Dirty tricks, but by whom?
August 21, 2010 4:52 AM   Subscribe

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is wanted by the Swedish police, for a rape charge, according to the BBC. WikiLeaks has, of course, been highly controversial, since it published 91,000 documents on the war in Afghanistan.

So, rumour has it the American government does anything within its power 'to get' Assange. Dirty tricks not excluded. Questions have already been asked through the European Parliament if EU member states had been put under pressure to put charges against Assange. [pdf].

[Main previous discussion on the blue]
posted by ijsbrand (528 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 
It sounded like fake charges to me too on first hearing of this. By all accounts it sounds like this guy barely interacts with others. Hearing Polanski-type charges lobbed at him immediately made me think "international setup".

Someone doing the kind of work he does would never jeopardize everything over something obvious and stupid and horrific as raping someone. I hate to sound like a knee-jerk conspiracy theorist but the whole story stinks.
posted by mathowie at 5:02 AM on August 21, 2010 [31 favorites]


Mud, mud, glorious mud.
posted by biffa at 5:04 AM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


The obviousness of the whole thing is a test, if people buy this next time they'll try not even bothering with making up a charge.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:08 AM on August 21, 2010


Someone doing the kind of work he does would never jeopardize everything over something obvious and stupid as raping someone.

I wish you were right on this one, but people who think they are doing extremely important work far too often believe the rules don't apply to them. From Elliot Spitzer to Thomas Jefferson, it's just part of our history. I don't necessarily believe any charges are true and I am more than willing to believe he is being set up, but I can't dismiss this on this basis alone.
posted by allen.spaulding at 5:08 AM on August 21, 2010 [71 favorites]


Someone doing the kind of work he does would never jeopardize everything over something obvious and stupid as raping someone.

What?
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:08 AM on August 21, 2010 [13 favorites]


I sure would like to know what's in that "insurance" file he posted.
posted by orville sash at 5:09 AM on August 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


I remember watching the x- files movie and how some doctor who was close to uncovering conspiracy was suddenly accused of similar charges.

I think the powers that be have learned that in order to assassinate their character first...then they can kill em later in jail pre-trial.

.
(in advance for Assange...i hope he has some safeguards in place because what he has done is way bigger than his one single life)
posted by hal_c_on at 5:09 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Again, everyone should download that insurance file...not because it will be the only copy left...but wars might be conducted differently "post-decryption of the insurance file". Everyone should be a part of that.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:12 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not completely dismissing, the charges are serious (though originate from a Swedish tabloid) and crazy focused people can certainly do crazy things, but for a dude that is constantly threatened with arrest over his website, this smacks of a desperate attempt to get him into a police station and into custody any way possible.
posted by mathowie at 5:12 AM on August 21, 2010 [16 favorites]


Even if he did, who would believe it now? it's like the plot of a really bad airport novel and we've all seen it.
posted by shinybaum at 5:13 AM on August 21, 2010


There is a report that these are incidents involving women in their "mid twenties", I'm not sure the Polanski reference is appropriate.

I'm not ready to get outraged about this, there's too little reliable information available. Assange is saying that he hasn't been contacted, while reports are saying the police have asked him to come forward.
posted by HuronBob at 5:18 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


BTW, I'm basing his behavior on that Wired profile from a few months back where he sounded absolutely paranoid about getting arrested and seemed to go to great lengths to keep wikileaks going despite the constant threats. When I read it, I thought he sounded paranoid and was overdoing it a bit but in the months that followed since the profile piece came out, there is certainly merit to the lengths he goes to to keep wikileaks running
posted by mathowie at 5:18 AM on August 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


On the bright side, in a year's time if you still think he's innocent you'll be a crazy truther and no one will pay attention to anything you say.
posted by Space Coyote at 5:19 AM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


what has he done, really? I'm not seeing anything happen as a result of this stuff.
posted by empath at 5:19 AM on August 21, 2010


The charges don't come from a tabloid; they come from the Swedish prosecutor's office. Their website has posted this information.
posted by Houstonian at 5:20 AM on August 21, 2010


HuronBob, my bad -- I saw CNN claiming molestation charges and assumed that meant child molestation since that's about the only molestation charges you ever hear about on the news.
posted by mathowie at 5:21 AM on August 21, 2010


We're already half-way through the first episode of Blake's 7.
posted by Azazel Fel at 5:27 AM on August 21, 2010 [13 favorites]


Oh well now that he's accused of rape I guess that means all those war logs are just a big bunch of lies right?
posted by PenDevil at 5:28 AM on August 21, 2010 [22 favorites]


Instead of concocting a fake rape charge, wouldn't it be easier for the spooks to concoct a fake car crash or a fake suicide?

As shinybaum says, it's straight from a bad airport novel, but who here believes it doesn't happen in real life? Dr. David Kelly, anyone?
posted by afx237vi at 5:31 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


That dastardly Snowball!
posted by hermitosis at 5:33 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I support what Wikileaks does; at the same time, I don't think it's unreasonable to think that this guy may have actually committed the crimes of which he is accused. I'm not prejudiced one way or the other. At the end of the day, the lesson here should be that Wikileaks is fundamentally a positive outlet for many people and institutions and it should continue to do the work that it does regardless of whether a jury finds Assange to be a douchebag or the victim of an elaborate frame. Having Wikileaks be synonymous with Assange has always been dangerous - if Wikileaks is a group of people, the threat of conspiracy would be lessened.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 5:34 AM on August 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


Someone doing the kind of work he does would never jeopardize everything over something obvious and stupid and horrific as raping someone.

Would that were so.
posted by EarBucket at 5:35 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


wouldn't it be easier for the spooks to concoct a fake car crash or a fake suicide?

That wouldn't have the beneficial side effect of discrediting Assange and tarnishing his work.

Also, once he is involved in such legal proceedings, even if he is still innocent before the system, he is subject to a series of mandatory appearances, limits on his movements, and self-documentation that would make it hard for him to maintain his paranoid security arrangements.
posted by localroger at 5:37 AM on August 21, 2010 [18 favorites]


"though originate from a Swedish tabloid"

Don't be a tool. It is in every Swedish paper and it has been confirmed by the DA's. The story, that he has been charged, is solid.
posted by mr.marx at 5:40 AM on August 21, 2010


from the google translation of the prosecutor's website, "more information can currently not be." perhaps the guy making this shit up has the weekend off.
posted by kitchenrat at 5:44 AM on August 21, 2010


Hm, two girls so they can back up each other's stories, thus getting past the he-said-she-said problem with these kinds of accusations. Who knows if it's true or not, but if you were going to set someone up this is how you'd do it.
posted by unSane at 5:51 AM on August 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


Just saw the title of this post. "Dirty tricks" is apparently the default for male computer nerds on the internet. Disgusting and utterly misogynic. Like famous men on power trips are totally unheard of. No, the sluts are in CIA's pocket amirite?
posted by mr.marx at 5:54 AM on August 21, 2010 [10 favorites]


The word used in the prosecutor link above "ofredande" refers to a number of different situations. In that is is not specified as "sexuellt ofredande". Ofredande would include stalker-like behaviours like unwanted telephone or letter contact. Not a lawyer.
posted by Iteki at 5:56 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


here is the article claiming this all originated in a tabloid, FWIW
posted by mathowie at 6:03 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Instead of concocting a fake rape charge, wouldn't it be easier for the spooks to concoct a fake car crash or a fake suicide?

Only if they knew when he was in a very specific location...and he protects himself against that very well.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:03 AM on August 21, 2010


I'd say he's innocent until he's proven guilty. Being accused of a crime does not mean one is guilty of it. Nor does being accused of a crime necessarily indicate that he is the victim of a government conspiracy.

However, for the paranoid, maybe someone can recall what the US government has attempted in the past to tarnish reputations of foreign political figures. The Saddam Gay sex tape is all I can recall off hand.
posted by gryftir at 6:03 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it might be too soon for anyone's paranoid high fives on either side.

I am going to reserve judgement for now.
posted by Dagobert at 6:05 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


That a tabloid broke the story has no, zero, zilch, relevance since it's all been confirmed by the authorities.
posted by mr.marx at 6:07 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have a hard time believing that an organization as principled as the CIA would hire two hookers and pay them to claim rape.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:10 AM on August 21, 2010 [45 favorites]


While the charges are obviously a boon to the conspiracy industry, I'm a little taken aback by the skepticism here. Just because you like someone and think they're doing good work does not mean they're somehow incapable of doing terrible things.
posted by QuarterlyProphet at 6:10 AM on August 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


Again, to be clear, he is not merely accused, but has been charged in his absence. This form of action lasts for up to 4 days (unsure how the absence affects this), at which point he should be either released or remanded (in 14 day periods).

The linked page doesn't mention what degree of suspicion exists (there are 4 degrees).
Do we not have any lawyerly Scandies around? *peer*
posted by Iteki at 6:13 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Instead of concocting a fake rape charge, wouldn't it be easier for the spooks to concoct a fake car crash or a fake suicide?

Except that would be so transparently obvious, even for those not in the tinfoil hat brigade. There's a reason why rape charges and lynchings are intimately linked: morally repugnant (reputation shattering), difficult to prove (and therefore to exonerate one from), absolutely discrediting.

On the other hand, the ease of fabricating sex crime accusations has also made life hell for men, women, and children who actually have been victimized and are trying to prove their charges in the legal system, so I hesitate to jump on the "it's a trap" bandwagon.

If it is a trap, it's sort of brilliant.
posted by availablelight at 6:13 AM on August 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


"I would caution commentators not to make false dichotomies here. It is not necessarily a choice between Assange committing a crime and Assange being framed. Both may be true. Neither may be true."

"I understand that this fits a narrative, and perhaps it turns out he was framed. Or perhaps it turns out he is has criminal tendencies and the west used those tendencies to frame him. Or he's innocent. Or he's innocent and nobody framed him." -- blatently stolen from DanielBMarkham on HN
posted by wrok at 6:14 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Disgusting and utterly misogynic

My first reaction to the charges doesn't come from a blame-the-victim mindset, it's because he's a huge whistleblower that every govt wants to silence. He's also crazy paranoid about his safety and released a mystery document publicly in case something happened. It's all so insane and sci-fi novel insane.

I also agree this points to the folly of having him be the face of wikileaks. Perhaps if they operated more like 4chan's Anonymous wikileaks could survive something like this if he gets convicted.
posted by mathowie at 6:15 AM on August 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


Everyone here understands rapists can be people that are otherwise good and are hiding something underneath.

The reason there is paranoia is that real spy agencies are really out to get this guy.

Scott Ritter is an example, he was probably guilty of what he was accused but someone was leaking details to the press to discredit him.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:16 AM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


No, the sluts are in CIA's pocket amirite?

You're the first person here to say anything about "sluts".
posted by inigo2 at 6:17 AM on August 21, 2010 [32 favorites]


I find it hard to believe that the US DoD has influence over the Swedish legal system. I can imagine the Swedes laughing at the DoD official who suggested such.

A simpler explanation is that his international notoriety has attracted the attention of the victim and her family. She -- or her family -- has then pressured their own government to do something. Its probably similar to one of those stories where a victim sees her assaulter years later on television, which leads to his arrest.
posted by GolfBlogger at 6:17 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


from the google translation of the prosecutor's website

You don't need to rely on Google to translate for you, the website has an option for English versions of its pages that reads a lot better:
Arrested in his absence

The Swedish Prosecution Authority can confirm that Julian Assange has been arrested in his absence, but not yet apprehended.

The allegations are molestation and rape. Assange is arrested in his absence due to the risk of complicating the investigation, i.e. removing or destroying evidence.

Due to the nature of the suspicions no further details can be confirmed at the moment.

If more information will be available it will be published during the week end on this web site.
posted by scalefree at 6:18 AM on August 21, 2010


I don't think it's unreasonable to think that this guy may have actually committed the crimes of which he is accused

Nice of you to be so open-minded and all, but it might be better to wait to decide what's "reasonable" or not until we actually, you know, have any details at all of the crimes of which he is accused:

Ms Rosander said there were two separate allegations against Mr Assange, one of rape and the other of molestation.

She gave no details of the accusations.

posted by mediareport at 6:21 AM on August 21, 2010


I'm a little taken aback by the skepticism here.

Let me see if I can help you with that.

On the one hand you've got a very high profile private figure who has established a high profile distributed operation dedicated to kicking one of the world's most powerful governments in the nuts. He randomizes his travel schedule, encrypts his communications, and very recently released a bigass encrypted file named "Insurance."

On the other hand you've got a prosecutor in a nation friendly to that other nation's interests who apparently has no formal complaint, from the alleged victims, alleged victims who apparently want nothing to do with the proceeding, and an arrest warrant issued without establishing contact by any less coercive means before doing so.

We really don't know very much at this point, but in my estimation Occam's Razor agrees with Azazel Fel: Blake's 7 pilot.

I just want to know, since Assange is obviously Evan, who's going to play Blake and where they're going to find a ship.
posted by localroger at 6:21 AM on August 21, 2010 [19 favorites]


mr.marx, I think it's pretty obvious that the claims are being questioned because of the massive international tensions surrounding Assange's work, not merely because some women are claiming rape.

If Assange were, say, a celebrity gossip blogger, there wouldn't be nearly as much intrigue involved, as movie stars aren't really in the habit of ginning up false charges to sic foreign authorities on their enemies. People are being skeptical of the CIA here.

As for Assange being the face of Wikileaks, I almost consider it a good thing. Imagine the kind of fearmongering that could be done if the site was headed by a faceless cabal instead of a mild-mannered Australian geek named Julian.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:21 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


No, the sluts are in CIA's pocket amirite?

Probably in everyone's pockets, ifyouknowhatimean.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 6:23 AM on August 21, 2010


I'm not sure if I'm reading this right, but I thought his getting a publishing license in Sweden was helped by getting a job as a journalist with an established newspaper. Aftonbladet offered him a column in their newspaper. Its editor published an article today, and part of it says (via Google translation), "In light of the very serious allegations, I suspended to await further cooperation. We were released tomorrow, the first column of Assange. We would have received the text today. We will now not to publish a column tomorrow."

So, it's possible that -- depending on the outcome of his interview with the police -- he will lose his column and a good chance for getting the publishing license?
posted by Houstonian at 6:23 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


A revolver on the Mantle in scene 1, WILL go off by act 3.

I'm waiting to see what's in all these copies of the insurance file.
posted by MikeWarot at 6:24 AM on August 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


No, the sluts are in CIA's pocket amirite?

We have to admit that this is a possibility. One of the things our culture has done with rape is to make the accuser largely unimpeachable. Questioning a rape accusation or accusing the victim of lying is so far from acceptable in our culture that only defense lawyers will do it in public, and only then for a hefty fee.

As a frame-up, it's brilliant. Get a sobbing girl on the stand, telling the jury that the creepy computer man touched her and he's over. He's utterly over. Done.

And please don't get mad at me for saying that these accusations may be false, or that some rape allegations may be falsefied by powerful people to serve their own interests. The real enemy here are the proto-fascist Western "democracies" like the U.S. who use rape as a political weapon against dissidents.
posted by Azazel Fel at 6:27 AM on August 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


oh fucking please.

This is standard operating procedure for the CIA. Not even trying to be creative with deniability. And the swedish cops can be bought like any other cops.

I don't believe a word of it.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:28 AM on August 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


here is the article claiming this all originated in a tabloid, FWIW

Which claim, surprise surprise, came from Julian. He has an established pattern of using ad hominem & other propaganda tactics to discredit his critics.
posted by scalefree at 6:31 AM on August 21, 2010


I think this was posted too much in haste. It's a major development in the story whether it turns out that Assange raped someone or the rape is calculated frame up but what do we have right now except a couple lines of text instigating fights about something we don't know anything about yet?
posted by The Straightener at 6:35 AM on August 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


On the other hand you've got a prosecutor in a nation friendly to that other nation's interests who apparently has no formal complaint, from the alleged victims, alleged victims who apparently want nothing to do with the proceeding, and an arrest warrant issued without establishing contact by any less coercive means before doing so.

Did I miss something? Where are all of these details coming from?
posted by scalefree at 6:35 AM on August 21, 2010


Our reaction to Government hostility to Wiki Leaks should be the same as theirs to us when they enact another privacy invasion:

If you're not guilty, what are you worried about?
posted by Trochanter at 6:41 AM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is a really poorly framed post that helps lead to the "ZOMG it must be a conspiracy!" reaction. This kind of evidence-free conspiracy nutjobbery is what is behind the birther movement, the 9/11 inside job, and general UFO conspiracies. I think we can aim a little higher here.

So, rumour has it the American government does anything within its power 'to get' Assange. Dirty tricks not excluded.

I mean, what is this? We're framing FPP's around citation-free rumours now?

I admire what wikileaks does, but if the allegations are true it would hardly be the first time that an individual with sudden fame and power thought the rules didn't apply to him. I mean, hell, the whole concept of wikileaks is that rules can/should sometimes be broken!
posted by modernnomad at 6:52 AM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Whether or not the charges are true, if he somehow comes into custody of Swedish officials, can the US government then try to indite him? Or does he first have to be convicted of a crime in the US to extradited to there?

Perhaps that is the plan? How exactly does that work?
posted by chillmost at 7:00 AM on August 21, 2010


I find it hard to believe that the US DoD has influence over the Swedish legal system

aaahahahahahahahHAHAHAHAHAHAHooohahahahaheeeeheeeeeheee

Good one!
posted by briank at 7:02 AM on August 21, 2010 [12 favorites]


By the power vested in me by being on the internet, I hereby pronounce the accused: innocent.
posted by ericost at 7:02 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I also agree this points to the folly of having him be the face of wikileaks. Perhaps if they operated more like 4chan's Anonymous wikileaks could survive something like this if he gets convicted.

It's getting to the point where I think this is the inevitable endgame - the only rational response to Assange being out of pocket is to change the structure that put him there in the first place. I can see a more thoroughly decentralized Wikileaks being more effective, but also easier for world governments to discredit as a shadowy terrorist-type organization.
posted by god hates math at 7:03 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


This kind of evidence-free conspiracy nutjobbery is what is behind the birther movement, the 9/11 inside job, and general UFO conspiracies. I think we can aim a little higher here.

Quite. A little disappointing to see how quickly some Mefites leap to conclusions that mesh conveniently with their worldviews, in a way that the community routinely tears right-wingers limb from limb over. Can we not just hold fire over this one?
posted by RokkitNite at 7:04 AM on August 21, 2010


I can see a more thoroughly decentralized Wikileaks being more effective, but also easier for world governments to discredit as a shadowy terrorist-type organization.

...which Fox News will depict by blowing up a van.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:05 AM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]



While the charges are obviously a boon to the conspiracy industry, I'm a little taken aback by the skepticism here. Just because you like someone and think they're doing good work does not mean they're somehow incapable of doing terrible things.


This. There's a long history of men doing very good, very important political work turning out to have also skirted the edges or crossed over the boundaries of sexual consent. That list is a mile long, and encompasses some truly great people. So while certainly this could be simply a CIA plot, it could equally be the result of a driven and charismatic person who doesn't feel that society's rules apply to him. We don't know enough to speculate one way or the other, honestly.

As others have said (and have been saying for some time), this points out how foolish it is to have one person be the face of that organization. If these charges stick, or even just turn into a year-long legal morass as they almost certainly will, everything the organization is doing will be tarred with the same brush.
posted by Forktine at 7:10 AM on August 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


One of the things our culture has done with rape is to make the accuser largely unimpeachable.

Seriously? I mean seriously? Someone needs to get out more. —I mean for fuck's sake let's ignore this very thread right here where sight unseen and story untold the "sluts" have been determined to be "hookers" in the employ of the CImotherfuckingA. No, just read back over every rape case ever that actually made it to trial where the accused was acquitted because the accuser was a wee bit intoxicated at the time or wore an skirt the jury thought was just a bit too short and so must really have wanted it, must really have been asking for it, how could anyone have known she didn't really carrying on like that, her smile was implied consent, and anyway boys will be boys amirite?

Yes this stinks to high heaven. That doesn't mean it isn't true.
posted by kipmanley at 7:14 AM on August 21, 2010 [16 favorites]


Ok, so, knowing that the world loves a conspiracy, a massive international conspiracy is hatched against one of the most visible anti-government cover-up individuals in the world. This, of course, feeds into the notion that what wiki-leaks is doing is actually terribly important versus relatively marginal on the importance meter (catering to those that suddenly forms an opinion on military action in Afghanistan based on the large quantities of leaked information thrust onto the web versus 7 years of multi-source news reporting and common sense).

Or, in the immortal words of Otto:


It's a smoke screen?
Double bluff?
Look, you obviously don't know anything about intelligence work, lady.
It's an XK Red 27 technique.


Btw - judging by the reaction here, which I am guessing is mild compared to the rest of the web, we had all better hope there wasn't an act of rape - because if there was, you have one or more women out there who were brutalized and above and beyond the normal trauma and skeptics surrounding rape cases they have to deal with all this extra scrutiny and disbelief. I'm really shocked to see so little concern on the Blue about the women in this story. Stay classy.
posted by Muddler at 7:19 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


It is not standard practice in the Swedish press to release the name of those accused of a crime prior to conviction. It isn't that never happens, but it is not the norm, even when the accused is well known.

Something seems rotten in Denmark Sweden.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 7:20 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think there's a bit of a consensus forming that we don't have enough facts, and that this particular story is ripe for a many different interpretations. It's a blank canvas that we can each fill with our own speculations. The framing of the post, which follows the frame supplied by Wikileaks, doesn't help.

Would it be possible to delete this post and start from scratch with something more even-handed? I see that mathowie has commented here: perhaps he could post the follow-up to encourage everyone to better behavior?
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:20 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I mean for fuck's sake let's ignore this very thread right here where sight unseen and story untold the "sluts" have been determined to be "hookers" in the employ of the CImotherfuckingA.

The only people who have used that language are the people defending the girls, which is pretty fucking bizarre.

Anyone who thinks they know what happened with this story already is an idiot. It is plausible (though not likely IMO) that the guy was set up given what we know about the US government, until there is actual detail on the table it isn't a conspiracy theory like truthers and birthers, it's just speculation.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:22 AM on August 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


scalefree: from the google translation of this article:
According to Expressen sources, the two women have come to the police in Stockholm yesterday to consult about their experiences with Assange, but shall not have wanted to report him. The reason why it should have been that they should have been afraid Assanges power.
Or maybe because they didn't want it all to blow up in their faces? Falsely reporting a rape is a crime in Sweden. For whatever reason the prosecutor did something the victims didn't want him to do. Of course this is early hours and the reporting could be highly distorted in other ways.

As to not contacting him by other means, that has been established; Wikileaks says they didn't try, the prosecutor says he did, but everyone agrees that there was no contact before the arrest warrant was issued.
posted by localroger at 7:22 AM on August 21, 2010


"Someone doing the kind of work he does would never jeopardize everything over something obvious and stupid and horrific as raping someone."

You act like he's a priest or something. Oh wait...
posted by puny human at 7:22 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have a hard time believing that an organization as principled as the CIA would hire two hookers

Yes. I believe CIA agents only compare what they pay "Presstitutes" in terms of a call girl rate. I'm not sure if call girl rates are a reflection on Washington DC, the CIA, or newpaper editors - but they seem to be the coin of someones realm.

"You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month." - CIA operative discussing with Philip Graham, editor Washington Post, on the availability and prices of "Presstitutes" willing to peddle CIA propaganda and cover stories. "Katherine The Great," by Deborah Davis (New York: Sheridan Square Press, 1991)
posted by rough ashlar at 7:25 AM on August 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


I mean for fuck's sake let's ignore this very thread right here where sight unseen and story untold the "sluts" have been determined to be "hookers" in the employ of the CImotherfuckingA.
You know, it's worth noting that the only person who said anything about "sluts" was someone who was making fun of people suspicious of the story. It's just as fair to say that you, sigh unseen, have called me a Nazi.

See? There, I said Nazi. People are calling me a Nazi now. That's just how bad you are.
posted by verb at 7:25 AM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Obviously nobody (well, nobody rational anyway) can say whether the charges are true at all right now, but the reflexive defense and calls of conspiracy remind me of the whole Hans Reiser thing.
posted by kmz at 7:28 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]



May I interject? PLEASE?

Not to be a dick, or anything, but I'm a little bothered by MeFites' inability to see past steps 2 or 3 on this.

Remember that insurance file linked above and mentioned elsewhere?

Consider the possibility that it is a conspiracy, but also consider that it actually an ENEMY of the United States that is setting this up? In haste and panic if the poor man ends up in front of law enforcement personnel, I'm sure Mr. Assange's pals will be happy to open that up, don't you think?

It's a perfect arrangement... 50% of the people our there think he's guilty, the other 50% think your enemy is doing dirty tricks, and the people caught in the middle help reveal secrets about your enemy.

I can't be the only one who has considered this.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 7:32 AM on August 21, 2010 [10 favorites]


Blagovich was framed, too, right? The CIA is in my closet, monitoring my cat food intake.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:33 AM on August 21, 2010


Hey, if the shoe fits.

Fine: my knee jerked so hard at that incredible assertion that I jumped the gun rhetorically, and so I apologize to if nothing else the abstract ideal of rational discourse. I hereby amend my complaint to: "story unheard and sight unseen an unhealthy chunk of this thread has tried them in absentia and found them to be liars and guilty of a terribly serious crime."

I think the rest of my point's unsullied?
posted by kipmanley at 7:36 AM on August 21, 2010


Perhaps discussions about the relative merit of this post might better be taken to Meta.

As to the actual subject, I would say that I am going to reserve judgment until I have the facts, but I can't imagine I will ever have the facts. I agree with those who point this to a reason for decentralizing and anonymizing WikiLeaks, because when one person is the public face of it, WikiLeaks stands or falls on that person's capability for being rotten, or having rotten things done unto them.

Did he commit the crime? I don't know. It's one of those things where I suspect we will never know, because this is the sort of crime people actually do commit, but it is also the sort of thing tha could easily be manufactured to smear a person.

The more important the message, the more invisible the messenger must be, or they will wind up a casualty of the truth.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:36 AM on August 21, 2010 [10 favorites]


where sight unseen and story untold the "sluts" have been determined

No on in this thread called them 'sluts', dumbass.
posted by delmoi at 7:36 AM on August 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


I wish you were right on this one, but people who think they are doing extremely important work far too often believe the rules don't apply to them. From Elliot Spitzer to Thomas Jefferson -- allen.spaulding
There is a huge difference between raping someone and having consensual sex which was the case with Spitzer. With Jefferson, I'm not sure what you're getting at. He was a womanizer but this was the late 1700s. The risks for that kind of behavior -- at least for the rich and powerful just weren't there. Aside from getting syphilis, of course.

But given the people Assange is up against, framing him wouldn't very difficult at all. How hard would it even be? On the other hand, someone in his position is probably having women throw themselves at him.
Instead of concocting a fake rape charge, wouldn't it be easier for the spooks to concoct a fake car crash or a fake suicide? -- afx237vi
Yeah, but come on. Everyone would assume he was murdered. Assange the individual is not the problem. Destroying him as a person doesn't help anything. Destroying his character is what counts.
Just saw the title of this post. "Dirty tricks" is apparently the default for male computer nerds on the internet. Disgusting and utterly misogynic. Like famous men on power trips are totally unheard of. No, the sluts are in CIA's pocket amirite? -- mr.marx
Yes, we all know if you don't believe the alleged victim automatically, you're a total misogynist! No one ever fakes rape charges. And it's not like the CIA ever uses sex to fuck with people or anything.
Only if they knew when he was in a very specific location...and he protects himself against that very well. -- hal_c_on
I doubt the world's governments have that much trouble tracking him.
Perhaps if they operated more like 4chan's Anonymous wikileaks could survive something like this if he gets convicted. -- mathowe
So wikileaks should just embrace child porn?
posted by delmoi at 7:38 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Did I miss something? Where are all of these details coming from?

From the top.
posted by furtive at 7:40 AM on August 21, 2010


On the bright side, in a year's time if you still think he's innocent you'll be a crazy truther and no one will pay attention to anything you say.

posted by Space Coyote at 6:19 AM


This kind of evidence-free conspiracy nutjobbery is what is behind the birther movement, the 9/11 inside job, and general UFO conspiracies.

posted by modernnomad at 7:52 AM



ONE YEAR MORE LIEK 1.5 HOURS AMIRITE
posted by clarknova at 7:40 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Assange looks like White from the Venture Brothers.

That's my only opinion about this whole thing. I reserve the right to have other opinions sometime later in the future.
posted by From the Fortress at 7:40 AM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Seriously? I mean seriously?

Did you even READ what the guy said before your outrage muscle kicked in? He mentioned defense lawyers as the prime exception to his claim. Your over-the-top offended response does more to confirm his theory than advance yours. Sorry. Rape is bad. OK? We all agree. Jesus...
posted by umberto at 7:41 AM on August 21, 2010


"See? There, I said Nazi. People are calling me a Nazi now. That's just how bad you are."

Well, to my recollection, you've never explicitly come out on record as denying the statement "verb is a Nazi.' True, no thinking person would ever believe that "verb is a Nazi", but the fact that you haven't denied that "verb is a Nazi" sort of does make one wonder why you don't simply state that "verb is a Nazi" is an untrue statement.

While we're on the subject, what were you doing back in 1990 when "Glenn Beck raped and murdered a 9-year-old girl", a charge he has never denied...

Bad Rhetorical Technique: The Plaque Buildup Destroying The Enamel of Society.
posted by quakerjono at 7:43 AM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


"story unheard and sight unseen, an unhealthy chunk of this thread has tried him in absentia and found him to be a rapist."
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:47 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some say Verb is a nazi.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:48 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


What? Verb ate a nazi?
posted by Menthol at 7:53 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Suspicion runs deep--by quite a few posters. Forget the lack of adequate information in the original post. I have followed MeFi for quite a while--there are many more conspiracy theorists here than I had thought. I have no particular feelings about Assange and it is way to early to assign either sainthood or sh..hood to him. I find the notion that the Swedish police are complicit in this extremely unlikely. Assange is much to high profile for authorities to risk international condemnation and embarrassment for actively participating in a conspiracy. I think it also demeans the autonomy and reputation of Sweden. That does not mean the charges are true, they could be contrived for a variety of reasons, or they could be substantive for a variety of reaons. I am somewhat disappointed at the ready defense for Assange but only minimal concern for potential victims and the course of due process. And as other posters have clearly noted--why would one grant immunity from accusations of sexual predation to a person with Assanges's profile and background. I would be delighted if this post started all over
posted by rmhsinc at 7:54 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


In related news...

Newsweek: WikiLeaks lawyer says Pentagon given access to unpublished secret documents.
posted by ericb at 7:54 AM on August 21, 2010


So it seems to me that mr.marx saw the post title, "dirty tricks", and assumed that what was implied was that the women involved in the story (the alleged victims) were being referred to as "dirty tricks", i.e. filthy prostitutes, whereas presumably ijsbrand was referencing dirty tricks pace Richard Nixon. You may now all stop arguing about 'sluts' and return to your regularly scheduled ridiculous thread.
posted by silby at 7:54 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


So now pointing out that "unimpeachable witnesses" are being impeached in exactly the way it's asserted they couldn't possible be is the same as accusing someone of rape.

I've got coffee to make and eggs to fry and grits to boil. That's one fuck of a lot more important than this discussion at this point. Y'all have fun; you find the Truth, be sure to send up a flare, okay?
posted by kipmanley at 7:58 AM on August 21, 2010


The US government invading and occupying a country to find weapons of mass destruction that don't exist, based on phony evidence presented to the public? Haha, you guys and your conspiracy theories.

Secret bases where people are tortured? A base in Cuba where people are tortured? LOL.


Seriously, the US government is not to be trusted, I agree this case would be a long shot to be a conspiracy but speculation is perfectly okay absent any details or evidence being released yet. Conspiracy theories only become really troublesome when they persist despite evidence.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:59 AM on August 21, 2010 [12 favorites]


I'm really surprised his car didn't die on a railroad crossing or something.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:00 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obviously nobody (well, nobody rational anyway) can say whether the charges are true at all right now, but the reflexive defense and calls of conspiracy remind me of the whole Hans Reiser thing.
In the sense that it's a case of a geek-of-some-flavor accused of a crime, yeah. In the case of Hans Reiser, though, there was no existing narrative that explained why someone would frame him for anything. Maybe someone who really, REALLY liked HFS wanted him "out of the way?"

The issue with Assange is that the most powerful military in the world has publicly announced that they're hunting him down for leaking its secrets. US government officials have publicly called for his assassination. Our newspapers are filled with people calling for his assassination. Our government has publicly and actively attempted to get other nations to extradite him to the US for leaking that information, and so far they've struck out.

Imagine that back when the Birther movement hit the news, Orly Taitz had been on the case for years before Obama had even run for president. Imagine that she'd actually leaked video of his birth in Kenya, and that he conceded that it was true. Imagine that the US military was calling her an enemy of the state, that an international manhunt was underway, and that members of the US government had called for her assassination. Under those circumstances, people would probably have a different reaction to the Birther discussions.

We don't have enough information to weigh what happened here: it's possible that Assange is an egomaniac who, because he has managed to evade capture by the US, began to see himself as unstoppable and had nonconsensual sex with two Swedish women. Hell, perhaps he started WikiLeaks just so that he could rape women and blame the CIA!
Blagovich was framed, too, right? The CIA is in my closet, monitoring my cat food intake.
Stop calling me a Nazi.
posted by verb at 8:01 AM on August 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm currently hoping these rape charges are real...

I mean, that's an interesting take, and if so the FSB would be the first suspect, but you might want to choose words more carefully. Your rape hopes are wrong on a couple of levels.
posted by clarknova at 8:01 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


We've got a rape accusation, an international legal problem, the US military and CIA, and a real world spy novel plot. All with absolutely no facts. It's like a tabula rasa for Metafilter's fears and prejudices with nothing to learn from the discussion here. Let me try, though.

Assuming the charges stand, what're Assange's chances at avoiding arrest? Obviously he can't go to Sweden. Would Iceland likely extradite? Australia?
posted by Nelson at 8:05 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm a little taken aback by the skepticism here.

Sigh. Apparently this has to keep being pointed out:

1. False accusations of rape, as a proportion of accusations of rape, are almost certainly extremely rare.
2. The accusations that you hear about in the media are massively, disproportionately likely to belong to that small, rare sub-section.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 8:05 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


One of the woman had a statement published in Aftonbladet.

"I båda fallen har det handlar om frivillig sex till en början som i ett senare skede övergått i övergrepp."

In both cases its about consensual sex at first that later turned into assault

Make of it what you will.
posted by Greald at 8:14 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seriously, think about it. If Assange is bluffing the CIA will know, and they'll have no reason to discredit him. The US didn't lose a great deal of ground with the first set of disclosures, if there had been a risk for subsequent disclosures, I can promise you they'd be treading lightly.

On this as with so many other things, I am agnostic. However, WikiLeaks addresses countries other than the U.S. and some of those may also not be thrilled with the site and its work.
posted by dilettante at 8:14 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Everyone here understands rapists can be people that are otherwise good and are hiding something underneath.

Speak for yourself. I understand nothing of the sort.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 8:16 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


After we finish with Assange, can we go after Bush/Cheney?
posted by Karmadillo at 8:21 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


If it's a black propaganda operation, it's not a bad one. Of course the charges have to be laid by the Swedes, because everyone knows the Swedes are upright and Scandinavian and honest and Lutheran and have good teeth and so on. And it doesn't matter if it never goes to trial, or if Assange is acquitted. The fact that it made headlines is enough for people to make the connection between Wikileaks and some molester. The authorities wouldn't knowingly lie, would they? Reporters check their facts, don't they?
posted by Ritchie at 8:22 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]



Read your history, people. This is just like when the King of Pop got too powerful...
posted by bukharin at 8:24 AM on August 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


The link Greald posted raises as many questions as it answers. The articles states that the accusers discussed being assaulted with each other prior going to the police. The woman quoted in the article, who is not claiming to have been raped but believes that the other accuser was raped, denies any Pentagon involvement and states the case comes down to a failure to accept that no means no.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 8:25 AM on August 21, 2010


I'M REPOSTING THIS COMMENT BECAUSE I AM CURRENTLY SEARCHING THE INTERNET AND I CANNOT FIND A SINGLE SITE THAT CONSIDERS THIS A POSSIBILITY -- Bathtub Bobsled
So what? I think it's really unlikely. If the Chinese (or whoever) wanted that file released, they'd just kill Assange. And anyway, maybe he put incriminating stuff on a broad swath of governments in the file. I think it's really unlikely.
Hell, perhaps he started WikiLeaks just so that he could rape women and blame the CIA!
That seems like a lot of work.

---

I don't think it's outside of the range of possibility that this is true. But that said, the idea that people who think he's innocent are going to be grouped in with Birthers or 9/11 truthers is a little ridiculous. Obama's birth, and that the 9/11 attack was done by Al Qaeda are both documented by a ton of evidence. On the other hand, this is always going to be a 'he-said/she-said' situation. There's never going to be any way to prove anything. If there the complaint happened immediately after the event, there might be some physical evidence. Otherwise, it will just be claims made against someone.
posted by delmoi at 8:28 AM on August 21, 2010


Seriously, think about it. If Assange is bluffing the CIA will know, and they'll have no reason to discredit him. The US didn't lose a great deal of ground with the first set of disclosures, if there had been a risk for subsequent disclosures, I can promise you they'd be treading lightly.

On this as with so many other things, I am agnostic. However, WikiLeaks addresses countries other than the U.S. and some of those may also not be thrilled with the site and its work. - dilettante


Then it would be two birds with one testimony, wouldn't it?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 8:29 AM on August 21, 2010


Well, at least no one is jumping to any conclusions.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:29 AM on August 21, 2010 [13 favorites]


Initial skepticism does not equal conspiracy theorizing. Cui bono and all that.

"This guy that's the biggest thorn in our side has just been accused of being a double rapist. A DOUBLE rapist! Dude! How lucky was that?!"
posted by Trochanter at 8:29 AM on August 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


I don't like Wikileaks and its methods: data is not information. That's an aside.

Assange has decided to play with the big boys; if this is the big boys playing back, then it's hardly unexpected. Though somewhat unsubtle. If not, then the way that Assange has become the public face of the project in recent months has made it easier to hamstring it by going after him personally.
posted by holgate at 8:30 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't see any reason to assume that a person in Assange's position can't be a rapist. People that are risk takers do risky things.

However, I would be highly suspicious of this in the absence of any behavior in his past that would lead one to believe he would do something like this. Are there any reports of him being sexually aggressive with women?

The man is a 76 year old bachelor. Is he even straight?
posted by empath at 8:31 AM on August 21, 2010


woah that was a big typo. 39 year old.
posted by empath at 8:31 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


furiousxgeorge: The only people who have used that language are the people defending the girls, which is pretty fucking bizarre.

Mayor Curley said upthread: "I have a hard time believing that an organization as principled as the CIA would hire two hookers and pay them to claim rape."

Other than that, I don't know about the validity of the accusations, they could be true, they could be wrong. Hell, it could've been someone pretending to be Assange for all we know. We're arguing about something none of us know anything about, as has been pointed out a gazillion times already.

However, I do know that people who think that the US can boss Sweden around are very mistaken. Sweden is a neutral nation, outside of NATO, and very much thinks of itself as a leading, moral light in the world. They'd love to have Assange in Sweden, taking potshots at the American military. There's no reason to suspect the Swedish government of colluding with the US in this matter.
posted by Kattullus at 8:33 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


MSNBC just reported the warrant was withdrawn because the charges were without basis.
posted by Karmadillo at 8:33 AM on August 21, 2010 [17 favorites]


The man is a 76 year old bachelor. Is he even straight?

woah that was a big typo. 39 year old.


Assange was married and has a kid
posted by delmoi at 8:34 AM on August 21, 2010


I guess Roman Polanski, not Roger Ebert, is the new patron saint of MetaFilter.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:34 AM on August 21, 2010


Second empath, you almost always see the pattern. But really we just have to wait and see.
posted by Trochanter at 8:35 AM on August 21, 2010


Assange was married and has a kid

This is what I get for relying on reddit comments for information.
posted by empath at 8:36 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


With Jefferson, I'm not sure what you're getting at. He was a womanizer but this was the late 1700s.

Fucking a slave is rape.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:36 AM on August 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


MSNBC just reported the warrant was withdrawn because the charges were without basis.

The website doesn't say that.
posted by empath at 8:36 AM on August 21, 2010


MSNBC just reported the warrant was withdrawn because the charges were without basis.

The only source I can find.
posted by gman at 8:37 AM on August 21, 2010


Yes, it does:
Swedish prosecutors on Saturday withdrew an arrest warrant for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, saying the rape allegations it was based on is unfounded.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:38 AM on August 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


Fucking a slave is rape.

Didn't they set up housekeeping and everything? Have like five children? Don't get me wrong, there's a stupid power imbalance and all that...
posted by Trochanter at 8:39 AM on August 21, 2010


Fucking a slave is rape.

What does that have to do with 'putting things at risk'? Jefferson wasn't risking anything with his behavior.
posted by delmoi at 8:40 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


empath: The website doesn't say that.

The Swedish prosecutor is saying that Assange is no longer under suspicion of rape. This was in Aftonbladet.
posted by Kattullus at 8:40 AM on August 21, 2010


Didn't they set up housekeeping and everything? Have like five children? Don't get me wrong, there's a stupid power imbalance and all that...

Did she have the ability to refuse? No? Then fucking her was rape.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:40 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fucking a slave is rape.

Oh sure, when you put it THAT way.
posted by empath at 8:42 AM on August 21, 2010


warrent cancelled :

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11049316
posted by marienbad at 8:43 AM on August 21, 2010


link to BBC
posted by marienbad at 8:44 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some say Verb is a nazi.

Nazi is a noun, not a Verb.
posted by hamandcheese at 8:45 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


In my household a consensus was reached in about half a nanosecond: Julian Assange didn't rape anyone. I know some people are allergic to strong opinions based on feelings, but whatever. If it turns out Julian Assange is a big rapist, so be it, but I'm fucked if I'll go through the psychic rigmorale of believing this shit story for reasons of balance or whatever. The whole thing stinks of a set-up.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 8:45 AM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Did she have the ability to refuse? No? Then fucking her was rape.

You weren't there, you don't know the situation. I'm going to bet it was complicated. Having slaves at all is sin enough, in any case.
posted by empath at 8:46 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Did she have the ability to refuse? No? Then fucking her was rape.

Will you shut up with this derail? Thank you.
posted by delmoi at 8:46 AM on August 21, 2010 [18 favorites]


Okay, had to wash the dishes first, but the grits are cooking now, and it suddenly occurred to me: hey! What if Assange got a couple of friends and a sympathetic cop to start the paperwork on some fake charges that would set the internet screaming for a good few hours or a day or so and then be withdrawn for obvious lack of evidence! Why, the devious beauty of it as “insurance”! Who of good faith would ever believe any other charges brought against him ever for anything?
posted by kipmanley at 8:47 AM on August 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


The accuser that gave a statement, if she is one of the actual accusers, spoke with Sweden's other national tabloid newspaper, Aftonbladet. The national papers of record are being scooped by tabloids, which itself is note-worthy.

One paper of record, Svenska Dagbladet, published an explanation of why they are publicly naming an accused rapists prior to any conviction or even real evidence coming out. Here is a rough translation:
SvD is normally conservative concerning the publication of the name and photo of accused persons. But when one of the world's currently most talked about people has an arrest warrant issued for suspicion of rape, it is unreasonable to not report on that.
The actual statement is at the link above. The reasoning doesn't hold much water to me personally, but I checked whether the Pirate Bay founders were also named in the Swedish press prior to conviction because that was the last really high-profile case in Sweden. They were named, though it doesn't seem they were often unnamed in reporting. So there seems to be a double standard concerning the privacy of internet heroes brought low.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 8:48 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone in a previous thread chastised Assange for not releasing whatever is in the insurance file right away. The assumption was that if it's something that is damaging enough to the government to be used as insurance, it's something that should be made available to the public. But I don't think that follows... there is probably a lot of information that would be damaging to the government, but also should not be made public because it would be damaging to everyone. (The list of allies previously released is a possible example.) This would be the perfect sort of information to use as insurance... it would scare off governments, and it's also something Assange wouldn't have to feel guilty for sitting on. It's just indubitably bad to release. Lots of people here are dying to see what's in the insurance file and can't wait to see it opened, but I hope that it stays shut.
posted by painquale at 8:49 AM on August 21, 2010


On the bright side, in a year's time if you still think he's innocent you'll be a crazy truther and no one will pay attention to anything you say.

This kind of evidence-free conspiracy nutjobbery is what is behind the birther movement, the 9/11 inside job, and general UFO conspiracies.

LOL at you guys.
posted by delmoi at 8:49 AM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


That should read: They were named, though they were more often unnamed in reporting.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 8:50 AM on August 21, 2010


Hey, what do you know! Just a week or so after the government pressures allies to stop Assange, the Swedes file are able to rape charges against him! What a fortunate coincidence!

I guess God really does favor the United States.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:51 AM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


So the charges have been dropped? Checking google/news didn't turn up too much to that effect.
posted by codacorolla at 8:52 AM on August 21, 2010


The naming issue has changed in recent years, mainly perhaps due to the internet. When it's been published everywhere, and is common knowledge who you are talking about it gets silly to be talking about "a 20 year old Stockholm man". Same with the recent police/sex scandals.
posted by Iteki at 8:52 AM on August 21, 2010




On this as with so many other things, I am agnostic. However, WikiLeaks addresses countries other than the U.S. and some of those may also not be thrilled with the site and its work.

That was something I was thinking, if this does happen to be some sort up set-up, maybe it's due to something someone or some group was worried about Wikileaks leaking in the near future.
posted by stifford at 8:56 AM on August 21, 2010


"Conspiracy theorists frustrated by early withdrawal."
posted by chavenet at 8:56 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wow... that CNN blog attributes a quote to somethingawful. That's surreal.

Also: wouldn't the CIA have been able to make these charges stick? This is some 3 Dimensional space chess shit right here.
posted by codacorolla at 8:56 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I really wouldn't assume the US was behind this. It could be almost any government.
posted by empath at 8:57 AM on August 21, 2010


The charge has been pulled, as it was based on unfounded accusations, according to all of Sweden.
posted by davemee at 8:57 AM on August 21, 2010


@Slithy_Tove: Everyone here understands rapists can be people that are otherwise good and are hiding something underneath.

Speak for yourself. I understand nothing of the sort.


I actually agree with you, and have gotten piled on in the past for saying something similar. What I meant to type was they can be people who appear to be good and are hiding something underneath.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:59 AM on August 21, 2010


Wow - that was a quick turnaround!

I wonder what kind of damaging info Assange has on Swedish officials... Begin the reverse conspiracy theorizing!
posted by BobbyVan at 8:59 AM on August 21, 2010


So the charges have been dropped? Checking google/news didn't turn up too much to that effect.

The news is spreading. As mentioned above, MSNBC, BBC, etc. are all reporting it. The AP and many others are just now reporting the news.
posted by ericb at 9:00 AM on August 21, 2010


WikiLeaks honcho caught in web of vicious openess.

But the beauty of mudslinging remains. Because now news stories can read:

Dateline 2027: WikiLeaks has published evidence that the government has suppressed fusion powered cars. In 2010, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was accused of rape. The charges were later withdrawn...
posted by Trochanter at 9:00 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Charges withdrawn? Awesome! i love being right and having heroes for role models, it's just the best.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 9:01 AM on August 21, 2010


LOL at you guys.

Maybe you shouldn't be so quick to tell other people to shut up.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:02 AM on August 21, 2010


Iteki: Can you think of another sexual assault case that happened in Sweden where the accused was so quickly named?

The SvD statement would seem to contradict your contention. And I really can't recall any case where that has happened. "Famous" actors have been charged with sexual assault and hints are dropped in the mainstream press, but nothing that spells out exactly who the accused is. The nearest I can think of is the reports of the friend of the queen of Denmark dealing cocaine, which was reported as an open secret but still she was not named.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 9:02 AM on August 21, 2010


Wow... that CNN blog attributes a quote to somethingawful. That's surreal.

The writer's a goon and enjoys working the occasional reference into stories, bet you anything.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:02 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


CNN blog attributes a quote to somethingawful. That's surreal.

And also, stupid. Since SA lets you edit posts.
posted by empath at 9:03 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


You can probably verb Nazi. Not that you'd want to.
posted by everichon at 9:03 AM on August 21, 2010


woah that was a big typo. 39 year old.

I'm 42 and am unmarried and childless, and am straight.

Well, straight-ish.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:03 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]




So can we call the accuser a slut now?
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 9:10 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


That whiplash is so fast it's shedding gamma rays.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:10 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Glenn Greenwald: Charges against Julian Assange withdrawn, unfounded

Newsweek: WikiLeaks lawyer says Pentagon given access to unpublished secret documents.

Why won't the Pentagon help WikiLeaks redact documents?
posted by homunculus at 9:11 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't wait for 50 years down the road, when a bunch of DoD / CIA / etc files become unclassified, and we see the lengths to which they all went to discredit Assange, whether or not this particular incident is included.

On the other hand, I'll probably jump out of my hover-walker, yelling "I knew it! I knew the rape charges were orchestrated by the CIA! 50 years ago I told you", and then they'll commit me to the mental institutional / helium-3 mines.
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:13 AM on August 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


Begin the reverse conspiracy theorizing!

Ok, how about this: Fifteen hours ago, the Wikileaks twitter stream posts "Free speech isn't free" and then helpfully provides a link to their donation page. A mere six hours later, it breaks the news that they are being persecuted just as they had predicted.
posted by Houstonian at 9:15 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


This series of events is doing wonders for my paranoia.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:15 AM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Seriously, that "insurance" file must have been an expose on Sweden's failing health care system!
posted by BobbyVan at 9:16 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


If it turns out Julian Assange is a big rapist, so be it, but I'm fucked if I'll go through the psychic rigmorale of believing this shit story for reasons of balance or whatever.

You shouldn't do so. The story was an accusation, not a conviction. There are already too many people who equate one with the other. The psychic rigmarole is one way that credibility is worn down without a shred of proof of wrongdoing. Don't fall for it.

But if this was engineered, they clearly picked the perfect crime. Some people in this thread apparently have a problem with the notion of innocent until proven guilty, as if that were a slap in the face to the accusers, of all things. WTF.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:16 AM on August 21, 2010 [18 favorites]


Now that the charges have been officially dismissed as bullshit, it will be interesting to see if there are any repercussions in the Swedish prosecutor's office.

I mean, if you publicly name a rape suspect - when such things are usually not done, even if the suspect is famous - and then have to withdraw your charges less than 24 hours later, you've really screwed the pooch, haven't you. Seems like the kind of huge, costly mistake that might get someone fired. [At least in America. Don't know about them crazy socialists.]

Of course, if the office was only acting under orders...
posted by Joe Beese at 9:17 AM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Of course the charges have to be laid by the Swedes, because everyone knows the Swedes are upright and Scandinavian and honest and Lutheran and have good teeth and so on.

Well somebody hasn't read the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series yet...
posted by inigo2 at 9:18 AM on August 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


McGuillicuddy: Mainly thinking of the most recent situation with Göran Lindberg and Mats Alm, but was basing it more on feeling to tell the truth, compared to say 5 years ago it seems like people are being named more often. If I had to pinpoint it I would say it probably started around Anna Lind's murder, where other countries were publishing the names of suspects very freely, leading the swedish media to do the same.
posted by Iteki at 9:20 AM on August 21, 2010


Warrant for Assange canceled by prosecutor.

Great, now they can post the names of the women that accused him.

Right? Since now they aren't rape victims, there's no law being broken by revealing their identities.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:20 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


game warden to the events rhino: "Sigh. Apparently this has to keep being pointed out:

1. False accusations of rape, as a proportion of accusations of rape, are almost certainly extremely rare.
"

Wiki says rates of 2-50% depending on how you want to measure and who you want to believe. At any rate even at the bottom limit of 2% I wouldn't classify false reporting as extremely rare. For some perspective that is about the house odds of European roulette (2.7%) and European roulette wheels make plenty of money.
posted by Mitheral at 9:24 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


My guess at this point: a Swedish prosecutor got something really thin and decided Mike Nifong was a good role model. Then cooler heads prevailed.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:24 AM on August 21, 2010



Right? Since now they aren't rape victims, there's no law being broken by revealing their identities.


No, because we don't want to make rape victims scared to come forward. They may not have even known this dude was famous and asked the authorities to drop it once they saw how the story was blowing up.

Just like an accusation isn't a sure sign of being guilty, the charges being dropped aren't a sure sign of innocence.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:26 AM on August 21, 2010 [10 favorites]


"Some people in this thread apparently have a problem with the notion of innocent until proven guilty, as if that were a slap in the face to the accusers, of all things. WTF."

Word, and it's um, what's that word? Frightening.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 9:26 AM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Bullshit, heads need to roll in the Swedish prosecutor's office.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:28 AM on August 21, 2010


"Just like an accusation isn't a sure sign of being guilty, the charges being dropped aren't a sure sign of innocence."

Yep. Frightening.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 9:28 AM on August 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


"Just like an accusation isn't a sure sign of being guilty, the charges being dropped aren't a sure sign of innocence."

Yep. Frightening.


Did you think OJ was innocent after his trial? The legal system has to work that way for good reasons, but it doesn't always match up with reality. The fact that the charges were dropped is no excuse to drag the accusers through the mud.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:31 AM on August 21, 2010


I can't wait for 50 years down the road, when a bunch of DoD / CIA / etc files become unclassified, and we see the lengths to which they all went to discredit Assange, whether or not this particular incident is included.

And the people who claim there is no ratfucking or conspiracies will still make those claims, even if you showed it to 'em.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:31 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


US government officials have publicly called for his assassination

US government officials? Please provide names and exact quotes. I'm pretty sure that no us government official has called for Assange's assassination.
posted by humanfont at 9:32 AM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Right? Since now they aren't rape victims, there's no law being broken by revealing their identities.

If this was a real accusation, in the sense that it wasn't orchestrated by some powerful structure in order to discredit Assange, then it was canceled due to there not being enough evidence, most likely - I'm willing to bet that in Sweden, like most countries, the prosecution is obligated to drop charges if they don't think they will win (Canadians and cyclists will remember that's what happened in the Michael Bryant case). And that means two main options again generally speaking:

1. It was a situation of "buyer's remorse", where it was consensual or borderline sex that the accuser regrets afterwards, and now is calling rape.
2. The accuser has continuously believed it was rape, but there is just no useful evidence because rape is damn-hard to prove (as it must be) and the accuser is an innocent victim of our society's decisions about the burden of proof, which is shitty but inevitable.

In either of those situations, there are very good reasons not to publish her name. I know what you mean with your comment, and I agree, but still.
posted by Lemurrhea at 9:34 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well now we know which MeFites have faulty bullshit detectors.
posted by clarknova at 9:34 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


this is only published in one swedish tabloid. Let's even wait to see if it even pans out.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:35 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Re: Dr David Kelly, he was under intense, unbearable pressure from HM Govt, but the conspiracy theories that say he was assassinated are weak
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/7947544/David-Kelly-was-not-murdered.html
posted by Bwithh at 9:36 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


1. False accusations of rape, as a proportion of accusations of rape, are almost certainly extremely rare."

What about false accusations of rape against people that powerful government agencies consider public enemy #1?

Yes, most people accused of rape are probably guilty of something, but there are extenuating circumstances here.
posted by empath at 9:36 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Thanks Iteki, you're right. I was surprised when I saw Mats Alm named in newspapers, but I only noticed after the trial was underway. If they "outed" him before that, it is a terrible trend (no matter how stupid I find the completely blurred out photos of accused criminals that routinely grace the cover of Aftonbladet and Expressen).

I hope the Swedish press is going to do some introspection to consider on how they got rolled on this story. Chances are that the accusers were the originating sources, and a man that Swedes generally respected was dragged through the gutter based on the word of two conspiring accusers.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 9:37 AM on August 21, 2010


Hearing Polanski-type charges lobbed at him immediately made me think "international setup".

Polanski admitted to the conduct in question and has never denied that he slept with a 14 year-old girl after plying her with drugs and wine. He just argues that he had a plea deal that never existed.

Dude admitted the conduct under oath.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:37 AM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


“The Swedish tabloid Aftonblade has an interview with one of Assange's two accusers, an unidentified 30-year-old woman. She tells Aftonblade that the other alleged victim contacted her about an incident with Assange, and the two went to the police together last week. The accusations are ‘sexual assault or molestation’ in her case, and rape in the case of the other woman. (The rape accusations were declared ‘unfounded’ by the police.) If you'll excuse the Google translate, this is from Aftonblade:
Women and Assange met during his stay in Stockholm and had not previously seen either him or each other.

The woman in her 30s said that she, for her part claims to be a victim of a sexual assault or molestation, but not a rape.

The origins of the police report came in last Friday. Another woman approached her and told a similar, but worse story. The woman is between 20 and 30.
The woman says that at first the sex was consensual, but turned non-consensual in both cases. She also refutes the idea that the Pentagon or any of Assange's detractors are behind the accusations:
The charges against Assange are of course not orchestrated by either the Pentagon or another. The responsibility for what happened to me and the other girl is in a man with skew kvinnosyn problems and to take no for an answer.
Fun fact: Aftonblade is the Swedish tabloid which recently tapped Assange to write a bimonthly column. Something tells us this deal is off.” *
posted by ericb at 9:39 AM on August 21, 2010


and then have to withdraw your charges less than 24 hours later, you've really screwed the pooch, haven't you. Seems like the kind of huge, costly mistake that might get someone fired. [At least in America. ]

What brain bleach are you taking? Cuz I want some to help forget the various screw ups of Bush II - oh so lovingly documented here on the blue.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:40 AM on August 21, 2010


ok, saw the tabloid thing up thread.

Here's my take. It would be bad if this was a set up. It would be equally bad if two women who were raped had their story discounted because people wanted to believe the rapist was being persecuted for political reasons.

I think this is a matter for the Swedish authorities to handle. None of us can even begin to speculate on it--we have no facts.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:41 AM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


"The fact that the charges were dropped is no excuse to drag the accusers through the mud."

Yes, especially because the important thing is to protect victims of imaginary crimes. Got it.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 9:41 AM on August 21, 2010


I want to know what skew kvinnosyn problems are.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:41 AM on August 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


So is it completely out there to theorize that the US, worried about the contents of the insurance file, put pressure on Sweden to drop the charges?

Yeah, after typing that out it seems a bit out there.
posted by ODiV at 9:41 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


this is only published in one swedish tabloid. Let's even wait to see if it even pans out.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:35 AM on August 21 [1 favorite +] [!]


Other than being announced by the DA and by the time you posted retracted, you got the facts right.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:42 AM on August 21, 2010


Just like an accusation isn't a sure sign of being guilty, the charges being dropped aren't a sure sign of innocence.

Jesus Christ. He doesn't need a "sure sign of innocence".

Can you provide a sure sign that you aren't a rapist? NO? Guess we don't know if you're actually a rapist.
posted by Justinian at 9:42 AM on August 21, 2010 [12 favorites]


Yes, especially because the important thing is to protect victims of imaginary crimes. Got it.

That the charges were withdrawn does not mean that the crimes were not committed. I say this as someone who is skeptical of the charges.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:42 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]



"The fact that the charges were dropped is no excuse to drag the accusers through the mud."

Yes, especially because the important thing is to protect victims of imaginary crimes. Got it.


Rape is a major societal problem, not dragging false accusers through the mud protects women who come forward but without enough evidence. This happens often, the crimes are un-prosecutable, not imaginary.

In cases where the false accusation is clearly a an attempt to villify or damage the accused, the accuser should be prosecuted. That is a small subset of rapes that aren't prosecuted, however, and we don't have the information yet to know what kind of case this is.

DON'T ASSUME THE WOMEN ARE GUILTY OF THAT BECAUSE ASSUMING PEOPLE ARE GUILTY IS WRONG, GET IT?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:44 AM on August 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


People who think Assange is a hero should read the ongoing articles at Mother Jones and the profile at The New Yorker, and watch the video of Colbert interviewing him. It shows a different side of him -- unbelievably paranoid and calculating.
posted by Houstonian at 9:46 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also: wouldn't the CIA have been able to make these charges stick? This is some 3 Dimensional space chess shit right here.
Maybe it was just some freelancers. I could imagine some blackwater type guys thinking they could pull something like this off on their own. Or something. Just because
I mean, if you publicly name a rape suspect - when such things are usually not done, even if the suspect is famous - and then have to withdraw your charges less than 24 hours later, you've really screwed the pooch, haven't you. Seems like the kind of huge, costly mistake that might get someone fired. [At least in America. Don't know about them crazy socialists.]
Are you being sarcastic? Prosecutors get away with just about everything in the U.S. The prosecutors in the Ted Stevens case deliberately hid exculpatory evidence, but they weren't fired as far as I know.
posted by delmoi at 9:47 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


No, because we don't want to make rape victims scared to come forward.

we also don't want public, controversial whistleblowers anonymously accused of vile things to discredit them - as that might make other whistleblowers scared to come forward

the charges being withdrawn so quickly is a suspicious circumstance - who are these women and who have they been in contact with? - if it was an attempt to set him up, how will anyone figure out who's doing it without the identities of the "victims" being known?

secrecy can hide a lot more than some woman's name
posted by pyramid termite at 9:48 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


US government officials have publicly called for his assassination

US government officials? Please provide names and exact quotes. I'm pretty sure that no us government official has called for Assange's assassination.
You're correct, and I was mistaken. Congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan said that the person who leaked the information to Assagne should be killed, not Assagne himself. The Washington Post published an editorial calling for Assanges' assassination and the cry was taken up by bottom-rung conservatives.

While it is factually correct to note that members of the US government and the American Press have called for the execution and/or assassination of WikiLeaks participants, my post overstated the issue, and your correction is noted. Thanks.
posted by verb at 9:48 AM on August 21, 2010 [11 favorites]



the charges being withdrawn so quickly is a suspicious circumstance - who are these women and who have they been in contact with? - if it was an attempt to set him up, how will anyone figure out who's doing it without the identities of the "victims" being known?


How about we let the authorities figure all that out before we go dragging them through the mud in the press and assume they knowingly made a false accusation, not one lacking evidence?

Guys, jumping to a conclusion isn't a good way to make up for jumping to a conclusion.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:50 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


It shows a different side of him -- unbelievably paranoid and calculating.

Wow, I can't belive someone who the U.S. government has deemed a threat and has been publicly calling on other countries to arrest him could act in a way that seems 'paranoid'. (I'm not really sure what you mean by 'calculating'. And I'm not exactly sure what the problem you saw in the Colbert video was either)

But you know, doesn't really matter what he actually does or accomplishes, if he doesn't have a sunny disposition to go along with it.
posted by delmoi at 9:51 AM on August 21, 2010 [12 favorites]


Someone doing the kind of work he does would never jeopardize everything over something obvious and stupid and horrific as raping someone.

Look, I'm late to this thread but Jesus fucking Christ, really? I'm absolutely for investigating the charges and assuming he's innocent until proven guilty, but what an amazingly ignorant statement, and again, I'm sorry but there is no other word I could say to describe that.

"Doing the kind of work he does" means he'd never do "something stupid?" That's up there with the people who said Michael Jackson was innocent because... he made Thriller.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:51 AM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


In either of those situations, there are very good reasons not to publish her name.

What about protecting the innocent?

I don't understand how I can know that it was Julian Assange who was specifically accused of rape. How can I have that knowledge? How is it legal for me to know this? He's an innocent man, just as innocent before the charges were dropped. Yet I know his name: it's been plastered all over the headlines along with the allegation. RAPING RAPIST JULIAN ASSANGE RAPIST WIKILEAKS RAPE (uh… ALLEGED). Twenty minutes later: JUST KIDDING HEY WE SAID ALLEGED SHEESH.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:51 AM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Polanski admitted to the conduct in question and has never denied that he slept with a 14 year-old girl after plying her with drugs and wine. He just argues that he had a plea deal that never existed.

Dude admitted the conduct under oath.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:37 PM on August 21
gawdfracking DAMN IT THIS!

Let's stop comparing Polanski to everybody accussed of sexual assault or rape WHO HAS NOT BEEN PROVEN GUILTY. Polanski not only admitted he was guilty, HE BRAGGED ABOUT IT!

it would be more appropriate to compare Polanski to the Catholic priests who admitted to raping children and died without a day in criminal court; not to the Julian Assanges of the world

oh, and by the way, didn't one of the George Bushs claim an american whoman was raped in Iraq and used that as one of the excuses to invade and bomb the place? i am having a hard time finding the exact quote and a citation, but i trust other MeFites can shows us the way.

RAPE has always been part of the United States war machine. ALWAYS.
posted by liza at 9:52 AM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


"DON'T ASSUME THE WOMEN ARE GUILTY OF THAT BECAUSE ASSUMING PEOPLE ARE GUILTY IS WRONG, GET IT?

Spare me the Rape Is Bad education, okay? Jesus Christ, this terrible accusation shit happens and what exercises you is the issue of lack concern about rape victims? Concern trolling much? I mean, are you reflecting on what you're doing here?

THE ISSUE IS AN ACTIVIST BEING FALSELY ACCUSED OF RAPE. I like yelling.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 9:52 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


hmmmm maybe people are being paid to post here, my bad.
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:54 AM on August 21, 2010


"'This guy that's the biggest thorn in our side has just been accused of being a double rapist. A DOUBLE rapist! Dude! How lucky was that?!'"

I imagine their smiles were as big as Gary Condit's on 9/11.
posted by Mitheral at 9:54 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


We're starting to hit Peak Caps Lock here. Maybe deep breaths for everyone? A brunch break, maybe? I went and had a waffle. It was delicious.
posted by verb at 9:54 AM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


It shows a different side of him -- unbelievably paranoid and calculating.

You say that like it is a bad thing.
posted by prak at 9:55 AM on August 21, 2010 [12 favorites]


Jesus Christ, this terrible accusation shit happens and what exercises you is the issue of lack concern about rape victims?

Ummm.... I for one am more concerned about people getting raped than people getting accused of rape, but go on.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:56 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


furiousxgeorge: “The fact that the charges were dropped is no excuse to drag the accusers through the mud.”

Nobody here (or anyone else) has done this – that is, nobody has dragged the accusers through the mud. We don't even know who the accusers are. Hell, we don't even know if the accusers exist. And that's probably as it should be.

It's important to make sure that rape victims feel encouraged and welcome to come forward and tell about what's happened to them. But a false accusation of rape doesn't change that. Nobody in this case has generalized, or said "oh, rape, that never happens, so obviously this is a setup." That's a good thing. And given that it seems likely at this point that it was a setup, I think we need to look ahead and keep thinking about how we can approach it in a sensitive way. Thus far, however, it appears that we have done so.
posted by koeselitz at 9:58 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty: I'm not unchilled out. It's just shocking to me that your reaction here is to say that, hey, just because the arrest was cancelled and charges were withdrawn within hours of being issued doesn't actually mean that the dude isn't a rapist.
posted by Justinian at 9:58 AM on August 21, 2010


Spare me the Rape Is Bad education, okay? Jesus Christ, this terrible accusation shit happens and what exercises you is the issue of lack concern about rape victims? Concern trolling much? I mean, are you reflecting on what you're doing here?

THE ISSUE IS AN ACTIVIST BEING FALSELY ACCUSED OF RAPE. I like yelling.


Look, the problem here is an accusation that proved unsupportable being prematurely published in the press. Doing what might be the same thing over again is not a solution.

For all we know, the women could really have been raped and just accused the wrong guy, as one example possibility among many in rape cases. Until the authorities have determined they did something wrong, you need to leave them alone in the press.

I was NOT one of the people jumping to the conclusion that he was guilty, just as I am not with the women. This is what really understanding the concept of innocence until proven guilty looks like, not just shouting it in defense of someone you want to be innocent and ignoring it with someone you want to be guilty.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:00 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Based on the Aftonblade interview, I'd like to know more about how the two women were able to contact each other to share their stories. Were they both attendees at some event? I'm trying to make some sense of how they knew each other.
posted by nikitabot at 10:01 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


[few comments removed - this is now in MetaTalk. Please take side derails there and QUIT CALLING EACH OTHER RAPISTS. I can not believe I have to say this here.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:01 AM on August 21, 2010 [16 favorites]


koeselitz: Not only has no one dragged them through the mud, I can't even figure out what prompted furiousxgeorge's comment.

The fact that the charges were dropped is no excuse to drag the accusers through the mud.

It's apparently in response to Gamien Boffenburg saying his earlier statement about the withdrawal of charges not signifying Assange's innocence was "frightening".

And now we're derailed.
posted by ODiV at 10:01 AM on August 21, 2010


How about we let the authorities figure all that out before we go dragging them through the mud in the press and assume they knowingly made a false accusation, not one lacking evidence?

i thought the whole point of wikileaks and those who support it was that the authorities can't be trusted to figure all that out

put it this way - if a woman accused obama of rape and prosecutors declined to press charges, you know as well as i do that rightwingers would continue to accuse him of it

and if this woman had been seen associating with republican or tea party politicians beforehand, would you then say that she should remain anonymous, even if it meant that the controversy continued?

secrecy is not a cure-all and it doesn't work if those holding secrets are using them against us
posted by pyramid termite at 10:02 AM on August 21, 2010


furiousxgeorge: “In cases where the false accusation is clearly a an attempt to villify or damage the accused, the accuser should be prosecuted.”

Wait, what? Why? Nobody's even said that here. You're leaping far ahead and assuming all sorts of things about what people want from this. Nobody's asking for anybody's head on a platter.

And if two women were impelled, through economic necessity or through threat of violence, to submit a false charge of rape against Assange, I don't think prosecuting them will be proper. I have to say that I'm almost certain 99% of the people in this thread who think he's innocent agree with me. We don't want to see them strung up. They're not the ones who did this.
posted by koeselitz at 10:02 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]



Nobody here (or anyone else) has done this – that is, nobody has dragged the accusers through the mud. We don't even know who the accusers are. Hell, we don't even know if the accusers exist. And that's probably as it should be.


I'm not saying people here are dragging them through the mud, I'm saying it will be a natural consequence of publishing their identities for the world to see, they will be dragged. So fucking make sure they deserve it before you go ahead with it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:03 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Arrest warrant canceled.
posted by aaronetc at 10:04 AM on August 21, 2010


It sounds like the prosecutor is the accuser, so perhaps s/he should be prosecuted?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:05 AM on August 21, 2010


"I for one am more concerned about people getting raped than people getting accused of rape, but go on."

Okay, sure. The subject of this thread is a man dodgily accused of rape. Remember that? Great. So your 'concern' is a glaringly obvious derail from the glaringly obvious issue at hand: an organization and a person a lot of serious people take seriously has just had a very scary taste of how easy it is become a rapist in the minds of way too many people at once.

So what's important here, a feelgood exercise in not actually solving the nightmare of rape, or a discussion about the sheer mindfuck that comes down hard on people who fight for freedom of information?
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 10:05 AM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Meatbomb: I want to know what skew kvinnosyn problems are.

A skewed view of women.
posted by Iteki at 10:06 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Arrest warrant canceled.

Really?
posted by ericb at 10:06 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


People who say abuse of legal power by cops in Sweden can't happen, or that Swedish intelligence services would never commit illegal acts in Sweden or would not cooperate in dirty tricks with the U.S., don't know what they're talking about. Read some history, and I don't mean distant history. There are pigs there, like everywhere else. I find it completely believable that they work with U.S. services in a "I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine" manner. I had a girlfriend whose brother was a cop, so I got to meet quite a few of them. From personal experience, I can tell you, that many Swedish cops are also racists, and the typical proto-fascist authoritarians like they are the world over - in other words, scum. And not particularly bright scum, with the usual hard on to give "hippies" and leftists a good beat down - very happy to resort to dirty tricks. I know nothing of this case, but if it came to light that some not very bright Swedish security service people were bamboozled by the CIA, I would not be in the least surprised.
posted by VikingSword at 10:06 AM on August 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


And things get weirder - the Swedish chief prosecutor appears to have dropped the rape charge against Assange.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 10:07 AM on August 21, 2010


Wow, you don't say.
posted by Justinian at 10:08 AM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Really?
posted by ericb at 10:08 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


koeselitz: And if two women were impelled, through economic necessity or through threat of violence, to submit a false charge of rape against Assange, I don't think prosecuting them will be proper. I have to say that I'm almost certain 99% of the people in this thread who think he's innocent agree with me.

Impelled through economic necessity? You mean, bribed. No, I think it's safe to say that more than 1% of the people in the thread would be desire their prosecution if they were bribed into this. I sure would.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:09 AM on August 21, 2010


And things get weirder - the Swedish chief prosecutor appears to have dropped the rape charge against Assange.
This changes everything.
posted by verb at 10:09 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The fact that the charges were dropped is no excuse to drag the accusers through the mud.

True. But the situation should be thoroughly investigated and, if warranted, charges should be laid against the accusers, and made public.

I know of one situation (involving people known to me) where a false molestation allegation was made. The injuries suffered as a result by the falsely alleged molester were significant. And prolonged. It's now better part of 20 years later and the poor guy's reputation is still questioned (by some). As for the accuser's retraction of the charges, this was in no way coerced. It involved a teenager who was pissed at the guy for reporting her for shoplifting, and an over-protective parent. Fortunately, the girl had a friend who witnessed the entire non-crime, and it was her testimony that brought the whole thing crashing down.

False allegations of anything are a deadly serious breach of trust, particularly given the hyper-media environment we currently find ourselves in (ie: CRIME COMMITTED headlines always bigger than "charges dropped" headlines). The penalties, if indeed guilt is proven, must be severe.
posted by philip-random at 10:09 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sweden cooperated with the CIA regarding extraordinary renditions without any particular repercussions, I don't expect this to raise much of a fuss either.
posted by Iteki at 10:10 AM on August 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


"Just like an accusation isn't a sure sign of being guilty, the charges being dropped aren't a sure sign of innocence."

Very true. I now put him on par with the lot of you who have not been charged with anything, which isn't proof of your innocence, either.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:10 AM on August 21, 2010 [11 favorites]


furiousxgeorge: “I'm not saying people here are dragging them through the mud, I'm saying it will be a natural consequence of publishing their identities for the world to see, they will be dragged. So fucking make sure they deserve it before you go ahead with it.”

Ah. Okay.

I'm sorry, I completely misunderstood what you were saying above; and I have a feeling a lot of us did.

You're absolutely right. In fact, if Assange turns out to be innocent, I think there's even less reason to publish their names. Since, of course, if Assange is innocent, they have a lot more to be worried about than the rumor mill. If Assange is innocent, and they were convinced to lodge the charges, then they are almost certainly at risk of the same kind of public attempts to destroy them that Assange has been threatened with here. And unfortunately they don't have the protection of notoriety that he has. I have a strong suspicion that, if they were convinced to submit false charges by various government entities, publishing their names and/or admissions from them that they were lying will put their lives in danger.

So, yeah: that would be a very bad thing.
posted by koeselitz at 10:12 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, sure. The subject of this thread is a man dodgily accused of rape. Remember that? Great. So your 'concern' is a glaringly obvious derail from the glaringly obvious issue at hand: an organization and a person a lot of serious people take seriously has just had a very scary taste of how easy it is become a rapist in the minds of way too many people at once.
I don't think it's unreasonable to say that at a broad societal level, making sure that rape charges are taken seriously -- and that withdrawing a charge of rape isn't a life-destroying incident -- is important. Very important.

I think it's fair to say that the discussion has now devolved to "How MUCH do you agree with me?" rather than fundamental disagreements. Investigation of this incident will probably follow, and I'm happy to wait it out. Saying, 'How about we wait for more info before we pile on the people who made the charges?' isn't exactly outrageous.
posted by verb at 10:13 AM on August 21, 2010




If Assange is innocent...

Isn't he innocent now? Charges have been dropped.
posted by ericb at 10:13 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mitrovarr: “Impelled through economic necessity? You mean, bribed. No, I think it's safe to say that more than 1% of the people in the thread would be desire their prosecution if they were bribed into this. I sure would.”

Think about that for a second. Maybe you might desire that on some level, but would it really be your chief concern? I doubt it. If they were bribed, wanting to see these women prosecuted would be about like wanting to see the Watergate burglars face justice for their crime. Aren't there more pressing and immediate concerns? Like, for example, who bribed them?
posted by koeselitz at 10:14 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


FWIW, and I really wish someone with more info would step in, the accusor isn't responsible for whether or not the charges are dropped. Once the prosecutor is involved the responsibility lies with them to decide if they will or not prosecute. How this works in a he-said-she-said case of sexual assault I don't know, but I know for example if the police come to your house after your partner has kicked the shit out of you, you cannot "drop the charges". If there is sufficient reason for suspicion, it's up to the authorities.
posted by Iteki at 10:15 AM on August 21, 2010


Saying, 'How about we wait for more info before we pile on the people who made the charges?' isn't exactly outrageous.

But has there been a big move to pile on the people who made the charges? That's, I think, what people are having an issue with. There were a few comments very early in the thread which were mostly jokey in nature (but still probably inappropriate) but I'm just not seeing anything which could remotely be called a "pile on" with regard to the people who made the charges.

Do you see something different?
posted by Justinian at 10:16 AM on August 21, 2010


If they were bribed, wanting to see these women prosecuted would be about like wanting to see the Watergate burglars face justice for their crime.

Prosecuting them is the pressure you use to work your way up the chain, is it not?
posted by aaronetc at 10:20 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


koeselitz: Think about that for a second. Maybe you might desire that on some level, but would it really be your chief concern? I doubt it. If they were bribed, wanting to see these women prosecuted would be about like wanting to see the Watergate burglars face justice for their crime. Aren't there more pressing and immediate concerns? Like, for example, who bribed them?

Well, fair enough. However, just because they're not the leaders of the operation doesn't mean they should get away with it, either, if the claims are someday proven to be false (which is substantially different from simply failing to prove that they are true, which seems to have happened already.)
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:20 AM on August 21, 2010


He's still on the hook for one "molestation", just not the rape.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:21 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]



Warrant for Assange canceled by prosecutor.

Great, now they can post the names of the women that accused him.

Right? Since now they aren't rape victims, there's no law being broken by revealing their identities.


This is the post I replied to that I was arguing against, the idea that now that the charges are dropped the right move is to publish their names for the world to see and comb over and invade.

There can be many reasons why that is a bad idea, among which is that they may have done this with no malice whatsoever and were victims of someone else. I'm not saying don't investigate and prosecute them if appropriate, but I reject the idea that now is the time to give them a media trial.

The time may come when it is appropriate, but that time isn't now. That is all I am saying, sorry for being unclear.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:21 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fair enough.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 10:25 AM on August 21, 2010


furiousxgeorge: I agree with that. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by publishing their names until and unless there are significant further developments. I don't think C_D was being serious with that comment.
posted by Justinian at 10:26 AM on August 21, 2010




According to the chief prosecuter Assange is not even suspected of rape or molestation anymore, so they're not just dropping the charges due to lack of evidence.

That in my book sounds like as close to a declaration of innocence that you can get without an actual trial. Dunno if the Swedish justice system ever finds anyone innocent rather then not guily though.
posted by Greald at 10:28 AM on August 21, 2010


He's still on the hook for one "molestation", just not the rape.

What does "molestation" mean in this context anyway? The news reports said that the arrest was withdrawn because this charge is not an "arrestable offense". So I assume that "molestation" is a translation which doesn't come across properly since that still sounds pretty bad in English. But they're talking like it is not serious.
posted by Justinian at 10:28 AM on August 21, 2010


Justinian: Ofredande is as mentioned above more disturbing than molesting. Sexuellt ofredande is where it would have a sexual component. Ofredande might be say throwing stones at a riot or hassling someone by phone or letter, or bullying or threatening behavior.
posted by Iteki at 10:32 AM on August 21, 2010


Oh, I see that above Iteki, I didn't realize that the "Ofredande" was what was being translation as "molestation" though. I find it hard to see how they could translate it as "molestation" if there is not a sexual component. That's.... not a good translation.
posted by Justinian at 10:34 AM on August 21, 2010


You're absolutely right. In fact, if Assange turns out to be innocent, I think there's even less reason to publish their names. Since, of course, if Assange is innocent, they have a lot more to be worried about than the rumor mill. If Assange is innocent, and they were convinced to lodge the charges, then they are almost certainly at risk of the same kind of public attempts to destroy them that Assange has been threatened with here

It depends on the details we don't have. If they were acting sketchy, changing their stories and generally acting suspicious, then it would make sense to investigate. Or if there were solid proof of innocence. The thing is, there is a large space between "guilty of rape beyond a reasonable doubt" and "guilty of making a false rape accusation beyond a reasonable doubt" If you could prove the allegations were false, such as Assange not even being in the country when this happened, it would make a lot more sense to charge these girls with the false accusation.


But we really don't know. Ideally, Assange's name should not have been released until a more thorough investigation.
posted by delmoi at 10:35 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


but I reject the idea that now is the time to give them a media trial

And what of Julian Assange's media trial when his name and the criminal allegations were plastered all over web sites and newspapers around the world?

This works both ways. You protect the names of the innocent.

That includes the accused, because the accused are assumed to be innocent.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:39 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Without merely dismissing the possibility, i find these criminal charges 'convenient'. Rape is a good way to vilify someone for political purposes.
posted by MrLint at 10:39 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


If I take this link of the police blotter with a search for ofredande, the ones that aren't specified as sexuellt ofredande or tacked onto assault charges are as follows:
  • Banging on the door of someone who previously had a restraining order against you.
  • Calling people names.
  • Shining a green laser at people on the street.
  • Running around someones house banging on the windows and doors.
  • Chasing after someone and grabbing the back of their bike so they fall off.
posted by Iteki at 10:41 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


But still no charges against Glenn Beck concerning the sordid rumors about what he did in the 90's ...
posted by CitoyenK at 10:41 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


So does ofredande just translate as "assault" then? or "disorderly conduct"?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:43 AM on August 21, 2010


Iteki: Which is why I am still confused why they are calling it "molestation" in US reports Iteki. Because that's sure as hell not the connotation implied by that word. A better translation is probably more like "harassment".
posted by Justinian at 10:43 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


According to the New York Times, the charges have been withdrawn, and declared "unfounded".
posted by msali at 10:45 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Google translates it as "molestation," FWIW. It could that it's used with a similar variety of objects in Swedish as "molest" is in English -- e.g., you could talk about an "unmolested forest" but you wouldn't talk about an "unharassed forest."
posted by aaronetc at 10:46 AM on August 21, 2010


"unmolested forest" would be very awkward. You're much more likely to say "pristine forest" or "untouched forest". But in any case you would never say someone was charged with "molestation" unless there was a sexual component.
posted by Justinian at 10:48 AM on August 21, 2010


(or to put it another way, literal translations are not necessarily the best ones and in some case might be actively bad).
posted by Justinian at 10:49 AM on August 21, 2010


Iteki's explanation of the meaning of Ofredande corresponds to an older meaning of "molest" in English - "harrass," "bother," "annoy." (Now it has a specifically sexual meaning and implies that the victim is underage.)

I suspect someone was misusing a dictionary and it got picked up by other English-language sources.
posted by nangar at 10:49 AM on August 21, 2010


Huh. The password for the insurance file is "20100821failedrapeaccusation". Weird.


