WikiLeaks is under concerted attack from the US government. Also under attack by the US government is the whole idea of freedom of thought and of information.
It is increasingly clear that the “rape” charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are trumped-up affairs resulting from pressure by the US government and intelligence agencies on Swedish authorities. The main allegation of rape is being made by a Swedish woman, Anna Ardin, who admits she had consensual sex with Assange, but claims he failed to halt their love-making when a condom allegedly failed. Calling such a situation “rape”–if it even happened–makes a mockery of the term.
The idea of an international arrest warrant through Interpol on such a flimsy and in any case virtually unprovable charge is an insult to all the victims of real rape whose cases in the US and elsewhere around the world are regularly left unprosecuted. In addition, the woman making the allegation has a connection to a CIA-linked anti-Castro organization and a brother in Swedish intelligence who was a liason in Washington to US intelligence services, raising further questions about the whole “incident.” A second woman’s charges against Assange are even more specious–amounting essentially to a claim that Assange didn’t answer the woman’s phone calls after spending the night with her, or mention that he’d slept with someone else a while earlier.
For a great expose of the sham charges of rape (which are being reported in the US as if they were acts of violence or abuse), read this article in the San Francisco Chronicle, which points out that Swedish law, which essentially makes having sex without a condom legally form of rape, even if consensually done, is about to make that country a “laughing stock,” which further shows that Ardin threw a party for Assange the day after the alleged “rape”, and which also shows that both women were boasting on twitter about their “conquests” of Assange after the alleged “violations” occurred.
The Obama administration has sunk to a new low in pursuing Assange, and is now having its so-called Justice Department try to manufacture a crime with which to prosecute Assange for doing precisely what real journalists should have been doing–namely exposing the criminal activities of the US government in engaging in acts of wars in countries like Yemen and Pakistan where the US is not legally at war, in pressuring foreign allies like Spain on behalf of US companies, in trying to trump up arguments to attack Iran with false information about alleged importation of long-range missiles from North Korea, etc.
The US is almost certainly also behind efforts to shut down WikiLeaks by closing down its DNS account, by attacking its servers through sophisticated hacking techniques, and by putting pressure on banks and payment systems like Paypal to get them to stop handling donations of support. Paypal, for instance, which was a major vehicle for donating to WikiLeaks, suddenly cut off the organization, saying it had violated Paypal policies by engaging in “illegal” activity, though nothing that WikiLeaks has done has violated any law. The hand of the US government is clearly visible in this decision, too.
WikiLeaks has currently found a new home at www.WikiLeaks.ch, thanks to the Pirate Party, a small independent political organization in Switzerland committed to freedom of information. Go there to make a donation of support, which can still be accomplished by credit card through an online transaction at a Swiss bank, or by wire transfer.
This is a critically important struggle. We can now see graphically illustrated the horrible reality that was created when President Obama issued his outrageous executive order claiming the right to order the extra-judicial execution of Americans overseas–an order the White House is now aggressively defending in federal court. We now have American political figures like Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, both former and current presidential aspirants, openly calling for the killing of someone simply because he has opened up government secrets, and a depressingly large percentage of Americans are reportedly okay with that idea. If this kind of thinking continues unchallenged, none of us who espouse open government and freedom of the press will be safe for long.
To give an idea of how grave the situation has already become, I received an email today from a TCBH reader warning that with some people in Congress and the media suggesting, rather ludicrously, that Wikileaks and its members, including Assange, should be classified as “information terrorists,” writing articles telling people how to contribute to the organization might, under the Patriot Act, be then construed as “aiding terrorism,” which could lead to a forced one-way trip to Guantanamo or worse. If that sounds pretty paranoid, consider that Columbia University, a leading Ivy League institution, has warned its students not to view Wikileaks or to write favorably about it, for fear that this could “hurt job prospects” of graduates in the future.
It needs to be clearly understood by all Americans, and especially by anyone in the media who takes the profession seriously, that the attacks on WikiLeaks by the US government–attacks which have included heavy pressure on companies like Paypal, Amazon Books, Visa and Mastercard, all of which have closed their accounts with the organization, making it difficult if not impossible for Assange and his team to raise money, and on internet servers, making it harder for WikiLeaks to stay online–could as easily be used against news organizations and political organizations. If the government gets away with pressuring a server to close out an organization it doesn’t like, it could as easily pressure a print shop not to publish a magazine, a news distributor not to distribute newspapers, or a power company not to provide juice to a broadcaster. If the government can pressure banks to close WikiLeaks’ accounts, it could pressure banks to close a book publisher’s account. And if the government can, as Attorney General says he is doing, tries to create a law with which to arrest and punish Assange, it can as easily trump up a “crime” and arrest a print publisher or radio network owner. These actions are not the actions of a democracy. They are the lawless actions of a dictatorship.
The darkness is rapidly closing in during this administration that once claimed to be about “hope and change.”
DAVE LINDORFF is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is “The Case for Impeachment” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback). He can be reached at email@example.com