13 December 2010 | Draft
WikiLeaks and the First Global Condom War
Political awakening through asymmetric psychodrama: US versus Assange
- / -
Myth and psychodrama
Cast and plot
Secrecy vs. Freedom of information
Confidence domination: "condom"
Confidence domains and psychoactive debate
Dramatic claims for justice
Prejudgement, revenge, assassination and conspiracy
Espionage and emasculation of office
Dramatic mirroring and enantiodromia
This is an exploration of the curious mirroring between the role of Julian Assange, as the founder of WikiLeaks, and that of the US as the world's currently acclaimed sole superpower. As is now typical of any global crisis, many are now focused on who to blame and whether they can be neutralized or eliminated -- getting the justice they deserve -- whilst others complicit in the process escape with impunity, honours and rewards as the exemplification of the universal values of humanity. Assumptions that rational arguments are possible in this context are variously flawed and serve only to reinforce the perspective of those presenting them. They do not engage with alternative perspectives such as to articulate a larger and more fruitful context.
The approach taken here is therefore to set the actors and processes within a psychodrama. This may well be what the future derives from the current confrontation -- long after key players have been assassinated to the satisfaction of their opponents -- perhaps taking the form of myth lending itself to portrayal in movies and interactive videogames. Current references to a period of global political awakening may well be more appropriately understood for many of the players through myth and what is activated in the imagination and psyche. Rather than information warfare or cyberwarfare as is widely claimed, it might then be more appropriate to see the global encounter as one of memetic warfare (Missiles, Missives, Missions and Memetic Warfare, 2001). Any "warfare" is then better understood as being about, or between, domains of confidence.
From a perspective of psychological warfare, the argument here uses the latter's three-fold concern with "information dominance", "asymmetric threat" and "cyberthreat", as noted by John Pilger (Why Are Wars Not Being Reported Honestly? The Guardian, 10 December 2010). In what follows these are conflated into "condom" as an acronym central to the current drama of the "First Global Condom War". Condom is fruitfully understood here as implying "confidence dominance" (as being the key to "information dominance"), with connotations of "confidence trick" -- especially in the light of the continuing crises of confidence in the financial domain (David DeGraw, Wall Street's Pentagon Papers: biggest financial scam in world history - $12.3 trillion in taxpayers' money, Global Research, 6 December 2010).
Assange and Pilger share both an Australian background and a concern with meaningful social change. As further justification for use of "condom", it is appropriate to note reference in parliamentary debate in that region to a minister being a "condom on the penis of progress". The argument here is that this insight may be of global relevance.
Myth and psychodrama
As previously argued, myth provides a degree of coherence for many which "rational" discourse can no longer provide for any but the few (Relevance of Mythopoeic Insights to Global Challenges, 2009; The "Dark Riders" of Social Change: a challenge for any Fellowship of the Ring, 2002; Enacting Transformative Integral Thinking through Playful Elegance, 2010) .
Conflation of contexts: The psychodrama is therefore observed here through a conflation of contexts that trigger the imagination of the young (and of those who may once have been) -- modern myths such as Star Wars (1977-2005), Battlestar Galactica (1978-009), Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter (1997), Robin Hood, Dark Crystal (1982), King Arthur, and Ned Kelly -- for those of Australian culture like Assange. Arguably we are witness to the eternal tale of the asymmetric engagement between those who are relatively powerless and those who are powerful in the extreme (increasingly in their undisguised self-interest). These are archetypal encounters, as between David and Goliath, anchored in myth and fed by its modern echoes There is every possibility that the "Empire" of Star Wars and the "Klingons" of Battlestar Galactica will win -- a new variant of The Empire Strikes Back is anyway to be expected.
Imaginal context: Such embodiments of the "dark force", so familiar to the young, are very appropriately associated with the protection of secrecy -- "keeping things in the dark" through artful diplomacy and two-facedness. This is the current focus of worldwide attention -- in total contrast to the "power of the light", as the force held to be "with" those who seek openness and transparency. Recognition of this imaginal context is important to any understanding of the motivation of those engaged in this dangerous battle against imperial dominance. Its protagonists identify themselves more readily with Jedi Knights than with Top Gun (1986), and are more likely to honour those who can embody the values of Obi-Wan Kenobi rather than those of General Petraeus and his predecessors with their policy of targetted assassination. Avatar (2009) made the point and was criticized by the media forces of the Empire for doing so.
George Monbiot even refers to the "trolls" of such myths (These astroturf libertarians are the real threat to internet democracy, The Guardian, 13 December 2010) argues that:
The internet is a remarkable gift, which has granted us one of the greatest democratic opportunities since universal suffrage. We're in danger of losing this global commons as it comes under assault from an army of trolls and flacks, many of them covertly organised or trained.
Paradox and self-reflexivity: Beyond the traditional conventions of myth, those appropriate to the 21st century necessarily embodies an unusual degree of paradox and self-reflexivity. This is nicely held by the global superpower's own preferred abbreviation: "US". This paradox has been in turn reinforced by the preferred foreign policy principle of "US", namely you're either with US, or against US , as well as being enriched by interpretations of the popular quote we have met the enemy and he is US -- all of us? It is also evident in the denouement in Star Wars between the young hero Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader -- the primary servant of the Emperor of the "dark". There is therefore a complicity of everyone -- "all of us" -- with the conservative values of "US" and a precautious distancing from "Luke Skywalker" as an embodiment of inspiration and a catalyst of radical global transformation. Each readily frames the other as necessarily "guilty" as a questionable means of acquiring a sense of "innocence". Prejudgement precludes further reflection, although each richly "reflects" the condition of the other -- unconsciously.
Embodying the opponent: The argument here explores the extent to which Julian Assange must -- in the psychodrama being played out for later incorporation into myth -- embody and enact the proclivities of US. The forces in play necessarily oblige him to do this, whether consciously or unconsciously. Both parties are constrained by the dynamics of an archetypal myth. The assassination of Julian Assange, much-desired by representatives of US, will then confer upon him the status of martyrdom -- the Che Guevara of cyberspace? Julian Cyberwalker? -- of whom tales will be told to children of the future. In the culture of his home country he is already lionised as the "Ned Kelly of cyberspace".
Being on the "wrong side": For some indeed, this is a rehearsal for the enthusiastically anticipated Final Battle of Armageddon. Curiously US -- "all of us"? -- is perceived by many to be on the wrong side. A notable mark of this is the incitement to violence by the presidential hopefuls of US and their supporters -- difficult to distinguish from the much deprecated incitement to violence by Islamic fundamentalists, interpreted by US as an incitement to terrorism justifying any action in the cause of "homeland security". Curiously such incitement evokes no condemnation or sanction by the current President of US.
Cast and plot
|Dramatis personae / Cast
|Julian Assange / WikiLeaks
||US / Embassy network
|individualised self-identification: Luke Skywalker, Robin Hood, Ned Kelly, Harry Potter. Che Guevara, David
||self-identification: God's chosen people in God's own country; upholder of universal values beyond valid criticism
|collective self-identification: Jedi Knights, Knights of the Round Table (forces of light)
||collective self-identification: leader of western civilization and defender of its values, force for global law and order (forces of light)
|individualised identification by other: Osama bin Laden, Bond-movie villain (embodiment of the dark)
||individualised identification by other: Darth Vadar (Joe Lieberman?), Sauron (Dick Cheney?). Goliath (Stanley McChrystal?), Sheriff of Nottingham (?), Morgan le Fay (Hillary Clinton?, Sarah Palin?) (embodiment of the dark)
|collective identification by other: terrorists, subversives, anarchists, organized crime network (embodiment of forces of darkness)
||collective identification by other: Empire of repression and oppression (embodiment of forces of darkness)
|Primary plot line
|As framed by the other: Asymmetric warfare by internet elites against authority
||As framed by the other: Asymmetric warfare by an elite against the population at large
|US with Condom -- the Precious One
(once like all of us, but transformed by its possession
into an agent of the Dark Lord)
|Julian Cyberwalker -- agent of the Force for Light
(a.k.a. Ned Kelly of Cyberspace)
|Or is this Julian Assange?
||And would this then be US?
Secrecy vs. Freedom of information
As indicated above, John Pilger notes the three-fold focus of those currently concerned with psychological warfare: "information dominance", "asymmetric threats" and "cyberthreats" (Why Are Wars Not Being Reported Honestly? The Guardian, 10 December 2010). He refers to a conversation in 1917 between David Lloyd George, Britain's prime minister, and the editor of the Manchester Guardian, to the effect that: If people really knew the truth, the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know. He asks why journalists have colluded with governments to hoodwink people as with respect to the Iraq war.
