Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only shake you down once a year, but when we do we really mean it. It costs a lot to keep the site afloat, and our growing audience, well over TWO million unique viewers a month, eats up a lot of bandwidth — and bandwidth isn’t free. We aren’t supported by corporate donors, advertisers or big foundations. We survive solely on your support.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Guarding Assange in London

by BINOY KAMPMARK

They set the rules about what a win was.  They lost in every battle they defined. Their loss is total. We’ve won the big stuff.

— Julian Assange, Salon, May 10, 2013

We live in an age of austerity, if we are to believe the scorched earth cult that has taken over most Western governments. Budgets are being slashed by economic irrationalists.  Outlays are being trimmed. The nippers and snippers are doing their worst, and here, we have an astonishing statistic.  The British government, through its police arm Scotland Yard, has spent somewhere in order of $5 million “guarding” Assange.  The term is itself odd – guarding suggests that he might come to harm, that protection is required.  The harm, of course, is purely down to the fact that the British government might just bag him and ensure his swift departure to a country that has not, as yet, laid formal charges.

In this queer fantasy of rented laws and comic security, it is of greatest amusement that Assange, even in Ecuadorean quarters, has managed to get information of the chatter that has been taking place in GCHQ.  It was obtained via a request made under the Data Protection Act.  That much he revealed in an interview with Spanish television programme Salvados.  Those darlings in the bunker were certainly happy to wonder what might happen to the dissident Australian.

When those in the secrecy business start pondering about set-ups, you know you are onto something rich. One member in GCHQ messaged a colleague: “They are trying to arrest him on suspicion of (XYZ)… it is definitely a fit-up… their timings are too convenient right after Cablegate.”  Timing, convenience – purple material indeed. The other suggests that Assange is being a “highly optimistic fool” if he believes he won’t be extradited, a perfect position if one is to say that foolishness demands an even greater act of foolishness to expose the absurdity of it all.  With almost quixotic enthusiasm, Assange has set himself the task of pushing not so much the envelope as the entire tray to the edge to see how far he can go.

The scene is dark and hilarious.  There are officers at corners, officers in neighbouring buildings.  “Police sit round-the-clock in a communications van topped with an array of antennas that presumably captures all electronic forms of communication from Assange’s ground-floor suite” (Salon, May 10). There are payments for overtime.

The point to be made here is that Assange has become a security analyst’s wet dream, though it might be more appropriate to call it a flood dream, copious volumes of fantasy and fear that have come together with a huge cheque.  A vast security apparatus has been put in place to keep tabs on the Australian’s movements ‘in Ecuador’ as it were.

This security establishment has embellished, extended and demonstrated what sort of threat he poses to their staple of secrets. When one considers that efforts of surveillance and prosecution include the efforts of contractor ManTech of Fairfax, Virginia, an outfit that has spent some $2 million this year for a computer system designed to handle the prosecution documents (Salon, May 10), we are not so much in Robert Ludlum territory as the padded asylum.

The latest estimate of Assange’s rising bill of costs is merely skimming the surface.  Those costs are incurred by the British government alone.  The global breakdown is bound to be stupendous.  The U.S. security apparatus, comprising such entities as the Army’s Criminal Investigative Department, the Department of Justice, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Diplomatic Security Service have people on the case.

The Australians, in an attempt to tighten the noose around one of their nationals, have obliged to help their Washington masters in trying to find ways of revoking Assange’s passport. This avenue is not surprising, given that the Australian government is notoriously indifferent to the fate of its own citizens, always keen to help other friends wanting their own nationals.  Assange is in distinguished company in this regard, as the renowned Cold War journalist Wilfred Burchett suffered similarly at the hands of the Canberra drudge in the 1970s.  In both cases, it would seem, publish and be damned.

Whether the British tax payer starts foaming at the mouth at the extensive and expanding bill will be something worth seeing.  The bloody mindedness of the British government is considerable.  The spectacle has ceased merely being absurd. It has become absurdly expensive.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

 

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
David Swanson
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]