Wikileaks is not Assange

Wikileaks - CENSORED In 2007, Wikileaks published the protocol manual for the US army at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, Standard Operating Procedures for Camp Delta. The manual included a designated list of prisoners to be off-limits to the International Committee of the Red Cross – while the US government and military had claimed all along that all prisoners held in Gitmo could be visited by Red Cross representatives: and in April 2011, Wikileaks published the US military’s secret files on 779 detainees. President Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay, and never has.

In 2010, Wikileaks made available to selected media outlets a huge log of every Iraqi death recorded by the coalition forces (Multi-National Forces Iraq) in Iraq between January 2004 and December 2009. As Jacob Shapiro, Assistant Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, pointed out: the deaths over five years is still an undercount.

  • The database records 109,032 deaths in total for the period
  • The database records the following death counts: 66,081 civilians, 23,984 insurgents and 15,196 Iraqi security forces

Nearly a year ago the last convoy of US soldiers pulled out of Iraq, and now President Obama uses drones to kill people with even less oversight than in Iraq.

The end of the Iraq war

Wikileaks has done a lot to publicly embarrass many governments, but especially the US government, over twelve years of drifting rightward and away from human rights while publicly claiming righteousness. Nonetheless, it is impossible to say if, as far as his Wikileaks publications are concerned, Julian Assange – or anyone else not a US citizen – has committed any crime under US law, and he has certainly not committed any offense for which it would be possible for the US to extradite him.

As I wrote nearly four months ago, two months after Julian Assange had himself shut up inside the Ecuadoran embassy in Knightsbridge:

On 18th August 2010, Julian Assange applied for a residence permit to live and work in Sweden, hoping to create a base for Wikileaks there, because of the country’s laws protecting whistle-blowers. Swedish law prohibits extradition for political crimes: Swden have repeatedly said that the ECHR would intervene if Assange were to be extradited to face inhuman or degrading treatment, such as Assange claims to fear in the US.

If Julian Assange were genuinely afraid of being extradited to the US more than anything else, he would have stayed in Sweden. He fled because he did not want to be questioned by the Swedish police about the allegations of rape made against him by two women in August 2010. He has spent two years trying not to go back to a country where he wanted to live and where he would be safe from being extradited – but where he might well spend up to six years in jail for rape, if the Swedish authorities decide to charge him and if he is convicted.

From an interview Decca Aitkenhead had with Assange, published on 7th December, it seems clear that Assange would have been better off both physically and mentally if he had stayed in Sweden, given evidence to the police, been charged or not – since, even if he had been convicted, Swedish jails provide better living conditions that the cell which Assange has assigned himself to. Assange’s self-imprisonment is entirely his own problem, or ought to be: he’s opted to act as if ordinary laws shouldn’t apply to him.

This is what Amanda Marcotte has described as the Great Man theory of rape:

Even Assange defenders who claim they want Assange to face his accusers seem to be directing anger at everyone but the person who likely bears the most responsibility for the current situation. They’re mad at Sweden for not brokering a deal that would shield Assange from extradition to the U.S. They’re mad at the U.S. for hanging on to the option of prosecuting Assange for WikiLeaks-related crimes. They’re mad at the British government for threatening to arrest Assange. But they don’t seem to hold Assange responsible for creating this situation in the first place.

If the accusers in the Assange case are telling the truth—and so far, there’s no evidence that they’re lying—supporters of WikiLeaks should be furious at Julian Assange. He put the whole WikiLeaks operation at risk in order to sexually dominate women. Even if he didn’t rape the accusers, Assange’s reaction to the accusations has demonstrated a strong disdain for the notion that women have a right to bodily autonomy. He accused Sweden of being the “Saudi Arabia of feminism” for no other reason than its willingness to take seriously a woman’s claim that she was penetrated against her will. He trotted out the idea that a woman’s clothing choices and flirtatious behavior matter more than her consent. He’s admitted that he’s a “chauvinist pig” while reiterating the assertion that the only way you could read the accusations as rape is if your view is “distorted.” He doesn’t seem to give a whiff if he comes across as a dangerous sexual predator.

On 19th December, Julian Assange completes the first six months of his self-imposed imprisonment. For the past three months at least he seems to have become increasingly detached from reality – but as far as anyone can tell, it’s still Assange who curates the @Wikileaks Twitter account, the public face of Wikileaks to the world.

The best thing that could happen to Wikileaks, while Assange is locked up in Knightsbridge, is for the organisation to become independent of Assange in the eyes of the world. The worst thing that can happen is that, as Assange slowly bricks himself into his own self-created cell, Wikileaks goes with him.

