FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Guarding Assange in London

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

 

More articles by:

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

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
Andrew Levine
Have They No Decency?
David Yearsley
Kind of Blue at 60
Ramzy Baroud
Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The War on Nature
Martha Rosenberg
Catch and Hang Live Chickens for Slaughter: $11 an Hour Possible!
Yoav Litvin
Israel Fears a Visit by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Neve Gordon
It’s No Wonder the Military likes Violent Video Games, They Can Help Train Civilians to Become Warriors
Susan Miller
That Debacle at the Border is Genocide
Ralph Nader
With the Boeing 737 MAX Grounded, Top Boeing Bosses Must Testify Before Congress Now
Victor Grossman
Warnings, Ancient and Modern
Meena Miriam Yust - Arshad Khan
The Microplastic Threat
Kavitha Muralidharan
‘Today We Seek Those Fish in Discovery Channel’
Louis Proyect
The Vanity Cinema of Quentin Tarantino
Bob Scofield
Tit For Tat: Baltimore Takes Another Hit, This Time From Uruguay
Nozomi Hayase
The Prosecution of Julian Assange Affects Us All
Ron Jacobs
People’s Music for the Soul
John Feffer
Is America Crazy?
Jonathan Power
Russia and China are Growing Closer Again
John W. Whitehead
Who Inflicts the Most Gun Violence in America? The U.S. Government and Its Police Forces
Justin Vest
ICE: You’re Not Welcome in the South
Jill Richardson
Race is a Social Construct, But It Still Matters
Dean Baker
The NYT Gets the Story on Automation and Inequality Completely Wrong
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Retains Political Control After New US Coercive Measures
Gary Leupp
MSNBC and the Next Election: Racism is the Issue (and Don’t Talk about Socialism)
R. G. Davis
Paul Krassner: Investigative Satirist
Negin Owliaei
Red State Rip Off: Cutting Worker Pay by $1.5 Billion
Christopher Brauchli
The Side of Trump We Rarely See
Curtis Johnson
The Unbroken Line: From Slavery to the El Paso Shooting
Jesse Jackson
End Endless War and Bring Peace to Korea
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: What About a New City Center?
Tracey L. Rogers
Candidates Need a Moral Vision
Nicky Reid
I Was a Red Flag Kid
John Kendall Hawkins
The Sixties Victory Lap in an Empty Arena
Stephen Cooper
Tony Chin’s Unstoppable, Historic Career in Music
Charles R. Larson
Review: Bruno Latour’s Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime
Elizabeth Keyes
Haiku Fighting
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail