Julian Assange of WikiLeaks Granted Bail; Accused Leaker Bradley Manning Found in Extremely Solitary Confinement for Past Three Months; “Wiki Rebels” Documentary Released

Yes, I think that they are s/heroes, and not just Assange and Manning, if he indeed is the one who leaked the pages of documents to WikiLeaks.  WikiLeaks is not the only organization of hacktivists around, only the most famous at the moment.  To me, these men (and women) are doing the work that our media has long abrogated doing in sucking up to American foreign policy aims.  The revelations show how our government is causing the needless deaths and maiming of thousands of our soldiers and of civilians;  how we continue to involve ourselves in military quagmires; how we meddle in the affairs of other countries, often with the resultant waste of our treasure and our moral standing, all in our name.

In this, I am reminded of Daniel Ellsberg, who back in the day, photocopied thousands of pages over several months, even with the help of his children, of what became The Pentagon Papers in the early Seventies.

I am also reminded of Vee in the film, V for Vendetta.  In fact, during a demonstration in support of Assange in Britain, several people–possibly from the Internet group, Anonymous–showed up with the iconic Guy Fawkes mask that Vee wears.  Many do not realize, however, that the comic novel by writer Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd on which the film is based was a comparison of the values of anarchism versus fascism.  In the 1980s, Moore was particularly concerned with the rise of fascism in Britain, when Tory Margaret Thatcher took power as prime minister.

In the film, Vee also has shadowy helpers in his rebellion against the totalitarian government; their identities remain unknown and unseen throughout, like the men who tortured Evey. It makes me think that groups like Anonymous, WikiLeaks, Openleaks.org, and other groups might fill in that gap in knowledge.

I am also reminded of The Matrix.  Neo starts out as a hacker and ends up as The One.  The members of the rebellion are all, more or less, more computer savvy than the citizenry.

Lastly, I am also reminded of WarGames, another film which took everyone by surprise during the time of Ronald Reagan, in the 1980s.  Starring Matthew Broderick, it tells of a young high school student who unknowingly hacks into the mainframe of a military computer that could trigger a nuclear conflagration between the U.S. and Russia.  However, it also presents the first view of hackers:  geeky young men who live with and for their computers, who are often unshaven and unwashed, eat mostly quick, junk food, and have shunned middle-class life.  They’re outsiders, if not outlaws. They know everything; and frankly, they often do.

These people are no longer to be laughed at.   They are not just pranksters or troublemakers.  The frontier that they occupy is nothing like what we have, and unchecked, over 30 years, they’ve built up their power.   Many are not interested in acquiring money.  They are interested in knowledge.  They are not who we think that they are, not even in the culture.

From The Guardian.co.uk:

Britain’s high court today decided to grant bail to Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who is wanted in Sweden for questioning over allegations of rape.

Justice Duncan Ouseley agreed with a decision by the City of Westminister earlier in the week to release Assange on strict conditions: £200,000 cash deposit, with a further £40,000 guaranteed in two sureties of £20,000 and strict conditions on his movement.

Assange stood in a dark grey suit in the courtroom dock as Ouseley began hearing an appeal by British prosecutors acting on behalf of Sweden.

There was an early sign that the day would go in Assange’s favour when Ouseley said: “The history of the way it [the case] has been dealt with by the Swedish prosecutors would give Mr Assange some basis that he might be acquitted following a trial.”

The 39-year-old Australian arrived at the high court in a white prison van. Photographers swarmed around the vehicle in an attempt to get a picture. Amid intense media interest, a queue of journalists had formed as early as 6am.

Mark Stephens, one of Assange’s lawyers, said before the proceedings that the bail money had been raised from Assange’s supporters and “appears to be in the banking system”. Stephens again complained about the conditions in which Assange had been held, describing them as Victorian.

Assange has been held in solitary confinement, released from his cell for only one hour a day, and his mail has been heavily censored, according to his supporters.

Today’s hearing followed a decision by senior district judge Howard Riddle to grant Assange bail, but he remained in Wandsworth prison, where he has been held for a week, as prosecutors gave notice they would appeal.

I am against rape–the rape of women, children and of men–but I am also against the crime of rape used to frame others who run counter to cultural or governmental control.  My reference?  This happened with black men and white women in the bad old days. Caught with a black lover, a white woman could easily regain her virtue and reputation by crying out that she was taken against her will and raped.  Black men who were successful in business or in farming in the South sometimes were run out of Southern towns, cities, counties and states on a rumor of rape, if not an accusation of raping a white woman; and often, they were lynched. So, there is a precedent, which is why many people are looking askance at the women who are accusing Julian Assange of rape at a point where the leaks are really beginning to make waves nationally as well as internationally. The news is harshing people’s sense of exuberance that someone is finally speaking truth to power in a big way, and fighting for true transparency in our dealings with other countries and with multinational corporations.

