Monday, July 02, 2012

the prisoner

As Wikileaks founder Julian Assange hunkers down for a second week in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, waiting for Ecuador's president to either approve or reject his request for political sanctuary in that country, he is acutely aware that what awaits him if he should step outside the building is immediate extradition to Sweden, and possibly to the United States.

If the American authorities should get hold of him as they would like to, he will be put on trial for espionage, a capital offense.

Writing of Assange and his critics and enemies in The Independent (UK), Patrick Cockburn says "British commentators have targeted him with shrill abuse. They almost froth with rage as they cite petty examples of his supposed gaucheness, egotism and appearance, as if these were criminal faults."

Thanks to WikiLeaks, more information has become available about what the US and allied states are doing and thinking than ever before. The only competing revelations that come to mind were the publication by the victorious Bolsheviks in 1917 of secret treaties, including plans to carve up the Middle East by Britain and France. A more obvious parallel was the publication of the Pentagon Papers thanks to Daniel Ellsberg in 1971, revealing systematic lying by the Johnson administration about Vietnam. In similar fashion to Assange, Ellsberg was reviled by the US government and threatened with the severest punishment.

I can easily understand why our national guardians of freedom and democracy would have vaporized Ellsburg if they had thought they could get away with it, and will do so to Assange if they are able to lay hands on him, for both these men committed the worst crime anybody can commit in an authoritarian state -- they told the truth. The truth flies in the face of the universal deceit that characterizes our current regime, revealing its every action as founded in deception, manipulation, and misinformation. George Orwell reminds us that "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

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