Case for secrecy: The dissemination of the US embassy cables by WikiLeaks, and their revelations, have evoked and highlighted a variety of arguments in defence of secrecy and its necessity for fruitful pursuit of the human good however broadly or narrowly that is understood:
- with respect to the US National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance of people within the United States, Gabriel Schoenfeld called for the government to prosecute a number of reporters and editors at The New York Times under the espionage statutes (Has the 'New York Times' Violated the Espionage Act?, Commentary, March 2006. He is author of Necessary Secrets: national security, the media, and the rule of law (2010)
- the former chief of staff of Tony Blair, Jonathan Powell, asserts that Human affairs are run on secrecy and confidences (US embassy cables: Leaks happen. But on this industrial scale, whose interests are served? The Guardian, 30 November 2010).
- In a world of WikiLeaks, diplomacy would no longer be possible. The secrecy that WikiLeaks despises is vital to all organisations, including government -- and especially in the realm of international relations (Read cables and red faces, The Economist, 4th December 2010)
- While the journalist in me recognises a clear duty to publish and be damned, the citizen in me also recognises a mess too far. I well know that no family, business or government can function without some genuine secrets. The trick is to focus on the genuine and to treat truly essential secrets accordingly (Max Frankel, WikiLeaks: Secrets shared with millions are not secret, The Guardian, 1 December 2010). Frankel was pivotal in the publication of the Pentagon Papers by The New York Times in 1971
- Yet government (and journalism and life) involves keeping secrets as well as being open. There is virtue in both. what matters is whether the secrets are necessary and honourable (Martin Kettle, WikiLeaks: Openness against secrecy has a rich history of struggle, The Guardian, 3 December 2010)
- Secrecy is an essential part of any negotiation: no corporate merger, complicated legal settlement, amicable divorce or serious political compromise could ever be reached without a reliable level of confidentiality. But secrecy is nowhere more essential than in foreign relations.... But the WikiLeaks disclosure, on a scale that, to my knowledge, is historically unprecedented, is totally different -- more like the work of irresponsible amateurs using dynamite to expand a tunnel that also contains, say, a city's electrical lines. The leaks will probably not cause war or even a serious crisis, but they will badly damage America's diplomatic machinery, processes and reputation. (Paul Schroeder, The Secret Lives of Nations, The New York Times, 3 December 2010)
Such arguments are helpfully brought into focus by the current Ambassador of US to the UK, Louis Susman (WikiLeaks: Reckless Disclosure, The Guardian, 10 December 2010) as follows:
- he cites his predecessor Charles Francis Adams (1807-1886), minister of US to England during the Civil War, in response to other disclosures: I scarcely imagine it wise in diplomatic life to show your hand in the midst of the game.
- but in the current context Susman makes no comment on the fact that the world is tired of the "games" which diplomats continue to play of so little benefit to other than themselves. Afghanistan, wasting a trillion dollars, is a typical prolongation of the Great Game.
- as with others he refers to disclosure dangerously placing "innocent lives at risk"
and that there is nothing laudable in this
- despite desperate efforts to prove loss of life as a result of the WikiLeaks disclosures, this has not yet been demonstrated to be the case. A far stronger case can be made for the withholding of information by the diplomatic community placing lives at risk.
- the case is very weak, given the indifference to innocent human lives demonstrated by the much-cited statement of Madeleine Albright (US Secretary of State and US Ambassador to the UN) in a 1996 interview on a segment of CBS's 60 Minutes. When asked by Stahl, We have heard that half a million children have died [as a result of sanctions]. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?" Albright replied: "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it. Clearly this reflected a policy of US, and her subsequent apology only reflects a regret that she disclosed it. The policy has not been called into question by subsequent events.
- he argues that there is "nothing brave about sabotaging the peaceful relations between nations on which our common security depends"
- typically this confuses his reference to the "damage to US national security interests" (a concept which is freely extended to cover any form of competitive advantage at whatever cost) with global security -- which the US is seen by many as dangerously jeopardizing.
- the argument obscures the indications from the embassy cables that US is indeed very busy "sabotaging peaceful relations between nations"
- as to "nothing brave", the fact that presidential candidates of the US are calling for the assassination of Assange would seem to indicate a degree of bravery with which Susman is clearly unfamiliar -- not having undertaken anything which evoked such reaction
- he notes that the disclosures will not stop the US from "working on the many urgent challenges we face around the world - Afghanistan, nonproliferation and arms control, addressing violent extremism, promoting global economic growth and the spread of democracy and human rights".
- this obscures the fact that many consider that the manner in which the US engages in "working on" is not advancing these causes to any meaningful degree, and may well be undermining them
- he rightly argues that "The need for confidential discussions is not unique to diplomacy... But it is central to diplomacy, and this breach in confidentiality... shows a disregard for the well being of countless individuals... a world in which diplomats cannot operate with discretion and trust is a more dangerous world for all of us"
- this obscures the fact that it was not the disclosure of the cables in themselves which showed a disregard for the "well being of countless individuals" but the abusive attitudes within the community previously protected by confidentiality; it was the content of the cables which discredited the diplomatic community
- Susman conveniently forgets the parallel with the sexual abuse of the vulnerable by the Catholic clergy -- for whom claims were made of the need for confidentiality, precisely in order to protect that community from disruption, at any cost. Similarly, to the extent that diplomats treat the population as "children", they have used their authority and requirement for appeals for confidentiality to promote complicity in such abuse.
- surprisingly, given that it is has been described as the largest Ponzi scheme in history, Susman sees no need to mention the abuse of client confidentiality by Bernard Madoff or, more generally by the financial community (Andrew Clark, What did banks do? It's not clear. What do they pay? They can't say. Why did they fail? It's a secret, The Guardian, 12 December 2010).
Consistently, Susman considers it unnecessary to condemn the calls for Assange's assassination (rather than due process) by those who may become his superiors. Nor does he choose to mention the higher orders of secrecy, classified as vital to the governance of US -- and what they might imply for the rest of the world, if he is aware of their content. Curiously, in that scheme, those disseminated by WikiLeaks are defined as "unclassified" -- despite assumptions to the country made in various current claims regarding "damage", "attack" and "irresponsibility". How damaging are those truths -- and the withholding of their implications for social transformation -- in the case of the higher orders of classification? Are the higher orders of classification to be understood as even more self-serving? Is it possible that claims to promote "universal values" and "freedom of information" merely offer a screen behind which secret orders can operate freely?
Sexual intercourse: Somewhat ironically, it is of course the case that secrecy is also highly valued in relation to the intimacy of sexual intercourse -- whether or not it results in "conception" -- seemingly eluding the diplomatic community. It is curious that in both cases such secrecy inhibits objective commentary on what actually occurred, with what degree of consent, with what relative appreciation, and the sense of any abuse. Confidence, in some form, is central to the space in which such intercourse occurs -- whether diplomatic or sexual, recognizing that a degree of diplomacy may be involved in sexual intercourse, just as diplomacy may result in countries "getting screwed". Such considerations apply to human intercourse in general (Human Intercourse: Intercourse with Nature and Intercourse with the Other, 2007).
Abuse of confidence: In the case of diplomats and their national apologists, why are these people so naive as to assume that they now have a shred of credibility left -- or would be capable of proving it if they had? As discussed separately, they now have no means whatsoever of proving they are not lying -- other than through arranging for false flag bombings, which they can present as incontrovertible proof of their assertions, or shooting the messenger so as to avoid the embarrassment of judicial proceedings (Abuse of Faith in Governance, 2009; Paul Craig Roberts, Here's Why FBI Is Orchestrating Fake Terror Plots, 2010).
Forgetting the tale of the Emperor's New Clothes, they claim to clothe themselves in the finest values of humanity (John Pilger, WikiLeaks: the emperor wears no clothes, The Guardian, 16 December 2010). They live in a comfortably cocooned reality whose disruption they claim inhibits their unproven capacity to pursue the human good. In self-serving arguments, as with the above-mentioned texts, they recognize no failings or limitations in their capacities -- and no inherent tendency to complicity in abuse and corruption, now ever more widely perceived, as reported by Transparency International (Corruption Perceptions Index, 2010). Those pleading for "confidentiality" fail to address the abusive use of secrecy which motivates the leaks of which they complain. They are renowned as necessarily having a heavy investment in lying "for their country". Ironically, in what amounts to an exercise in conceptual gerrymandering, the methodology of that Index excludes any reference to the Vatican -- despite its widely reported association with various corruption scandals.
