Free Julian Assange (or at least your fucking mind)

This month marks the tenth anniversary of WikiLeaks. This day marks the sixth anniversary that its publisher and editor has been held in some form of detention. I ask you to remember why the former should be celebrated, the latter mourned.

Okay. Here come the insta-comments which rage that it is good that the bad man is being held. “Julian Assange is charged with rape”. “Julian Assange is biased against Hillary Clinton”. Let’s look at those claims before we agree to celebrate WikiLeaks.

First. Julian Assange is not on charges. He is wanted for questioning. He is wanted for questioning in a nation that has some peculiar, if well-intended, legislation around sexual assault. The complaint made by Assange’s consensual female sex partners to police was about his failure to wear a condom. The complainants did not ask for him to be charged. They wanted to compel him to take a sexual health test. Frankly, I can fully understand this. I have shagged blokes who were diddling other ladies without telling me, without seeking my “permission”, and I totally had the shits with them and nagged them until they got their dongs scraped. Do I like these men who imperilled my sexual health? No. Did they sexually assault me? No. Have I ever taken a risk with somebody else’s sexual health? Yes. I have TOTALLY said “let’s not worry about latex” without full confidence in the purity of my vagina. That’s bad. But it’s not something for which, I believe, I or anyone else should be charged. Let alone fucking extradited.

If you want to know “why doesn’t he leave the embassy, if he’s as innocent as you claim?” here’s the answer. He has offered himself up for interview at the embassy for years, and it is only in recent weeks that Swedish authorities have sought the justice they say they want to uphold. I don’t know what unfolded in that conversation. I do know that the UK government has an extradition arrangement with Sweden who, in turn, has an extradition arrangement with the US. So this is the situation. A guy who didn’t wear a condom (I agree that this is a bad thing) could be handed over to US authorities for being the same filth bag that I have been.

Why won’t he face that? Hey. Do you remember what the US did to alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning? The woman who bravely risked everything to bring the world pictures of the atrocities in Iraq? They put her in prison for thirty-five years. She had already borne previous torture. She recently tried to kill herself. For this, probably an act of great sanity, they added a period of solitary confinement to the sentence of one of history’s heroes. What do you think they are going to do to Assange, the man that made Manning’s revelations, and many others, possible? It’s not overstating the case to say that he faces a risk of execution, in the US, the great defender of human rights that endorses capital punishment.

I would also ask you to remember that the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found in February of this year that what Assange now faces is a form of detention, and that this detention was unlawful.  Last Month, the UN rejected an appeal by the British government to that decision. The UN has found twice that Assange is, in fact, “detained” and should have his liberty restored. Personally, I think the UN is a bunch of liberal shit. But, for those of you going on about the sanctity of justice. Your favourite institution has told you what that looks like. Look at it.

Second, the claim that Assange is biased against Clinton. This is a complex claim, because, what, after all is bias, if not inevitable, and why do you think WikiLeaks should be above the inevitable?

There is no such thing in the world as a publication or a person who does not hold a view. The WikiLeaks view has long been “we need to hold power to account”. Those powerful people who were not being held to account have always been those about which WikiLeaks publishes. As Assange said when being asked about why he did not publish extensively on Trump, the things that come out of the man’s own mouth are enough of an indictment. He himself admitted to dodging tax, screwing employees and being a vile racist. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that people wouldn’t have voted for such an openly, even proudly, corrupt man.

I was, I will own, fairly surprised when people did vote for this abhorrence in large numbers. But, I also accepted it as something that could be explained. We have one nominee who said “I am going to screw you and you’ll know about it” to a nation of people who are losing their jobs and one who said “I will screw you and pretend to be your friend”. Assange, I think, had no more idea than I did that people would go for the honest devil instead of the dishonest one.

