Julian Assange: Devil or Daredevil?
I really don’t know what to think of this Julian Assange WikiLeaks debacle. With the exception of those who have already judged and convicted the man, people seem to be afraid to write or say what they think for fear of having their words sifted through the NSA’s supersifter translator anti-anarchist thingy. So, unless you’re counting filmmaker Michael Moore who apparently doesn’t give a damn what the NSA thinks of him, cautious folks are just sort of talking and whispering about the story in headlines and soundbites.
“…what if the public in 2003 had been able to read “secret” memos from Dick Cheney as he pressured the CIA to give him the “facts” he wanted in order to build his false case for war? If a WikiLeaks had revealed at that time that there were, in fact, no weapons of mass destruction, do you think that the war would have been launched…?” -Michael Moore
I wouldn’t really categorize myself as a conspiracy theorist, but I do believe that just as governments “have ways of making you talk,” they also have ways of making you shut the f*#% up. I’m trying to use my intellect and intuition to arrive at some sort of personal opinion about Assange’s motives, and his recent alleged criminal behavior, but I’m finding that it is difficult to uncover much unbiased information in this age of pseudo-journalistic news coverage.
I did search the Internet and found some interesting back story that I wasn’t aware of. Although it’s been well-reported that Assange was convicted of computer hacking when he was a teenager, not much else about his character is widely known. I was able to find a CNN affiliate’s exclusive December 2nd interview with Julian’s father Brett Assange, where it was revealed that Julian was always “the kind of kid that wouldn’t take no for an answer. ” I suppose those who believe the rape allegations will take that and run with it, but from all that his dad says about him, it seems Julian could easily be the target of a smear campaign.
“He always stood up for the underdog…He was always very angry about people ganging up on other people. He had a really good sense of equality and equity.”
Julian’s mother also sees her son as a champion of right and wrong. She told the Melbourne Herald Sun that she saw in him from a tender age a sensitive boy who was good with animals and had an innate will to do “what he perceived as just.” In another interview with the U.K. Mail she said:
‘My son is a good person who is doing good for others. He wants people to know the truth. People have a right to know what is going on, especially if a war is being fought in their name. The people who have committed atrocities should be the ones called to account, not my son….He’s a hero to some people, a villain to others. Which one do you think I believe?”
Of course those are his parents, so if I’m looking for unbiased information, I’ll have to keep looking. Where do I find someone unrelated to him to serve as a character reference? I’m not finding quotes on the Internet from regular folks attesting to his integrity (perhaps due to the aforementioned sifter thingy), but Amnesty International did recognize him for “excellence in human rights journalism,” and he has supporters around the world who post bail money when needed, and demonstrate with signs that read “COURAGE is COURAGEOUS” and “DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER.”
Conversely, finding quotes from individuals who clearly don’t care for the man hasn’t been difficult. We know there are two women in Sweden who have accused him of sexual assault, serious charges which will he will have to answer to in a court of law. Assange says he is innocent and the women are a part of well-orchestrated smear campaign–a covert attempt by the powers that be to silence his website. Along with these serious charges against him, Assange has made himself a pretty impressive list of enemies–and this is but a tiny excerpt of what is a very long list:
WikiLeaks “has violated the Espionage Act.” -Sen. Joe Lieberman
“super-secretive, thin-skinned, [and] megalomaniacal.” –The New Yorker‘s George Packer
“an anti-American operative with blood on his hands” whom we should pursue “with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders.” -Sarah Palin
“He’s a psychopath, a sociopath … He’s a terrorist.” -Republican Mary Matalin
“A dead man can’t leak stuff … there’s only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a bitch.” –Democrat Bob Beckel
That last quote makes me think of David Kelly, the U.K. biochemist and U.N. weapons inspector whose off-the-record comments (he said the government exaggerated about WMD in Iraq) led to his death. Though officially dubbed a suicide, Britain’s Michael Powers, a physician, barrister, and former coronor has joined a group of physicians and others who don’t believe the evidence supports the suicide finding. Lord Hutton decided that evidence related to the death, including the post-mortem report and photographs of the body, should remain classified for 70 years.
Whoa… Okay. I’m not making this up. My computer just crashed to the dreaded BLUE SCREEN fatal exception error. This was on my screen when I rebooted:
I think it is completely possible that Julian Assange committed the crimes he is accused of, and if he did, I don’t see how that should have a bearing on whether WikiLeaks is deemed to be journalism, civil disobedience or out-and-out terrorism. Let the world’s courts open up that discussion–not the tabloids.
I also think it is completely possible he had consensual sex with those women, and someone has either enticed or coerced them to lie about it. Either way, the debate will continue to rage about whether Assange is a terrorist or a whistle blower and if WikiLeaks’ brand of “transparency” hurts more than it helps.
“Our goal is to have a just civilization. That is sort of a personal motivating goal. And the message is transparency…we believe that it is an excellent message. Gaining justice with transparency. It is a good way of doing that, it is also a good way of not making too many mistakes. We have a trans-political ideology, it is not right it is not left it is about understanding…any political ideology that comes out of misunderstanding will itself be a misunderstanding. So, we say, to some degree all political ideologies are currently bankrupt. Because they do not have the raw ingredient they need to address the world. The raw ingredient to understand what is actually happening.” -Julian Assange
All of that sounds really good to me because I agree with his assertion that the existing political ideologies are bankrupt. The truth is, regardless of the continents we live on, the names we use to call on the Creator, or the political ideologies we profess, none of us want our cities to be incinerated. I do feel like governments might be less likely to commit crimes against humanity if they know they are being observed, but I don’t feel I have a full understanding of what kind of havoc such transparency can wreak either.
Is Julian Assange a dangerous devil, or a courageous daredevil? My intuition leans me toward the latter, but I’d like more solid information to help me decide.