Confidence domination: "condom"
The following exploration uses a conflation of Pilger's three-fold focus into an acronym singularly central to the current drama: condom. There is no conclusive etymology for condom, as noted by Zacharias P. Thundy (The Etymology of Condom, American Speech, 1985). It could however be fruitfully understood here as implying "confidence dominance" (as being the key to "information dominance"), with connotations of "confidence trick" -- especially in the light of the continuing crises of confidence in the financial domain. Condom might also be understood as referring to a "confidence domain".
As might be suspected, there are arguments for considering the dissemination of cables by WikiLeaks to be a confidence trick designed to justify much tighter controls of the internet, as proposed by US (F. William Engdahl, Wikileaks: a big dangerous US government con job, Global Research, 10 December 2010). As such the WikiLeaks operation could be interpreted as a false flag psyops initiative with the simple objective of confidence dominance.
The possibility exists for a mythical recasting of condom in the light of the above-mentioned earlier argument (Relevance of Mythopoeic Insights to Global Challenges: cognitive integration implied by the Lord of the Rings, 2009). As with the One Ring central to the drama of the Lord of the Rings, the function of "condom" is then neatly summarized by the stanza inscribed on that ring:
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
This applies to information and its dissemination in the most general sense. The behaviour of those seeking to possess and control a confidence domain may be usefully compared with that of the problematic character of Sméagol (Gollum) in the myth -- an adept at twisted smearing argument in obsessively ensuring possession of that ring. That ring notably confers invisibility -- echoing what is variously sought through current "stealth technology", in addition to that achieved by maintaining higher orders of "secrecy" in relation to condoms of an even higher order. It is through the One Ring that the other Rings of Power may be ruled. This is what such secrecy is assumed to confer with respect to domains of confidence and the innermost "circles of trust".
As the arguments for secrecy note, diplomats operate most comfortably "in the dark". They are creatures of the night and prefer that any intercourse be "kept under wraps". It is not for nothing that Lord Mandelson prides himself on his nickname "Prince of Darkness". Curiously they have become victims of their own spin. Like Sméagol in the myth they have been transformed into shadows of their former selves. This is a characteristic consequence of confidence domination. As with absolute power, absolute confidence corrupts absolutely.
Why does the "international community" support the criminalization of those who seek to reveal truths which enable the world to be understood otherwise -- thereby highlighting the need and possibilities for the "new thinking" that the "international community" has been so singularly unable to produce? Already summaries are produced regarding what the world has learnt via WikiLeaks (Ian Black, Angelique Chrisafis, Ian Traynor, Jon Boone, Declan Walsh, Tom Parfitt, Ewen MacAskill, Tom Phillips, Xan Rice, Jason Burke and John Hooper After 12 days of WikiLeaks cables, the world looks on US with new eyes, The Guardian, 10 December 2010; Robert Booth and Haroon Siddique, How WikiLeaks altered the way we see the world in just a week, The Guardian, 4 December 2010).
Why should "we the peoples" be deprived of this information by a company of Sméagol's? Who can justify the Potemkin-like construction and maintenance of the "false realities" noted by Pilger -- especially since the justification would be entwined in the falsehood? Pilger traces these realities (and their adoption by the media) back to the development of "public relations" by Edward Bernays (Propaganda, 1928) as "an invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country" thanks to "the intelligent manipulation of the masses". With respect to the manufacture of consent by the media, the argument has been developed by Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky (Manufacturing Consent: the political economy of the mass media, 1988). Of course it might be appropriately said with respect to either party that "manufacturing consent" is essential to sexual intercourse -- as with eliciting and sustaining mutual confidence. A matter of confidence domination?
Confidence domains and psychoactive debate
A curious feature of the development of the psychodrama is the manner in which various constituencies have taken up strong positions with assertions of "guilt" and "innocence" evoking the corresponding denials. They can be usefully be said to be operating from within distinct "confidence domains". Their nature might be said to have been -- and to be -- fundamental to the dynamics of the crisis of confidence and trust underlying the financial crisis.
In offering a description of the psychodrama here, the purpose is not to engage with the determination of "guilt" or "innocence", rather it is to draw attention to the manner in which such debate is fruitfully to be understood as highly charged "psychoactive debate" eluding such closure, however much many may claim to wish for it. The focus on the "rape" issue appears to simplify the possibility of resolution, but it is already evident to what degree it is associated with the larger unresolved debate relating to understandings of rape and the various feminist concerns at its misrepresentation and misappropriation (Libby Brooks, No one gains from this 'rape-rape' defence of Julian Assange, The Guardian, 10 December 2010). The points are well-made, but the larger debate is far from being resolved. As with gambling, the "psychoactive" quality might also be recognized as a key to the dynamics of financial speculation -- irrespective of any rational analysis of risks and opportunities.
Of potentially greater relevance, irrespective of whether Assange is proven "guilty" or "innocent" to the satisfaction of some, is an analogous (or more general) debate about the lawful complaints of the vulnerable against the powerful, and specifically US. Points of a form validly made with regard to the case of Assange can be equally validly made with respect to the complaints of a country that claims abuse of some form by US -- irrespective of whether several such countries bear witness to such claims. But complaints against the world's superpower are recognized to be as futile as feminists insist to be the case of complaints against those males by whom they have been abused.
The matter is complicated in both cases because the truth is difficult to come by under such circumstances -- and evidence is readily denied and reframed, especially of the parties have been voluntarily "in bed with one another". There is no sense that both parties may be to a degree "innocent" and to a degree "guilty" -- meriting the verdict uniquely made in Scottish courts: "not proven". Debate becomes fruitlessly circuitous for those who expect "justice" to emerge -- with one party bearing all the "guilt" and the other justified in every respect. This is equally true of the widespread tendency of "us" to complain about "them" (Us and Them: Relating to Challenging Others, 2009).
Protest against the global behaviour of US is then also best understood in terms of "psychoactive debate" from which no immediate resolution is to be expected. Debate of such nature is also evident in the case of climate change and overpopulation (Overpopulation Debate as a Psychosocial Hazard: development of safety guidelines from handling other hazardous materials, 2009). Any "resolution" is then unlikely to stick, being of a purely token nature.
|Head of UK Diplomatic Corps
in the Top Security gear required for intelligent intercourse with US
in the context of the cosy "special relationship" and
as principal ally in the Coalition of the Willy
(as variously depicted by Steve Bell for The Guardian)
The psychodrama is such that the participants, in following their own natures, engage in processes which come to constitute self-entrapment. This recalls the comment of an early policy scientist, Geoffrey Vickers: A trap is a function of the nature of the trapped (Freedom in a Rocking Boat: changing values in an unstable society, 1972). Both Assange and US became trapped in this way. This might also be said of the UK, Sweden and Interpol. Oddly the current prime minister of the UK has long been regularly depicted by the principal cartoonist of The Guardian with his head sheathed in a condom -- holed to enable him to see (Steve Bell, Why I put Cameron in a condom, The Guardian, 1 November 2010).
Interpol has been mocked for the importance it has attached to Assange's sexual crimes -- handled mysteriously by the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (Assange's Interpol Warrant Is for Having Sex Without a Condom (The Slatest, 3 December 2010). Naomi Wolf has declared: As a longtime feminist activist, I have been overjoyed to discover your new commitment to engaging in global manhunts to arrest and prosecute men who behave like narcissistic jerks to women they are dating (Julian Assange Captured by World's Dating Police, The Huffington Post, 7 December 2010). It was the former president of Interpol, Jackie Selebi, who was sentenced to 15 year jail for corruption on 3 August 2010 -- just ten days before the incidents giving rise to the rape charges against Assange.
