Your debt and mine to Julian Assange

23 Oct
this post also features in offguardian

In a recent post I referred to the vile treatment of a man who brought us irrefutible evidence, and in screeds, that the widely cherished notion of the West being democratic is a fat lie. True, some of us knew this already, but Wikileaks shocked even the most hardened critics of liberal democracy by the extent and unprecedentedly fine granularity of that evidence.

In view of its shabby betrayal of Julian Assange – and the fact its readership demography maps closely onto that of my own site – I, pace Media Lens, singled out the Guardian for particularly scathing treatment. Two examples were columnists Deborah Orr and Suzanne Moore. It should surprise no one that both are women. Though Assange’s character assassination has involved many a male journalist – not least Russia Cold Warrior Luke Harding, whose uniquely personal betrayal of trust marked an all time journalistic low1 – shills and hacks who also happened to be female had a spearhead role to play, given the precise form the assassination assumed.

Here’s what computer nerds call a boolean question. Julian Assange is or was wanted on charges of rape in Sweden: true or false?

Fret not (too much) if you wrongly answered “true”. So did Orr, though unlike you she said it to tens of thousands of Guardianista who, whether or not they know it – and usually they don’t – form hazy but comprehensive worldviews on the back of such stuff. The ease, in our post Jimmy Savile, #MeToo world of smearing by allegations of sexual misconduct should frighten us all – and I speak as a childrens’ home survivor – though many are so caught up in highly manipulated incandescence that this aspect eludes them. I’m kind enough to deem Orr, Moore and their ilk useful idiots – with Moore, of “massive turd” fame, every bit as coarse on Jeremy Corbyn (and a hypocrite with it) – but can’t bring myself to extend such merciful judgment to Harding.

Anyways … Sweden’s chief prosecutor – also a woman – said Assange had no case to answer, yet he remains an effective prisoner, under arbitrary detention as the UN calls it, in London’s Ecuadoran Embassy. His sole offence is of skipping bail in circumstances where, with Obama breaking all records for locking up whistle blowers and throwing away the key, the alternative was a real threat of extradition to the United and Most Vindictive States of America. So let’s get ourselves up to speed on why – as if incurring Washington displeasure weren’t cause enough – Assange has so upset the British state.

The talking points below are a shameless steal, in shortened form, of a recommended Mark Curtis piece in ICH . For the full deal, go there. This is for consumption over coffee, afore you dash out to work.

Julian Assange Should be Thanked – not Smeared – for Wikileaks’ Service to Journalism

Twelve years ago this month, WikiLeaks began publishing government secrets that the world public might otherwise never have known. What it has revealed about state duplicity, human rights abuses and corruption goes beyond anything published in the world’s “mainstream” media.

For the rest, other than where I quote Curtis verbatim, I’ll simply summarise those aspects especially relevant to Britain. These include:

An “extraordinary” cable from 2013 on how Britain conducted secret vote-trading deals with Saudi Arabia to get both states elected to the UN Human Rights Council …

A 2008 cable showing shadow foreign secretary William Hague telling the US embassy that Britain “want[s] a pro-American regime. We need it. The world needs it.” …

A 2009 cable showing that, with the Chilcot inquiry on Iraq beginning, Whitehall assured Washington of “measures in place to protect your interests”. (Chilcot refused permission to publish letters between Bush and Blair, written on the eve of war.) …

In 2009 PM Gordon Brown wanted Trident subs down from four to three, a policy opposed in Washington. Julian Miller from the Cabinet Office privately assured US officials that his government “would consult with the US regarding future developments concerning the Trident deterrent to assure … ‘no daylight’ between the US and UK” …

“The Wikileaks cables are rife with examples of British government duplicity of the kind I’ve extensively come across in my own research on UK declassified files. In advance of the British-NATO bombing campaign in Libya in March 2011, for example, the British government pretended that its aim was to prevent Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s attacks on civilians and not to overthrow him” …

Wikileaks files released in 2016 – three weeks before military operations to overthrow Gaddafi, and before the UN resolution on protecting civilians – show William Burns, US deputy secretary of state, discussing a “post-Qaddafi” Libya with William Hague …

Remember Diego Garcia? Its population kicked out by Britain to make way for one of America’s hundreds of “defensive” military bases from which to “intervene” in the middle east? A 2009 cable shows Whitehall promoting the establishment of a “marine reserve” around the islands, explicitly to deter the diaspora from claiming rights of re-entry. One senior FCO official is shown as telling Washington that “former inhabitants would find it difficult, if not impossible, to pursue their claim for resettlement on the islands if the entire Chagos Archipelago were a marine reserve” …

Another 2009 cable shows Foreign Secretary David Miliband helping the US get round a ban on cluster bombs, though Britain had signed up to their outlawing in 2008. How? By approving a loophole to avert a debate in parliament that could have “complicated or muddied” the issue …

Of course, the USA is not known for reciprocal loyalty – ask Mrs Saddam. Cables show the US spying not just on Merkel’s Germany – and every other of America’s ‘allies’ – but on Britain too.

After Ivan Lewis became junior foreign minister under Brown, US officials were briefing HRC’s State Department on rumours that he was depressed, a bully, and on “the state of his marriage”.

Washington was also spying on the UK mission to the UN.

And, yes, we Her Majesty’s subjects are also spied on.

One classified GCHQ document from 2012 shows its surveillance system collecting the IP addresses of Wikileaks visitors, as well as search terms used to reach the site.

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Not that any of this should cause us to think for a moment that our masters have the slightest interest in Assange, other than to show the world what happens to bail-jumpers, and that in sovereign Blighty the rule of law is applied without fear or favour. Still less that the resources and desire to protect their interests of America’s deep state – and that of vassals – would ever extend to framing an innocent man.

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  1. I refer among other things to Harding’s revealing the password, given to him in confidence, to the Wiki files.

2 Replies to “Your debt and mine to Julian Assange

    • Thanks Susan. Thanks too for your interventions below the line of the OffGuardian version of my climate change book review. Much appreciated.

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