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Julian Assange free on bail
December 14, 2010 8:12 AM   Subscribe

Julian Assange has been freed on bail of £240,000. A number of supporters were present, and some others contributed funds towards the bail amount.
posted by steviehero (414 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Judge Howard Riddle ordered that Mr. Assange appear again in court on Jan. 11. He also said that, between then and now he must reside at Ellingham Hall, a Georgian mansion in Bungay, where he will be accompanied by Miss Scarlett, Professor Plum, Colonel Mustard, and several other guests whose names have not been released."
posted by theodolite at 8:17 AM on December 14, 2010 [34 favorites]


He's not out yet, the prosecution have 2 hours in which to appeal, according to AlexiMontrous (Times reporter)
posted by memebake at 8:18 AM on December 14, 2010


The Wikileaks founder Julian Assange arrived at court inside a prison van with heavily tinted windows on Tuesday in London.

Giving us a nice excuse to run a picture of him with satanic-red lighting.

Stay classy, Grey Lady.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:25 AM on December 14, 2010 [13 favorites]


i have to wonder if joe blow nobody would have to pony up 240k quid for bail on the kind of crimes he's accused of
posted by pyramid termite at 8:26 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


i have to wonder if joe blow nobody would have to pony up 240k quid for bail on the kind of crimes he's accused of

I would imagine Mr. Assange is considered to be a considerable flight risk, unlike joe blow rapist.
posted by hydropsyche at 8:29 AM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


You know how bail works.
posted by longbaugh at 8:29 AM on December 14, 2010


Giving us a nice excuse to run a picture of him with satanic-red lighting.

"For his safety, Mr. Assange has been given an eyepatch; for his health, his head has been shaved; for his comfort, he has been given a white cat to constantly stroke; and for his anonymity, his dialogue shall be read by an intense actor using an obscure Slavic accent."
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:29 AM on December 14, 2010 [96 favorites]


i have to wonder if joe blow nobody would have to pony up 240k quid for bail on the kind of crimes he's accused of wanted for questioning in connection with

The answer is: No.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:29 AM on December 14, 2010


Appearing for the Swedish authorities, Gemma Lindfield argued that Assange should be declined bail as the charges were serious and there was a real possibility of his taking flight. "This is not a case about WikiLeaks, rather a case about alleged serious offenses against two women," she said. Unlike Robertson, she said the allegations were serious and Assange had only weak ties to Britain and "the means and ability to abscond".

Ladies and gentlemen, the Swedish Information Minister.
posted by jscott at 8:29 AM on December 14, 2010


Gideon Rachman suggests in today's Financial Times that Assange has actually done the US State Department at least some good service by demonstrating that the US pretty much says the same things in private as it says in public. (Sign in required, alas.)
posted by IndigoJones at 8:32 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


...after walking outside, he was handed a grappling hook gun by an anonymous accomplice, quickly fired it at the gondola of the hovering WikiLeaks-branded war-zeppelin and silently ascended into the clouds.
posted by griphus at 8:33 AM on December 14, 2010 [30 favorites]


"i have to wonder if joe blow nobody would have to pony up 240k quid for bail on the kind of crimes he's accused of"

To be fair, joe blow nobody does not have access to countries happy to give him asylum, rich friends willing fund escape, a nomadic lifestyle with total lack of ties holding him to the country or the support of tens of millions of people like me who would be overjoyed to let him stay on my couch.

Note to the CIA: not a CIAist
posted by Blasdelb at 8:33 AM on December 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


So, wait. Has he actually been charged with anything WikiLeaks-related?
posted by schmod at 8:35 AM on December 14, 2010


He hasn't been charged with anything at all.
posted by dickasso at 8:37 AM on December 14, 2010 [21 favorites]


Bradley Manning.
posted by fixedgear at 8:39 AM on December 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


Mr. Assange must spend every night at the mansion and will be electronically tagged so the police can track his movements, the judge said.

Additionally, Mr. Assange will be under curfew every day from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will be required to report daily to the police from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.


Surely this is not typical. He will be electronically tracked, but then for some reason he needs to have a curfew from 10am to 2pm. Why?
posted by ssg at 8:39 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


... for some reason he needs to have a curfew from 10am to 2pm. Why?

I'm guessing that it's to make sure he doesn't get much of a head start if he does decide to bolt.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:42 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


See, see Vlad et al! We don't keep political prisoners in the west!
We just hold them on bail.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:43 AM on December 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


pretty surprised he's made it this far tbh
posted by rebent at 8:43 AM on December 14, 2010


He will be electronically tracked, but then for some reason he needs to have a curfew from 10am to 2pm. Why?

Curfews often go with tags in the UK I think.

The Guardian has good running coverage of the whole thing for those interested
posted by memebake at 8:43 AM on December 14, 2010


Too bad he wasn't arrested in Los Angeles. They'd have released him in 90 minutes.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:44 AM on December 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


The conditions of his bail were suggested by his lawyers and accepted by the judge, according to the Guardian.
posted by moody cow at 8:48 AM on December 14, 2010


Surely this is not typical.

I can't speak to the British system, but it's pretty standard in America to have multiple daily checkins along with the ankle bracelet.
posted by electroboy at 8:52 AM on December 14, 2010


UK: Oi! Julian, the Swedes want a word with ya!

Julian: I know, my attorney has been working with them. Thought they dropped charges like 5 months ago, weird. I'll be around.

Exit Julian.

UK: Where'd the bugger did he go? Slipped out at tea time. Sorry Sweden, can't find him.

Sweden: We have some very serious questions to ask him, just questions though. :-3

Enter Julian, with Attorney & Media Circus

Julian: Ok, I'll surrender into custody, just to answer a few questions right?

UK: Nah, mate. Come quietly with ya! No bail neither.

Julian: Am I actually charged with anything? UK? Sweden?

UK: ...

Sweden: Börk, börk, börk! It takes us 6 months to answer the most basic questions! Börk, börk, börk!

USA (from offstage): BURN THE WITCH!
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:53 AM on December 14, 2010 [108 favorites]




Apparently todays hearing is also unique in that its the first time Tweeting has been allowed from an extradition hearing in the UK.
posted by memebake at 8:56 AM on December 14, 2010


And Michael Moore is already bragging about it.
posted by koeselitz at 9:02 AM on December 14, 2010


> Surely this is not typical. He will be electronically tracked, but then for some reason he
> needs to have a curfew from 10am to 2pm. Why?

Tags are used to enforce curfews here. It would be unusual for him to get a curfew and no tag.
posted by vbfg at 9:03 AM on December 14, 2010


He's also a hero in the date rape community.

Concise as always.

Somone in the earlier mega-thread approvingly linked to this like-minded "rant". [Their word.]

My problem with this is that the question "Did Julian Assange continue having sex with two women after they changed their mind?", regardless of the answer, is so vastly less important than the question "What are we going to do about the massive systemic government corruption exposed by the activities of Julian Assange's organization?" that focusing on it can't help but seem like a smokescreen.

Look at it this way. If the question was "Did Bjorn Bjornsen continue having sex with two women after they changed their mind?", not only would you not have heard of it, you would not have cared even if it was brought to your attention.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:05 AM on December 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


He will be electronically tracked, but then for some reason he needs to have a curfew from 10am to 2pm. Why?

Historically those are the hours during which condoms slide off.
posted by dobbs at 9:05 AM on December 14, 2010 [24 favorites]


"Remember, no matter how I die ... it was murder."

That was pretty much the most spectacularly unfunny thing i've ever seen on snl.
posted by empath at 9:06 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah right, like thats the real Julian Assange.

Wake up sheeple!
posted by Ad hominem at 9:06 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


And Michael Moore is already bragging about it.

It's even worse: he was bragging about it as early as the OP's last link!
posted by dobbs at 9:07 AM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


UK: Where'd the bugger did he go? Slipped out at tea time.

I think Dick Van Dyke is a bit old for this kind of thing now.
posted by i_cola at 9:10 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


"'Rape, murder!
It's just a shot away
It's just a shot away

The floods is threat'ning
My very life today
Gimme, gimme shelter
Or I'm gonna fade away."

good of mike to pony some cash for Julian. Next up, the legal dance and back to Sweden where he will be most likely cleared then he can have his keys back to the bunker or start another venture.

joe, do not make fun of the English, they speak the language better then you and I


posted by clavdivs at 9:11 AM on December 14, 2010


Too bad he wasn't arrested in Los Angeles. They'd have released him beaten him senseless, tasered him, and hidden the evidence in 90 minutes.

FTFY. Come on, we're talking LAPD here. They don't release anyone.

Oh wait, he's a white guy. He couldn't get arrested in LA.
posted by spitbull at 9:11 AM on December 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


I LIKE STEREOTYPES! CAN I STEREOTYPE TOO!
posted by Dark Messiah at 9:15 AM on December 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


Look at it this way. If the question was "Did Bjorn Bjornsen continue having sex with two women after they changed their mind?", not only would you not have heard of it, you would not have cared even if it was brought to your attention.

Cant emphasize this enough. Check out this article by Naomi Wolf. Hard to read but spot on.
posted by ijustwantyourhalf at 9:17 AM on December 14, 2010 [20 favorites]


Giving us a nice excuse to run a picture of him with satanic-red lighting.

And just in case anyone wants to claim that this wasn't editorializing, contrast with the Los Angeles Times version of the picture.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:21 AM on December 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


The condition that says he has to check in to the local police station at 6pm every day is going to cause a daily media circus I should think.
posted by memebake at 9:22 AM on December 14, 2010


Look, If you get famous you get prosecuted. It's just because of the extra scrutiny. Nobody wants to be the guy that knew he was a rapist and let him go free.

Anyone know what happened to Johns 1 though 8 in the Spitzer case?
posted by Ad hominem at 9:23 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]




I hear Julian Assange is going to be the next manager of Blackburn Rovers.

A fate worse than death.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:24 AM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Look, If you get famous you get prosecuted. It's just because of the extra scrutiny. Nobody wants to be the guy that knew he was a rapist and let him go free.

No, if he was famous he'd be sent to rehab for sex addiction or somesuch bullshit.

Then again, that'd be after he was charged with something.
posted by Dark Messiah at 9:25 AM on December 14, 2010


Someone on Twitter suggested that he hack the electronic ankle monitor to check in with Foursquare.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:25 AM on December 14, 2010 [18 favorites]


Check out this article by Naomi Wolf.

---

Never in twenty-three years of reporting on and supporting victims of sexual assault around the world have I ever heard of a case of a man sought by two nations, and held in solitary confinement without bail in advance of being questioned -- for any alleged rape, even the most brutal or easily proven. In terms of a case involving the kinds of ambiguities and complexities of the alleged victims' complaints -- sex that began consensually that allegedly became non-consensual when dispute arose around a condom -- please find me, anywhere in the world, another man in prison today without bail on charges of anything comparable. ...

Anyone who works in supporting women who have been raped knows from this grossly disproportionate response that Britain and Sweden, surely under pressure from the US, are cynically using the serious issue of rape as a fig leaf to cover the shameful issue of mafioso-like global collusion in silencing dissent.

posted by Joe Beese at 9:26 AM on December 14, 2010 [32 favorites]


According to his lawyers, citing Swedish authorities, a grand jury has already been secretly impanelled in Alexandria, Virginia, suggesting that extradition to the US is imminent. I haven't seen any confirmation of this, though.
posted by acb at 9:28 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the question was "Did Bjorn Bjornsen continue having sex with two women after they changed their mind?", not only would you not have heard of it, you would not have cared even if it was brought to your attention.

It is always wrong to "have sex" with someone who doesn't want to "have sex" with you. Whether consent is never given or given and then withdrawn, "having sex" with an unwilling person is rape.

I think that all rapes are wrong and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible, while recognizing that many rapes (including the ones in question) are next to impossible to prosecute because of the way our society works. This includes rapes I haven't heard of and rapes committed by Norwegian authors, as well as rapes committed by international men of mystery who may be affiliated with organizations which may otherwise be doing good things that have absolutely nothing to do with rape.
posted by hydropsyche at 9:29 AM on December 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


Someone on Twitter suggested that he hack the electronic ankle monitor to check in with Foursquare.

Yeah that was the weird part of the article for me too. They're going to fit him with a tracking bracelet? Because if he wanted to bypass that, he, you know, doesn't know anyone with expertise in hacking electronic security systems?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:33 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


He's still in custody while the appeal is heard - 48 hours max, says the judge.
posted by Devonian at 9:34 AM on December 14, 2010


-Julian Assange takes a piss, toilet overflows... news at 10, film at 11 tweeting of the event at 9:00, 9:01, 9:02, 9:03, 9:04, 9:05...

-Says local expert:
"My god the CIA was totally behind the toilet not flushing correctly, they tried to drown him in piss water to make him look bad!"

-International crowdhackers today took down the Water and Gas systems in protest

-Frankly I'm surprised the trilateral commission hasn't taken him out already says random blogger.
posted by edgeways at 9:37 AM on December 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


Add one letter to his name and Assange becomes AssAngel. A shockingly accurate description of an Asshole who is trying to save the world (by his judgment and on his terms). I can't imagine something like WikiLeaks existing without an Asshole in charge, although the non-Assange-dependent spin-off OpenLeaks promises to be just that. I wish them luck.

I must also note that WikiLeaks has completed vetting and released less than 1% of the 250,000 leaked diplomatic tables (although they've appeared quite selective and agenda-driven in the ones they have), just because it's always worth mentioning.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:40 AM on December 14, 2010


Wow, making fun of the man's last name. Way to rise above the level you've set him at....
posted by Dark Messiah at 9:42 AM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Add one letter to his name and Assange becomes AssAngel.

I'm convinced. He's guilty.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:43 AM on December 14, 2010 [11 favorites]


He was looking PALER than usual?

Really?

He was transparent?
posted by Samizdata at 9:48 AM on December 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


'The Assuage Man'
posted by clavdivs at 9:48 AM on December 14, 2010


Did you notice that his name anagrams to "Alias Jean Snug"? Find out who Jean Snug is if you want your answers.
posted by found missing at 9:51 AM on December 14, 2010 [18 favorites]


Or, maybe he just likes the skinny jeans
posted by found missing at 9:53 AM on December 14, 2010


"Alias Jean Snug"?

More like Jane Guns
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:55 AM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


I must also note that WikiLeaks has completed vetting and released less than 1% of the 250,000 leaked diplomatic tables (although they've appeared quite selective and agenda-driven in the ones they have), just because it's always worth mentioning.

AFAIK, the vetting process is not being carried out by Assange's army of anarchist elves but by journalists at the Guardian, Le Monde, El Pais and Der Spiegel. The Guardian has even instituted a process, requesting topics from the public to prioritise finding, vetting and publishing.
posted by acb at 9:56 AM on December 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


AFAIK, the vetting process is not being carried out by Assange's army of anarchist elves but by journalists at the Guardian, Le Monde, El Pais and Der Spiegel. The Guardian has even instituted a process, requesting topics from the public to prioritise finding, vetting and publishing.

And here I was, picturing a bunch anti-establishment oompa loompas singing merrily as they eroded the fabric of western civilization.

Man, reality is never as fun as my imagination land. :(
posted by Dark Messiah at 9:59 AM on December 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


Or, maybe he just likes the skinny jeans

Well that should turn Metafilter solidly against him.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:59 AM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


5.36pm(UK): Speaking again outside the court, Stephens (Assang's lawyer) says the Swedes will not abide by the umpire's decision. "They [the Swedish authorities] clearly will not spare any expense to keep Mr Assange in jail," he added.
"This is really turning in to a show trial. We will be in court in the next 48 hours, they haven't given us the courtesy to say when. It is an unfortunate state of affairs ... but given their history of persecuting of Mr Assange, it is perhaps not surprising."
Greenwald: Attempts to prosecute WikiLeaks endanger press freedoms.
posted by adamvasco at 10:01 AM on December 14, 2010


Joe Beese: "The Wikileaks founder Julian Assange arrived at court inside a prison van with heavily tinted windows on Tuesday in London.

Giving us a nice excuse to run a picture of him with satanic-red lighting.

Stay classy, Grey Lady.
"

"Tinted windows don't mean nothin' they know who's inside..."
posted by symbioid at 10:02 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sweden: Börk, börk, börk! It takes us 6 months to answer the most basic questions! Börk, börk, börk!

Poor Sweden. They never saw Jim Henson coming.
posted by mykescipark at 10:04 AM on December 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Find out who Jean Snug is if you want your answers.

Or their accomplice, Jinn La Sausages.
posted by griphus at 10:07 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think that all rapes are wrong and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible, while recognizing that many rapes (including the ones in question) are next to impossible to prosecute because of the way our society works. This includes rapes I haven't heard of and rapes committed by Norwegian authors, as well as rapes committed by international men of mystery who may be affiliated with organizations which may otherwise be doing good things that have absolutely nothing to do with rape.

Nobody here is saying that rape is OK, or shouldn't be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.

However, a ridiculously over-the-top Interpol-red-warrant quarter-million-pounds-of-bail arrest is way, way, way beyond "the fullest extent possible" for this crime. In fact, the fullest extent possible according to Swedish law appears to be a minor fine. If you truly support applying the rule of law to rape, you should be up in arms about the cynical way such a serious charge has been used as a proxy for other "offenses" which, as you point out, have absolutely nothing to do with rape.
posted by vorfeed at 10:08 AM on December 14, 2010 [40 favorites]


*cough*
posted by Sys Rq at 10:08 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Asparagirl: "Someone on Twitter suggested that he hack the electronic ankle monitor to check in with Foursquare."

Julian Assange is Mayor of Sweden!
posted by symbioid at 10:09 AM on December 14, 2010 [11 favorites]


And just in case anyone wants to claim that this wasn't editorializing, contrast with the Los Angeles Times version of the picture.

It's sad that NYT uses Photoshop to get back at Assange for being left out of the cable release. How far has that paper fallen.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:09 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think adding those little horns was where they went too far.
posted by found missing at 10:11 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I must make a note of the fact that red equals "satanic" next time I red-tint a photo.
posted by raysmj at 10:16 AM on December 14, 2010


It's sad that NYT uses Photoshop to get back at Assange for being left out of the cable release.

Oh, come on. The BBC is running the same photo. Here is the original.

I assume you could tell from the pixels?
posted by ssg at 10:19 AM on December 14, 2010


Oh, come on.

Hey! Don't mess up the narrative. Obama, bad. NY Times, bad.
posted by found missing at 10:21 AM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Cant emphasize this enough. Check out this article by Naomi Wolf. Hard to read but spot on.

Check out this article by Naomi Wolf. Hard to read, because she's full of shit.

Response by Amy Siskind, When a Feminist Trivializes Rape.
posted by electroboy at 10:21 AM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


NY Times, bad.

Their hit piece was bad, certainly, and calls their usual objectivity into question.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:28 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


i really hate the way some people use the word "rape". rape is like murder : intent to harm is what defines the offense. there is not "a little bit of rape" or "different flavors of rape" just as there are no different flavors or little bits of murder.

rape and murder and two horrible acts of intentional violence. they are not words that should be lobbed carelessly just for the political heck of it.
posted by liza at 10:28 AM on December 14, 2010


"Bail is granted!" -- "Wait, no it's not, the Swedes want to appeal. Just another 48 hours max, they promise."

This is fucking ridiculous.
posted by Marla Singer at 10:28 AM on December 14, 2010


there is not "a little bit of rape" or "different flavors of rape" just as there are no different flavors or little bits of murder.

Well, there's first and second degree murder, right? Also manslaughter, negligent homicide, and justifiable homicide.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:31 AM on December 14, 2010 [17 favorites]


Check out this article by Naomi Wolf. Hard to read, because she's full of shit.

Persuasively argued.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:37 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


rape and murder and two horrible acts of intentional violence. they are not words that should be lobbed carelessly just for the political heck of it.

Which is why they're fantastic weapons for precise political aims, like defamation.
posted by griphus at 10:38 AM on December 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


there is not "a little bit of rape" or "different flavors of rape" just as there are no different flavors or little bits of murder.

Maybe it's just me, but last I remember, you actually have to be charged with something before we all cry "murder", and even then, some of us like to stick with the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

True, it's entirely possible that he is guilty of some crime. But anybody attempting to justify these measures under a false pretense of "rapists are evil, he deserves to burn in hell, this is justice" is ignoring the fact that legally, he has not been charged with anything.
posted by CaffeineFree at 10:41 AM on December 14, 2010 [17 favorites]


i really hate the way some people use the word "rape". rape is like murder : intent to harm is what defines the offense. there is not "a little bit of rape" or "different flavors of rape" just as there are no different flavors or little bits of murder.

rape and murder and two horrible acts of intentional violence. they are not words that should be lobbed carelessly just for the political heck of it.


You understand the irony of this comparison, right? Murder comes in plenty of flavors based on the facts surrending the dead person.

There are aggravating factors for hate crimes, murder of federal employees/police, premeditated murder.

There are mitigating factors, like second-degree murder, vehicular homicide, self-defense, or police action.

There are even things like voluntary and involuntary manslaughter, where even though a person is dead the perpetrator is often less culpable than they would be in a standard murder.

Really what needs to happen is we need to get away from the Rape vs. Rape Rape mindset and move to classes of sexual misconduct that better handle these crimes.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:42 AM on December 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


> there is not "a little bit of rape" or "different flavors of rape" just as there are no different flavors or little bits of murder.

As a matter of law and of custom, there are absolutely different flavors of murder.

It's one thing if I carelessly drop a bottle off a roof and kill someone. It's another thing if I get into a fight with them and kill them. It's yet another thing if I plan to kill them in advance and do so. And there are subcategories - did I kill them driving drunk? Did I kill them during the commission of another crime? Was I paid to kill them? Did I have a reason to suspect that they might kill me in future (the "battered wife" defense)?