The following presentation may well suggest that everything Assange does in private, US can do better -- but only by his exposing himself so clumsily has he been able to conform the dubious practices favoured by US -- hitherto only suspected and not a matter of public record. Has the fox been drawn out of its lair?
|Safe intercourse and Breaches of protective systems
Safe consensual intercourse was in principle ensured in the relations of Assange with Ms A and Ms W through the use of a condom constraining the dissemination of sperm
|Safe intercourse for consensual communication within the US diplomatic community, and the Department of Defense and Department of State, is ensured by use of the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (Siprnet) (Julian Borger and David Leigh, Siprnet: where America stores its secret cables, The Guardian, 29 November 2010).
|Assange claims that intercourse was consensual; this is disputed by his partners, although the consent of both women to sex with Assange had been confirmed by prosecutors. (Arrest warrant for "sex crimes" against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is for "sex without a condom", NOT non-consensual rape using force, Washington's Blog, 2 December 2010)
||Embassies typically claim that diplomatic intercourse is consensual, however this may be disputed by other parties (as indicated by reports in the cables)
WikiLeaks as a name offers a euphemism for the accusation that Assange's condom leaked -- in a manner offensive to his partner in intercourse
|In serving the protective functional equivalent of a condom -- preventing inappropriate dissemination -- Siprnet could be better remembered mnemonically as Spermnet. The metaphor has been variously used in political discourse to refer to opponents as being a "condom on the penis of progress".
| A major aspect of the case against Assange was his alleged failure to respond appropriately to the failure of the condom -- or to use one in the case of a second allegation
||Clearly a major issue has been the breach of Spermnet protection -- its leaking has proven to be problematic. As a condom, it proved to be of inadequate quality. The Australian government has argued that the US was at fault in not responding appropriately to previous breaches of its system ensuring safe intercourse (Wikileaks: Australia FM blames US, not Julian Assange, BBC News, 8 December 2010)
"Wiki" is derived from "fast" in Hawaian. By implication, and more generally, Assange is accused of engaging in deprecated male behaviour through one-night stands -- a pattern of behaviour in relation to potentially vulnerable partners against which he had been previously warned by friends.
|It is appropriate to recall the extent to which heads of state and members of the diplomatic community indulge in forms of intercourse considered inappropriate. Interaction may be deprecated as "brush by". They forensically compute the length of meetings... whether it's a brush-by or a full bilateral... dissecting the location and grandeur of the final press conference - fretting even over whether you're standing up or sitting down together (David Cameron faces a history of complexity on US trip, BBC News, July 2010). In his indulgence in intercourse with the vulnerable, the head of state of a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council had the nickname "Mr. Three Minutes". Prominent members of the diplomatic community, including a Nobel Peace Laureate are renowned for a tendency to grope vulnerable others at receptions. The diplomatic is notably complicit in this, as the cables reveal (Women and the Underside of Meetings, 2009).
|Droit du seigneur: "Activist groupies" and "Strategic clients"
|Celebrities commonly attract "groupies" of one kind or another.
||As a superpower, the US naturally attracts, and seeks to attract, "client states"
|High profile personalities are widely recognized to attract and engage in patterns of sexual intercourse outside that advocated by convention: "A personality like Assange, who is known throughout the world, in the media every day, has a huge attraction to women. A lot of women invited him to their beds and he took that opportunity too much … all the time".
||The US is widely perceived as acting freely with respect to its client states, by whom it is sought out, and who effectively adopt a posture which allows them to be frequently and systematically "screwed"
|Given his weakness for women, it was recognized as likely to trap him: "I don't think it was a conspiracy, but this provided a golden opportunity for the enemies of WikiLeaks to use the situation to neutralise him"
||Given the weakness of the US for continuing intercourse with its client states, there is every reason that this may lead to a form of entrapment. The frank revelations via WikiLeaks may be understood in this light
|The relation between Assange and a succession of women of different cultures may be readily framed as abusive, characterized by a degree of abuse, and vulnerable to abuse -- perhaps to be described by terms such as "bullying" and "coercion"
||The relation of the US with its client states may be readily perceived and experienced as abusive -- perhaps to be described by terms such as "bullying" and "coercion"
|Risks of conception and Risks of infectious disease
|Condoms have the dual function of preventing both conception (as a contraceptive) and the communication of disease transmitted by intercourse
||The twofold function of the NOFORN "classification" on Spermnet is effectively conflated. It is designed to prevent foreigners from being rendered uneasy by insights informed by a secretive worldview (possibly transformative of the conventionally received reality) and to prevent the conception of new initiatives towards global transformation. It is indeed effectively a political contraceptive -- a "condom on the penis of progress".
|Rules of engagement in intercourse
In bringing a high standard of sensitivity to the rules of engagement between partners, Swedish laws are more nuanced than most in differentiating among three categories of of what is defined as "rape", notably invoking the concept of 'unlawful coercion.'
Rendering the person unconscious or otherwise placing the person in a similarly helpless state shall be regarded as equivalent to violence.
In judging whether the offence is grave, special consideration shall be given to whether the violence involved a danger to life or whether the person who had committed the act had inflicted serious injury or serious illness or, having regard to the method used or the victim's youth or otherwise, exhibited particular ruthlessness or brutality.' (italicised text from Section 1 of the Swedish Penal Code, Interpol, 10 December 2010)
The international law community has struggled for decades to define aggression (see War of Aggression). What should be a plain concept of unjustified use of force has turned into a catch-all for international crimes and a focus not on the state but on the political leaders. In 1974, the United Nations proposed that it be defined
as the use of armed force by a state against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of another State -- or in any other manner, by its character, gravity and scale, constituted a manifest violation of the Charter.
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (which entered into force in 2002) refers to the crime of aggression as one of the 'most serious crimes of concern to the international community', and provides that the crime falls within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). However, the Rome Statute stipulates that the ICC may not exercise its jurisdiction over the crime of aggression until such time as the states parties agree on a definition of the crime and set out the conditions under which it may be prosecuted. US is not a member of the ICC. In that sense it is technically, with respect to international law, an outlaw setting itself up as a global policeman.
The focus on physical violence avoids consideration of structural violence, namely the systematic ways in which a given social structure or social institution harms people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs. It has been said that physical violence is for amateurs in contrast to the use of structural violence by professionals. Internationally it leads to serious loss of life.
In accusing WikiLeaks, notably through the person of Assange, of an "attack" on the international community, the careful distinctions of Swedish law can be fruitfully applied to US, especially including the notion of "unlawful coercion", -- in the light of its failure to subscribe to the provisions of the ICC.
|'severe rape,' which involves a high degree of violence and which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for the perpetrator; If the offence is grave, a sentence to imprisonment for at least four and at most ten years shall be imposed for aggravated rape.
||"severe aggression", involving a high degree of violence against a country
|'regular rape, which may involve some violence and calls for a maximum sentence of six years; If in view of the nature of the violence or the threat and the circumstances in other respects the offence is considered less serious, a sentence to imprisonment for at most four years shall be imposed.
||"regular aggression", involving some degree of violence against a country
'less severe rape,' which may not involve violence but still includes the imposition of sexual intercourse on a person against her will, punishable by as much as four years in prison. 'A person who, by violence or threat involving or appearing to the threatened person as imminent danger, forces the latter to have sexual intercourse or to engage in a comparable sexual act, shall be sentenced for rape to imprisonment for at least two and at most six years.
"less severe aggression", which may not involve physical violence against a country but still includes the imposition of a pattern of interaction on a country against its will,
|Swedish law classifies a lot of interactions as "rape" that would not be rape in other countries. The line between normal sex and rape is subtle or non-existent, the sentences are long, the compensations high and there does not have to be any crime. It is enough that the court believes the argument of the plaintiff. (Erling Hellenas, The Swedish Rape Law, 1 September 2010)
||Given the sensitivity of Swedish society to such matters, there is a strong case for applying equivalent sensitivity to actions by countries, recognizing that the line between normal interactions, and those claimed to be aggressive in some form, can be subtle or non-existent. The focus can usefully be placed on whether the argument of the plaintiff is believed.
|Proposed reforms of Swedish rape laws would introduce a test of whether the unequal power relations between the parties might void the sincerely expressed consent of one party.
||Future refinement of the definition of aggression could fruitfully introduce a test of whether the unequal power relations between the parties might void the sincerely expressed consent of one state.
|Specific allegations of misconduct in intercourse with vulnerable parties
|Within the above legal context, Assange is accused of "rape" according to the category of "less severe rape". He is specifically charged with:
||US has long been accused by various countries as having subjected them to unwelcome violence -- whether or not metaphorical use has been made of the term "rape". The cables confirm what many perceive as the "rape" by US of other countries. Distinctions might be made with respect to:
"unlawful coercion" against Miss A, using his body weight to hold her down in a sexual manner.
|"unlawful coercion" by US of a country might indeed be appropriately associated with processes described metaphorically as "leaning on" the country in a manner conducive to of unwelcome intervention of some kind. The cables include descriptions of "bullying" which could well be considered in this light.