Not really, but that would have been a mindfuck.
posted by ymgve at 10:52 AM on August 21, 2010 [7 favorites]


And what of Julian Assange's media trial when his name and the criminal allegations were plastered all over web sites and newspapers around the world?

That was bad too. The medicine isn't doing it again.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:54 AM on August 21, 2010


Is he being accused of harassing the US military?
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:55 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


According to the Swedish Wiki, "Ofredana" is harassment, by being threatening, throwing stones, phone or mail harassment etc. under Swedish law.

While "sexuellt ofredande" are a specific charge regarding sexual misconduct with a minor (under 15 yo.) And really makes no sense, if the ages of the involved parties reported are true.
posted by Greald at 10:57 AM on August 21, 2010


This just in from /. :
prosecutor Eva Finne said, "I don't think there is reason to suspect that he has committed rape."

Update: 08/21 15:58 GMT by S : Multiple sources are now reporting that the warrant for Assange's arrest has been withdrawn. Aftonbladet has coverage in Swedish. Chief
posted by MrLint at 10:58 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


BREAKING NEWS!
posted by Justinian at 11:01 AM on August 21, 2010


ericb: "If Assange is innocent...

Isn't he innocent now? Charges have been dropped.
"

He was always innocent, even with the (false) charges, until proven guilty.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:03 AM on August 21, 2010


From the AB link above:

"Han nekar till anklagelserna men lovade via medarbetare att han skulle infinna sig hos polisen inom kort. Det behöver han inte längre göra."

My translation: "He denies the accusations, but promised through a co-worker that he shall report to the police soon. This he does not have to do any longer".

Odd. Nowhere else have I seen him say that he's going to report to the police.
posted by VikingSword at 11:04 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


This works both ways. You protect the names of the innocent.

That includes the accused, because the accused are assumed to be innocent.


While I agree with the sentiment behind this, there is a very serious logistical reason why we don't do this. Hiding the names of the accused leads to secret trials and undermines the public nature of justice. If the police had arrested Assange and then refused to say why, that would have been extra super problematic, doubly so if the rationale was "for his protection.". Being able to know why an individual is being charged is extremely important.

This sort of media trial sucks, but I'll take it over secret trials any day. The same is not true for hiding the identity of witnesses.
posted by allen.spaulding at 11:05 AM on August 21, 2010


What does "molestation" mean in this context anyway?

In some articles they are saying it equates to 'sexual harassment.'
posted by ericb at 11:07 AM on August 21, 2010


He was always innocent, even with the (false) charges, until proven guilty.

My point exactly.
posted by ericb at 11:07 AM on August 21, 2010


The same is not true for hiding the identity of witnesses.

Hiding the identity of witnesses from the public anyway. Hiding the identity of witnesses from the accused and the defense lawyer(s) is hugely problematic. One of the reasons the show-trials proposed for the Guantanamo people would be travesties.
posted by Justinian at 11:07 AM on August 21, 2010


Rape is a good way to vilify someone for political purposes.

Kiddy diddling* is more effective a charge to have.

*As translated by gooberfish.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:08 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The net effect of this is that Assaange has just been innoculated against future smears, which is surely not what many people had in mind.
posted by NortonDC at 11:09 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


ASSANGE DID WTC

He's never denied it.
posted by meehawl at 11:10 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I heard James Brown died.
posted by ericb at 11:11 AM on August 21, 2010



What does "molestation" mean in this context anyway?

In some articles they are saying it equates to 'sexual harassment.'


Assange never should have apologized for looking up her skirt during that meeting, it just made everything worse.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:12 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


The net effect of this is that Assaange has just been innoculated against future smears, which is surely not what many people had in mind.

One can equally well say that he's been tainted. If someone wanted to sully his image, they've succeeded. It's very difficult in such circumstances to clear your name, unless the accusers have been publicly exposed as liars. If the latter doesn't happen, there'll always be the shadow of "well, maybe they just couldn't prove it", "got off on a technicality". You can be sure that his political enemies will always bring this up, and their followers will be convinced he's guilty.

Disgusting business either way. If he's totally innocent, then unfortunately, the bad guys succeeded. That's how you ruin a reputation - a constant drip, drip, drip of accusations, even if never proven, ultimately take their toll ("smoke, fire" etc.).
posted by VikingSword at 11:14 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Odd. Nowhere else have I seen him say that he's going to report to the police.

According to pretty much all major Swedish newspapers, journalist Kristinn Hrafnsson, who works with Assange on Wikileaks related stuff, says she has talked with him and that he is still in Sweden and will be reporting to the police soon. Of course, all of this was said before the warrant for his arrest was withdrawn.
posted by Dumsnill at 11:14 AM on August 21, 2010


If the charges were so flimsy that they could be dropped this fast, his name should NEVER have been released publicly.

And the word molestation is so supercharged in our society I'm surprised journos are running with it. Well, no I'm not. It's still disappointing.
posted by graventy at 11:16 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


On a human level, beyond politics, I'll bet that what's worse for Assange about these sorts of charges is that he might never again have a normal, healthy romantic relationship without having even the smallest of suspicions about his date's motivations. Poor guy. :(
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:17 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the ofredande was sexual ofredande I would very much have expected the prosecutors web statement to make that distinction, which they didn't. I have no dog in this race, and no opinion as to whether or not the allegations are true, false or anywhere in between. I can easily imagine how an otherwise sexual crime could also have harassing elements that were not sexual in nature, which you would specify as individual charges.
posted by Iteki at 11:19 AM on August 21, 2010


If he's totally innocent, then unfortunately, the bad guys succeeded.

This doesn't look like it was an orchestrated smear campaign.

From the bits of data we have it seems to me the more likely scenario is that Assange hooked up with someone (or two?) and then later was bothering them somehow in an unwanted fashion (the "Ofredande" charge). Maybe he was pounding on the door or leaving annoying voicemail or something. And then the newspapers decided to jump the gun and publish because, hey, it's the Wikileaks guy. To everyone's detriment.

So more a case of overeager journalists and publishers. I could be wrong and I'm sure we'll find out more but that looks like what happened to me.
posted by Justinian at 11:20 AM on August 21, 2010


I stand by my earlier assesment--Assange is a self-serving dick.

Check out Colbert calling him out.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:20 AM on August 21, 2010


Well this didn't take long - Red State:

"‘Allo Sweden….. ‘Allo…..

Do us a favor…… Put him in a holding cell populated by still-’splody-capable peace lovers and infected drag queens.

Thanks.

Americans who care deeply about our men and women serving their nation and freedom’s call."

posted by VikingSword at 11:21 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess it's impossible to say until things shake out, but there's a lot that's confusing here.

Incompetence aside, why would a powerful entity, like the CIA, commit to something like this unless it was guaranteed to stick?

Why would Sweden attach names if they weren't being coerced or bribed by a powerful entity?

If the charges were real (there is no conspiracy), but were indeed not worth pressing, then how badly was this handled?

I guess, overall, I'm just not seeing a winner here. That almost leads me to believe it was incompetence rather than conspiracy.
posted by codacorolla at 11:21 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone doing the kind of work he does would never jeopardize everything over something obvious and stupid and horrific as raping someone.

elliot spitzer.
posted by krautland at 11:22 AM on August 21, 2010


That almost leads me to believe it was incompetence rather than conspiracy.

Yep. Which is generally the case. Though not necessarily always the case.
posted by Justinian at 11:23 AM on August 21, 2010


Check out Colbert calling him out.
I'm... pretty sure that doesn't mean what you think it means.
posted by verb at 11:24 AM on August 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


elliot spitzer.

Spitzer never raped anyone. He had an extramarital affair in a country completely hysterical and hypocritical about sex.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:24 AM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Elliot Spitzer didn't rape anyone, as has previously been mentioned. Renting prostitutes is obviously stupid, but is far from nonconsensual sex.
posted by ymgve at 11:25 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hiding the names of the accused leads to secret trials and undermines the public nature of justice.

I'm not saying hide the names of the accused. I'm saying hide the names of the alleged. There's a difference. The difference is, alleged people get arrested and put on trial and become accused.

Alleged != Accused

If Julian Assange were actually arrested, then yeah, I'd expect to see his name in the papers. At that point, though, you've had to establish to a judge that there's evidence to detain, a prosecutor has to put their ass on the line and convince that judge given a certain degree of real, no bullshit evidence beforehand… all these nice little checks and balances to stop people from taking advantages just like this.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:26 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, the one that went to South America to have an affair was Mark Sanford. Get your seedy politicians straight!
posted by ymgve at 11:26 AM on August 21, 2010


And there was John Edwards...

I don't think the point is to compare this stuff to rape, just to point out that sometimes people who genuinely care about important work will risk it all to get off.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:29 AM on August 21, 2010


If Julian Assange were actually arrested, then yeah, I'd expect to see his name in the papers.

Yeah, I hate it when people publish all sorts of information indiscriminately without any sort of discriminatory process.
posted by nanojath at 11:32 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm... pretty sure that doesn't mean what you think it means.

It means exactly what it means. Watch the fucking clip. He called him out for editing that video and not showing the entire thing and calling it "collateral murder" instead of letting people make up their own mind. He points out all of the stuff that Assange left out. Assange had to admit it.

I've hated the Iraq war from day one. But being truthful is the most important thing out there. Some people thing propaganda from our side is "ok." I say that's bullshit.

And propaganda is the only thing Assange does. That whole document dump was low-level stuff that told us nothing new about Afghanistan and nothing that the government hadn't been telling us for years.

Either your a leaker or an activist. But you can't pretend to be interested the exposure of truth if you can't tell it yourself.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:34 AM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Civil_Disobedient: He was, in principle, arrested that's the "anhållen" part. They just hadn't found him yet, the "frånvaro" part. If he had been physically available he would have been in a cell. He was charged and now the charges have been dropped. How that plays in with your definitions of accused/alleged/etc I don't know.

anhåller [²'an:hål:er] anhöll anhållit anhåll! anhålla :verb: göra ett anhållande, gripa

English translation: take into custody, arrest, apprehend, detain
* mannen har anhållits som misstänkt för bedrägeri---the man has been arrested on suspicion of fraud
* den anhållne --- the person under arrest, the detainee

posted by Iteki at 11:36 AM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I hate it when people publish all sorts of information indiscriminately without any sort of discriminatory process.

Wikileaks filtered what they published, as did the NYT, Guardian and Der Spiegel, which not only ran the filtered results past their own journalists in the field to confirm information, but applied their own editorial discretion as to what was ultimately sent to print.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:37 AM on August 21, 2010


Nelson: "We've got a rape accusation, an international legal problem, the US military and CIA, and a real world spy novel plot."

And a computer encryption expert who's invented encryption tools for precisely the situation he finds himself in now. Clearly, this the world's most elaborate publicity stunt for a Stephenson/Clancy collaboration.
posted by pwnguin at 11:43 AM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


The rape charge has been rescinded, but there is still a lesser variety of molestation/harassment charge that they are still looking into, according to Dagens Nyheter:

"The police investigation continues in both cases where Assange has been reported for molestation. In the one case regarding sexual molestation and in another case if Assange is guilty of any other offense than the rape that he was first accused of. Chief prosecutor Finne has not yet made a decision regarding which offense category it [the secondary charge] would then be classified under."

Leif Silbersky, a famous Swedish lawyer, said: I myself have been through it [charges being rescinded] a few times, and in those cases it has been due to the first decision being based on limited information. Circumstances have then been reveled such that they have changed their minds.
posted by gemmy at 11:48 AM on August 21, 2010


It means exactly what it means. Watch the fucking clip. He called him out for editing that video and not showing the entire thing and calling it "collateral murder" instead of letting people make up their own mind.
Let's quote Stephen Colbert in that video: "Look, if we don't know what the goverment is doing, we can't be sad! Why are you trying to make me sad?" It's fair to say that he is a television personality known for taking positions and making statements intended to be absurd.

Given the fact that Assange did, in fact, release the complete video of the Apache attack for those who wanted to see it, the complaint you're talking about boils down to "Assange gave the video a title."
He points out all of the stuff that Assange left out. Assange had to admit it.
The only thing Assange "admitted" was that he did, indeed, title the video "Collateral Murder." In the clip you linked to, both he and Colbert take as a given that the full unedited video is available to anyone who cares to watch it, that the things Assange says happened in it did happen, and that the only objection is the naming of the video "Collateral Murder."
Either your a leaker or an activist. But you can't pretend to be interested the exposure of truth if you can't tell it yourself.
If you want to argue that Julian Assange is lying, you're really going to have to find a better example than "He gave a video a title that some people didn't like."

I'm not saying he's a saint or that the approach he and WikiLeaks take is above reproach. But seriously. The video was leaked, he posted the full version, and he also posted a shorter version that highlighted the relevant parts. There was no discrepancy between them, and no attempt to hide what was in the full version of the video.
posted by verb at 11:51 AM on August 21, 2010 [13 favorites]


Let's quote Stephen Colbert in that video: "Look, if we don't know what the goverment is doing, we can't be sad! Why are you trying to make me sad?" It's fair to say that he is a television personality known for taking positions and making statements intended to be absurd.

You really think "absurd" is all Colbert does?
posted by Cyrano at 11:57 AM on August 21, 2010


Sometimes he just reports the facts; bears are indeed godless killing machines.
posted by Dumsnill at 12:00 PM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


You really think "absurd" is all Colbert does?
No, I'm just pointing out that Stephen Colbert saying, "You've manipulated people's emotions! You gave the video a title!" is not as unambiguous as, say, Ted Koppel doing it. Colbert frequently agrees with people to make them look foolish, criticizes them to parody their critics, and so on. Obviously it's not as simple as saying, "Invert everything he says, and that's what he really means" but simply posting a clip of Colbert and saying, "He totally called Assagne on it" is a little odd.
posted by verb at 12:02 PM on August 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


Wikileaks isn't without its faults, but I think you need to check your perspective if you want to equate slightly hyperbolic framing of atrocities comitted by a nation's army with false accusations of a single individual (possibly for the purpose of silencing them).
posted by codacorolla at 12:03 PM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


And for the record, I think that calling it murder is pretty much accurate.
posted by codacorolla at 12:06 PM on August 21, 2010 [9 favorites]


And for the record, I think that calling it murder is pretty much accurate.

No, it was the deliberate killing of non-military people for ummm ... not exactly military reasons. That's only murder if you're not an obfuscationist.
posted by philip-random at 12:14 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


why would a powerful entity, like the CIA, commit to something like this unless it was guaranteed to stick?

Well, first of all, you overestimate the CIA. Second, it was more likely (in the case of an incompetent black op conspiracy) the DIA. And really, this is just the first step (if it is, in fact, a conspiracy). The CIA will get the next one. Then on down the line until it ends up in the hands of the American Institute of Architects. Don't build that house, Julian!
posted by effwerd at 12:23 PM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


And if any of the Afghans whose names were leaked are killed? Can we call that "collateral murder" too?
posted by lullaby at 12:23 PM on August 21, 2010


And if any of the Afghans whose names were leaked are killed? Can we call that "collateral murder" too?
It's already been done, by journalists, politicians, and assorted commentators. Even in cases where it turns out that the Afghans in question were dead before their names were leaked. So, you know. This whole 'hyperbolic framing' criticism is pretty much about the way or society communicates and filters information. Pretending that it's a WikiLeaks issue is silly.
posted by verb at 12:27 PM on August 21, 2010


And if any of the Afghans whose names were leaked are killed? Can we call that "collateral murder" too?

Sure, collateral to the US invasion of Afghanistan.
posted by effwerd at 12:27 PM on August 21, 2010 [13 favorites]


If I might step back a moment and look at this from a larger perspective....

What we're seeing here, the massive skepticism over the charges, is what happens when an organization tied to one of the most powerful governments in the world is as renowned for dirty tricks as the CIA. For decades there have been countless stories about them, from staging assassinations of foreign leaders to projects like MKULTRA, and many of them have been substantiated. Groups like that empower conspiracy theorists, for showing that, to some small degree, the kinds of things they say do occur.

Some of this stuff we only know of because of the Freedom of Information Act, which is one of those pieces of legislation so awesome it is seriously difficult to believe it was ever passed. And yet, there are people who say the solution to this is to make these guys even more secret!

But yes, this is the price the United States pays for engaging in those kinds of madness. It is corrosive to our society. That we can reasonably think the CIA could actually cook something like this up as the first reaction is frightening, and not in a small way, destabilizing.

Why is it that pundits on CNN or MSNBC never say things like this?
posted by JHarris at 12:28 PM on August 21, 2010 [18 favorites]


It means exactly what it means. Watch the fucking clip. He called him out for editing that video and not showing the entire thing and calling it "collateral murder" instead of letting people make up their own mind.

Let's quote Stephen Colbert in that video: "Look, if we don't know what the goverment is doing, we can't be sad! Why are you trying to make me sad?" It's fair to say that he is a television personality known for taking positions and making statements intended to be absurd.


Watch the ENTIRE fucking clip. About halfway through, Colbert drops character--a rare event--and the rest is a dead serious challenge.
posted by availablelight at 12:36 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Multiple sources are now reporting that the warrant for Assange's arrest has been withdrawn.

And here this comment is, not on the front page but 4/5ths the way down in what has already become a longcat thread.
posted by JHarris at 12:39 PM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just have to say that I, for one, am greatly relieved that we have gotten this far in the thread without bringing up Al Gore.

Oh.
posted by warbaby at 12:39 PM on August 21, 2010


The only thing Assange "admitted" was that he did, indeed, title the video "Collateral Murder." In the clip you linked to, both he and Colbert take as a given that the full unedited video is available to anyone who cares to watch it, that the things Assange says happened in it did happen, and that the only objection is the naming of the video "Collateral Murder."

Wrong. Colbert also points out that Assange edited the clip to remove a whole bunch of stuff that puts the action into more perspective and that by doing that he removed very important context, such as the AK-47 and the report of a roadside bomb.

As for it being "murder" or not. We have no fucking idea. We have interviewed no one. We have not read the transcripts, nor seen the intelligence. We know next to nothing about it. So I can't say what happened.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:45 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


And if any of the Afghans whose names were leaked are killed? Can we call that "collateral murder" too?

Wikileaks contacted the Pentagon to try to redact any names that could put people in danger. The Pentagon refused, and then lied about it.
posted by kafziel at 12:46 PM on August 21, 2010 [8 favorites]


Sorry for jumping off the rape bandwagon, but something mentioned at the top of the thread made me curious:

Again, everyone should download that insurance file...not because it will be the only copy left...but wars might be conducted differently "post-decryption of the insurance file". Everyone should be a part of that.

Would downloading the insurance file count as "material support for terrorism"? We've recently seen similar charges used to prevent defense attorneys from representing suspects in court. It could be argued like so:

1. Assange is designated a terrorist or Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US government.
2. Spreading the insurance file by downloading it supports Assange by making it more difficult to prosecute him. Because prosecuting him may endanger Americans, etc.
3. So by downloading the file, you're supporting Assange, a terrorist, therefore you're providing material support (the definition of material is key here, maybe it wouldn't be a material support charge but a similar charge).

Kind of scary really. Assuming the government believes the above true suddenly everyone who downloaded the file is guilty of support and eligible for surveillance, etc. It's a convenient method of increasing the size of their watch lists.
posted by formless at 12:47 PM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


No, I'm just pointing out that Stephen Colbert saying, "You've manipulated people's emotions! You gave the video a title!" is not as unambiguous as, say, Ted Koppel doing it. Colbert frequently agrees with people to make them look foolish, criticizes them to parody their critics, and so on. Obviously it's not as simple as saying, "Invert everything he says, and that's what he really means" but simply posting a clip of Colbert and saying, "He totally called Assagne on it" is a little odd.

I think he did exactly that. Its not odd at all.

Assange is a self-serving huckster. Daniel Ellsberg he's not. He told us nothing new about the war.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:47 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Colbert also points out that Assange edited the clip to remove a whole bunch of stuff that puts the action into more perspective and that by doing that he removed very important context, such as the AK-47 and the report of a roadside bomb.

So, just to be clear, your criticism applies as well to every news station that played fragments of the clip and not all 40 minutes of the footage uninterrupted? These news stations are also self-serving propagandists whose reporting we can completely disregard now and for all time if we disagree with even a single one of their editing choices?
posted by enn at 12:48 PM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Who can be so overtly covert?
Sometimes even covertly overt
Fuckin'-a man!
CIA man!
— The Fugs
posted by scruss at 12:50 PM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Would downloading the insurance file count as "material support for terrorism"? We've recently seen similar charges used to prevent defense attorneys from representing suspects in court. It could be argued like so:

1. Assange is designated a terrorist or Specially Designated Global Terrorist by the US government.
2. Spreading the insurance file by downloading it supports Assange by making it more difficult to prosecute him. Because prosecuting him may endanger Americans, etc.
3. So by downloading the file, you're supporting Assange, a terrorist, therefore you're providing material support (the definition of material is key here, maybe it wouldn't be a material support charge but a similar charge).

Kind of scary really. Assuming the government believes the above true suddenly everyone who downloaded the file is guilty of support and eligible for surveillance, etc. It's a convenient method of increasing the size of their watch lists.


no. First, he's engaging in his first amendment right to speak. Even though I think he's a massive dick, that doesn't mean that he is intending to support terrorists. he doesn't like the war and wants attention. that's not supporting terrorism. same goes for you. I hope i'm not being presumptuous to say that you do not want to support terrorism. intent is the key here.

having said that, military secrets can be censored. our first amendment rights, like all of our rights, can be limited by the government when it has a constitutionally valid reason for doing so. The standard back of the envelope legal formulation is the "sailing times of ships at sea" meaning operational information which could put our troops in danger. see Near v. Minnesota.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:55 PM on August 21, 2010


FWIW -- Assange is not "engaging in his first amendment right to speak....having said that, military secrets can be censored ... our first amendment rights, like all of our rights, can be limited by the government when it has a constitutionally valid reason for doing so." He's not an American citizen. He's Austrailian and free to speak on his own. The complexity of the case is that the U.S. is trying to find a way to silence him -- beyond the reach of American-only laws, etc.
posted by ericb at 12:59 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wikileaks contacted the Pentagon to try to redact any names that could put people in danger. The Pentagon refused, and then lied about it.

So, to get this straight - Assange is leaking secret information, but it's the Pentagon's fault that names weren't redacted? Why is it that WikiLeaks couldn't remove the names all by themselves? (And similarly, why is it Amnesty International's responsibility to help redact names?)
posted by lullaby at 1:01 PM on August 21, 2010


"Assange is a self-serving huckster."

Big words, when you're referring to someone who broke one of the biggest stories of the year whilst freely providing all of the source material the video was made from. You were free to edit your own edited interpretation of the important points; the information is the important part, not the - separated - editorial that went with that.
posted by jaduncan at 1:02 PM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Seriously, this isn't Breitbart and his still never released to the public ACORN tapes.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:05 PM on August 21, 2010


Watch the ENTIRE fucking clip. About halfway through, Colbert drops character--a rare event--and the rest is a dead serious challenge.
I did watch the entire fucking clip. I can only conclude that you didn't, or you're not vary good at detecting sarcasm or parody. Because you've put such a high value on this video clip of Stephen Colbert interviewing Assagne, I'll quote the portion of it that comes after the "callout."
Colbert: What is the purpose of letting the public know? It's like you're saying that it's better to know than not know things! have you not heard that ignorance is bliss?

Assagne: All too frequently.

Colbert: Until I knew something about Baghdad, I could assume it was paradise! This footage puts a face on war that says people get killed.

Assagne: A lot of soldiers have said through various blogs and emails, "War is war--"

Colbert: Exactly! I haven't fought in a war, therefore I don't judge it. How can you do that?

Assagne: They say, "War is war," but what is war? We show it. You can make justifications and say that lots of bad things happen in war, but what is it? This is what it is.

Colbert: (Long, thoughtful pause, stroking chin until audience laughs)
That's the part that comes after the middle section in which you say he drops character. He asks Assagne some tough questions, to be sure, but Assagne answers them articulately and Colbert moves on to other topics: by the end of the clip, the tone is what can be described as "comfortable, tending towards chummy."

To suggest that the clip involves Colbert calling Assagne to task, and Assagne "admitting" that he lied about anything, must be watching a different video. That doesn't prove that Assagne is above reproach, just that the video link of that Colbert interview is unrelated to said charge.
posted by verb at 1:16 PM on August 21, 2010 [21 favorites]


Prosecutors Eye WikiLeaks Charges.
"Pentagon lawyers believe that online whistleblower group WikiLeaks acted illegally in disclosing thousands of classified Afghanistan war reports and other material, and federal prosecutors are exploring possible criminal charges, officials familiar with the matter said.

A joint investigation by the Army and the Federal Bureau of Investigation is still in its early stages and it is unclear what course the Department of Justice will decide to take, according to a U.S. law-enforcement official.

He said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange had not been identified by the FBI as a target of the probe.

... Several officials said the Defense and Justice departments were now exploring legal options for prosecuting Mr. Assange and others involved on grounds they encouraged the theft of government property.

Bringing a case against WikiLeaks would be controversial and complicated, and would expose the Obama administration to criticism for pursuing not just government leakers, but organizations that disseminate their information.

The increasingly confrontational tone could be part of Pentagon efforts to dissuade WikiLeaks from posting online the yet-to-be-published documents in its possession.

'It is the view of the Department of Defense that WikiLeaks obtained this material in circumstances that constitute a violation of United States law, and that as long as WikiLeaks holds this material, the violation of the law is ongoing,' Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Charles Johnson wrote in a letter this week to a WikiLeaks lawyer.

The letter did not spell out what those circumstances were.

People familiar with the matter said investigators and government lawyers were looking at whether WikiLeaks pressed or encouraged army intelligence analyst Pfc. Bradley Manning to leak the Afghan war logs after the army private provided the group with a classified Iraq video.

Such a finding could increase the chances that prosecutors will pursue charges against WikiLeaks, legal experts said.

Steven Aftergood, head of the project on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, said U.S. law gives prosecutors a number of tools they could use to prosecute WikiLeaks, such as alleging the group was an accessory to a crime or had unlawfully taken possession of stolen property. If WikiLeaks actively encouraged the transfer of classified documents, the government could allege the group was part of a conspiracy, he said.

At issue is whether WikiLeaks should be afforded the same legal protections as a traditional media outlet.

Legal experts said the government may view WikiLeaks differently because of the way it gathers and publishes information. Its website actively solicits classified material and promises leaking is 'safe, easy and protected by law.'

When established news organizations obtain classified information, they rarely publish it wholesale or without first consulting the government to authenticate the information and to ensure it doesn't compromise national security. WikiLeaks' model eschews that step.

'If WikiLeaks thought it would make the last move and the government would not respond, they may be mistaken,' said Mr. Aftergood. 'But it would be a terrible new precedent if these legal options were actually employed against a publisher, even a disreputable one. Once such measures were used against WikiLeaks, it would only be a matter of time until they are used against other media outlets and individuals.'" [...more...]"
posted by ericb at 1:17 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a convenient method of increasing the size of their watch lists.

True, if overly concerned though I suppose an easy workaround is going to a public library or cyber cafe with a thumbdrive.
posted by samsara at 1:21 PM on August 21, 2010


Here's an interesting article on the Collateral Murder video, btw (discussed in this recent thread):

WikiLeaks in Baghdad: Soldiers involved in the "Collateral Murder" video have come forward to tell their story.
posted by homunculus at 1:21 PM on August 21, 2010


"The charges don't come from a tabloid; they come from the Swedish prosecutor's office. Their website has posted this information."

I just went to the link for this, and popped it into Google Translate.

The page says, in Google English...

The application of customary Assange
2010-08-21
Chief prosecutor Eva Is anhållningsbeslutet has lifted by Julian Assange. Hon anser inte att det finns skäl för att han ska vara fortsatt anhållen. She does not believe that there are reasons for him to remain in custody.

- I do not think there is reason to suspect that he committed rape, "says Eva Finn.

Eva Is leaving no further comment on Saturday.

posted by markkraft at 1:22 PM on August 21, 2010


"WikiLeaks in Baghdad: Soldiers involved in the "Collateral Murder" video have come forward to tell their story..."

Yeah. This is definitely an interesting quote:
One by one, soldiers just arriving in Baghdad were taken into a room and questioned by their commanding officers. "All questions led up to the big question," explains former Army Spc. Josh Stieber. "If someone were to pull out a weapon in a marketplace full of unarmed civilians, would you open fire on that person, even if you knew you would hurt a lot of innocent people in the process?"

It was a trick question. "Not only did you have to say yes, but you had to say yes without hesitating," explains Stieber. "In refusing to go along with the crowd, it was not irregular for somebody to get beat up," he adds. "They'll take you in a room, close the door and knock you around if they didn't like your answer," says former Army Spc. Ray Corcoles, who deployed with Stieber.
Too bad Assagne was so cavalier with the truth, suggesting that they might have opened fire on unarmed civilians to take out a guy with a weapon. You know. By posting video of them opening fire on unarmed civilians to take out a guy with a weapon. Like they were told to do. And beaten if they hesitated.
posted by verb at 1:25 PM on August 21, 2010 [15 favorites]


As for it being "murder" or not. We have no fucking idea. We have interviewed no one. We have not read the transcripts, nor seen the intelligence. We know next to nothing about it. So I can't say what happened.

No. I saw them shooting through a van with children and saying something akin to "thats what they get". Thats murder.

no. First, he's engaging in his first amendment right to speak. Even though I think he's a massive dick, that doesn't mean that he is intending to support terrorists. he doesn't like the war and wants attention. that's not supporting terrorism. same goes for you. I hope i'm not being presumptuous to say that you do not want to support terrorism. intent is the key here.

having said that, military secrets can be censored. our first amendment rights, like all of our rights, can be limited by the government when it has a constitutionally valid reason for doing so. The standard back of the envelope legal formulation is the "sailing times of ships at sea" meaning operational information which could put our troops in danger. see Near v. Minnesota.


Hiding the fact that innocent people are being killed, and people would stop supporting you isn't "constitutionally valid". Theres a big difference between the government not telling us the path of their military ships vs hiding innocent people being killed by people who are instructed to be adrenaline monkeys for their politicians in nice suits.

I also hope your philosophy on this allows you to justify how the us government has hidden how pat tillman and countless other young men and women have died from "friendly" fire.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:30 PM on August 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


I also hope your philosophy on this allows you to justify how the us government has hidden how pat tillman and countless other young men and women have died from "friendly" fire.
hal_c_on, I've disagreed with Ironmouth a couple times in this thread now but I think that's uncalled for. He's made clear that his objections to WikiLeaks are based on his belief that Assagne is a publicity-seeker rather than an honest advocate of the truth. Impugning Ironmouth's motives does no one any good.
posted by verb at 1:32 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just went to the link for this, and popped it into Google Translate.

If you read the whole thread, you will realize that the content of that link has changed since the comment you quote was made.
posted by Dumsnill at 1:38 PM on August 21, 2010


I'm not sure what to make of the quick rolling back of the charges in this case. It's weird.
posted by wierdo at 1:44 PM on August 21, 2010


But but but we must believe any and all accusations if "rape" no matter how fucking absurd they are on their face! To doubt a rape accusation is tantamount to being a rapist! Didn't you read all the impassioned righteous comments above? If someone says rape, then a rape must have occurred!

Political correctness in the service of character assassination stinks.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:58 PM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


verb is shaping up to be the new amberglow with his brilliant pull-quoting of relevant facts.

Assuming the government believes the above true suddenly everyone who downloaded the file is guilty of support and eligible for surveillance, etc. It's a convenient method of increasing the size of their watch lists.

Watch lists only work because everyone's name isn't on them. The larger they get, the less useful they become.
posted by JHarris at 1:58 PM on August 21, 2010


Watch lists only work because everyone's name isn't on them. The larger they get, the less useful they become.

Only if the nominal purpose of the watch list is the actual purpose.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:00 PM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


"I'm not sure what to make of the quick rolling back of the charges in this case. It's weird."

It is weird... though if there was a government who wanted to have someone detained on trumped-up charges and then quickly turned over to a nation they had an extradition treaty with, then you would probably like to keep the advanced notice of the phony charges to justify the detention pretty quiet...

...unless, of course, some trashy tabloid was out there, who, while routinely culling through the official records of new charges being made, noticed a familiar name and jumped all over the story.
posted by markkraft at 2:02 PM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


kafziel: "Wikileaks contacted the Pentagon to try to redact any names that could put people in danger. The Pentagon refused, and then lied about it."

Wow, that definitely changes how I feel about the whole wardiary thing. It makes Wikileaks look a lot better and the Pentagon look much worse. They could have helped redact the names of their own informants but refused? What idiots.

And now these charges. What a mess! There could be something to them, but the chance that it's a frame is way more than non zero at this point.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:04 PM on August 21, 2010


This whole story is taken from page two of the black-ops handbook. Serious bush-league stuff, here.

The DIA's hiring, if anyone's interested. You, too could participate in black-ops campaigns to protect the cause of Freedom around the world. Apparently their website only supports IE6. though.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:15 PM on August 21, 2010


>

So, to get this straight - Assange is leaking secret information, but it's the Pentagon's fault that names weren't redacted?

Well, yeah, if they really had an opportunity to do so. This at the very least makes the Pentagon complicit in the supposed harm done by the leak. Is it possible that the Pentagon doesn't actually care about the harm done or simply doesn't think there will be much harm done, and passed on the opportunity in order to paint wilileaks in a bad light? The government had the chance to presumably reduce harm done by this inevitable leak, and chose instead to throw those named under the bus because they don't want to dirty themselves in this nasty business of irresponsible whistle blowing. Cynicism, negligence, apathy only paint the government in a worse light.
posted by 2N2222 at 2:17 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


And now these charges. What a mess! There could be something to them, but the chance that it's a frame is way more than non zero at this point.

The rape charges have already been dropped, although they're still debating a lesser charge of molestation. The women involved are denying any "dirty tricks" involvement, but I remain skeptical. After all, the U.S. spent a significant amount of time looking for and trying to spy on Assange - having him in Swedish custody would make extradition far easier.
posted by FormlessOne at 2:19 PM on August 21, 2010


So the story had a four-hour life: from approximately 11.00 UTC to 15.30 UTC. If you think about this in terms of print-news cycles... say for the sake of argument that there was a national government or intelligence agency that wanted to get a Wikileaks smear-story into the Sunday papers (which in many countries have a print and distribution schedule different to the other six days of the week, and in a lot of parts of the world are a much bigger way of communicating news than the web), then this couldn't have been a US or UK operation, or even a European one. The print schedules are all wrong.

Moscow? Possibly. India, Pakistan? China? I don't know enough about the structure and logistics of those countries' print media... but watch tomorrow to see where the papers are running the "Wikileaks is run by a rapist" story big. There may be an interesting conclusion to be drawn.
posted by Hogshead at 2:20 PM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh wow, that Colbert take down is... wow. I'm not Colbert's biggest fan, but he uses his persona brilliantly here. Absolutely amazing and dead-on.
posted by sonika at 2:27 PM on August 21, 2010


FormlessOne wrote: "although they're still debating a lesser charge of molestation"

It would be nice if we could agree on a better translation to use that doesn't imply sexual misconduct. It's closer to disorderly conduct, apparently, but isn't at all covered by that single phrase.
posted by wierdo at 2:27 PM on August 21, 2010


> And propaganda is the only thing Assange does.

Argh. Look, if you want to dismiss the Collateral Murder video and the war diary stuff as propaganda, fine. But Wikileaks has released plenty of other stuff that is clearly not propaganda. Please read the "Notable leaks" section of the Wikipedia article on Wikileaks and stop it with the mischaracterization.
posted by twirlip at 2:27 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Prediction: Washington will arrange for Putin's agents to pull a Yushchenko on Assange.
posted by Philemon at 2:30 PM on August 21, 2010


This hasn't happened yet because of quantum.
posted by doublehappy at 2:33 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Houstonian: People who think Assange is a hero should read the ongoing articles at Mother Jones and the profile at The New Yorker, and watch the video of Colbert interviewing him. It shows a different side of him -- unbelievably paranoid and calculating.

This is the most ridiculously hyperbolic indefensible statement. I just watched the entire Colbert interview and read the entire New Yorker article and I am kind of pissed off that you got me to go through all of that. I sure as hell am not going to bother with any of the Mother Jones stuff.

I don't even know where you're coming from calling him "unbelievably calculating". Is it because he doesn't pretend to be completely objective and unbiased? And because he said he was surprised that Wikileaks is "seen as such an impartial arbiter of the truth"?

Do you want him to pretend that he's completely impartial? Well tough luck, he's under no obligation to, and I hope I don't have to point out that it's a stupid idea to ask for that kind of dissembling anyways. In practicality all he needs to manage is to be marginally more trustworthy than the governments and corporations he is opposing and no one need have illusions otherwise, nor does he need to try to create such an illusion.

No one thinks that Assange is perfect and angelic, least of all him. But I don't even see how you can begin to call his degree of calculation "unbelievable" when he's working in a field where euphemisms like "collateral damage" are used.

As far as his paranoia - as it says in the New Yorker article, beginning at eighteen the Australian state police busted into his house and confiscated all of his computer equipment and notes. Then further along the child services administration refused to remove his son from a dangerous environment. (Yes, his son that he had out of wedlock. Oh dear, my starry-eyed idealization of his snow-white virtue is simply shattered!) This is the kind of relationship he's had with governments.

He has also, during the past decade, planned and created a continuous operation to threaten and imperil corporate and government secrecy at all levels. What is unbelievable about his paranoia again?
posted by XMLicious at 2:40 PM on August 21, 2010 [13 favorites]


Parts of this also remind me of the Brue Ivins story. The claims that he was a creep stalking a sorority girl. From the sounds of it, those claims were true. But the problem is that the public soon came to associate that with him and it led to guilt by association. "Creepy" is a mighty powerful word in our culture, and once somebody is tainted with that brush, they'll lose a lot of public support. I think we're going to see a lot of co-occurrences of the word "creep" with Assange in the coming few weeks. And regardless of innocence, it will turn the public against him, because nobody wants to support the creepy old dude.
posted by formless at 2:54 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


I stand by my earlier assesment--Assange is a self-serving dick.

Check out Colbert calling him out.
Calling him out for what, exactly? Daring to pass judgment on the military without having served? The whole show was about the 'collateral murder' tape, and Colbert repeated a few criticisms of the release that had been going around. Obviously people are going see whatever they want in the interview. It's well known that conservatives think Colbert is a conservative, etc.
It means exactly what it means. Watch the fucking clip. He called him out for editing that video and not showing the entire thing and calling it "collateral murder" instead of letting people make up their own mind. He points out all of the stuff that Assange left out. Assange had to admit it.
Uh, no. I watched the video when it aired. Colbert got a little confused about which video was which, that's all. There was a 17 minute video and a 30+ minute video. At some point Colbert seemed to get a little confused on that point and seemed to think the millions of people who watched the 17 minute video were only people who visited the website and didn't watch either video.

But either way, Colbert couldn't have "called him out" on not showing the whole thing because, duh, he did.
Watch the ENTIRE fucking clip. About halfway through, Colbert drops character--a rare event--and the rest is a dead serious challenge.


But how do you know he 'drops character'? Because he's saying stuff you agree with? And anyway, the 'challenge' was that because Assanage has never served in the U.S. military, he has no right to criticize. Nevermind the fact that he's not an American, the argument is absurd on it's face. What other criticism do you think he made? That were 'dead serious'?

What's interesting is that a lot of conservatives think Colbert is one. I think people just assume he's being honest when they agree with what he says, and sarcastic when he doesn't.
So, just to be clear, your criticism applies as well to every news station that played fragments of the clip and not all 40 minutes of the footage uninterrupted?
Only if they post the entire, unedited video on their websites, which is what wikileaks actually did. Nothing was hidden or removed. A shorter video with context added was also posted.
posted by delmoi at 3:02 PM on August 21, 2010 [5 favorites]


Wow. This thread is growing very fast. Lets see if I can help with the molestation word (since I speak Swedish, and all).

Both here in this thread, and in the meta, people are concluding that it's a bad translation, and "ofredande" is more akin to harassment or public disturbance charge.

Even the Swedish-English dictionary will translate "ofredande" with "molest", as in "harass or assault sexually; make indecent advances to", "A sexual offence in which sexual advances are made against the will of the victim." and so on. I know molest is now sliding toward meaning abuse especially regarding a minor these days - but ofredande does not imply minors in any way.

Sometimes cops will use the words "Ofredande/förargelse" when reporting on street harassment (beyond public nuisance levels) as fellow Swede Iteki showed us upthread, and in cases where men with restraining orders are banging on the doors of the women who have the restraining order on them. Notice that it's not called sexuellt ofredande, as it is in the case with Assange where "misstanken om sexuellt ofredande kvarstår." (The suspicion regarding sexual molestation still stands). That Police blotter search shows quite a different set of cases.
posted by dabitch at 3:26 PM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wait, so Assange is charged with sexuellt ofredande? Iteki was saying that the opposite was the case right here. Ugh. Now we're all confused again.
posted by Justinian at 3:34 PM on August 21, 2010


Note that Iteki appears to be basing that judgment based on the statements of the Swedish Prosecutor's website rather than a newspaper article which is what you re linking to, dabitch. I would tend to believe the prosecutor's site... except that the prosecutor appears to have taken down the old info and replaced it with something else so we can no longer see what Iteki saw. Ugh again.
posted by Justinian at 3:37 PM on August 21, 2010


ericb's comment needs to be repeated. I don't think a lot of people have seen it yet...
“The Swedish tabloid Aftonblade has an interview with one of Assange's two accusers, an unidentified 30-year-old woman. She tells Aftonblade that the other alleged victim contacted her about an incident with Assange, and the two went to the police together last week. The accusations are ‘sexual assault or molestation’ in her case, and rape in the case of the other woman. (The rape accusations were declared ‘unfounded’ by the police.) If you'll excuse the Google translate, this is from Aftonblade:
Women and Assange met during his stay in Stockholm and had not previously seen either him or each other.

The woman in her 30s said that she, for her part claims to be a victim of a sexual assault or molestation, but not a rape.

The origins of the police report came in last Friday. Another woman approached her and told a similar, but worse story. The woman is between 20 and 30.
The woman says that at first the sex was consensual, but turned non-consensual in both cases. She also refutes the idea that the Pentagon or any of Assange's detractors are behind the accusations:
The charges against Assange are of course not orchestrated by either the Pentagon or another. The responsibility for what happened to me and the other girl is in a man with skew kvinnosyn problems and to take no for an answer.
So a huge amount of the reckless speculation can be ended. At the most general level, we actually have a lot of information.
posted by Chuckles at 3:42 PM on August 21, 2010


I agree this is confusing Justinian. I've been out all day and my phone has been going nuts with text messages making it quite surreal. Lets see if this helps:
The prosecutors website link doesn't mention the words 'sexuellt ofredande" at all, it only states that the 'request for arrest in his absense'* for the accusation of rape has been pulled back. I've seen cases where a 'request for arrest in absense'* has been pushed for sexuellt ofredande, but this usually involves much younger victims (pre-teens). One woman came forward on the rape charge, and one other womans story was the basis for the sexuellt ofredande charge. There were two charges, and the link only mentions one.

* it's hard to translate "anhållan i sin frånvaro", it means the person is arrested, but not actually in custody yet.

posted by dabitch at 3:52 PM on August 21, 2010


closing tags. Sorry.
posted by dabitch at 3:52 PM on August 21, 2010


The current statement on the prosecutors website does not state that Assange is being investigated for anything. And as a general rule, the prosecutor's office in Sweden would not make any real informative public statement about a sex assault investigation or publicly identify suspects of a crime. If there is on-going suspicion of criminal activity, you can expect it will be handled more discreetly than this embarrassment.

The Swedish press has proven themselves unreliable and inconsistent with their own stated values in this case. Anything they report should be taken with a great deal of salt.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 3:56 PM on August 21, 2010


no. First, he's engaging in his first amendment right to speak. Even though I think he's a massive dick, that doesn't mean that he is intending to support terrorists. he doesn't like the war and wants attention. that's not supporting terrorism. same goes for you. I hope i'm not being presumptuous to say that you do not want to support terrorism. intent is the key here.

Intent is irrelevant, as in this case (LA Times, NYT), in which the Obama administration is arguing that even something like an op-ed encouraging a terrorist organization to renounce terrorism or speaking on behalf of the people the terrorists claim to represent constitutes material aid to terrorists, in the form of "expert advice." In short, supporting terrorism, like terrorism, is whatever the US says it is.
posted by williampratt at 3:57 PM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


As a tangentially related side note, the Free Republic thread about this story is a thing to behold. It's full of confused posters wandering in circles, halfheartedly making cracks about 'Imamobama,' 'Criminalizing regret,' and Assigne's "Soldier-killing." There are like four angles to jump on the story, and they clearly can't figure out which one to roll with.

MeFi, on the other hand, seems to have picked All Angles, All At Once.
posted by verb at 3:57 PM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


re: The Colbert video

I didn't get "unbelievably paranoid and calculating" from it so much as "incredibly intelligent shy geek*." It seemed to me Assange was fairly straightforward and responsive to Colbert's questions.

One of the most interesting things about the video was Assange's discussion of the WL's duties to the sources and to the public. At 3:00 in the video, where Colbert confronts him about editing the tape, and the title. Assange responds as follows:

ASSANGE: So, the promise we make to our sources is that not only will we defend them through every means that we have available, technological and legally and politically, but we will try and get the maximum possible political impact for the material that they give to us...

COLBERT: So "Collateral Murder" is to get political impact?

ASSANGE: Yes. Absolutely. ...and...the material... our promise to the public is that we will release the full source material so that if people have a different opinion the full material is there for them to analyze and assess.


I found this articulation of the comparison and contrast of duties to two separate parties - sources versus public - absolutely fascinating. What I take away from this is that their confidential sources provide the material in exchange for a promise of protection, and that the risk the sources take to provide the material is offset by releasing the material in a way that fulfills a political point the sources want to make by disclosing the material. But, WL also acknowledges a separate duty to the "consumers" of its product to provide not only the "edited" version but the underlying source material. It's a fascinating model of journalism: Imagine if Fox News did the same thing.

*with a certain exotic James Bond villainish look going on there.
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:02 PM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


Already dropped? Wow, that was quick. Talk about a fast moving story!
posted by Kevin Street at 5:09 PM on August 21, 2010


The people behind the frame must have realized the internet was on to them and called the whole thing off.
posted by ericost at 5:21 PM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


She also refutes the idea that the Pentagon or any of Assange's detractors are behind the accusations:

She didn't refute the idea, she denied it.

Or do you imagine that, if she really had been working for some intelligence service, she'd have just 'fessed up there and then. "OK, it's a fair cop. I'm working for the CIA." ::rolleyes::
posted by unSane at 5:39 PM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


The US government isn't behind these accusations. From what I can tell the US plans on first attempting to reign in Assange with threats of unleashing an army of DOJ lawyers, Treasury officials and US Cybercommand on his network of supporters and backers. This is a much more realistic threat than some black op call him a rapist and hope he gets arrested scenario. Once the US Department of Justice starts a full blown RICO investigation, Treasury starts locking off access to bank accounts and Cyber Command starts threatening ISPs, taking name servers and CIDR allocations away life could get extraordinarily difficult for Assange and his friends.

I think the short term strategy of the US is much more likely to focus on seeing how far they can push Wikileaks or co-opt them. Wikileaks gets a continuous stream of interesting data from around the world, having early access to the information and some ability to control the message that goes along with the distribution is highly valuable. The other element of this strategy is to determine the size, extent and backing of Wikileaks to determine if they are a part of legitimate political opposition or something dangerous.
posted by humanfont at 6:36 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


The US can multitask.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:43 PM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


hope he gets arrested scenario

I only go so far with this conspiracy thing, but what you've said here is not the point. The point is that when DOJ lawyers, Treasury officials and US Cybercommand take whatever action they're going to take, and the stories of those actions reach the public, Assange will be associated with this story. Forever. It's bloody brilliant.
posted by Trochanter at 6:52 PM on August 21, 2010


determine if they are a part of legitimate political opposition or something dangerous.

The two are not mutually exclusive. Legitimate political opposition is often dangerous.
posted by ryoshu at 7:05 PM on August 21, 2010


NOT A LAWYER BUT :

From what I can tell the US plans on first attempting to reign in Assange with threats of unleashing an army of DOJ lawyers, Treasury officials and US Cybercommand on his network of supporters and backers.
they would only be able to do this if they were US citizens, right?

This is a much more realistic threat than some black op call him a rapist and hope he gets arrested scenario.
ahhh... ummmm. i asked early and upthread, didn't one of the Bushs use the excuse of a US woman being raped by Hussein people as one of the reasons to invade Iraq?

Once the US Department of Justice starts a full blown RICO investigation,
Correct me if am wrong, but RICO (which is usually used for corporations) can only be used on corporations US citizens and/or corporations doing business in the US. you can't technically RICO internet corporations that are incorporated elsewhere.

Treasury starts locking off access to bank accounts and Cyber Command starts threatening ISPs, taking name servers and CIDR allocations away life could get extraordinarily difficult for Assange and his friends.
i haven't done a thorough search, but Wikileaks nor Sunshine Press appear to be either US corporations or international companies doing business in the US. are you saying that if i donate money to Wikileaks this would happen to someone like me? with my healthy level of paranoia, i wouldn't put it past them, but given how the US has conducted its war machine in the last ... hmmmm ... i don't know ... 100+ years, it's not far-fetched to think the US is involved in the character assassination of Assange.

Julian Assange is a peddler of truth. you kill him, he becomes a martyr and even bigger hero. you kill his character and credibility, you diffuse his one true deadly weapon. which would be step one in the US black/ops playbook?
posted by liza at 7:35 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


An excellent CBC radio interview with Ethan McCord can be found here (scroll down slightly to part 3). McCord turned on the TV one day soon after Wikileaks released the "Collateral Murder" video and was surprised to find the news broadcasting an image of himself rescuing one of the wounded children. He hadn't known that a video of this incident existed, although smells and images of it had haunted him for years.

Questioned about Assange's handling of the video, his response is mixed: he takes issue with the title and some of the editing, but supports the video being released to the public so they can get a better idea of what really happens in Iraq, and in war in general. He calls out the second attack (the one on the van) as totally unjustified. But it's also clear from this interview that McCord's unit had been engaged in a firefight with some rooftop insurgents shortly before the Apache footage was taken, in support of what Colbert said in his interview with Assange, and which Assange vigorously denied.

Also worthwhile from the interview (if a bit of a derail here) is McCord's recitation of some of the cadences he learned in basic training which specifically teach soldiers to dehumanize innocent civilian women and children:

I went to the market where all the women shop
I pulled out my machete and I began to chop

I went to the playground where all the children play
I pulled out my machine gun and I began to spray


Fucked. Up.
posted by Marla Singer at 7:44 PM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


gah! am a bit sleepy, let me try this again :

are you saying that if i donate money to Wikileaks this would happen to someone like me? with my healthy level of paranoia, i wouldn't put it past them, but that would take the already illegal wiretapping and internet surveillance of US citizens to levels unseen of in the mainstream United States. it's not that the US hasn't done this: in the 1990's hundreds of left-wing and radical Puerto Ricans were illegally wiretapped by the FBI; amassing surveillance information on them in the now infamous "carpetas negras". we Puerto Ricans are used to seeing the abuse of power wielded by the US government, but that's because we are a colony.

if the US were to do this on the mainland US citizen donating to Wikileaks via PayPal (or whatever), that would be just mindboggling. we're talking about potentially tens of thousands of citizens being tracked just because they gave $20 or ven $1000 the work of a whistleblower organization. again, i expect the US to do this on Puerto Rico because that's how colonial power is wielded. to do it on their own citizens and on that scope would be an absolute first and proof of the breakdown of the US' mythical democracy.

so, as to doubting the US involvement in this mess, given how the US has conducted its war machine in the last ... hmmmm ... i don't know ... 100+ years, it's not far-fetched to think the US is involved in the character assassination of Assange.

Julian Assange is a peddler of truth. you kill him, he becomes a martyr and even bigger hero. you kill his character and credibility, you diffuse his one true deadly weapon. which would be step one in the US black/ops playbook?
posted by liza at 7:50 PM on August 21, 2010


I longer pay much attention to the "news" but I was wondering how many nanoseconds this took to blanket the corporate news outlets, how many thousands of times the story has been repeated, and how many pundit blowhards are busy making hay out of this so far. Or maybe I wasn't wondering, maybe I already have a pretty good idea.
posted by telstar at 7:54 PM on August 21, 2010


are you saying that if i donate money to Wikileaks this would happen to someone like me?

This is why I don't risk donating. They need a snailmail address where someone can drop an untraceable $20 bill.

Yes, I'm paranoid.
posted by marble at 8:03 PM on August 21, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is a much more realistic threat than some black op call him a rapist and hope he gets arrested scenario.

It's also more likely that when a celebrity athlete is killed in a friendly fire accident the military will regretfully report the truth to the nation instead of launching an elaborate cover-up of his cause of death, including lying to the soldier's mother.

It is more likely that when a female soldier in a supply convoy is captured the government will not make up stories about how heroically she fought back as if she was Rambo when she was actually too injured by convoy collisions to fight. It is unlikely the government would make up stories about the soldier being beaten and interrogated by her captors to cause those injuries.

The US government plays dirty, and even things that sound unrealistic must be questioned.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:29 PM on August 21, 2010 [6 favorites]


He's made clear that his objections to WikiLeaks are based on his belief that Assagne is a publicity-seeker

Uhhh....yeah...by definition. He's leaking information, the whole idea is to seek publicity. To force publicity even.
posted by telstar at 8:50 PM on August 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


Before this is over, someone visible and/or powerful will have recommended blocking Wikileaks at the US border, Great Firewall of China style.
posted by rhizome at 8:57 PM on August 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


Big words, when you're referring to someone who broke one of the biggest stories of the year whilst freely providing all of the source material the video was made from.

And you know that? Does Assange know that?

Leaks work as vectors. They come from somewhere. They are released for a reason. Stripping motive and provenance might be necessary to protect whistleblowers, but the pretense that what ends up on the site is somehow pure and complete in itself is the antithesis of investigative journalism. (An analogy: archaeologists want situation, stratigraphy, context. Show up with a bunch of finds that you impatiently dug out from a site with a JCB and a metal detector, and they'll shake you by the throat.)

It also creates huge ratfucking opportunities, and my guess is that what will eventually bring down Assange and Wikileaks is a deliberate, far-too-tempting cache created specifically to discredit the operation and expose its sources.

Izzy Stone he ain't. What did Izzy Stone do? Take public information and join the dots. Data is not information.
posted by holgate at 10:11 PM on August 21, 2010


holgate wrote: "Take public information and join the dots. Data is not information."

Assange and his cohort provide dots. It's up to the reader to put them all together if they want a narrative of their own. It's up to you to put them all together if you want to provide a narrative to the world.
posted by wierdo at 10:46 PM on August 21, 2010


Well, I'm against it.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:42 PM on August 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I don't get these One True Strawman attacks on him. Oh he didn't do this, he didn't do that...so what? Since when is that his job? You want him to be the journalist, the intelligence filter, the instant force of politics, and this strikes me as some weird kind of perfectionistic projection. Yes, it would be great if he could tie it up with a fancy bow and give it to the world sui generis. Well, he's only one guy, why don't you volunteer to help if you think extra stuff should be coming out of WL?

holgate: "but the pretense that what ends up on the site is somehow pure and complete in itself is the antithesis of investigative journalism. "

What's this about "pure and complete?"
posted by rhizome at 12:04 AM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


"This is why I don't risk donating. They need a snailmail address where someone can drop an untraceable $20 bill. Yes, I'm paranoid."

