Sunday, August 19, 2012

Assagne ‘hounding’: it’s all about ‘freedom of speech’? Pull the other one

Here’s a suggestion: go onto Google and search for ‘Bradley Manning’. Make a note of how many pages are thrown up. Then do a search for ‘Julian Assange’ and record how many web pages mention him. The results are interesting. According to my two searches a minute or two ago, young Bradley, a mixed-up kid if ever there was one, is mentioned on 4,130,000 webpages. Today’s modern hero, Julian Assange, gets almost nine times as many mentions at 28,000,000. Why?

Julian likes to portray himself as a campaigner of free speech and led the Wikileaks website. As far as I know, the site was, in global net terms, pretty insignificant until young Bradley decided to leak an enormous number of confidential cables and emails sent by embassies and other Western government agencies back home. Why Bradley decided to do it, I don’t know and have so far not come across any explanation. But he did leak the stuff, Wikileaks soaked it up, published it and then Assange began basking in the – to my mind utterly spurious – glow of fighting the good fight for free speech.

The point about ‘being confidential’ is that ambassadors, for example, can let their hair down for a minute or two and speak their minds. That is an important facility, whether you are an American, British, Chinese, Russian or French ambassador or whoever you go abroad for to ‘lie for your country’. Because those emails and cables allow you the opportunity to stop lying and to give your country what you think is good, candid advice and information about the country to which you have been posted. That is one of the main reasons why you are there. You might, for example, last night have had dinner with that country’s foreign minister. It was all smiles and toasts and good food, but the following morning – knowing you are speaking confidentially – you can tell your bosses: ‘I really don’t trust the bastard, he’s on the make and he’s not on our side,’

We all know that the emails and cables which were leaked to Wikileaks and which Assange published online, have been horribly embarrassing. Ironically, it was not just the West who were embarrassed, but many other countries, including Russia (although, apparently not Ecuador) and Assagne achieved quite a coup: many, many, many people loathe him for the embarrassment they caused him and it is rather unsurprising that he has rather few friends in high places. What is equally unsurprising that the cause – the apparent hounding of Assange – has attracted the support of what can only be described as the usual suspects. . I just wish if all his supporters would lend their energies to ensure the fate of young Bradley Manning is not as awful as it seems likely to be: the charges, at best, will see him banged up for life if he is found guilty, and, at worst, he will lose his life for treason.

In his rather desperate attempt to avoid the outraged vengeance of those he has made to look rather stupid, Assange is playing the ‘freedom of speech’ card. From where I sit this has absolutely nothing to do with ‘freedom of speech’. What has Assange acutally ‘revealed’? That ambassadors, generals and diplomat worldwide are a duplicitous bunch? Well, Lordy me, what a surprise. And there was me thinking everything was rosy in the garden. Here’s another revelation, courtesy of me: water is wet. Deal with it.

I made the point in an earlier post that at the basis of Assange anxiety is that if he is extradited to Swede, initially only to be interviewed by the police, let it be said, but possibly also to face charges of sexual assault, the Swedes will do a deal with the U.S. and extradite him on to Uncle Sam. Well, first things, first: if Assagne is guilty of sexual assault (and the charges are more along the lines of having sex without consent rather than hiding in the bushes and grabbing some woman to rape her), why on earth are the right-thinkers of this world defending him? Are they telling themselves that, yes, he might be a teensy bit guilty, but look at the bigger picture: he made a fool of Uncle Sam, and isn’t that a Good Thing? Or are they even suggesting that the deal is done, the Swedes only want to get him into their clutches in order to ship him out to the U.S. on the next plane Stateside.

And what if he is not guilty? Well, that does present a problem for him: he might well finally agree to be interviewed and possibly face trial, but then be acquitted. But he would then, be on still be liable for further extradition to the U.S. But let me ask this: the UK and America already have a – quite controversial for some – extradition treaty. Wouldn’t the Yanks already have made their move? Wouldn’t they have gone for the jugular? Would they really be content to play a long game and wait till he is out of the UK and then strike. It does seem a tad implausible.

As for the ‘freedom of speech’ line, as far as I am concerned that is almost obscene. If Assagne supporters really do feel strongly on the issure, there are more than enough rather straightforward case of skullduggery going on which they could make a noise about. But they aren’t. This is all bullshit which stinks to high heaven.

And none more time: where is the support for Bradley Manning? Where is the outrage on his behalf?

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