"sexual molestation" of Miss A by Assange -- by having sex with her without a condom when it was her "express wish" one should be used.
|"molestation" could well be understood as a form of physical intervention in a country by US, without adequate protective measures against the associated risks of infection or unwanted disruption of that society. Ironically "mole station" describes very specially and appropriately the unwelcome establishment of US moles in a country's institutions
"deliberate molestation" of Miss A by Assange "in a way designed to violate her sexual integrity".
|"deliberate molestation" implies intervention of a higher degree such as to violate the integrity of a country. The various investigations into the abuses of the rendition process may offer a useful example. The cables offer many further indications
|"having sex without a condom" with a second woman, Miss W, "while she was asleep"
||"intercourse without protection" offers a further category to be considered as a violation placing the country's economic, social, cultural or spiritual integrity at risk -- especially when undertaken without the full awareness of the country..
Dramatic claims for justice
The following section uses the detailed account of the perspective of the Swedish lawyer for the two women plaintiffs against Assange as provided by Amelia Gentleman (Julian Assange rape allegations: treatment of women 'unfair and absurd', The Guardian, 8 December 2010) he account is used as a template.
|Unfair treatment of those complaining of unwitnessed violence
|Women as plaintiffs against Assange
(selected paragraphs as template for adaptation on right)
|Countries as plaintiffs against US
(adaptation from template on the left)
|The process of taking a rape allegation to court is notoriously hard for the victim. When the accused assailant is a high-profile campaigner with thousands of active and vocal supporters, it becomes acutely fraught.
||The process of taking an allegation of aggression before an international tribunal is notoriously hard for the victim -- especially when the alleged aggressor is US, deliberately defining itself as not beholden to such courts. When the accused is a superpower with many active and vocal supporters, it becomes acutely fraught.
|Claes Borgström, the lawyer for the two women whose complaints of sexual assault triggered Julian Assange's arrest, said his clients had been assaulted twice: first physically, before being "sacrificed" to a malevolent online attack. The women were having "a very tough time", he said.
||Countries which such complaints may well claim that they have been doubly subject to aggression: first physically, before being "sacrificed" to a malevolent media attack. Many countries may be said to be having "a very tough time"
|A wealth of hostile material attacking the two women has appeared on the internet since August, when they took their complaints to the police. Their right to anonymity has been abandoned online, where enraged bloggers have uploaded dossiers of personal photographs, raked through their CVs and tweets, and accused them of orchestrating a CIA-inspired honeytrap operation. These online rumours were a convenient way for Assange to divert suspicion from the actual allegations, the women's lawyer said.
A wealth of hostile material attacking countries who complain in this way appears, and may be planted, in the media. Any right they may have to anonymity or discretion in the making of complaints is then abandoned. Rumours may be used as a convenient means to divert suspicion from the actual allegations. In the form of "negative propaganda" (mud-slinging, smear campaigns), the phenomenon is well-known in election campaigns of US. The process is immediately used with respect to those who are "not with US" -- framing and demonising enemies as in the case of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Taliban, for example.
| ... He said his clients were "the victims of a crime, but they are looked upon as the perpetrators and that is very unfortunate"....
||Those countries considering themselves as "victims of a crime" are readily framed as the perpetrators.
|What is going on now is very, very unfair to them because they are being pointed at as if they have started a conspiracy against Assange and WikiLeaks, and that is not true. There is nothing wrong with their reputation and they have done nothing wrong in going to the police. What they are going through is unfair and absurd.
||Countries reporting such violence by US, of whatever form are readily pointed at as having started a conspiracy and that is not true. There is nothing wrong with their reputation and they have done nothing wrong in going to the higher authorities. What ensues is unfair and absurd.
|He questioned whether the women would have pressed charges had they known in advance how their reputations would be attacked. "If they had known what was going to happen, maybe they would not have gone to the police at all …....
||It may be asked whether countries would press charges had they known in advance how their reputations would be attacked.
|In today's London Evening Standard, Assange's UK lawyer, Mark Stephens, repeated his conviction that the affair was politically motivated. "The honeytrap has been sprung. Dark forces are at work. After what we've seen so far you can reasonably conclude this is part of a greater plan," he said.
||Many have repeated their conviction that aggression by the US is part of a wider political agenda. Honeytraps may indeed be spring through finding and project proposals. It can be inferred that dark forces are at work.
The case against Assange effectively turns on "confidence dominance" in presentation of evidence to prosecutors
With respect to any sense of conspiracy in developing and pursuing the charges, of particular relevance are the assertions by Swedish authorities to the effect:
- Swedish minister of justice, Beatrice Ask, said yesterday the suggestion was "completely wrong". "As far as I know no such pressure has been put on Sweden," he said. (Sweden: we did not bow to political pressure over Julian Assange, The Guardian, 9 December 2010)
- Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny says the rape case against Assange has nothing to do WikiLeaks, Reuters reports:
- The sexual misconduct case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a personal matter and not connected with his work releasing secret US diplomatic cables, a Swedish prosecutor said on Tuesday.
- "We have nothing which indicates that this is a plot," prosecutor Marianne Ny was quoted by newspaper Aftonbladet as saying at a news conference in the western city of Gothenburg.
- But Borgström rejected the notion that the rape case and the extradition demand form part of a conspiracy to damage the reputation of the WikiLeaks founder. "It has nothing whatsoever to do with WikiLeaks or the CIA and I regret very much that Julian Assange does not publicly say that himself. That would be a way of leaving all these rumours," he said. "There are no political ingredients in this at all, but I quite understand that there are rumours.
It might well asked whether the Swedish authorities cited would be informed if arrangements had been made for extradition at a "higher" or "more secret" level -- with respect to secret treaties. Whether obliged to say that this was not the case or simply that they did not know, clearly this does not alleviate suspicion. If they were subsequently proven wrong, they would simply respond that they had not been so informed. Would they respond otherwise even if they could? The art of the matter in arranging extradition would be to keep authorities at that level "out of the loop"
In the case of the plaintiffs lawyer his assertion of their innocence is a profession requirement -- even though it prejudges the case. Making it in the same frame as the assertion that there are no political pressures relating to the case or extradition raises the possibility that if proven wrong in that case, his assertion of the absence of CIA or other associations will be equally valueless. He is of course not offering any guarantees in either case.
Alleged evidence and rumour (of hacking) of every kind continues to accumulate regarding the questionable political stance of one of Assange's accusers:
- Jane Cutter (WikiLeaks and the political use of the rape charge, PSLweb.org, 15 December 2010) notes the open letter of Katrin Axelsson of Women Against Rape to the effect that: Many women in both Sweden and Britain will wonder at the unusual zeal with which Julian Assange is being pursued for rape allegations.... There is a long tradition of the use of rape and sexual assault for political agendas that have nothing to do with women's safety.
- it is alleged that Anna Ardin, one of Assange's accusers published a blog post (now widely circulated) titled 7 Steps to Legal Revenge by Anna Ardin (19 January 2010). She played a role in bringing Assange to Sweden for a conference, became his press secretary, had consensual sex with him and later went to authorities with rape accusations.
- detailed studies have been made of posts by Anna Ardin, and their suppression (Dissecting Anna Ardin's Case against Assange: evidence destroyed over and over again, Radsoft, 8 December 2010); it has been argued that prosecutors have been informed of this (Assange Case: Ny knows the girls made it up but doesn't care, Radsoft, 2 December 2010).
Prejudgement, revenge, assassination and conspiracy
The twists and turns of the case against Assange have been compared to a Stieg Larsson thriller from Sweden (Assange saga: Out of a Stieg Larsson thriller? The Times of India). Others have compared it to script for a new Oliver Stone Hollywood thriller. It has been readily framed as a "war", the first "cyberwar", thereby justifying emergency measures -- without war having been "declared" (Ed Pilkington, Julian Assange cast as common enemy as US left and right unite, The Guardian, 9 December 2010; Mark Townsend, WikiLeaks backlash: the first global cyber war has begun, claim hackers, The Guardian, 11 December 2010). Rather than due process, it might be said to have been been framed as "shoot first and ask questions after, or better still, forget the questions".
The case has been prejudged with a surprising number of calls for the assassination of Assange from politicians, academics, commentators and Christian ministers of US.