There are also many different degrees of sexual assault. What Assange is charged with in Sweden is not rape at all, but an offense punishable by a moderate fine.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:42 AM on December 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Another case that's been in the news a lot here in the UK is that of a man accused of having arranged for the murder of his wife whilst on honeymoon with her in South Africa. He was bailed last week, with bail of £250,000 - just £10,000 more than Assange. The South African authorities had requested that bail not be permitted.

Joe - the Guardian used the Red Julian picture in their coverage today too.
posted by reynir at 10:42 AM on December 14, 2010


Yeah, not to trivialize rape or murder of course, but what mr_roboto just said.
Also, so charge him, send him back to Sweden, have a trial and have him pay the fine or serve the time if convicted and be done with it. Rapist scumbag, railroaded setup victim, something in between - go ahead and move it forward. Get this guy out of the headlines and into a cell or back to his friends' couches. Whether you support or revile Wikileaks, that thing is bigger and more important than this.
posted by zoinks at 10:44 AM on December 14, 2010


There are some fucking frightening people out there who try and convict anyone who is accused of a crime before it even gets to court.
posted by maxwelton at 10:44 AM on December 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


legally, he has not been charged with anything

Hey, don't mess up the narrative. Guilty until found innocent, etc.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:45 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why are the only pictures of him in the tinted window van tinted red???
posted by Ad hominem at 10:46 AM on December 14, 2010


On not-preview, what mr_roboto and several others just said.
posted by zoinks at 10:49 AM on December 14, 2010


I have had condoms break during intercourse, but I never expected the Swedish Inquisition.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:58 AM on December 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


See? It's funny.
posted by found missing at 10:59 AM on December 14, 2010


It sure is taking the US a long while to figure out what charge to bring and extradite him under. This Swedish holding action can only play out so long.
posted by Nelson at 11:00 AM on December 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


This Swedish holding action can only play out so long.

This is both the name of my new band and the reason for Assange's current predicament.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:11 AM on December 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


Common excusing conditions (Justifiable homicide)
Potentially excusing conditions common to most jurisdictions include the following.

1.Where a state is engaged in a war with a legitimate casus belli, a soldier from one of the combatant states may lawfully kill a soldier in the army of the opposing state so long as that soldier has not surrendered. This principle is embedded in public international law and has been respected by most states around the world. Thus, if there is no formal declaration of war or the casus belli is not legitimate, all those who engage in the fighting and kill combatants could theoretically be prosecuted. Otherwise, protecting the national interest against external aggressors will be considered an excuse on utilitarian grounds, i.e. the greatest public good will be derived from the defeat of the enemy. (wiki entry for 'Justifiable Homicide')
posted by clavdivs at 11:12 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wait, he's got bail? Last time I read Metafilter, the plan was a global conspiracy to get him into a British prison cell so that he could meet a dark ending at the hands of a paid psychopath.

And now they've let him out again? Military Espionage Financial Industrial Complex, just what is wrong with you?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:12 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


...there is not "a little bit of rape"...

There is no gray area, ever?

Alright then. At what point does a term become so large that it entirely loses practical meaning?
posted by hermitosis at 11:13 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's quite possible this isn't some major U.S. conspiracy to extradite him (and it's possible it is, of course). What could be happening is Britain is going "Uh, guys... we've got him I guess. you want him?" and the U.S. is going "Ehhh well... see we don't have anything to charge him with, and unlike random maybe-terrorists... people are going to be pretttty mad if we rendition him... so ummm.." and Sweden are all "No seriously, we just wanted to question him. Ferreals." and Britain are all "Right... um... put a bracelet on his ankle I suppose? Or at least a bell on him?"
posted by haveanicesummer at 11:14 AM on December 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


Peter McDermott: "And now they've let him out again?"

Nope.
posted by mullingitover at 11:18 AM on December 14, 2010


And now they've let him out again?

Might want to read the rest of the thread... He hasn't gone anywhere.
posted by Dark Messiah at 11:19 AM on December 14, 2010


What a joke. The conditions of bail make flight impossible, he turned himself in, there is n bloody way he will flee... so what's with the Swedes wanting 48 hours? Shit or get off the pot dudes.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:20 AM on December 14, 2010


What could be happening is Britain is going "Uh, guys... we've got him I guess. you want him?" and the U.S. is going "Ehhh well... see we don't have anything to charge him with...

---

U.S. officials, meanwhile, are clearly eager to prosecute him for the leaks, if not under the 1917 Espionage Act then for other criminal charges, including receiving stolen property.

Unless you can now execute people for receiving stolen property, I don't think that charge will satisfy the nabobs who are howling for Assange's blood.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:24 AM on December 14, 2010


...there is not "a little bit of rape"...

There is no gray area, ever?

Alright then. At what point does a term become so large that it entirely loses practical meaning?


Especially when, in at least one of these two cases, as I understand it, the claim is that Assange's alleged victim had sex with him fully consensually at the time and only withdrew the consent a week or so later (since Swedish law, unlike American law, allows for take backs--which I could almost kind of get behind in principle if it didn't seem so absolutely ridiculously abusable in practice...).

I'm not sure about the broken condom case, but my original understanding of that case too was that the sex remained consensual at the time, and again, that consent was only withdrawn after some period of time had elapsed after the fact (which again, Swedish law unlike US law allows for). It'd be nice if we could have seen a few more details come out about the specific allegations leveled against Assange before the rush to take sides one way or the other began, but that horse has already left the stable.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:27 AM on December 14, 2010


At this point, it's pretty obvious that he's in jail simply to hold him in prison. The victims only wanted him to get tested for STDs, and one of them has actually fled Sweden and isn't cooperating with the prosecutors. They haven't charged him with a crime, they want him for 'questioning' which they are somehow unable to do over skype. The woman who is still in Sweeden is the one who actually tracked him down and consented to have sex with him without a condom.
posted by delmoi at 11:28 AM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have an idea!

Instead of all of us whining that Assange is being singled out politically because rape and rapists are not normally taken all that seriously by the law, how about we start taking all accusations of rape this seriously? Then he'd be getting the same treatment everybody else is and more rapists would hopefully be in jail.

Win win, as far as I'm concerned.
posted by lydhre at 11:35 AM on December 14, 2010 [13 favorites]


Joe Beese: " And just in case anyone wants to claim that this wasn't editorializing, contrast with the Los Angeles Times version of the picture."

The picture belongs to the Associated Press, who are licensing the right to use it editorially to the newspapers, blogs and other media outlets on their wire subscription list. Under normal circumstances, the contracts those outlets sign with AP bar them from making more than small adjustments to a photo. (This is how Section 3.1 is normally translated.) Outlets may be allowed to photo edit it for clarity, and perhaps crop it (although usually not,) but they are contractually obligated to run it in as close to its original state as possible. Other wire services that supply images to the media, such as WireImage and GettyImages, have similar clauses in their contracts

This isn't common knowledge. No one would expect you to know this if you don't work with wire service photos on a regular basis. But I buy editorial photos from AP, Getty and other services all the time, and I can tell you from personal experience that this is not an example of bias from the New York Times, the Guardian, the BBC or anyone else who ran the photo. The photo was included with the AP wire article. They own the rights to it. If you're going to accuse an outlet of bias, they're your logical target.
posted by zarq at 11:36 AM on December 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


Nobody expects the Swedish Inquisition!
posted by empatterson at 11:37 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Found this documentary on Wikileaks (with interviews w/Julian and Daniel Schmitt and others)
Looks good :) Think you guys might enjoy. posted by symbioid in one of the other threads.
“Exclusive rough-cut of first in-depth documentary on WikiLeaks and the people behind it!
posted by adamvasco at 11:38 AM on December 14, 2010


i really hate the way some people use the word "rape". rape is like murder

Umm, except for the part where one of them results in death -- not that rape couldn't, in which case it would be murder by rape, which would of course be an aggravated form of murder, and distinguishable from, say, accidentally leaving your car in drive and plowing into a sidewalk full of people -- horrible in effect, but not usually murder.

When our use of language loses categorical distinctions in favor of binary extremes, that seems to me to be a step backwards, and unfortunately a certain magical power has attached to the word "rape" since time immemorial. (It was of course the preferred baloney accusation leveled at African Americans to justify their frequent lynchings in the American south during the earlier 20th century -- and occasionally since -- so pardon me if I don't find all accusations of rape believable and outrage worthy on their immediate surface because history shows us such accusations are quite powerful when falsely leveled.)

Being outraged every time rape is even mentioned as a possibility and before there's any proof -- and it hasn't even been charged in this case -- is a good way to weaken any actual efforts to define "rape" more inclusively to include things like "date rape" and consent withdrawn mid-sex-act (which, frankly, seems less clear to me; we are creatures with strong instinctual drives and at some point -- mid-consensual coitus is one of them, seeing someone on the street and deciding you want to rape them is not -- those drives need to be given some credit for determining our behavior, whether it accords with our ethical standards or not. I'm not excusing someone who continues an initially consensual sexual act after a partner has declined further consent, merely pointing out it's a lot more believable that even a non-violent person might be less inclined to invoke a rational ethical framework -- "no means no" for example -- in the heat of the hitherto consensual moment. Some rapes *are,* frankly, more outrageous -- more violent, less ambiguously consensual, less subject to intepretation depending on perspective -- than others. We don't require signed consent documents to establish consensual sex, nor can we perfectly rely on subjectively remembered and unverified testimony to reconstruct the exact interpersonal dynamics of any given human encounter.

Try imagining Assange was your son, rather than that his alleged victim was your daughter. Shoe fits a little differently, no?

Never mind that Assange has not yet been charged with anything, or that the evidence against him would appear to largely depend on hearsay evidence (and of course no one would ever have any reason to lie about a rape, right?) or that his treatment by the courts and the press is so off the charts excessive for such a crime, no matter how seriously you want to take it.

Come on, this is obvious. This is how states take out individuals these days when they can't outright murder them because the world is watching. I'd bet the CIA could have had Assange quietly killed even 30 years ago. Now they gotta play the ground game, gotta be frustrating. Too bad Assange isn't an Arab or a Muslim, because then they might have been able to pull it off with a pass and a run and a predator drone.

Frankly, I'm surprised the CIA couldn't have engineered a child abuse or child pornography accusation against Assange, because then no one would defend him for fear of being called sympathetic to horrible people who don't deserve equal justice under the law as soon as they stand accused, but of course the takedown is in its early stages yet. But at least they got sex in there, yes sirree1 That dirty leaking Assange must be a pervert! Pay no attention to the documents. It's all about getting the freak, personalizing wikileaks, and discrediting his leak of documents that deeply embarrass and discredit the most powerful governments on earth.

Just one lone guy, and if he's a pervert then there's nothing to see in anything wikileaks has done.

I wonder how many perverts and rapists work for the US government right now? Do they discredit the entire enterprise of American power? Or would that be the president who lied us into a global war, tortured prisoners in violation of international law, and got off scot free?
posted by spitbull at 11:42 AM on December 14, 2010 [12 favorites]


there is not "a little bit of rape" or "different flavors of rape" just as there are no different flavors or little bits of murder.

To add to what people have said above about murder, there are also indeed "different flavours of rape".

To name just a few, there's aggravated sexual assault (ie where there is violence involved, and/or a weapon), statutory rape (where the victim is deemed incapable of consenting due to minority or mental infirmity), and other sexual offences such as indecent assault that fall short of the definition of "rape" (which typically requires penetration).

Statutory rape itself has different flavours, with the age of consent being different depending on the relative ages of the parties (eg two teenagers), whether the rapist is a teacher or person in authority, etc etc etc.

In my jurisdiction, there's even a flavour of rape where the rapist compels somebody to penetrate them, eg with a bodily part or external object such as a dildo.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:43 AM on December 14, 2010


Sorry.... I somehow chopped out a paragraph in my eagerness to post:

The pictures from Getty can't be altered either, and the degree to which they are red-filtered is probably more a result of an individual photographer's lenswork than anything else. Photo editors typically choose the photos that will run with articles that have been written in-house off of a wire. There isn't a ton of thought that goes into which will be posted online, and they rarely make adjustments to photos from a wire service beyond changing their display resolution to fit their site format. Knowing all of this, I feel like you're grasping at straws here, in an effort to attack a newspaper whose coverage you disagree with.
posted by zarq at 11:45 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


And now they've let him out again? Military Espionage Financial Industrial Complex, just what is wrong with you?

Or as we call it, the MEFI Complex.

J'accuse!
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 11:47 AM on December 14, 2010 [11 favorites]


the further conditions of Assange's bail are that he has to wear an electronic tag, surrender his passport and not apply for international travel, remain at an address in Sussex with his friend Vaughan Smith, who runs the Frontline Club, and obey a curfew.
...while remaining in shackles, in a heavy canvas bag, confined inside a small metal box, lined with nails and held closed by heavy padlocks, chained to an anvil, and tossed in a river...
posted by sexyrobot at 11:52 AM on December 14, 2010


This is not about rape. Rape has nothing to do with why this is fascinating and perhaps terrifying. Rape is a terrible crime, but whether he did it or not, that's not why he is in jail right now. He is not being held because governments have suddenly declared a global war on rape. It could just as easily be another charge.
posted by snofoam at 11:53 AM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Apparently there are no different flavors of hypocrisy either.
posted by Aquaman at 11:54 AM on December 14, 2010


If there were any justice in this world, the same thing that's happening to Julian Assange would have happened to Robert Novak shortly after he outed Valerie Plame.
posted by MegoSteve at 12:01 PM on December 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


that consent was only withdrawn after some period of time had elapsed after the fact (which again, Swedish law unlike US law allows for).

Can someone explain this to me? I mean, I can understand how one can change her/his mind during the act, but how in the hell can one "withdraw consent" after the deed is done?
I guess I can see how one could wish she hadn't fucked the guy, but how in the word can he be held criminally responsible if at the time she was all for it!?
posted by c13 at 12:23 PM on December 14, 2010


Can someone explain this to me? I mean, I can understand how one can change her/his mind during the act, but how in the hell can one "withdraw consent" after the deed is done?
I guess I can see how one could wish she hadn't fucked the guy, but how in the word can he be held criminally responsible if at the time she was all for it!?


Call it a hunch, but I am guessing this reasoning is why such a law is not more commonplace.

There are some things buyer's remorse should not extend to.
posted by Dark Messiah at 12:26 PM on December 14, 2010


I guess I can see how one could wish she hadn't fucked the guy, but how in the word can he be held criminally responsible if at the time she was all for it!?

Say for example, at a party, you meet someone and successfully pass yourself off as a wealthy playboy, when in fact, you're a dirt poor pig farmer from Alabama. Now suppose this deception made you appear particularly attractive to one party-goer and that other person consented to have sex with you later in the evening.

Well, in Sweden, as I understand it, that person you duped with your misrepresentations has legal recourse. This is the kind of legal claim being made against Assange, from what I've gathered: not ordinary rape, or even what we would call date-rape, but this other class of sexual offense that Swedish law covers.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:31 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


What happens when you retroactively withdraw your own consent, after the other party retroactively withdraws their consent, that's what I want to know?

Is it just down to whoever withdrew consent first, or could the other person then potentially be on the hook for the same offense?
posted by saulgoodman at 12:33 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do they still fuck in Sweden? I'm asking only half-jokingly.
posted by c13 at 12:36 PM on December 14, 2010


The fact that we're discussing the intimate details of a crime he has yet to be charged with is a brilliant illustration of how effective a smokescreen it is.
posted by twirlypen at 12:38 PM on December 14, 2010 [12 favorites]


Can someone explain this to me? I mean, I can understand how one can change her/his mind during the act, but how in the hell can one "withdraw consent" after the deed is done?

This brings to mind the "rape by deception" case from Israel a while back. He allegedly convinced the woman to have sex with him under false pretenses. When his statements turned out to be false she withdrew consent, since if she knew the truth she would not have consented.

Yes some of you consider that to be racism on her part, she found out he wasn't jewish (or single) and freaked out. But what if I told someone I would get them a job, or I would marry them, and never followed through. Sure I would be a scumbag, but I convinced someone to have sex with me who wouldn't have otherwise. What recourse is there for the woman who has been duped. Is she SOL?

We have fucking lemon laws for car buyers, there has got to be some remedy for people who are decieved into sex.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:41 PM on December 14, 2010


The fact that we're discussing the intimate details of a crime he has yet to be charged with is a brilliant illustration of how effective a smokescreen it is.

We?
posted by c13 at 12:42 PM on December 14, 2010


What recourse is there for the woman who has been duped. Is she SOL?

What if you were a business major and thought that you'll make a gazillion bucks when you graduate. And the chick you fucked at a frat party believed you? And slept with you in hopes of marriage and being set for life. But then you failed all your classes and flunked out of college.
posted by c13 at 12:46 PM on December 14, 2010


Or what about if you bragged about being hung like a horse, when actually you're hung like a pony?
posted by c13 at 12:49 PM on December 14, 2010


Yeah slippery slope. What if I had sex with my wife hoping to get her pregnant and she never does.

But questions like that is why we have courts and judges.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:52 PM on December 14, 2010


But questions like that is why we have courts and judges.

Well, in normal countries we don't. That's precisely the point.
posted by c13 at 12:54 PM on December 14, 2010


On Metafilter, Sweden is abnormal.
posted by klue at 1:01 PM on December 14, 2010


But what if I told someone I would get them a job... and never followed through.

If that is why you have sex with someone, doesn't that make you a prostitute?
posted by Meatbomb at 1:04 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it makes you a casting director.
posted by found missing at 1:05 PM on December 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


We have fucking lemon laws for car buyers, there has got to be some remedy for people who are decieved into sex.

Lock up the entire cosmetics industry!

And push-up bra makers, I'm watching you...
posted by LordSludge at 1:07 PM on December 14, 2010


I grew up in citrus country, and I can tell you for a fact that there are no fucking lemon laws.
posted by found missing at 1:08 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


If that is why you have sex with someone, doesn't that make you a prostitute?

Yes, but isn't prostitution legal in Sweden?

Ah yes, apparently it's also legal to sell sex in Sweden, but not to buy it.

In 1999, Sweden made it legal to sell sex but illegal to buy it—only the johns and the traffickers can be prosecuted.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:10 PM on December 14, 2010


Person A: I agreed because B seemed so romantic... I could tell this was going to be "it", and that we would be together as soul mates.

Person B: A seemed nice, but kind of rushed me into bed. Before I knew it we were doing the dirty. And to be honest, it wasn't that great. A's breath was really bad, kind of funky hygiene, and it just didn't click for me.

Person A two weeks later: I withdraw consent!
posted by Meatbomb at 1:12 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Discussing the implications and technicalities of being able to retroactively annul your consent and conflating that with "rape" is not promoting "rape culture". This isn't a rape vs rape-rape thing, it's a "No sane person uses thinks that word describes that act" thing.

If someone wants to put forth a serious argument why one party should be able to arbitrarily revoke consent and turn a prior consensual act into rape, and why that doesn't constitute a huge, damaging, insulting conflation with actual non-consensual sex, I would love to hear it.
posted by 0xFCAF at 1:12 PM on December 14, 2010


We have fucking lemon laws for car buyers, there has got to be some remedy for people who are decieved into sex.

Yes, clearly we need to legislate rather than suggest people exercise self-awareness, the ability to assess the sincerity of others, and maybe -- just maybe -- some restraint. If you don't want to worry about some stranger misleading you don't fuck them until they no longer qualify, to you, as a stranger.

Anyone who's ever had "hate sex" with a recent ex-girlfriend can realize how asinine this sort of law is.
posted by Dark Messiah at 1:14 PM on December 14, 2010


This thread has gone to a strange an unfortunate place.

I would think that few of these comments have anything to do with reality. None of us know anything about Swedish law; we've only been getting only the occasional strange piece of gossip and innuendo from the blogosphere. The actual government actors in Sweden have been quite silent on the whole thing. It's a waste of time to make all of these comments based on imagined legal structures and accusations.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:18 PM on December 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


(since Swedish law, unlike American law, allows for take backs--which I could almost kind of get behind in principle if it didn't seem so absolutely ridiculously abusable in practice...).


What the fuck is wrong with you people? Do you honestly believe that Sweden allows this sort of shit? Did you make this up? Or did you read it on a webpage written by a retarded misogynistic neckbeard?

No, Swedish law does not allow for "take backs". As far as I can tell, it also allows you to lie when you go on a date in order to get a woman into bed. What it does not allow, is for men to continue ploughing away against the express instructions of their sexual partner. The woman said that the condom broke. It's perfectly reasonable to give the woman the power to tell the man to get the hell off her and put another one on.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 1:18 PM on December 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


We have fucking lemon laws for car buyers, there has got to be some remedy for people who are decieved into sex.

- If we get this, hopefully people have the good sense to not call it any variant of [someword]-rape.

- It wonder if it may be difficulty to get this without some legal framework that recognizes sexual consent as something that can be legitimated and legally traded. (In the USA, that's still a big can'o'worms.)
posted by -harlequin- at 1:19 PM on December 14, 2010


If someone wants to put forth a serious argument why one party should be able to arbitrarily revoke consent and turn a prior consensual act into rape, and why that doesn't constitute a huge, damaging, insulting conflation with actual non-consensual sex, I would love to hear it.

I herd that in sweden it's legal to rape young boys as long as you shout "NO HOMO!" first. Perhaps some of our resident swedes - who have been all too keen to criticize America for it's invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan - would care to justify this seemingly ridiculous rule? My betting is that we shall hear only silence from that filthy, paedo-infested, schlong-shaped nation.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 1:22 PM on December 14, 2010


Do you honestly believe...

