You are no doubt hearing quite a bit today about the arrest and likely extradition of Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange, who was literally sold out for the proverbial 30 pieces of silver (or in this case it was a $4.2 billion IMF loan to Ecuador approved just last month)! Vice President Mike Pence was in Ecuador last June to push a quid pro quo with the recently elected Ecuadorian president, Lenin Moreno: You hand us Assange and we’ll make sure you get your loan.
And do he did and so they did.
Assange was indicted by the US Attorney’s Eastern District of Virginia’s „espionage court“ on charges of conspiracy to hack a government computer. As whistleblower John Kiriakou Tweeted today, his chance of a fair trial in that court is virtually none. His chance of being extradited by a UK all too eager to please its former colony is virtually 100 percent.
The conspiracy charge is far less than many expected, carrying a possible jail term of a mere five years. This is likely to ease the way – and provide cover – for the UK to extradite Assange to the US where there is little doubt additional charges – perhaps including espionage with a possible death sentence – will be added to the mix. At that point, British officials can wash their hands of the affair claiming that they only extradited on minor charges and it’s not their fault that once out of their hand Assange faces a lifetime in solitary confinement in a supermax facility or perhaps worse.
As I outlined in today’s Liberty Report, linked above, the extradition of Assange to the US will not be to carry out justice, but rather to carry out an old-fashioned show trial. Anyone who’s read the history of Soviet show trials in the 1930s – or even read Arthur Koestler’s masterpiece Darkness at Noon – understands they are not at all about meting out justice or punishing those convicted of a crime. The purpose of a show trial – and Assange’s will be no different – is pour encourager les autres: to ensure that any future journalist who considers publishing material embarrassing to the state or exposing real state crimes will quickly perish the thought. Lest he or she perish.
The success of totalitarian societies is not the omnipresence of coercive enforcement. A totalitarian society is only fully totalitarian when there is no need for enforcement: one would not dream of breaking the rules.
The state murder of a journalist who dared publish material showing beyond a doubt that the US military was not „liberating“ Iraq and Afghanistan but rather willfully and with glee committing acts of terrorism against the citizens of these countries sends a very strong signal. These days mainstream „journalists“ rarely publish any exposées as damaging as those published by Wikileaks. Today’s „journalists“ are by and large joined at the hip with the intelligence agents they rely on for „scoops.“ They are not about to burn these sources and thereby find themselves outside of the cozy club. Just as „journalists“ in Soviet times would not dare report what their government was really up to.
So what will the Julian Assange show trial look like? In the pre-trial stage – which has begun today – we will see a distortion of facts in attempt to establish that the charges he faces have nothing to do with a free press or an independent media. Already national security state apologists are dutifully repeating claims that this is only about hacking. He is being charged over hacking, they say, because he is accused of helping Pvt. Manning get secure documents into the hands of Wikileaks.
If it’s only hacking and not about publishing, those warning of the chilling effect on a free press are largely ignored. Of course it is not about hacking. Any journalist cultivating confidential sources provides assistance to the source in getting the material. From teaching basic encryption or other methods, this is common practice.
Next there will be breathless „revelations“ about Assange meant to increase the costs of vocally supporting him. Maybe new salacious material will be „discovered.“ Maybe allegations of financial impropriety. He’s already been accused of being in bed with white supremacists for the perceived assistance he provided the Trump campaign by releasing emails demonstrating the corruption in the Democratic Party nominating process.
They are not necessarily aiming for people to curse Assange. It’s plenty if these „revelations“ just cause people to think twice before publicly defending him. Make it costly to defend him and most people will move on to something else. Who wants to ruin the party? Thereby his name acquires more of a stigma.
Defamed and as a result lacking the kind of vocal support he has gotten today, the show trial will progress to that stage where the prosecutor (as did his Soviet predecessors) will come to the conclusion that „even the people believe he is guilty and who am I to go against the people?“
This all may sound far-fetched at this stage, but it is where we are heading. After Assange there is very unlikely to be more Assanges. We will never know the crimes committed in our name in places like Syria, Venezuela, and elsewhere on the neocon map of future atrocities.
And that’s the point. Our own dictatorship slips the choker one little bit tighter. Our mental prisons are latched just one bit further. The metaphoric boot begins stamping down on our necks a bit more perceptibly.
The America we know will be gone.
We can prevent this. Understand that everything the state tells you is a lie. Fight the lies. Build networks of like-minded people. Resist. While you can!
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Günter Buchholz ist Ökonom und emeritierter Professor für Allgemeine BWL und Consulting an der FH Hannover. Er ist verheiratet und hat eine Tochter.
Seine Schwerpunkte sind Allgemeine BWL, Consulting, Politische Ökonomie, VWL und Wirtschaftsethik sowie Hochschul- und Gleichstellungspolitik. Seine Veröffentlichungen zur Hochschul- und Gleichstellungspolitik finden sich auf Cuncti.
„Qualifikation statt Quote“
Prof. Günter Buchholz im Gespräch mit „Novo Argumente“: