"A government is the only vessel that leaks from the top." - James Reston

program: 
Air Cascadia
program date: 
Wed, 06/06/2012

Keeping Up with Julian Assange:  freeassange.org/wiki-leaks,

It all depends on the leaker…And what is leaked. American war crimes, for example are illegal leaks – or perhaps, ‘illeaks’. Whereas the sort of leak that promotes US efforts to make the world safe for US interests, those are not only sanctioned but welcome. In many cases the source of the secret is the same as the leak. And the Obama administration’s wanton War on Whistleblowers has transmogrified into a War on journalists and the First Amendment.

The United States has utterly failed to explain why some leaks of classified information are prosecuted and others (such as those to the prestige press) are not, leaving many to conclude that it likes some leaks (those that help the war effort, according to former FBI agent and attorney Coleen Rowley) but scowls on others.

In a five to two decision, the British Supreme Court ruled recently that because a Swedish prosecutor is properly characterised as a “judicial authority,” Julian Assange is to be extradited from England to Sweden to face accusations of rape and unlawful coercion. But Dinah Rose, arguing for the defense, immediately asked for and received a fourteen-day period in which to make an application to reopen the case, an application that relates to the Vienna Convention.

Even if the application is made by Assange’s lawyers and then denied by the court, Assange could still appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France, and reports differ as to whether such an appeal would be filed only after he is extradited, or whether the extradition would be stayed until the Strasbourg court rules.

By far the most pressing question is whether Wednesday was a sad day for freedom of expression or a sad day for rapists or both. It is by no means clear that Assange would have found himself in the unenviable position of having to defend himself against sex crime accusations had he not done the journalistic work he has done.

What does seem clear is that the technology behind WikiLeaks’ so-called “strong” encryption poses a direct threat to the opacity of the national security establishment. Insofar as this technology goes, the cat is very much out of the bag, and others are free to pick up where Assange left off even if he is ultimately imprisoned in Sweden or put on trial in the United States for publishing what he has published.

 

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