Which is one of the many reasons why this t-shirt, which is an actual thing actually on sale, is so blitheringly ill-advised at best, and at worst, a horrifying confirmation that too many men – and some women – who ought to be on the side of civil liberties and human rights, see nothing wrong with glorifying a sexual predator.

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Update, 21st August 2012. Impossible to summarise: necessary to read. Daniel Mathews, one of the founders of Wikileaks, says why he had to resign from the Wikileaks Party.

7 Comments

Filed under American, Justice, Women

7 responses to “Wikileaks is not Assange

  1. juliusbeezer

    Neither of us are witnesses to the events leading to M. Assange’s travails with the Swedish justice system, but he certainly has a defence to the allegations levelled against him. And it is not entirely implausible that he is the victim of a classic honeytrap. The moment that he is detained in Sweden, his internet access will be cut, which will leave a big hole in wikileaks. And in the meantime, a sexual scandal remains nicely divisive even among radical opinion.
    The Ecuadorian government have accepted that M. Assange’s treatment at the hands of the Swedish justice system has many marks of political interference after their own investigation. And Ecuador’s a part of the world that knows a thing or two about Yankee dirty tricks…
    So, yes, you are right that any reputable transparency organisation needs to be bigger that any individual: we need 1000 wikileaks. Meanwhile, seeing as you’re so keen on civil liberties and human rights, why not regale us with a forthcoming blog entitled: “Assange: innocent till proven guilty” ?

    • And it is not entirely implausible that he is the victim of a classic honeytrap

      It’s only plausible to rape apologists.

      Please try to convince me harder that you’re not one.

      You have absolutely no reason in the world to suppose that the two women who testify that Assange sexually assaulted and raped them aren’t telling the exact truth about their experiences.

      Meanwhile, seeing as you’re so keen on civil liberties and human rights, why not regale us with a forthcoming blog entitled: “Assange: innocent till proven guilty” ?

      Your hypocrisy in accusing two women of false testimony – before they have been found guilty of this crime in a court of law – is… noted.

    • Okay, in a calmer mood:

      1) Julian Assange, like anyone else, has the right to justice. He has a right to have the evidence against him examined in a court of law, and before he is sentenced for a crime, a duly-constituted criminal court needs to convict him beyond reasonable doubt before a judge and a properly-independent jury.

      2) The women who testify that he raped and sexually assaulted them have the right to give their evidence in a court before judge and jury. This right, Julian Assange has consistently denied them, on the false excuse that he fears being extradited from Sweden. (Well, false or deluded. My own research says it’s false, but I don’t know Assange’s state of mind: he may have worked himself up into a state of delusion where he can ignore the evidence he himself must be as aware of as I am.)

      3) Julian Assange has the option of having justice any time: all he has to do is walk out the door of the Ecuadorean embassy and give himself up. He’s opted to put himself outside the justice system, and by his own testimony, honestly believes that the normal rules shouldn’t apply to him.

      The right of a man accused of rape to not be convicted/go to jail unless the criminal court decides the evidence against him is beyond reasonable doubt, does not extend to a right to banning the women a rapist attacks from talking about their experience of him. Your idea that unless a rapist is convicted in a court of law no one should get to tell anyone he’s a rapist, would effectively allow most rapists – rape has a very low conviction rape compared to other crimes of violence – to continue to operate without any of their victims ever being allowed to warn people against them.

      I am so far convinced that Julian Assange is guilty of rape and sexual assault that (a) I’d recuse myself from his jury if I were a Swedish citizen and (b) I consider no woman should risk being alone with him without witnesses/help – maybe only one in twenty men is a rapist, but the evidence tends to show that most rapists will continue to commit rape unless they’re caught. (Julian Assange’s mother’s insistance that she knows her son would never commit rape can be discounted, unless she is owning up to a very, very strange mother-son relationship.)

      And (4) You apply extreme double standards when you insist that Julian Assange must not be named as guilty of a crime before he is convicted in a court of law, and at the same time propose that two women are guilty of the crime of false testimony – not only before they have been convicted in a court of law, but before police or courts have charged them with this crime. If you’re going to sincerely uphold that Assange isn’t a rapist until he’s been convicted, you equally have to uphold that the two women are speaking the truth of their experiences and that each of them went to bed with Assange expecting consensual sex, not as a “honeytrap” – until/unless they are convicted. Otherwise, you just sound like a woman-hating rape apologist, and I’m sure you don’t want to do that.

  2. Pingback: 2012: The Greatest Hits « talatyaq

  3. Roland Stanbridge

    Julian Assange has not been proven to be ‘ sexual predator’.

  4. Amazing post and brilliant responses to the comments.

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