I don't. But I've been wrong before.
posted by c13 at 1:22 PM on December 14, 2010


I want Sweden to go back to being "that country that exports steel, Ikea furniture, and quality metal". I like that one.
posted by Dark Messiah at 1:25 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


What the fuck is wrong with you people?...

posted by I_pity_the_fool


That sure doesn't sound like fool-pittying to me!

(also thank you for clarifying that again for people, I wish your comment was bold and in 30pt. Although in fairness I think the "take backs" thing was reported in major news outlets at some point and not just neckbearded misogynist blogs)
posted by Hoopo at 1:27 PM on December 14, 2010


[A few comments removed. c13, please throttle back some.]
posted by cortex at 1:27 PM on December 14, 2010


This thread is going on a weird derail, in part because people are misinterpreting what the Swedish law in question actually is. It would be really awesome if someone could please cite and translate the Swedish statute on point.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:27 PM on December 14, 2010


Can anyone find a link to what the Swedish law actually says? I'm looking all over the Swedish Government website, and I can't find anything mentioning anything about any provision for retroactively withdrawing consent. All I can find is that there's a three-tiered system for determining the severity of the rape: first-degree is when deadly physical force is used; second-degree is when non-deadly but still physical force is used; and third-degree is when non-physical force (i.e. intimidation or blackmail) is used. None of that seems particularly outlandish or capricious to me. But it's possible I'm missing something; google translate will translate materials to english, but doesn't exactly translate my search terms to swedish.
posted by KathrynT at 1:28 PM on December 14, 2010


Sex without consent is rape. The now condomless man continuing to have sex with a woman who did not want to have sex with him if he wasn't wearing a condom? A rapist.
So why are they not charging him with rape then?
posted by PenDevil at 1:28 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Agreed, I shouldn't have brought up that Israeli case. Plus I gave examples that make it easy to yuk it up.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:32 PM on December 14, 2010


My understanding of the Assange sex crime allegations is that he had sex without a condom against the ladies' wishes, and that he also had sex with one of them while she was sleeping. Neither of those allegations are petty or absurd, nor do those allegations in any way resemble the petty example of a pig farmer claiming to be a millionaire in order to get laid.

Of course, it still remains to be seen if charges will be filed and if he will be found innocent or guilty.

So why are they not charging him with rape then?

What he is being alleged of doing may very well be illegal but not constitute "rape" in Swedish law. For now, there are too many games of telephone being played here for us to tell what's going on. Skimming some articles, I see the allegation that Assange had consensual sex with the women, but he may have "unlawfully coerced" them into this consent. Not knowing what "unlawful coercion" in Swedish law is, and not having a transcript of these ladies' statements, we don't know what this really means.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:35 PM on December 14, 2010


Please, please--someone do clarify the actual charges against Assange, because in this case, I'm basically only going on what I've read here on MeFi. In fact, if I remember correctly, it was another poster claiming to be Swedish and knowledgeable on the topic who led me to the (apparently) inaccurate understanding of Swedish law on retroactive withdrawal of consent. I'll see if I can find the specific thread later...

According to this Christian Science Monitor article, those more questionable-sound claims about the nature of the charges and Swedish law are all off-base, and the actual claims center on withdrawal of consent during sex (which is a completely different matter).

If that's the case, then by all means, the seriousness of the charges shouldn't be minimized; but Assange also shouldn't be presumed guilty in the meantime.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:38 PM on December 14, 2010


we are creatures with strong instinctual drives and at some point -- mid-consensual coitus is one of them, seeing someone on the street and deciding you want to rape them is not -- those drives need to be given some credit for determining our behavior

what

what
posted by NoraReed at 1:42 PM on December 14, 2010


mid-consensual coitus

Do you mean mid-coitus consent? Are you Ayn Rand?
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:43 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


This leds to why Assange must face a hearing in Sweden to determine what these charges mean.
This testimony of the victims must fall into some category. In this case, an alleged sexual crime and 'rape' falls under testiment as to the charges. Now it up to the Swedish courts to determine the case and have Assange give his right to address these allegations.

got to get them together ya know.
posted by clavdivs at 1:45 PM on December 14, 2010


Neither of those allegations are petty or absurd, nor do those allegations in any way resemble the petty example of a pig farmer claiming to be a millionaire in order to get laid.

Well, I apologize for helping to feed the confusion about this case and the law, but I trusted MeFi too much in this case, assuming this MeFi commenter knew what they were talking about, and missed the later clarification from an actual Swede. I could have sworn there was an actual Swede here defending this facet of Swedish law as well, but I can't find evidence of that at the moment, and gotta do some stuff. Any clarifications on the actual details of the claims and case against Assange would be helpful.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:47 PM on December 14, 2010


Threads like this are what reminds me that Mefi isn't, actually, the feminist space I would love it to be.
posted by lydhre at 1:49 PM on December 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


Well, there's first and second degree murder, right? Also manslaughter, negligent homicide, and justifiable homicide.

Not to mention praiseworthy homicide.
posted by acb at 1:51 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]




Cognitive dissonance breaks over MetaFilter.
posted by found missing at 2:01 PM on December 14, 2010


"designed to violate her sexual integrity"

Is this a coy legalism for anal?

The only thing I've ever heard of similar to this was T.E. Lawrence saying of his rape while imprisoned at Deraa: "The citadel of my integrity had been irrevocably lost."
posted by Joe Beese at 2:01 PM on December 14, 2010


It just seems to me that, as infamous as Assange is, and with all the bruhaha over wikileaks and charges that Swedish persecution is politically motivated, Swedish authorities would've presented their case a little better and cited the pertinent laws. Instead, there's nothing but some vague allegations to something that may or may not be illegal. Yet a person is locked up in another country. And despite the absence of charges, pretty much anywhere online that I look, including this thread, those two women are called "victims". Now, English is not my native language, but don't you have to establish that a crime has been committed before there can possibly be a victim?
Why do people go into these weird mid-consensual coitus---mid-coital consent intellectual contortions? You can't even keep it strait in your own head!

Lydhre, at least one of these women wanted to have sex with Assange because of his celebrity. How does this square with your feminist sensibilities?
posted by c13 at 2:02 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why hasn't he been charged? What are the Swedes going to find out from questioning him that will suddenly give them enough evidence to charge him? Either charge him or STFU. I am not familiar with Swedish law so maybe there is some provision that before being charged with a crime a suspect must first be questioned, but I haven't read that anywhere in the media clusterfuck that is the description of the current legal situation.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:03 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can anyone find a link to what the Swedish law actually says?

Further muddying things, I read in an article (which is probably worthless given the sad state of coverage about this case) that one of the people involved in resurrecting the request for questioning, is also one of the people behind a new Swedish law that may or may not pass, that would criminalize some of the things that been alleged.
And it was insinuated (without evidence IIRC) that intent to apply the as-yet-nonexistent law retroactively to this case, shouldn't be ruled out.

You're right to go looking for the actual law - I thought I was an imaginative person, but I can't imagine how things could get any muddier...
Wait, yes I can! If Assange turns out to be a space alien, is that bestiality under Swedish law?
posted by -harlequin- at 2:03 PM on December 14, 2010


My feminist sensibilities tell me that women are allowed to want to have sex with men for whatever reason they choose.
posted by lydhre at 2:03 PM on December 14, 2010 [13 favorites]


Joe Beese: "Is this a coy legalism for anal?

The only thing I've ever heard of similar to this was T.E. Lawrence saying of his rape while imprisoned at Deraa: "The citadel of my integrity had been irrevocably lost."
"

It's a term that I have heard used in legal cases when someone has been sexually assaulted, i.e. their bodily integrity and sexual autonomy have been violated.
posted by zarq at 2:12 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow look at this thread.

Anybody want to talk about Wikileaks? Some interesting stuff about Ghana got reported on today. Another thing I'm curious about is who is deciding which cables to release at what time, and what anyone on the outside knows about the criteria for release? Since we're supposedly only seeing a fraction of the documents, there must be some rationale behind which ones are being publicized?
posted by chaff at 2:17 PM on December 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


[Again with the cutting of the shit, please. That goes for c13 and people still responding to c13. Thank you.]
posted by cortex at 2:24 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anybody want to talk about Wikileaks?

No I don't think so. Instead of facing the ugly truth about the world goverments currently ruling us we'd rather talk about whether Mr. Assange may or may not be guilty of some vague charge that may or may not have involved rape which may or may not have involved a broken condom which may or may not have been consensual which may or may not have happened while the plaintiff was sleeping which sure as all fucking hell has fuck all nothing to do with the real problems staring us right in the face. But that's kind of the point isn't it.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:25 PM on December 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


No, the point is that we can talk about Wikileaks without dismissing the just as pressing issues of consent and sexual assault most women live with every day. Please?
posted by lydhre at 2:28 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Threads like this are what reminds me that Mefi isn't, actually, the feminist space I would love it to be.

What are you talking about?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:29 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


What are you talking about?

Perhaps some comments that have now been deleted.
posted by found missing at 2:34 PM on December 14, 2010


without dismissing the just as pressing issues of consent and sexual assault most women live with every day.

You men like in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or the continent of Africa. Some of which are subjects of the aforementioned wikileaks.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:41 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


without dismissing the just as pressing issues of consent and sexual assault most women live with every day.

You mean like in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or the continent of Africa. Some of which are subjects of the aforementioned wikileaks.


Yes, AElfwine Evenstar, some of us are capable of caring about multiple injustices at once.
posted by lydhre at 2:43 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


capable of caring about multiple injustices at once.

The point is that you are talking about alleged injustices. My assertion is that real injustices are probably more pressing a matter. My original comment was not directed at you I am sorry if you took it that way.

If we want to talk about alleged injustices we should also be talking about the injustice that may or may not be caused to Mr. Assange as a result of bogus rape allegations.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:46 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not claiming he's innocent. I don't know either way and neither does anyone else that's the point. The other injustices against women I mentioned are pretty well evidenced.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:47 PM on December 14, 2010


You know what would be awesome is if people wouldn't assume people's opinions on this one extremely unusual case represent their opinions on all rape or sexual assault cases everywhere.

Thanks.
posted by empath at 2:48 PM on December 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


the injustice that may or may not be caused to Mr. Assange as a result of bogus rape allegations

Oh... that.

Well, who cares? He hates America.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:50 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


What I'm saying is that the people are minimizing the charges here, for the most part, not because they don't think rape charges are serious, but because they think extenuating circumstances require some skepticism.

People may just be engaging in wishful thinking about Assange's character, but in most cases, at least on metafilter, the people minimizing the rape charges against Assange are not doing it because they are pro-rape or don't think rape is a big deal.
posted by empath at 2:51 PM on December 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


Threads like this are what reminds me that Mefi isn't, actually, the feminist space I would love it to be.

Some events are literally too immense to properly discuss or comprehend from via the constraints of any one -ism.

Caring about a certain aspect of this topic is one thing -- trying to force perspective on it by refusing to look from a certain slant dangerously trivializes things. And if, on top of it all, you want to judge people for not seeing things your way, what is left to discuss exactly?
posted by hermitosis at 2:53 PM on December 14, 2010 [11 favorites]


Threads like this are what reminds me that Mefi isn't, actually, the feminist space I would love it to be.

What are you talking about?


IIRC, discussing the possibility that a man wanted for questioning regarding sexual crimes may be innocent, before they have been convicted of any crime, before they even have been charged with any crime, is anti-feminist. As is proposing the possibility that women may sometimes lie. As is discussing inconsistencies in the events, such as the tweet that one of the accusers made a few days ago saying she felt "pressured" to make the complaint.

All that stuff reveals you as a woman-hater.
posted by Jimbob at 2:59 PM on December 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't think you recall correctly.
posted by found missing at 3:01 PM on December 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


hermitosis and empath, I'm merely trying to say that it would be wonderful if the feminist perspective were the default, when talking about consent sexual assault.

What I am striving against is not the idea that Assange may be innocent of the charges - and he very well may be - but that the charges as presented (as linked by furiousxgeorge upthread):

During the hourlong court hearing in London, attorney Gemma Lindfield, acting on behalf of the Swedish authorities, outlined the allegations of rape, molestation and unlawful coercion that were brought against Assange following separate sexual encounters in August with two women in Sweden.

Lindfield said one woman accused Assange of pinning her down and refusing to use a condom on the night of Aug. 14 in Stockholm. That woman also accused of Assange of molesting her in a way "designed to violate her sexual integrity' several days later. A second woman accused Assange of having sex with her without a condom while he was a guest at her Stockholm home and she was asleep.


are minimized and dismissed. That does not undermine Assange or freedom or whathaveyou, it undermines the ability to define assault and rape as assault and rape.
posted by lydhre at 3:01 PM on December 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


My question is this: Why do these Governments want him so bad?

Is there something he has, that they KNOW he has, that they think they can cut a deal with him to suppress? Or is it simply guilty conscience on their part? Are they afraid he's got the goods, and they just want to gobble him up because they think that will just make it go away?

Or is he simply to be "made an example of" so no one in their right mind will ever leak anything ever again?

As I understand it, even if they extradite him to Sweden, then somehow to the US, and put him in a deep, dark dungeon, the stuff is still gonna get out.

What do they gain from these ham-fisted legal maneuvers?

What am I missing?

What's in that damned insurance file?
posted by valkane at 3:03 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


And if, on top of it all, you want to judge people for not seeing things your way, what is left to discuss exactly?

This.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:05 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I'm saying is that the people are minimizing the charges here

There are no charges. Assange hasn't been charged with anything.

He has been accused of various degrees of sexual misconduct. I would think the first priority upon hearing an accusation would be to establish its veracity, but it seems that lots of people, pro-or-anti-Wikileaks, prefer to make the assumption that makes their cause look the best, and then support that assumption somehow. Maybe by arguing, maybe by casting vague aspersions. It's hard to tell.
posted by LogicalDash at 3:05 PM on December 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


That does not undermine Assange or freedom or whathaveyou, it undermines the ability to define assault and rape as assault and rape.

If that is the default catch-all approach to the entire Wikileaks matter (and many people are trying to make it so, for reasons that have nothing to do with feminism) then it completely limits the scope of the topic in a way that keeps all sorts of whathaveyou from being discussed.
posted by hermitosis at 3:06 PM on December 14, 2010


the charges as presented [...] are minimized and dismissed.

I think this is where people are not connecting while discussing the issue. First, Assange has not been charged with anything. He is wanted for questioning. Second, being skeptical about allegations is the default position in our legal system, innocent until proven guilty. Being skeptical about these particular allegations is not the same as minimizing or dismissing rape in general and does not undermine, as you claim, "the ability to define assault and rape as rape and assault." That is a fallacy of composition.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 3:08 PM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


My question is this: Why do these Governments want him so bad?

I think that part of the answer is honour.

Much of the US military/industrial establishment, and the US political Right, is dominated by the US South, an area which is home to a culture of honour. This particular culture is descended from the cattle-ranching culture of the Scots Borders and Northern Ireland, where, in order to keep others from stealing your cattle, you had to show yourself to be willing to avenge any slight with violence. It was brought to America by Scotch-Irish immigrants and transmitted by example, to the point where it is firmly ingrained in segments of US society (the geographic South, mostly). One of the rules of a culture of honour is that any insult to one's honour has to be met with decisive retribution, otherwise it stands and one is proven weak. One of the results of this is the murder rate in the South being significantly higher than in the rest of the US.

So yes, the reasoning goes, by leaking the documents, Assange has insulted America's honour, for which he must pay in blood.
posted by acb at 3:11 PM on December 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


I download all the new Wikileaks releases and try to go through as many as I can. What bothers me is that a man is being held captive in one country based on some allegations, not even clearly stated, made by a third country, that he may have violated some very unusual law there.
Or maybe the law is not that unusual at all! No one here has been able to post anything concrete. Yet plenty of people will go through all kinds of mental gymnastics trying to justify the actions of the Swedish government and find the reasons why such laws (whatever they happen to be, again, no one here knows) are just. All the while the guy haven't even been charged yet (at least per today's AP article).
Feminism, like any other -ism, is a button. Someone presses it, and you jump. Mindlessly. It is dangerous to be ok with a man being locked up ( and that does sort of undermine his freedom) as long as it furthers your agenda. Because next time you may be in his place.
posted by c13 at 3:12 PM on December 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


If that is the default catch-all approach to the entire Wikileaks matter (and many people are trying to make it so, for reasons that have nothing to do with feminism) then it completely limits the scope of the topic in a way that keeps all sorts of whathaveyou from being discussed.

You mean, whether or not I care if people deny that certain actions are assault? I do. I care a lot.

Let me say it again: I do not care if people say that there is no proof, yet or otherwise, that Assange committed the actions he is accused of. They are free to do so and I too believe in innocent until proven guilty.

When people deny that the actions Assange is accused of committing are assault at all that is when I object. Questioning Swedish laws, whether the women accusing him need to be responsible for their actions, why they slept with him in the first place, whether it is possible to remit consent during sex, whether plowing on regardless is assault, and all sorts of things that were brought up during this thread, are damaging to the notion that consent is vital and freely given and remitted.

Let me state it again, this is not about Assange this is about defining consent.
posted by lydhre at 3:14 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


being skeptical about allegations is the default position in our legal system, innocent until proven guilty

Thanks to the "War on Terror", this is no longer true.

A fact which accounts for Assange's treatment at the hands of the various authorities pursuing him, the media's treatment of the story, and the ugliness of public opinion.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:14 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


My question is this: Why do these Governments want him so bad?

It's pretty obvious, and it doesn't require a bunch of navel gazing about Scots-Irish honor cultures. He's got a bunch of secret, or at least sensitive government documents. They want to know what he has and how he got them before they're released to the general public, so they can head off any potential scandals.
posted by electroboy at 3:32 PM on December 14, 2010


Perhaps a FPP about the legalities of rape and/or (sexual) assault, that might incorporate the Assange story, even, is in order?
posted by manguero at 3:36 PM on December 14, 2010


He will be electronically tracked, but then for some reason he needs to have a curfew from 10am to 2pm. Why?

Historically those are the hours during which condoms slide off.


I didn't realize that's where they're attaching the electronic tracking device.

Check out this article by Naomi Wolf. Hard to read, because she's full of shit.

Response by Amy Siskind, When a Feminist Trivializes Rape.


I'm not sure what Siskind thought she was responding to, but it wasn't the Naomi Wolf article.

U.S. officials, meanwhile, are clearly eager to prosecute him for the leaks, if not under the 1917 Espionage Act then for other criminal charges, including receiving stolen property.

I expect the Guardian will be receiving their extradition notices soon then?
posted by robertc at 3:41 PM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Perhaps a FPP about the legalities of rape and/or (sexual) assault, that might incorporate the Assange story, even, is in order?

Not really in the next few days, please.
posted by jessamyn at 3:42 PM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Let me state it again, this is not about Assange this is about defining consent.

It would be helpful, then, if the Swedish Law could be spelled out regarding consent.

(and no, that does not mean pasting what attorney Lindfield alleged again, because that presupposes that the question of consent had already been aswered in the negative, without shedding any more light at all).

To give an example of the definition of consent, here's s.61HA of the NSW Crimes Act. New South Wales is obviously not in Sweden, but it gives an idea of the kind of detail you really need to go down into to argue the legalities of the Swedish position.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:48 PM on December 14, 2010


One piece of good news...

In a landmark decision issued today in the criminal appeal of U.S. v. Warshak, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the government must have a search warrant before it can secretly seize and search emails stored by email service providers. Closely tracking arguments made by EFF in its amicus brief, the court found that email users have the same reasonable expectation of privacy in their stored email as they do in their phone calls and postal mail.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:14 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what Siskind thought she was responding to, but it wasn't the Naomi Wolf article.

There's two Naomi Wolf articles. The one I linked to was titled: Julian Assange Captured by World's Dating Police.
posted by electroboy at 4:30 PM on December 14, 2010


There's two Naomi Wolf articles.

Ah, I hadn't realised that. So the 'other' Naomi Wolf article is a response to the Siskind article?
posted by robertc at 5:14 PM on December 14, 2010


being skeptical about allegations is the default position in our legal system, innocent until proven guilty

Discussions in this thread are not a part of the US or any legal system, and people are free to make assumptions about the guilt of various parties in this matter, which is something we do every day and in pretty much every thread.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:04 PM on December 14, 2010


So rape is bad, we're all agreed on that at least?

I don't think anybody here is trivialising sexual assault. In this thread at least, it seems to be mainly about 1) keeping the hypothetical separate from the specific facts - which are few and far between, and 2) keeping the sexual assault issues separate from Wikileaks and the diplomatic cables.

Which is why I think Amy Siskind's article is disingenuous. (Naomi Wolf's wasn't great either, especially towards the end).

It is appropriate and proper that questions be asked, such as those by Naomi Wolf.

Why is this situation being treated so differently by Swedish prosecutors?
Of course it's for political purposes - Swedish prosecutors trying to gain publicity by targeting Assange; pressure from the US... who knows? It is not wrong to question this and call them on the inconsistencies. Doing so does not in any way minimise or dismiss sexual assaults, or condone rape, or blame victims.
posted by joz at 6:20 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


lawwwwwwd! i never imagined my comment to cause such a derail. it may be too late to apologize, so here's a few more thoughts:

1. i made the comment exactly because Assange hasnt been formally charged

2. presumption of innocence is an awesome thing ESPECIALLY when you have the US breathing down your neck for leaking classified documents

3. of course there are degrees of sexual assault and homicide, but people using these words for political purposes are not interested in those nuances exactly because they are using those words for political purposes.

