“So much of leftwing thought is a kind of playing with fire by people who don’t even know that fire is hot.”
— George Orwell
I’m going to divide this piece into four parts: the brute facts of today, the good Assange, the bad Assange, and the patented Big Picture. This isn’t a black of white story and anyone portraying it as such is being either disingenuous or ill-informed. Regardless of where you stand on Assange, I hope I’m able to give you an informed perspective.
The Facts of Today
Some of those sissy British policemen who carry batons rather than guns entered the Ecuadorian Embassy in London today, forcibly removing Assange on a US extradition warrant and bringing his seven-year stint there to a dramatic close. In what is sure to be an iconic image, video showed a heavily bearded Assange shouting and gesticulating as multiple officers hustled him into a waiting police van. A markedly different mood seemed to take over once he was inside, as he flashed a reassuring thumbs-up to everyone on the other side of his window.
At the request of US authorities (whoever that is), Assange was arrested on charges that he skipped bail in the UK in 2012. Officers moved in after Ecuador withdrew his asylum and invited authorities into the embassy, citing his bad behavior. Then the supposed real charges came, as Assange was indicted on a single charge of conspiring to steal military secrets with Bradley Manning, the former Army intel analyst who supplied thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.
The DoJ said that the indictment, signed on March 6 last year and unsealed today, alleges Assange conspired “to assist Manning in cracking a password” on classified Department of Defense computer systems. Lucky for him, he hasn’t been indicted under the Espionage Act, which carries a far more severe penalty (unless your name is Hillary Clinton).
The indictment itself is narrowly construed. The ‘conspiracy’ alleged mainly hinges upon a conversation in which Assange encouraged Manning to search for classified information and then offered to help break a password to a database containing classified material.
There is no evidence made public to date to indicate that Assange succeeded in breaking the password, but his offer to do so is documented in publicly released chat logs between Assange and Manning.
On March 8, 2010, Manning asked Assange if he was “any good” at cracking hashes, which are the encrypted format in which passwords are typically stored. “Yes,” Assange replied, prompting Manning to supply the hash. The evidence beyond that is shaky, or at least not fully known. Did Assange make a tangible attempt to break the password? Or were his actions confined to ‘encouragement’? The answer to those questions will factor heavily into his defense.
Assange appeared in a central London courtroom this afternoon, where he faced his previous charge of failing to surrender in 2012. One of his lawyers argued that he declined to do so for fear that he would not receive a fair trial, forcing him to seek asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy. The judge, however, called Assange “a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interest,” finding him guilty of breaking his bail conditions.
(Face check: Assange actually is a megalomaniacal narcissist, as described by number of his closest friends and hacking brethren through the years).
He faces up to 12 months in prison. He must also appear for an extradition hearing on May 2, before which he will remain in custody. Speaking to journalists in a scrum outside Westminster Magistrates Court this afternoon, lawyer Jennifer Robinson said they had been proven right in regards to their previous warnings that Assange would face extradition to United States for his “publishing activities” since 2010. “I’ve just been with Mr. Assange in the police cell, he wants to thank all of his supporters for the ongoing support, and he said — ‘I told you so.’” Robinson added her client was formally notified his asylum would be revoked by the Ecuadorian ambassador this morning, so the arrival of the Sissy Police came as no surprise.
The tantalizing math for Assange is that, should he decide to fight the extradition all the way, he could very well do so for longer than he would actually be imprisoned were he convicted. Then again, I have a feeling things were designed that way.
The government wants to have a chat with Julian.
(Continued on Next Page)