WikiLeaks are despicable. I’m merely exercising my rights as an individual citizen to express that opinion and to suggest ways in which this very disturbing course of events can start to be corrected. Of course, I admit that the WikiLeaks gag scandal has turned up in informal conversations but the individuals involved in those few conversations and myself in no way constitute an organisation or association.
 China, Iran and various other nation states, some branded as 'rogues', are regularly criticised by politicians and the mainstream media in the West for denying freedom of expression to their citizens. When the ‘free world’ denies its citizens that same freedom, however, there is little or no outcry of indignation from those same sources.
 Visa, MasterCard and PayPal are apparently quite happy to mediate payment for online gambling and pornography but not for the vital source of important information that is WikiLeaks. Work that one out: the implications are deeply disturbing!
 WikiLeaks has never been involved in dubious or criminal online activity, and have never been accused of ever having done so. WikiLeaks has not been taken to court by any individual or organisation and are, according to Article 11 in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, to be assumed innocent until proved guilty. Nevertheless, governmental and/or corporate power élites apparently have the divine right to order a ‘pre-emptive strike’ punishing WikiLeaks for a crime that has yet to be named, of which they haven't been accused, and for which they've been neither tried nor convicted. That action constitutes flagrant contravention of Articles 10-11 in the UN Declaration and is, in my view, behaviour indicative of a totalitarian régime.
 The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits action infringing on the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press and the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. Explain, if you would, how that squares with the present US government's actions against WikiLeaks and against Bradley Manning.
It’s first important to view this issue from a feminist viewpoint. I suggest reading Deborah Orr's short article in The Guardian (2010-12-09) and/or Naomi Wolf’s article, and/or better and in more depth, Rape claims, WikiLeaks and internet freedom (The Guardian, 2010-12-08) by Katrin Axelsson from the organisation Women Against Rape. As Axelsson points out:
Assange was not only refused bail: he was also held in solitary confinement at Wandsworth Prison (source). How does that square with established legal practice? How can the punitive nature of that procedure be motivated by any other than political considerations? See also Jemima Khan's Why Did I Back Julian Assange? ("Even my mother asked why I would back an alleged rapist"). Among other celebs to put up bail for Assange were Michael Moore, John Pilger and Bianca Jagger.
For actual facts in this part of the campaign against Assange and Wikileaks, see this film or THIS SHORT VIDEO (important). For a thorough background discussion of politics, power and belief systems in post-Palme Sweden leading to the strange behaviour of the Swedish judiciary, read about gender-political correctness, cultural capital and double standards in this article by Andrew Anthony in The Guardian (2010). Particularly striking and relevant to the charges against Assange is the saga of disgraced ex-police chief Göran Lindberg, acclaimed advocate of women’s rights in Sweden (kaptén klänning ≈ Captain Skirt), and his kinky sex with minors. It’s something that Henning Mankell (Wallander) or Stieg Larsson (Millenium) might have dreamt up, except that the Lindberg story is fact, not fiction. See also the Swedish ‘duckpond’ syndrome (ankdammen), explained here. I also deal very briefly with this issue at the end of Fernando the Flute (pp. 121-123, esp. under the heading Lagom). And my Swedish mentor, Jan Ling, advised me to leave Sweden in 1990. “Det är för lågt i taket för dig här, Fille. Du ska inte behöva prata det här jävla ankspråket.”
It’s also worth knowing about a lawyer called Claes Borgström. Seeing a chance to become a celebrity and to align himself with both sides of the Swedish power élite (Social Democrat establishment with its rhetoric of gender-political correctness and pro-USA big business interests), Borgström stepped in to represent the two women who originally just wanted Assange to be tested for STDs. Borgström escalated the affair, apparently with encouragement from the police, to include rape and molestation, and strongly advocated a reversal of the original inverstigation’s decision to bring no criminal charges against Assange. Borgström has been disciplined by Advokatsamfundet (=Swedish Law and Bar Society) for inapprpriate behaviour in the case and no longer represents the two women. Respected Swedish lawyers have a very low opinion of Borgström. But he has played his part. The anti-free-speechers obviously needed a brash, ambitious, mediocre attention-seeker like Borgström to make a media splash of the affair.
One Swedish lawyer (and he’s not the only one thinking along these lines!) writes:
I lived in Sweden from August 1966 until March 1991. I worked, made music and went on demos with many fine Swedish friends and comrades. My daughter was born and went to school in Sweden. She turned out really well, thanks in no small part to Sweden. I still (2013) have a few really good Swedish friends. But Olof Palme was shot walking home from the cinema when I lived in Sweden. The country became increasingly conservative. With the Assange allegations, I’m ashamed of my old host nation, of how Henning Mankell or Stieg Larsson villains like Claes Borgström, Göran Lindberg and Marianne Ny could have acquirred so much power, and of how ‘progressive celebs’ from my time in the country have become the rigid exegetes of empty trend posturing and politically correct litanies. (Skäms på dig, Guillou! Saknar du fullständigt kritisk distans?). Still, there are glimmers of hope. The other day I derived much pleasure from Språkrådet’s “up yours” to Google. Heja, Ann Cederberg!
