Guy Rundle finds more questions than answers in the frankly weird sex charges against the WikiLeaks boss. I personally still don’t get (a) why women - and these two had plainly been in awe of Assange - would go to the cops over something best kept private and (b) why the fucking self-righteousness, when they had obviously wanted to bed the guy.
Why get cops to demand a STD examination from Assange? If they were concerned why didn’t they just go to their doctors?
The article (published in June) is a tour de force. Eighteen pages printed out, but I coudn’t put it down. Below are a few cuts from it.
Assange typically tells would-be litigants to go to hell. In 2008, WikiLeaks posted secret Scientology manuals, and lawyers representing the church demanded that they be removed. Assange’s response was to publish more of the Scientologists’ internal material, and to announce, “WikiLeaks will not comply with legally abusive requests from Scientology any more than WikiLeaks has complied with similar demands from Swiss banks, Russian offshore stem-cell centers, former African kleptocrats, or the Pentagon.”
At around six in the evening, Assange got up from his spot at the table. He was holding a hard drive containing Project B. The video—excerpts of running footage captured by a camera mounted on the Apache—depicts soldiers conducting an operation in eastern Baghdad, not long after the surge began. Using the Freedom of Information Act, Reuters has sought for three years to obtain the video from the Army, without success. Assange would not identify his source, saying only that the person was unhappy about the attack. The video was digitally encrypted, and it took WikiLeaks three months to crack. Assange, a cryptographer of exceptional skill, told me that unlocking the file was “moderately difficult.”
The first phase was chilling, in part because the banter of the soldiers was so far beyond the boundaries of civilian discourse. “Just fuckin’, once you get on ’em, just open ’em up,” one of them said. The crew members of the Apache came upon about a dozen men ambling down a street, a block or so from American troops, and reported that five or six of the men were armed with AK-47s; as the Apache maneuvered into position to fire at them, the crew saw one of the Reuters journalists, who were mixed in among the other men, and mistook a long-lensed camera for an RPG. The Apaches fired on the men for twenty-five seconds, killing nearly all of them instantly.
Assange was the sole decision-maker, and it was possible to leave the house at night and come back after sunrise and see him in the same place, working. (“I spent two months in one room in Paris once without leaving,” he said. “People were handing me food.”) He spoke to the team in shorthand—“I need the conversion stuff,” or “Make sure that credit-card donations are acceptable”—all the while resolving flareups with the overworked volunteers. To keep track of who was doing what, Gonggrijp and another activist maintained a workflow chart with yellow Post-Its on the kitchen cabinets. Elsewhere, people were translating the video’s subtitles into various languages, or making sure that servers wouldn’t crash from the traffic that was expected after the video was posted. Assange wanted the families of the Iraqis who had died in the attack to be contacted, to prepare them for the inevitable media attention, and to gather additional information. In conjunction with Iceland’s national broadcasting service, RUV, he sent two Icelandic journalists to Baghdad to find them.
Assange was born in 1971, in the city of Townsville, on Australia’s northeastern coast, but it is probably more accurate to say that he was born into a blur of domestic locomotion. Shortly after his first birthday, his mother—I will call her Claire—married a theatre director, and the two collaborated on small productions. They moved often, living near Byron Bay, a beachfront community in New South Wales, and on Magnetic Island, a tiny pile of rock that Captain Cook believed had magnetic properties that distorted his compass readings. They were tough-minded nonconformists. (At seventeen, Claire had burned her schoolbooks and left home on a motorcycle.) Their house on Magnetic Island burned to the ground, and rifle cartridges that Claire had kept for shooting snakes exploded like fireworks. “Most of this period of my childhood was pretty Tom Sawyer,” Assange told me. “I had my own horse. I built my own raft. I went fishing. I was going down mine shafts and tunnels.”