4. i could not agree more with Naomi Wolff when she writes this:
Anyone who works in supporting women who have been raped knows from this grossly disproportionate response that Britain and Sweden, surely under pressure from the US, are cynically using the serious issue of rape as a fig leaf to cover the shameful issue of mafioso-like global collusion in silencing dissent. That is not the State embracing feminism. That is the State pimping feminism.
(my emphasis)

i am a feminist, but it is amazing disingenuous to say that these accusations against him and the Interpol level reaction are not politically motivated. but FWIW, not until he is charged and not until we know under which law he is charged can we have a discussion of the merits of the accusations.

or has Sweden made clear under which law they can extradite him?
posted by liza at 6:57 PM on December 14, 2010 [9 favorites]


Let me state it again, this is not about Assange this is about defining consent.

This isn't about consent; it's about WikiLeaks.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:33 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


This isn't about consent; it's about WikiLeaks.

It would sure be nice if we could make it about Wikileaks again. The BBC recently reported that one of the newly released cables discusses the financing of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's campaign and administration by drug traffickers. Yet Obama recently promised Ortega a bunch of money to "continue" the fight against drug trafficking. Mmmhm.
posted by Marla Singer at 8:59 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


>people are free to make assumptions about the guilt of various parties in this matter

Well you know what they say about assuming things. But yes you are right people can assume whatever they want about Assange's guilt or innocence. Of course there aren't any charges filed only allegations so if people feel it's ok to slander someone's name based on allegations that is their prerogative but in the end it just looks like they have an agenda.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:38 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


And one agenda (upholding feminist values) ends up seeming like it's at odds with another agenda (let's call it "defending Assange", but it's about more than that - Wikileaks, due process, judicial independence, proportionality of response, national sovereignty against US pressure, etc).

If a cynical plot wanted to wedge left-liberals & provoke a muddy & obscure slanging match from people who should otherwise be united on the one side, they couldn't have chosen a better accusation.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:51 PM on December 14, 2010 [7 favorites]


Well that's the problem isn't it. Rape allegations need to be taken seriously, because in the past they haven't been. We know that. The result of this has tended to be, however, that there is a serious taboo about discussing or questioning rape allegations. No-one wants to be seen to be blaming the victims. And once someone has been accused of rape, their name is instantly blackened. Even if they are acquitted, the stigma still remains, because it is a complicated issue, and there are rarely any witnesses, and things are often resolved based on the words of the accuser and accused. I mean, what's going to happen in this case? What evidence will there be about whether or not the condom broke, whether or not Assange continued intercourse, what consent was offered or not?

I'm not saying that rape allegations need to be taken less seriously. They need to be taken extremely seriously, with the most fair, controlled, perfect application of justice and public discussion possible. I'd even suggest that the identity of the accused should be kept from the public, if that were not basically impossible. This does feel like an accusation designed to smear Assange's name irreparably, and split Wikileaks supporters.
posted by Jimbob at 10:11 PM on December 14, 2010


back to leaks.
Air Force Blocks Access to Sites That Posted Secret Cables

Wonka Bars!
posted by clavdivs at 10:11 PM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Okay I was just outside watering the tomatoes when it occurred to me that it was kind of ironic that such a fanatical supporter of Wikileaks like me was calling for facts to be withheld from the public.

All this shit sure makes one think.
posted by Jimbob at 10:31 PM on December 14, 2010


All this shit sure makes one think.

"The United States, as the world’s only remaining superpower, will be the constant target of
jealousies, resentments, rivalries, and challenges to its economic well-being, security, and
leadership in the world. This inevitably means that the United States will be the target of
large-scale foreign espionage."

The Ten Commandments of Counterintelligence.
posted by clavdivs at 10:55 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


"The United States, as the world’s only remaining superpower, will be the constant target of jealousies, resentments, rivalries, and challenges to its economic well-being

Cool!
posted by Jimbob at 11:21 PM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


"i really hate the way some people use the word "rape". rape is like murder"

Umm, except for the part where one of them results in death


And the part where the rape victim has to deal with the emotional and physical trauma for the rest of her (or his) life, whereas the murder victim is quite incapable of dealing with or feeling anything, being nonexistent and all.

Rape is the cruelest crime.
posted by unigolyn at 1:44 AM on December 15, 2010


Oh, and sure this is not just about the rape. It's obviously about WikiLeaks.

But as anti-government as I am, what WikiLeaks did was unconscionable. It's easy for you North Americans and Western Europeans to sit in your respective ivory towers and focus on whatever political pet peeves of yours were vindicated by the leaked information. But the collateral damage done to less geopolitically stable areas is immense, and people will most certainly suffer and die as a direct result of the leaks.

As for Assange, if you're going to leak something of that magnitude because information deserves to be free, then you'd better have an absolutely impeccable past. Because if you're making the US State Department deal with the consequences of their words, they'll most assuredly make you deal with the consequences of your past indiscretions.

And that's all I have to say about WikiLeaks. I shall happily return to the political celibacy I've enjoyed for the past 3 or so years.
posted by unigolyn at 1:52 AM on December 15, 2010


I'm sure the murder victim's family, friends & dependants agree. "At least she wasn't raped & left to survive", they'd console themselves for themselves a glimmer of cheer in their grief.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:52 AM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


D'oh
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:53 AM on December 15, 2010


Nate Silver, generally regarded in a positive light on Metafilter, gives his take on the charges and, specifically, how and whether the political context should color our judgment about the relative likelihood of Assange's guilt. The big takeaway:
I suspect this point will seem obvious to many of you: the fact that the charges are (apparently) politically motivated is indeed a reason to regard them skeptically, and they make it less likely — perhaps much less likely — that Mr. Assange is guilty of them.
I would suggest reading the whole thing before jumping on Nate. I'm not completely convinced by his argument. I definitely agree with him that the political context is influencing the likelihood that we hear about the accusations and probably even whether or not he gets charged with something, but I'm not sure it necessarily changes the calculus as to whether he is innocent or not.

Hmmm... except that Nate addresses that objection, pointing out that if the political context makes it more likely that he be charged than it might otherwise be regardless of the strength of the case, that necessarily requires that the probability we assign to his innocence be higher. Which I can't really argue with, but it still feels kind of creepy.
posted by Justinian at 2:49 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the argument feels creepy, try substituting "a black man" for "Julian Assange" and see how you react to it.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:20 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Assange is guilty! Of not returning a library book on paraconsistent logic, ironically.
posted by asok at 3:39 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Assange is guilty! Of not returning a library book on paraconsistent logic, ironically.

Well, they got Capone for tax evasion, so...
posted by acb at 3:55 AM on December 15, 2010


...according to paraconsistent logic, Julian Assange is Al Capone!

(apologies if that was inparaconsistent; the book was missing)
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:09 AM on December 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


I kinda like the argument that the whole Wikileaks thing is completely unmanageable (in all sorts of ways) because the implosion of the press has created an information vacuum that more or less required something like Wikileaks to happen. The frothy insubstantial vague emotion that dominates the news is inexplicable without the information vacuum / media fail.

I also note in passing that the Zapatistas, the WTO protests and Wikileaks look like societal evolution of networks surpassing institutions because the lowered costs of communication make networks more viable as a means of organizing human society.
posted by warbaby at 7:14 AM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


Bradley Manning is being detained in supermax conditions that constitute torture.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:41 AM on December 15, 2010


Joe I think this should be an FPP. The sadistic and inhuman lengths to which the US armed forces go to salvage their honor shows no honour at all; and as many as possible should know what is being done in their name and with their tax dollars.
For the rest of us out here maybe we just see the viscious behaviour of a rabid dog after it's bone has been taken away.
posted by adamvasco at 8:11 AM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]




'whereas the murder victim is quite incapable of dealing with or feeling anything, being nonexistent and all.'

ok then.

'Bradley Manning is being detained in supermax conditions that constitute torture.'
posted by Joe Beese.

wow, someone script me that bot.
posted by clavdivs at 9:27 AM on December 15, 2010


'This does clearly create massive financial losses to WikiLeaks which seems to be the only purpose of this suspension," Fink continued. "This is not about the brand of Visa, this is about politics and Visa should not be involved in this."'

This is 'Multum In Parvo'
posted by clavdivs at 9:33 AM on December 15, 2010


Iceland may ban MasterCard, Visa over WikiLeaks censorship

I think that's exceedingly unlikely. Iceland's economy is struggling after the economic crisis, and the tourism industry is one of the main contributors to the economy. A ban on the two dominant credit cards would make whale-watching or taking a dip in the Blue Lagoon considerably less convenient, and would hit the tourism industry hard. Iceland would be cutting off its nose to spite its face, and it's so obvious that it's not even a credible bluff.
posted by acb at 9:42 AM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]




Wikileaks: The Flash Game
posted by chaff at 12:36 PM on December 15, 2010


>>Iceland may ban MasterCard, Visa over WikiLeaks censorship

>I think that's exceedingly unlikely. Iceland's economy is struggling after the economic crisis, and the tourism industry is one of the main contributors to the economy.


That's a fair point, but on the other hand, purveyors of debt might be a bit of a thorn in Iceland's side.

Or, you know, maybe the actions of Visa and MC are actually in violation of Icelandic law, and the fact that Iceland is up shit creek shouldn't be an open invitation to questionable activity by multinational megacorps?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:22 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, Julian Assange has been named Time's Person of the Year.

He's the guy behind Facebook, right? No, wait, I think I got that wrong.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:06 PM on December 15, 2010


Censorship? Twittercounter displays what are purportedly the most popular Twitter accounts - those with the most followers. Wikileaks currently has 546,931 followers, which should put it in 8th place.

If you only glance briefly at the list, you might conclude that Twittercounter only tracks celebrities. But look closer: CNN is ranked 14th and Twitter itself is 12th on their list. They don't only track celebrities. Supposedly they track the most popular accounts, but for some reason they're not listing Wikileaks in its proper place.
posted by Marla Singer at 4:41 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Censorship? Twittercounter displays what are purportedly the most popular Twitter accounts - those with the most followers. Wikileaks currently has 546,931 followers, which should put it in 8th place.

Um... You've slipped a digit there, dude. If WikiLeaks had five million more followers, you'd be onto something.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:57 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah? Well, I read on a blog that that digit is being suppressed by Sweden.
posted by found missing at 5:05 PM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh crap. Nevermind.
posted by Marla Singer at 5:11 PM on December 15, 2010


I clearly need to step away from the computer for a while.
posted by Marla Singer at 5:12 PM on December 15, 2010


Yeah? Well, I read on a blog that that digit is being suppressed by Sweden.

I'll bet it's that middle one they're trying to hold down.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:16 PM on December 15, 2010


I'd follow WL on twitter but it'd ruin my perfect sad keanu mosaic.
posted by mullingitover at 9:46 PM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hmmm... except that Nate addresses that objection, pointing out that if the political context makes it more likely that he be charged than it might otherwise be regardless of the strength of the case, that necessarily requires that the probability we assign to his innocence be higher.

To me, whether or not a man is charged with rape is almost completely unrelated to whether or not he committed a rape. Rape (and sexual assault in general) is unique in that regard because there is tremendous societal pressure not to accuse a man of rape and not to believe when someone else makes those accusations. So typically, if it gets to the rare point where rape charges are filed by the prosecutor then I personally consider that to be evidence that a rape actually occurred. I never actually say this out loud (I can just hear the accusations of being a man-hater and "innocent until proven guilty" blah blah blah), but I'm saying it here because it seems the 538 article actually acknowledges these kinds of mental calculations.

It seems like Nate Silver is arguing that in this case, the usual calculus is off, because here there is strong political pressure to accuse this particular man of a sordid, shameful crime in order to discredit him, and rape fits the bill. Where ordinarily a raped woman faces an uphill battle, these women supposedly did not. I suppose he is arguing that this is more like a black man in 1900s America accused of raping a white woman. Definitely possible that he did it, but odds are that he didn't and at the very least, you can't separate the accusation from the political context. I think this is a fair point.

I am not so sure I agree that the context is as altered as Silver assumes. I still think that relative to his accusers, Julian Assange was definitely in a position of power (white, male, priviledged, friend of powerful people and powerful himself in their social circle). I also think that their actions more fit the pattern of actual victims (or women who genuinely believe themselves to have been wronged) as opposed to conspirators in a scheme to bring down Assange for political reasons. I also see that the usual pattern of blaming the (alleged) victims, bringing up irrelevant nonsense (she's a FEMINIST ooga booga), and all-around rape apology (it's not rape-rape) is out in full force, as it always is when a powerful man is accused of rape. The rape-apology machine hasn't been slowed down at all, the only difference is the government is not taking part in it.

And that is suspicious, because there is also an established pattern of political powers attempting to destroy the credibility of whistle-blowers. The political context (the over-pursuit by Interpol, the fact that Assange is a hunted man) renders this situation unbelievably muddy.

In the end, I must relax my usual bias for the accusers. However, I do not agree with Silver that the situation warrants a bias in favor of Assange. I'm not sure Silver is taking into account just how biased AGAINST women the system usually is. For me, it actually balances things out and I'll leave it at that.
posted by Danila at 11:46 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


So typically, if it gets to the rare point where rape charges are filed by the prosecutor then I personally consider that to be evidence that a rape actually occurred.

I don't know where to start with this. I'll hardly bother, except to ask you the question; when a man accuses someone of rape, would you assume a rape had actually occurred? Would you side against him, Danila, because of his position of power (you know, simply by having a Y chromosome and all), or would you side with him, because, you know it's rape and should never be dismissed? Would your attitude change depending on whether he was accusing a man or a woman of the rape?

"innocent until proven guilty" blah blah blah

Innocent until proven guilty is not blah blah blah. Your position reminds somewhat me of that class of people who regard all gay men as being potential paedophiles.
posted by Jimbob at 1:20 AM on December 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Curiouser and curiouser
Julian Assange bail decision made by UK authorities, not Sweden.
Swedish prosecutor's office says it has 'not got a view at all on bail' and that Britain made decision to oppose it
posted by adamvasco at 1:38 AM on December 16, 2010


Jimbob, my comment was in part prompted by reading your earlier comment:

The result of this has tended to be, however, that there is a serious taboo about discussing or questioning rape allegations. No-one wants to be seen to be blaming the victims. And once someone has been accused of rape, their name is instantly blackened. Even if they are acquitted, the stigma still remains, because it is a complicated issue, and there are rarely any witnesses, and things are often resolved based on the words of the accuser and accused.

I do not think this at all reflects the reality of the world we live in. Not at all. My comment reflects almost the polar opposite understanding as I believe rape accusations are not taken seriously at all, and the real taboo is against making rape allegations, not questioning them. Most of the questioning starts long before the general public even hears about any allegations, often starting with the victim and at nearly every point along the way. By the time an accusation is made public, the response is overwhelming to question and blame the victim, not to avoid being seen as doing so. Most sexual assaults are never tried and don't even get close to it. My position is an outlier, not because most people start from the neutral position, but because most are conditioned to assume the accuser is either lying or had it coming in some way, and the evidence of that has been strong here.

In progressive circles there is perhaps more lip service given to taking rape accusations seriously, but all it takes is a popular progressive hero (like Julian Assange) being accused of rape to bring out all of the rape apologies. Much of what I'm reading in this thread amounts to "what he is accused of is no big deal" which is straight up rape apology, not the rational skepticism it masquerades as. This is a "it wasn't rape-rape" situation.

Doubting that a rape occurred because of the attacks against Wikileaks and the strong government interest in smearing Julian Assange is one thing. But using old-fashioned rape myths to smear the accusers calls to mind all the times it has happened before and is happening now. The rape myths are a big reason why rapes so often go unreported, and if reported untried, and if tried unconvicted. So that's where I'm coming from here.

when a man accuses someone of rape, would you assume a rape had actually occurred

The pressure against making rape accusations is just as strong for men, so I would lean in his favor since that is what my assumption is based on. I also wouldn't give him more weight than I'd give a woman making the same accusation, but would you?

Innocent until proven guilty is not blah blah blah.

First, please note that my comment was in response to the fivethirtyeight article about attempting to address the question of Assange's guilt or innocence without taking context into account. The trope "innocent until proven guilty" discourages people from considering context.

More generally, I believe "Innocent until proven guilty" is only relevant in a court of law. I believe our various systems of justice are all inherently unfair, biased, and most of them are sexist and racist. Since the vast vast majority of sexual assaults are never heard in a court of law and when they are the deck is unfairly stacked against the accusers, then for a bystander (I am not judge or jury) to stick rigorously to "innocent until proven guilty" means upholding injustice. In such an unjust system, innocence and guilt are often determined by factors such as race, gender, class, wealth, and relative power. "Innocent until proven guilty" thus becomes a stand-in for "maintain the status quo" for those with privilege, while it doesn't apply for those who don't have it. It's bogus but it renders too many people silent because they don't want to cross that line. Well I say blah blah blah.
posted by Danila at 2:08 AM on December 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Back in court in 40 minutes for the appeal hearing.

Guardian LiveBlog has coverage (unless you happen to be in the US Air Force in which case The Guardian website is blocked, sorry)
posted by memebake at 2:53 AM on December 16, 2010


Meanwhile,according to the NYTimes, the US are looking at charging him with conspiracy, not espionage, in particular of him conspiring with Manning to hand over classified information. Does anybody know how sound a conspiracy case would be?
posted by acb at 3:43 AM on December 16, 2010


The thing is, if Assange does end up buried in a supermax cell for the rest of his life, the rest of the world will forget that he may or may not have been a rapist and that he had some questionable views about women, just how a CIA-ordered execution transformed Che Guevara from a doctrinaire Stalinist, signer of death warrants and architect of totalitarianism into an easygoing rock-star sex-god and all-round über-dude.
posted by acb at 4:03 AM on December 16, 2010


Che was a doctor who passed up the offer to become the Cuban Minister of Health, to go and fight & kill people instead. Go figure.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:19 AM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


This article from Salon in June of this year looks at why Manning decided to talk to Adrian Lamo about his leaks, when he'd never met him before, and doesn't come up with many answers.
posted by memebake at 4:39 AM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Reports are coming in that the decision to grant bail has been upheld.
posted by acb at 5:07 AM on December 16, 2010


Guardian via Sky News: Justice Ouseley has upheld the decision to grant Assange bail, according to Sky News. There were cheers outside the court.

apparently his solicitors have sorted out the £200,000 bail too so presumably he will be out today?
posted by memebake at 5:08 AM on December 16, 2010


Sky news: Assange hearing still ongoing. Judge amending bail conditions.

There are some details to hammer out - the police station in Bungay that he was supposed to report to every day apparently doesn't exist, and the nearest one is closed over christmas. Also the electronic tag might not work in the huge mansion he is being curfewed to. One reporter said they might arrange for the police to visit him at the mansion each day. Nice.
posted by memebake at 5:16 AM on December 16, 2010


The tag not working in the mansion sounds a bit dubious. Is it reasonable to expect him to have free range of such a huge residence, rather than staying in a guest room? (Presumably the mansion has bathrooms and such conveniently located to the room he'll be staying in.)
posted by acb at 5:22 AM on December 16, 2010


>if it gets to the rare point where rape charges are filed by the prosecutor then I personally consider that to be evidence that a rape actually occurred.

There have been no charges filed in this case.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:56 AM on December 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


If it gets to the rare point where rape charges are filed by the prosecutor then I personally consider that to be evidence that a rape actually occurred.

That's a dangerous argument. Once you start applying it to rape, the door is open to applying it to more "serious" crimes, like Communist conspiracy, witchcraft, Satanic child-care centre abuse and copyright infringement.
posted by acb at 5:58 AM on December 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'd follow WL on twitter but it'd ruin my perfect sad keanu mosaic.

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but on NewTwitter it's already been ruined by the new layout. Now it's just a one-image-high row of the first like twenty or so. So you've more of a sad keanu polyptych.

One reporter said they might arrange for the police to visit him at the mansion each day. Nice.

[knocks at door]
Hello, Mr. Assange. Time for a check-in, it is.
Oh, hello, officer. Things are well with you?
Right, well, weather's a bit cats and dogs, innit? But can't complain, can't complain.
[sighs intensely at the middle distance]
So, you're, er, you're still here then?
According to twitter, yes. I have made donuts, would you like some?
Blimey, ask me twice!
[eats donut]
The donuts are made out of state secrets.
[spit take]
[freeze frame]
[roll credits]
posted by cortex at 6:45 AM on December 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


I hate to be the one to tell you this, but on NewTwitter it's already been ruined by the new layout. Now it's just a one-image-high row of the first like twenty or so. So you've more of a sad keanu polyptych.

Oh I know. However, this is only the view that logged-in twitterers see, the rest of the world still sees Keanu in all his sad glory.
posted by mullingitover at 7:08 AM on December 16, 2010


The main delay to his freedom now is that the judge asked for 5 more sureties, and they've all got to check in and sign something. Details are sketchy. He should be released later today, or worst case, tomorrow. Vaughan Smith (whose mansion he will be staying at) talks to the press, rules out marrying Assange.
posted by memebake at 7:25 AM on December 16, 2010


If the US government is going to attempt to prove that Assange conspired with Manning, and its case involves producing classified evidence (such as ECHELON intercepts), would that enable it to move the case to a sealed court with no unclassified personnel (such as civilian jurors or counsel other than that appointed by the US military) present? If so, that could greatly tilt the playing field.
posted by acb at 8:07 AM on December 16, 2010


acb: If the US government is going to attempt to prove that Assange conspired with Manning ...

A good tweet from Glenn Greenwald:
Bob Woodward's entire purpose in life is to cajole government officials to tell him secrets he publishes - is he a criminal conspirator?
posted by memebake at 8:20 AM on December 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yes, but Bob buys them drinks first.
posted by cortex at 8:39 AM on December 16, 2010 [6 favorites]


There have been no charges filed in this case.

