Julian Assange and Conspiracy Theory

I’m not sure what to think about Wikileaks. I know that they make it much harder for countries to fight wars and conduct realpolitick diplomacy, but I’m not sure that that’s always a bad thing.

Sometimes it is. Injudicious leaks jeopardize lives; they are also open to manipulation. I keep thinking about the secret meetings between Gerry Adams and Margaret Thatcher’s government–had either side been exposed, their eventual accord would have been delayed by years (not to mention that Adams might have been killed). And what if Wikileaks’ sources are feeding them stuff selectively, with a specific agenda in mind, just like they feed stuff to friendly reporters at Fox News and the New York Times? These are real worries. Still, sometimes leaks are the only recourse that a free society has against a government, or a faction in a government, that’s out of control. How are elections going to change anything if the government chooses the message the voters receive? We’re a better country for having had a Daniel Ellsberg, even if he did make us look bad.

A couple of weeks ago, I watched a rerun of an old Law & Order episode in which some of the action took place at a support group for sex offenders. “One way of managing your compulsions,” the counselor advised them, “Is to imagine that your bad thoughts are being broadcast out loud, that everyone around you can hear them.” I imagine that’s something that therapists really say; it’s advice that applies to anyone who’s in a position to abuse their power and inflict terrible harm. The fear of being found out–of whistle blowers–probably discourages many wicked thoughts from ever being spoken out loud. Thoughts that aren’t communicated (“Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”) are that much less likely to be actualized.

I read Assange’s articles on conspiracy, terror, and governance and though they’re annoyingly abstract and jargony they do make a kind of intuitive sense. And then there’s this four-year-old blog post, headlined “The non linear effects of leaks on unjust systems of governance”:

The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. This must result in minimization of efficient internal communications mechanisms (an increase in cognitive “secrecy tax”) and consequent system-wide cognitive decline resulting in decreased ability to hold onto power as the environment demands adaption.

Hence in a world where leaking is easy, secretive or unjust systems are nonlinearly hit relative to open, just systems. Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.

Only revealed injustice can be answered; for man to do anything intelligent he has to know what’s actually going on.

Part of what’s interesting to me about this newest round of leaks is how witty and trenchant some of the diplomatic posts turn out to be–it’s kind of a relief to know that these guys are as edgy as they are, even when they’re wrong, or when they’re talking about people that a great democracy shouldn’t exactly want to have on its team. Quentin Hardy at Forbes argues that their aggregate (if unintended) effect is to make America look good.

Assange is an egomaniac and a dangerous man, but I’d rather have him than totalitarianism. Sarah Palin’s take on the issue–that what matters isn’t what’s in the leaks but the leaks themselves–that, had Obama not been so incompetent and feckless, he would have brought “diplomatic pressure….to bear on NATO, EU, and other allies to disrupt Wikileaks’ technical infrastructure” speaks for itself, no less than Jeffrey Kuhner’s far more intemperate call for Assange’s assassination.

I’ve been looking at what they’re saying about Assange on the Conspiracist websites. A lot of them are so angry at his stance on 9/11 that they’ve convinced themselves that he’s an agent of disinformation. Last summer he told the Belfast Telegraph that “I believe in facts about conspiracies…..Any time people with power plan in secret, they are conducting a conspiracy. So there are conspiracies everywhere. There are also crazed conspiracy theories. It’s important not to confuse these two. Generally, when there’s enough facts about a conspiracy we simply call this news.”

What about 9/11? he was asked.

“I’m constantly annoyed that people are distracted by false conspiracies such as 9/11, when all around we provide evidence of real conspiracies, for war or mass financial fraud.”

And what about the Bilderberg conference?

“That is vaguely conspiratorial, in a networking sense. We have published their meeting notes.”

8 thoughts on “Julian Assange and Conspiracy Theory

  1. Interesting conspiracy tidbits on the Swedish “rape” charges –

    1. The original prosecutor in charge, Eva Finné, dropped the charges the same week they were made and stated they were groundless.

    2. The two women who accused Assange know each other.

    3. Eva Finné was removed from the case by Claes Borgström and a new prosecutor, Marianne Ny, was appointed. Her first act was to reinstate the charges.

    4. Claes Borgström is a former politician. His law partner is Thomas Bodström. Thomas Bodström is Sweden’s former Minister of Justice.

    5. Thomas Bodström is currently in the USA. One could assume he is communicating and coordinating things with his partner back in Sweden.

    6. It is Swedish protocol not to release the names of people accused of rape until after a conviction. The Swedish prosecutors office claims they have “no idea” how Assange’s name was leaked.

    7. Normally Swedish media will not publish an accused’s name until after a conviction. Swedish media is controlled by a single ruling class family named Bonnier who works closely with the local politicians to protect their media monopoly.

    8. Claes Borgström’s two sisters, Annette Kullenberg and Kerstin Vinterhed, both work for Bonnier family newspapers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Bodstr%C3%B6m

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claes_Borgstr%C3%B6m

    http://www.aklagare.se/Media/Nyheter/Assange-arendet-fragor-och-svar/

    (In Swedish – the Swedish justice department says they did not release Assange’s name and try to explain why Eva Finné was removed)

  2. We all need a place for private and confidential communication. Facebook is an excellent example. There are things which should not be said on facebook, things which should be said privately, and things said that we all enjoy with the varied comments that follow. This is the nature of communication. Our society will suffer when the confidentiality of the counselor, the lawyer and the priest are open for public scrutiny. This is no less true for governments. But who shall decide?

    Art makes a very valid point. Do we want Wikileaks choosing which communications shall remain private? In the end I believe we will find no one whose slate is so clean that they are qualified to decide. This makes the role of whistle blower no less important, but perhaps the best method is to leave the whistle blowing up to the insider and eliminate the role of the surrogate. Yes the inside needs help, and our press does a fairly good job of this, but the new business of leaking for “hits” on websites will end in disaster, damaging the personal privacy that I treasure, and I imagine Presidents do as well.

  3. http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/attytood/At_least_not_quite_as_many_people_died_when_Obama_lied.html

    Will Bunch learned from the latest batch of leaks that President Obama lied to his face about legal accountability for torture. He didn’t seem to happy about that.

    We need more journalists with a perspective like Bunch’s, rather than like Wolf Blitzer who was outraged that all this doesn’t remain secret from him.

    As almost always on such matters, my views on the Wikileaks are almost in complete harmony with Glenn Greenwald’s, which leaves me with little motivation to blog anything about it since he’s already covered the issue in a manner superior to anything I could add.

    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/

  4. Great read Mr. Goldwag. How do I schedule an interview with you? I’m an editor at XXL magazine and I would love to pick your brain on the Illuminati.

  5. What is worse?

    1. A private organization which obtains and releases “secret” government documents that are embarrassing because they reveal the unvarnished evaluations made by our government employees about all sorts of matters OR

    2. A government which uses secrecy and deception to send tens of thousands of American men and women to fight wars based upon deliberate lies and misrepresentations?

  6. Ola! Arthurgoldwag,
    Thanks you for your post, Hey all !

    So Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, been pissing off the Pentagon and the CIA rather ALOT this past month… suddenly he is a rapist and wanted in Sweden.
    Now i’m not saying he is innocent and it’s another conspiracy theory but still… the timing is quite interesting.
    Regards

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