06 December 2010

More on Julian Assange and Wikileaks: The Sarah Palin View...

Julian Assange has certainly found more fame than he may have craved in developing Wikileaks into a whistleblower of world renown. The recent release of some 250,000 US diplomatic cables has intensified the hunt for Assange and the "need" to bring him to justice. Assange has some serious legal problems aside from the alleged rape and sexual molestation of which he stands accused of committing in Sweden. There are quite a number of states looking to prosecute him for his part in the publication of the "illegally" obtained diplomatic cables.

Australia is clearly looking to build a case against Assange. However, it would seem that the US is also exploring what options it has in making the case and prosecuting Assange in the US. This has obviously brought the ranting and railing conservative right out. Among them is the former Vice-Presidential candidate from the Grand Old Party (GOP), Sarah Palin. The fact that some might consider her a legitimate contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 is scary enough, but the latest outburst is indicative as to what lengths this woman will go to try and capitalise on conservative popular opinion. It is also indicative of the fact that she really does not understand the difference between Osama bin Laden and Julian Assange. It is pretty clear that she obviously missed the advocacy class on why not to use exaggeration.

Sarah Palin in her infinite wisdom has taken to Facebook to condemn Assange for his role in releasing to the world some 250,000 confidential and secret diplomatic cables. Fair enough! There are good arguments to be made that it was irresponsible for Assange to publish via Wikileaks. However, Palin was not satisfied stopping there. In order to really ratchet-up the rhetoric she decided to add that Assnage should be hunted down like Osama bin Laden.

Well, after ten years of searching the US has not found or been able to confirm that it has killed bin Laden. So, it would seem that Assange really need not fear the US if it was to mount a similar "search and destroy" campaign that has been mounted for bin Laden. Although, on a more serious note, it would appear that all those who need to know where Assange is, in fact know where he is. It would also appear that an arrest is not that far away once the arrest warrant(s) are in order, assuming Assange decides to surrender to authorities and not seek political asylum in a country favourable to that proposition, Switzerland perhaps.

To further reinforce her point she suggested that Assange is not a journalist in any shape or form and compared this lack of journalistic skill to the current editor of al-Qaeda's English-language magazine, Inspire. Further intensifying the rhetoric saw Assange labeled as anti-American and with blood on his hands.

In any event, this was a political point scoring opportunity that was more about Palin slamming the White House and President Obama by implying that they were complicit in Assange's Wikileaks work because they have not been serious in hunting him down or arresting him.

Yet, this generally fits into the overall rhetoric of US politics with recent claims seeking to force the US government to declare Wikileaks a terrorist organisation. A whistleblower as a terrorist organisation, what an interesting development. However, it is symptomatic of the way the world is post 9/11. Anything that annoys us or possible effects many as opposed to a few is almost immediately labeled a terrorist organisation. I wonder what the Tea Party might need to do to be labeled a terrorist organisation? What about the Republicans or the Democrats?

However, the US is looking to invoke the Espionage Act with a view to criminal prosecution. And, it is imperative in the US view that they do this one by the numbers, and make the case bullet-proof.

The case to shut down sites that release confidential documents needs to be assessed on a merits basis. The reality is that releasing secret or confidential information can always be criminalised, but at what cost?

The question that must be answered here was whether there was any value in the releasing of these particular diplomatic cables? Simply, does the public need to know outweigh the need to maintain confidentiality?

Ho hum...


Anonymous said...

Further background re Geneva police, relevant to case of Col. Mohamed Elghanam.

Swiss police/Algeria espionage

An Espionage Affair With Worldwide Consequences
In connection with this Swiss espionage affair, we would also like to draw attention to the repeated persecution of relatives. Many of the individuals on ...
www.algeria-watch.org/en/aw/espionage_affair.htm - Cached - Similar

The Algeria Watch article (above) is an oldie but goodie. It's a glimpse into Swiss police activities.

Notice that Algerian agents were operating inside Switzerland, apparently with consent of Geneva police officer Leon Jobe, who was also passing them dubious information through his Algerian contact. As you know, we believe Egyptian agents were/are working against Col. Dr. Mohamed Elghanam inside Switzerland (in concert with Swiss intelligence).

The FIS referred to was an Algerian Islamist political party, originally so popular in Algeria that the military government cancelled the elections planned for 1992, after which the FIS became militant.

Below is a NY Times short version, stating that Leon Jobe kept his position in Geneva Police in 1998. Perhaps he is still operating.


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Swiss Spy Identified 'Militants' For Algeria
Published: February 08, 1998
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland — While Leon Jobe, a Swiss police officer, was investigating possible arms smuggling by Islamic militants to Algeria in 1994, he put together lists of suspects and turned over hundreds of names to Algerian officials.
The Algerian Government arrested, jailed and tortured at least 4 people on the list when they returned to Algeria, said a lawyer for 14 Algerians who sued Mr. Jobe. The list has also been linked to the death of an Algerian university professor.
For his actions, Mr. Jobe was convicted in a rare Swiss espionage case and given an 18-month suspended sentence. He is back on the Geneva police force.
With newspapers carrying daily reports of horrific killings in the Algerian Government's battle with Islamic militants, the lists' disclosure has left many Algerians here living in fear. One Algerian man who was arrested back home pleaded in an interview here: ''Please only call me Mr. X. There are others at home who would suffer.''

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A five-judge court here in Lausanne found that the 34-year-old man's arrest, jailing and harsh treatment in Algeria resulted from his appearing on Mr. Jobe's secret list.
Mr. Jobe ''told me as he was putting me on the plane, 'I'm sending you back so the authorities will cut your throat,' '' the man recalled. He was arrested when he arrived in Algiers, imprisoned and tortured for five days, he said.
He was released from jail by a sympathetic police officer, he said, and spent more than a year sleeping every two or three nights in a different place. He kept away from his family, including seven brothers, so he would not endanger them. He eventually managed to get to Italy, then returned to Switzerland, where he has received political asylum.
Insisting on meeting in a public place, he shyly offered a note from his psychiatrist barring discussion of specifics of his torture. He is trying to rebuild his life, working as a chocolate maker. But he acknowledged, ''I'm afraid when I get up to go to work in the morning.''
During the inquiry by Mr. Jobe into suspected weapons trafficking from the Czech Republic through Switzerland to Islamic militants in Algeria, he linked up with Abelkader Hebri, named in the lawsuit as an informant. They began collecting the names of people, many of whom were men who worshiped at Geneva's mosque. Between 300 and 400 names were listed, including those of people who say they are apolitical and have never sympathized with Islamic militants
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Rob Baiton said...

@ Anonymous...

This went into the spam file.

And, to be honest, it looks like spam. However, maybe someone would like to read the links provided.

Maybe if you made your comment more content relevant to the blog post you are commenting on, then this would work better for you.

Multibrand said...

Hi Rob,

The Wikileaks case is getting more and more interesting every day.
I am very interested in knowing the leaks about Indonesia.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Harry...

It is!

The Indonesian cables should be an interesting read. This would be particularly so if there is some juicy tidbits like "SBY prefers to sing than to lead!"

Or, "SBY: can't sing, can't dance, can't lead, all round waste of time, effort, and space. Indonesians are holding out to 2014 believing something is better just around the corner!"

Or, despite public protestations to the contrary, SBY has performed poorly on key election promises relating to corruption and terror."

Or "the recent good results on the elimination of terrorists is really nothing more than elements of the national police and military cleaning house and tidying up some 'loose' ends!"

Or cables along those lines.

Rob Baiton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.