Your cowardice has been a great incentive for me to do my part. Thanks!
posted by markkraft at 12:27 AM on August 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


(Oh, and btw, I'm the one who really leaked the DoD documents to Wikileaks. Still waiting for them to come get me and my accomplices.)
posted by markkraft at 12:44 AM on August 22, 2010


"It is more likely that when a female soldier in a supply convoy is captured the government will not make up stories about how heroically she fought back as if she was Rambo when she was actually too injured by convoy collisions to fight. It is unlikely the government would make up stories about the soldier being beaten and interrogated by her captors to cause those injuries.

The US government plays dirty, and even things that sound unrealistic must be questioned."


Indeed. I have a friend in the military who was *very* clear to me that the doctrine of full spectrum dominance isn't just for controlling all standard military factors -- ground, air, sea, etc. -- in the countries we go after anymore. It's being applied to information and communications as well... and not just in the country we're fighting, but back home too.

Which is a polite way of saying that the military monitors "the war back home", does its best to shape the situation to their advantage, spends considerable effort trying to scan and identify things that might become major sources of embarrassment and responding as aggressively to them as possible, and has a shockingly large and well-developed toolbox on how it can respond to such things... including using "independent" sources to do their work for them.

Obviously, one of their bigger concerns is the leaking of damaging information from the battlefield back home. There's always something happening over there that's potentially damaging to them, and trying to censor and restrict the communications of their own people can only do so much.

Part of the problem is also a matter of information warfare campaigns that they are using in areas of operation. Basically, they play games with information (i.e. try to mislead the locals) towards certain kinds of behavior, but are finding that these attempts sometimes backfire because the message can't always be easily contained to just that one area, and can actually be damaging elsewhere.

During the Bush administration, there was a huge scaling-up of these sorts of games... and obviously, there has been some criticism from Congress of these sorts of things. But has there really been an acknowledgment that this isn't the way wars should be fought, with real changes... or just a refining of techniques, combined with a concentration on those methods that are both less obvious and less overtly divisive, while still being just as effective?

Chances are, a bit of both. Our government is dealing with the changing nature of freeflowing information and technology, and is no doubt learning through experience what works in the domestic battle for hearts and minds.
posted by markkraft at 1:13 AM on August 22, 2010 [3 favorites]




Funny to see graventy's metatalk joke coming true. It's been mentioned already, twoleftfeet.

Here's a newish twist (a few hours). The prosecutor has been reported the the Parliamentary Ombudsman (JO-anmäld) google translated here. A representative of RO has filed the complaint. RO is the legal security organisation.
posted by dabitch at 5:54 AM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


The US DOJ can bring charges against you so long as you have been determined to have committed a crime that falls under the jurisdiction of the US courts. Extradition and arrest are another matter. A criminal investigation would allow wiretaps, warrants, grand juries to be called. Civil proceedings could be used to strip away assets from the organization and its supporters like the wikileaks domain names. Just the possibility that small donors could be targeted would probably dampen donations. Look at the pressure they were able to put on UBS who thought their tax evasion schemes were safely out of US law in neutral Switzerland.

Assange is going to be put under tremendous pressure to cut a deal.
posted by humanfont at 7:07 AM on August 22, 2010




In various media outlets, such as the New York Times, the Swedish prosecutor's office is being quoted as confirming an ongoing investigation of Assange for molestation. I readily admit that I'm not in the habit of reading the prosecutor's website, but I'm quite familiar with prosecutors being quoted in Swedish media confirming facts of a crime without identifying suspects by name. And more generally, prosecutors everywhere tend to withhold comment on specific suspects until charges have been filed.

So, I'm hoping someone with more knowledge of the Swedish prosecutor's office could weigh in on the issue. Is it standard practice for the prosecutors' office to release the name of uncharged criminal suspects? Or to make such extensive comments about on-going investigations? It seems really unusual to me, but maybe it is routine and the national media's normal restraint concerning publishing names of accused persons means it is standard operating procedure but always under the radar.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 11:42 AM on August 22, 2010


To be clear, from the time I first read this story yesterday morning in Expressen, I thought it did not fit with standard media practices for sexual assault reporting in Sweden. So this may simply be a case of departure from standard Swedish media practices (but not standard prosecutorial practices), but it does seem to have certain hallmarks of coordinated character assassination.

That is not to say charges will or should not be filed. It is to say that the amount of publicity devoted to what amounts to a quickly rescinded arrest warrant is unusual in these parts.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 12:05 PM on August 22, 2010


It's not really a deviation from standard prosecutorial practices. Here's what has been reported has happened.
  • Woman #1 calls woman #2 for advice on an encounter she had with Assange (rape allegation), as woman #2 was the one who introduced them.
  • Woman #2 has herself had an encounter with Assange (molestation allegation) so she takes woman #1 to the police to ask for more advice and act as moral support.
    (aside: one would think that they'd contact a safe house for women, if all they wanted was to talk. But I digress.)
  • Neither women are interested in pressing charges - this has been repeated in several papers.
  • The police however, do the standard thing and call the prosecutor on call, Maria Häljebo Kjellstrand.
  • Prosecutor sends out the arrest warrant based on what the police tell her over the phone.
  • Tabloids find out. Call prosecutor. For some reason, his name is confirmed. This I didn't think was done. Investigations are secret with no names given, but this is not an investigation, it's already escalated to Assage being "arrested" (but not in custody). Results from investigations are no longer secret once someone is in custody/facing trial as everyone has a right to demand copies of the investigation reports (so the people can see that the courts are acting justly).


  • Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here, I have no idea how to translate words like "förundersökning" and "på sannolika skäl misstänkt för våldtäkt", I've found that translating this mess just makes it even more confusing.
    posted by dabitch at 1:30 PM on August 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


    dabitch, that's about the same as what I'd been able to piece together, though there was a lot of ambiguity (for me) on which woman was #1 and which was #2. I don't think that there's much chance of it being resolved until more official information (perhaps the investigation reports) come out.
    posted by verb at 1:37 PM on August 22, 2010


    A criminal investigation would allow wiretaps, warrants, grand juries to be called

    I seriously doubt Assange is wiretappable, unless the NSA has broken common crypto protocols.
    posted by delmoi at 2:49 PM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Depends where you put the tap. It has to be decrypted at some point.
    posted by empath at 3:03 PM on August 22, 2010


    But still no charges against Glenn Beck concerning the sordid rumors about what he did in the 90's ...

    Come on, no evidence has ever been presented in court for those charges. The victim, or victims, have never come forward - perhaps from fear? Who knows.
    posted by Sebmojo at 3:11 PM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


    dabitch - You say:

    Tabloids find out. Call prosecutor. For some reason, his name is confirmed. This I didn't think was done.

    I've never heard Swedish prosecutors go on the record identifying alleged criminals either. And in this case, the confirmation came prior to even deciding whether to press charges, i.e. after issuing an "arrest warrant" but before the suspect was in custody or any court hearing. If the "arrest" is public information, the prosecutor's office likely had no option but to confirm the story. But I can not think of an example where an alleged criminal was identified by name in the press, with or without prosecutorial confirmation, just hours after an "arrest". Maybe it happened in the Anna Lind case?

    I think it is clear the press (Expressen and all that followed) deviated from the standard practice (as demonstrated by SvD's special note on the subject), but I'd like to know if the prosecutors office public confirmation deviated from standard procedure. I don't know because the Swedish press generally would not print the identity of the suspect or the prosecutors' confirmation.
    posted by McGuillicuddy at 3:12 PM on August 22, 2010


    And to add the weirdness, the prosecutors are currently confirming an ongoing investigation without current criminal charges against Assange. Even Christer Pettersson (the only suspect in the assassination of Olaf Palme) was afforded more respect for privacy when he was still alive. The prosecutor must be permitted to confirm the investigation but is unlikely to be under obligation to do so, and it is so far from normal that it makes me wonder what possible benefit it serves. Wouldn't "no further comment" be the clearly preferable comment at this point?
    posted by McGuillicuddy at 3:27 PM on August 22, 2010


    empath wrote: "Depends where you put the tap. It has to be decrypted at some point."

    Unless your tap is contained within my phone or the phones I'm calling securely over IP, you aren't tapping any conversation I have, unless there's some unknown weakness in the crypto algorithm.

    Now, when I use the cell network or call an insecure phone, listen in all you want.
    posted by wierdo at 3:33 PM on August 22, 2010


    dabitch - on re-read I see you answered my question. If I understand you right, you're saying once the "arrest warrant" was issued, it was a matter of public record and the prosecutors likely had to confirm the Expressen story. Any thoughts on why they'd confirm the ongoing investigation? Trying to save face?

    If you're correct, and I have no reason to doubt you are, I see a future for an internet police blotter site in Stockholm. I read the newspapers and when they write about well-known people charged with crimes, I can never figure out the hints but can't be the only person that might look up who-done-it if it was easier to find.
    posted by McGuillicuddy at 3:42 PM on August 22, 2010


    Unless your tap is contained within my phone or the phones I'm calling securely over IP, you aren't tapping any conversation I have

    Isn't that what I just said?
    posted by empath at 3:44 PM on August 22, 2010


    empath wrote: "Unless your tap is contained within my phone or the phones I'm calling securely over IP, you aren't tapping any conversation I have

    Isn't that what I just said?
    "

    It sounded more like you were talking about tapping at an ITSP or something. I would be unsurprised to find that many IP phones have remote vulnerabilities or even intentional backdoors.
    posted by wierdo at 3:50 PM on August 22, 2010


    Unless your tap is contained within my phone or the phones I'm calling securely over IP, you aren't tapping any conversation I have, unless there's some unknown weakness in the crypto algorithm.

    No need to crack the crypto or put something in the phone. You are surrounded by many things that can pick up your audio signals and stream them out unwittingly to the street. This is why government buildings have specialized secure rooms with all kinds of EM shielding. Not that it did any good because apparently some junior level system admin can just root the file server and grab anything he wants.
    posted by humanfont at 4:09 PM on August 22, 2010


    Unless your tap is contained within my phone or the phones I'm calling securely over IP, you aren't tapping any conversation I have, unless there's some unknown weakness in the crypto algorithm.

    Obviously with the smartphones being made today, you could theoretically put a rootkit on them, and even record 24/7 while people aren't even talking on the phone. But the thing is, why would you even use a phone at all?

    Use text chat to do all your 'business' and layer crypto protocols and algorithms.
    posted by delmoi at 4:23 PM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


    The problem that wikileaks is going to run into is that cryptography only really makes secrets expensive to get. The CIA and NSA has more money and man power than he does. Eventually they'll get the information they want, assuming they're willing to spend the money to get it. There are ways to get information that are not based on technology.
    posted by empath at 4:31 PM on August 22, 2010


    Eventually they'll get the information they want

    They've proven this again and again, even when the information doesn't exist.
    posted by rhizome at 4:51 PM on August 22, 2010 [2 favorites]




    humanfont wrote: "You are surrounded by many things that can pick up your audio signals and stream them out unwittingly to the street. This is why government buildings have specialized secure rooms with all kinds of EM shielding."

    Well sure, they could be pointing one of those laser mics at my window right now. I get the impression that hands on isn't really US intelligence's style these days, though.
    posted by wierdo at 5:26 PM on August 22, 2010


    The Guardian, in their fourth item on the case today, descends too close to gossip level for me.
    posted by LanTao at 6:17 PM on August 22, 2010


    Don't just think that Julian Assange is the only individual targeted here.

    There's the soldier who they've been holding, for one, who very well may not have been the person who leaked the documents, and doesn't really deserve the treatment he's getting from the military / Obama administration... and there are also people like Jacob Appelbaum... both US citizens.

    Jacob is a longstanding LiveJournal friend of mine. Unfortunately, he recently stopped using his LJ account, primarily because the government has been going after him because he's a member of WikiLeaks, working with them on things like Tor, their security infrastructure, and public advocacy... and because he is occasionally in contact with Julian Assange.

    Now, unfortunately, he has been forced to travel incognito, avoiding his friends because every bit of information he's ever written about or had responded to appears to be under scrutiny by those who would love to use that information to determine his whereabouts and the identities and locations of those either helping or in contact with him.

    In other words, people like myself, who have been nothing else but a source of advice, friendship, and moral support for the important and sometimes dangerous work he's done worldwide to help create secure communications for those who need it most... well, we're in the unfortunate situation of not only possibly being monitored ourselves, but being liabilities to Jacob. Frankly, this sucks, as he hasn't committed any crime whatsoever, and no charges have been filed against him.

    The whole idea that a US citizen is being followed and threatened -- both online and IRL -- by authorities, who blithely talk about filing over 100,000 counts of bullshit charges against them for enabling encryption and data security in order to allow WikiLeaks/Sunshine Press to engage in acts of journalism is simply totalitarian, thuggish, and unsupportable.

    It pains me personally that Jacob is having to resort to methods that most would classify as incredibly restrictive to the point of paranoia... especially since he really could use some friends right now. That said he's quite aware of the threats involved, can certainly determine that the government has been poking around his LJ, Twitter, and other sites extensively, and he knows he has a major responsibility on his hand, both to Julian Assange, but especially to all those who contribute information to WikiLeaks, to defend their privacy, no matter what the cost is to his own personal life.

    I'm very proud of the work Jacob and Julian are doing for the truth, for journalism, and for the people of the world, supporting democracy worldwide by allowing the public to make more informed decisions. Above all, I have deep respect for the price they are paying right now, in their service to those whose privacy they have promised to protect and defend. You should be proud to support their work too, and, ideally, to help them out, so that they can get the kind of legal assets on their side necessary to live something approaching normal lives again.

    Frankly, I would be proud of their work, regardless of whether these weak-ass charges in Sweden have even the slightest basis in truth... and I think you should feel the same way, because these unsupported, unprosecuted charges are completely irrelevant to the issues at hand here. These aren't black-and-white caricatures we're talking about here, but real, complex individuals, ethically capable of many things... just like our soldiers over in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    As for Jacob also being targeted, I would put his loyalty to our soldiers above any of the people trying to go after him right now. First and foremost, Jacob is loyal to the truth, and to protecting those who would dare to speak it. That is hardly an anti-soldier position. Indeed, Jacob has many friends in the military, because while so many of us sat the war out, he chose to go to Iraq, even as the NGOs were running away after being bombed and shot in the streets. He went there and helped build satellite communications networks with another online friend of mine. I know for a fact that when he was there, he went on assignments to potentially dangerous areas, when he could've played it safe. It's the people who are going after him and threatening his freedoms -- and who are harshly targeting the soldier accused of passing on the files -- who are betraying the troops, many of whom have sworn an oath to protect the Constitution.

    It should be remembered that most of the Abu Ghraib pictures and related documents were classified as secret once. In that sense, what WikiLeaks / Sunshine Press has done is no different legally or ethically than leaking such details to the public. Are we supposed to believe that the public had a right to know about what soldiers did at Abu Ghraib in our name and with our tax dollars, but that we don't deserve to know anything about bad things that happen in Afghanistan?

    The fact of the matter is, the Abu Ghraib leak ultimately *helped* the US military in Iraq, in that led directly to significant improvements in detention policies, which helped diffuse the very real problem of Iraqi civilian anger towards unjust and occasionally brutal detentions.

    We are acting like the details of these documents are somehow state secrets... but the truth is, most Afghans knew very well what was going down from their own people, even as our own government kept us in the dark.

    Now, however, there are no excuses. Bad policies can change... and reporters now know enough about the issues to make sure it happens.

    Is it too much to suggest that, by releasing these documents, both Afghan, US, and Coalition lives may be saved, if we learn from them rather than try to censor the documents and avoid the important policy issues that they raise?
    posted by markkraft at 2:04 AM on August 23, 2010 [7 favorites]


    Yeah, LanTao , it may read like gossip that, but they're hit the nail on the head.
    posted by dabitch at 5:30 AM on August 23, 2010


    they're? wth spelling?
    posted by dabitch at 5:30 AM on August 23, 2010


    The CIA and NSA has more money and man power than he does. Eventually they'll get the information they want, assuming they're willing to spend the money to get it.

    According to Internet legend - in the Kevin Mitnick narative there is a hard drive of his that was entered into evidence encrypted and is still encrypted - the thing has not been broken into.

    Yet.
    posted by rough ashlar at 6:29 AM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


    According to Internet legend - in the Kevin Mitnick narative there is a hard drive of his that was entered into evidence encrypted and is still encrypted - the thing has not been broken into.

    Yet.


    Right. It would be vulnerable to rubber hose decryption, though. If they wanted it badly enough.
    posted by empath at 6:35 AM on August 23, 2010


    This is starting to sound like a daytime soap opera.

    (S) woman reported wikileaks founder (google translation)

    The article in Swedish states that Anna Ardin, who was Julian Assange's press contact while he was in Sweden was one of the women who filed the police report. "Bakom anmälan står Anna Ardin." (translated incorrectly by google to read "Benardin"). Peter Weiderud of the same social democratic group "The Brotherhood" (a christian left group) states that it's all a police case and says nothing more about it, other than it happened on her free time and she's now on sick leave.
    posted by dabitch at 6:50 AM on August 23, 2010


    How WikiLeaks Keeps Its Funding Secret
    "It's very hard work to run an organization, let alone one that's constantly being spied upon and sued," Mr. Assange said in the interview.
    Heh.
    posted by lullaby at 8:48 AM on August 23, 2010


    According to Internet legend - in the Kevin Mitnick narative there is a hard drive of his that was entered into evidence encrypted and is still encrypted - the thing has not been broken into.

    Yet.


    I don't imagine that Mitnick's drive is important enough to warrant the CIA/etc letting people know exactly what capabilities they have, either.
    posted by inigo2 at 8:59 AM on August 23, 2010


    There's the soldier who they've been holding, for one, who very well may not have been the person who leaked the documents, and doesn't really deserve the treatment he's getting from the military / Obama administration...

    Dude violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice and leaked anything he could get his hands on, regardless of its value to the public. Diplomatic cables regarding Iceland, you name it.

    As an intelligence analyst in the military, your job is to keep this stuff secret. It isn't your decision what goes out and what doesn't. He knew he was breaking the law and did it anyway. Just because some of the stuff reduces political support for a war you don't like doesn't make his leaking of it a legal or moral thing to do.
    posted by Ironmouth at 9:49 AM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


    The Jacob Appelbaum story makes my point. High level members of wikileaks are going to be subject to incredible scrutiny as a result of playing a role in messing around with national security secrets. It is not a very big step in the hacker world from security researcher to systems cracker, and it is certainly possible that members of the Wikileaks team played a more active role in acquiring information for the site than they've been letting on.

    It sounds to me like Mr. Applebaum is going to need to find a good lawyer with experience in DOJ investigations. He will need to work out a specific legal strategy for working through the process of investigation and case resolution. In the absence of a strategy he may be taking actions that simply build up a stronger case against him, or make him harder to defend on humanitarian and civil rights grounds.

    Before the publication of the Pentagon Papers the NYTimes and Washington Post had specific legal advice to ensure that they were likely to prevail at trial by presenting a strong first amendment case. They made sure that their mechanism for acquiring information was such that they were able to refute claims by the government related to espionage and laws protecting classified materials. This left their sources hanging, but ensured that they could print the story.

    The challenge I see for the Wikileaks team is that prosecutors will look for evidence of conversations with the leaker and see if they provided information on how to obtain additional information, or technical assistance in committing the crime. Suppose Jacob advised Pvt. Manning with advice on how best to download documents from the server, or how to gain ACL permissions on files using his system admin privileges. Even going further to assume Jacob wrote a script that automated file downloads. At some point he crosses the line from passive recipient of data to active participant in a crime.

    Wikileaks needs to figure out a legal strategy that ensures that a broad set of western governments see them as a legitimate media organization that collects leaks from various third parties, not a criminal conspiracy focused on stealing classified materials via recruiting spies and cracking servers.
    posted by humanfont at 9:55 AM on August 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


    We are acting like the details of these documents are somehow state secrets

    They are state secrets. Period. They are classifed under law. They are therefore state secrets. The gentleman in question took it upon himself to violate the law and disclose them.

    And many, many, many of the documents he leaked had nothing to do with Afghanistan at all. According to the Daily Beast, he downloaded 260,000 classified diplomatic cables. Wikileaks now has them, apparently and has already posted some of them. So did Manning go through all 260,000 cables to find out if it might be a bad thing to leak some of them? I doubt it. I even doubt that he had the ability to know whether or not he did.

    And 90,000 documents were passed on to Wikileaks, who leaked them to the Guardian, the NYT and Der Spiegel. So, not a one of those 90,000 documents has anything in it that could be used by someone who would use them to hurt US soldiers? How could either wikileaks or Manning know that. Supposedly, Wikileaks is made up of 6 people.

    Some things do need to be leaked. But 350,000 documents just dumped? That's not leaking, that's stealing a huge amount of classfied information and just handing it out like candy.

    I think leaks are important. They tell us things we need to know and help us learn what we don't know already. A prime example is the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg wrote them, and as he researched them, he realized that we had been sold a bunch of bunk and that Americans could learn from them. As someone intimately associated with the documents he knew why they were important and who needed to have them.

    Bradley Manning is no Daniel Ellsberg. He just downloaded everything he could get his hands on and handed it over to Wikileaks, no questions asked. This is an action out of spite, not out of a deep understanding of the war.

    More importantly, it added nothing to our understanding of the war. The current Administration has been massively transparent about the problems it faces. Nowhere has it told the American people that the struggle in Afghanistan is easy, or engaged in a widespread deception about anything. It concluded, long before these documents were released, that the unfettered application of firepower was hurting US interests, not helping them and it ordered a change in the rules of engagement for all troops in the country.

    So, what exactly then, does Bradley Manning give us? Nothing we didn't know before.
    posted by Ironmouth at 10:15 AM on August 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


    Another example is the Abu Ghraib documents. Those needed to be leaked. The people needed to know. Apparently an Army investigator handed them over to 60 Minutes. He knew exactly what he had. He had the reports, he handed them over.

    This kid stole more than a quarter of a million documents. He could have never had the time to review them all. He just turned them over out of spite. That's not leaking at all. There is no way, physically, that he could have even reviewed a tenth of those documents. So how is he helping in any way.

    Certainly people will use these documents to make a case against a war they do not like. But they provide only gore, and give us no new information about our situation there. For shock value, yes, they are bad, but they do not add to our understanding.
    posted by Ironmouth at 10:20 AM on August 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


    Just because some of the stuff reduces political support for a war you don't like doesn't make his leaking of it a legal or moral thing to do.

    I wonder if it's about the war, though, or about resisting the impulse (which institutions almost universally demonstrate) towards secrecy. What the leaked documents demonstrate, in their inanity, is the tendency to keep secrets for no reason. The tendency is there. I think it's probably moral to resist it.
    posted by Trochanter at 10:25 AM on August 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


    I wonder if it's about the war, though, or about resisting the impulse (which institutions almost universally demonstrate) towards secrecy. What the leaked documents demonstrate, in their inanity, is the tendency to keep secrets for no reason. The tendency is there. I think it's probably moral to resist it.

    These are not decisions for a Private to make. Have you read the documents, all 350,000 of them? How could you or Manning have any opinion on whether the documents are inane?

    Like it or not, there are things that the government should keep secret. Military plans, military procedures, diplomatic communications, all of it.

    Let me add one thing. I represent whistleblowers for a living. The ones I represent have real information that they know demonstrates improper decisions by the government. Where is anything in any of these documents that shows improper decision-making by the government. A video in which some persons are killed who may or may not have been carrying an AK-47 does not show us Bush and Cheney laughing over tea about how they always knew there were no WMD.

    This is not a leak. This is wholesale stealing of documents from the government and then turning them over to a private organization which then dumps them to pursue an agenda against a war they do not like.
    posted by Ironmouth at 10:38 AM on August 23, 2010


    This is not a leak. This is wholesale stealing of documents from the government and then turning them over to a private organization which then dumps them to pursue an agenda against a war they do not like.
    That is pretty much the definition of "A leak." I understand and sympathize with the difference between a "Whistlblower" and a "source," but I think that you're really grinding an axe against Assange here. WikiLeaks for better or worse pursues a deliberate strategy of forcing "open-ness" by leaking information that is hidden. There are lots of disagreements about whether that is good or bad, but you're playing No True Scotsman here pretty hardcore.

    "These aren't decisions for a Private to make," for example. leaks and whistleblowers are by definition always going to be publicizing information that is above their pay grade. If it were their decision to make, we would call the process "Declassification," not "leaking" or "whistleblowing."
    posted by verb at 11:44 AM on August 23, 2010 [4 favorites]


    Unless of course you're arguing that the difference between "well-intentioned whistleblower" and "vendetta-wielding bad person" boils down to "Do I agree with them or not."

    Which, you know, it always has.
    posted by verb at 11:50 AM on August 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


    It was leaked information that informed the world of illegal wiretapping of American's communications. It was leaked information that informed the world of egregious cover-ups of American military failures, from Abu Ghraib to air-strikes against Afghan wedding parties. It was selectively leaked false information, yellow-cake from Niger and Al Qaeda ties, that was used to convince the American people and their governmental representatives about the imminent danger posed by Iraq.

    At some point, it became obvious that we are being lied to on such a massive scale by paternalistic power-brokers that nobody with an ounce of intelligence can believe anything that comes out of the mouth of the official spokespeople running the military industrial complex. The culture of secrecy serves only those that have usurped the reigns of American government, and the American people have always deserved an honest discussion based on facts not fairy tales. If America's government is of the people and for the people, why should 350,000 documents from just the last 10 years be kept from them? How can Americans make informed decisions about who should lead if they're told only that which their leaders think they should know?

    American troops signed up knowing the risks, but often not knowing the truth. I mourn for any soldier killed by an enemy that gleaned tactical information from leaked information, but I mourn equally the troops killed defending rights Americans are no longer guaranteed and misled by his leaders about the nature of the war he fights.

    A brave leader once said:
    There is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.... For the facts of the matter are that this nation's foes have openly boasted of acquiring through our newspapers information they would otherwise hire agents to acquire through theft, bribery or espionage; that details of this nation's covert preparations to counter the enemy's covert operations have been available to every newspaper reader, friend and foe alike; that the size, the strength, the location and the nature of our forces and weapons, and our plans and strategy for their use, have all been pinpointed in the press and other news media to a degree sufficient to satisfy any foreign power; and that, in at least in one case, the publication of details concerning a secret mechanism whereby satellites were followed required its alteration at the expense of considerable time and money. The newspapers which printed these stories were loyal, patriotic, responsible and well-meaning.... And my question tonight is whether additional tests should not now be adopted. The question is for you alone to answer. No public official should answer it for you. No governmental plan should impose its restraints against your will.

    (JFK, Address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association, 1961)
    posted by McGuillicuddy at 12:14 PM on August 23, 2010


    A video in which some persons are killed who may or may not have been carrying an AK-47 does not show us Bush and Cheney laughing over tea about how they always knew there were no WMD.

    It demonstrates what brutal, callous beings war makes of young people.

    It lets light into the room. In an era where the war press is controlled to the extent that they are escorted to the latrine, and led around to witness only things approved by the military, any light is welcome.

    Awareness of the blood and brutality is crucial to people who favour any war.
    posted by Trochanter at 12:16 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


    A video in which some persons are killed who may or may not have been carrying an AK-47 does not show us Bush and Cheney laughing over tea about how they always knew there were no WMD.

    It demonstrates what brutal, callous beings war makes of young people.

    It lets light into the room. In an era where the war press is controlled to the extent that they are escorted to the latrine, and led around to witness only things approved by the military, any light is welcome.

    Awareness of the blood and brutality is crucial to people who favour any war.


    Agreed there. If you refuse to believe that war is sometimes a necessary thing, than it is apparently a good for you to show people how horrible war is so that they will have revulsion for it. However, I think there are necessary wars still extant and that they will not go away by just wishing that other people wouldn't use guns on us.

    but that's not leaking. That's showing people horrible things they knew already and didn't want to feel or see. A leak shows us confidential information that explains previously unknown facts. This just shows people what they wanted to ignore.