I'm not sure this is a meaningful thing to point out. "Person of interest" "wanted for questioning" and the like are often a prelude to actual charges. In a regular criminal investigation (leaving aside whether you think this is a setup) someone who bugs out after it's known the police want to speak to them are usually pursued.
posted by electroboy at 8:43 AM on December 16, 2010


memebake: how mainstream is Greenwald's view? It's all par for the course in the Blue and the Guardian, but would it wash in a US court of law, or before an Alexandria, VA grand jury?
posted by acb at 8:54 AM on December 16, 2010


I'm not sure this is a meaningful thing to point out.

its kinda meaningful in this case because there are some doubts as to whether a European Arrest Warrant (which is what they're using to try and extradite Assange) is even valid if there aren't any charges yet. "A central concern in the Assange case is that Sweden seems not even to have laid charges. The European arrest warrant should, by law, be used only to prosecute or to enforce a sentence." Catherine Heard, Head of policy, Fair Trials International
posted by memebake at 8:56 AM on December 16, 2010


acb: memebake: how mainstream is Greenwald's view? It's all par for the course in the Blue and the Guardian, but would it wash in a US court of law, or before an Alexandria, VA grand jury?

I know, I know. When I want to know the American mainstream view I go and read the comments at FoxNation, and I can see there's quite some distance between that and the Guardian. It would be quite a political risk for the US to go after Assange though, unless they're absolutely sure they've got a watertight case. If they go for it its going to be the trial of the decade, with someone who has basically just become a living legend (to some) in the dock.
posted by memebake at 9:02 AM on December 16, 2010


Fleetstreetfox tweeted this a few hours ago:
"I seriously believe Julian #Assange won't be happy until he's nailed to a cross by Obama himself."
... which has started a fairly productive #wikifixion tag on twitter.
posted by memebake at 9:07 AM on December 16, 2010


Video of Assange being released and making a short statement.
posted by Marla Singer at 10:34 AM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]




Before parting ways, Assange gave her a card with his name, email address, and an image of a lighthouse—possibly an early symbol of his quest for radical transparency.

Subtle...

I wonder whether he's one of those neurolinguistic seduction bros.
posted by acb at 11:09 AM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


BobbyVan: The Creepy, Lovesick Emails of Julian Assange

Hmm, well creepy and lovesick is a fairly accurate description I guess. This comment is pretty classy.

Now that Julian is out, I wonder how long that OKCupid profile will last.
posted by memebake at 11:34 AM on December 16, 2010


Miss A's twitter account has been suspended. Thats odd.
posted by memebake at 11:56 AM on December 16, 2010


Getting to Assange through Manning
posted by homunculus at 1:38 PM on December 16, 2010


Interview with Channel 4 in the last hour or so
Mr Assange told Channel 4 News he fears a fresh attempt to detain him and have him sent to the US is imminent.

He expalined: "Let me make a clear warning. There is an ongoing attempt in the US to work out a way to extradite me to the United States - extradition is much more likely to occur if I am already in Sweden.

"Since this case has activated there has been argument time and time again that there is no need to present any evidence whatsoever....

"Rape is what the allegation is - let's see the evidence. There has never been a single page provided to me in an any form to me. We still do not have the evidence - even in Swedish.

"This is a clear abuse of process - we have received intelligence that there will be another attempt to abuse that process in the next 24 hours."
posted by memebake at 2:03 PM on December 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Interview with BBC Newsnight

(warning: Assange sways around a lot because he's outside, and cold)
posted by memebake at 4:38 PM on December 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


So will the people who've been so desperate to ensure Assange doesn't miss one precious drop of rape smear juice- for the victims, you understand- now put that amount of energy into arguing against any extradition to the USA?

I doubt it. Oh and thanks for nothing. I have much more respect for those who oppose Assange purely on the grounds of thinking him a spy and terrorist. Those people at least have principles.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 4:53 PM on December 16, 2010 [4 favorites]


Its worth noting that he doesn't claim the sexual assault charges are a total conspiracy - in the newsnight interview at 07:48 he says "That is not to say that that this originated - we dont have proof of that - that this originated as an attempt to attack [wikileaks], but certainly once it was underway it has been used very agressively to attack [wikileaks]"

This fits with what he said an hour or so earlier in the Channel 4 interview: "This is a complex case, there are a number of motivations at play - those include the United States, certain political forces that have to do with domestic politics in Sweden, probably personal jealousies... all these factors intermixed .... Like any rare event it is the combination of all these forces pushing together for their perceived mutual interest."
posted by memebake at 4:53 PM on December 16, 2010


Federal investigators are "are looking for evidence of any collusion" between WikiLeaks and Bradley Manning -- "trying to find out whether Mr. Assange encouraged or even helped" the Army Private leak the documents -- and then "charge him as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them." To achieve this, it is particularly important to "persuade Private Manning to testify against Mr. Assange." (via)

Ah. The inhumane treatment isn't merely punitive, I take it?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:05 PM on December 16, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ah. The inhumane treatment isn't merely punitive, I take it?
Probably not.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 5:20 PM on December 16, 2010


Ah. The inhumane treatment isn't merely punitive, I take it?

Sure, torture the one witness they have against Assange to coerce him into testifying. Assange's defense wouldn't have a field day with that or anything.
posted by mullingitover at 6:42 PM on December 16, 2010


The Creepy, Lovesick Emails of Julian Assange

Male computer nerd is flattered by unsought flirtation from a pretty 19-year-old woman, and proceeds to send her somewhat-socially-deaf messages in an awkward attempt to woo her? Feh, this is my shocked face.

I mean, it's not like he wore a fedora, or tried to send her a banjo, or something like that.
posted by Asparagirl at 7:19 PM on December 16, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think that maybe Manning engineered the rape charges and extradition fight to delay and complicate a US extradition. I'm not even sure that Holder and Obama want to prosecute. I mean the whole media firestorm just gets worse if they do that. If it turns out in 20years that this whole thing was a massive ploy by neocons to talk us into war with Iran or North Korea, I wouldn't be surprised, nor would the announcement that this all some viral campaign for Hackers 2. These things would at least make sense.
posted by humanfont at 7:46 PM on December 16, 2010


Meanwhile,according to the NYTimes, the US are looking at charging him with conspiracy, not espionage, in particular of him conspiring with Manning to hand over classified information. Does anybody know how sound a conspiracy case would be?

It's my understanding that they have to prove that Manning and Assange entered into an agreement to commit a crime. They don't need to show that the crime was committed. They can jointly try both defendents. They could also charge others who may have been involved. The key for the prosecution is to show the scope of the agreement and avoid the many constitutional pitfalls present at trial. The other key will be to show communication between Manning and Assange prior to Manning stealing the data.

Still extradition will be a mess, and the trial also crazy of they did manage to get him here, which won't happen for years. The trial would also cause ongoing damage to the US reputation. My recommendation is that Obama give Asaange a conditional pardon for releaaign the cablegate archive and then move on. If e Swedes want him let them have it.
posted by humanfont at 9:37 PM on December 16, 2010


The key for the prosecution is to show the scope of the agreement and avoid the many constitutional pitfalls present at trial. The other key will be to show communication between Manning and Assange prior to Manning stealing the data.

Could this be done so narrowly as not to criminalise investigative journalism in general?
posted by acb at 1:33 AM on December 17, 2010


According to this article, Wikileaks may not be able to rely on the defences that traditional media can, and Assange may be easily convicted on conspiracy or espionage charges. The key is that, unlike newspapers, WikiLeaks does not add value to content, and thus does not qualify as journalism in the eyes of the law.
posted by acb at 1:51 AM on December 17, 2010


Also, the mood in America in 1971, when Ellsberg was found not guilty, was quite different from now, nine years into the Homeland Security Age, when things like warrantless wiretapping, TSA patdowns and ads encouraging loyal citizens to snitch on suspicious neighbours are accepted, and Jefferson's dictum about sacrificing liberty for security is dismissed as hopelessly naïve. If the Ellsberg case happened now, I wonder whether he'd still walk.
posted by acb at 2:35 AM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Gamien Boffenburg: So will the people who've been so desperate to ensure Assange doesn't miss one precious drop of rape smear juice- for the victims, you understand- now put that amount of energy into arguing against any extradition to the USA?

Since I haven't seen anyone here claiming 'Assange shouldn't miss one precious drop of rape smear juice!', I assume that the people you're talking about here are those of us who think the allegations against Assange should be taken seriously. In which case, and speaking only for myself: no, I really, really don't think he should be extradited to the USA for WikiLeaks-related charges. I support WikiLeaks, and would like them to be able to continue what they're doing. That doesn't change my opinion that accusations of rape should be taken seriously, whether or not they're against someone whose work I approve of.

Or, you know, I could be a plant for the CIA hired to spread the government-authorised lie that it's possible to simultaneously support WikiLeaks and think that rape allegations should be taken seriously. WAKE UP SHEEPLE!
posted by Catseye at 2:54 AM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Catseye: You do realize that this case hurts your cause right? It encourages the use of rape accusations as a method of political attack, thereby devaluing real serious cases from being properly prosecuted.

The governments' behavior is no where near where a rape case would be prosecuted. While it's definitely true that prosecutors should be more considerate towards victims in other cases, the unusual behavior of this case does not help that cause. It only legitimizes the accusation of rape for political means, which makes the public more skeptical of any further rape cases, as it is proven here to be an effective method of political or personal smearing.
posted by amuseDetachment at 4:01 AM on December 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


It encourages the use of rape accusations as a method of political attack, thereby devaluing real serious cases from being properly prosecuted.

We don't know that these rape accusations are a method of political attack. We know that the zeal with which they're being prosecuted is fairly unusual when it comes to rape cases, and that various governments would really like Julian Assange behind bars somewhere. But that's not the same thing as 'these accusations are being made as political attacks'.

It's possible that Assange is totally innocent, and that the women accusing him of rape here are doing so because they want to damage WikiLeaks or Assange's part in it.

It's also possible that the initial accusations had nothing to do with WikiLeaks, and that the Swedish government has decided to go after him now because hey, that's the WikiLeaks guy being accused of something they can imprison him for, go for it.

We don't know. We really don't know. Whatever the truth of the allegations, Assange absolutely deserves a fair trial and proper representation - but he doesn't deserve to be given a 'get out of the legal process free' card just because various governments and individuals don't like him.
posted by Catseye at 5:18 AM on December 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


acb : There are three "values" added by wikileaks, namely anonymization, publicity, and redaction. There are alternatives to this controlled model pioneered by wikileaks :

(1) There could be numerous sites that quietly accept secret documents, and then reveal them far surreptitiously than wikileaks. In this scenario, governments reduce the publicity said documents generate, and complicate the anonymization for leaker, as some sites are honeypots, but often the anonymization will actually beat wikileaks, as authorities won't know where to look, and redaction will disappear completely.

(2) There could simply be publicly available manuals explaining how best to safely leak documents. Again, this approach complicates anonymization for leakers, but publicity is a wash, and redaction might die utterly, well depending upon techniques used.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:22 AM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Catseye: It doesn't matter whether he raped or not, the government's unusual prosecution behavior is still damaging to the cause. Until the prosecution starts acting legitimately (e.g. charges him with a crime), this is deeply damaging towards future rape related prosecutions. It creates and validates a persecution defense irrespective of whatever Assange has done.
posted by amuseDetachment at 5:33 AM on December 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


the government's unusual prosecution behavior is still damaging to the cause.

It's unusual because governments don't usually put this much effort into chasing down people across international borders based on rape accusations, sure.

Does that mean it's damaging to 'the cause' (by which I presume you mean 'rape accusations should be taken seriously', but if not feel free to clarify)? No, I don't think so. "Usually governments don't care as much about rape as they do in the Assange case" doesn't necessarily lead to "therefore, the not-caring-so-much is the default standard to which we should aspire."

Until the prosecution starts acting legitimately (e.g. charges him with a crime)

It's absolutely legitimate to want to question him before charging him with a crime. Whether or not it's common under a European Arrest Warrant to request extradition before making an official charge, I dunno - I've heard 'yes it is!' and 'no it isn't!', both from lawyers commenting on the case - but a suspect being wanted for questioning prior to a (possible) arrest is pretty common. Here's a short summary of how EAWs usually work in the UK (caveat: this is news media rather than a lawyer talking, but it's Channel 4 who are usually pretty good):

European arrest warrant

If a subject is believed to be in the UK, a European arrest warrant will be submitted to SOCA for it to begin the extradition process. SOCA then issues a certificate validating the warrant, as long as it contains the information required under Section 2 of the Extradition Act 2003.

A copy of the warrant, the certificate and any intelligence concerning the person's location is forwarded to the appropriate organisation. This is usually a police force, which will then order that an arrest can be made.

Following arrest, the subject must be taken for a hearing before a designated extradition judge at City of Westminster Magistrates Court as soon as practicable. The subject will be given the option to consent to his/her extradition.

If consent is not given, an extradition hearing will be set. At the extradition hearing the presiding judge will hear evidence from the issuing judicial authority (represented by the Crown Prosecution Service)and from the requested person, after which the judge will decide if extradition should be ordered or the individual should be discharged.

If the ruling is to extradite, SOCA will liaise with the arresting police force and the issuing authority to arrange surrender.

The subject may appeal an extradition order within seven days, but if there is no appeal handover must take place within 10 days after the appeal period.


I totally fail to see how following that procedure in Assange's case is 'deeply damaging towards future rape related prosecutions'.
posted by Catseye at 5:47 AM on December 17, 2010


Because perceptions and reprocussions have absolutely nothing to do with what's fair and just. By having the public perception of "rape as persecution", it encourages participants of the justice system to be more sympathetic to that defense. It behooves the prosecution to be more cautious than a normal rape case for that reason. Their behavior doesn't inspire confidence and for that reason, the greater amount of press (and it's ensuing fallout) is absolutely relevant.

The world isn't perfectly just. The implications of this case encourages and legitimizes the "I'm being persecuted for revenge" defense (no matter the facts). The fewer high profile cases of this nature the better. Of course, I'm not arguing that high profile rape victims should be discouraged. I'm arguing that the prosecution must err on the side of caution when presenting their case and act like perfect boy scouts with perfect respect for procedure. They are not doing that here and thereby legitimize the meme of "rape as a tool for persecution" no matter what actually happened.
posted by amuseDetachment at 6:05 AM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Further if you somehow believe the prosecution is not bowing to political pressure (eg the case only being picked up after a direct appeal from a Swedish MP and Assange still not charged with a crime), arguing about proven facts is a useless endeavor and we might as well agree to disagree at that point.
posted by amuseDetachment at 6:10 AM on December 17, 2010


By having the public perception of "rape as persecution", it encourages participants of the justice system to be more sympathetic to that defense.

I'm a little confused here. You seem to be arguing that the Assange case is evidence for 'rape as persecution', because there is a public perception that Assange's being unfairly accused of rape. So, um... because there are a lot of people out there who think he's being unfairly persecuted, he shouldn't be subject to an extradition hearing, because that will just make those people post 'aha, I KNEW it' on Twitter, or something?

I'm arguing that the prosecution must err on the side of caution when presenting their case and act like perfect boy scouts with perfect respect for procedure.

As I'm not a lawyer, I really can't comment on whether or not the prosecution here is pursuing the case with 'perfect respect for procedure'. I know Assange's lawyer has complained that his client still doesn't have access to the prosecution's evidence against him, and I'm sure Assange is seriously unhappy about that; I am not familiar enough with how the Swedish justice system interacts with trans-European procedures like the EAP to know whether or not it's normal procedure before an official charge has been made.

They are not doing that here and thereby legitimize the meme of "rape as a tool for persecution" no matter what actually happened.

Oddly, I've only ever seen that meme arise from people who are already claiming that Assange is obviously innocent (or, in previous cases, from people claiming that Roman Polanski is obviously innocent, etc etc etc). You seem to be seeing the existence of that meme as evidence that the prosecution is going about things the wrong way, as if nobody would be saying that had the prosecution proceeded differently. But yeah, they would. Because people are all sorts of awful about rape allegations, especially if the allegations are made about someone they otherwise like or respect.

There are things that will damage the cause of having rape, and allegations thereof, taken seriously. Dismissing them out of hand as obviously a setup, when they're made against someone like Assange? That will damage the cause. Minimising the accusations (such as all the claims here and elsewhere that he's being charged with 'sex by surprise', or by some bizarre Swedish law saying unprotected consensual sex counts as rape)? That will damage the cause. Dragging up irrelevant details about the alleged victims (how many times did Miss A get referred to as a 'feminist' in all the early media coverage of this?), or publishing their names and personal information, or describing their behaviour to see if it lines up with how actual rape victims 'should' behave? That's the kind of thing that really damages the cause.

But going ahead with proper legal proceedings, no matter what people on the Internet say? That won't damage the cause. That is the cause.
posted by Catseye at 6:36 AM on December 17, 2010 [4 favorites]


Further if you somehow believe the prosecution is not bowing to political pressure (eg the case only being picked up after a direct appeal from a Swedish MP and Assange still not charged with a crime), arguing about proven facts is a useless endeavor and we might as well agree to disagree at that point.

My claims, so far, have been:

- rape is a serious crime, and allegations of rape should be taken seriously;
- regardless of how much various governments want the man behind bars, we don't actually know the truth of the allegations against Assange;
- regardless of how true the allegations are, Assange deserves a fair trial and proper legal representation.

Are you sure we're disagreeing?
posted by Catseye at 6:52 AM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because perceptions and reprocussions have absolutely nothing to do with what's fair and just. By having the public perception of "rape as persecution", it encourages participants of the justice system to be more sympathetic to that defense.

Goodness gracious who says anyone needed encouraging? This is how I see it:

By (supposedly) pursuing the rape allegations against Assange more vigorously than they would those against Joe Blow, the government makes a mockery out of.....

Well apparently some people (i.e. Naomi Wolf) think this makes a mockery out of women who make rape allegations. I think that's ridiculous. If it makes a mockery of anything, it is of the government and its brand of "justice".

Therefore, supposedly since the government looks bad then people will not believe future rape accusations and this will hurt rape victims. Okay, but people already don't believe rape accusations and they are already predisposed to the defense.

What really hurts rape victims is rape apology and all the excuses people offer for why rape isn't really serious. That is why people don't take accusations seriously. And that is on full display in this case.

My problem with all of this isn't really Julian Assange, but the people who are defending him by trotting out tried and true rape apologies. A prime example is Joe Beese's comment here, that it isn't important if two women were raped. He uses the language "changed their mind" as if a woman is not allowed to say "no" after she has said "yes". Since women are not allowed to say "no" then holding a woman down with your superior strength or penetrating her while she is unconscious (that is what Assange is being accused of) are not so bad. That's what rapists think, yes. If you could look up rape apology in the dictionary, that would be right there.

It is also rape apology to claim that these women pursuing a case are making things harder for "real" victims.

It is completely possible to examine the ulterior motives of the government or to discuss the impact of Wikileaks without trying to minimize rape.

While I was writing Catseye made my argument much better so I'm going to repeat this:

There are things that will damage the cause of having rape, and allegations thereof, taken seriously. Dismissing them out of hand as obviously a setup, when they're made against someone like Assange? That will damage the cause. Minimising the accusations (such as all the claims here and elsewhere that he's being charged with 'sex by surprise', or by some bizarre Swedish law saying unprotected consensual sex counts as rape)? That will damage the cause. Dragging up irrelevant details about the alleged victims (how many times did Miss A get referred to as a 'feminist' in all the early media coverage of this?), or publishing their names and personal information, or describing their behaviour to see if it lines up with how actual rape victims 'should' behave? That's the kind of thing that really damages the cause.
posted by Danila at 6:52 AM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do you genuinely believe that the way this case is approached by the prosecution and its ensuing media shitstorm is beneficial to future cases of rape? Because I really don't see it.

Yes dragging out all those things damage the cause, I see those reactions as inevitable, which is why the prosecution must produce a convincing case to stop the accusations publically. The anti-feminist reactions you listed are exactly why I think this is damaging for future cases. The natural way to counteract that is for the prosecution to be absolutely perfect in behavior, by not acting in good faith and acting in such a way that indicates this isn't like any other rape case, they are encouraging ignorant comments about motivations for claiming rape.

Look, I would totally be on board with you if the prosecution provided their evidence and the original prosecutor though they had a case. That isn't what happened and the result is an ignorant shitstorm and people have formed opinions on making spurious rape accusations. This hurts the cause. People are making these associations whether you like it or not and whether Assange is guilty or not.
posted by amuseDetachment at 7:02 AM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let me put it another way. If I were put on a jury in an unrelated case, and the defendant claimed that they were being persecuted as revenge (let's say for not giving a raise to their subordinate employee), I would be more inclined for a verdict of "not guilty". Before this case, I'd be more inclined to think that rape as a tool of revenge is bullshit and never happens. Now Im not as confident. Am I wrong to think this way? Probably, but people are imperfect and the mind takes shortcuts when reasoning. The publicity around this case encourages those terrible reasoning shortcuts because the prosecution is not acting in good faith.
posted by amuseDetachment at 7:16 AM on December 17, 2010


Assange is so clearly the victim of political persecution here that juries and journalists will be giving far greater credence to any claims of persecution for decades : minorities can more easily accuse the prosecution of racism, middle easterners accusing the woman of working for the CIA, etc. And all this will be massively magnified if & when the U.S. begins extradition proceedings against Assange.

