It’s been a couple of years since I blogged about the damage Wikileaks has done, and the founder is back in the news. Julian Assange has holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in the United Kingdom, after fleeing from authorities who wanted to extradite him to Sweden for alleged sex crimes. And yet, his entire existence still revolves, remarkably, around some fanciful plot that the United States is trying to get him, with Assange himself spending his last moment in the sun denouncing the US “Witch Hunt”. What “witch hunt” is he talking about? The United States has never once tried to arrest him in any manner whatsoever. In fact, he’s never even been indicted for anything in the United States (although in 2010 the Wikileaks spokesman said it was “imminent”). But he has for real in Sweden.
The chain goes something like this: Afghan “war diary” is released by Wikileaks. Assange is indicted in Sweden for sexual assault. Assange is arrested in Britain based on the Swedish indictment. The extradition is allowed by the British courts. Assange scurries like a rat to the Ecuadorian embassy, demanding political asylum because he’s afraid it’s just a giant plot and Sweden is going to send him to America, where he’ll swing from the gallows for his treachery.
Or maybe it’s really all of the above, with the addition of, “I’m guilty of rape, and I’m going to jail. Gotta stop that, and I’ve got just the mouthpiece that will help.”
The stated reason for asylum is so lame I can’t believe anyone would agree with it. Does anyone really think the United States could extradite him from Sweden more easily than the United Kingdom? If we had any inkling of doing that, wouldn’t it be more prudent to request it from Britain, a much stauncher ally than Sweden? One that’s been described as “the most friendly US extradition regime in Europe”? Why on earth would we sit on the sidelines and wait for this entire nebulous Swedish extradition process to go on, only to have to start it again with Sweden once they got their hands on Assange? Why not just jumpstart it by cutting in line and requesting extradition from the U.K. first? That’s not genius coming from me. In 2010 a London cyber-crimes expert said,“(U.S. officials) might be well advised, if they think they have a basis, to try to extradite him while he’s still here.” We didn’t then, and we aren’t going to now. It’s all smoke and mirrors to keep him out of jail for crimes of a far different kind.
Ecuador, in an incredible bit of fantasy, apparently agrees about the “witch hunt”, and has granted him asylum. Thus, he now exists in a nether-world, sleeping on someone’s floor and unable to leave the building because if he takes one step out, he’ll be arrested. Which I think is just perfect.
The hypocrisy of the organization itself is staggering. When Britain threatened to come inside the embassy and forcibly remove him, a Wikileaks spokesman warned against it, saying, “I hope that the UK authorities are sensible enough not to enter the embassy without permission, which would risk upsetting diplomatic relations all over the world.”
Seriously! Wikileaks actually had the courage to say the action would upset diplomatic relations around the world. With a straight face. If there has been one single event that has upset diplomatic relations around the world in the last thirty years, it’s Wikileaks itself, and NOW they’re worried about diplomatic relations? No. They’re worried about their supreme leader being forced to take showers with his back against the wall when he goes to jail for sexual assault. Period.
The spokesman continued by saying he hopes this can be solved in a “civilized manner”. Because in civilized countries, when an “civilized” person is accused of a crime, they don’t go to court and prove their innocence. They get bail and run like a coward, using whatever means necessary to keep from facing justice.
I hope he rots in the embassy for the next twenty years, hearing phantom police officers storming the stairs.
Read the AP article today. Do you think Manning and Assage worked together? If so, do you think the US will find that connection they are looking for between them? If it, does it affect how the US proceeds with either of them?
There’s no doubt in my mind they worked together. Having said that, “worked” is a term with rather large left and right margins- ranging from having met Assange personally and promising delivery of secrets to chatting on the internet with someone named “Righteous Justice” who played to Manning’s weaknesses. In my mind, it’s more of the latter, which is something every single spy on earth uses. Cutouts and cells to determine what part of the MICE acronym the target fits. Is it money, ego, or something else?
At the end of the day, the use of the internet has overwhelmed any US law on this matter, and, while I certainly feel Assange was just as treasonous as any spy in our past history, it would be tough to prove in a court of law, which is exactly why we never indicted him. Manning is easy: Military guy who gave up military secrets. Assange is harder. Is he a journalist? Or something with a more nefarious purpose? Is his point to inform, or destroy? I’m firmly in the latter camp, but I could certainly see the trial bringing up the Pentagon Papers, in which both the NY Times and the Washington Post revealed hitherto classified information. In both cases, they were exonerated by the Supreme Court. At the end of the day, the US Government would have to prove substantially, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Assange sought to harm the United States. Given that, I don’t think we’ll attempt to do anything against him. He has the ability to use our own constitution against us, which is fairly ironic, because if he was tried by the very courts his releases inflamed in the Muslim world, he’d have his head cut off.
He’s a two-bit coward with an axe to grind and a healthy appreciation of technology. Nothing more. He likes the image of Robin Hood, but dabbles in things that he doesn’t understand. He states that releasing such information is for the good of the world, when he has no ability to even define “good”. He wants you to believe that he’s releasing secrets because of some innate moral compunction, but he’s releasing it for the same reasons a child plays a prank. It titillates him. Nothing more. He could care less about the repercussions. In fact, has no earthly capability of assimilating the repercussions. Buoyed by people of the same ilk, with the same narrow view of how the world should function, he ignores the catastrophic damage in order to perpetuate his own delusions of grandeur.
Well, that, and get in a little rape action on the side.