    This guy just willy-nilly downloaded everything he could get his hands on. That's just stealing, dude. He didn't even see if that information was something that would inform anyone of anything at all.

    At some point, it became obvious that we are being lied to on such a massive scale by paternalistic power-brokers that nobody with an ounce of intelligence can believe anything that comes out of the mouth of the official spokespeople running the military industrial complex. The culture of secrecy serves only those that have usurped the reigns of American government, and the American people have always deserved an honest discussion based on facts not fairy tales. If America's government is of the people and for the people, why should 350,000 documents from just the last 10 years be kept from them? How can Americans make informed decisions about who should lead if they're told only that which their leaders think they should know?

    American troops signed up knowing the risks, but often not knowing the truth. I mourn for any soldier killed by an enemy that gleaned tactical information from leaked information, but I mourn equally the troops killed defending rights Americans are no longer guaranteed and misled by his leaders about the nature of the war he fights.


    Really, "we are being lied to on such a massive scale by paternalistic power-brokers?" Horseshit. Anyone with half a fucking brain knows what's going on with our military-industrial complex. Like it or not, people wanted that war. Enough that it made a difference when the voting started. Frankly, I damn believed that Saddam had WMD. Few felt otherwise. But I knew that even if he had WMD it was not in our strategic interest to invade.

    People are fully aware that innocent Iraqis are dying when we bomb insurgents. You think they walk around thinking there is no collateral damage? Hell, the fucking Pentagon reports it when innocents are killed. They don't graphically show them getting blown up. Here's an example.

    The culture of secrecy serves only those that have usurped the reigns of American government, and the American people have always deserved an honest discussion based on facts not fairy tales.

    That is demonstrably false. First, I'm certain you would agree that there are values other than the whatever the "military-industrial" complex wants that are protected. I do not want other nations knowing how to build neutron bombs. I don't want them knowing how to build any bomb the US posseses. I don't want them knowing how US troops attack, or any of that stuff. There are values that are protected by classification.

    You take JFK's speech out of context. Here's what he said:
    I want to talk about our common responsibilities in the face of a common danger. The events of recent weeks may have helped to illuminate that challenge for some; but the dimensions of its threat have loomed large on the horizon for many years. Whatever our hopes may be for the future--for reducing this threat or living with it--there is no escaping either the gravity or the totality of its challenge to our survival and to our security--a challenge that confronts us in unaccustomed ways in every sphere of human activity.

    This deadly challenge imposes upon our society two requirements of direct concern both to the press and to the President--two requirements that may seem almost contradictory in tone, but which must be reconciled and fulfilled if we are to meet this national peril. I refer, first, to the need for a far greater public information; and, second, to the need for far greater official secrecy.
    He continued:
    But I do ask every publisher, every editor, and every newsman in the nation to reexamine his own standards, and to recognize the nature of our country's peril. In time of war, the government and the press have customarily joined in an effort based largely on self-discipline, to prevent unauthorized disclosures to the enemy. In time of "clear and present danger," the courts have held that even the privileged rights of the First Amendment must yield to the public's need for national security.

    ... If the press is awaiting a declaration of war before it imposes the self-discipline of combat conditions, then I can only say that no war ever posed a greater threat to our security. If you are awaiting a finding of "clear and present danger," then I can only say that the danger has never been more clear and its presence has never been more imminent.
    Even more tellingly, you omit the very quote before your passage which would make it clear to the reader exactly what JFK was talking about:

    Nevertheless, every democracy recognizes the necessary restraints of national security--and the question remains whether those restraints need to be more strictly observed if we are to oppose this kind of attack as well as outright invasion.

    Reviewing that speech makes it clear. JFK was asking newspaper editors to reevaluate what they published, was it hurting or helping. He wanted editors to think twice, nay a third time before publishing. And he was clearly supporting the idea that some things ought to remain secret.

    Without doubt there is a balance between the public's right to know, and as JFK put it, their right to national security. Some of that requires that some things be kept from public view. The idea that all military secrets should be exposed is sheer stupidity--and I assume your hyperbolic words aren't advocating for that. And I don't know how you can argue for more information from people when you selectively quote a speech to give people the idea that JFK was arguing for anything other than more discretion regarding the publication of secrets.

    What I am saying is that what this kid did didn't tell anyone anything they didn't already know. It is qualitatively (and quantitatively!) different from Abu Ghraib or Joe Wilson bravely speaking up about what he did not find in Niger. It is plain and simple the theft of thousands of documents, many having absolutely nothing to do with the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. He turned those documents over to someone who posted nearly all of them on the internet. He did not know much of what he was downloading. Nor could Assange know what all of the 90,000 documents meant. There's no evidence at all that Wikileaks read all of those 90,000 documents. 6 people would take a long time to release them. That's why this "leak" is a joke. It ain't a leak at all, its handing over every document you can get your hand on and handing it over to a third party and saying "see if you can find anything good in here." That's the exact opposite of the patriot who knows of information the public is unaware of and should know. It is pure irresponsibility.
    posted by Ironmouth at 1:40 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Agreed there. If you refuse to believe that war is sometimes a necessary thing, than it is apparently a good for you to show people how horrible war is so that they will have revulsion for it. However, I think there are necessary wars still extant and that they will not go away by just wishing that other people wouldn't use guns on us.
    It sounds like you're suggesting that people who support WikiLeaks do so because they don't believe that war is ever necessary. I can only assume that you're using hyperbole: no one here has said anything of the sort, nor has Julian Assange.

    I disagree with you on a couple issues in this thread, Ironmouth, but I've tried to call others on it when they put words in your mouth or ascribe motives to you to undercut your statements. I'd appreciate if you could extend the same courtesy.
    posted by verb at 1:46 PM on August 23, 2010


    I understand both sides of the issue, but the "harm to our troops" argument always seems to be dealing in hypotheticals. If we're talking about 350 000 docs, mustn't be too difficult to point to a few actual examples, no?

    I've vetted FOIA-type requests in the past. I wonder with some amusement if the reason I stopped being asked to do so was how zealously I (restrictively) applied the exceptions. Natsec provisions are not for that embarassing personal revelation you dropped in that email, or that poorly thought-out characterization that would be widely regarded as offensive if disclosed to the public. Sorry. You wrote it; own it.

    Seems to me like a mass leak of secret documents gives us an important opportunity to evaluate the balance being struck between concerns for information security against oversight by the public. I do think that it can be difficult from the outside to evaluate why a given seemingly-mundane detail should remain confidential, but from the characterizations of those who have spent far more time digging through this stuff than I, I do not get the impression that an appropriate balance is being struck.
    posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:58 PM on August 23, 2010


    Agreed there. If you refuse to believe that war is sometimes a necessary thing, than it is apparently a good for you to show people how horrible war is so that they will have revulsion for it. However, I think there are necessary wars still extant and that they will not go away by just wishing that other people wouldn't use guns on us.
    It sounds like you're suggesting that people who support WikiLeaks do so because they don't believe that war is ever necessary. I can only assume that you're using hyperbole: no one here has said anything of the sort, nor has Julian Assange.


    Let's break all this down, shall we:

    Awareness of the blood and brutality is crucial to people who favour any war.

    This is the statement I was responding to. Hmm . . . now I'm confused. His statement makes no sense. I was assuming that he was saying that "hiding awareness of blood and brutality is crucial to people who favour any war." But he didn't. However, the statement he made doesn't really make sense unless you assert the "hiding" in front of it.

    But even so, I didn't put words in his mouth. I said that "if" he refused to believe that war is a necessary thing . . . In otherwords, if his words meant what I thought they did, then X.

    its just a simple construction.
    posted by Ironmouth at 2:03 PM on August 23, 2010


    Seems to me like a mass leak of secret documents gives us an important opportunity to evaluate the balance being struck between concerns for information security against oversight by the public. I do think that it can be difficult from the outside to evaluate why a given seemingly-mundane detail should remain confidential, but from the characterizations of those who have spent far more time digging through this stuff than I, I do not get the impression that an appropriate balance is being struck.

    I actually think that we do classify too much. There are too many people with clearance too, and too many jobs require clearances, and the security clearance laws are crazy (I do security clearance appeals too). I'd like to think my appeals court case I lost on the matter helped, because another panel of the court reversed the prior position of the court.

    But a mass leak of 360,000 documents unreviewed by any party is not the way to review the policies or to change them. That's for the political process.
    posted by Ironmouth at 2:07 PM on August 23, 2010


    Awareness of the blood and brutality is crucial to people who favour any war.


    This is the statement I was responding to. Hmm . . . now I'm confused. His statement makes no sense. I was assuming that he was saying that "hiding awareness of blood and brutality is crucial to people who favour any war." But he didn't. However, the statement he made doesn't really make sense unless you assert the "hiding" in front of it.
    It makes perfect sense: many people favor war, but those people must also remain aware of war's terrible cost, not just in dollars but in the lives that will be lost on both sides and the psychological and moral toll that it takes on the soldiers involved.

    You read his statement, didn't understand it, and assumed that he meant precisely the opposite of what he'd said. That's your bad, not his.
    posted by verb at 2:08 PM on August 23, 2010


    ...a mass leak of 360,000 documents unreviewed by any party is not the way to review the policies or to change them. That's for the political process.
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but the mass leak of 360,000 documents was made to a party this is reviewing them, and has not released all of the documents to the public yet.

    Ironmouth, I understand that you dislike Wikileaks and Julian Assange. You've called him a huckster, said that Wikileaks' leaks aren't really "leaks", and so on. I too am troubled by the collateral damage that can come from large scale document dumps, and I'm conflicted about the idea of fighting over-classification by leaking classified documents even if they are not inherently valuable.

    But you are really throwing around a lot of really random hyperbole and anger, and you're missing the clear meaning of what lots of people talking to you in the thread are saying. I really wish a few of us could have this conversation over beers instead of in text, because I think the interesting portions of it would come out a lot easier, with a lot less of the stabby.
    posted by verb at 2:18 PM on August 23, 2010


    Ironmouth, you are not incorrect about what Kennedy was saying but I think you're missing a major point that Kennedy was making. (I linked to Kennedy's entire speech, I wasn't trying to obscure what he said. I did edit the long speech to make my point and for brevity.) He was saying there have always been leaks, and there will always be leaks. Men die because of leaks. So be careful what you publish. Consider your country, and consider American values. But, importantly:

    The question is for you [the free press] alone to answer. No public official should answer it for you. No governmental plan should impose its restraints against your will.

    Compare that to how the U.S. government has reacted to today's independent press, Wikileaks and bloggers. And as verb points out, Wikileaks is answering those questions by reviewing documents before releasing them. So maybe Bradley Manning is an irresponsible villian, but maybe he knew more than we know right now. Maybe he knew enough to know we were being lied to on a massive scale. Only time, and the disinfectant of sunlight, will tell.

    Some people are convinced America is a shining beacon of hope for the world. Many more people that share this earth believe that is a myth Americans tell themselves to sleep soundly at night. What leaked documents allow us to do is make up our own mind based on real information, not spin and obfuscation.

    By the way, anyone with half a brain and no dog in the fight knew Saddam was no real threat. Hans Blix and his team were on the ground, vigilantly looking for threats and said despite extensive searching no WMDs were found, over and over again, only to be drowned out by the drumbeat of warmongers and their lapdogs in the mainstream American and British press. The corporate mouthpieces of the military industrial complex fed the masses propaganda.
    posted by McGuillicuddy at 2:56 PM on August 23, 2010


    The question is for you [the free press] alone to answer. No public official should answer it for you. No governmental plan should impose its restraints against your will.
    McGuillicuddy, as a dyed-in-the-wool contrarian, I also have to note that there is considerable danger in idealizing the nature of the western press. Information that is important but fundamentally uninteresting, or is hard to digest, will probably not see the light of day. I don't think that this makes the press 'lapdogs' so much as it makes the current press part of a complex problem. I'm not sure that any of us have a clear handle on the solution.
    posted by verb at 3:02 PM on August 23, 2010


    To be clear, Kennedy's line disavowing government censorship was not just a throwaway line. He compared the free press, at that time not yet consolidated into the hands of a few mega-corporations, with the communist propaganda machine. And despite its failures, even knowing men would die because of leaked information that was published, he said "The newspapers which printed these stories were loyal, patriotic, responsible and well-meaning."
    posted by McGuillicuddy at 3:06 PM on August 23, 2010


    But a mass leak of 360,000 documents unreviewed by any party is not the way to review the policies or to change them. That's for the political process.

    Oh, I'm not suggesting that an un-vetted mass release is the way to go. I am saying that it, as an event, presents us with a rare opportunity to see what it has been decided is so necessary to be kept from public scrutiny. In a way, it's the perfect opportunity. Materials leaked are usually of a sort considered (by someone) vital to the public interest. I think this may skew people's ideas about the kind of things typically classified. If the vast bulk of classified material, on examination, has no business being classified, then we can conclude that our interests are not being served and we can make demands for change accordingly. Ordinarily, we have no such opportunity.
    posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:24 PM on August 23, 2010


    verb - I agree. In speaking of lapdogs, I mean those corporate stenographers at major papers of record that actually do serve as lapdogs, loyally repeating whatever Scooter Libby or some other forever anonymous propaganda master intends for them to write. I think we can agree that a functioning independent press that has access to real information, not political spin, is crucial to representative democracy. Corporate consolidation and the realities of economic survival are making independence in the press a rare commodity.

    I'm far from, idealizing the western press in any country, indeed I noted early on in this case that the Swedish press abandoned some of their bedrock principals in naming Assange so early in this investigation. It again comes back to the question of whether you should publish information just because you possess it. Sadly the answer more and more seems to please the powers-that-be.

    I've been thinking of the lead up to Assange's name being leaked in this investigation. If I recall correctly, the Swedish Justice Department basically pre-emptively declared that Wikileaks and Assange were not covered by Swedish source confidentiality laws despite housing their servers in Sweden. Which lead to the direct competitors of the newspaper that broke this story hiring Assange as a columnist. And then the Justice Department and/or police leaked the rape story to the competition of the folks that hired him. Strange, very strange.
    posted by McGuillicuddy at 3:26 PM on August 23, 2010


    No, I meant what I said. I believe there are far far too many thick headed chicken hawks who vote for war, or advocate for war, or write newspaper columns calling for war, while suppressing in their minds and ours the central, ugly, brutal facts of war.

    And then there are too many citizens who fix yellow ribbons to their bumpers without any thought to the stink and filth and rot of war.

    These foul facts should be foremost in our minds when we consider making a war.
    posted by Trochanter at 4:42 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


    But you are really throwing around a lot of really random hyperbole and anger, and you're missing the clear meaning of what lots of people talking to you in the thread are saying. I really wish a few of us could have this conversation over beers instead of in text, because I think the interesting portions of it would come out a lot easier, with a lot less of the stabby.

    I'm saying they do not understand what they are really arguing. And it is not random. I cite facts and articles. I support my positions. Because I argue strongly against an unreasoning tide does not make me wrong.

    Wikileaks and bloggers. And as verb points out, Wikileaks is answering those questions by reviewing documents before releasing them

    Oh, I'm not suggesting that an un-vetted mass release is the way to go

    But this was an un-vetted mass release of documents. Wikileaks could not have engaged in a real review of the 90,000 documents it released before releasing them--with only 6 staffers, even if they were full time. It would take several years for 6 people without actual knowledge of the documents or their subject to do that. You can't just read them. You have to figure out who and what they are talking about. That requires research. And now they are putting the onus on the Defense Department to do the review, as if they have no real responsibility themselves.

    No, I meant what I said. I believe there are far far too many thick headed chicken hawks who vote for war, or advocate for war, or write newspaper columns calling for war, while suppressing in their minds and ours the central, ugly, brutal facts of war.

    And then there are too many citizens who fix yellow ribbons to their bumpers without any thought to the stink and filth and rot of war.

    These foul facts should be foremost in our minds when we consider making a war.


    As I thought. Yes, these foul facts should be foremost in our minds when we consider making a war. Without doubt. In the case of Iraq they were not, despite the efforts of myself and millions of other people. But again, the foul facts published here are from three years after the fact of that decision, not right before it. So it impacts the decision making process not.

    I am as aware as any citizen could be about the horrors of war. You bet people are dying. Innocent people. Frankly, the government doesn't hid that information from people. The news media does so they don't lose ratings. But the information is well out there and the government these days full out says when there is a mistake.

    It is foolish to believe that we live in a perfect world. I do believe that resort to armed force is unfortunately sometimes necessary. I supported the Afghanistan war as necessary and opposed the Iraq war as totally unnecessary. But I do not believe that there are no wars that are required, and when there is a titanic terrorist attack on the city where I live, an attack which was made possible by state sponsorship, then I believe that state so sponsoring has to be stopped and prevented from continuing to be the platform from which such attacks can be launched. Perhaps you disagree. Perhaps you believe that the United States had no right to assist the Northern Alliance in breaking the hold of the barbaric Taliban on Afghanistan so that the Taliban could no longer provide a safe base for al Qaeda to continue operating. But I then ask, "what is to be done?" Are we to sit there doing nothing? I say no.
    posted by Ironmouth at 8:00 PM on August 23, 2010


    There are (fundamentally) two reasons for classifying information: one is valid and one isn't.

    The two reasons are

    1) because publication would compromise national security

    2) because publication would be embarrassing

    Governments and their military appendages often confuse the two, sometimes quite honestly. They shouldn't. When they stop doing so -- and that means having efficient and workable policiies which rigorously distinguish between them -- sites like Wikileaks will become largely irrelevant.
    posted by unSane at 8:24 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


    But again, the foul facts published here are from three years after the fact of that decision, not right before it. So it impacts the decision making process not.

    Right now, the drums are beating for an attack on Iran. Maybe, just maybe those documents will have an impact. And when some general says "Can do, Sir!" We'll ask him just why the fuck he thinks so.

    It is foolish to believe that we live in a perfect world.

    In a perfect world, the application of massive force would have "freed" Afghanistan, and the Warlords and Bin Laden would be dead and powerless. How's that working out for you?

    Who thinks we live in a perfect world?

    I can conceive of a necessary war, but I can't conceive of a humane one.
    posted by Trochanter at 8:38 PM on August 23, 2010


    I supported the Afghanistan war as necessary and opposed the Iraq war as totally unnecessary.
    Likewise. I think it's fair to say that most people here in MetaFilter were in the same boat: negative reactions to the Afganistan invasion after 9/11 were mostly restricted to concerns that we'd botch it, and distaste at the ignorant "Yeah! Let's bomb it back into the 13th century!" rhetoric that some of the country's more eager hawks were throwing around. Pretty much everyone agreed that the Taliban was bad news and Bin Ladin had to be stopped; in fact a number of the people I know were relieved at the idea that something had finally caused our nation to take a look at the horrors that the Taliban was visiting on Afganistan.
    But I do not believe that there are no wars that are required, and when there is a titanic terrorist attack on the city where I live, an attack which was made possible by state sponsorship, then I believe that state so sponsoring has to be stopped and prevented from continuing to be the platform from which such attacks can be launched.
    No one in this thread has disagreed with you on that point, as far as I can tell. As far as I'm aware, Julian Assange has never disagreed with you. Believing that a conflict is necessary, though, is not the same as believing that a conflict is without human cost. In a democratic society, understanding the true cost of the wars that we wage is a fundamental moral prerequisite, just as understanding the true cost of giving free health care to everyone is a fundamental moral prerequisite of passing new legislation.

    Many in our government, media, and society have worked very hard to mask the true cost of war, either by denying the impact of war on civilian populations, denying that civilian populations in contested areas like Afganistan are actually innocent, and so on. This does not mean that the military action was unnecessary, but it does mean that they are lying to the American public to manipulate the decisions made about our nation's future.
    Perhaps you disagree. Perhaps you believe that the United States had no right to assist the Northern Alliance in breaking the hold of the barbaric Taliban on Afghanistan so that the Taliban could no longer provide a safe base for al Qaeda to continue operating. But I then ask, "what is to be done?" Are we to sit there doing nothing? I say no.
    The question of whether the United States had the right to invade Afghanistan is a bit of a moot point, IMO. While the Iraq invasion was contentious, the Afganistan invasion was almost universally supported in the United States. Characterizing those who support WikiLeaks as being "Against War" is unfair, I think -- from what I've seen in this thread, the people you're talking to believe that the invasion and subsequent occupation has been executed in a way that ensures it will not achieve its objectives.

    As a corollary, there seems to be a strong belief that classification of information that the public should know is being used to shape public opinion on the way that the war is being conducted and the nature of continued American engagement in the region. In that context, the WikiLeaks doc-dump and other efforts along those lines are perceived not as "An attempt to make people hate war," but an attempt to give the public better information with which to make its decisions.

    You clearly disagree with this, and I don't fault you for it. The approach that WikiLeaks takes is certainly not without risks and downsides. But to characterize it and those who support it as simply "believing that there are no necessary wars" is disingenuous.
    posted by verb at 9:09 PM on August 23, 2010


    > You bet people are dying. Innocent people. Frankly, the government doesn't hid that information from people.

    And yet when the war diary information was published, the Guardian noted that the reports include "nearly 150 incidents in which coalition forces, including British troops, have killed or injured civilians, most of which have never been reported."
    posted by twirlip at 9:32 PM on August 23, 2010


    You bet people are dying. Innocent people. Frankly, the government doesn't hid that information from people.

    What the hell are you talking about? The military intentionally refrains from calculating or even estimating total casualties, much less civilian casualties, so that it doesn't have to report that number.

    That's why organizations like Iraq Body Count don't have a comparison between their numbers and official numbers; there are no official numbers, the official numbers don't exist, on purpose. Note the quote at the top of the page from Tommy Franks - "We don't do body counts."
    posted by XMLicious at 10:09 PM on August 23, 2010


    But this was an un-vetted mass release of documents.

    We're agreed on this point. What I'm saying is that's not the end of the story. What this provides is an opportunity we would not ordinarily have to assess the discretion being wielded. A refusal to take up that task has nothing to do with the appropriateness of the release itself.

    I can be no clearer on this point, Ironmouth.
    posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:00 PM on August 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Suppose Jacob advised Pvt. Manning with advice on how best to download documents from the server, or how to gain ACL permissions on files using his system admin privileges. Even going further to assume Jacob wrote a script that automated file downloads. At some point he crosses the line from passive recipient of data to active participant in a crime.

    "(The leaker) knew he was breaking the law and did it anyway. "

    So, it was basically like the British intelligence officer who was arrested for leaking the fact that the NSA bugged members of the UN Security Council in advance of the UN vote on whether to go to war against Iraq?

    Yes, whoever leaked the information may have broken the law... though we do not know that it was Bradley Manning, who has not been convicted of anything... but that doesn't mean it was the wrong thing to do. Indeed, it could've been the ethical thing to do, and it underscores why we need laws to protect whistleblowers.

    "Just because some of the stuff reduces political support for a war you don't like doesn't make his leaking of it a legal or moral thing to do."

    This has *nothing* to do with a war I don't like. Although I am on the record for opposing sending ground troops into Afghanistan... largely because a> ground troops were unnecessary and b> the Bush administration unwisely preempted efforts that were starting to bear fruit in getting Bin Laden turned over for trial -- I'm also on record for believing that we should give the current strategy a (limited) chance to work, because it will likely save lives and lead to a more positive outcome for both the Afghan people, the US, and its NATO allies.

    There are very good reasons why I would feel that the leak is morally justifiable, even though it does reflect poorly on a conflict that I am currently "supporting". Was it in violation of his duty as a soldier to leak? Sure. By all means, if he's convicted, give him time served and drum him out of the military.

    But the fact is, he's not a spy, he's a prisoner of conscience who leaked stuff to the press that arguably violated international law, plus a whole lot of stuff that was highly controversial / unethical.

    "Anyone with half a fucking brain knows what's going on with our military-industrial complex."

    "While 59% of those polled correctly said the US has not found Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, 41% said they believed that the US has found such weapons (34%) or were unsure (7%)."

    "Like it or not, people wanted that war"
    ...that they were lied into. F*ck the idea of making decisions based on what is actually known... that's illegal! Trust in the power of lies, fear-mongering, paranoia, and hate!
    posted by markkraft at 11:58 PM on August 23, 2010




    The backlash against the former university research assistant is fueled not only by the police backing down from the charges against Assange but also by a seven step guide Ardin published in January to "legal revenge" that involves, in one example, sabotaging a victim's sexual relationships.

    From the above leak. Well holy fuck, I guess that sometimes it is a good idea to question the motives of the "victim"... because in this case the real victim is pretty clearly character-assassinated Assange, eh?
    posted by Meatbomb at 1:50 AM on August 24, 2010


    leak=link
    posted by Meatbomb at 1:50 AM on August 24, 2010


    Ironmouth: the information [concerning death tolls and civilian casualties] is well out there and the government these days full out says when there is a mistake.

    Ironmouth, you clearly don't approve of how Wikileaks obtained the most recent deluge of information, but you also seem to deny that in publishing it, their action may be responsible or well-meaning. Then you deny that NATO killing of civilians and torture of enemies is being actively covered up by the NATO governments, when there are numerous already documented cases of exactly the type of cover-ups you are denying. Some were exposed by Wikileaks, with a strong likelihood of more to come.

    Advocating a painstaking review of every leaked document before release ignores that fact that most are mundane and require only a glance, that even a document detailing the location of troops a year ago has no consequential bearing on enemy tactics today. Recent documents and documents detailing local sources are almost certainly flagged for further review, and Wikileaks has tried to work with the Pentagon to conduct such reviews. But importantly, if Wikileaks aims to show the wider truth about the wars America and her allies wage, only a massive rebuttal can counter the torrent of propaganda that comprise the majority of "news" blared through the loudspeaker of the obsessively "patriotic" mainstream press. Consider it a shock and awe campaign to prove that government secrecy and media complicity can not be relied upon to hide America's state-sponsored atrocities around the world.

    Propaganda about our progress winning battles (and hearts and minds) is mass distributed everyday while actual reporting trickles out slowly, quickly replaced with the next story detailing the hard slog towards victory. And when a reporter, like Michael Hastings, actually has the temerity to report what is going on, he is banned from future access to official sources. And Hastings is only the most prominent reporter banned for reporting the truth instead of the propaganda.

    The speech linked above in which Kennedy called for greater restraint on the part of publishers, while making clear that their honorable and patriotic duty was to publish that which the American people should know, did not happen in a vacuum. It came just days after the horribly damaging Bay of Pigs fiasco, and Kennedy had been battered in the press for failing to conquer the hapless nation of Cuba. Just days previously, the White House had issued a press statement taking full responsibility for the failed invasion. It was almost the height of the Cold War, though pre-Cuban Missile Crisis, and the dangers to the nation's existence were far greater than they are today. Foreign invasion was a real concern. And to those publishers that had lampooned the bumbling boy president and printed stories detailing the action as it unfolded, he said "[you are] loyal, patriotic, responsible and well-meaning." That is a commitment to an informed citizenry far different than the sort we are witnessing today.
    posted by McGuillicuddy at 1:59 AM on August 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


    Plotting Doubted in WikiLeaks Case

    STOCKHOLM — Although Swedish prosecutors have yet to complete their review of sexual abuse accusations that two Stockholm women made last week against Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks Web site, those who say they have detailed knowledge of the case discount conspiracy theories linking it to efforts to discredit WikiLeaks.
    [...]
    But one of Mr. Assange’s close friends in Sweden, who said he had discussed the case in detail with Mr. Assange and one of the women, said he was “absolutely sure” that what was involved were personal animosities and grievances that flowed out of brief relationships Mr. Assange had with the women.

    The man, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the issues, said that the volatile mix that led to the two women’s seeking criminal charges against Mr. Assange involved his celebrity in Sweden and the ill feelings that erupted when the two women discovered they had been competing for his attentions.

