Invoking the anger of the state machine
The BBC and other news sources reported last week that the disclosure website WikiLeaks had its domain closed. The Swiss Post Office and PayPal have frozen the accounts of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. On the basis of a belatedly (fortuitously?) produced arrest warrant from the entirely neutral Swedish prosecutor, Assange has appeared in front of the beak, been refused bail, and is now behind British bars. Acccording to whichever news source one reads, he has been accused of rape or sexual assault. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has hailed his arrest as 'good news'. This is a serious turn of events. Although WikiLeaks continues to release highly embarassing information courtesy of a Swiss server among others, it is clear that Western powers are seeking to use any means necessary to clamp down on the inalienable right of the global public to know.
I include myself among those vocal supporters of Freedom of Information. We should have the inalienable right to know what our governments, public bodies and public authorities are doing, saying and behaving (and spending our money on). However, there are many mechanisms these agencies can use in order to circumvent legislation. Moreover the nature of this wily thing called capitalism will always ensure that the very idea of 'freedom' is contingent and consummately flexible in its interpretation and implementation.
|This chap' eyes have been redacted as they might pose a threat |
to national security and put lives seriously at risk
They had a chestnut, it was old and they named it sexual harassment!
Despite Wikileaks going out of their way to prove they are 'responsible' in ensuring that the names of specific individuals named in the leaked documents have been redacted, for the major and middling powers, this is not enough. Between the five major news organisations that are working with WikiLeaks to release the information, the various organisations have embraced different mechanisms to ensure that individuals and sensitive details may be protected. Still the US government has refused to actively work with these organisations fearing that in so doing they are seen to condone the leaking and through this the wider cause of the information leakers. We should not be surprised that the exclusive club of Western capitalist interests are happy to use the old chestnut/weapon of smearing your opponent with allegations of sexual impropriety to gain advantage.
I can personally attest to how such a strategy can be pursued. Sexual harassment was one of the justifications used last year by the Executive Director of Human Resources for the University of Salford in order to gather evidence (investigate my computer) for possible use by the University in their investigation against me.(1) There was of course absolutely no truth in their claim. This allegation was only discovered after documents had been released to me under a Subject Access Request in November 2009. Yet sexual harrassment is a very serious allegation to make and I was quite astonished that it could be bandied around so readily in order to justify the searching of my University email accounts and my University computer. I therefore have some sympathy with Mr Assange.
However, the WikiLeaks saga clearly highlights the inherent contradictions and stresses within liberalism and one of its principal ideological components, that of freedom of speech, thought and expression, demonstrating its limits when it comes up against the imperialist and profit-driven interests of global capitalism.
Wikileaks - Lenin with a laptop
There is an historical precedent for the publishing of secrets such as these and the reaction drawn from the West. Lenin and the Bolsheviks pursued a policy of publishing the secret treaty's of the Western powers in November 1917, drawing instant condemnation and military intervention from the West and its allies. Leon Trotsky was clear what these secret treaties represented:
"Secret diplomacy is a necessary tool for a propertied minority which is compelled to deceive the majority in order to subject it to its interests. Imperialism, with its dark plans of conquest and its robber alliances and deals, developed the system of secret diplomacy to the highest level."(2)
Julian Assange is no Lenin. Nor is he Julian Lenin. But his policy of exposure and expose brings into focus the interests of the political elites and the organs of the state who represent the organised collective national military and political interests of the major corporations. The storm of protest from government and the US state department, the cyber attacks being daily visited upon WikiLeaks, and the smears and use of the state legal apparatus against Assange demonstrates that they will use any means to halt the public exposure of private business.
Julian Assange deserves our unconditional support
(1) ITSERT Investigation Authorisation Form signed by Keith Watkinson 20/04/09, which states "Nature of alleged activity: That he [GPD] has produced, amended or assisted with producing materials that: Make allegations that amount to sexual harassment of a student/member of staff (Xiang Li)..." Interestingly, according to the Privacy Impact Assessment that provided the background for the above authorisation, this student/member of staff had also "presented a document of several pages in which she claimed an employee of the University [name withheld] had sexually harrassed her over several months..." It should be made clear that the allegations of sexual harrassment against this employee proved unsustainable. Despite these very serious allegations being made, no investigation or disciplinary action has been invoked against the student/member of staff who made the claims.
(2) Trotsky L, sourced at http://www.marxists.org/history/ussr/government/foreign-relations/1917/November/22.htm