A conspiracy to silence? By William Bowles

10 December, 2010

‘Wikileaks has not been charged with a single US crime…and here the country’s financial institutions are taking action on behalf of our state department to extinguish this whistleblower’s website.’ — Jeff Paterson, Project Director of Courage to Resist, ‘KKK OK but not WikiLeaks for some payment processors

“What is emerging from all the sound and Wikileaks fury in Washington is that the entire scandal is serving to advance a long-standing Obama and Bush agenda of policing the until-now free Internet. Already the US Government has shut the Wikileaks server in the United States though no identifiable US law has been broken.” — ‘Wikileaks: A Big Dangerous US Government Con Job?‘, F. William Engdahl, Global Research

And even as the corporate/state media attack Wikileaks and Julian Assange, they continue to (selectively) publish the leaked cables.

‘One other incredible thing about the persecution is that so many people are falsely reporting that WikiLeaks has dumped 250,000 documents but it’s not true at all. They were only putting stuff up on their webpage, when the New York Times, Der Spiegel, The Guardian or El Pais were putting them up. They were very useful to the US government in some ways’ — Sam Husseini, Institute for Public Accuracy

In fact only some .047% of the documents have so far been published and in any case, has Assange really broken the law by publishing the cables?

Here’s what Australian legal experts have to say on the subject:

A member of Mr Assange’s legal team, Jennifer Robinson, says the Prime Minister’s assertion that the website’s publication of the documents is illegal goes too far.

JENNIFER ROBINSON: Well her comments were made outside of Parliament so they’re certainly not privileged and I think it was misguided to suggest that he had committed a crime in England and, indeed, defamatory. Though I think that Prime Minister Gillard’s account will probably come at the ballot box.

SIMON LAUDER: US and Australian authorities are working to find any laws which may have been violated by WikiLeaks.

The President of Liberty Victoria, Spencer Zifcak, says the website doesn’t seem to have done anything illegal.

SPENCER ZIFCAK: All WikiLeaks have done is publish documents that have been given to it. Now the interesting thing about that is WikiLeaks is publishing these documents in association with some of the great newspapers of the world.

So if WikiLeaks is to be charged with the disclosure of official information then presumably these major newspapers will also be in the guns. But I can’t see the authorities, either in Australia or the United States, pursuing those newspapers. — ‘Law experts say WikiLeaks in the clear’, ‘The World Today‘, 7 December, 2010

Could it be, as F. William Engdahl asserts, a con job by the US government to take control of the Internet?

On the face of it, just as with the use of the ‘War on Terror’ to clamp down on freedom of expression and our civil liberties, there is something to be said for Engdahl’s assertion.

That said, the very fact that over half-a-million people have already signed a petition calling for hands off Wikileaks, only a couple of days after the petition went live, reveals that whatever the truth of the leaks, it has stirred up a lot people. If as Engdahl asserts it was actually the US government that released the cables, so far it has had the opposite effect by galvanizing opposition to any attempt to censor the Web, let alone expose US diplomats as bunch of ignorant and arrogant louts.

This is part of what Engdahl has to say on the subject:

“It is almost too perfectly-scripted to be true. A discontented 22-year old US Army soldier on duty in Baghdad, Bradley Manning, a low-grade US Army intelligence analyst, described as a loner, a gay in the military, a disgruntled “computer geek,” sifts through classified information at Forward Operating Base Hammer. He decides to secretly download US State Department email communications from the entire world over a period of eight months for hours a day, onto his blank CDs while pretending to be listening to Lady Gaga.”

Put this way, it does sound somewhat far-fetched, yet what is the source Engdahl’s assertion that it’s a put-up job? He offers no source for us to check so I have no idea if Manning is the source of the cables or how he acquired them (if indeed it was Manning who released the cables), and as Manning is languishing in a Federal slammer, we can’t ask him.

But then judging by the halfwits who wrote these cables, maybe they did think they could pull off a Web version of 9/11? The question then is, can they do it?

Already there are more than 1500 Wikileaks mirror sites so short of shutting down the entire global Internet, it’s difficult to see how censoring the Web can be achieved but again it reveals just how ignorant the ruling elite is about how things actually work.

So, US government conspiracy or not, ultimately it makes no difference how the cables came into the public domain (and so far it’s only a eight hundred of the over 250,000), the damage has been done. The legitimacy of the state has been challenged by their release and things will never be the same again. No longer will we take at face value anything the ruling elite say about the reasons for their actions in public even if all 250,000 cables were actually invented which clearly they’re not. Though of course, 99% are not even confidential let alone secret. These are mostly the day-to-day ramblings of bored diplomatic staff.

So it is conceivable that the selection of the releases was engineered by the US government but clearly whatever they intended to happen as a result seems to have backfired big time. But as they don’t even have a firm grasp on how the internet works, what with over 1500 Wikileaks mirror sites in dozens of countries, it shouldn’t be a surprise to us (the law of unintended consequences eg, the Israeli attack on the Mavi Marmara, which did more to bring the focus on the plight of the Palestinians into the public eye than even Operation Cast Lead).

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