August 01, 2010

On Wikileaks (III): "We'd like his cooperation..."

[Part I]

[Part II]


Within the next few days, I will publish a detailed analysis of the criticisms of Wikileaks and the latest release of Afghanistan documents offered, not by conservative/rightwing bastards like Varadarajan (discussed in the last section of this article), but by what we might call the "radical left." As I will be explaining, I find the left's criticisms more incoherent and occasionally more offensive than those put forth by the right. The longer I consider the left's critique, the worse it gets in my view. (You'll find a brief summary of some of this left critique in the opening of Part I.)

At the moment, I want to mention one particular response by some warriors of the left -- those brave souls who, like their counterparts on the right, demonstrate their peerless courage on a daily basis by repairing to their keyboards and pounding out another blog post, and frequently not even that: simply a comment to someone else's blog post. I hesitate to question the bravery of those who put life and limb in danger by moving fingers to keys, as they imperil the fate of nations by possibly spilling a few drops of coffee on their desks -- but I will screw my own courage to the sticking point and tell certain motherfuckers to go straight to hell.

Which motherfuckers do I have in mind? I'm so glad you asked. Those who say, in various ways: "Well, I don't see that Assange has put himself in any particular danger. C'mon, what do you think is actually likely to happen to him? Nothing, that's what." Some of the same individuals will go on to argue that Assange will just get a lot more publicity, which maybe is all he's really after. A few will add, in their preferred tone of world-weary cynicism: "We're all adults here, right? We know that's what motivates most people like this in the end." (I've seen more than a few comments which say all this, and even worse, and you probably have as well. No, I won't link to them.)

I've covered some aspects of these issues in the earlier parts of my Wikileaks series: in Part I, I discussed the dangers faced by Assange, as well as by Bradley Manning (about whom many brave warriors of the left seem to have next to nothing to say, see below), and I also talked about the inability of many people to recognize genuine heroes in their midst (and if that shoe fits you, put it on, you bastard); in Part II, especially in the second half, I analyzed the nature and significance of Wikileaks' role in an obedience culture.

But Assange doesn't face any serious danger as the result of his actions? You really want to stick with that view? I suggest you reconsider it immediately. I'd missed this story when it appeared in June, but in light of recent developments, all of these concerns (and "concerns") almost certainly have only increased in the interim:
Pentagon investigators are trying to determine the whereabouts of the Australian-born founder of the secretive website Wikileaks for fear that he may be about to publish a huge cache of classified State Department cables that, if made public, could do serious damage to national security, government officials tell The Daily Beast.

The officials acknowledge that even if they found the website founder, Julian Assange, it is not clear what they could do to block publication of the cables on Wikileaks, which is nominally based on a server in Sweden and bills itself as a champion of whistleblowers.

American officials said Pentagon investigators are convinced that Assange is in possession of at least some classified State Department cables leaked by a 22-year-old Army intelligence specialist, Bradley Manning of Potomac, Maryland, who is now in custody in Kuwait.

And given the contents of the cables, the feds have good reason to be concerned.


American officials would not discuss the methods being used to find Assange, nor would they say if they had information to suggest where he is now. "We'd like to know where he is; we'd like his cooperation in this," one U.S. official said of Assange.
"[W]e'd like his cooperation..."

I suggest you imagine a Mafia murderer, or any contract killer, saying those words. Or a killer employed by the Pentagon (in addition to all those killers already in the military services). He has Assange tightly bound in a chair, or possibly hanging from hooks on the wall or ceiling. Assange has been tortured for days, maybe weeks. As blood seeps from the numerous wounds Assange has already suffered -- wounds deliberately inflicted so as to cause unbearable pain, while ensuring that Assange remains alive precisely so that he can endure still more pain (which is the meaning, and the only meaning, of torture) -- the killer leans in and presses his mouth gently against Assange's ear. He softly croons to his victim:
We only want your cooperation, Julian. I don't want to hurt you. Why are you making me hurt you? I never wanted to do this, and I want to stop right now. Just tell us what we want to know. Tell us and this will stop. Cooperate with us, Julian.
And if Assange doesn't cooperate, the torture will go on, and on, and on. Finally, Assange may die -- or he may go mad. Or he may be unable to endure any more and will tell his torturers what they want to know.