I have no idea what really happened with the Swedish women and Julian Assange, and I still hope that he did not go down that route. (One woman’s story, however, does mirror something of what happened to me long ago with a lover, and I left the rat that night after my “No” was not taken seriously.) It does not follow that he would have had to forcibly get his way; at the time of these encounters, Assange was a celebrity. However, just because one is a celebrity, it doesn’t mean that a celebrity cannot be capable of such a loathsome act. My feeling is that Assange is a strange bird. While he has definitely found his niche, not all of his actions can be considered politically or morally correct.

It all seems to center around safe sex practices. However, I find it rather interesting that this kind of case should crop up first to shut him up and shut him down by the authorities in Britain and the United States as a way of undercutting his status. Of course, everyone was expecting something heroic like treason. Already, women’s groups are angered that leftists or progressives are skeptical or outright dismissing the charges out of hand, notably Keith Olbermann, who has had to temporarily suspend his Twitter account; and filmmaker Michael Moore, who put up $20,000 of his own money to bail out the hacktivist.

In hindsight, Assange should have dealt with this mess weeks back, and mollified the women’s fears that he may have given them an STD and apologized. It looks rather slimy that Assange’s avoided the case and the women for so long, under the guise of not being hemmed in by the authorities. It doesn’t matter if they pursued him for sex or if it was consenting at first. The thing to remember is, at one point, it wasn’t consenting.

Meanwhile, word came yesterday regarding the fate of the American soldier who is suspected of “giving” documents to WikiLeaks. From Salon.com:

Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old U.S. Army Private accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, has never been convicted of that crime, nor of any other crime. Despite that, he has been detained at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia for five months — and for two months before that in a military jail in Kuwait — under conditions that constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture. Interviews with several people directly familiar with the conditions of Manning’s detention, ultimately including a Quantico brig official (Lt. Brian Villiard) who confirmed much of what they conveyed, establishes that the accused leaker is subjected to detention conditions likely to create long-term psychological injuries.

Since his arrest in May, Manning has been a model detainee, without any episodes of violence or disciplinary problems. He nonetheless was declared from the start to be a “Maximum Custody Detainee,” the highest and most repressive level of military detention, which then became the basis for the series of inhumane measures imposed on him.

From the beginning of his detention, Manning has been held in intensive solitary confinement. For 23 out of 24 hours every day — for seven straight months and counting — he sits completely alone in his cell. Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he’s barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions. For reasons that appear completely punitive, he’s being denied many of the most basic attributes of civilized imprisonment, including even a pillow or sheets for his bed (he is not and never has been on suicide watch). For the one hour per day when he is freed from this isolation, he is barred from accessing any news or current events programs. Lt. Villiard protested that the conditions are not “like jail movies where someone gets thrown into the hole,” but confirmed that he is in solitary confinement, entirely alone in his cell except for the one hour per day he is taken out.

Are we that sure that we have the right guy? And why must the government reduce him to a vegetable who would be no use to himself if not others in a court of law?

Bradley Manning is gay. The son of an American father and a Welsh mother who later divorced, he had trouble fitting in at school in Wales. At 16, Manning dropped out of school and left Wales to live with his father and older sister in the States.  There, in Oklahoma, however, his father found out that he was gay and threw him out of the house. At 18, after living in his car and supporting himself with a few minimum wage jobs, Manning enlisted in the Army and was given a posting as an intelligence analyst. The break-up of his first real relationship, friends say, may have started his downward spiral. Manning already had been reprimanded for striking a fellow soldier and had been demoted to private first class.

Unfortunately, the Assange case has raised questions whether the WikiLeaks organization can handle the strain on its finances. This might also make impossible any legal financial help they promised to give Manning. So far, since December 8, no WikiLeaks monies have been sent to the Manning defense team. So between their funding being shut down by the likes of Visa and MasterCard and Assange’s legal fees, WikiLeaks may find itself under siege. Or it may be that by giving to Manning’s defense, WikiLeaks may be confirming that Manning indeed do what the government accuses him of doing. That’s not what WikiLeaks does; it would be defeating the whole idea about the organization itself, shrouding its whistleblowers’ activities in secrecy.

Lastly, if you are at a loss to understand what WikiLeaks is, check out the full length documentary above. From Infowars Canada:

Sweden’s public service television, SVT, is releasing this one-hour documentary chronicling the history of WikiLeaks.

From summer 2010 until now, Swedish Television has been following the secretive media network WikiLeaks and its enigmatic Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange.

Reporters Jesper Huor and Bosse Lindquist have traveled to key countries where WikiLeaks operates, interviewing top members, such as Assange, new Spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson, as well as people like Daniel Domscheit-Berg who now is starting his own version – Openleaks.org!

Where is the secretive organization heading? Stronger than ever, or broken by the US? Who is Assange: champion of freedom, spy or rapist? What are his objectives? What are the consequences for the internet?”

Lots of questions, but no answers yet.

~ by blksista on December 16, 2010.

 
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