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Publish And Be Damned

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.


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Comments (28)

"Further, should he be s... (Below threshold)
Oyster:

"Further, should he be successful in using this threat, what's to keep him from using it in other ways?"

What's to keep him from releasing it anyway? I'll tell you what - he not a believer. If he truly was a believer in what he does, he would just release it all and stay anonymous. But he's not. He's slime. He can't be trusted for anything at all. Everytime he opens his mouth he's lying about it. He loves the notoriety he's getting. All we have to do is sit back and wait for Russia or China or Iran or someone else to off him when he goes a step too far.

The little twit couldn't ev... (Below threshold)
mpw280:

The little twit couldn't even go about fathering a child in the proper manner. He gets some girl of easy morals and then trys to get her pregs on the sly, what is with that. As for going toe to toe, this is quite possibly one of the best occasions for a snatch, pop and bury deep of all times. mpw

"As for going toe to toe, t... (Below threshold)
Upset Old Guy:

"As for going toe to toe, this is quite possibly one of the best occasions for a snatch, pop and bury deep of all times. mpw"

mpw, too much like the old KGB for my tastes. Besides, there has to be enough of these disappearances for people to notice that people are disappearing.

Conversely, when you turn someone into a headline everyone notices right away.

Wouldn't you say he's black... (Below threshold)
Donna:

Wouldn't you say he's blackmailing ALL gov'ts, not just the USA? That's how I took it to mean. He is losing a lot of financial backing. Paypal, Visa, M-C all stopped services to him, the Swedish gov't froze his bank account of $41k, and he has, what, two people, working Wikileaks.ch now? I agree, call his bluff, and let chips fall where they may....and take control. But I don't see Obama authorizing ANYTHING. He's the same man who won't help citizens control the border and this past weekend, a rancher paid the price for protecting his ranch down in TX. And you think this pres. will do something about John A.? No way. I also heard that they say he hasn't broken any laws?? I disagree.

Donna, right now my governm... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Donna, right now my government is all I care about. Plus we are a superpower and have much behind the scenes influence all over the world.

Assuange is a dunce of the highest order. ww

Maybe one of his arteries s... (Below threshold)
Roy:

Maybe one of his arteries should spring a leak.

"once you pay the Dane-Geld... (Below threshold)

"once you pay the Dane-Geld, you never get rid of the Dane!"

True. Therefore, isn't just better all around if the Dane suddenly disappears with no need for publishing?

http://libertyatstake.blogspot.com
"Because the Only Good Progressive is a Failed Progressive"

Funny thing about that "ins... (Below threshold)
John S:

Funny thing about that "insurance" file: Some say the best military computers would need a million years to break the code. I'm guessing about 10 minutes of skillful torture would retrieve the password from that fair-haired priss. Or alternately, if Assange and everyone else connected with Wikileaks were to suddenly disappear, all those downloaded files would remain encrypted forever.

If America is the Great Satan, maybe it's time to act like one.

I think it would be funnier... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

I think it would be funnier then hell if the same people who developed the Stuxnet Virus copied Asshats encrypted document and added a little surprise. The moment you enter the secret password, your hard drive gets fried.

Umbrella him and his little... (Below threshold)
Constitution First:

Umbrella him and his little rat-pack.

Who made these quo... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Who made these quotes Julian Assange, Jay Tea or Pat Robertson ?

"In P. J. O'Rourke's classic treatise on the American government, "Parliament Of Whores," he briefly considers abolishing the State Department, but relents -- he says, as I recall (my copy's on loan right now), "it gives us a place to stick our overeducated Ivy League twits."

"I think I'm starting to reconsider the utility of that particular agency."

"It's time for the State Department to get a thorough purging."


"that's all the proof I need that we need to fire every one of them, raze the building, and start from scratch."

"Be safer to have a total recall of nuts and raze the building with them in it, or as a life long democrat (and farmer) said this week about congress, we can pray for a nuclear bomb to land in the middle of it while in full session. There is no other hope with the current leadership."

actually, the last was from the appropriate named scrapiron.

Now, that someone has actually had the cheek to expose what our overeducated Ivy League twits who nominally work for us, actually think or write-I presume most of the documents referring to Israel were top secret and so could not be released- our most urgent priority is to hang the messenger -publish and perish=-for confirming what we suspected, and then return to the usual conservatiive/ wizbang line of bashing the State Department or advocating razing the building of Foggy Bottom.

<a href="http://www.huffing... (Below threshold)
warchild:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/08/mastercard-down-hacked-wikileaks-ddos_n_793625.html

Hackers took down mastercard.com looks like they also took down the Swedish prosecutor's website, www.aklagare.se. targeting Joe Liberman and Sarah palin next apparently.