Btw, there have also been violations of Swedish law on the side of the prosecution, well that's how we first learned about the case for example. American interests are still served so long as "wikileaks" and "rape" appear together in the news. Are your interests still served when those words are appearing in news about a very public libel case against Anna Ardin, or even disbarment proceedings for Marianne Ny?
posted by jeffburdges at 7:35 AM on December 17, 2010


Do you genuinely believe that the way this case is approached by the prosecution and its ensuing media shitstorm is beneficial to future cases of rape? Because I really don't see it.

I don't know enough about the Swedish legal system to comment on whether the prosecution should be approaching this differently. (I can't see any serious issues with how Assange has been dealt with in the UK, though.) The ensuing media shitstorm? Well, no, that's been full of conspiracy theories and rape apologism, and the treatment of the alleged victims has been awful to a degree where it's going to be even less likely for future rape victims to come forward as a consequence.

But it's not fair to say that this has happened this way because Sweden decided to pursue the case. Suggesting that implies that the best thing for future cases of rape would be to drop rape cases when the media starts howling, and I'd strongly disagree with that. Justice should continue regardless of media shitstorms.

the prosecution must produce a convincing case to stop the accusations publically

That would be a matter for a criminal trial (this is an extradition hearing), and I don't think 'everyone in the general public' should substitute for a jury.

Let me put it another way. If I were put on a jury in an unrelated case, and the defendant claimed that they were being persecuted as revenge (let's say for not giving a raise to their subordinate employee), I would be more inclined for a verdict of "not guilty".

So, you'd be more likely to believe a defence of 'These allegations are false, I'm being persecuted for revenge!' because of this case - based not on the fact that the allegations in this case have been established to be false and made out of revenge, but based on the fact that other people have claimed that they must be? That seems a bit misguided.
posted by Catseye at 8:58 AM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Three arguments for why Wikileaks does not qualify for journalistic protections, from the House Judiciary Committee:
  1. While traditional media outlets focus on publishing newsworthy information to educate the public, WikiLeaks focuses on obtaining and disclosing any official secrets.
  2. The media also gather news about sensitive areas of government operations through investigative reporting, he said, while WikiLeaks uses encrypted digital drop boxes to encourage disclosures of sensitive government information and circumvent laws prohibiting such disclosures.
  3. The media also typically limit disclosures only to sensitive information that specifically relates to a particular story deemed to be of public importance, Wainstein said. WikiLeaks, however, releases troves of documents with little or no regard for their relevance.
posted by acb at 9:18 AM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


In other words, Wikileaks isn't investigative journalism because they do it too well.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:30 AM on December 17, 2010 [10 favorites]


I believe our various systems of justice are all inherently unfair, biased, and most of them are sexist and racist.

Let's make up a number. How does 50% sound?

Since the vast vast majority of sexual assaults are never heard in a court of law

Let's make up another number. How does 90% sound?

and when they are the deck is unfairly stacked against the accusers

I love it. innocent until proven guilty == deck is unfairly stacked against the accuser. Hilarious.

then for a bystander (I am not judge or jury) to stick rigorously to "innocent until proven guilty" means upholding injustice

So, a percentage of a made-up number of a percentage of another made-up number based on your gut that feels like one of the basic tenants of our judicial system isn't nearly hard enough on the accused means upholding injustice? Did you check your coat at the door or your brain?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:37 AM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Civil_Disobedient, you're making up numbers and arguing against yourself, and being quite insulting in the process. So for the most part your comment is irrelevant to me. But this I'll respond to:

I love it. innocent until proven guilty == deck is unfairly stacked against the accuser. Hilarious.


Wait, I was going to respond to that, but again it's an argument I didn't make. So never mind.
posted by Danila at 11:59 AM on December 17, 2010


The full allegations against Assange in the Guardian
posted by never used baby shoes at 2:31 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I got really mad reading that article because that is not at all how the allegations have been presented. Not at all. Not sure there is really much more I have to say on this subject. Many feminist bloggers are out there saying what needs to be said very well.

But this quote sums it up for me:

The co-ordinator of the WikiLeaks group in Stockholm, who is a close colleague of Assange and who also knows both women, told the Guardian: "This is a normal police investigation. Let the police find out what actually happened. Of course, the enemies of WikiLeaks may try to use this, but it begins with the two women and Julian. It is not the CIA sending a woman in a short skirt."

Just let it proceed.
posted by Danila at 2:54 PM on December 17, 2010


The full allegations against Assange in the Guardian

Pretty obvious that this guy is an asshole, and I imagine he will find it difficult to get laid ever again. Sounds like he should have just got an STD test (or, even better, worn a condom) and none of this would have happened.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:13 PM on December 17, 2010


Just let it proceed.

I don't think anybody commenting has any power to influence whether the investigation proceeds or not. Do you mean that people shouldn't comment one way or the other about opinions on Assange's likely guilt or innocence, the appropriateness of the charges, or about how the case is being handled in general?
posted by Justinian at 3:14 PM on December 17, 2010


and I imagine he will find it difficult to get laid ever again.

I suspect you're waaaaaay off. Assholes get laid all the time. Famous and infamous assholes get laid even more than that.
posted by Justinian at 3:14 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


For me, there was an important revelation in the article - not just that Assange does come across as an asshole: his Swedish legal team does appear to have access to this material, despite all the public statements about not knowing what the allegations are.

The ultimate irony in the story, of course, is the fact that the Guardian was not authorized to access the documents.
posted by never used baby shoes at 3:24 PM on December 17, 2010


I got really mad reading that article because that is not at all how the allegations have been presented. Not at all.

Why is this something to get angry about? There has been a lot written on this subject and now there is further information available that casts the situation in a different light. Are you suggesting that others had this information available and deliberately withheld it or misrepresented it?
posted by ssg at 3:26 PM on December 17, 2010


So for the most part your comment is irrelevant to me

Yeah, everything except for the quote-y parts.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:31 PM on December 17, 2010


Wow that's pretty weak it that's all they got.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:41 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now, this is confusing:

We know wikileaks.ch is official.
However the original 'official' url that got taken down - wikileaks.org - currently redirects to wikileaks.info

wikileaks.info is not listed on the 'official' mirrors page at wikileaks.ch

Spamhaus warned on the 14th that wikileaks.info might be dodgy

wikileaks.INFO publishes this rather dodgy sounding denial, that is signed by 'wikileaks.info' but doesnt appear on wikileaks.ch

Now spamhaus are getting DDOSed by agents unknown, possibly Anonymous, possibly someone else.

Who is right, spamhaus or wikileaks.info?
(via Slashdot)
posted by memebake at 2:22 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


A Guardian Editorial from a couple of hours ago sums up the story so far, fairly even-handedly.
posted by memebake at 4:08 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jesus? The leaked Swedish prosecutor's report says he had sex with a woman who is asleep without a condom after she had asked that he use a condom?

Watch him now demand the privacy he didn't give everyone else.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:15 PM on December 18, 2010


The details from the NYT:

The Swedish documents trace the accounts given by the two women of their intimate encounters with Mr. Assange. As previously reported, both women say that Mr. Assange first agreed to use a condom and then refused, in the first instance by continuing with sex after the condom broke and in the second by having sex with a woman who was asleep without using a condom.

Mr. Borgstrom said Mr. Assange’s statement that he has “heard no evidence whatsoever” to support the allegations was false, since the contents of the police report were made available to his Swedish lawyers weeks ago. By presenting the case as a vendetta, he said, Mr. Assange and his legal team were misrepresenting a justice system that required approval from Sweden’s highest appeal court before the extradition warrant was approved. “Those who say that the judges in our court of appeal were influenced by pressure from the United States don’t know what they’re talking about,” he said. “It’s absurd”.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:20 PM on December 18, 2010


Yipe! Thanks for the heads up on that probably fake mirror, memebake.
posted by Marla Singer at 7:29 PM on December 18, 2010


Watch him now demand the privacy he didn't give everyone else.

Oh right, the government's right to keep its malfeasance private. I bet all the drool you've produced salivating over Assange's legal troubles comes in handy for your bootlicking.
posted by Marla Singer at 7:36 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh right, the government's right to keep its malfeasance private. I bet all the drool you've produced salivating over Assange's legal troubles comes in handy for your bootlicking.

The fact that I disagree with you on the issue of whether or not a person should dump large amounts of classified documents on to the internet does not make me a "bootlicker."

I'm certain upon reflection, you do not mean to insult me and are actually interested in debate rather than name calling.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:51 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth, it is said that you can't argue someone out of a viewpoint that they didn't argue themselves into. In the end all I can do in the face of blind adherence to American exceptionalism and authoritarianism is express my disgust.
posted by Marla Singer at 8:18 PM on December 18, 2010


Three dots:

1) It is general practice in Swedish law to keep the name of the accused under wraps until a guilty verdict is reached. The fact that Assange's name was released in the first round of investigation is suspicious.

2) The case was dropped, and then resumed again. Does the government have a case, or not?

3) Now we have a very one-sided leak of the prosecutor's case, brimming with lurid details. The Guardian piece says the defense has evidence in their own favor, but none of this was leaked.

Regardless of the truth of the allegations, it's clear that someone is playing games with the presentation of the case in the media. As for this: 'Watch him now demand the privacy he didn't give everyone else,' I haven't heard him say anything of the sort; if anything, I think he's mainly unhappy about the asymmetry of the leak.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:31 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think ironmouth is the person you are imagining him to be. It's not an unreasonable position by any stretch oto be against a massive release of classified documents, even if one opposes American foreign policy.

I think that he is a bit biased by his anti-wikileaks position to assume the worst of assange, but I'm seeing a lot of folks on the other side assuming the best.

Personally, I like a little bit of chaos, and like the monkey wrench that assange has thrown into the works, and I'm also inclined to support transparency, so I'm backing wikileaks.

That said, assange seems to me to be a bit of a creep and a megalomaniac, whether he is a rapist or not, and I think wikileaks would be better not to depend so much on one man.

Revolutions often are started by unsavory characters. But they shouldn't rely on them.
posted by empath at 8:32 PM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth: Mr. Borgstrom said Mr. Assange’s statement that he has “heard no evidence whatsoever” to support the allegations was false, since the contents of the police report were made available to his Swedish lawyers weeks ago. By presenting the case as a vendetta, he said, Mr. Assange and his legal team were misrepresenting a justice system that required approval from Sweden’s highest appeal court before the extradition warrant was approved.

The allegations published in the Guardian should certainly remind us that its perfectly possible that the allegations are true. So I understand your p.o.v, here Ironmouth.

If you look closely at Assange's claims of 'hearing no evidence', they're pretty nuanced. His complaint about the extradition hearings is that the prosecution presented no evidence in court and argued that they didn't need to. As for outside of the court, in the Newsnight interview on Dec 16th he said nothing has been presented in English, which he said was a breach of procedure.

But certainly the general impression one might get from his statements is that no evidence has been seen at all, which turns out to not be the case. I notice that when Assange is interviewed he has the skill of a career politician when it comes to spin, precise wording and arguing his side of the story. I don't know how he's honed those skills so quickly, but I guess with a case like this, he's going to employ them where he can. But personally I'm left with the feeling that he's telling the truth, but in a very spinny way.

Since the arrest warrant two weeks ago, Assange has been constantly saying "let's see the evidence" - he must have known that it would come up at some point (indeed in that Newsnight interview he knows there is a leak against him on the way), and he's certainly someone who plans ahead, so I think his legal team have placed all this emphasis on the evidence because they know that once its presented in court they have counter-evidence they can use.

Indeed, in this recent article Assange says that "I have seen a statement from one of the witnesses that she was bamboozled ... I have heard a rumour that one has withdrawn her statement."

Watch him now demand the privacy he didn't give everyone else.

As for the irony of Assange complaining about leaks, I guess he might say there's a difference between leaking government info and leaking asymmetrical details of a legal case against a person. As in Government privacy is different to personal privacy. But he does indeed complain about the leaks in the Newsnight interview (the leaking of his name to the Swedish tabloid). And as he hasn't yet clarified exactly what kind of leaks he supports, I guess his detractors have the right to point out the hypocrisy there.
posted by memebake at 2:05 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


It'd be interesting if the leaking of the Swedish prosecution papers leads to a mistrial.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:02 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Interestingly, all the variety of leaks by the Swedish prosecution are also highly suggestive of American involvement.

There was an initial leak immediately that most believe was Anna Ardin because Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilén had just spoken with the police, leaking it matches Ardin's 'revenge manifesto', and Ardin's tweets suggest she wanted a more serious relationship with Assange. It's obviously possible the leak was either the police or the prosecutor, or Ardin's attorney Claus Borgström assuming he was involved that early.

There was a second leak immediately after Assange was interviewed by the Swedish police. I'm dubious that Ardin could access & leak this information herself. We cannot completely rule out her hand, as Claus Borgström is extremely well connected politically. Yet, I'd presume that he could be fired or disbarred for any of these leak, so I'm doubtful that Borgström would leak these merely for Ardin's revenge.

We are thus left with the impression that Assange has been the victim of two separate leaking motivations, first Ardin's desire for revenge and second a governmental desire to discredit Assange and wikileaks. Yes, Ardin might've 'gotten close' to Assange for the CIA, who obviously know about her work in Cuba, but that's kinda irrelevant.

There have been subsequence leaks that seem timed largely for the purpose of keeping the wikileaks discussion focussed on the rape allegations, like the most recent article by the guardian. There is less and less chance that Ardin has played any role in each subsequence leak, meaning the Swedes are more & more under pressure to fire or disbar someone from the prosecution.

To me, all this points towards the Swedish prosecution's leaks actually being organized by either the Social Democrats or the American embassy. In either case, we might still see people from the prosecution being fired or disbarred, but surely this is less likely if the prosecution is sharing their case only with the American embassy, who then spoons out the leaks.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:39 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


re: the wikileaks.info domain that I wrote about above

ReadWriteWeb has a bit more detail

Wikileaks.info say that no-one notified them about the wikileaks.org redirect, but suddenly they were getting a million hits a day so they had to move to a 'bulletproof' host. Sort of makes sense.
I seem to remember that the original wikileaks.org domain was registered by Crytome, so perhaps thats part of the problem, as his relationship with WL is now unclear.
ReadWriteWeb's conclusion: right now it looks like a "no harm, no foul" sort of situation
posted by memebake at 6:42 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Journalist Guy Rundle has attempted to put together a 'timeline of Assange’s visit to Sweden and events that followed'.
posted by zueod at 8:02 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


ence between leaking government info and leaking asymmetrical details of a legal case against a person. As in Government privacy is different to personal privacy. But he does indeed complain about the leaks in the Newsnight interview (the leaking of his name to the Swedish tabloid). And as he hasn't yet clarified exactly what kind of leaks he supports, I guess his detractors have the right to point out the hypocrisy there.

Its funny, because his leaks were filled with personally identifiable information. I'm on a mobile here, but the Colbert interview with Assange is very instructive. Assange asserts he's entitled to privacy etc.--and he's genuinely surprised when Colbert says to him "privacy for you and not for me" when he points out that he left the voices of US Heliocopter pilots on the "collateral murder" tape. Wikileaks supporters are all "information is going to be free" and not thinking how this principle is going to affect them personally.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:11 AM on December 19, 2010


Can you really not see the difference between privacy w/r/t/ people acting as agents of the US government in the pursuit of war and privacy w/r/t/ someone's sexual interactions with others? Equating the two is just silly.
posted by ssg at 8:19 AM on December 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth: ... and he's genuinely surprised when Colbert says to him "privacy for you and not for me" when he points out that he left the voices of US Heliocopter pilots on the "collateral murder" tape. Wikileaks supporters are all "information is going to be free" and not thinking how this principle is going to affect them personally.

I would say that there's a difference between personal privacy (e.g. the things people might say to their friends and families as part of their personal lives) and organisational privacy - the things people say to their colleagues as part of their jobs - e.g. diplomatic cables, recordings of army communications, emails written by BoA executives. I suppose confidentiality might be the more appropriate term for the organisational privacy. The arguments for maintaining personal privacy are different to the arguments for maintaining organisational privacy.

In the case of the helicopter pilots, their loss of 'privacy' would probably be claimed to be a security risk to them or their colleagues. Which it may be, but that kind of organisation privacy is also being used to avoid accountability, as the collateral murder video showed.

I certainly wouldn't say that all information should be free, and neither would Wikileaks as they go to great lengths to keep their sources private. Some people might claim a simplistic creed of 'all information should be free' and I would join you in arguing against that.

I guess I support Wikileaks because they're addressing what I see as an accountability inbalance in some of our large organisational structures. And they are doing something that would have happened anyway in some form or other sooner or later - in the information age leaks can happen on a much larger and more public scale than ever before. To me they represent something we have to come to terms with at this point in our informational development.

Who can guess at how many wikileaks-sized dumps of information have changed hands recently in the global espionage world? Perhaps Wikileaks are just opening up to the public a channel of information that was previously only available to powerful states and mafias. Surely plenty of spies have had access to SIPRNet? I'm guessing here, so maybe someone can find some more informed speculation on this point.
posted by memebake at 8:46 AM on December 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


For MetaFilter comment junkies who are working their way through this:
This thread was one of a series of long threads about the Wikileaks Cablegate saga. Here's the sequence so far:

Nov 28th
http://www.metafilter.com/97964/States-Secrets
Dec 3rd
http://www.metafilter.com/98182/Government-reaction-to-Wikileaks
Dec 7th
http://www.metafilter.com/98280/Julian-Assange-Turns-Himself-In
Dec 9th
http://www.metafilter.com/98335/For-the-Chaotic-Good
Dec 14th
http://www.metafilter.com/98518/Julian-Assange-free-on-bail (this thread)
posted by memebake at 9:16 AM on December 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


It'd be interesting if the leaking of the Swedish prosecution papers leads to a mistrial.

Not really; a mistrial just means a future retrial. What would be interesting, however, is if the leak led to a full acquittal.

It won't, but it'd be interesting if it did!

What I think would be most interesting (and slightly more likely than an acquittal) is if the leak were proven to be a complete fabrication, and Assange sued for libel and won.

To me, all this points towards the Swedish prosecution's leaks actually being organized by either the Social Democrats or the American embassy. In either case, we might still see people from the prosecution being fired or disbarred, but surely this is less likely if the prosecution is sharing their case only with the American embassy, who then spoons out the leaks.

Why the Social Democrats? Asks this non-Swedish Social Democrat.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:52 AM on December 19, 2010


From zueod's link Claes Borgstrom becomes involved in the case. It is unclear whether the complainants approached him or vice versa. Borgstrom is a former minister in the Social Democratic Party, and was a for a time the “gender equality ombudsman”, a civil service post.
posted by adamvasco at 10:09 AM on December 19, 2010


One more thread is tangentially related as well, being about Bradley Manning (who is alleged to have leaked the documents that became know as the collateral murder video, the Iraq war logs and cablegate); the morality of the leaks and whether they constitute whistleblowing has been one of the topics under discussion:

http://www.metafilter.com/98648/813-ART-13-PUNISHMENT-PROHIBITED-BEFORE-TRIAL
posted by Marla Singer at 10:11 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


the voices of US Heliocopter pilots on the "collateral murder"

Oh yes, the agents of the US government who in the course of their duties revel over the deaths of a bunch of harmless people who had been milling around by laughing and exclaiming "Look at all those dead bastards," "Nice shooting," and "Thanks." The video in which it became clear that the US government had lied to Reuters about the death of two of their reporters who allegedly had died while embedded with a bunch of violent insurgents engaged in an active firefight with US forces. The video Reuters tried to get through legal means (the FOIA) but which supposedly didn't exist because the government had conveniently lost it. That video, and the "privacy" of those poor helicopter pilots was surely a matter of national security, not a potentially damning indictment of US military operations in Iraq, of the government's tendency to cover such things up, and proof of the need for more transparency. Nope. Blarghblargh privacynationalsecurity blargh.
posted by Marla Singer at 10:28 AM on December 19, 2010


In the case of the helicopter pilots, their loss of 'privacy' would probably be claimed to be a security risk to them or their colleagues. Which it may be, but that kind of organisation privacy is also being used to avoid accountability, as the collateral murder video showed.

Ok, so you are first saying that the accused has a right to privacy. Then you declare that the "organizational" right to privacy is outweighed by a need to learn of alleged coverups in the case of the army pilots. And you point to the army pilots as an example of collateral murder. If it is murder, aren't these pilots suspects? And if they are suspects, where's their right to personal privacy? Got it?

And there is no "organizational" privacy. It is a category you made up out of whole cloth for the purposes of finding some bizzare moral niche where its okay for Assange to leak but not for others to leak about him. It certainly does not exist under US law.

But the most important thing is that Assange has been lying about this case. He keeps saying he has seen none of the evidence. The NYT story makes it clear he's had all of this info the whole time. Had the evidence and ran. Why?
posted by Ironmouth at 10:37 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


To me, all this points towards the Swedish prosecution's leaks actually being organized by either the Social Democrats or the American embassy. In either case, we might still see people from the prosecution being fired or disbarred, but surely this is less likely if the prosecution is sharing their case only with the American embassy, who then spoons out the leaks.

American embassy? Swedish SDP? What evidence do you have? I have no evidence, but the prosecution has a strong motive to leak this. Assange has been all over TV insisting he hasn't seen the evidence, when in fact he has been lying and has had it for weeks. Again, I admit I have no evidence. But what possible motive does the US have? If they want to arrest him, they can indict him and then have local authorities arrest him in anyone of a dozen european countries for extradition.

The idea that this whole thing is a set up is weak. Because Assange did have intercourse with the women. Its only a question of whether it was a criminal act. And your only possible way out is that if two separate women that he had sex with were simultaneously induced (no evidence of any of it at all) by nefarious forces to falsely report that they were sexually assaulted by him. Why would they do that? What evidence do we have of any benefit to them for doing so? If the accusations are false, they are committing a crime.

