Monday, December 20, 2010

Bradley Manning and Where Assange Supporters Are Getting It All Wrong

So ya'll, I am so sick of talking debating with rape apologists right now on Twitter. If these mofos were even paying attention to capable folks like Kate Harding and Sady Doyle in the first fucking place, we wouldn't even have to engage with why what Michael Moore and Keith Olbermann did was so problematic. So, no, I don't even want to talk about Assange, because frankly, the man sounds like a fucking prick

I want to talk about Bradley Manning instead. Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com has a very good article about Bradley Manning and the details of Manning's incarceration. At the moment, Manning "has been held in intensive solitary confinement.  For 23 out of 24 hours every day -- for seven straight months and counting -- he sits completely alone in his cell.  Even inside his cell, his activities are heavily restricted; he's barred even from exercising and is under constant surveillance to enforce those restrictions" despite being "a model detainee, without any episodes of violence or disciplinary problems". Why?



What's most interesting about WikiLeaks is how it has come under fire for leaking classified documents which are so damning, so incriminating, that governments are scrambling to shut it down. We're talking about an organization that exposed child trafficking by a company contracted by the US military. Bradley Manning is himself under investigation because he passed along a "war event log" to WikiLeaks. In correspondence, he emailed the following:

“[H]ypothetical question: if you had free reign over classified networks for long periods of time… say, 8-9 months… and you saw incredible things, awful things… things that belonged in the public domain, and not on some server stored in a dark room in Washington DC… what would you do?,” Manning wrote.
“[O]r Guantanamo, Bagram, Bucca, Taji, VBC for that matter… things that would have an impact on 6.7 billion people,” he continued. “[S]ay… a database of half a million events during the iraq war… from 2004 to 2009… with reports, date time groups, lat-lon locations, casualty figures… ?” (ellipses original) Source: Wired.com
I don't know about you, but Bradley Manning has done a truly heroic act: he put his career at risk to reveal the heinous crimes of a government that has no fucking business where it is right now; he acted on his conscience to basically commit a military crime (he's being charged under the Espionage Act for "Collateral Murder" -- nooo REALLY??); and he is the one who is actually really in jail right now. Wikileaks pledged to raise money to get him out -- $100,000 -- but he's still there.

In the meantime, Assange the asshole fucks up with two women in just about the same fucking week, and when they decide to press charges, not only is it hijacked by Wikileaks opponents who have thrown themselves into smearing Assange through any means possible, Wikileaks supporters have to be re-fucking-donkulous and conflate Assange with Wikileaks. Oh nos, Assange! And of course the next logical step, since we live in are soaking in a rape culture, is to attack the lyin' bitchez who accused him in the first place, because clearly they are plants! No justice for them! Because then there would be no justice for Assange! Because Assange is a precious special unicorn without whom Wikileaks will fall and crumble!

Wait.

Let's back the fuck up here, first, okay? Assange is NOT Wikileaks. Wikileaks is an organization of several people, all over the world, dedicated to doing that than Wikileaks is doing that panicking governments so much. Wikileaks, by itself, through the courage and bravery of informants like Bradley Manning (who may I remind you IS IN JAIL FOR REVEALING U.S. GOVERNMENT CRIMES) who are not Assange, can in fact stand on its own, even if it has to shuffle its ass all over the world in an effort to keep going.

But somehow or another, our astute media leaders as Moore and Olbermann think that all rape allegations stuff is "hooey" and while we're explaining to them that it's not good to dismiss rape charges just because Assange invented WikiLeaks, we get told, that's not the important thing! The important thing is that Assange is a precious special unicorn the government is trying to discredit! Because apparently Wikileaks cannot stand on its own when its leader is threatened! It will be discredited! Because... the man who is dedicated to transparency of governments... cannot be transparent himself because then we would see he, too, like the governments he's forcing transparency on, is corrupt and contemptible. Somehow, this is a Bad Thing, because you know! NO ONE CAN EVER REDEEM THEMSELVES ONCE PROVEN CORRUPT! Why, go tell that to Roman Polanski and Mike Tyson and Ben whatshisnameslinger.

Frankly, Assange refusing to address the rape allegations and go to trial makes him just as bad as the governments he's trying to smear. What does he have to hide?

