I've mentioned a couple of times that I'm a moderately dedicated blood donor. I've lost track of the precise number, but I know it's over seven gallons -- somewhere around 60 donations. (That reminds me -- I probably ought to swing by and get tapped today.) One of the worst things about it is when it's time to remove the bandage from the puncture -- that can hurt. Especially when your arms are as hairy as mine. (My best friend has it even worse, and he's gaining on me for donation totals.) Years ago I got the bright idea of shaving my elbow the morning I donate, and sometimes even remember to do it. But regardless, I've found that the best way to deal with the whole thing is to just rip the bandage off quickly and get it over with.
I was reminded of that when I was considering the whole Julian Assange mess. Several years ago, he knew that he would end up confronting the United States government -- so he planned for it. He assembled a bunch of highly-sensitive and very secret documents and put them into a single huge file. Then he published a highly-encrypted version of the file on the internet. His plan? Blackmail.
Simply put, he said that if anything too untoward should happen to him, he had made numerous arrangements to release the password for that "insurance" file. It's already been downloaded by lots of people (I think I might have even grabbed a copy, out of morbid curiosity), so all it takes is for the password to get out to one person interested in releasing the information. It's extortion, plain and simple: we interfere with him too much, and he'll reveal all this classified information.
I say screw it. I say call the little shit's bluff. Because whatever harm might be inflicted by the documents he's stolen (or, to be technical, solicited being stolen and used for his own selfish purposes) cannot possibly be as damaging as the fact that a single individual can successfully blackmail an entire nation.
Further, should he be successful in using this threat, what's to keep him from using it in other ways? What's to discourage others from trying the same tactic? I have a bit of Nordic ancestry; I know full well the truth of "once you pay the Dane-Geld, you never get rid of the Dane!"
Julian Assange thinks he's a big shot. He's an annoying little zit, who needs to be popped. He thinks he's big enough and powerful enough to go toe-to-toe with the United States government, and bend us to his will. He thinks he can impose his ideas and ideals and principles on us, and thinks that blackmail can achieve it.
He needs to be proven wrong. And he needs to be proven wrong so decisively that he will serve as an abject example to others who might wish to emulate him -- using extortion and blackmail and coercion to sway a government -- especially a sovereign democratic republic of which he is not even a citizen.
Julian Assange thinks himself the equivalent of the head of a nation-state, and of WikiLeaks as his private espionage and intelligence service. He needs to be shown just how wrong he is.