Assange is tottering.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:49 AM on December 19, 2010


And there is no "organizational" privacy. It is a category you made up out of whole cloth

Unbelievable. You're the one who posited a right to privacy on the part of government actors carrying out their assigned duties. You're the one who made it up! Of course there is no such thing, which is what memebake was trying to show you.
posted by Marla Singer at 10:52 AM on December 19, 2010


If you look closely at Assange's claims of 'hearing no evidence', they're pretty nuanced. His complaint about the extradition hearings is that the prosecution presented no evidence in court and argued that they didn't need to. As for outside of the court, in the Newsnight interview on Dec 16th he said nothing has been presented in English, which he said was a breach of procedure.

But certainly the general impression one might get from his statements is that no evidence has been seen at all, which turns out to not be the case.


Even if the evidence was presented in writing--even if it was described in detail right to his face--as long as it's in a language the accused doesn't understand, it can hardly be described as adequate. Sure, it looks a bit weaselly, like Assange is calculatedly spinning an overly-precise truth into something more like a lie. But really, if someone made a serious complaint against you, and every newspaper in the world was speculating about your peculiar sexual proclivities, and you were being held in a foreign prison, and there were other, bigger reasons why you might be in that foreign prison, and politicians worldwide were calling for your head, wouldn't you want to know what evidence there was against you WRT the official reason for your detention, without having to take a course in Advanced Swedish Legalese to find out?

From zueod's link Claes Borgstrom becomes involved in the case. It is unclear whether the complainants approached him or vice versa. Borgstrom is a former minister in the Social Democratic Party, and was a for a time the “gender equality ombudsman”, a civil service post.

I fail to see how one lawyer, acting as counsel for the alleged victims in a rape case, could be construed to represent "The Social Democrats" as a whole, simply because he used to be an official in that party.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:09 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of another area where abuse of the term "privacy" has been occurring with alarming regularity: in cases where a police officer beats or threatens a citizen and someone happens to have a video of it which they make public, the police like to allege that their officers' right to privacy has been violated. See here for one example. (The charges were later thrown out of court in that particular case, thankfully.) Anyway, it's an obvious dodge designed to protect powerful entities from public accountability, whether in the case of police officers, soldiers, or diplomats.
posted by Marla Singer at 11:11 AM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


If it is murder, aren't these pilots suspects? And if they are suspects, where's their right to personal privacy? Got it?

I'm a bit confused about that. They're not suspects unless anyone was pressing for criminal charges, and no-one was. But I think you're trying to give an example of how organisational privacy overlaps with personal privacy. Which brings me to:

It is a category you made up out of whole cloth...

Well, its a concept I came up with to explain why (to me) leaking details of a criminal investigation against a person is different from leaking details of an organisation's operations. I wasn't claiming it was enshrined in law, and I'll concede that it might be a problematic distinction. Tell you what, if Wikileaks has ever leaked details of an ongoing criminal investigation against a person (as opposed to an organisation) then I'll concede the point and join you in calling him a hypocrite. (nb: Thats not a rhetorical offer).

In general, I think my need to distinguish between organisation and personal privacy comes from my feeling that the individuals (the little guys) need the scales tipped a little in their direction to get justice when they are up against large organisations (the big guys). I'm aware of the opposing point of view, that the big guys deserve to be big and wield the power that comes with that.

Had the evidence and ran. Why?

Thats a good question. He says he had permission to leave, although the Guardian says he was supposed to go back for the 14th October and didn't.
posted by memebake at 11:35 AM on December 19, 2010


Well, its a concept I came up with to explain why (to me) leaking details of a criminal investigation against a person is different from leaking details of an organisation's operations. I wasn't claiming it was enshrined in law, and I'll concede that it might be a problematic distinction.

The distinction's not problematic; you're just using the wrong words. There's secrecy (which is what you mean by "organizational privacy"), and there's privacy (which refers to private individuals).

Secrecy laws: 1, 2, 3
Privacy laws
posted by Sys Rq at 11:55 AM on December 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


This Guardian opinion piece asks So, Mr Assange, why won't you go back to Sweden now? (via Joe in Australia in the other thread)
Of course, if Julian Assange accepts his extradition, travels to this liberal hell-hole [sarcasm] and answers the relevant questions, something approaching the facts might be established. Why doesn't he just do it?
Thats a good question, which he answers at 8:08 in this Newsnight interview, arguing that "We have seen anything but a fair investigation on this matter in Sweden".

To me, Ironmouth's question "Had the evidence and ran. Why?" is more interesting. If indeed, he did have the evidence. Certainly he'd heard at least some of the accusations.

In that same Newsnight interview from the 16th December he says at 09:25 that another leak is coming (presumably the leak of prosecution documents that the Guardian published the next day) and that the leak is "...nothing that we have....". However the Guardian specifically says "it is understood his Swedish defence team have copies of all the documents seen by the Guardian"

So, either he's lying, or the Guardian is wrong, or his defence team in Sweden have been keeping things from his UK defence team, or the documents were released to his defence team at about the same time as the leak, or, if he's really splitting hairs, they had it in Swedish but not in English (perhaps the Guardian translated it themselves).

If he has been lying then he is going to have a serious globally visible case of pants on fire. Oh man.
posted by memebake at 12:03 PM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth: He keeps saying he has seen none of the evidence. The NYT story makes it clear he's had all of this info the whole time.

I dont think its been linked here, so for clarity: I think Ironmouth is referring to this report in the NYT, which covers similar ground to the Guardian one I have been discussing.
posted by memebake at 12:16 PM on December 19, 2010


A Little time with google has bought me this:
Claes Borgstrom's was the defense lawyer in the controversial Thomas Quick murder trial where it was questioned whether he had neglected to protect his mentally disturbed client's objective interests in being judged not guilty.
His law firm partner was / is Thomas Bodström, was the Swedish Minister for Justice from 2000 to 2006.
Thomas Bodström, has been heavily criticized by advocates of privacy and liberal think-tanks for his "work towards giving the police the possibility of monitoring people that might be involved in minor crimes." He also criticised Pirate Bay for its approach to file sharing as well as being a proponent of the European Union's Data Retention Directive.
Bodstrum recently gave up Politics to join his family in USA. Make of it what you will.
posted by adamvasco at 12:27 PM on December 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Assange is full of shit.
Where are the funds he raised on Mannings behalf
He says he doesn't know Manning, but w also said they didn't have the stare dept cables.
He says he hasn't been told the charges, but pretty clear evidence has been presented that he has received lots of information.

Why should we take anything he says as more than just the same deceptive / manipulative stuff presented by governments. I see no moral high ground here, just another cynical manipulator of world opinion advancing his own interests. Since his interests seem to be to destroy my country, why shouldn't I hope we destroy him first.
posted by humanfont at 12:38 PM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


humanfont: Where are the funds he raised on Mannings behalf

I can answer that one: 2010-12-17 Statement from Wikileaks Regarding the Bradley Manning Defense Fund
posted by memebake at 12:41 PM on December 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


humanfont: He says he doesn't know Manning, but wl also said they didn't have the stare dept cables.

Thats a good point - July 21st Wikileaks Denies Receiving Classified State Dept. Cables - There's a video embedded in that page (a TED talk) and at 06:45 Assange denies having the cables. Arguably, he's denying it to avoid incriminating Bradley Manning even further - Bradley had just been arrested at that point.
posted by memebake at 1:00 PM on December 19, 2010


humanfont - your country is doing quite well enough at destroying itself without any outside help. Assange is just the messenger.
posted by adamvasco at 1:12 PM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I assume that wikileaks as submitted the donation receipts for the manning defense fund to independent auditor? Hmm also no public meeting minutes of the wikileaks advisory board discussing audits and controls or authorization of a defense fund. In fact it would seem that some people claimed to be on the advisory board deny all. Actually from chat transcripts it seems that Assange has no board, internal controls and can simply ban volunteers and members at his own discression. He alone has access to the total repository of unpublished leaks and gets to parcel them out to suit his own agenda, which seems to be more about anarchy than accountability.
posted by humanfont at 1:33 PM on December 19, 2010


I see no moral high ground here, just another cynical manipulator of world opinion advancing his own interests. .

Yes, because there is no moral difference between a nation spreading lies which result in tens of thousands of deaths and a private individual possibly (possibly) making nuanced statements intending to mislead in an effort to protect himself or others. They're the same thing!
posted by Justinian at 3:03 PM on December 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have some misgivings about discussing the tweets of Assange's accusers because I think they are entitled to their anonymity (even though their names are all over the internet, and one of them is tweeting about the case tangentially). So I'll explain this without linking directly:

Earlier (despite my misgivings) I discussed one of Ms A's tweets in the other threads, because it seemed very important. Turns out something misleading was going on, which is also important to highlight here:

Its now clear that Ms A seems to have renamed her twitter account sometime between Dec 8th and Dec 12th. This enabled someone else to take her old twitter name (people visiting it will have noticed that around Dec 12th all the tweets disappeared and the number of followers dropped to near zero). The imposter tweeted something that roughly translated to: "I'm so sick of everything that happens, does it ever end? Want anyway inform theorists that "the other" was as much a driving force." Turns out this wasn't the real Ms A.

The real Ms A tweeted on Dec 17th: "I have changed the twitter name, but it is me who is the real (her name)". This can be verified by visiting her blog where she writes a similar message.

The earlier Dec 8th tweets supporting the Anonymous ddos and 'can I be all those things?' that were widely reported are still there and appear to be genuine.

I guess the hijacking of her old twitter name highlights why she should be entitled to anonymity.
posted by memebake at 4:32 PM on December 19, 2010


Reading the detailed accounts of the events in question, it's all so tawdry. I should know better by now, but I'm always surprised at the dissonance between the public and private lives of people who live in the public eye. This is like reading the Starr report about Clinton's misbehavior -- none of it is quite bad enough to want to shoot the guy, but none of it makes you want him to date a friend of yours, either.
posted by Forktine at 6:20 PM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Justinian, it's pretty likely that among the cables there are at least some which are designed to protect people. In fact I presume the vast bulk of them are like that, despite the fact that they also document some pretty awful behavior. Why should Assange be given the benefit of the doubt, but not the US State Department?
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:32 PM on December 19, 2010


There's a growing hullabaloo on Twitter right now about rape, media, Michael Moore and Assange; check the #Mooreandme hashtag:

Excellent summary of events from Kate Harding: Why I’m On Board With #Mooreandme

An earlier Harding post: Some Shit I’m Sick of Hearing Regarding Rape and Assange

Another thoughtful look at the issues raised

Sadie Doyle's original post creating the #Mooreandme hashtag
posted by mediareport at 8:44 PM on December 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


humanfont: “Why should we take anything he says as more than just the same deceptive / manipulative stuff presented by governments. I see no moral high ground here, just another cynical manipulator of world opinion advancing his own interests. Since his interests seem to be to destroy my country, why shouldn't I hope we destroy him first.”

Assuming that "my country" here means the United States, which is where I live as well: I think it's simplistic and moreover misleading to say that Julian Assange's "interests" seem to be "to destroy my country." What do you mean by that? That he says he hates the United States and what we stand for? My roommate upstairs says he's a communist, and quotes from the little red book; at turns I mock him and argue with him about it (because I find the little red book, and the Maoism for which it stands, utterly despicable) but I accept that he's utterly benign. That is, my roommate, who is so misled about communism and about justice, is not about to kill anybody or get anybody killed. The point is that, in the United States, speech is free; so we have to look at what my roommate does, not what he says. The point is not whether Julian Assange (or Wikileaks in general) spouts anti-American bluster. Lots and lots of people, Americans and non-Americans, spout the same kind of bluster. The question is: what does Wikileaks do?

They publish information. They publish leaked governmental information. And – that's not illegal, nor should it be. We have freedom of the press for a reason, and if Wikileaks' goal is to destroy America, then Woodward and Bernstein were out to destroy America too when they published the information that the president of the United States was engaged in illegal political espionage.

The government has every right to attempt to keep certain secrets, but as an American citizen I'm frankly aware that I used to live in a country that had a proper enough fear and wariness about the government to insist that speech be free, that leaked information indicating that public officials had committed crimes be made available so that those officials must face their crimes, that we as citizens have a right to know what our government is doing. As I say, I don't mind the government trying to keep secrets, but it has always been the case that the government has to do so under the limitation that whomever they share those secrets with is perfectly within their rights to publish it. As Bradley Manning was. No matter how you feel about this stuff, publishing information about the state has never been illegal in the United States – nor should it be. And I hesitate to use such a hackneyed phrase as "anti-American," but if I were to use it, it would be to refer to the act of making criminal the very speech that the Constitution of the United States is supposed to protect.

I repeat: it has never been illegal under United States law to publish information about the doings of the United States government in any sphere – nor should it be. Making such acts illegal would not only be technically wrong; it would violate the very deepest principles enshrined in the Constitution. It is true that there is legislation against treason – but in no sense can Julian Assange be said to be waging war against the United States or attempting to interfere with active military campaigns. However I feel about Julian Assange, I think the general American resentment of the Wikileaks project is a strong indication that Americans are utterly unaware of the contents of their own laws and even of their own Constitution at this point. And that saddens me.
posted by koeselitz at 10:02 PM on December 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


It is true that there is legislation against treason – but in no sense can Julian Assange be said to be waging war against the United States or attempting to interfere with active military campaigns.

Even if he was, that wouldn't matter.

As an Australian citizen, the only country he could possibly commit treason against would be Australia, no?
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:12 PM on December 19, 2010


Exactly, UbuRoivas. I'm considering more the broader implications of Assange's case, but he himself couldn't even be tried if he were doing anything treasonous, which he is not. However, this is an important distinction to make, in my mind, considering that there is an American citizen at the moment being held in connection with this case. And while I understand that Bradley Manning's situation is under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, I only wanted to point out that, if an American citizen were to share this information, they would not in any way be committing a crime under the law so long as they are not a member of the U S Military.
posted by koeselitz at 10:42 PM on December 19, 2010


but in no sense can Julian Assange be said to be waging war against the United States or attempting to interfere with active military campaigns.

That's not what the Vice President, Joe Biden, says.

I wonder whether Biden's statements are just sabre-rattling rhetoric, or an indication that Assange won't be subject to civilian rules of engagement from now on.
posted by acb at 3:39 AM on December 20, 2010


I wonder whether Biden's statements are just sabre-rattling rhetoric

I'll stick my neck out and make some predictions: I reckon it would be too risky for the USA to try and prosecute Assange - any charges they bring will be highly contentious and would lead to a long dragged out media circus of a trial. Instead they will continue to hint that they are looking at pressing charges, but they won't get round to actually doing anything. Bradley Manning wont fare so well, and probably wont ever get out of that cell he's in. Assange might succeed in avoiding extradition to Sweden, but will eventually go there and face the charges. He'll get a fair, but long dragged out trial, and the charges will either be thrown out or he'll be convicted and pay some minor penalty like a fine or suspended sentence.
posted by memebake at 4:02 AM on December 20, 2010


I'm afraid those articles by the NYT and the Guardian read like pretty transparent hatchet jobs and provide no actual evidence, not even the statements by Anna Ardin or Sofia Wilén. There are however numerous statements by the lawyers on both sides, who're considerably more constrained by the truth than whoever's been feeding the NYT and the Guardian.

Assange's lawyer has said they've not seen any evidence. Swedish and British prosecutors have never afaik openly contradicted that statement. In fact, the British prosecutors even declined to provide evidence after the judge told them not doing so would hurt their case against bail. There is also a very precise timeline linked by zueod above.

Btw, I mentioned the Social Democrat's up thread simply because they'll get hurt more than most other parties by cablegate, plus Claus Borgström works for them, but MUST works too. Anyone who holds the authority to examine the prosecution's records while not risking disbarment for leaking them.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:28 AM on December 20, 2010




I'll stick my neck out and make some predictions: I reckon it would be too risky for the USA to try and prosecute Assange - any charges they bring will be highly contentious and would lead to a long dragged out media circus of a trial.

Could they not try him in a closed court, on the grounds that key evidence is classified and would jeopardise field agents/operations if revealed in an open court? What's the procedure when trying double agents and such?
posted by acb at 7:04 AM on December 20, 2010


I'm afraid those articles by the NYT and the Guardian read like pretty transparent hatchet jobs and provide no actual evidence, not even the statements by Anna Ardin or Sofia Wilén. There are however numerous statements by the lawyers on both sides, who're considerably more constrained by the truth than whoever's been feeding the NYT and the Guardian.

Please do not post the names of the alleged rape victims.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:04 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I reckon it would be too risky for the USA to try and prosecute Assange

Huh. Me, I'm reckoning that a frightened Obama thinks it's too risky for his reelection chances to *not* try and prosecute Assange.
posted by mediareport at 7:08 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


I repeat: it has never been illegal under United States law to publish information about the doings of the United States government in any sphere – nor should it be.

This is simply factually inaccurate. There are sections of the US Code that allow it.
18 U.S.C. section 797. Publication and sale of photographs of defense installations.

On and after thirty days from the date upon which the President defines any vital military or naval installation or equipment as being within the category contemplated under section 795 of this title, whoever reproduces, publishes, sells, or gives away any
photograph, sketch, picture, drawing, map, or graphical representation of the vital military or naval installations or equipment so defined, without first obtaining permission of the
commanding officer of the military or naval post, camp, or station concerned, or higher authority, unless such photograph, sketch, picture, drawing, map, or graphical representation has clearly indicated thereon that it has been censored by the proper military or naval authority, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
(Emphasis added).

It is a crime to publish defense information. Punishable by a year in jail
posted by Ironmouth at 7:10 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is a crime to publish defense information.

It is a crime to publish photographs of military installations, you mean. There's a difference.
posted by mediareport at 7:25 AM on December 20, 2010


Sorry for being glib, I mean to say that "defense information" is so broad some folks would include "cables from the Secretary of State asking for employees to surreptitiously collect DNA samples from foreign leaders" as "defense information," but the code you cite (and I suspect any others) is much more specific than that.
posted by mediareport at 7:28 AM on December 20, 2010


It is a crime to publish photographs of military installations, you mean. There's a difference.

There are other sections. Also see title 50. It is illegal. Flat out.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:30 AM on December 20, 2010


Again, just to be clear, publishing diplomatic cables is not "flat out" illegal. It's very arguable.
posted by mediareport at 7:44 AM on December 20, 2010


Again, just to be clear, publishing diplomatic cables is not "flat out" illegal. It's very arguable.

It will be an interesting case. I was merely responding to the claim upthread, which is really without basis.

Also, what about Valerie Plame? The Intelligence Identities Protection Act? Say a newspaper reporter finds on the ground a list of US agents and publishes them.

Also, nobody has read Schenck v. U.S.?

It is a crime to publish defense information.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:12 AM on December 20, 2010


I was unaware that American laws applied to the whole world.
posted by empath at 8:23 AM on December 20, 2010


I was unaware that American laws applied to the whole world.

There has to be a specific level of contact with the U.S. for criminal jurisdiction to attach. See cases regarding Russian spammers. Certainly those sending child porn in to the US can be criminally charged.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:35 AM on December 20, 2010


Certainly those sending child porn in to the US can be criminally charged.

Wouldn't they normally be charged under laws in their own jurisdiction?
posted by empath at 8:53 AM on December 20, 2010


MeTa
posted by mlis at 8:54 AM on December 20, 2010


Ironmouth: “It is a crime to publish defense information. Punishable by a year in jail”

Thank you for the correction. It sure as hell shouldn't be, and it makes me more than a little uncomfortable to discover that that's the case.
posted by koeselitz at 12:23 PM on December 20, 2010


Thank you for the correction. It sure as hell shouldn't be, and it makes me more than a little uncomfortable to discover that that's the case.

The plans for a nuclear bomb? The plans to invade Normandy? Should those be allowed to be published without fear of criminal sanction? I say no.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:38 PM on December 20, 2010


Jaclyn Friedman vs Naomi Wolf debate the case on DN!. Best DN segment since the truthers got taken down.
posted by humanfont at 12:42 PM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


koeselitz: I repeat: it has never been illegal under United States law to publish information about the doings of the United States government in any sphere

ironmouth
This is simply factually inaccurate. There are sections of the US Code that allow it ...

mediareport: It is a crime to publish photographs of military installations, you mean. There's a difference.

Ironmouth: There are other sections. Also see title 50. It is illegal. Flat out.

mediareport: Again, just to be clear, publishing diplomatic cables is not "flat out" illegal. It's very arguable.

Ironmouth
: It will be an interesting case. I was merely responding to the claim upthread, which is really without basis.

empath: I was unaware that American laws applied to the whole world.

Ironmouth: There has to be a specific level of contact with the U.S. for criminal jurisdiction to attach. See cases regarding Russian spammers. Certainly those sending child porn in to the US can be criminally charged.

empath:Wouldn't they normally be charged under laws in their own jurisdiction?

just wanted to say: This was great dialogue, and very civil, and makes me feel a lot better about all the time I spend here.
posted by memebake at 12:42 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


The plans for a nuclear bomb? The plans to invade Normandy? Should those be allowed to be published without fear of criminal sanction? I say no.

What we're seeing with Wikileaks is just how much of this "defense information" is completely and totally not remotely similar in import to plans for a nuclear bomb or the plans to invade Normandy. The question is more along the lines of: is 99.99% of the material that's legally a government secret completely unrelated to any vital issue like that, or is it 99.999% - how many nines are we talking, basically.
posted by XMLicious at 2:14 PM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


The plans for a nuclear bomb? The plans to invade Normandy? Should those be allowed to be published without fear of criminal sanction? I say no.