Assange’s mother believed that formal education would inculcate an unhealthy respect for authority in her children and dampen their will to learn. “I didn’t want their spirits broken,” she told me. In any event, the family had moved thirty-seven times by the time Assange was fourteen, making consistent education impossible. He was homeschooled, sometimes, and he took correspondence classes and studied informally with university professors. But mostly he read on his own, voraciously. He was drawn to science. “I spent a lot of time in libraries going from one thing to another, looking closely at the books I found in citations, and followed that trail,” he recalled. He absorbed a large vocabulary, but only later did he learn how to pronounce all the words that he learned.
When Assange turned sixteen, he got a modem, and his computer was transformed into a portal. Web sites did not exist yet—this was 1987—but computer networks and telecom systems were sufficiently linked to form a hidden electronic landscape that teen-agers with the requisite technical savvy could traverse. Assange called himself Mendax—from Horace’s splendide mendax, or “nobly untruthful”—and he established a reputation as a sophisticated programmer who could break into the most secure networks. He joined with two hackers to form a group that became known as the International Subversives, and they broke into computer systems in Europe and North America, including networks belonging to the U.S. Department of Defense and to the Los Alamos National Laboratory. In a book called “Underground,” which he collaborated on with a writer named Suelette Dreyfus, he outlined the hacker subculture’s early Golden Rules: “Don’t damage computer systems you break into (including crashing them); don’t change the information in those systems (except for altering logs to cover your tracks); and share information.”
In September, 1991, when Assange was twenty, he hacked into the master terminal that Nortel, the Canadian telecom company, maintained in Melbourne, and began to poke around. The International Subversives had been visiting the master terminal frequently. Normally, Assange hacked into computer systems at night, when they were semi-dormant, but this time a Nortel administrator was signed on. Sensing that he might be caught, Assange approached him with humor. “I have taken control,” he wrote, without giving his name. “For years, I have been struggling in this grayness. But now I have finally seen the light.” The administrator did not reply, and Assange sent another message: “It’s been nice playing with your system. We didn’t do any damage and we even improved a few things. Please don’t call the Australian Federal Police.”
Assange was charged with thirty-one counts of hacking and related crimes. While awaiting trial, he fell into a depression, and briefly checked himself into a hospital. He tried to stay with his mother, but after a few days he took to sleeping in nearby parks. He lived and hiked among dense eucalyptus forests in the Dandenong Ranges National Park, which were thick with mosquitoes whose bites scarred his face. “Your inner voice quiets down,” he told me. “Internal dialogue is stimulated by a preparatory desire to speak, but it is not actually useful if there are no other people around.” He added, “I don’t want to sound too Buddhist. But your vision of yourself disappears.”
Assange, facing a potential sentence of ten years in prison, found the state’s reaction confounding. He bought Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s “The First Circle,” a novel about scientists and technicians forced into the Gulag, and read it three times. (“How close the parallels to my own adventures!” he later wrote.) He was convinced that “look/see” hacking was a victimless crime, and intended to fight the charges. But the other members of the group decided to coöperate. “When a judge says, ‘The prisoner shall now rise,’ and no one else in the room stands—that is a test of character,” he told me. Ultimately, he pleaded guilty to twenty-five charges and six were dropped. But at his final sentencing the judge said, “There is just no evidence that there was anything other than sort of intelligent inquisitiveness and the pleasure of being able to—what’s the expression—surf through these various computers.” Assange’s only penalty was to pay the Australian state a small sum in damages.
Read more at www.newyorker.com
Assange was burned out. He motorcycled across Vietnam. He held various jobs, and even earned money as a computer-security consultant, supporting his son to the extent that he was able. He studied physics at the University of Melbourne. He thought that trying to decrypt the secret laws governing the universe would provide the intellectual stimulation and rush of hacking. It did not. In 2006, on a blog he had started, he wrote about a conference organized by the Australian Institute of Physics, “with 900 career physicists, the body of which were sniveling fearful conformists of woefully, woefully inferior character.”
The Australian government has been trying to put an internet filter in place to stop certain sites being seen here.
