Hogan's Alley

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Julian Assange - Follow-up Assessment

Julian Assange has been arrested in London on Swedish warrants accusing him of rape or sexual misconduct.  This is beside the point.  If he is a scumbag, so be it.  Let him get the appropriate punishment.  Nothing in this case will halt his patently anti-American activities via the internet.

In a recent piece in Slate, Christopher Hitchens agrees that this arrest has the wiff of being trumped up.  But, at the same time he urges Mr. Assange to turn himself in to face whatever the consequences of his publication of confidential documents will be.  As Hitch points out, Assange's entire enterprise is a massive act of sabotage and civil disobediance, done in furtherance of his stated opposition to U.S. actions in the middle east and elsewhere.  A brave man with his convictions would want to have the opportunity to publicly hold the U.S. accountable in a court of law.  Mr. Assange shows no signs of such fortitude.

Hitchens also links to a NY Times piece by the inestimable John Burns which shows Assange to be more megalomaniac than freedom's patriot.  As to his motives, Burns reports the following, 
Mr. Assange’s detractors also accuse him of pursuing a vendetta against the United States. In London, Mr. Assange said America was an increasingly militarized society and a threat to democracy. Moreover, he said, “we have been attacked by the United States, so we are forced into a position where we must defend ourselves.” 

Ironically, as Hitchens further notes, sides appear to have switched on both the left and the right regarding exposure of secrets.  Those who supported the leak of Valerie Plame's involvement in her husband's selection to look for Iraqi attempts to secure uranium are now, by and large, wishing for Assange's head.  A similar flip is clearly visible on the left.  As Hitchens aptly puts it:

As for the public's right to know and the accountability of our covert or confidential agencies, it is only a short time since the entire American liberal consensus was witlessly applauding a clumsy and fruitless prosecution, directed entirely at the hopelessly overdramatized exposure of a relatively minor CIA official, married to a monster of conceit who makes Assange look bashful. It then turned out that Valerie Plame's job description had been made public by Robert Novak and Richard Armitage, who also had in common with Assange a rooted opposition to the administration's Iraq policy. Elements of the left and the right appear to have switched positions on full disclosure since then.

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