- Mike Huckabee: Haroon Siddique and Matthew Weaver (US embassy cables culprit should be executed, says Mike Huckabee, The Guardian, 1 December 2010)
- Tom Flanagan: Michael Keefer, Death Squads versus Democracy: Tom Flanagan's "Joke" directed against Wikileaks Julian Assange, Global Research, December 7, 2010;
- Stephen Harper: Canadian PM's ex-aide: Assassinate Assange, Ynetnews, 1 December 2010;
- Jeffery T. Kuhner: Assassinate Assange, Washington Times, 2 December 2010. The article was accompanied by a Wanted: Dead or Alive poster (Murder Poster for Assange, AntiWar blog, 7 December 2010)
During a segment on WikiLeaks, Fox News pundits agreed that America could not legally arrest Julian Assange. It was argued that US should just assassinate him instead (Fox News Calls For Assassination Of Julian Assange [Video], 10 December 2010). Yahoo Answers offers a response to: Will the US government assassinate Julian Assange or get somebody else too?. Reminiscent of Pat Robertson's call for the assassination of Venezuelan predident Hugo Chavez, Fox Business commentator, Bob Beckel, called for Assange's assassination in the following terms:
We've got special ops forces. I mean, a dead man can't leak stuff. This guy's a traitor, a treasonous, and he has broken every law of the United States. The guy ought to be -- and I'm not for the death penalty -- so if I'm not for the death penalty, there's only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a bitch. (Fox News' Bob Beckel Calls For 'Ilegally' Killing Assange: 'A Dead Man Can't Leak Stuff', The Huffington Post, 7 December 2010)
The matter has been discussed by Arthur Weinreb (Calling for the Death of Julian Assange, Suite101, 5 December 2010) noting that some other prominent people have implied that Assange should be taken out without being as blunt as Flanagan and Kuhner were. Those noted as calling for assassination include Sarah Palin, William Kristol and Bill O'Reilly (Assassination of Assange, Earthlinggb's Blog, 10 December 2010; Nate Anderson, Meet the people who want Julian Assange "whacked". ArsTechnica, 3 December 2010).
Targeted Assassination as Part of US Foreign Policy Although there is no standard definition of targeted assassination, it refers to the targeting and extra-judicial killing of a person or persons by agents of the state. These killings are ordered when the person or person is thought to create a danger to the security of the United States. A Congressional committee found the CIA had taken part in several plots against leaders of countries hostile to the United States between 1960 and 1970. As a result of these conclusions, President Ford signed Executive Order 11905, outlawing such practice. After the attacks of 9/11, President George W. Bush gave written orders to the CIA to kill certain named terrorist leaders.
In annexes to her argument on the matter, Naomi Wolf (Espionage Act: how the government can engage in serious aggression against the people of the United States, The Huffington Post, 10 December 2010) a list, in addition to those named above, of those calling for Julian Assange's criminalization (with links to others): Rep. Candice Miller; Jonah Goldberg, Journalist; Christian Whiton, Journalist; Bill O'Reilly, Fox News Journalist; Rep. Peter King; Tony Shaffer; Rick Santorum; Rep. Dan Lugren; Rep. Virginia Foxx; Sen. Kit Bond, Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee; Sen. Joe Liberman; Sen. Charles Schumer; Marc Thiessen, Columnist.
These calls for assassination have not been seen as in any way comparable to those made through fatwas by Islamic fundamentalists -- treated as incitement to violence and terrorism in some countries. Perhaps more surprisingly there has been little condemnation of such appeals to the government, and US authorities might well be understood as condoning them. A response to earlier questions relating to the possibility of assassination has seemingly been formulated by the CIA as follows (CIA Response to Assange Assassination FOIA, Sribd, 27 October 2010):
This is a final response to your 11 October 2010 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, received in the office of the Information and Privacy Coordinator on 12 October 2010, for copies of all records current or previous plans to assassinate Julian Assange, Australian national and spokesman for Wikileaks.org. We have assigned your request the reference number above. [F-2011-00078]
In accordance with section 3.6(a) of Executive Order 13526 ,the CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records responsive to your request. The fact of the existence or nonexistence of requested records is currently and properly classified and is intelligence sources and methods information that is protected from disclosure by section 6 of the CIA Act of 7949, as amended, and section 102A(i)(l) of the National Security Act of 1947, as amended. Therefore, your request is denied pursuant to FOIA exemptions O) (1) and (b)(3).
The calls have naturally been condemned by Assange's lawyer (Assange lawyer condemns calls for assassination of WikiLeaks' founder, NBC, 2 December 2010) and by a WikiLeaks spokeperson (Julian Assange faces assassination risk: WikiLeaks spokesman, Reuters, 2 December 2010).
Despite denials by Swedish prosecutors, the possibility of conspiracy between the CIA and Sweden is however to be considered credible, especially given reports of discussions between US officials and Sweden concerning how to get Assange into US custody if he is extradited to Sweden (Kim Sengupta, Assange could face espionage trial in US, The Independent, 8 December 2010). This is notably the case if secret treaties come into play and Sweden is effectively a covert member of NATO and its intelligence-sharing. Sweden and US have an extradition treaty dating from 1961. With respect to the larger context, as noted above, there are arguments for considering the dissemination of cables by WikiLeaks to be a confidence trick designed to justify much tighter controls of the internet, as proposed by US (F. William Engdahl, Wikileaks: a big dangerous US government con job, Global Research, 10 December 2010; Michel Chossudovsky, Who is Behind Wikileaks? Global Research, 13 December 2010).
Of particular interest to be accorded to Assange once extradited to US as a "high-valued terrorist". The procedures for "enhanced interrogation" of "high-value" are now well-developed and has been extensively publicized, notably in The Washington Post and Newsweek (Peter Beaumont, Bombshell report on CIA interrogations is leaked, The Guardian, 22 August 2009). Findings suppressed since 2006 detail death threats against prisoners and other methods that may constitute torture (as depicted in the Abu Ghraib images) including:
- waterboarding, stress positions, and the like
- use of drugs to facilitate interrogation
- mock executions
- enforced nakedness
- "conditioning" before questioning, with defined as the combined effects of self-induced pressure and 'system-induced pressure'.
- harsh questioning - or 'harshing' - in which an interrogator puts his face close to the prisoner, screaming, swearing and making threats
The US Attorney General has been examining the legality of the CIA's interrogation methods. There has been considerable effort to ensure the secrecy of the report, with claims that its release would damage the reputation of US around the world and damage CIA morale. Arguably Assange is at risk from the application of these methods on behalf of US by the UK (Jeff Kaye, The Wikileaks Effect: UK Guardian Reveals British Interrogation Manuals Authorize Torture, 26 October 2010). Who would impose any constraint on such well-tried procedures against "high-value terrorists"? As yet unexplained is why the Swedish prosecutors are unwilling to question Assange via any secure form of telecommunication. Is it because of their need to use "enhanced interrogation" methods under the guidance of US advisors?
Assange variously accused Australian authorities of "pandering" to the US and being prepared to harass WikiLeaks supporters and "frame" an Australian citizen (Julian Assange, Don't shoot messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths, The Australian, 8 December 2010):
- Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to (calls by US figures for Assange to be hunted down) by the Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her government
- The powers of the Australian government appear to be fully at the disposal of the US as to whether to cancel my Australian passport or to spy on or harass WikiLeaks supporters.
- We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn't want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.
It might be asked whether the seemingly supportive remarks of Kevin Rudd, Foreign Minister of Australia, are to be considered a wishy-washy, diplomatic response to a public relations crisis or an indication of vigorous support of a citizen otherwise expected to "fight for his country". In a report by James Meikle (Assange 'not responsible for security breaches' says Kevin Rudd, The Guardian, 8 December 2010; Australian diplomats will support Assange: Rudd, 8 December 2010), Rudd is alleged to have stated:
- Mr Assange is not himself responsible for the unauthorised release of 250,000 documents from the US diplomatic communications network
- legal liability rested with the initial leakers and Assange should be protected from threats to his safety
- Australia would provide Assange with consular assistance... That is the proper thing to do for any Australian citizen
- We'd be concerned about the safety and security of all Australians. People should be free from any such threats [of assassination]
In a CNN report ( Australia blames U.S. for documents getting to WikiLeaks, CNN, 8 December 2010) Rudd is alleged to have stated:
My responsibility as the foreign minister is to ensure that this individual is treated no differently to any other Australian around the world who find themselves in legal difficulties.... I take that responsibility very seriously because he has, in my view, complete entitlement of presumption of innocence before the law, and our job as the Australian government is to ensure that he has full access to normal consular and legal services that we would seek to provide to any Australian in these sorts of difficulties in any country around the world.
By contrast vigorous citizen petition campaigns have given rise to advertisements in The Australian and The New York Times as well as being discussed on Australian and US TV shows.
References to "freedom of information
" usually imply freedom to access information carefully sifted for reasons of "national security" for the protection of vested interests as noted above.