Of course, he did have very personal reasons to loathe Clinton. The politician had made her position on whistleblowers clear. She had called Edward Snowden a terrorist and had much stronger words for Assange. And, it is not as though the Clintons don’t have form on calling for politically convenient executions. Do you remember the name of Ricky Ray Rector? He was a black Arkansas man who shot himself in the head after allegedly murdering a police officer. He effectively lobotomised himself and should have been, by any standard of your justice, deemed unfit for trial. Bill Clinton returned, during the 1992 presidential campaign, to oversee the state-endorsed murder of this man. It helped get the guy elected.

I am not saying that I have a favourable personal opinion of Assange, or that I think his motivations are any purer than his donger. Or my minge. I am saying that what WikiLeaks does is essential.

You can say for all you are worth that there is nothing in the Podesta trove of emails. I read many of them, and I can’t say that if you hold that opinion, you have. No, there’s no gotcha moment such as the one we presume to be delivered by Chelsea Manning. We don’t see pictures of people dying. We do see the processes of power that can lead to such death.

Hillary Clinton telling Goldman Sachs that there’s one conversation she’ll have with them, and another with the people. Clinton’s aides discussing which filthy kind of filthy speech would best discredit Bernie Sanders. Clinton’s campaign managers saying that they can use “brown and woman pundits” to spin their message of vile neoliberal control. The Obama administration’s receipt of employment recommendations from a Citigroup boss, which were nearly all taken up. This series of documents tells me that the powerful are conscious of their need for power, that they don’t give a hoot for the people on whom this power is exercised.

You can also say that Assange, or whoever controls the WikiLeaks social media accounts, have said some insensitive things. I won’t disagree. I cringe when I see some of WikiLeaks communications. Some of it looks sexist to me. Some of it looks anti-Semitic. I do not believe that Assange, or anyone at WikiLeaks, is actually sexist or anti-Semitic. But I think that some of the messaging is fucked and inconsiderate. I also suspect that some of it is written by a man who has not seen sunshine for six years and who reasonably fears for his life. I know that sometimes I, even from my comfortable home and good life, can sometimes say public things that look fucked and inconsiderate. I don’t want to hurt people with what I write, but sometimes, I do. I try not to double-down when someone calls me out for a misuse of language. I try to learn. Just the other day, an Aboriginal person told me to quit using the word “Indigenous”. I have. But I know I am going to make errors of the type in future. I know I am going to defend errors that I have made before I learn from them.

And WikiLeaks will make some missteps, too. It doesn’t have a PR department. All it has are people who believe in holding power to account. They screw up with their language at times. It shits me. But, fucking, seriously. Look at what they give the world. This is an astounding project that reveals the mechanism of power as never. And, you know, you might just have to suck it up if the power they are revealing happens to be a power you personally like. All this, “I liked it when you were anti-Bush, but not when you are anti-Clinton.” For fuck’s sake, What that politician did in Libya. Those corpses don’t care if they were slain by a Democrat or a Republican.

For those of you three who actually read my tedious posts, you will already know what I think of the power of Hillary Clinton. I believe she is every bit as bad as Trump. Who, in any case, has already forgotten his promise to “working people” by installing some good old Goldman in his sorry little cabinet. Great. Now we have naked racism and hidden neoliberalism, whereas with Hillary we would have had the opposite. Naked neoliberalism and hidden racism.

My point is. WikiLeaks is amazing. It’s not perfect. Assange isn’t perfect. People aren’t perfect, and I am still, more than 150 years later, pissed off that Marx cheated on his adoring wife. But what that old drunk bastard gave the world. More than Assange, but, fuck me, that guy has given us so much. As has everyone at WikiLeaks. And if you want to moan about him being a bad guy, do so. But think, to what end am I expressing this opinion? Who, or what, does my complaint serve? The world is full of people who cheat on their partners, have a shandy and say dumb stuff on Facebook. It is not terribly full with people who can hold power to account. Assange is one of them. Fucking free him.

FFS. Get over this “I suspect this person is not nice and therefore everything they do is tainted”. Name me ONE of your heroes who lived like an angel. Some of us are already laughing in anticipation of the first to say Gandhi. The first to say Mandela.

