Wikileaks : Better than Ludlum
The other day I picked up the next trashy spy novel I intend to read over the holidays (Black Ops by W.E.B. Griffin) and in the dust jacket copy read the following:
[T]wo conclusions are immediately reached.The context or what the second conclusion was is irrelevant to my point today, so you'll have to pick up the book yourself if you're curious. The dots that this text connected in my muddled post-Miami mind were between Wikileaks' leader Julian Assange's arrest for sexual "something" and the Justice Department's stated intent to scour the books for some law under which to prosecute Assange once they got their hands on him.
One: These are no coincidences---this is payback.
The fact that there isn't an obvious law that Mr. Assange has broken, and indeed many experts insist he hasn't broken any...
...suggests that the Justice Department's hunt is motivated by vengeance, not jurisprudence.
A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know.” –Judge Murray Gurfein, June 1971.
Since August, when Wikileaks first published 91,000 classified documents relating to the Afghanistan War, and in October, when they published approximately 400,000 more relating to the War in Iraq, many conservative commentators have been clamoring for the Justice Department to prosecute Wikileaks for publishing classified information.
But in the United States, generally publishing classified information is not a crime. The sort of information that a news organization can be prosecuted for publishing is limited to: nuclear secrets (Atomic Energy Act), the identities of covert agents (Intelligence Identities Protection Act), and certain forms of communications intelligence (Section 798 of the Espionage Act).
This alone should cause fair-minded people around the world to be alarmed.
Now I'll admit to understanding why the delicate and very, very important work of diplomacy (the alternative to which is often war) requires secrecy. I'll admit to understanding why the State Department is furious with Wikileaks (imagine your best-kept secrets being published across the Internets, and you will too). I can even imagine the chills the release of the documents sent down the spines of world leaders everywhere, leading them to rush out to buy more shredders and better encryption software.
What I can't imagine, however, is that the timing of the arrest of Assange in the UK is simply a coincidence. In fact, back in August, it had been reported that Assange had been cleared of all allegations in this case:
The Associated Press reports that Wikileaks frontman Julian Assange has been cleared of all allegations of rape and "molestation" in Sweden. From all available reports, it sounds like the story involved a trip down the drama-hole between Assange and two female acquaintances, one of whom apparently volunteered with Wikileaks—not any act of physical coercion, and not any crime. Reason deftly debunks the conspiracy theories of Pentagon/CIA "dirty tricks," "smears," and "sex traps," which Assange himself blamed as the scandal spread this past weekend. Newsweek reports way, way, way more than I wanted to know about Mr. Assange's (alleged) intimate habits.The fact that the charges were revived under an "obscure Swedish law against having sex without a condom," though, suggests desperation on the part of someone to get Assange into their grips.
Surely, though, I'm seeing a conspiracy where none exists, right?
The most credible news sources do seem to be giving the Swedish government plenty of reasonable doubt about the timing of the charges. But not everyone is:
OK, so who needs trashy spy novels? I can just keep reading about Assange's legal troubles and get all my cheap thrills from those. One thing is for certain in all this, though. The mass sphincter twitching inflicting the world's diplomatic circles proves that the old fascist adage that "you have nothing to fear if you've done nothing wrong" applies equally to those in power now.
One [of Assange's two] accuser[s], Anna Ardin, may have "ties to the US-financed anti-Castro and anti-communist groups," according to Israel Shamir and Paul Bennett, writing for CounterPunch.
While in Cuba, Ardin worked with the Las damas de blanco (the Ladies in White), a feminist anti-Castro group.
Professor Michael Seltzer pointed out that the group is led by Carlos Alberto Montaner who is reportedly connected to the CIA.
Shamir and Bennett also describe Ardin as a "leftist" who "published her anti-Castro diatribes (see here and here) in the Swedish-language publication Revista de Asignaturas Cubanas put out by Misceláneas de Cuba."
Long live Wikileaks!