Commentators are currently noting the contrast between Hillary Clinton's interventions in response to WikiLeaks
and her much-admired recent speech and subsequent article (Internet Freedom
, Foreign Policy
, 21 January 2010)
On their own, new technologies do not take sides in the struggle for freedom and progress. But the United States does. We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas. And we recognise that the world's information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it.
This challenge may be new, but our responsibility to help ensure the free exchange of ideas goes back to the birth of our republic. The words of the first amendment to the constitution [guaranteeing freedom of speech] are carved in 50 tons of Tennessee marble on the front of this building. And every generation of Americans has worked to protect the values etched in that stone.
This comment had been preceded by a much-welcomed statement by President Barack Obama when he took office in January 2009, as noted by commentators (First Acts: Obama Launches New Direction for US, 23 January 2009):
... Bush long ago ordered various agencies and departments to as much as possible to block legitimate requests for access to declassified material through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
Within 36 hours of the termination of Bush's presidency, Obama ordered that every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known.'
The order put forward 'a presumption of disclosure for government records and a hostility to the use of secrecy laws to cover up embarrassing information. Specifically, the memorandum to federal departments and agencies created new guidelines in order to improve information dissemination to the public.'
Obama's order also specifically ruled out any claim of executive privilege by any former vice president in keeping their records out of the public scrutiny, a reference to former Vice President Dick Cheney's claim that his proclivity for secrecy and silence was covered by that vague concept.
In issuing the order, Obama said, [o]penness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.
In a press statement, National Security Archive director Tom Blanton praised the move toward openness, saying, President Obama has reversed two of the most dramatic secrecy moves of the Bush initiatives, one that told agencies to withhold whatever they could under FOIA and the other that gave presidential heirs and vice presidents the power to withhold presidential records indefinitely.'
The question is how this statement relates to the WikiLeaks disclosures and the need he noted at that time for exceptions to this policy to protect privacy and national security. Whether,in the light of such statements, the response to the WikiLeaks disclosures is an example of doublespeak is yet to be fully determined (Peter Singer, Let's hope the WikiLeaks cables move us closer to open diplomacy, The Guardian, 18 December 2010).
The quality of doublespeak -- and the unfortunate complicity of the UN system -- is evident from the timely announcement that the USA is to host Unesco's World Press Freedom Day event (US Bureau of Public Affairs, U.S. to Host World Press Freedom Day in 2011, 7 December 2010):
The theme for next year's commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. The United States places technology and
innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals' right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age.
Whilst governments can disguise their real intentions by pretending to "freedom of information", the self-serving contradictions are evident in the simplistic response to the founder of WikiLeaks (Julian Assange, Don't Shoot Messenger for Revealing Uncomfortable Truths: WikiLeaks deserves protection, not threats and attacks. The Australian, 8 December 2010).
Espionage and emasculation of office
Doublespeak has been taken to new heights in the psychodrama in the two approaches of US to espionage:
- case against Julian Assange: Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence of US, has declared that Assange "should be vigorously prosecuted for espionage" (Prosecute Assange Under the Espionage Act, Wall Street Journal, 7 December 2010):
The law Mr Assange continues to violate is the Espionage Act of 1917. That law makes it a felony for an unauthorised person to possess or transmit "information relating to the national defence which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation". The Espionage Act also makes it a felony to fail to return such materials to the US government. Importantly, the courts have held that "information relating to the national defence" applies to both classified and unclassified material. Each violation is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
The New York Times has reported on efforts by US to indict Assange:
Justice department prosecutors have been struggling to find a way to indict Assange since July, when WikiLeaks made public documents on the war in Afghanistan. But while it is clearly illegal for a government official with a security clearance to give a classified document to WikiLeaks, it is far from clear that it is illegal for the organisation to make it public.
The Justice department has considered trying to indict Assange under the Espionage Act, which has never been successfully used to prosecute a third-party recipient of a leak. Some lawmakers have suggested accusing WikiLeaks of receiving stolen government property, but experts said Monday that would also pose difficulties.
Curiously it has been suggested that any effort to undertake legal proceedings against The New York Times for having collaborated with WikiLeaks in publishing confidential State Department cables should be set aside. The argument has been made by Michael Mukasey, former Attorney General of US, that it would bre "easier" to prosecute Assange (David Edwards and Daniel Tencer, Mukasey: Prosecute Assange because it's 'easier' than prosecuting New York Times, The Raw Story, 12 December 2010)
- case against US: The US embassy cables indicated that Hillary Clinton personally authorised a request to US diplomats, on behalf of the CIA, to steal personal human material and information from UN officials and human rights groups, including DNA, fingerprints, iris scans, credit card numbers, internet passwords and ID photos, in violation of international treaties. The revelations have prompted questions about whether such activity was legal, considering conventions that stipulate the UN's premises and correspondence "shall be inviolable".
The relevant clause of the 1946 convention reads:
Having authorised the acquisition of such information, the US Secretary of State personally expressed regret to the UN Secretary-General about its embarrassing disclosure by WikiLeaks. However it has been noted that the "regret" expressed by Hillary Clinton did not in fact take the form of an apology (Hillary Clinton 'regrets' spying on Ban Ki-moon, The Australian, 4 December 2010). Her "regret" may well have focused on the revelation rather than on her action.
The property and assets of the United Nations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation and any other form of interference, whether by executive, administrative, judicial, or legislative action.
It has however been recognized that it is difficult to bring US and its agents to court on any issue -- from which they typically escape trial, conviction and punishment -- however horrendous and irrespective of the number of lives lost. The US is not a signatory/participant of the International Criminal Court for that reason -- as a means of evading the law and cases brought by other countries.
Whilst there has been extensive media coverage of the alleged espionage by Assange, very little has been heard of the case of espionage by the US at the UN in violation of its treaty obligations.
This question is explored separately in more detail (Alleged Breach of UN Treaty Obligations by US: press coverage and commentary following WikiLeaks cable dissemination, 2010).
Whilst it is typically the case that means will be found by US to prosecute Assange, the stronger the case made against Assange, the greater the relevance of those arguments to a case against US with respect to the individuals in the UN, whether or not it can be made. US will be tried in the court of public opinion -- and in the eyes of international civil servants -- in the light of the principles they seek in defence of their collective interests in endeavouring to prosecute Assange. There is even an argument for a form of class action suit -- perhaps through the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal -- on behalf of "we the peoples". This might even recognize what amounts to a form of "organized crime" in endeavouring to obtain personal details by theft. There is considerable irony in the fact that the embassy cables described the Russian regime as a "kleptocracy". The latter argument could well be reinforced by claims that the generous use of quantitative easing constituted a theft of the resources of individuals (as taxpayers), then redistributed to corporate entities "too big to fail".
But how should a state be "punished" for acting against a person, even one protected by international treaty? In the case of WikiLeaks itself, interesting legal questions arise regarding the degree to which it even "exists" as a legal entity, as separately discussed in relation to both Al-Qaida and the Tea Party movement (Reality and Existence, 2010). Only the UN offers a slight degree of recognition to international nongovernmental entities -- provided they have some "consultative status" with the UN.
The total silence regarding the actions formally authorised by Hillary Clinton reinforce the view that the powers of the Office of the UN Secretary-General have long been severely constrained by US -- and even more so following the daring, much-delayed, declaration by the previous holder of that office regarding the legality of the Iraq war (Iraq war illegal, says Annan, BBC News, 16 September 2004; Iraq war was illegal and breached UN charter, says Annan, The Guardian, 16 September 2004). It is this statement that determined the profile of the current incumbent.
As a role in a psychodrama informed by mythical dimensions, the Secretary-General has been wounded to the point of incapacity, as with the legendary King Arthur -- a condition aggravated in this case by Morgan Le Fay "turning the screw" even further. Rather than framing the relationship metaphorically as one of torture, the extent to which US can now "screw" the holder of that office now merits consideration in terms of a sexual metaphor. In addition to having been "emasculated", to what extent can it be said that the UN Secretary-General has become a kind of "sex slave" of US -- to be regularly "screwed" at its pleasure, and with the silent complicity of the international community? The relationship is reminiscent of that maintained by Josef Fritzl -- locked away on the 38th floor, rather than underground. In the spirit of self-reflexivity, is this a case for the US to look in the mirror (Looking in the Mirror -- at Josef Fritzl? 2009).
