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Update to the Wikileaks rape story, and why it’s important

29 August 2010

Summary:  More about this important story, one that deserves your attention.  If it’s a covert op, it’s working.  Links to other posts in this series appear at the end.

Contents

  1. Why it’s important
  2. Latest news
  3. If it’s a covert op, it’s working
  4. Another motive for the possible covert op against Julian Assange
  5. Another perspective
  6. For more information
  7. Afterword and contact info

(1)  Why it’s important

This story may (perhaps) may have two effects.  First, covert ops lose much of their effectiveness when seen so that they produce mostly blowback.  If evidence emerges showing this was a covert op, we may become more aware — after generations of complacency.  This would make future covert ops more difficult.

Second, Wikileaks might become a defining symbol of the age.  If it’s not broken first.  Our government’s diminished ability to keep secrets could accelerates the Decline of the State, as described by Martin van Creveld.  Can the national security State survive daylight?

(2)  Latest news

(a)  Status of the investigation.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange no longer faces sex abuse charges in Sweden after a prosecutor decided Wednesday to investigate only one of two complaints against him, and not as a sexual offense … molestation is not a sex crime under Swedish law, said Karin Rosander, a spokeswoman for the Swedish Prosecution Authority. It covers a wide range of offenses, including reckless conduct or inappropriate physical contact with another adult, and can result in fines or up to one year in prison.   {AP}

(b)  The prominent attorney hired by the women, Claes Borgstroem, earns his pay by keeping the heat on Assange.

“I have appealed the decision by the prosecutor I have asked a higher ranked, special department in the prosecution’s office of Sweden to reconsider the (prosecutor’s) decision {not to prosecute for rape}.”  {AFP}

Update:  “The lawyer for both women appealed, asking for the rape charge to be reinstated and the molestation charge to be upgraded to include a sexual component.” {CNN}

(3)  If a covert op, it’s working

News stories about the incident often describe it as a bungled op (if it was one).  Wrong.  It’s diverted the attention of Wikileaks’ leadership, sown dissention in their ranks, and tarnished their reputation.  The mutterings against Wikileads are muted in the mainstream news media, but appear openly on the fringes.

Smears are among the most effect info ops, because dirt sticks.  No matter how accurate.  As seen in their stories.

(a)  “Is WikiLeaks Too Full of Itself?“, Mark Hosenball, blog of Newsweek, 26 August 2010 — Excerpt:

The second recent development, which is already causing some of WikiLeaks’ own loyal supports to question whether the group is its own worst enemy is, not surprisingly, the widely publicized sexual-misconduct investigation of Assange in Sweden. WikiLeaks’ latest tweet on that subject (at the time this story was written) portrays the most recent developments in the investigation in the most favorable light possible: “WikiLeaks founder cleared of sex allegations”, AP

The reality, however, as the wire service story makes clear, and as Declassified reported in greater detail earlier on Wednesday, is that while Swedish prosecutors have indeed terminated an investigation that resulted in a warrant for Assange’s arrest in connection with an allegation of rape being issued and then quickly canceled, a Swedish prosecutor is still investigating Assange in connection to an allegation of “molestation” and has determined that there is sufficient reason to order police to interrogate Assange about the allegations.

Most of Assange’s public responses to the Swedish investigation have been conspiracy-mongering and bluster.

…  Insiders say that some people affiliated with the website are already brainstorming whether there might be some way to persuade their front man to step aside, or failing that, even to oust him. Given that Assange is the person who put WikiLeaks on the map, and given that no one appears more entranced by the aura surrounding WikiLeaks than Assange himself, that could certainly cause the website considerable anguish about its own practice of “transparency,” “democracy,” and “integrity.”

So it cannot be any sort of covert op because — well, just because the journalists and pundits says it cannot be.  They follow the government’s lead on these things like trained seals performing in order to get another fish.