The purpose of it ostensibly is to protect children from porn and sexual predators, but the government wouldn’t spell out what exactly was on it, and it was WikiLeaks which revealed that info early last year.
WikiLeaks itself was on the list of banned sites, although it has been removed this week.
Also banned were some poker sites, YouTube links, Wikipedia entries, euthanasia sites, websites of fringe religions such as satanic sites, fetish sites, Christian sites, the website of a tour operator and even a Queensland dentist.
I personally would never trust authorities to censor the internet, and the revelations since last Sunday have reinforced in my mind the need to fight government secrecy as much as we do surveillance.
Some of my workmates still strongly support the idea of a filter.
They regard themselves as Labor and progressive, and feel it would be an advance.
Although I work on a newspaper and we’re running a lot of stories about WikiLeaks, which was founded by an Australian, I think they mostly have nothing more than a vague admiration for WikiLeaks and no sense of connection with Julian Assange.
That, on the whole, is what working in the system does to people.
We’re broadly in the same field as him but those of us who are paid by corporations are in a permanent state of anaesthesia.
Text below the pic is lifted from the ABC (Australia) Unleashed site this week …
There is precious little evidence available in the public domain, though the few details circulating make me extremely sceptical of both the rape (which seems 100 per cent false) and molestation charges against Assange. More on that in a minute. But for the wild-eyed, spittle-flecked conspiracists bloggers - and Assange himself - the charges reeked of a U.S. government plot. And sure, one only need to read the Church Commission report to realize that such dirty tricks have a long pedigree in American intelligence circles. But even a cursory look at the case would suggest that while it appears that Assange’s name is being dragged through the mud, it isn’t by the CIA.
But the speed with which the conspiracy theories spread throughout the moronosphere was enough for The New York Times London correspondent, the terrific John Burns, to produce an article headlined, “Plotting doubted in Wikileaks case”. That would be the Pentagon/CIA plotting to destroy Assange, obviously. Assuming that Assange knew the identity of his accusers when contacted by prosecutors, he nevertheless told any reporter within earshot that “we have been warned that the Pentagon, for example, is thinking of deploying dirty tricks to ruin us. And I have also been warned about sex traps.” After expressing scepticism that it was an American intelligence job, Harpers magazine nevertheless warned that “as this incident makes clear, the war on WikiLeaks will be fought with unconventional tools and those following the story are advised to accept nothing at face value.”
Amazingly, the bumbling fools in American intelligence managed to flip Anna Ardin, the left-wing feminist (often described in the Swedish blogosphere as a “radical feminist”) spokeswoman for Broderskapsrörelsen, the liberation theology-like Christian organization affiliated with Sweden’s Social Democratic Party (she is not, as I have seen written, a “Christian Democrat”). If any of these sub literate bloggers knew anything about the kristen vänster (but why should you know anything at all, when a simple, ideology-validating conspiracy is so much more satisfying?), they would probably have guessed that Assange’s accuser was, as is common in Sweden, operating off of a very broad definition of rape and “sexual molestation.”
If any of these bozos did twenty minutes of research, they might have found Ardin’s blog - “my feminist reflections and comments on animal rights, Swedish politics and Cuba from a political scientist, Christian left and long distance runner” - and read her post, with the help of a Scandinavian comrade or Google Translate, “Våldtäkt en del av mäns makt” - rape [is] a part of men’s power. Or they would have seen this article from Ardin’s days at Uppsala University, where she, in her role as some sort of equality watchdog, denounced the tradition of singing ribald student songs, which included “references to genitalia and serious sexual content,” as “offensive and stereotypical.” She is, in other words, rather sensitive on gender issues. Or this blog post on how one can exact “legal revenge” on men who have been “unfaithful.” According to The Guardian, sources close to the investigation claim that she filed a complaint because Assange didn’t wear a condom during sex. So the boring truth is that Assange didn’t come up against a CIA conspiracy, but the rather broad Swedish conception of what constitutes a sexual crime.
