nettime's avid reader on Tue, 7 Dec 2010 12:17:07 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> The lawless Wild West attacks WikiLeaks

Choice Quote: "Remember:  this is all being done not only without any 
charges or convictions, but also any real prospect of charging them with a 
crime, because they did nothing illegal."

The lawless Wild West attacks WikiLeaks
Monday, Dec 6, 2010 12:07 ET

Just look at what the U.S. Government and its friends are willing to do and 
capable of doing to someone who challenges or defies them -- all without 
any charges being filed or a shred of legal authority.  They've blocked 
access to their assets, tried to remove them from the Internet, bullied 
most everyone out of doing any business with them, froze the funds marked 
for Assange's legal defense at exactly the time that they prepare a strange 
international arrest warrant to be executed, repeatedly threatened him with 
murder, had their Australian vassals openly threaten to revoke his 
passport, and declared them "Terrorists" even though -- unlike the 
authorities who are doing all of these things -- neither Assange nor 
WikiLeaks ever engaged in violence, advocated violence, or caused the 
slaughter of civilians.

This is all grounded in the toxic mindset expressed yesterday on Meet the 
Press (without challenge, naturally) by GOP Sen. Minority Leader Mitch 
McConnell, who said of Assange:  "I think the man is a high-tech terrorist. 
Heâs done an enormous damage to our country, and I think he needs to be 
prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And if that becomes a problem, 
we need to change the law."  As usual, when wielded by American 
authorities, the term "terrorist" means nothing more than: "those who 
impede or defy the will of the U.S. Government with any degree of 
efficacy."  Anyone who does that is, by definition, a Terrorist.  And note 
McConnell's typical, highly representative view that if someone he wants to 
punish isn't a criminal under the law, then you just "change the law" to 
make him one.  

But that sort of legal scheming isn't even necessary.  The U.S. and its 
"friends" in the Western and business worlds are more than able and happy 
to severely punish anyone they want without the slightest basis in "law."  
That's what the lawless, Wild Western World is:  political leaders 
punishing whomever they want without any limits, certainly without regard 
to bothersome concepts of "law."  Anyone who doubts that should just look 
at what has been done to Wikileaks and Assange over the last week.  In this 
series of events, there are indeed genuine and pernicious threats to basic 
freedom and security; they most assuredly aren't coming from WikiLeaks or 
Julian Assange. 

People often have a hard time believing that the terms "authoritarian" and 
"tyranny" apply to their own government, but that's because those who 
meekly stay in line and remain unthreatening are never targeted by such 
forces.  The face of authoritarianism and tyranny reveals itself with how 
it responds to those who meaningfully dissent from and effectively 
challenge its authority:  do they act within the law or solely through the 
use of unconstrained force?

* * * * *

Yahoo News!' Michael Calderone has a very good article documenting how 
major American media outlets -- as always -- snapped into line with the 
authorities they serve by ceasing to use the term "whistle-blower" to 
describe WikiLeaks. 

One encouraging development is the emergence of hundreds of "mirror-
WikiLeaks" sites around the world which make abolishing WikiLeaks 
pointless; that's a good model for how to subvert Internet censorship 
efforts.  Those interested in doing that can find instructions here.

And here is a well-done site which asks:  "Why is WikiLeaks a Good Thing?"

UPDATE:  Just to underscore the climate of lawless initmidation that has 
been created:  before WikiLeaks was on many people's radars (i.e., before 
the Apache video release), I wrote about the war being waged on them by the 
Pentagon, interviewed Assange, and urged people to donate money to them.  
In response, numerous people asked -- both in comments and via email -- 
whether they would be in danger, could incur legal liability for providing 
material support to Terrorism or some other crime, if they donated to 
WikiLeaks.  Those were American citizens expressing that fear over an 
organization which had never been remotely charged with any wrongdoing.  

Similarly, I met several weeks ago with an individual who once worked 
closely with WikiLeaks, but since stopped because he feared that his 
country -- which has a very broad extradition treaty with the U.S. -- would 
arrest him and turn him over to the Americans upon request.  He knew he had 
violated no laws, but given that he's a foreigner, he feared -- justifiably 
-- that he could easily be held by the United States without charges, 
denied all sorts of basic rights under the Patriot Act, and otherwise be 
subject to a system of "justice" which recognizes few limits or liberties, 
especially when dealing with foreigners accused of aiding Terrorists. 

All the oppressive, lawless policies of the last decade -- lawless 
detention, Guantanamo, disappearing people to CIA black sites, rendition, 
the torture regime, denial of habeas corpus, drones, assassinations, 
private mercenary forces, etc. -- were designed, first and foremost, to 
instill exactly this fear, to deter any challenge.   Many of these policies 
continue, and that climate of fear thus endures (see this comment from 
today as but one of many examples).  As the treatment just thus far of 
WikiLeaks and Assange demonstrates, that reaction -- though paralyzing and 
counter-productive -- is not irrational.  And one thing is for sure:  there 
is nothing the U.S. Government could do -- no matter how lawless or heinous 
-- which (with rare exception) would provoke the objections of the American 
establishment media.

UPDATE II:  Those wishing to donate to WikiLeaks can still do so here, via 
Options 2 (online credit card) or 3 (wire to bank in Iceland).

UPDATE III:  One more, from CNET, roughly 30 minutes ago:

As the article says, this is "a move that will dry up another source of 
funds for the embattled document-sharing Web site."  Remember:  this is all 
being done not only without any charges or convictions, but also any real 
prospect of charging them with a crime, because they did nothing illegal.

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