(b)   “Are Wikileaks Activists Finally Realizing Their Founder Is a Megalomaniac?“, Adrian Chen, Gawker, August 2010 — Excerpt:

As more details emerged, we learned that the only conspiracy was hatched by Julian Assange’s wandering dick against his better judgment. … The “dirty tricks” dissolved in the banalities of a botched tryst with what appear to be a couple of Swedish groupies. … The thing is:  Julian Assange is a megalomaniacal prick, and he knew very well what he was up to.  His Twitter-based conspiracy theories were — and always have been — a disingenuous ploy to drum up sympathy and dollars for Wikileaks. Assange is brilliant, and brilliant people don’t learn of rape charges against them, think “Was it the Pentagon, or those two chicks I was banging?” and choose the former. … Perhaps they realize that Wikileaks—at heart a very exciting journalistic innovation—is in danger of becoming a punchline: “The Julian Assange Show.”

Note the making stuff up about his affair with the two women, as in  “against his better judgment” and “megalomaniacal prick”.   The feminist “between consenting adults” disappears when looking at enemies of the State.  As for the “brilliant people don’t think … was it the Pentagon” — most people don’t have US Amy Counter-intelligence (and almost certainly other government agencies) declare your organization “a potential threat to the US Army” and discuss ways to destroy it (see “Wikileaks.org—An Online Reference to Foreign Intelligence Services, Insurgents, or Terrorist Groups?“, document on Wikileaks, dated 18 March 2008).

Note to Adrian Chen:  mild mannered boys become accountants; it takes a bit of megalomania to confront the full power of the US national security apparatus.

(4)  Another motive for the possible covert op against Julian Assange

Fortuitous timing of these accusations — for the US government.

According to several people who were at a gathering in the city shortly after he arrived, Mr. Assange said then that he regarded Sweden as the best refuge for him and WikiLeaks in the confrontation with the Pentagon and the White House over secret Afghan war documents that WikiLeaks posted on its Web site in late July, and thousands of others yet to be released.  But to secure a base here, he will need a residence permit, a bid that could be complicated if he has to fight accusations of sexual improprieties.  {New York Times}

Update from Dow Jones:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has applied for residency in Sweden, the Swedish Migration Board said Tuesday, even as police questioned him over allegations that he molested two Swedish women.  “He has applied for residency but the application is still being processed,” spokeswoman Bodil Sunden said.

Assange is expected to try to register WikiLeaks as a media organization in Sweden which would protect the anonymity of the whistleblower site’s sources and prevent them from being prosecuted.  Martin Valfridsson, a spokesman for Sweden’s Ministry of Justice, said the site would have to be registered with the Swedish Radio and TV Authority and a responsible publisher appointed.  “The publisher needs to be a physical person who is a permanent resident of Sweden,” Valfridsson said.

(5)  Another perspective

Excerpt from “Assange: The Amazing Adventures of Captain Neo in Blonde Land“, Isrrael Shamir and Paul Bennett, Counterpunch, 27 August 2010:

By noon, the charges were already dropped, and he was free to be defamed from one end of Sweden to the other, not to mention the countless websites. It’s a simple system: the websites show the headlines, and the headlines report the web gossip. It’s Character Assassination 101, but why in Sweden of all places couldn’t the dirty tricks department make the accusations stick?

… The complaint was lodged by a radical feminist Anna Ardin, 30, a one-time intern in the Swedish Foreign Service. She’s spokeswoman for Broderskapsrörelsen, the liberation theology-like Christian organization affiliated with Sweden’s Social Democratic Party. … Ardin has written and published on her blog a “revenge instruction”, describing how to commit a complete character assassination to legally destroy a person who “should be punished for what he did”. If the offence was of a sexual nature, the revenge also must also be sex-related, she wrote. Ardin was involved in Gender Studies in Uppsala University, in charge of gender equality in the Students’ Union, a junior inquisitor of sorts.  In other words, she was perfect for the job. In order to frame Julian in Singapore, they would have to fit him up with drugs.

To frame Julian in England, they might have to report he had skinned and roasted cats or at least dumped a kitten in a trash bin. To hang a frame on Julian in Sweden only required reporting sex between consenting adults.

Update:  For a masterful summary see “Wikileaks, Assange, and the Strange Swedish Accusations” by James Fallows at the Atlantic.

(6)  Other posts about this story

(1)  Sad news about the CIA – Underestimating the skill of the government at covert ops?
(2)  The full story of the rape charges against Julian Assange of Wikileaks, a possible covert op.
(4)  New and strange developments in the prosecution of Julian Assange (Wikileaks) – New but not more enlightening.

Also — see these FM reference pages:

(7)  Afterword and contact info

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