IN THE MEANTIME! Bradley Manning is still in jail! Not only that, but Wikileaks has also failed to deliver on its promise to help pay for his defense, which was due in September. Bradley Manning is languishing while Leftists rush to defend Julian Assange. Bradley Manning only has two dozen people (who run the Courage to Resist org that is raising money to help him out) behind his back and very few large names championing his cause in USian MSM. Bradley Manning, one of the real whistleblowers, is undergoing torture, because he stood up for freedom of information.

Helluva choice of priorities!

We need to care about Wikileaks. It is doing good work.

Assange? Assange is a figurehead. He's a scapegoat for governments to attack, in hopes of discombobulating his supporters and whipping them into a frenzy, making them devote their energies into protecting him.

And you silly, silly fools, who are attacking Assange's accusers, attacking the #mooreandme campaigners, crying "Support Julian!" and badmouthing Sweden without bothering to get your fucking facts straight, you're playing RIGHT into the hands of Wikileaks detractors.

I don't expect you to have behaved otherwise with regards to Assange's accusers -- Moore and Olbermann, throwing rape victims under the bus by handily playing into rape culture? NO WAI! ... ya wai. It still hurts, though, because we feminists are also your allies! We also believe in government transparency, and also demand it, because what the government does affects us all, not just Wikileaks, not just Assange. Yet you couldn't give us that same respect, you couldn't have the imagination enough to identify with our concerns and not dismiss them. There are reasons why the Left Wing is so fractured, and it's because you refuse to take your allies into consideration.

I once said in class, the reason why the Left movements have so much difficulty mobilizing is because we are composed of fractured communities with different immediate goals and concerns, all of which are hard to negotiate. But we're not talking to each other, and because we're not talking to each other, we step on each other's toes and hurt each other. In the meantime, the right wing, which doesn't HAVE to make that same sort of sacrifice, because their immediate goal -- to maintain their privilege and advantages over us -- is fairly simple. All they have to do is distract us and make us fight each other.

This is what Assange supporters are doing when they smear his accusers, when they call rape accusations lies and deceit meant to bring down great men, effectively maintaining a culture which creates a gulf between those who are rape victims and those who are not. You silly, silly fools -- you could have asked feminists and womanist blogs and orgs for support in, oh I don't know, HELPING BRADLEY MANNING GET OUT OF THE CLUTCHES OF THE PUNISHING STATE YOU LIVE IN. We are the wrong target here. Assange's accusers are the wrong target here. So while Sady is facing down trolls and #mooreandme campaigners face Moore's willful scorn, companies are still withdrawing support from Wikileaks under government pressure in what will be even MORE harmful to Wikileaks operations than Assange facing trial.

As long Assange's supporters focus on punishment and not emancipation, you will fail! You will fail no matter how LEGION you are, no matter how much you cry for FREEDOM OF INFORMATION, how much you demand ACCOUNTABILITY, because you lack the imagination to imagine a better world for EVERYONE, because you lack the imagination for FREEDOM FOR ALL, because you lack the imagination to truly be ACCOUNTABLE TO YOUR FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS.

And to bring it back to the #mooreandme campaign,  in Moore's zeal to protect the precious special fucking unicorn, he and Olbermann disrespected and did violence to an issue that cuts across gender, class, race, nationality, everything for a few privileged laughs.

To conclude my little tirade here, WIKILEAKS AND SUPPORTERS, WHAT ARE YOU FIGHTING FOR, REALLY? Because this is bigger than Assange and accusers, this is bigger than Moore and Olbermann, and it always has been. What the hell does Wikileaks and its ilk stand for, if not for emancipation from corrupt governments? what's the use of government accountability if it doesn't stop genocide and war crimes? what's the use of information and leaked classified documents if it cannot stop a war that is starving people, that mothers and fathers are sending their children to die in, that brings home shell-shocked soldiers? What does supporting Wikileaks mean if it has to involve discarding and hurting people who should be your allies?

What the fuck is the point of your legion, if you cannot, or will not, free one of your own?

ETA: I should not be writing at 2am, btw. I should also add that I speak primarily to Wikileak supporters who have been lauding Assange as well as Anonymous, a group which, for damned good reason, I'm terrified of. I will blog more about this tomorrow on why I fear Anonymous as much as I fear a government that's punishing Bradley Manning, despite the fact that with regards to Wikileaks, Anonymous and people like myself are pretty much on the same side.

