The big meaning of Assange?

The latest Overblown Theory by American Thinker’s number one Overblown Theorist, J.R. Dunn, takes the form of a huge article that covers the gamut from Julian Assange to Lord Byron, from the Stuxnet computer worm which sabotaged Iran’s nuclear program to Dunn’s urging that “we must revive the idea of the heroic.” What it all means I don’t rightly know (which doesn’t mean that there is not an overall coherence in the article which I am not yet seeing—if a reader figures it out, let me know). Dunn’s one point that I do get, coming at the end of the piece, is that Assange represents the final decadence and petering out of the Romantic Rebel, clearing the way to a Victorian-type restoration of bourgeois Christian society. A restoration to be led, no doubt, by Sarah Palin.

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Alexis Zarkov writes:

So far, based on the cables I read at the Wikileaks site and in the press, the whole Assange affair seems like a tempest in a teapot. So far. Is anyone surprised that diplomats engage in what amounts to gossip about foreign leaders? I’m sure that most of them do it. I would like to know how Assange differs from the New York Times. Daniel Ellsberg copied top secret Pentagon documents and gave them to the New York Times. The U.S. Supreme Court held that the government could not prevent publication of the so-called “Pentagon Papers” which later came out in book form. Neither Ellsberg nor the New York Times was punished. Today someone copied State Department documents, which are not top secret, and give them to Assange, who published them on the Internet. As far as we know, Assange did not take the documents, he only functioned as a conduit to the newspapers that did publish the cables. Moreover Assange is a foreign national, unlike the people who own and run the New York Times. I don’t see how the U.S. even has jurisdiction over what Assange does on foreign shores. Suppose someone in the U.S. steals classified documents and gives them to an Australian newspaper which publishes them. Can the U.S. now bring charges against the newspaper? Does U.S. law govern what happens in foreign countries? [LA replies: Of course it does. Wasn’t Manuel Noriega, the former president of Panama, taken to the U.S. and convicted in U.S. courts of drug trafficking, even though Noriega’s own conduct took place outside the U.S.? Hasn’t the U.S. arrested and tried foreign terrorists who had never been in the United States? If it’s against U.S. law to receive secret government governments and pass them to media organizations, then Assange has broken U.S. law and could be tried in U.S. courts.]

The U.S. government told us that publication of the Pentagon Papers would gravely damage national security. It didn’t. In 1979 the Progressive Magazine wanted to publish an article they said was the “secret of the H-bomb.” The Department of Energy sought prior restraint on the Progressive. It failed and the article went to press. Again we heard the article was a threat to national security. But the government folded when they could not defend their assertions in the technical arena. It seems Edward Teller published a similar article in an encyclopedia. It turned out that the article actually didn’t reveal any secrets after all, and the Department of Energy was either incompetent or lying.

Matters might get especially interesting in the near future. Wikileaks posted a file called “insurance,” which is evidently encrypted. The file carries a name that suggests the plaintext was encrypted according to the Advanced Encryption Standard with a key size of 250 bits which makes for very strong encryption (perhaps). Now this file might contain some really juicy stuff. Or it might not. It could be a bluff, and no one knows except perhaps the National Security Agency. If it’s not a bluff, it could contain something like the secret Swiss bank accounts of American politicians. Wikileaks did publish documents from a Swiss Bank, UBS, that did compromise people in the U.S. Our courts tried to stop it, and failed. A judge issued an injunction against an ISP forbidding it to resolve the Wikileaks domain name, which was absolutely ineffective. We have an implied [?] that if Assange is arrested or hurt his operatives will release the key to the encryption. Wikileaks cannot be stopped at this point. The genie is out of the bottle.

We live in interesting times.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 09, 2010 08:45 AM | Send

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