WikiLeaks is doing vital work. I am not asking you to financially support this, although this is an option. I am just asking you not to fucking muddy this vital work with your claims that Assange is the devil.

Free Julian Assange.

(I have posted this on both Facebook and the world wide intertits if you care to share. The rest of you. Go mad in the comments about how I am a rape apologist or whatever. I won’t read these, because I’m not. Rape is not something I will ever forgive, minimise or excuse. I know where I stand, on this and other matters. Perhaps before responding in a rage in under five seconds, do some other reading on WikiLeaks and ask yourself the same question. Ask yourself fearlessly “where do I stand in relation to power?” Make sure you’re not cowering at its boot.)

41 comments for “Free Julian Assange (or at least your fucking mind)

  1. December 7, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    Thank you so much, lovely Helen, for all the work you do.
    I don’t know what I’d do without you. Sometimes (actually, often) your analysis is the only thing that saves me from believing my 2am paranoid theory that the world I remember clearly, growing up in, is a parallel universe from which I have been expelled for some crime and forced to live here in this substandard impostor. Thank you.

    Unless you were also thrown out …

    • Helen R
      December 7, 2016 at 6:40 pm

      It is entirely possible that you and I are both the effects of some socialist theme park experiment.

      • P Buddery
        December 8, 2016 at 6:33 pm

        The most intelligent thing I can do is to tell everybody I know to read as may of your writings as they can. Yes, human society is largely run by arseholes wearing a range of funny hats and it is a deeply sad thing.

        But keep telling the truth, Good Helen. The truth won’t make us free but it WILL make us less ignorant. And perhaps the truth can be used against the occasional arsehole.

  2. Pistola
    December 7, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    What did ‘that politician’ do in Libya?

    I don’t get the hate on the international effort there. Things are pretty fucked up now, but do the detractors forget that Gaddafi was literally hours away from slaughtering the population of Benghazi before ‘we’ started bombing?

    Things could actually be worse than they are now. We’ll never know.

    • Helen R
      December 7, 2016 at 8:14 pm

      I see the US State Department has convinced you with its dispatches.
      FFS. Read something. About dead Libyans. Not about Clinton’s glory.

      • Pistola
        December 7, 2016 at 9:54 pm

        If more Libyans were dead, but at least the US hadn’t intervened, that would be better? I’m not pro-Hillary or necessarily pro-US, Helen. The ‘people died under US bombs, US is bad’ argument is so reductive and stupid, it’s below you. You’re a complex person, the world is a complex place – sometimes hard decisions about dropping bombs have complex reasons?

        • Helen R
          December 7, 2016 at 10:05 pm

          How much have you read about this intervention? Even conservative international relations publications such as Foreign Policy have described it as a foolish, poorly planned assault on a sovereign nation. Obama himself called the action regrettable. It was widely known by anyone with a newspaper that Gaddafi, to use the phrase so often used by Clinton voters, was the lesser of two evils. Want a guy who didn’t kill that many people, kept his nation fed and stopped a flood of African refugees from sailing into Europe, or would you like some ISIL with your career building carnage?
          Fuck me. It was an idiotic decision that resulted, as predicted, in many many more deaths. With bonus beheadings.
          You can come over all America is Acting Like a Responsible Realist if you want. Or you can read actual realists who called this what it was. A moralising and deadly incompetence.
          Stop pulling the wise realist act with me when it’s plain you know even less than I do.

          • Pistola
            December 7, 2016 at 10:20 pm

            Less Libyans are dead because of the intervention. Period. But hey, because Hitler Hillary made the call, it’d be better if more had been wiped out by Gaddafi. http://www.vox.com/2016/4/5/11363288/libya-intervention-success

            • Helen R
              December 7, 2016 at 10:36 pm

              Vox.
              Seriously.

              • Helen R
                December 7, 2016 at 10:44 pm

                Lol.
                Vox.

