Wednesday, June 20, 2012

the truth exiled

As reported in Glenn Greenwald's column at and elsewhere this morning, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has applied to the government of Ecuador seeking political asylum.

After spending nearly a year and a half in England engaged in legal wrangling aimed at keeping the Brits from allowing Sweden to extradite him, Assange has exhausted all his appeals. Yesterday he turned up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London to formalize his asylum request.

He's wanted in Sweden for questioning in connection with a sexual assault case, but hasn't been charged with anything. However, his apprehension has nothing to do with the Swedish case, as he's all but certain that the Swedes would turn him over to the US, where politicians from both parties are howling for his scalp, and where he would almost certainly be tried for espionage, with a possible life sentence.

Assange committed the one crime against the majesty of the United States that can never be forgiven: he told the truth. That he did so in a spectacular and well-publicized fashion makes the transgression worse.

Of all the documents leaks that Wikileaks has published, none has had the impact of a videotape which Assange introduced to the National Press Club in Washington D.C. showing the American crew of an Apache helicopter in Iraq casually blowing away a dozen civilians on a Baghdad street below. If you're upset by seeing this sort of thing, I wouldn't advise watching. Little wonder that our government wanted to keep this information secret, and went into full revenge mode when it was revealed.

Assange obtained this piece of tape from Bradley Manning, the army lieutenant who has been held for trial by the Pentagon for the past couple of years and tortured during most of that time. What a pass we've come to, when a reporter is threatened with life behind bars and his source is locked away in solitary confinement for the crime of telling the truth.

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