    “This wasn’t anything to do with the Pentagon,” he said. “It was just a personal matter between three people that got out of hand.”
    posted by scalefree at 6:42 AM on August 24, 2010


    Well, that's a scenario that makes everyone look stupid.
    posted by verb at 6:55 AM on August 24, 2010


    Scott Horton | Harper's Magazine: False Charges Ricochet in the War on WikiLeaks.
    "As I wrote in 'WikiLeaks: The National-Security State Strikes Back,' a highly classified Army Counterintelligence Center 32-page memorandum [PDF] noted that to eliminate the threat presented by WikiLeaks, the United States would have to strike not simply servers and databases, but against the individuals who were critical to the operation of WikiLeaks. It repeatedly identifies Assange as a target, describes the leaks as criminal acts and advocates 'successful prosecutions' to 'destroy the center of gravity' of WikiLeaks. The suspicions raised by Assange are thus hardly unwarranted—they match the Pentagon’s own plan to take WikiLeaks out of action. However, there is as yet no direct evidence for the claim that the accusations leveled at Assange were the work of some intelligence service, and even if there were, Assange has plenty of governments anxious to shut him down aside from the United States. But as this incident makes clear, the war on WikiLeaks will be fought with unconventional tools and those following the story are advised to accept nothing at face value."
    posted by ericb at 7:35 AM on August 24, 2010


    I've been expecting some fallout for the prosecutor confirming an ongoing investigation of Assange, and now it seems likely:

    Jouråklagaren anmäls för brott mot sekretessreglerna (Assange prosecutor cited for secrecy breach)

    No official decision concerning the prosecutors comments to the press has been reached, it is a watch-dog group filing the complaints. The Swedish article llnked above states that the "arrest warrant" should have been covered by confidentiality laws. And it multiple newspapers are claiming that the prosecutors decision to break the confidentiality of the investigation led to their naming Assange.
    posted by McGuillicuddy at 8:13 AM on August 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Dude violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice and leaked anything he could get his hands on, regardless of its value to the public. Diplomatic cables regarding Iceland, you name it.

    And you know this how?

    Why should metafilter believe your claim?
    posted by rough ashlar at 11:24 AM on August 25, 2010


    They are state secrets. Period. They are classifed under law. They are therefore state secrets.
    The current Administration has been massively transparent about the problems it faces.


    Really? Then why has the treaty details for the ACTA being kept secret? Is that part of 'massive' transparency or some kind of energy solution based on pants oxidation?
    posted by rough ashlar at 11:30 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I am as aware as any citizen could be about the horrors of war. You bet people are dying. Innocent people. Frankly, the government doesn't hid that information from people.

    I believe the official position is the military is they are not gathering data on the civilian deaths. So if you have no data - you can't report want you do not have and therefore your statement on its face is correct. If there is a FOIA and a government in 100 years where the data that has been collected is released you'll be shown to have been wrong and your wrongness TODAY won't matter.

    So in the interest of the future - you are wrong. Yet again.

    And frankly Ironmouth, your posts in this tread read like someone who's income is tied to supporting the system of laws and classification and things like the WikiLeak's goal of openness will cut into your paycheck.
    posted by rough ashlar at 11:40 AM on August 25, 2010


    So in the interest of the future - you are wrong. Yet again.

    And frankly Ironmouth, your posts in this tread read like someone who's income is tied to supporting the system of laws and classification and things like the WikiLeak's goal of openness will cut into your paycheck.
    I just want to poke my head in again and say that's a pretty unfair characterization of what Ironmouth has said in the thread. he defends whistleblowers, and his objections revolve around whether the WikiLeaks approach is a net benefit, whether it deserves the kind of moral 'covering' that we have traditionally given to whistleblowers, and so on.

    There are many disagreements I have with him, but saying that he only holds his positions because data classification is his meal ticket is a pretty blatant ad hominem.
    posted by verb at 11:48 AM on August 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I seem to recall that Ironmouth's job is defending cops accused of various nastiness, so no, he has nothing to do with data classification.
    posted by Pope Guilty at 12:46 PM on August 25, 2010


    Pope Guilty, in this comment Ironmouth specifically says: "I represent whistleblowers for a living. The ones I represent have real information that they know demonstrates improper decisions by the government."

    That's what I'm basing my read of his subsequent statements on.
    posted by verb at 1:24 PM on August 25, 2010


    This just in: Wikileaks releases CIA 'exporter of terrorism' report.
    posted by ericb at 2:03 PM on August 25, 2010


    For those who believe there's no such thing as "too much information," that transparency must be practiced to the fullest extent possible, I give you Lawyer for Women Accusing WikiLeaks Founder Maintains Charges of Sexual Misconduct, in which we learn about Julian's "reluctance to use condoms and unwillingness to be tested for sexually transmitted disease".
    posted by scalefree at 8:30 PM on August 25, 2010


    I'm not sure that Newsweek publishing a lawyer's statements about the accused constitutes a "leak" in the sense that most of us are discussing them, but that's an interesting way to frame the new article.
    posted by verb at 8:37 PM on August 25, 2010


    I'm not sure that Newsweek publishing a lawyer's statements about the accused constitutes a "leak" in the sense that most of us are discussing them

    Gonorrhea?
    posted by homunculus at 9:02 PM on August 25, 2010


    "too much information," that transparency must be practiced to the fullest extent possible, I give you Lawyer for Women Accusing WikiLeaks Founder Maintains Charges of Sexual Misconduct, in which we learn about Julian's "reluctance to use condoms and unwillingness to be tested for sexually transmitted disease".

    And now with that information well known - will it change behavior?

    If it does, has the openness achieved a net good?
    posted by rough ashlar at 12:25 AM on August 26, 2010


    Welcome to Sweden. Let me introduce the players and some places.

    Anna Ardin, as outed by her own superior at The Brotherhood (Broderskapsrörelsen a Christian Social Democrat group), press secretary for the Brotherhood. Has also worked on prestigious assignments like handling press for the Ship To Gaza convoy.
    The Brotherhood invited Julian Assange to hold a seminar at LO borgen, that is LandsOrganistationen, a collective of 14 worker unions in Sweden, who have always been closely tied with the Social Democratic party. The Seminar was called "the first victim in war is the truth". Swedish press release about the seminar here.

    Rape allegations filed, warrant for arrest sent out, somehow this reached the media, then the warrant was cancelled, case dropped, molestation charge stays - you know this part.

    BBC interviews "rape case specialist" on ”Europe Today”. The specialist was Billy Butt, who was sentenced to 4 years in prison for 9 counts of rape and is still busy setting a record getting this judgement overturned and clear his name. (He spent 93-96 in prison). He is the founder of Rättssäkerhetsorganisationen, which reported the prosecutor to the parlimentary ombudsman a.k.a JO for breaching the 'sekretesslaw' as suspects names should never be released to media.

    The prosecutor who sent out the arrest order was Maria Häljebo Kjellstrand. The cheif prosecutor who pulled it back was Eva Finné.

    Legal representation for Julian is Leif Silbersky. Legal representation for Anna Ardin is Claes Borgström, a lawyer and Social Democratic politician who has previously held the position of Equality Ombudsman (Sveriges jämställdhetsombudsman). He owns his agency with Thomas_Bodström, a Social Democratic politician who was the minister of justice 2000-2006. Claes Borgström has famously compared Swedish men to the Taliban and suggested a "tax on men" to make up for inequalities between the genders. ("Kvinnosyn" means "view on women")

    In short, even CIA couldn't make this up.
    posted by dabitch at 6:11 AM on August 26, 2010


    In short, even CIA couldn't make this up.

    But But exploding cigars. And Cats who are wired up with a camera and sound.
    posted by rough ashlar at 7:32 AM on August 26, 2010


    In short, even CIA couldn't make this up.

    Indeed. Dirty Tricks may fit the Wikileaks narrative, but if this latest material is on the money, I conclude the following:

    1. Julian Assange has unprotected casual sex with multiple women, and refuses to take any polite precautions. Combined with his performance as the mouthpiece of Wikileaks, this makes him a complete prick and an egomaniac, and quite happy to endanger himself and others if it will further his personal causes.
    2. Two women, at least one of them a grown-up, educated professional, had casual sex with him, without first establishing his willingness to take polite precautions?? AND THEN they went to the police??? They are worryingly stupid, and quite possibly deserve him.
    3. You may be a geek and a prick, but with a bit of notoriety, you'll have no problem getting laid.
    4. Swedish lawyers, politicians and academics behave exactly the way they might in a Stieg Larsson novel.

    Sorry I'm late. Again.
    posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 11:19 AM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    This story gets weirder and weirder. Am I incorrect in my idea that right now it looks like what happened is that Assange had relations with two women sans condoms and that all of this stems from them finding out about eachother and trying to withdraw consent retroactively? Really?
    posted by Justinian at 12:51 PM on August 26, 2010


    I think "The CIA Did It" explanation is a much simpler explanation.
    posted by verb at 12:55 PM on August 26, 2010


    Kind of funny. You apply Occam's razor and the simple solution is the conspiracy.
    posted by Trochanter at 12:56 PM on August 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


    doh!
    posted by Trochanter at 12:57 PM on August 26, 2010


    Newsweek: Is WikiLeaks too full of itself?
    posted by ericb at 1:49 PM on August 26, 2010


    Ironmouth: "Let me add one thing. I represent whistleblowers for a living. "

    Then you know that it's only illegal for citizens to reveal only a few specific kinds of information, and that the only illegal activity that happened here is due to Manning's employer's rules. It is never illegal for a citizen to print leaks unless the information is the subject of one of the few exclusions (certain signals communications intelligence, names of covert operatives and nuclear secrets).

    I'm sorry that this wasn't the proper kind of leak that you've become used to, but that doesn't mean it's not a regular leak or that it was illegal under the Constitution.
    posted by rhizome at 2:10 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Kind of funny. You apply Occam's razor and the simple solution is the conspiracy.

    I demand a new monitor.

    I'll get the Swedes to charge you with damage to property from the tea spewed all over it.
    posted by rough ashlar at 2:19 PM on August 26, 2010


    the only illegal activity that happened here is due to Manning's employer's rules.

    So is it JUST a contract violation?
    posted by rough ashlar at 2:21 PM on August 26, 2010


    Sorry I'm late. Again.

    Maybe you should start using protection.
    posted by ODiV at 2:27 PM on August 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Is it possible Assange is a raging syphilitic ego-maniac who likes bareback surprises? Oh, definitely. But it isn't the Mayberry Sheriff's Department that Assange has pissed off. The US DoD and associated spook squads have the means to most ends and are not exactly lacking in imagination.

    The willingness of the prosecutor's office to leak and continue discussing this case in the press, in complete contrast to how things are normally done in Sweden, really should raise questions. It can not be overstated, leaking names in sex crime investigations is not standard prosecutorial behavior in Sweden. And then the victim's boss outs her in the press? Who would do that?

    If character assassination was the goal, a setup need not be massive. A big payday for a single prosecutor and a "victim" would be sufficient. Which newspaper could pass up such a leak from an official source about a controversial public figure? Once the allegation is public, which newspaper in the world won't run the story?
    posted by McGuillicuddy at 2:45 PM on August 26, 2010


    Kind of funny. You apply Occam's razor and the simple solution is the conspiracy.

    In all seriousness, that's the way to plot anything -- ensure that there are one, or preferably many, simpler explanations. If you know, if you're doing pretty much anything intentionally behind the scenes, there almost always are.
    posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:18 AM on August 27, 2010


    rough ashlar wrote: "I'll get the Swedes to charge you with damage to property from the tea spewed all over it."

    Is that what the kids are calling it these days?
    posted by wierdo at 7:47 AM on August 27, 2010


    "I'll get the Swedes to charge you with damage to property from the tea spewed all over it."

    Is that what the kids are calling it these days?


    The comment wasn't THAT good.
    posted by rough ashlar at 10:16 AM on August 27, 2010




    Gawker? Really?

    I guess that tells you how inconsequential the past two weeks in the world of Wikileaks ultimately is if it's been reduced to People/InStyle level rehashings. Gawker even figures out how to construct an article title in which each part of speech represents a separate strawman. Clickbaitin' ain't easy.
    posted by rhizome at 5:25 PM on August 27, 2010


    Are Wikileaks Activists Finally Realizing Their Founder Is a Megalomaniac?

    Megalomania isn't so much of a problem; being headed by a guy who won't give anyone else credit seems like a plus. Not using condoms, however, would suggest a failure to demonstrate a level of paranoia I would prefer to see.
    posted by prak at 7:31 PM on August 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


    rhizome: “Gawker? Really?”

    Well, at the risk of ad-hominem-ism, Assange seems to be a pretty creepy dude. His blog, 2006:
    I've always found women caught in a thunderstorm appealing. Perhaps it is a male universal, for without advertising this proclivity a lovely girl I knew, but not well, on discovering within herself lascivious thoughts about me and noticing raindrops outside her windows, stood for a moment fully clothed in her shower before letting the wind and rain buffet her body as she made her tremulous approach to my door and of course I could not turn her away.

    But then, just when one might suspect that men are krill to the baleen of female romantic manipulation, I found myself loving a girl who was a coffee addict. I would make a watery paste of finely ground coffee and surreptitiously smear this around my neck and shoulders before seducing her so she would associate my body with her dopaminergic cravings. But every association relates two objects both ways. She started drinking more and more coffee. Sometimes I looked at her cups of liquid arabicia with envious eyes for if there were four cups then somehow, I was one of them, or a quarter of everyone one of them...
    Heh. Odd dude, this. Not unintelligent, but... odd.
    posted by koeselitz at 10:10 PM on August 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


    rhizome: “Gawker? Really?”

    I gets worse. we have tell-you-what-to-think Daily Mail telling us the whole story as they know it now, and serving pixellating photos of the women.
    posted by dabitch at 2:37 AM on August 29, 2010


    koeselitz:
    Well, at the risk of ad-hominem-ism, Assange seems to be a pretty creepy dude. His blog, 2006:


    Yeah, I don't even care about any of that stuff. I don't care whether he has an "interesting" outlook on life, or even that average people will find him creepy. It doesn't matter, and in fact I see it as a strength. As long as he isn't rapin' and stuff, he can be whoever he wants.

    It's gonna take a creep to take down the creeps, that's what I say. The more personal foibles Assange is revealed to have, I see that as increasing strength on his part. Bring it on, "he once had a black girlfriend," "he was arrested for breaking into a Coke machine," all of that stuff is just transparent character assassination and can safely be ignored. We are all being pushed to accept ad hominem attacks as legitimate, but they are all red herrings. What do his interpersonal habits or history have to do with the Afghan war? Frankly, the more the attacks focus on his personal life and not the credibility of the data, the more his detractors use pages from the Scientology handbook, I am heartened. People may say, "you lie down with dogs and you'll get fleas," while ignoring the fact that he's running a fucking flea factory. Really more like a flea catalog, but hopefully you get my point that you have to know where to find scum in order to root it out of the government.

    And anybody who links up Assange's personal life with Wikileaks' work is a stupid person. There will be tremendous pressure in the media to conflate Wikileaks with Assange-the-person, how many will be able to resist it? Will you?
    posted by rhizome at 9:46 AM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


    rhizome: “And anybody who links up Assange's personal life with Wikileaks' work is a stupid person. There will be tremendous pressure in the media to conflate Wikileaks with Assange-the-person, how many will be able to resist it? Will you?”

    More importantly, will the Wikileaks project themselves? How long will it take for them to drop this asshole and find another public face? The work they're doing is too important to be dragged down by the weird bullshit he's pulling, and I happen to know that Assange isn't remotely as important to Wikileaks' survival as he'd like to think. It'd be comforting to me to go to Wikileaks.org tomorrow and see an announcement that Julian Assange had been removed from the project and no longer had the authority to act as its spokesman.

    I mean, when it comes down, even he doesn't know who or where the final reviewers are in the network. And all of the maintainers have a hell of a lot more say in all this than he does. He's just a figurehead, and he's generally good at that job – he makes provocative noise that prompts the kind of investment and attention Wikileaks needs – but there will come a time when he's really just a dead weight around Wikileaks' neck. Some of us feel as though that time has already come.

    So, yeah: creepy, weird-ass, unfortunate dude. Please, Wikileaks, ditch this guy already.
    posted by koeselitz at 9:58 AM on August 29, 2010


    The work they're doing is too important to be dragged down by the weird bullshit he's pulling

    Their work is not being dragged down by him, they're steaming ahead like normal and they're treating the oh-so-significant issues as the buzzing flies that they are. None of the things you mention have anything to do with leaking data, and the data is no less valuable because Assange likes to spread peanut-butter on his dick or whatever.

    The more people talk about legitimizing WL by bureaucratizing it the more they miss the point. The point is to get the data out there, not to earn Richard Clarke's (or your) approval.
    posted by rhizome at 10:07 AM on August 29, 2010


    rhizome: “The more people talk about legitimizing WL by bureaucratizing it the more they miss the point. The point is to get the data out there, not to earn Richard Clarke's (or your) approval.”

    Julian Assange is a crap leader for this kind of thing, and I'm not going to make any bones about that. That's not just because I don't trust him or his predilections, which frankly are not just innocent sexual preferences. I believe the women when they say he has a problem with understanding that no means no, and I don't like that at all.

    But more importantly, I think he's turning Wikileaks into his own cause. And if anybody's responsible for the impression that Julian Assange is Wikileaks, it's Julian Assange himself. What Wikileaks ought to have is a spokesperson who's willing to admit that he's not at all important to the project, that he's not doing the bulk of the work, that he's not the one who makes it all happen.

    And yet I read profile after profile of Assange asserting that he's some cryptographic network genius, that he runs everything himself on his laptop running from city to city, that he's planning all of this and pulling together people from around the world to help him. That's the most idiotic and reckless kind of bullshit, and he's telling it to all those magazines and newspapers.

    I know that Wikileaks will keep moving forward, and actually to be honest sometimes I think the people who actually run Wikileaks are privately very happy to have the world distracted from them and focused on Julian Assange, the dancing monkey. But sometimes I think having a spokesperson like this at all is a weird and dangerous game.

    Let me be perfectly clear: bureaucratizing Wikileaks is the very last thing that needs to happen. I believe that every link in the chain of the network is perfectly formed for this project – except the wingnut at the top. I just don't think they need him. Wikileaks could happily and easily continue doing this if Julian Assange didn't exist. That would actually probably be preferable.

    I wouldn't wish harm on anybody, but I get the feeling it would be really, really good for the project if all those mysterious mythical men in black actually caught up with him and made him disappear. He'd be a martyr for the cause, and it would mean he'd quit blowing hot air all over the media.
    posted by koeselitz at 10:23 AM on August 29, 2010


    Wikileaks doesn't need a leader (bureaucrat) and Assange is doing just fine as a lightning-rod. He's also very well-spoken. He isn't turning Wikileaks into his own cause, people (like you) are trying to push it onto him. The more people think and talk about Assange and less about the documents being leaked, the more they're part of the problem. The CIA acknowledges they're exporting terrorism? Piffle, LET'S GET A CLOSER LOOK AT THE WEIRDO.
    posted by rhizome at 10:37 AM on August 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


    I gets worse. we have tell-you-what-to-think Daily Mail telling us the whole story as they know it now, and serving pixellating photos of the women.

    Girl B is mighty suspicious.
    posted by empath at 12:07 PM on August 29, 2010


    I believe the women when they say he has a problem with understanding that no means no, and I don't like that at all.

    What are you talking about? Nobody, including the women involved, are alleging that Assange has a problem with understanding that no means no. Did you read the thread at all? None of these charges had anything to do with non-consenual sex. You are trying to peacock your anti-rape bona fides at the expense of the truth.
    posted by Justinian at 2:09 PM on August 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


    I think that notion might be from this bit of the Daily Mail article:

    One of the women claimed in a Swedish newspaper: ‘The responsibility for what happened to me and the other girl lies with a man who has a twisted attitude to women and a problem taking no for an answer.’
    posted by XMLicious at 9:32 PM on August 29, 2010


    If you read about what is alleged to have happened, nobody appears to be claiming that non-consensual sex took place. It appears that in one case Assange claimed that a condom broke and his partner believed he broke it on purpose. I can't even figure out what is supposed to have happened in the other case but it certainly appears to involve a condom or lack thereof. And all of this appears to have become an issue when the two women discovered that Assange was sleeping with both of them.

    I think looking at what supposedly happened is a better indicator than a who-knows-how-well-translated quote taken in who-knows-what-context.

    That said, I have no idea what Assange's attitude towards women is. He might be a real jerk. I just don't think it's fair to label him for things that clearly aren't at issue.
    posted by Justinian at 1:02 AM on August 30, 2010


    I can't help but notice that the focus in the news is on Assange, and if he's a jerk toward women or not. Alternative, if he is a rapist or not, for those not quite caught up. I'm sorry but I find this the least interesting aspect of this story, I couldn't care less if Assange is a tosser or not. Here's the story: It seems that in Sweden, one can calmly walk into a police station and cry rape about consensual (condom-breaking) sex. An arrest warrant will be cabled out, and cops have reportedly prowled night clubs in the hip part of town looking for the perp. Meanwhile, in Solna outside of Stockholm, there's a serial-rapist who climbs into women's bedrooms via the window and tries to suffocate his victims with their own pillows, who is currently at large. Oddly, I think one should put resources toward patrolling this hood, rather than checking nightclubs for Assange on a case of broken condoms, the resources are limited after all. I must be crazy.

    Does this extreme over-reaction happen with every case of a woman telling police about broken condoms, or is it only when political royalty is involved? Because, frankly, it worries the hell out of me. How many men have been falsely accused, prompting this kind of manhunt? Would Assange be in the slammer right now if he hadn't been famous? Something is certainly rotten in Sweden, but it's not a strange CIA conspiracy.
    posted by dabitch at 3:11 AM on August 30, 2010


    Justinian, FYI, that quote is perfectly translated and comes from the very first interview the older woman gave to Aftonbladet regarding Assange. See the last line: "Ansvaret för det som hänt mig och den andra tjejen ligger hos en man med skev kvinnosyn och problem att ta ett nej."
    posted by dabitch at 3:15 AM on August 30, 2010


    WikiLeakiLeaks.org. Would you like some sauce with that goose?
    posted by scalefree at 7:17 PM on August 30, 2010


    Finally, we can continue attacking the messenger! Thank goodness.
    posted by inigo2 at 6:25 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]




    The next story on Threat Level is a strange one: Dead Codebreaker Was Linked to NSA Intercept Case
    posted by homunculus at 8:43 AM on August 31, 2010






    Senior prosecutor orders reopening of rape investigation into Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. CNN, BBC news.
    posted by dabitch at 4:57 AM on September 1, 2010


    I had no idea Mudge was involved with DARPA.
    posted by Pope Guilty at 6:06 AM on September 1, 2010


    Reuters, too, on the reopening.
    posted by chavenet at 6:50 AM on September 1, 2010


    Sweden better ask itself why it has its nondisclosure laws on the books, and then decide if it wants to live by them, because this is getting stupid.
    posted by Trochanter at 8:28 AM on September 1, 2010


    I had no idea Mudge was involved with DARPA.

    Yeah he got hired as a Program Manager a few months back. One of his main goals is to finally build up a connection between the government & hacker community. He's going to be funding hacker spaces through DARPA. It'll be very interesting to see how it plays out.
    posted by scalefree at 9:59 AM on September 1, 2010


    Sweden better ask itself why it has its nondisclosure laws on the books, and then decide if it wants to live by them, because this is getting stupid.

    Is there any evidence that there have been violations of Sweden's non-disclosure laws?
    posted by Ironmouth at 11:10 AM on September 1, 2010


    OK see that above there.

    Highly doubt that the CIA is involved in framing Assange. Too many people have to testify.

    But, if my job was to discredit him for the CIA, I'd be in charge of the leak squad. If Sweden told the CIA about all of this, and I was the CIA guy working the case, I'd leak it to every paper in Sweden.
    posted by Ironmouth at 11:14 AM on September 1, 2010


    Does this extreme over-reaction happen with every case of a woman telling police about broken condoms, or is it only when political royalty is involved? Because, frankly, it worries the hell out of me. How many men have been falsely accused, prompting this kind of manhunt? Would Assange be in the slammer right now if he hadn't been famous? Something is certainly rotten in Sweden, but it's not a strange CIA conspiracy.

    uh-oh, somebody said false rape accusation. Run!
    posted by Ironmouth at 11:14 AM on September 1, 2010


    Ironmouth: "Highly doubt that the CIA is involved in framing Assange. Too many people have to testify."

    Character assassination doesn't require testimony. Sometimes you only need to cast aspersions.
    posted by rhizome at 12:49 PM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


    Ironmouth: "Highly doubt that the CIA is involved in framing Assange. Too many people have to testify."

    Character assassination doesn't require testimony. Sometimes you only need to cast aspersions.


    again, its the leaking which would be the vehicle. I'm certain you're not saying that these women are falsely accusing him of rape and sexual crimes.
    posted by Ironmouth at 2:10 PM on September 1, 2010


    Ironmouth, yeah the leaking of his name is a job well done for the hypothetical CIA guy, since we don't know who told the press (the prosecutor confirmed the information, oddly enough - this is quite wrong). And we'll likely never know who told the press, since we have those awesome press laws that Wikileaks likes so much.
    posted by dabitch at 2:25 PM on September 1, 2010




    The police interrogation with Assange earlier this week has been leaked... To Expressen. AFter Julian actually says in the interrogation that he is concerned everything said to the police will leak to Expressen.

    Apparently, Expressen has spies everywhere. Maybe CIA should hire them?
    posted by dabitch at 9:36 AM on September 2, 2010


    Apparently, Expressen has spies everywhere. Maybe CIA should hire them?

    Come on, this is Sweden. They'd want 6 weeks vacation, job security, and a pension.

    Piece work is cheaper.
    posted by McGuillicuddy at 11:53 AM on September 2, 2010


    For anyone that wonders about Expressen, it is a tabloid closer in style to New York Post or The Sun than Enquirer or News of the World. I'm pretty sure it is the second largest tabloid in Sweden in terms of circulation, after Aftonbladet, which hired Assange as a columnist about a week before this case broke.

    In Sweden, newspapers are often openly political. Expressen is unaligned but right-leaning, while Aftonbladet is aligned with the Social Democrats party (socialists). Expressen is owned by the Bonnier family, which also owns Sweden's largest daily newspaper, Dagens Nyheter (Daily News) and a large publishing company.
    posted by McGuillicuddy at 12:20 PM on September 2, 2010


    Newsweek: WikiLeak's civil war over leader Assange.
    posted by ericb at 4:16 PM on September 4, 2010


    Civil War at WikiLeaks
    Another WikiLeaks organizer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Assange had been resisting efforts over the last two weeks to push him off the public stage as a result of the criminal investigation in Sweden, and that his insistence on “staying in charge of everything” was creating “a mess for everyone” as the website prepares to release an additional library of 13,000 classified American military reports from the war in Afghanistan. The website outraged the Pentagon in July when it released more than 70,000 other classified reports from the war.

    This WikiLeaks organizer said that internal protests directed at Assange resulted in a temporarily shutdown of the WikiLeaks website several days ago, nominally for mechanical reasons. “It was really meant to be a sign to Julian that he needs to rethink his situation,” the organizer. “Our technical people were sending a message.”
    posted by homunculus at 1:13 PM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


    WikiLeaks founder to stay: insider
    A WikiLeaks insider has challenged claims that co-founder Julian Assange is at threat of being booted due to his well-publicised rape charges in Sweden.

    As the secretive website prepares to release a second tranche of confidential US intelligence files about the war in Afghanistan, an internal struggle appears to have erupted over the position of Assange, who is both spokesman and editor-in-chief.

    Contrary to claims over the past few days, however, the well-placed insider said Assange is not at threat of being kicked out of WikiLeaks.

    The person, who requested anonymity, contacted this website to deny recent suggestions that members were trying to kick Assange out of the organisation.

    ‘‘There’s no discussion of a founder getting chopped,’’ they said.

    No-one wanted Assange to step down from his role as editor-in-chief of Wikileaks they said, though ‘‘a few people have have floated the idea of him stepping down as the media spokesperson.’’
    posted by dabitch at 4:40 AM on September 7, 2010




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