              • Pistola
                December 7, 2016 at 10:48 pm

                FFS it was written by a Brookings scholar. But anyway. That’s enough. I never thought I’d have an argument over international relations with the vixen who blared from my radio when I was 12. The mere fact you take the time to reply to dickheads like me says enough about you Helen – thanks. Enjoy what’s left of your evening.

                • Helen R
                  December 7, 2016 at 10:53 pm

                  Vox. Though. You’re aware of its reputation?
                  Again. I urge you to read more broadly.
                  Night x

                  • Pistola
                    December 7, 2016 at 11:01 pm

                    it was the first result that came up when I googled “Libya Intervention” that fit my argument, Helen. We’ve all done it.

                    • Helen R
                      December 7, 2016 at 11:12 pm

                      Sure. But I have been reading on Libya for a while. Read first, then argue.
                      You’re on really shaky ground saying the intervention saved lives. Border control alone caused tens of thousands of maritime deaths. A failed state is a serious business. She made that state fail.

                • Helen R
                  December 7, 2016 at 11:01 pm

                  Also. Brookings. You know this is a right wing think tank?

  3. greg bryant
    December 7, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    Can you imagine what a different world it would be if the internet and Wikileaks had been around in the early ’60s? Maybe the plot to assassinate Kennedy would have been leaked or at least those responsible might have been brought to justice after the fact and wouldn’t still be running the country. Maybe the Military/Industrial Complex that Eisenhower warned us about wouldn’t be such a huge business today. Maybe Kennedy’s plan for worldwide disarmament would have come to fruition. What a different world that would be. Unfortunately, Julian Assange arrived on the scene long after these occurrences and now we face the possibility that the entire human race could be vaporized in an hour. These forces are so deeply entrenched in our world that Assange is like the proverbial David trying to take down Goliath. I wish Julian well, but I’ve heard rumors he might already be in the hands of the CIA and Clinton. God’s speed Julian. If only you and the technology to expose government corruption had come along sooner we might not be in this mess.

    • jon
      December 8, 2016 at 11:52 pm

      If the internet had been around in the 60s humanity would have been wiped out by the 90s. As it is we have about 10 more years.

  4. Jimmy
    December 7, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    Thanks for this. I for one enjoy the fact that you actually research and provide considered analysis in a format that is entertaining, digestible and challenging. So much of what passes for analysis lacks any kind of research or consideration and a lot of it is, as you say, “I like her, I don’t like him – ergo her policies are great / the lesser of two evils”.

    I break it down simply these days because frankly, people are really beginning to shit me with their limited ability to critically analyse things: “How you feel about your couch or the colour of your new doona cover is arguably important. How you feel about the people who provide you with unwashed / unfiltered information that is usually hidden for the very reason that it undermines a fair society is bloody irrelevant. Same goes with the people who formulate economic and public policy. So Malcolm wears a leather jacket. Hill loves a pantsuit. Neither says anything about their basic job: collection and redistribution of taxes and building a better society / safer world”.

    Love your work Helen.

  5. Garth
    December 7, 2016 at 10:58 pm

    Hi Helen, great article. My main opposition to Wikileaks was that I believed they were irresponsible in releasing information willy-nilly without regard for putting lives in danger. Was I hoodwinked? Is there any actual evidence of this? My google search hasn’t found anything solid.

    • Helen R
      December 7, 2016 at 11:08 pm

      G. Glenn Greenwald has written on this. Check The Intercept.
      Yes, WikiLeaks no longer redacts. No, this has not resulted in any injury to persons that is known to date.
      Like Greenwald, I have a problem with this failure. It should be noted, it wasn’t discussed as a failure until a bunch of rich Democrats had their email addresses published. Still. The point stands. People may be imperilled by the publication of details. But. Just as they are in all press every day.
      WikiLeaks is not a wealthy or vast organisation. I presume the decision not to redact is largely a practical one. Although, I have seen Assange make an ethical case for it.
      It’s not ideal, in short. But what is?

  6. Kathy Heyne
    December 7, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    Well said Helen. Assange isn’t a rapist. He isn’t a hacker called Wikileaks either. Wikileaks is a group of journalists, Assange is their editor.