If you, like many of the conspiracists, are confused as to how the Swedish authorities could issue and then, in less than 24 hours, withdraw a warrant for Assange’s arrest, then you don’t know the Swedish authorities. Just ask the families of Anna Lindh and Olaf Palme for details. Indeed, when one prosecutor overruled the conclusions of another, more junior, prosecutor, she explained to Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that “My decision doesn’t mean that her decision was wrong.” And to Aftonbladet, she dug in her heels: “That I changed the decision doesn’t mean that her decision was wrong.” Translation? Amateur hour at the prosecutor’s office.
See this Amp at http://amplify.com/u/hdm7
Putting the media coverage of the latest Wikileaks revelations in perspective - Greenwald compares the angles taken by major papers and news sites around the word with that of the NYT, which avoided the issue of torture. Avoided even the word “torture”. As he says at the end, “that’s what makes it ‘establishment media’ “.
To supplement my post yesterday about The New York Times’ government-subservient coverage of the WikiLeaked documents regarding the war that newspaper played such a vital role in enabling, consider — beyond the NYT’s sleazy, sideshow-smears against Julian Assange — the vast disparity between how newspapers around the world and The New York Times reported on a key revelation from these documents: namely, that the U.S. systematically and pursuant to official policy ignored widespread detainee abuse and torture by Iraqi police and military (up to and including murders). In fact, American conduct goes beyond mere indifference into active complicity, as The Guardian today reports that “fresh evidence that US soldiers handed over detainees to a notorious Iraqi torture squad has emerged in army logs published by WikiLeaks.”
The difference in how (a) the NYT “reported on” — i.e., whitewashed — these horrific, incriminating revelations about the U.S. and (b) the rest of the world media reported on it, could not be more vast. Again, even Politico understood its significance, as this was the first line of its article: ”Newly released Iraq war documents paint a devastating portrait of apparent U.S. indifference to a pattern of murder and torture by the Iraqi army, raising new questions about the Obama administration’s plans to transfer the nation’s security operations to Iraqi units.” But the NYT in its headline chose to venerate the superiority of American detainee treatment, while barely mentioning one of the most critical revelations from this leak.
Similarly, newspapers around the world heavily covered the fact that the U.N. chief investigator for torture called on the Obama administration to formally investigate this complicity in Iraqi abuse, pointing out that “if leaked US files on the Iraq conflict point to clear violations of the UN convention against torture, Barack Obama’s administration has a clear obligation to investigate them,” and that “under the conventions on human rights there is an obligation for states to criminalise every form of torture, whether directly or indirectly, and to investigate any allegations of abuse.” Today, Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister called on the British Government to fulfill that obligation by formally investigating the role British troops might have played in “the allegations of killings, torture and abuse in Iraq.”
The notion that the Obama administration not only should — but must — investigate the role its military played in enabling this widespread, stomach-turning torture and abuse in Iraq is simply suppressed in American political discourse, most of all by the newspaper which played the leading role in enabling the attack on that country in the first place. It’s not hard to see why. The last thing American political and media elites in general want is a discussion of the legal obligations to investigate torture and bring the torturers to legal account, and the last thing which enablers of the Iraq War specifically want is a focus on how we not only allowed but participated in the very human rights abuses which we claimed (and still claim) our invasion would stop.
ABC News, Diane Sawyer demands to know whether WikiLeaks — but not the U.S. Government officials responsible for perpetrating and sanctioning torture in Iraq — will be arrested. To paraphrase that exchange:
WikiLeaks documents: There was mass torture, abuse, government deceit, reckless civilian deaths in Iraq.
Diane Sawyer: Will WikiLeaks be arrested?
See this Amp at http://amplify.com/u/e48n
As I wrote yesterday: ”serving the Government’s interests, siding with government and military officials, and attacking government critics is what they do. That’s their role. That’s what makes them the ‘establishment media’.”