And don’t forget what former Stockholm chief district prosecutor Sven-Erik Alhem had to say: that the Swedish government had no legitimate reason to seek Assange’s extradition, testifying that the decision of the Swedish government to extradite Assange was “unreasonable and unprofessional, as well as unfair and disproportionate”, given that he could be easily questioned in the UK. Besides, as Alhem also points out (page 2), investigation arising from sexual allegations should, according to Swedish law, be conducted in secret until the suspect is officially charged. Assange has not been charged. So, in whose interest is it that there has been unlawful disclosure of criminal investigation against Assange? Not Assange and not the two women (who, thankfully unlike Assange, have not been named) nor anyone who wants to see the abuse of power made public by Wikileaks and other journalists with a sense of justice. Who does that leave? (Rhetorical question)
First Private Bradley Manning (b. Dec. 1987) provided WikiLeaks with many of the Iraq-related cables. He isn't accused of rape but he IS being falsely smeared as a complete weirdo and a loner, i.e. the opposite psychological profile to that security forces are likely to have been looking for when he signed up in the first place! Bradley Manning faces up to 52 years in jail for treason. He leaked the now infamous footage of an Apache helicopter crew mowing down civilians, including children and two Reuters journalists in 2007 (see Collateral Murder). For more about Bradley Manning, click here. He really needs our support. We are all Bradley Manning. We can all be hunted down and killed at any time.
As Adam Curtis showed in his documentary The Power of Nightmares, (episode 1, episode 2, episode 3), there are striking similarities of agenda between the rabid right (=wrong, e.g. US Neo-cons) and the Jihadists. They both:  bewail, sometimes with good reason, the erosion of the same types of moral value;  think there's too much freedom around and not enough duty/discipline;  propagate a return to simple but authoritarian, patriarchal and non-egalitaran government;  emphasise faith at the expense of reason;  believe in violence as the best way of reaching their goals. It's back to the Middle Ages, so to speak, back to Crusaders and Muhajidīn both "fighting the good fight", killing each other and causing collateral mayhem among innocent civilians. It's back to "My God can beat up your God" as the belief above all others. Both moderate Muslims, even those who devoutly follow the Holy Qur'an, and Western moderates, including my Uncle Ernest (minister in the Methodist Church), are reviled by the extremists, just as anti-Zionist Jews are an abomination unto Zionists. We, the moderates and peaceniks who the extremists call extremist, seem to be the real enemy of both warring factions in the mad medieval war ('on terror'/'on infidels'). That's possibly part of the reason why US and UK secret services supported fundamentalist terror in Afghanistan and why the Muhajidīn accepted the money and weapons of Satan [video source]. War: who is it good for? Well, shareholders in arms-manufacturing corporations and those who run their errands, but no-one else, least of all for those sent as cannon fodder at the taxpayer's expense and for all "collateral" civilian "casualties".
[I've neither the time nor space here to deconstruct other aspects of conceptual confusion, like attempts by US and UK governments to hijack and monopolise notions such as international community (which/whose community?), terrorism (defined how and from which side?), democracy (in what form?), freedom (including, excluding or prioritising which freedom[s] at the expense of others?). I'll have a crack at that in another rant another time!].
Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee [source] has said that the those who leaked the 250,000 US diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks should be executed and Sarah Palin has unrsuprisingly demanded that Assange be hunted down and assassinated [source]. And from the land of "good-governance", Canada (Tom Flanagan, adviser to conservative premier Stephen Harper), we learn:
The most effective defense against such infantile outbursts is, I think, the truth. Whatever the source and whatever the motives for spreading truth, the only people it can hurt are those that fear it being known.
UN Declaration of Human Rights (excerpts)
"All [name of my bank] debit and credit card transactions must pass through Visa, a corporation seemingly happy to administer online payments for gambling and pornography but not for donations to a non-profit organisation devoted to freedom of expression and to the freedom of the press, an organisation that has not been accused of any crime, let alone taken to court or convicted of any wrong doing. All these actions mounted to crack down on WikiLeaks are in clear contravention of Articles 10-12, 18-19, 28 and 30 of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights. None of Visa’s actions in this matter constitute ethical behaviour.
I fully understand how difficult it must be for [bank name] to square Visa’s actions with the bank’s ethical policy. After all, Visa and MasterCard form a virtual duopoly and there currently seem to be no alternatives. That said, I think it’s important that the [bank] express its dissatisfaction to Visa/MasterCard in no uncertain terms and consider, together with like-minded banks around the world, setting up debit and credit card companies that implement ethical policies similar to those of the [bank] . In the meantime I would also suggest that the bank keep customers informed, via its website, of what management is doing to put pressure on Visa/MasterCard to return to its job of mediating payments rather than dabbling in dubious politics. I know that those of us who transferred our accounts to [bank] because it did not invest in countries run by corrupt, totalitarian or otherwise unethical regimes would appreciate updates about the bank’s views, actions and intentions with regard to this issue.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and to consider the suggestions put forward.
[Yours sincerely, etc.] "
1. When I imitate the voices of Tony Blair and George W Bush, I find it helpful to think of a phrase and attitude that typify aspects of their personality giving rise to body posture, facial expression, etc. that in their turn make vocal production of those individuals an easier task. For Blair my keys are to smile, to assume the identity of a wide-eyed little boy (c. 7 years old) who is eager to please, and to say to my imaginary parents: "Mummy, Daddy, aren't I nice? Haven't I been a good boy? Don't you like what I've done?" This creates the keen, lively, narcissistic persona necessary for producing Blair's voice. With George W Bush the regression required is not to the age of seven but of three, to the naughty but potentially loveable little rascal who just shat on the floor. I find that voice much more difficult to reproduce. I might have a hang-up there. Moreover, there's plenty I need to say about "good governance", corruption, double standards and the smugness of Canada's official image of itself. That will also have to wait for a later rant, I'm afraid!