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Yesterday I concluded my post with the following ominous observation:
It will be interesting to observe how the story continues to unfold, but ruthless retaliation against Wikileaks and Assange is almost certainly assured.
Today that brutal retaliation was initiated, as Julian Assange was arrested in London on dubious charges of rape and sexual molestation:
LONDON – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange surrendered to London police Tuesday to face a Swedish arrest warrant, the latest blow to an organization that faces legal, financial and technological challenges after releasing hundreds of secret U.S. diplomatic cables.
Assange was at Westminster Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday afternoon, waiting to attend a hearing. His Swedish lawyer told The Associated Press his client would challenge any extradition from Britain to Sweden. …
Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, has been accused by two women in Sweden. He faces rape and sexual molestation allegations in one case and sexual molestation and unlawful coercion in the other. Assange denies the allegations.
His British attorney Mark Stephens says the allegations stem from a “dispute over consensual but unprotected sex” last summer. …
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, visiting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. troops in Afghanistan, was pleased by the arrest.
“That sounds like good news to me,” he said.
It is impossible to know how accurate these allegations might be, but it seems highly likely that they have been fabricated in an attempt to smear Assange’s name and, by extension, the reputation of WikiLeaks. The accusations could also serve several important functions beyond mere reputational harm. First, as long as Assange is detained he cannot actively assist in furthering the WikiLeaks agenda. Second, as long as Assange is in custody he stands the risk of being held – and tried – for charges not yet pressed. Third, Assange and WikiLeaks will undoubtedly be devoting a great deal of money towards extricating Assange from this legal quagmire.
But it is fairly obvious the accusations are completely bogus. Reports have surfaced suggesting CIA links with at least one of Assange’s accusers. Such allegations represent a proven tactic utilized by the elite to wage subtle, propagandistic war against those who dare to challenge authority. Since physical force is, thankfully, not a possibility in today’s intricate system of information control, the key towards defeating vocal dissenters is in discrediting them and turning public opinion against them. Allegations of sexual misconduct seem to be the most effective, particularly in the case of someone who looks as unusual as Mr. Assange.
Assange has responded coolly and collectedly to this brazen demonstration of muscle-flexing by the powerful elite. Surrendering himself in order to be “questioned” with regard to the ridiculous accusations was the wisest decision he could make, since continuing to elude the authorities would only have generated more suspicion as to his motives. He would have been portrayed in the mainstream press as being surely guilty, for why else would he refuse to come in for simple questioning?
But merely giving himself up to the empire’s police force would have been foolhardy indeed, so Assange shrewdly took certain precautions before doing so:
At the centre of a tightening web of death threats, sex-crime accusations and high-level demands for a treason trial, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange threatened to unleash a “thermonuclear device” of completely unexpurgated government files if he is forced to appear before authorities.
Mr. Assange… has referred to the huge, unfiltered document as his “insurance policy.”
The 1.3-gigabyte file, distributed through file-sharing services this summer and protected with an unbreakable 256-bit encryption key, contains full versions of all the U.S. documents received by WikiLeaks to date – including those that have been withheld from publication or have had names and details removed in order to protect the lives of spies, sources and soldiers.
Assange is playing an unfathomably dangerous game, but so far he is making all the right moves. The odds are stacked heavily against him: there are virtually no examples of anyone openly challenging the Empire on such a global scale and walking away unscathed. But the stakes couldn’t possibly be any higher, as Assange’s battle against the old power structure represents a pivotal struggle between the authoritarian feudalism of the old guard, and a new social order founded on the principles of unlimited freedom of information and expression, and genuine democracy.
Let’s not let this one go down the memory hole.