By the way, it seems that what so concerns the U.S. government might be those 260,000 diplomatic cables that Manning said he had delivered to Wikileaks, and which Wikileaks denies receiving. It may be the case that Wikileaks did receive them, or at least a substantial number of them. And as the story excerpted above notes, "the feds have good reason to be concerned" about their contents. Or it may be that the concern noted in the story from June centered on the documents that Wikileaks just released. At this point, we can't know which cache of documents is involved. And since Assange has indicated he has many more documents still awaiting release, the government may be very agitated about something else altogether.

Also note this from the story: Assange canceled a scheduled appearance in Las Vegas in June, because of "security concerns." Far too dangerous for him to travel to the United States now. And:
Last week, Assange was scheduled to join famed Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg for a talk at New York's Personal Democracy Forum. Assange appeared via Skype from Australia instead, saying lawyers recommended he not return to the United States.
Many of the left-leaning critics of Wikileaks frequently condemn the U.S. as a cold-blooded killer, waging an endless series of criminal wars. Yet in this case, they seem unable or unwilling to acknowledge the very strong likelihood that the U.S. has targeted Assange. But the logic of the situation, and of Wikileaks' role, necessitates the conclusion that Assange has been targeted, and I'm aware of nothing that would suggest a contrary conclusion. All the evidence I've seen tends to establish that the U.S. government wants to stop Assange at a minimum, and eliminate him if necessary.

But he's not in any serious danger -- and perhaps he's only after more publicity? What I'd like to say in response is too rude even for me. Imagine the most offensive statement you can, and multiply it by ten, or a hundred.

And about Bradley Manning, here's the latest:
U.S. Army officials transferred PFC Bradley Manning from the Theater Field Confinement Facility in Kuwait to the Marine Corps Base Quantico Brig in Quantico, Virginia, on July 29. Manning remains in pretrial confinement pending an Article 32 investigation into the charges preferred against him on July 5. Manning was transferred because of the potential for lengthy continued pretrial confinement given the complexity of the charges and ongoing investigation. The field confinement facility in Kuwait is designed for short-term confinement.

The criminal investigation remains open. Preferral of charges represents an accusation only; Manning is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The case will be processed in accordance with normal procedures under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
"[T]he potential for lengthy continued pretrial confinement..."

I repeat what I said before: Bradley Manning is 22 years old. If convicted on all charges, he faces imprisonment of up to 52 years. The U.S. government seeks to destroy Bradley Manning's entire life, when it has barely begun. But I'm enormously reassured by the reference in the official press release to the "normal procedures under the Uniform Code of Military Justice," and the mention that Manning is presumed innocent. "Military justice." I think this concept must be categorized together with "military intelligence."

I've already urged people to donate to Manning's defense fund, and I do so again. If I can manage to scrape up $35 -- which I did a short while ago -- then many of you can, too. I earnestly implore you to do so in the strongest possible terms. The donations might end up making a significant difference.

In my reading over the last week, I've seen that some of the same leftist writers who criticize Wikileaks have posted absolutely nothing about supporting Bradley Manning. I'll have more about this, and what I consider an altogether shocking omission, in upcoming parts of this series. (I realize that many factors determine those topics a writer covers and those he does not -- but it's not as if the writers I have in mind haven't had plenty of time to write about other issues, none of which approach the urgency of this matter in any respect. I also acknowledge that I myself have been guilty of what I now consider very egregious similar omissions in the past, for which I am deeply sorry. I'll do my best to see that the same kind of mistake isn't repeated in the future.) For the moment, I will simply ask: Given your repeated proclamations of your great concern about the loss of innocent life and the brutality visited upon entirely undeserving victims, what the hell do you have a blog for? If you can't be bothered to urge that people support Manning in any way they can, you might as well take your blog and ... well, you know what you can do with it.

I suppose that some of these serious and sophisticated critics of Wikileaks will tell me again that Assange isn't in any real danger. It's rather more difficult to make the same argument about Manning, so they ignore his fate completely. Good job.

(Again, a full analysis of the left critique of Wikileaks is forthcoming very shortly. The issue discussed above isn't even one of the five or six major points I plan to cover. This is a bonus for the motherfuckers out there. I thus prove still another time how thoughtful and generous I am.)