    Unfortunately the majority of people’s knowledge of Assange and Wikileaks seems to be whatever the msm told them yesterday.

    I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard or read “But he’s NEVER publish d anything about Russia or Putin!” A dollar for everything Wikileaks actually has published about Russia or Putin would buy me quite a nice house outside of the cities.

    I get why people want to believe Assange is bad and Wikileaks is biased against the US: it allows them to believe we live in a just world with a just hegemon just a little longer. The realisation this isn’t true is frightening, as I’m sure you remember.

    • Helen R
      December 8, 2016 at 8:05 am

      Thanks, Kathy. I am now trying to remember the anxiety, or the realisation that produced this. It is not a fun memory. And the process itself is not something that tends to unfold unless you have yourself been fucked or ousted by a powerful organisation at some point.
      Not to be all “identity politics” about the whole thing. But you don’t think like this unless life has, in some small part, treated you like this. I guess I have just now been sacked from enough places to have some idea of what it feels like to be on the wrong side of power.

      • Kathy Heyne
        December 8, 2016 at 9:04 am

        You’ve explained why it is so few of the progressive knowledge class do get it, Helen. They haven’t been on the wrong side of power. You have.

        I have, too. I’ve never been anywhere else, really. I’ve always been low income working class. It’s hard to miss the redistribution of wealth away from the people and their disempowerment when you’ve watched it happening for decades. Impossible not to be angry when you understand what is happening and why, and see many fall by the wayside who would have had secure jobs for life and homes of their own and family holidays not so many decades ago. People with no social capital, no heads for higher education, who used to have a place in society but now don’t fit the bullshit meritocracy we have instead of society.

        Excuse the rant.

        • Helen R
          December 8, 2016 at 9:47 am

          To be clear, I am not claiming great oppression. I grew up in a time where I did have social capital. I am white, educated and very privileged. But I am also a cranky bitch with a genetically loud mouth. I have been told to shut it so often, frequently by organisations that claim to give free voice to everyone, that I eventually changed my mind about the nature of freedom.
          Again. I don’t think I’m either under-privileged or a glorious truth-teller. I just think you can;t fucking say a thing that is not approved these days.

          • Kathy Heyne
            December 8, 2016 at 11:08 am

            I’m told I can’t open mine without sounding like an angry history/politics/macroeconomics teacher. I irritate my family and frighten my friends. My mother occasionally reminds me nice people don’t discuss religion or politics.

            I’ve already bought a walking stick so I can beat people about the head with it-knock some sense into them-and I’m only 51. Talk about cranky.

  7. jon
    December 7, 2016 at 11:33 pm

    The one thing I don’t really get is why would the US need to go through Sweden to “get him” when they also have an extradition treaty with the UK.

    The whole thing just feels a little bit like Assange’s paranoia and inflated sense of self-importance.

    • Helen R
      December 7, 2016 at 11:43 pm

      Mate.
      Seriously.
      The US investigation into Assange is serious and ongoing.
      Chelsea Manning was held in torture conditions for 1000 days.
      Several of the world’s finest human rights lawyers work on this case pro bono.
      The UK takes it seriously enough that they appealed a UN decision demanding his liberty.
      Assange is not in the UK. He is in an embassy. Millions of pounds have been spent on guarding that embassy. This is a matter of record. The British will extradite him. That’s why he is seeking extradition to Sweden with the guarantee he won’t be extradited to the US.
      Keep up. Or shut up until you have.
      Excuse my rude tone, but you produced it. You’re calling a guy who faces the possibility of execution a paranoid wuss. Fuck me.

      • jon
        December 8, 2016 at 6:19 am

        Before he scurried into the embassy, the UK had him in custody and could have presumably turned him over to the US at that point if they’d wanted to. Why didn’t they? Because he’s not actually wanted by the US. Assange thinks of himself as some sort of freedom fighter but all he does is click the “publish” button on a website.