The sexual metaphor and symbolism might be even further explored in that US is a "founding father" of the UN and (with the legal base of the latter being within the domain of US) effectively acts in loco parentis. Acting in a fatherly capacity, under the aegis of the Patriot Act, any "spying" by US then amounts to a form of sexual voyeurism in relation to the UN as its child. To the extent that the UN is the principal representative of the international community -- with values appropriately honoured as "feminine" in terms of any gender stereotyping -- the role of US in relation to the UN then has connotations of forms of incest so appropriately deplored in the case of Josef Fritzl. Framed in this way, any implied "attack" on the international community by WikiLeaks pales in comparison.
The action of WikiLeaks could then be seen as an effort to expose such abuse, however disruptive of a (perverse) relationship of confidence this may be claimed to be. As demonstrated in the case of Josef Fritzl, such abuse is rendered sustainable by "confidence domination". To the extent that the values of the international community are embodied in the UN, exploration of the confidence dominance under which the abuse takes place then indeed merits any framing in terms of a "global condom war".
|The Danes and the Yellow Star -- a mythical response to a requirement for "biometric identification"
|It is a myth that King Christian X of Denmark is alleged to have worn a Star of David armlet in response to the Nazi requirement that all Jews so identify themselves in public. But, in response to the need for more detailed biometric data from them, is it a myth that there is a movement amongst UN staff to send images of their genitalia to Permanent Members of the UN Security Council for in-depth analysis by their intelligence services?
Dramatic mirroring and enantiodromia
A further curiosity in the week when the First Global Condom War was initiated is to be found in the strange parallels between:
- the official reaction of China to the award of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to the imprisoned dissident Liu Xiaobo. China has clearly been incensed by the incident, seen to have been motivated by US (Tania Branigan, 'Prejudice and lies will not stand' says Beijing, still furious over Liu Xiaobo's Nobel peace prize, The Guardian, 10 December 2010). The state-owned media calls the Nobel Committee an "evil cult".
- the official actions of US relating to the information dissident Julian Assange, and his imprisonment by the UK in that same week (Wikileaks founder Julian Assange refused bail, BBC News, 8 December 2010). This contrasts with the position of US regarding Liu Xiaobo, as articulated by Barack Obama, namely that: The values he espouses are universal, his struggle is peaceful, and he should be released as soon as possible. The official
This mirroring is explored separately (Mirroring Global Moral Equivalence: US contra Julian Assange versus China contra Liu Xiaobo, 2010). It may be understood as a form of enantiodromia (Psychosocial Energy from Polarization: within a cyclic pattern of enantiodromia, 2007).
As stressed above, the concern in exploring these events as a psychodrama has not been to focus on "guilt" or "innocence". Rather it has been to use the mirroring of patterns of behaviour to highlight a dynamic from which greater learning can be achieved of relevance to the future. Successful legal prosecution of Julian Assange, WikiLeaks or The New York Times (or the other media collaborating in the dissemination of the cables) would only reinforce efforts to claim that the current behaviours of the international; community were appropriate to the challenges of global governance. This would correspond to the process in response to the financial crisis whereby "business as usual" has been acclaimed as the indicator of successful resolution -- exemplified by the flourishing of the bonus culture.
The larger learning from the disclosure of the embassy cables is that the operations of the international community need to be observed through new eyes in order to elicit new thinking. It is amazing that the case against US with respect to the formal authorisation for espionage has effectively been absorbed into the silence and darkness on which WikiLeaks had endeavoured to cast some light. As noted by many commentators, the focus is on "shooting the messenger" as the key to "making things right" again. The energy devoted to this might be interpreted as a displacement of the energy so remarkably unsuccessfully devoted over a decade by US to the capture of Osama bin Laden. This is effectively buying into the myth of a "silver bullet" capable of destroying a scapegoat for frustration.
Almost no reference is made to the implications of the content of the cables for an understanding of US, the "universal values" it claims to uphold, or the dubious practices in which it is systematically complicit. There is no question of any legal process against US for abuse of faith in governance. There appears to be no legal context in which this could be explored. However US, as the world's superpower, is already being tried in the court of public opinion and there is every indication that it will judged to have been "guilty" in the eyes of the future. It can no longer offer a moral standard or claim to occupy the moral highground -- or rather its claims in this respect will be interpreted as a symptom of its pathological condition.
Again with respect to the psychodrama, it was stressed that the fruitful learnings from the situation were to be derived from the self-reflexive mirrorings. Hence the value of the play on "US" and "us". With respect to the challenges of global governance, US is merely one of the vehicles for "us". It is "us" who are complicit in problematic behaviours and who enable abuse by our governors. Given the capacity and the opportunity, would "us" act as indicated by the willingness of Italians to tolerate the behaviour and scandals associated with Silvio Berlusconi -- friend to Tony Blair and Vladimir Putin? As indicated by Beppe Severgnini (Bunga bunga in the Medici court of Silvio, Financial Times, 7 December 2010): Lots of Italians who prefer self-indulgence to self-discipline admit thar Berlusconi does what they only dream of doing. Of course it might be said that Hillary Clinton has had her own very personal experience of "dickheads" and their pleas for justice.
Angelology as the study of angels derives from the combination of "angel" (messenger) and "logos" (word). In any future angelology of the forces of light, Assange will be understood as appropriately well-named in combining his necessarily asinine encounters in Sweden (and elsewhere) with his angelic role as a messenger of light. In "screwing around" as is his nature, many have labelled him an "asshole" -- although "screwing around" with its client states is precisely what US may be unsderstood as doing. The First Global Condom War is essentially about both corruption and abuse of confidence in inhibiting imaginative new thinking -- the tendency to a backward engagement with the future (Backside to the Future: coherence and conflation of dominant strategic metaphors, 2003).
A conventional "Cablegate" framing of the psychodrama of the crisis inhibits fruitful recognition of the imaginative operation of any "Stargate" (People as Stargates: an alternative perspective on human relations in space-time, 1996). Many have enthused about the possibility that WikiLeaks will reveal suppressed information regarding UFOs. Others have used "wormhole" as a metaphor in relation to the secrecy itself (Tom Burghardt, Through the Wormhole: the secret state's mad scheme to control the internet, Pacific Free Press, 27 June 2010). In navigating the emerging cyberuniverse of knowledge, there is a paradoxically natural tendency to confuse "asshole" and "wormhole" (Intercourse with Globality through Enacting a Klein bottle, 2009; Engaging with Globality through Knowing Thyself, 2009). This is also evident in the archetypal roles played out in the psychodrama by the "anonymous" women in Sweden (Women and the Underside of Meetings, 2009).
In such a context, it is not to be expected that "guilt" and "innocence" will emerge according to conventional understanding. Increasingly it is becoming apparent that rigid adherence to any understanding of "right" or "wrong" -- and their projection into the political arena to demonise the opposition (even within a democratic process) -- is inadequate to the challenge. This mindset may precisely correspond to what is abhorred in fundamentalism and extremism. In uncertain times, when uncertainity is a major factor and strategic nimbleness is required, the theological reinforcement of this mindset is notably called into question by a current initiative exploring "uncertain minds". This takes the form of a discussion series about belief and unbelief in an age of uncertainty, organized by The Guardians Cif Belief, in conjunction with St Paul's Cathedral in London, as explained by Giles Fraser (The cringe at the heart of Christmas, The Guardian, 11 December 2010).
The argument here is in support of new forms of interweaving discourse -- braiding discourse -- in order to enable the emergence of larger understanding (Interweaving Thematic Threads and Learning Pathways, 2010). It would not be surprising if the patterns of requisite psychosocial complexity were related to the fundamental weaving discovered in DNA -- basic to life as we know it (DNA Supercoiling as a Pattern for Understanding Psycho-social Twistedness, 2004). The complex interweaving between "secrecy" and "transparency" merits similar consideration as argued separately (Transcending One-eyed Global Modelling Perspectives: incorporating under-currents into global circulation of value, 2010).
Promotion of " universal values " by US is strictly self-serving
May the Force Be with You
Karen Armstrong. A Short History of Myth. Canongate, 2005
Edward Bernays. Propaganda. 1928
Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky. Manufacturing Consent: the political economy of the mass media. Pantheon, 1988 [summary]
Jeane Kirkpatrick. The Myth of Moral Equivalence. Imprimis, 1986 [text]
Gabriel Schoenfeld. Necessary Secrets: national security, the media, and the rule of law. W. W. Norton, 2010
Zacharias P. Thundy. The Etymology of Condom. American Speech, 60, 1985, 2, pp. 177-179 [text]
Geoffrey Vickers. Freedom in a Rocking Boat: changing values in an unstable society. Penguin, 1972