To set the record straight, I’m not prone to conspiracy theories. President Obama was born in Hawaii, the US government does not have a secret stash of extraterrestrial corpses, Elvis is dead, and Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK all by himself. Still, some things are just too damn suspicious…
In a previous post, I wrote about the 1976 film, Network, and how its crazed network news anchor, Howard Beale, Mad Prophet of the Airwaves reminded me of some of today’s cable TV personalities. Back when the film was first released, it was considered a dark, comic satire of the confused nineteen seventies. It reflected the zeitgeist of the time, but was regarded as over the top, a caricature, an exaggeration on steroids of our increasingly trivializing culture. We were becoming gossipy, voyeuristic, and vapid. Viewed today, however, the film seems barely over the top. In some ways we have have far surpassed Paddy Chayefsky’s dystopian visions. As time passes, we begin to see that his darkest visions are not imaginary at all.
The current world-wide frenzy over WikiLeaks’ diplomatic cables exposure and the efforts brings to mind the darkest element of the film. In one of his broadcasts, Beale reveals the impending merge of his own network with an international conglomerate. While his network’s executives were perfectly happy to allow Beale’s rants to go out on the airwaves completely uncensored in the past due to his spectacular ratings, there was something about this particular story that made them change course abruptly and get Beale under control, not matter what happened to his ratings and their profits.
In more recent times, while politicians publicly decried WikiLeaks’ previous exposures of military secrets regarding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, some even calling for his arrest or assassination, no action was actually taken. In general, while there are laws that apply to those with secret and top secret clearances that make it a crime to reveal state secrets, they have not been applicable to journalists and media outlets who publish those secrets. Hence, the US soldier who provided secret documents to WikiLeaks faces prosecution, but the various news outlets who published those documents, including Wikileaks have not been prosecuted.
All that has suddenly changed. In the wake of the diplomatic cable leaks, the full force of law enforcement agencies from around the world, as well as the power and influence of multi-national corporations have been brought to bear on Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange. The WikiLeaks website, and its mirrors around the world, have been subjected to massive denial-of-service attacks. Amazon Web Services kicked them off their servers, EveryDNS, their name services provider, was also targeted for denial-of-service attacks and was forced to drop WikiLeaks. Finally, MasterCard and PayPal both suspended processing donations for the non-profit organization that supports WikiLeaks. Throughout all this, WikiLeaks has managed to “stay on the air.”
These major efforts to cripple and shut down WikiLeaks have been conducted by non-governmental commercial entities, at least based on what is publicly known. The National Security Agency no doubt has the capability to stage denial-of-service attacks, but as of yet, they’re not talking and nobody’s leaking.
While the private sector leads the attack, governments around the world have been struggling to devise interpretations of their laws and definitions of jurisdictions that would allow them to bring criminal charges against Assange and WikiLeaks. Nothing quite fits, so they have so far been unsuccessful. By establishing itself as an international network, WikiLeaks has been successful in exploiting laws and loopholes in the legal jurisdictions where it has operations. In a matter that is completely unrelated to WikiLeaks controversy, the UK has managed to arrest Assange based on Swedish charges of sexual assault. Assange is being held without bail in Britain awaiting and fighting extradition to Sweden. The specifics of that case are particularly murky and under normal circumstances it’s questionable that Assange would even be convicted in a Swedish court, but these are far from normal circumstances.
Given the controversial history of WikiLeaks, one questions why this seemingly world-wide and coordinated assault on them should happen now. In the past, certain politicians, from every side of the aisle have condemned Assange and WikiLeaks, but those attacks were more a matter of grandstanding for personal political gain rather than any serious or legitimate action. Until now, it has only been a lot of hot but empty rhetoric.
Why now and why so sudden?
Perhaps this sudden coordinated effort has nothing really to do with past offences or even the current leaking of US diplomatic cables. Certainly they are embarrassing, but no more embarrassing or damaging than a video of the US military massacring civilians and journalists in Iraq. When those were leaked, Amazon, Mastercard, and PayPal didn’t declare war on WikiLeaks.
Julian Assange is a very strange man. His motivation for doing the things he does can be questioned; he seems to be the kind of man who bears no allegiance to anyone but himself. He does, however have a flair for the dramatic. His public persona is reminiscent of a demented villain in a James Bond movie. One of the things he spoke about he was being interviewed during publicity tour promoting Cablegate, was the release next year of leaked documents from a prominent bank that would scandalize the international banking industry. The current efforts to incarcerate him and shutdown WikiLeaks may have nothing to do with anything they have leaked in the past. They may have everything to do with preventing the exposure of criminal activities conducted by a cabal of multi-national financial institutions and corporations.
Just like Howard Beale, Assange and WikiLeaks may have stumbled upon something far more dangerous than they may have imagined. Like Wikileaks, they are everywhere and they are nowhere. They pledge allegiance to no flag, sovereign nations are simply divisions or branch offices. The visible world order that we perceive, composed of political structures that we believe exist, based on ideologies, beliefs, aspirations, and even evils, all of which we can comprehend, is an illusion. It is the invisible world order that manages our affairs. There are no borders, no laws, no rules, and no guiding principles Order and efficiency must be maintained. Politics, as we believe them to be, are irrelevancies to be managed by the flow of currency to one place or another from one place or another.
Exposure of duplicity in foreign relations? No big deal. Proof that a war launched on false pretenses needlessly has killed hundreds of thousands and brought misery to million? Not a problem.
Expose the phantom world order? Now you’ve pissed off MasterCard, and that will NOT be tolerated.
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