Monday, December 20, 2010

The Wikileak is Now on the Other Foot

From Lorne Gunter's piece in The National Post comes this "shooting fish in a barrel" slam on Julian Assange, who is upset about details of the Swedish rape allegations being "wikileaked." (Can you believe it?)

Hmm, let’s torture all the clichés up front: People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones; those who live by the sword, die by the sword; the shoe is on the other foot; hoist on his own petard.

Friday, Britain’s Guardian newspaper released details from confidential Swedish police files that detail the evidence behind rape charges two Swedish women have levelled WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and get this: Assange and his lawyers are outraged.

As the New York Daily News said of the master leaker and his legal team, “Irony is not their strong suit.”

That’s putting it mildly.

Bjorn Hurtig, Assange’s Swedish lawyer, reacted “It is with great concern that I hear about this because it puts Julian and his defence in a bad position.” He added “I do not like the idea that Julian may be forced into a trial in the media … I do not know who has given these documents to the media, but the purpose can only be one thing – trying to make Julian look bad.”

Seriously!? How can anyone connected with a man who has become famous from leaking confidential government documents intended to fry people in the media and make whole governments look bad actually have the audacity to say it’s unfair that documents about him be leaked?

And then to compound the hypocrisy, Assange’s lawyers and supporters are said to be shocked because the Guardian was one of the three media sources Assange made most of his leaks to. Look, if you marry a woman who was divorced by her first husband because she cheated on him with you, you can’t claim to be genuinely surprised if she later cheats on you with someone else. It’s the nature of the beast. Indeed, the Guardian is merely being professional in reporting what it was given in confidence by all sources in this case. Undoubtedly, the editors discussed the possibility that Assange would stop using them for his leaks if they reported the details of his confidential police file, but they were right not to play favourites.

As for the allegation that someone leaked these files to make Assange look bad: Duh.

Cliche alert! - What is good for the goose is good for the gander. All is fair in love as well as war.

All I can say is "Good for The Guardian." (Now there is a sentence I never thought I'd ever write!). If there were any justice in the world, not one word or action of Julian Assange's past life would remain private or hidden from public view now. Nothing.


AlfC said...

He once said in a TED interview (available online) that there are legitimate secrets, like your medical records, and I would add personal information or judiciary case information about peoples personal lives. He let leak government information only, not a bit of personal information. I think that there are no contradictions in his actions in this respect.

Craig Carter said...

Who is Julian Assange to decide all by himself what is private and what is not? Is he God? He is a left-wing, anti-American, anarchistic ego-manic. He can either abide by the law or else forfeit his right to be protected by the law but he can't have it both ways.

Daniel Lemire said...

(1) You cannot forfeit your right to be protected by the law. Mobsters, rapers and war criminals have lawyers. They routinely win their cases.

(2) Assange has not been charged, in any country. The only pending charge has to do with something that has been described as "minor rape" (having consenting sex without a condom) in Sweden. And it has nothing to do with the diplomatic cables. Note that if Assange is found guilty, he will merely have to pay a fine in Sweden (from what I could understand). While it might be morally serious offense... from a legal point of view, it is a very minor offense.

(3) Wikileaks has not been charged, in any country, of having broken the law.

(4) Whoever leaked the Sweden police record probably broke the Swedish law. I suspect that private Manning broke the American law by leaking the diplomatic cables, and I expect him to have no end of trouble. Similarly, I expect who ever leaked Assange's police report to be in trouble. At the very least, this calls into question the integrity of the process followed by the Swedish police... the same way you should be wondering how an army private could possibly have free access to 250k diplomatic cables. I worked for the government. I even had sensible security clearance. And I never had access to so much stuff.

Have you stopped an considered how poorly protected these files were in the first place? If it was that serious, then why not protect them better?

Either they were not very confidential to beging with, or else, some higher-ups in Washington should lose their jobs. Since I have not seen anyone being fired over this, I suspect that these diplomatic cables are not considered very sensitive by the American government.

(5) The Guardian did not break the law by publishing this police report. Nor did they break the law when they published the diplomatic cables. Nor did Wikileaks break the law by publication the diplomatic cables.

(6) There is a difference between the people and whoever is running the country where these people are living. There is no evidence that Assange is anti-american. He might be opposing those currently in power by revealing these leaks, but so is the The Gardian, Le Monde and the New York Times.

(7) Assange's lawyers are playing a game, like all lawyers. They will use this leak to question Sweden. That's their job. I have checked the content of this police report. In the worse case, you can conclude that Assange is an abusive jerk. Nothing he has done would be illegal in the USA or Canada, or pretty much anywhere in the world. But he does look like an unpleasant character, from this report.

So what? Being a jerk is no crime.

(I know an American president who got sex out of young ladies working for him a the white house. You know who I mean... so what?)

AlfC said...

Craig Carter,
He is nobody to decide what is private and what not, you are correct. I am saying that he is consistent/coherent in what he does/say. So there is no irony or cosmic justice in your posting.