White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was doing his best on Wednesday to pretend that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was just a lone nutter with a PC.
“I’m not entirely sure why we care about the opinion of one guy with one website,” Gibbs said on CNN. “Our foreign policy and the interests of this country are far stronger than his one website.”
I’m sure a spinmeister like Gibbs has persuaded himself this is true. However, Wikileaks is not one man and a website but a proxy for a fundamental right in the information age – the right to know.
It doesn’t matter who Julian Assange is. It is entirely irrelevant to this discussion, in fact. Wikileaks and its thin pale founder are two separate entities. Whether he raped someone in Sweden, as is alleged, doesn’t matter either, beyond a simple matter of law. Gibbs will say this is all about the man. I say it’s all about the message.
Therefore, discrediting and persecuting Assange is a waste of time. He may have rolled the first stone that became the landslide, but Wikileaks has taken on a course of its own.
If Wikileaks’ faceless volunteers can keep the site going, it’s the leaks, not the mercurial Assange, that will determine the future of the supranational phenomenon. They can kill Assange, chop him up and disperse the parts from the deepest oceans to the furthest stars and the avatar he has created will continue to influence world events.
I’d go a step further. It’s in fact the US-led Group of Eight Nations that has created Wikileaks. The G8’s obsessive and corrupt secrecy has moved courageous people inside the system to leak information to Wikileaks.
Decent moral people have watched governments sacrifice the lives of their citizens in Afghanistan and Iraq for no good reason. They have stood by while monstrous cover ups have taken place; they have seen the people treated as fools.
They have observed expediency, fundamentalism and party politics run international diplomacy. They have noted the system tolerating and hiding monumental incompetence to preserve power cliques. And finally these insiders have said enough is enough. They break the law in posting the documents, but believe they expose far greater crimes.
Assange has merely given them a post box, a “dead drop” as SMH feature writer Nikki Barrowclough wrote. The Hells Angels have a saying: “Three people can keep a secret, if two of them are dead”. This could have been taken from the CIA’s induction handbook when you consider the death toll of truth tellers during the Cold War.
But now the secret has become too big, too many people know, too many to kill anyway. So it comes back to one man, Julian Assange. Hence the all-out assault on his credibility: the rape allegations; the info-bites detailing his ineffable weirdness. There will be enough willing reporters to run all the crap the spooks can find on him. After all, it’s not just governments that Wikileaks is exposing.
”How is it that a team of five people has managed to release to the public more suppressed information, at that level, than the rest of the world press combined? It’s disgraceful,” Assange has said.
That’s not to say that they won’t kill Assange, that disclosure protects him. They might still knock him purely out of spite. Tyrants are like that, it’s what brings them down in the end. And that’s just the media.
I suggest he stay on the run, watching out for mysterious blondes and men with umbrellas for the rest of his life.