        Manning was treated badly because she actually leaked the information. There is a difference.

        • Helen R
          December 8, 2016 at 6:49 am

          I appreciate that you have an opinion. I do not believe you have gone to the bother of forming one.
          At the time of his custody in the UK, as remains the case, Assange was surrounded by an army of lawyers. Perhaps you have heard of them. Amal Alamuddin (now Clooney). Geoffrey Robertson. Julian Burnside. These were a few of the world-famous legal names who believed that Assange’s case was serious and worth fighting for, often pro bono.
          At the time of Assange’s custody, deals were struck by these people. He then had much of the world on his side. My union gave him free membership. Most journalists were advocating on their social media accounts and in their publications for his freedom. Every celebrity wanted to be his friend.
          Even so, Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State made it known, both in public and in private where she is alleged by several witnesses to have said “Can’t we drone the guy?”, that she wanted his head. And, sure, there may be a difference between securing a video and airing it. But without WikiLeaks, that video (and it’s a great shame that Manning was arrested for it) would never have been shared or shown.
          You can say that all of us who support him, and this includes his dedicated legal team, are naive and you are in possession of greater knowledge; that when he is called a terrorist by US officials, they actually mean “but like a really bad one”. Many people say this. That the revelations he helps share are irrelevant and he is not that big of a deal.
          Well, why the fuck is much of the world’s media now united in calling him a “rapist” and a Russian stooge? Why would he stay in a room for four and a half years? Why would the Ecuadorians, who are having an election in February, cut off his internet access? Restoring it after Trump’s surprise win. Why will his own government, our government, not offer him any form of support? If he’s just some guy no one fears or cares about, why are there so many institutions united against him?
          Why the fuck do I see the same arguments every time I publicly offer my support to this important member of my profession?
          If you really think it’s no biggie then how about explaining that to Assange? I am sure he’ll be delighted.

          • jon
            December 8, 2016 at 9:44 am

            If the US want him why haven’t they requested extradition from the UK? Why the underhand secret backroom maneuvering via Sweden and fabricated rape charges? The UK would grant extradition in a millisecond, probably even faster than Sweden would.

            The other thing is, what would the US gain from arresting him? There are other people in the organisation, Assange may be the public face of it but getting rid of him wouldn’t stop them from publishing more leaks in the future.

            The whole thing just feels too much like a conspiracy theory for me to believe. But hey, just my opinion obviously.

            • Helen R
              December 8, 2016 at 12:05 pm

              An opinion untrammelled by the tedious work of finding out the facts of the case.

              • jon
                December 8, 2016 at 6:18 pm

                You can ad hom all you like, still doesn’t answer my questions.

                • Helen R
                  December 8, 2016 at 6:37 pm

                  I did. Above ^
                  PS Not ad hominem to point out an argument has no basis in fact.

                  • jon
                    December 8, 2016 at 11:50 pm

                    He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy.