He is a deranged attention ... (Below threshold)
GaryS:

He is a deranged attention whore. I'd say it's 99 percent certain that he will eventually release it all, but only after milking it for the attention his warped personality so craves. (Maybe somebody should talk to his twit of a mother to see what happened to him as a child.)

So, call his bluff, let him release it all, and let's get on with life while he finishes his descent into madness.

Jay, I should anticipate yo... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Jay, I should anticipate your logical rebuttal. You will likely say one is criticism, largely rhetorical and deserved the other is betraying state secrets. My point is not the logic-they may be two different things- but the enormous indignation you have for someone who unlike the private who may be breaking the law- by publishing them. In many cases, the New York Times, has already published them before they appeared on the WikLeaks site. The difficult question is what do we do with the Times? Isn't WikiLeaks just doing the same thing as they are?

He didn't think his clever ... (Below threshold)
cirby:

He didn't think his clever plan through.

Sure, having an "insurance file" of extremely embarrassing data, set to be released if something happens to him might be a good idea. You know, stuff on the US, and China, and Russia.

That is, if there weren't a whole bunch of people out there who hate all of those people, and who would get a giggle out of the release of such information.

So some guy from Unnamed African Country, or Thisweekovia, or the Duchy of Grand Fenwick gets it into their head that they'd like to see the heads of all of those governments angry at each other when negotiating a major trade pact - and offs Assange, in order to possibly make a few hundred thousand in the stock market or international currency manipulation.

Heck, for that matter, what's Soros doing? Hiring someone for a minor hit to make a few million in the currency market is probably not outside of his moral compass...

Steve, please go somewhere ... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Steve, please go somewhere else for attention.

The State Department has always been a compromised community and it is agreed upon that security of classified or top secret documents is more laxed in the State Department. However, we do need the department but obviously someone has to be over the security. ww

Jay, I should anticipate... (Below threshold)
Clancy:

Jay, I should anticipate your logical rebuttal...

Well, at least Crickmore acknowledges that he can't make a logical argument...

Jay, that's very decent of ... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

Jay, that's very decent of you to donate blood. Giving back to others is a great way to express our blessings.

Steve, the WikiLeaks thing ... (Below threshold)

Steve, the WikiLeaks thing is not a criticism of the State Department. It is an assault on the sovereignty of the United States. I'm giving up explaining how the two differ. You can't grasp it, that's your problem -- not mine.

J.

My son's pediatrician alway... (Below threshold)
J:

My son's pediatrician always applied a little gauze pad with a self-adhering ace bandage. They sell both at the drugstore for very little money. cut a short length of the ace bandage and have the nurse apply.

Jay, I nearly always agree ... (Below threshold)
Murgatroyd:

Jay, I nearly always agree with you. But on this one, God help me, I'm close to agreeing with Crickmore.

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.

Blackmail? Bullshit! Is it blackmail to post an "ARMED RESPONSE" sign outside your house to let prospective burglars know that they'll be very, very sorry if they act first and break into your house?

Assange is a contemptible weasel, and he is harming the interests of the United States. But lots of people overseas, and plenty of foreign governments, are harming the interests of the United States. (Some of us would even include our Beloved President on that list.)

Assange isn't a traitor and he isn't a spy; based on the supposed post-coitus audio tapes of the women who are accusing him of rape, I'm very skeptical of claims that he did anything illegal. He's done exactly what the New York Times has done: publish classified information that other people not under his control have illegally obtained and given to him. The U.S. did nothing when the Times revealed the highly classified SWIFT surveillance program and damaged the War on Terror, so I'd say that precedent is on Assange's side.

The big problem is this: Assange seems to have found a loophole. What he's doing is damaging to the United States, but it doesn't seem to be illegal under anyone's law, it isn't "terrorism" or "treason" or "espionage," and there doesn't seem to be a legal way to make him stop. I don't like that, but we really ought to face the facts. If we want to make him stop, we'll either have to modify international law and existing treaties, or else work "extra-legally" -- i.e., break the law by kidnapping or killing him.

If you're saying that the U.S. government should kill Assange -- a citizen of a non-belligerent foreign country -- to further its foreign policy objectives, then fine, go ahead and say it. But don't call what he's doing blackmail, because we'd be the ones acting without sanction of law, and he'd be trying to defend himself against fucking murderers.

If this information is out ... (Below threshold)
Les Nessman:

If this information is out there....then there is no way it is NOT getting published eventually. No matter what happens to this loser.

Declare WikiLeaks a terrori... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

Declare WikiLeaks a terrorist organization and target him whereever he goes. Drones can find him. Or pay someone in jail $10 and a pack of cigarettes to slit his throat. Works for me.

Declare WikiLeaks a terr... (Below threshold)
Murgatroyd:

Declare WikiLeaks a terrorist organization and target him whereever he goes. Drones can find him. Or pay someone in jail $10 and a pack of cigarettes to slit his throat. Works for me.

That's probably what will happen, if the Russian FSB or the Saudis don't beat us to it.

My objection above was to Jay complaining about Assange's blackmail:

"Hey, that's not fair, man! He pulled the pin on a grenade and now he's holding it, so I can't kill him without getting hurt myself!"

Murgatroyd, let me combine ... (Below threshold)

Murgatroyd, let me combine your metaphors here: what would you call it if you caught a burglar in your home, who then took out a grenade, pulled out the pin, and then threatened to let it go if you did anything to stop him -- including calling the cops?

That's blackmail right there.

Assange was the first actor here. The government didn't seek him out, he decided to challenge them. And he set up his dead-man switch before he did so.

J.

Murgatroyd, let me combi... (Below threshold)
Murgatroyd:

Murgatroyd, let me combine your metaphors here: what would you call it if you caught a burglar in your home, who then took out a grenade, pulled out the pin, and then threatened to let it go if you did anything to stop him -- including calling the cops?

I'd call it a Mexican standoff. I'd call it bloody stupid. I'd call it a combination of metaphors that shouldn't be combined. But I wouldn't call it blackmail.

Assange was the first actor here.

The flaw in your analogy is that nobody, so far, can point to anything that Assange did regarding the Wikileaks mess that was illegal under the laws of the United States, the laws of Australia (his native country), or international law. He was the first actor, but -- due to the loophole that the people who wrote the laws and treaties had never considered this situation -- what he did appears to be legal.

If we exercise an "extra-legal sanction" on Assange -- let's use the proper term, murder -- then how is that not an actual act of war against Australia? If we're allowed to kill him, then what's to prevent a foreign government from trying American officials in absentia for "crimes against humanity," convicting them, and sending assassins to execute them?

If you think it's OK to have an inmate shank Assange while he's in custody, then why aren't we justified in arresting Pinch Sulzberger and Bill Keller on trumped-up charges and offing them, too? The New York Times' publication of information about the SWIFT financial surveillance program has done at least as much damage as the Wikileaks files -- and on top of that, Sulzberger and Keller are American citizens and they committed their act in the United States, so they definitely are subject to U.S. law. But we didin't do a damned thing to them.

Assange is a dangerous fool, and release of the Wikileaks documents is harming American interests. I don't like it. But what can we do about it that is in keeping with the principles that we -- you and I and America -- supposedly espouse?

Please reconsider your position. Heck, as long as I'm asking, please come up with a magical solution in which the cure is not worse than the disease, and tell the rest of us.

As far as logic goes, no on... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

As far as logic goes, no one has attempted to answer my query what about the Times publisher, who are publishing most of this, before WikLeaks? What is the difference? I thought most of you were for the free flow of information a role traditionally reserved for our 'watchdog' free press. I suppose it is because the internet is inherently subversive, and free and democratic. You remember the Supreme Court ruling in favor of them on the Pentagon papers, don't you?

The homeless, upstart Assange's real offence as Jay implies, is his belief that because of the internet`s power, almost anyone can be a publisher, that the US control freak politicians haven't come to terms with; that a WikiLeaks site could expose secrets and and lies as well as the press. The citizen can return the favor of spying on its government, or holding our mandarians accountable, instead of the government just spying on its citizens and holding them accountable. That is why the political class desperately wants to break Assange and certainly not the Times who can be bent or 'bought' to decide that climategate is not an important enough public issue to publish its emails, while WikLeaks felt it was in the public interest, to do so.

And if Assange were a real "terrorist and enemy combatant" as the right hyperventilates would he turn himself with a lawyer at a London police station?
Hey, has anyone tried to request that Osama bin Laden do the same?

These secrets, how secret or important if three million people had access to them?

Jay, I think it's instructi... (Below threshold)
Murgatroyd:

Jay, I think it's instructive that when Harriette Wilson threatened to publish her memoirs and his letters to her, the Duke of Wellington responded with "Publish, and be damned!" But he didn't say, "Publish, and I'll have you arrested or killed!"

Rather than "blackmail," I think Assange's encrypted files are more like Lucy van Pelt's "gentle reminder" that actions can have consequences.

Unfortunately, Julian Assange seems to have gone Crazy Eddie on us -- a different sort of reminder that actions have consequences, and one that I think will catch up with him when the Wikileaks files cross the annoyance threshhold of a player in this game that pays less attention to the rules than we do.




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