Could a nice, normal guy have started and run Wikileaks? asked @jeffjarvis today, sarcastically replying ‘No‘ to his own question.
Nice, normal guys don’t have the balls to blow whistles I tweeted back. And that’s the truth. As poor Julian Assange tries to cope with the consequences of outing the most advanced and powerful military regime in the world stories are appearing about how ‘weird’ he is. I had previously cited one such article which i found persuasive but now I’m beginning to wonder…
It seems entirely predictable to me that anyone daring to expose damning military secrets pertaining to the United States’s disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would be subjected to severe ‘demonization’ as a first step toward damaging his credibility. After posting 77,000 classified Pentagon documents on the Afghan conflict on his website three months ago, Assange has now posted 391,832 secret documents on the Iraqi war. His critics say that he has endangered the lives of many secret intelligence sources (compare their numbers to the number of lives lost in both wars and let’s see if there’s still a serious complaint here) and are withdrawing support from him. We are told that he’s imperious, erratic and delusional, none of these are crimes mind you, and that he may have also molested two women in Sweden. Assange maintains that the sex was consensual.
Since posting the incriminating documents poor Assange has been forced to move from country to country looking for a safe haven without much luck. According to the New York Times article which provoked the above tweet:
Underlying Mr. Assange’s anxieties is deep uncertainty about what the United States and its allies may do next. Pentagon and Justice department officials have said they are weighing his actions under the 1917 Espionage Act. They have demanded that Mr. Assange “return” all government documents in his possession, undertake not to publish any new ones and not “solicit” further American materials.
Mr. Assange has responded by going on the run, but has found no refuge. Amid the Afghan documents controversy, he flew to Sweden, seeking a residence permit and protection under that country’s broad press freedoms. His initial welcome was euphoric.
“They called me the James Bond of journalism,” he recalled wryly. “It got me a lot of fans, and some of them ended up causing me a bit of trouble.”
Within days, his liaisons with two Swedish women led to an arrest warrant on charges of rape and molestation. Karin Rosander, a spokesperson for the prosecutor, said last week that the police were continuing to investigate.
In late September, he left Stockholm for Berlin. A bag he checked on the almost empty flight disappeared, with three encrypted laptops. It has not resurfaced; Mr. Assange suspects it was intercepted.
Things are so desperate that Assange jokes that he’s beginning to look at going to prison as the safest option open to him:
“When it comes to the point where you occasionally look forward to being in prison on the basis that you might be able to spend a day reading a book, the realization dawns that perhaps the situation has become a little more stressful than you would like,” he said over the London lunch.
I wonder whether our kindly hotelier Butch Stewart might be persuaded to offer Mr. Assange an extended vacation at Hedonism 1, 2 or 3, along with the Chilean miners to whom he so thoughtfully extended such an invitation. Or perhaps a shack on Wicky Wacky Beach could be made availabe? We could rename it Wikileaki Beach and take cruiseship passengers there for years to come. But then again would we have the balls to stand up to Uncle Sam? I think not. Methinks Julian had better start brushing up his Spanish as the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the feisty Hugo Chavez may be his best bet. He better take up he money, like Matilda, and run Venezuela…