ETA2: I realize that my post barely even scratches the surface of Wikileaks' significance, which unravels so many goddamn issues it'll take so much to untangle just what's so goddamn unjust about the world. I can only fight from my corner, and I can only handle and educate myself on so many issues at once, but if you want to tackle another angle on why Wikileaks is important outside of Assange and go indepth, feel free to drop links.

ETA3: I do NOT want this to become an Assange-fest because I am sick of hearing about the douchebag anyway. Moderation is now turned on. If you want to debate the veracity of his accusers' statements, or his innocence/guilt, do it elsewhere. In here, I want to talk about the significance of Wikileaks; about Bradley Manning; what it means for ALL OF US, not just the one dude.

7 comments:

  1. I hear you on the whole Assange hypocritically hiding his own personal life while devoting himself to government transparency.

    Wikileaks needs to dump him.

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  2. Nail meets head, repeatedly. Assange is such a liability now that at this point any discussion of Wikileaks becomes a discussion About The Man Oppressing The Assange.

    Conveniently forgetting that there are others quietly laboring in the background, and still more suffering because they are overshadowed by Assange or are seen as stooges of Assange's "enemies".

    Two weeks ago my feelings of Assange would have been mild ambivalence and a desire to see the trial go on without disrupting Wikileaks. Now I feel that Assange is poison, and needs to be excised before the progressives end up dying because of the toxicity of his person.

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  3. One thing that I'm struck by—and which has helped me assess this—is the way that Assange and his legal team have been responding to it. The day after police initially contacted Assange to let him know that, based on the stories the women had related, he faced possible rape charges, he immediately attempted to turn it into an attack on Wikileaks, rather than something related to his own behavior.

    His lawyer, Mark Stephens, has consistently lied through his teeth. The mythological Swedish "sex by surprise" law, the one with a $715 fine, was a complete and willful fabrication on Stephens' part. His insistence that the legal team never saw the charges has also been shown to be a lie.

    Here's the bottom line for me: there seems to be no disagreement that Assange had unsafe sex with (at least) two different women inside of a four-day period, and when asked to take an HIV test—not an unreasonable request of a promiscuous guy who doesn't like condoms—he claimed to be "too busy" and dodged the women looking for him. When they went to police to ask what to do, after trying unsuccessfully to get him to actually take a test—an effort he apparently described as "blackmail"—the police advised them that they had grounds to press rape charges.

    Promiscuous + Unsafe Sex + Refusal to Take HIV Test = Scumbag

    I don't care if he's curing cancer on his coffee breaks from implementing world peace.

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  4. Lefty - what you have to understand is that nobody is under an obligation to test themselves for HIV or any other sexually transmitted diseases just because some random person requests it! So yes, it *was* an "unreasonable request" - the two women should have tested themselves first if they were so very afraid to have caught something, that is how the system is supposed to work!

    In your equation I have to disagree with all the terms:
    Promiscuous - becuase he had sex with two women in four days?
    Unsafe sex - I'd never practise it myself, but as long as both parties agree then it's up to them.
    Refusal to take HIV test - see above. Why should he?
    He could still be a scumbag, but surely not for the reasons you list.

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  5. DiggiLee: OFFS don't get start here about this. One of the things that occurred is that Assange had unsafe sex WITHOUT consent. Plenty of people have condomless sex all the time; most of them ASK and get themselves tested beforehand.

    Don't be insulting; if you want to have unprotected sex, it's definitely a social obligation to get yourself tested, BEFORE fucking without a condom. But he didn't, nor did he appear to have negotiated sex without a condom beforehand, or else he wouldn't be in shit like this now.

    Furthermore, "the two women I fucked recently" don't count as "random persons" unless you're fucking so many people on a regular basis you lose track and forget their names. Which I wouldn't put it past Assange, for sure.

    Srsly. With friends like these...

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  6. Whether or not Assange has been bailed out, he will still be tried in a court of law. Bradley Manning has not been, and is being tortured.

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  7. Well written. I think the elites in press and government don't want a discussion about Pvt Manning because that opens up all sorts of questions they don't want to have to answer.

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