                    • Helen R
                      December 9, 2016 at 2:25 pm

                      I think it is very plain that I do not think of Assange as a messiah. I am, unlike other advocates for the freedom that WIkiLeaks attempts to practice, not enamoured of him at all. Honestly, I don’t think I’d especially like him and I do think it likely he is guilty of vanity.
                      I have been at pains, both in the comments and in the several articles I have recently written about WikiLeaks, to point this out. ANd, hey, weren’t you the guy who pointed out that argumentum ad hominem was a terrible practice?
                      You can say for all you want that he is making a big deal, along with several of the world’s best human rights lawyers and a UN working group on detention, about the danger he faces. You can pretend that US leaders have not made very plain statements about the danger that they think he poses and the punishment he is likely to face. You can even tie yourself into knots about who is extraditing whom. (Again. He is not in Britain. He is in an embassy. And just because the Swedish have first dibs on his extradition, again for not wearing a condom and CONSENSUALLY not wearing a condom—and I am very glad you do not know personally how difficult it is to extradite someone even over state lines for anything less than murder; I do. I was stalked for a year by a man who had been diagnosed with a serious personality disorder and had threatened me with death and the police were powerless to demand his presence in NSW—does not really serve your argument that he is making it all up. )
                      Those of us who have followed the case in anything more than a casual way (and frankly, there are some obvious gaps of it in your knowledge. These you do not seem to want to correct)know that the man is seen as a very serious threat to the US and that this is a matter of record.
                      Those of us who both know this and acknowledge that the work that WikiLeaks does is important are campaigning for his freedom. We do this with the endorsement of the UN Working Group.
                      Your argument is one of many I have heard. “He is just paranoid and not that important” is up there with the following:
                      1. He is an agent of Russia
                      2. He is a rapist
                      3. He doesn’t redact (yes, this is a problem, see my comment)
                      4. He is sexist
                      5. He is anti-Semitic
                      6. He is up himself
                      7. He doesn’t even publish anything interesting
                      8. He just doesn’t like Hillary
                      9. He won’t let government get on with its business, and what are we worrying about anyhow when we know it is all perfectly fine
                      10. I just don’t like him
                      What the actual fuck.
                      First, these are old arguments used to discredit many people with whom we do not agree. Some of these things are said about Jeremy Corbyn. We say that Corbyn is anti-Semitic and sexist, and we also say these things about Muslims to discredit them. We often say that we trust government and that anyone who doesn’t is paranoid. We often say about anyone on the material left that they are up themselves. That they imagine their own great intelligence or privilege. This is said abotu me on the internet hundreds of times a day. That I am a weirdo or that I am a narcissist or I am aiming above my station. Now, even if these things are true, so what?
                      What about what I am actually saying?
                      No one discusses this. You don’t discuss this. And you say, without knowing much about the case at all, that he is just a dummy who thinks he’s a bit spesh. When there is ample evidence that the project is very threatening to many powers.
                      If you want to say “I don’t think people should rock the boat” say that. Be honest about it. Declare that you feel safe and that you think that anyone who says you are not safe is a liar.
                      But don’t hide behind the bullshit, which you yourself should recognise as ad hominem.
                      You know what? I don’t even give much of a shit about what WikiLeaks publishes in a personal sense. I see it and I think “Oh yeah. Those in power are every bit as conniving and blinded by their station as I thought they were”. But, fuck me, I will fight for a place like WikiLeaks to continue to publish.
                      If you want to cower behind all this “It is all meaningless and the guy is a dickhead” do so. Go do it elsewhere. I have repeatedly answered your questions and you come back with this not terribly convincing cynicism about people being up themselves, and the world not being that bad.
                      Fine. Believe that. I wish I could. But, seriously. Stop wasting my time. Go and find a smug Facebook group full of people who will agree with you. I’m not here to shake your wang.

  8. Wyn
    December 8, 2016 at 12:43 am

    The reason Manning got hard time is that she was a soldier in the US Army. Not long ago they’d have simply dragged her out the back and shot her for treason. Assange is not a soldier, let alone a US citizen. He (or someone else) just hit the publish button, as a ballsy journalist might. If he was charged with anything I’d urge him to face the music, stare down his detractors and as a consequence, again shine a spotlight on US dodginess and possibly become the worlds most famous political prisoner. I would. He (probably) won’t get immunity so it puzzles me why he and his supporters demand it.
    Also, I’ve never understood the Sweden thing. The US has a robust extradition treaty with the UK so why would they need him in Sweden? It’s all very weird.

  9. Wyn
    December 8, 2016 at 1:18 am

    I support Wikileaks’ mission but I do think their impact has been overstated. Sure, they’ve embarrassed a few governments and politicians, but they’re just confirming what we already know. Arguably the biggest impact they’ve had is to tighten intel security and make information less free than ever. And very few people give a crap about their revelations. 80% of the world are more concerned about where their next meal will come from, and 19% are more concerned about who will be voted off the island on Survivor series 87.

    • Helen R
      December 8, 2016 at 7:53 am

      OMG, this is such concern trolling.
      “I am on your side, but have you considered…”
      Of course, most people do not give a crap. I am perfectly aware of this. Most people didn’t give much of a crap abut Watergate either (actually, a really tiny indiscretion, and far less actually shocking than the Pentagon Papers). Most people don’t care that the NSA is spying on them, per Snowden’s revelations. Most people don’t care to find out about the connection between Citigroup and the Obama administration.
      I totally understand most people don’t give a crap. We are living our lives and we largely accept that government is intrinsically rotten. We know politically powerful people do favours for their financially powerful friends. We know that the US is the world’s psychopathic policeman. And we pay our rent, go to our jobs and look after our kids. These are the important things for most people, and it’s only a few of us weirdos who get angry about how these people who don’t care are being duped or taken advantage of.
      You don’t need to tell me that most of the things that absorb my attention are of no immediate concern to most others. Globalisation is something that preoccupies me, and I know I am weird in that. But I also know, even, as you say, that everybody does, that these moves toward surveillance, economic dominance, invasion, corporate feudalism etc, all of which are things whose processes are revealed in WikiLeaks, will impact our everyday lives more and more.
      This is the work of journalists and writers. Some of us try to see how the undeclared policies of government, written in great part by business, will impact and have impacted people who just want to have a meal and drive their kids to school. We have long done this. And we know you don’t care that much. And we understand that.
      I would much rather write television reviews than spend all night reading WikiLeaks. I am good at those, and pretty funny. They bring people happiness, or give them cause to disagree about something pleasantly irrelevant. I write about WikiLeaks and everyone calls me a slave to Putin, a rape apologist, paranoid, knee-jerk anti US wanker etc. I am not doing this for my fucking health. And, frankly, since I have been writing about WikiLeaks, I have had nothing but disagreements with people. Professionally and personally. I have also had my phone and my Facebook account hacked. I am told constantly that it is me who is in service to delusion. Even here on this barely read page, I hear from people who say these things, who quote from the Brookings fucking Institution as “proof” that the invasion of Libya was a great idea. And that I should just accept the dead bodies in the Middle East and North Africa region, because don’t I know the US is doing it for my own good. I am being paranoid to suggest that Clinton did that for her career.
      Jeez. The world is in a state. Our markets are in a really unmanageable cycle and many of the world’s most respected economists tell us that in less than twenty years, we will be looking at sixty per cent unemployment. There are 60 million persons without a nation. There are over one billion people who are starving. There are more people in slavery now, to textile, tech and extraction interests, than Lincoln ever freed. We are, as you know, all being watched. There are fewer corporations with much greater control. Six million households were ended by the GFC in 2008. And, no. It was not ever thus. The Christian idea that “the poor will always be wit us” is bullshit. We have produced a greater proportion of poverty than at any other time, and it didn’t have to be that way.
      And WikiLeaks is one of the places I look to help me understand by what means this happened.
      I get that most people aren’t shocked. All I can do is remind them that they might consider working up if not outrage, then the expectation that things are just going to get worse.
      And you are telling me to calm down, because it’s all fucked, and no one cares? Seriously? Why? What do you have to gain by telling me and others to quit overstating the importance of truth tellers?
      If WikiLeaks isn’t important, what is?

  10. Emmy
    December 8, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and your courage too, I agree! #FreeAssange

  11. Antoinette
    December 8, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    Shine on, Helen R! You are one brave woman and an inspiring read every time. More power to your writing elbow.
    Hugs, many thanks, love & joy,
    Antoinette

  12. Jon Newell
    January 10, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    Right, sure thing. Maybe stop making excuses and justifying this entirely self absorbed narcissistic douche bag. Like helping to install Trump is good for the world, good for public transparency and good for free speech. Like acting as a Russian agent so that an insane lunatic gets the nuclear codes makes us, our children or our future any less than frightening.
    This self absorbed worm deserves no less than a cruise missile to the face. I hope he gets it in spades. And if he gets out of his rape hideout? I hope he gets a good dose of extraordinary rendition.

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