What we're seeing with Wikileaks is just how much of this "defense information" is completely and totally not remotely similar in import to plans for a nuclear bomb or the plans to invade Normandy. The question is more along the lines of: is 99.99% of the material that's legally a government secret completely unrelated to any vital issue like that, or is it 99.999% - how many nines are we talking, basically.


My point is this--this is a question of where the line is drawn, not that a line cannot be drawn. There are many in these threads who are asserting an absolute right to publication. I do not think such a right exists. Acknowledging the principle that indeed, the government has some practical need to keep some secrets is the first step into getting some place where everyone agrees.

I also think that the difference between prior restraint and post-publication criminal prosecution has to be pointed out. The government may lack the power to prevent publication under the prior restraint doctrine while having the power to criminally prosecute after publication.

I suspect that most of the material here cannot be censored under the prior restraint doctrine, and I think that is a good thing. But I also think post-publication criminal charges are in order for Assange.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:31 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I see what you're saying, but the problem is that it's much, much easier to demonstrate that the populace and the world have a practical and proven need to not let this government keep secret whatever it wants to, than it is to demonstrate that any actual practical needs of the government have been interfered with here. The argument is that there's an inherent systemic need for secrecy that would motivate any need for prosecution but taken in the context of the overall system it's pretty obvious that it's not Assange who is the one dropping the ball and causing the system to not work properly.

It's obvious that there are many more people within the government who are far more deserving of going to prison than Assange for abusing legitimate need for government secrecy - and we know they aren't going to be punished, so it's difficult to take seriously any notion that his pursuit and prosecution are going to be very just. If in the future something happens that's equivalent in severity to revealing to the Nazis the details of the plans for invading Normandy it's pretty clearly going to be the fault of the (many, many) people who take the government's power of secrecy and the trust placed in it and apply it to the much more loathsome secrets we've been finding out about, rather than the fault of people like Assange.
posted by XMLicious at 5:45 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Assange has reportedly sold the rights to his memoirs.

Do supermax penitentiary inmates get to write memoirs and send them to the outside world? If not, he might want to write them hastily.
posted by acb at 7:21 AM on December 21, 2010


I see what you're saying, but the problem is that it's much, much easier to demonstrate that the populace and the world have a practical and proven need to not let this government keep secret whatever it wants to, than it is to demonstrate that any actual practical needs of the government have been interfered with here. The argument is that there's an inherent systemic need for secrecy that would motivate any need for prosecution but taken in the context of the overall system it's pretty obvious that it's not Assange who is the one dropping the ball and causing the system to not work properly.


In the grand scheme, little of what we have seen so far is that huge--which is a double edged sword--yes he hasn't done much damage--but nor is he doing anything of tremendous value.

What this fight is about is the principle--is it a good thing to use emerging technologies for mass dissemination of random secrets ?

I say this is a principle that needs to be fought tooth and nail. Yes, too much is classified. But the solution is to continue to press for change within the democratic system--not to just throw secrets out there at random. If Assange wants to destroy all secrecy use by all governments, or overturn the nation-state, then I am against that.

Part of the issue is that I regularly use secrecy in my work--my client communications cannot be discovered by court process, and I have someone whose job it is to mess me (and my clients) up and directly thwart me. I am a litigator--I need that secrecy. And so it is very easy to see how the government needs it too. It does go after insider traders, bank fraudsters, child molesters and murderers. It needs secrecy to get those jobs done. And it needs secrecy to carry out the foreign policy aims of the government and to win military victories.

Part of the problem is the frustration people have with democracy--they can see nearly everything, they know the problems, yet their policy is not adopted by the government. And the idea is that if people knew that innocents are killed along with al qaeda, they would pressure the government to stop it. But that isn't the case. The government let's us know all of the time they are doing drone strikes in Pakistan. Its all over the news. And people know innocents are killed. But they agree with the policy. So they continue to vote for people who do that.

That's why these secrets have barely made a ripple and that the focus is on Assange. Because it turns out that the government and the media have told us what is going on. And the people are ok with it continuing for now. This is the price of democracy--seeing a policy we don't like enacted right in front of our face. But it is the only alternative worth having.

Better we have the opportunity to carry out our policies in their face some of the time than to have dictatorship.

I've wandered far afield. But my point is simple--the government needs operational security to get some of its tasks done. And revealing that operational security harms the government's ability to do things it needs to do. And the alleged benefit--that people will vote for policies that some want to see executed is really never going to materialize. So I'm against it.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:41 AM on December 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


In the grand scheme, little of what we have seen so far is that huge--which is a double edged sword--yes he hasn't done much damage--but nor is he doing anything of tremendous value.

I agree with you that operational security is vital for a government and a military force to operate. But you have absolutely no grounds to assert that those cables haven't done much damage to date, or won't in the future. Our own intelligence services don't know how the release might affect us long-term:
The Pentagon said Tuesday it would be "hard to quantify" the danger posed by the WikiLeaks release of secret documents but insisted the information would be used by US adversaries.

"If someone has been killed as a result, it's very tangible and very quantifiable," Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan told reporters.

"But how do you quantify information that our adversaries have got about how we operate? How do you quantify some other damaging elements like learning how we gather information and intelligence, altering their behavior because of things that they've learned?" he said.

"We do know from various means that our adversaries are out there actively mining this for information."
There have been thousands of classified documents released regarding the wars we are waging in Iraq and Afghanistan. They describe a wide range of secret activities that took place from 2003 to 2010, including tips from and meetings between informants and US representatives. The informants are apparently named, which could theoretically put them at risk for targeted retribution from insurgent forces. They could also put American forces (civilian and military) at risk. The docs include assessments by US intelligence that Pakistan's intelligence service has planned and executed attacks in Afghanistan, and revealed further details about the delicate dance we have been engaged in with regard to Pakistan -- two revelations which could conceivably destabilize an already precarious region, or worse, destabilize relations between three nuclear powers: India, Pakistan, the US as well as all three countries' relations with Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, there's this from December 6th:
In the latest bombshell release from WikiLeaks is a massive list of infrastructure deemed ‘critical’ by the U.S. State Department. The list, which was compiled in 2009, outlines infrastructure “whose loss could critically impact the public health, economic security, and/or national and homeland security of the United States.” Critics of WikiLeaks has said the release could help terrorists by giving them a list of targets for future attacks.
This is all ground that has been covered thoroughly in other threads.
posted by zarq at 9:40 AM on December 21, 2010


In the latest bombshell release from WikiLeaks is a massive list of infrastructure deemed ‘critical’ by the U.S. State Department. The list, which was compiled in 2009, outlines infrastructure “whose loss could critically impact the public health, economic security, and/or national and homeland security of the United States.” Critics of WikiLeaks has said the release could help terrorists by giving them a list of targets for future attacks.

That's terrible. Inexcusable.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:01 AM on December 21, 2010


That's terrible. Inexcusable.

What's interesting about the document (not the one in the National Post link, which only lists Canadian sites, but the original at Wikileaks website) is it lists a ton of places that one wouldn't necessarily think of as vital to our national infrastructure/interests, located outside our borders. Mines, research facilities and many, many other places, throughout the world.

It would be pretty easy to compile a list of places within the US which could be considered important targets. And one would assume we're capable of defending any of them, because they're within our own borders. But that list includes places in countries where we can't establish a military presence, and can't necessarily assume that the host country can protect it adequately against a terrorist or concerted military attack. Such as Russia, for example.

To get to some of those countries, Al Queda (or any other terrorist organization,) wouldn't have to go very far. Yemen. Qatar. Saudi Arabia. Morocco.

Now they just may know a way to hurt us, tangibly, without leaving home.

I'm not much for alarmism or political fearmongering. But seeing that particular document flying across the net, being disseminated by the press concerns me.
posted by zarq at 10:41 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Other Dangerous leaks:

-Cables summarizing depositions of Victims of Torture in Eritrea to US Embassy Staff names redacted but enough information to put them in danger (date of arrest, some personal details)
-Details of methods for protecting people from IED's in Iraq and Afghanistan, including details about technical jamming capabilities. (prior to Cablegate)
-Numerous cables regarding people working with the US Embassy to curtail corruption in Mozambique and Nigeria in particular.
-Diplomatic security information including specific responses to things like suspicious cars parked near embassies.

All of these things don't blow any whistle, don't show the US engaged in any criminal activity and likely simply endanger lives.
posted by humanfont at 10:42 AM on December 21, 2010


It would be pretty easy to compile a list of places within the US which could be considered important targets

you can start here.
posted by clavdivs at 2:48 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mr Assange also confirmed that WikiLeaks was holding a vast amount of material about a bank which it intends to release early next year.

'Shares in Bank of America recently fell after speculation spread that it was the target.'
posted by clavdivs at 2:53 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've wandered far afield. But my point is simple--the government needs operational security to get some of its tasks done. And revealing that operational security harms the government's ability to do things it needs to do.

That's what wikileaks is trying to do. Harm the ability of the US to act. That's the entire point of indiscriminate leaking. They're intentionally trying to sabotage use foreign policy.

Raising public consciousness is a side benefit if it happens at all.
posted by empath at 3:22 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's what wikileaks is trying to do. Harm the ability of the US to act. That's the entire point of indiscriminate leaking. They're intentionally trying to sabotage use foreign policy.

That's an act of war. I am not in favor of that. How could I want my own country's foreign policy screwed up? I have wanted it to change, especially during the Bush years. But deliberately fucking it up is a totally different thing. That's throwing out a lot of baby with a lot of bathwater. And it makes no sense to then disclose identifying information about depositions of Victims of Torture in Eritrea, or possible places that could cripple my country if attacked. I live here. Why would I want my life wrecked by terrorists attacking stuff here? I can't see how someone in the US would want their own country attacked--its like shooting yourself in the foot. And it really has little to do with foreign policy.

I guess some people are into anarchy. I'm not.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:55 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, what a jerk:
Mr Assange claimed that the Swedish authorities had asked that his Swedish lawyer be "gagged", adding that his offers to be interviewed by video link or by Swedish officials in Britain had been rejected. "I don't need to be at the beck and call of people making allegations," he said. "I don't need to go back to Sweden. The law says I ... have certain rights, and these rights mean that I do not need to speak to random prosecutors around the world who simply want to have a chat, and won't do it in any other standard way." Mr Assange said that one account of what occurred in August was that after having discovered they had each had sex with him, the women had got into a "tizzy" about the possibility of sexually transmitted diseases.
Dude keeps sticking his foot in his mouth. Its like he thinks he's above being investigated or something. Uh, when you are accused of sexual misconduct, you are at the beck and call of prosecutors, especially if you tell the Swedes you'll come back so they let you out of the country. That's what he agreed to do.

And in regards to his lying about not having any details of the allegations:

He said that he still had not seen the full extent of the allegations against him, although he accepted that his Swedish lawyer had been handed many of the details.

Weren't exactly being honest before, were you?
posted by Ironmouth at 4:03 PM on December 21, 2010


That's an act of war.

That's an act of bullshit.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:14 PM on December 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think these women lowered their guard because of his group social status and noble public persona. He used those to get them into a position where he had them alone and then used a combination of physical pressure and their continued trust to have sex with them. This happens in church congregations enough that the pattern seems obvious. The pastor ends up forcing himself on several women in the congregation who each believe in the cause and in him. The date rape event is forgiven as either a one time, I don't know what came over us one time thing, the woman blames herself or it turns into a very disfunctional relationship. It usually ends when two women talk to each other and discover that Father McGrabbyhands has been making these "mistakes" for years with both of them. When it blows up there is a big church meeting and the congregation lines up to beg the beloved pastor to stay, as he plays the victim card. Usually the women end up being asked to leave the church.
posted by humanfont at 7:48 PM on December 21, 2010


How could I want my own country's foreign policy screwed up? I have wanted it to change, especially during the Bush years. But deliberately fucking it up is a totally different thing.

Assange is not American. Let's assume that Assange is a state-actor and is committing espionage in order to undermine the international standing of the US -- is espionage by itself an act of war? Considering that we are spying on the UN and all of our allies, I'd be careful with your response.
posted by empath at 8:52 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Intelligence gathering itself is not an act of war. If Assange were a spy working for a state then the very murky laws regarding detention and pursuit of spies would apply. The state he acts for would also be subject to reciprocal retaliation under the principles of self defense and pursuit of national interests.
posted by humanfont at 2:40 AM on December 22, 2010


Apple Bans Lame WikiLeaks App
posted by XMLicious at 2:45 AM on December 22, 2010


Intelligence gathering itself is not an act of war.

It's not the gathering but the public dissemination that's of concern. Other nations can generally be counted upon to exercise some degree of decorum, if only due to the principle of mutually-assured destruction. Something like WikiLeaks cannot. It's effectively an anti-secrecy neutron bomb, designed to indiscriminately annihilate secrecy as a matter of principle. Which is a key distinction between it and mainstream journalistic operations, much in the way that The Pirate Bay differs from search engines. Intent is what matters, and courts pay attention to this sort of thing. I suspect a court will rule that WikiLeaks is not subject to First Amendment protections.
posted by acb at 3:24 AM on December 22, 2010




Now that network neutrality has been nixed in the US, I wonder how long until the US backbone providers start dropping packets from Wikileaks and mirrors. Just being good corporate citizens and doing their patriotic duty, like PayPal, Apple and so on.

And so, having cut off Wikileaks from the international financial system and the internet without a single law or government degree, the US business community will have proven nation-state governments to be redundant; even the libertarian "nightwatchman state" is more than is strictly necessary, when corporate entities will band together for mutual defence in the name of enlightened self-interest. Perhaps, in some years, this will be used as an example for abolishing government altogether, leaving only an oligarchy of corporations, mercenary forces and megachurches.
posted by acb at 8:21 AM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Net neutrality isn't gone. Read the other thread that debunks the misconceptions about this. Wikileaks has been able to continue to raise money. Of course companies and people are going to band together out of self interest. That's the core of politics.
posted by humanfont at 8:33 AM on December 22, 2010


Now that network neutrality has been nixed in the US

"Net Neutrality" never existed in the US. There were never, ever, any regulations regarding it.
posted by empath at 8:35 AM on December 22, 2010


Net neutrality isn't gone. Read the other thread that debunks the misconceptions about this.

Don't the new rules, by specifically referring to "legal" content, open the doors for ISPs being deputised to block copyright infringement and other violations? This sounds like the situation where they could blackhole Wikileaks on the same pretext PayPal/Visa/MasterCard/Apple used as soon as the regulations come in.
posted by acb at 9:21 AM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not a fan of Assange and I'm deeply ambivalent about the leaks. However, this thread has lately become a chorus of the opinion that the leaks are unjustifiable and do no good, so I feel like playing devil's advocate about that.

Let's go back a few days to Ghana. What got leaked here is a series of conversations between U.S. and U.K. officials, where the U.K. officials basically said, look, Ghana is collapsing under the weight of drug corruption, to the point where Ghana's president is actually complaining to us about his senior staff and entourage smuggling hefty drug packages on diplomatic flights. According to the cables, the Brits are aware that high-ranking officials from Ghana are just walking suitcases full of coke through VIP airport lounges and directly into the U.K.

That's the secret - and meanwhile, the U.K. is pouring hundreds of thousands of pounds into something called Operation Westbridge, which is purportedly making good use of taxpayer money by busting teenage drug mules. The idea that Operation Westbridge is going to make a significant impact on the U.K.'s drug problem while foreign diplomats are allowed to continue to bring mass drugs into the country . . . well, that sounds kind of like bullshit to me.

Now, does this revelation impact Britain's operational security in a negative way? Hell yes it does. Is it suddenly going to get harder for the governments involved to milk taxpayers for a fake drug war while turning a blind eye to the actual problem? Hell yes it is. I think this is good thing. The U.K. has a screwed up policy in this area, and if not for the leaks, nobody would have ever known about it, at least not for decades.

In my opinion it comes down to this: do you believe that our current system of international relations, in all its warty, oppressive, red-handed glory, is something that needs to be protected and kept secret so that we can all continue to live in relative luxury on the backs of the world's less fortunate? It's not an easy question to answer, and make no mistake, this is what Wikileaks wants - to bring the whole house of cards down.

Yes, people will probably be killed. But people are being killed right now, in your name, on your dime.
posted by chaff at 11:26 AM on December 22, 2010 [6 favorites]


And here's another one, posted today: "The British government has been training a Bangladeshi paramilitary force condemned by human rights organisations as a "government death squad", leaked US embassy cables have revealed."

School of the Americas, anyone? It's so terrible that this leak has violated Britain's operational security in this area! Someone might get hurt!
posted by chaff at 11:33 AM on December 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


There are reports that the entire Wikileak cable database is now in the hands of the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:11 PM on December 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Chaff your analysis of the Ghana cable makes no sense. The President of Ghana was asking for additional screening of the VIPs and new screening machines. You seem to be suggesting that the leak somehow helps the investigation of these allegations, or indicates that nothing was done.

And the regarding RAB force in Bangladesh did you read the part of the memo where the only training being provided by the British is Human Rights training. To quote:
The team was briefed on the RAB's efforts to incorporate human rights training into the curriculum at the training academy and at the unit level. This training, some of which is conducted by a local human rights group, is given to all new personnel transferring into the RAB. (Note: Although it shares our concerns, the British High Commission has already started a pilot round of Human Rights training with the RAB; the British will closely monitor program impact before launching a second round, which will require Ministerial approval
Oh no the outrage the US is secretly considering providing human rights training in conjunction with a local human rights organization and is discussing things carefully with the British who have a secret pilot in place. This undisclosed assessment is considered in confidence because the local Bagladeshi population thinks the RAB is effective and is sensitive to the criticisms. I supose we will have to start all over now. Our human rights training initiative will have to be delayed. Great work Julian blowing the whistle on that nefarious lot to reign in a Bangladeshi death squad. Well what do you expect from the pervy date rapist.
posted by humanfont at 3:43 PM on December 22, 2010


Don't the new rules, by specifically referring to "legal" content, open the doors for ISPs being deputised to block copyright infringement and other violations? This sounds like the situation where they could blackhole Wikileaks on the same pretext PayPal/Visa/MasterCard/Apple used as soon as the regulations come in.

Under the old rules, ISP's could do whatever the fuck they wanted.
posted by empath at 3:45 PM on December 22, 2010


What do you suppose the chances are that Assange will end up extrajudicially executed, not on orders from the Whitehouse or the Pentagon but from a glass-fronted skyscraper somewhere in Manhattan, carried out by Blackwater-style mercenaries?

Which would only serve to transform him into the Che Guevara of the 21st century. Within a few years, his likeness will be used to sell commodified rebellion to disaffected teens across McWorld. And this time, they'll be able to buy it with MasterCard or PayPal.
posted by acb at 5:27 PM on December 22, 2010


The picture painted of the US/UK involvement with the RAB at the Guardian is a bit more muddled than you suggest, humanfront. The UK has also provided trainings in interrogation techniques and other police skills trainings. The implications of improving a death squad's ability to obtain useful information from interrogation are, well, not great.

Furthermore, given what we know about how American training personnel have been used in other times and places (*cough*Vietnam*cough*), it's not unreasonable to suspect that there may be more going on than just human rights trainings. Get some CIA trainers involved and who knows what they'll be up to... Or whether they'll bother to fully brief those shrinking violets at State Department.

---

The Guardian's daily summary page is excellent for keeping abreast of the waves of information coming out of this.

Some other interesting data:
* Direct description of the US pressuring Italy to stop prosecution of CIA agents for illegal kidnappings.

* New nuclear plants perhaps not actually all that safe...

* Price-fixers in Iraq are bleeding US companies like Halliburton. (On the one hand, fuck Halliburton. On the other hand, it's probably all tax-payer dollars being flushed down these toilets.)

* American Republican congressman mucks in international affairs, setting up sweetheart deals for friends and undermining State Dept's authority.

and much, much more... These stories in particular are of great public interest, the kinds of stories that would in any other year lead to investigative journalism awards for those reporting them.

Many others reflect gnarly situations in many countries on which we hear very little in the media, such as the human rights violations going on in Eritrea. In addition to raising awareness, those cables will prove invaluable to those working in the region and historians. (FWIW, I feel my assessment that the Afghanistan war is really all about Pakistan and India has been wholly born out by the cable we've seen so far.) I know that the cables relating to Kenya have had a huge effect locally, and sent a message about the problem of corruption in the Kenyan government that was unlikely to be sent through any kind of official channels.

Chaff's point stands: The release of the cables has not been uniformly harmful.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:33 PM on December 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


What do you suppose the chances are that Assange will end up extrajudicially executed, not on orders from the Whitehouse or the Pentagon but from a glass-fronted skyscraper somewhere in Manhattan, carried out by Blackwater-style mercenaries?

I think one of the reasons he's made himself into a public figure since April (appearing at TED, and so on) is to prevent something like that from happening. Imagine a 'who shot JFK' type intrigue in the age of ubiquitous camera phones and detailed information trails. I don't think any big business is going to risk their reputation with that. I reckon he's more likely to face a corporate lawsuit than a US Goverment lawsuit though (when he gets round to publishing the BoA stuff) because the corporates have less to lose if the lawsuit fails.
posted by memebake at 2:38 AM on December 23, 2010


Looks like the 'busy wikileaks thread' torch is passing on to the new Bruce Sterling powered thread:

http://www.metafilter.com/98843/The-Fall-of-the-House-of-Usher

Its a good article, too.
posted by memebake at 2:45 AM on December 23, 2010




Clearing the Air of Nick Davies' Misinformation
(Nicely debunks Nick Davies reply to Bianca Jagger)
posted by jeffburdges at 7:44 AM on December 31, 2010


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