Thanks Brad! Surely he can’t live in that embassy forever, even though as you said, it would, in effect, become his jail-cell. I wonder how long the Brits will be willing to sit and wait for him to come out. Or if the Ecudorians will try to move him out at some point in ‘the cover of darkness’ or whatever.
Being a longtime reader of military fiction & nonfiction, I have a few questions I would like to ask.
Firstly, this might sound a bit ridiculous, but do you think terrorist organizations, rogue regimes and other forces of malicious intent have ever consulted the media, as in literature, film etc. ( non-fiction and fiction ) for ideas and creative inspiration for their operations ? For example, the book by Tom Clancy called ‘Debt Of Honour’ was published in the late 80s, but sadly no one could ever imagine the scenario at the climax of the story occouring in reality, until 2001. Another very realistic scenario ( very similar to the incident in Mumbai in 2008 ) can be found in his book “Teeth Of The Tiger”.
In the face of the resourcefulness & unpredictability of the modern day terrorist threat, do you think it would be better for military fiction and non-fiction authors to curtail their creativity in the plots they mention in their books ? After all, an idea is an idea, and it can come from anywhere.
As an Indian, to me the problems in Mexico seem similar to what Pakistan is facing. India is constantly embroiled in counterinsurgency operations on its own soil, and sees the situation in Pakistan as a threat to it’s own national security if any terrorist organization gets it’s hands on Pakistan’s WMDs.
Why does the US government not consider the increasing instability in Mexico to be a threat to American national security ? Of course, there are no WMDs in Mexico, but what this situation provides is very easy access to US soil for organised crime and possibly, for terrorist networks with the right amount of funds & connections. And again, this is something that I read about in a fictional story ( Teeth Of The Tiger), but if one just watches the news carefully, it’s clear that the situation in Central America is getting worse. You nailed the point in your blog ” A Tale of Two Countries”, but what I don’t understand is, why is the US goverment not acknowledging and dealing with this threat that’s right at it’s doorstep ?
What are your thoughts on the situation in the South China sea, with China rapidly increasing it’s military footprint in the zone, and the Spratly Islands conflict ? Would be nice to read about it in one of your blogs.
Last question. Can you give us any info on when the next Pike Logan book is being released, and any hints on the plot etc. ?
Wow. A lot of questions. I’ll take them in turn:
1. Yes, I do think terrorist organizations use open source information relentlessly. It’s the best method to figure out our strengths and weaknesses. We give out way too much information in our press reporting, but it’s the way of an open society, compounded by the internet. Your question, however, focused more on fiction books, and honestly, I don’t think they’re reading them for ideas. Think about it: If English was your second language, would you read fifteen novels on the off chance you’d find an idea you could use? I wouldn’t. I’d come up with my own ideas based on specific weaknesses I found in the open press that I could exploit. You mention Debt of Honor, but the truth is that scenario had been a threat for some time. Israel, in 1973, went on red alert because they believed a hijacked aircraft was heading to crash itself into Tel Aviv. It wasn’t a new idea, and Tom Clancy didn’t create 9/11. It was a weakness that was exploited. Having said that, in my writing I do ensure I’m not creating a plot that could be used against anyone else. Everything is found precisely like the terrorists would: Through open source research. In fact, most of my ideas come precisely by sitting on the couch and seeing a story on the news. I hear it, and think, “Man, that’s a weakness that could be exploited…” A better question is whether there’s anyone on the good-guy side that’s reading fiction and then plugging holes from the weaknesses that are shown. Answer: NO.
2. America IS concerned with the instability in Mexico, but it’s a multi-faceted problem. First and foremost, we can’t barge our way in because we’re the 800 pound gorilla. Mexico would have to ask for our help, and they have for certain things, but not overt force. While most in the world don’t believe it, we DO understand the sanctity of sovereign states. Although I completely agree about the destabilization of Central America. How long do we wait before the issue in one country spreads like a cancer to the rest of the region? Tough questions, but rest assured someone is losing sleep over it. Remains to be seen if that sleep-loss will get us anywhere. By the way, I also used the instability in One Rough Man. Another instance of open source informing fiction, but it’s not ME giving THEM ideas. It’s me writing about a threat, like Israel in 1973, that already exists.
3. Honestly, I’d be guessing about the Spratly island tensions. It’s been some time since I’ve studied the problem, although in my opinion, China will be flexing its muscles more and more in the coming decades. They’re on path to be the 1000 pound gorilla.
4. My third book, Enemy of Mine, comes out on January 15, 2013. It deals with Hezbollah, the Palestinian right of return, and good old fashioned assassination.
Thanks for your opinions, sir.
I’m looking forward to Enemy of Mine.
I would like to add one other thing :
America is at war. America was at war since 9/11. Against the same enemy that India has been at war since the early 50s. Terrorism does not wear a uniform and have it’s own flag, neither does it follow the Geneva convention, but it’s war nonetheless.
Assange & Manning have released documents that directly affect the stability and efforts in the ongoing war against terror and in my opinion are as much a threat to the national security of free and democratic nations as the terrorists themselves. For Assange, no excuse ( not even being one of those tin-foil hat conspiracy theory lunatics ) should work here. He’s no reporter/journalist. This is an act of espionage & treason in a time of war, not peace.
And speaking of Freedom of Information, I think we can all agree to the fact that, although we ourselves live in free and democratic societies and like it that way, the concept of Freedom of Information itself is a double-edged sword. It does have it’s benefits, but people with no integrity or malicious intent can and will use it against us. It’s a weapon only meant to be wielded by trained ( and responsible ) hands.