Wednesday 26 June 2024

The very odd case of Julian Assange

I am guessing that most readers of this blog tend towards a sympathy, perhaps a very strong attachment, towards freedom of expression and of the journalistic professions.  But what do we say about Assange?  Perpetrator of a fairly extreme case of leaks of an embarrassing nature (to put it mildly); and as a former soldier I'm sensitive to security issues.  But his subsequent hounding, and treatment in general, has been extraordinary: beyond all reason.  (For Hillary Clinton to ask if he couldn't be bumped off is pretty extreme, even given what an unpleasant person she evidently is.)  Likewise, his personal commitment to principles is pretty remarkable - he'd have made good martyr material in former ages.

All that said:  by Heaven, he's patently a really annoying person - just in terms of personality, I mean.  One can't help but think he has pissed off almost everyone he's ever met.  Obviously, people with a deeply stubborn streak - eigensinnig, to use the excellent German word - are often like that: and maybe we depend upon them for the expression of the unsayable, when anyone less stubborn (brave?) would have been shaken out of their position a lot sooner than he.

But really, ultimately: do they do their causes any good?  Solzhenitsyn has always seemed to me to be in that category.  Thanks to the interweb and the prevalence of webcasts etc, we can form these views much more readily now, where previously (as with my view on Mr S) we'd have been guessing.  To take a rather more mundane example, Kathleen Stock is a person I greatly admire - at the intellectual level: but watch her in a discussion on the www.  Frankly, I'll stick with her writings, thanks, and never wish to meet her.    

This line of thought is squarely ad hominem, by very definition.  But I do believe it's a strong factor in these cases.  Rightly or wrongly.



dearieme said...

The Assange case has been a disgrace whether or not he's a twat. First came the spurious rape charges from Sweden. (How come Sweden owed the CIA a favour? I don't know.)

Then (correct me if I'm wrong) that led him into an English court which granted him bail. He skipped bail and that does deserve punishment. He then spent years in the Ecuadorian Embassy. I'd say that was punishment enough for the bail-skipping but then we locked him up in solitary confinement in Belmarsh.

Now I'll grant you that the S/C might have been intended to keep him safe from being Epsteined but otherwise it seems very harsh. Moreover some of the things said by the English judge/judges seemed pretty offensive to both liberty and the rule of law.

Lord, the case was so embarrassing that even The Great Trumpio recently announced that if he regained office he'd stop the persecution.

dearieme said...

I see that as part of the plea deal Wikileaks has removed all documents related to US security. I can see that's an understandable face-saving measure for the Federal government.

But, lo, what's this? Wikileaks has also removed its trove of DNC emails. DNC = Democrat National Committee, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hasbeen Hellbitch and Slick Willie.

This seems to be consistent with her advocacy of Assange's assassination.

I also see that the US judge who wound the matter up claimed that no actual physical harm was caused by Assange’s actions.

Face-saving or truth? I dare say it is a truthful report of material supplied to the judge by arms of the Federal government.

Nick Drew said...

everyone always says "no harm has resulted"

case in point: recently, Sellafield was prosecuted for the crime of weaknesses of its cyber-security. (I didn't know that was a criminal offence, but let that pass.) SF pleaded guilty

the story first broke in Private Eye, as far as I know: then the Graun piled in, eliciting this from HMG

'We have no records or evidence to suggest that Sellafield Ltd networks have been successfully attacked by state-actors in the way described by the Guardian. Our monitoring systems are robust and we have a high degree of confidence that no such malware exists on our system.'

and when the guilty plea came in: 'An ONR spokesperson said: “There is no evidence that any vulnerabilities have been exploited”'

Yeah, right

dearieme said...

'everyone always says "no harm has resulted"'

Yeah, but note that it was the US gov saying that there had been no physical harm, not Assange's side.

N.B. "physical" harm.

Nick Drew said...

@ ... it was the US gov saying ...

i.e., the 'victim' of the leak, wishing it to be known there was no harm from the bad action by the bad person

it's the same as HMG in the Sellafield case: these bad people have put us at risk, but don't worry because we didn't come to harm

in both cases we suspect they are dissimulating / whistling in the dark and that harm was indeed caused

dearieme said...

From the internet:

'More than a decade ago, the Pentagon set up a review to identify any US agents killed or harmed as a result of the leaks. They did so precisely to help soften up public opinion against Assange.

And yet a team of 120 counter-intelligence officers could not find a single such case, as the head of the team, Brigadier-General Robert Carr, conceded in court in 2013.'

lilith said...

Assange is annoying but we do need more Assanges. As for Ms Stock, it strikes me that these days she is something of a grifter but we all have to make money somehow. For example, she has declared she is to vote Labour, the party most likely to fully eliminate safeguarding for women and children vis a vis putting men in women's prisons, refuges, sports, hospital wards and have teachers tell children that they may just feel weird because they were born in the wrong body. She looks like she cares about women's rights but only when compared to Owen Jones. You only have to look at how Starmer has treated Duffield for the past two years to see that a vote for Labour is a vote to end free speech for women and to end women's right to be recognised as a sex class.

Anonymous said...

"Thanks to the interweb and the prevalence of webcasts etc, we can form these views much more readily now"

But ... you have to go looking, and if google and facebook decide that story should be "deprecated" then few will see it. How many US voters knew about Hunter's laptop?

You get to a stage where some stories are only reported on "extreme" websites, and then your job is pretty much done. "Why should we listen to someone who reads xxxxx?"

Again, by perfectly honest reporting you can lie, just in what is reported and what isn't. Everyone in the US has heard of Emmett Till from what, 65 years ago, but how many have heard of Channon Christian from 2007?