Julian Assange – Hero Or Villain?

   Technology is miles ahead of policy, and Julian Assange, appears to be paying the price for it.  Or maybe not. Who can really say, when some of the most powerful countries in the world put out an all-points-bulletin for one man based upon sex crimes that may or may not have taken place?

I don’t think the man has been convicted of anything.   Nevertheless, the Swiss, slammed the door on a bank account accepting donations for WikiLeaks almost overnight.  These are the same Swiss bankers who are world famous for protecting their client’s confidentiality.  The same Swiss, that fought for years to keep privileged information out of the hands of U.S. tax officials and the  European Court of Human Rights.   However, when WikiLeaks is involved the Swiss appear to be far less accommodating, closing the account in a matter of weeks.  Could the fact that Assange is promising a “data dump” of information on a major international bank have something to do with it?

Serial killers and child molesters have gotten less attention than Julian Assange.

Which may be exactly what he wants.  Now there’s a thought.

None of it is making the Swedes look very good.  This is twice now,  that they’ve leveled criminal accusations at Assange, following the release of U.S. government documents via WikiLeaks.  The first time the charges were dropped in rapid fashion.  The second time there were no charges, just a call for Interpol to bring him in for questioning.

And now he’s in jail in London.   They got um, by golly!  Did you really think they wouldn’t?  I mean, it’s not like he’s……..Osama bin Laden.  You know.  Impossible to catch?

But questions remain.  Do the documents WikiLeaks released actually put U.S. security at risk?  (Considering directions for bomb building are still available online).  Or is it more a question of embarrassing government officials and a system that was so easily co-opted by an Army private who was able to basically “surf” classified documents, picking out what he wanted and then burning thousands of pages onto a disk (or disks)?

Whoops.  With all the money spent on our shiny new Homeland Security Department, somebody should have seen that coming.  Red faces around big tables in darkened rooms do you think?  All top secret of course.  Very hush-hush.

Common sense (remember common sense?) dictates that either the documents aren’t really all that critical, or U.S. officials were negligent in doing what should have been done to properly protect information that’s essential to national security.   At least to the point that an Army PFC couldn’t burn copies for his own use.

But getting back to Mr. Assange, maybe it’s all just coincidence?  It just so happens that every time Assange releases classified U.S. documents the Swedes level allegations of sex crimes.   Which, even though it would involve incredibly bad timing, is possible.

Either way, technology appears to be miles ahead of policy and U.S. officials need to review the way classified digital information is being handled.  By privates in the U.S. Army.  And the Swedes, need to look into the way their people conduct criminal investigations.   This is the nation of Sweden, after all.  It’s not like they’re a tiny island like, say, Aruba.

At the same time, someone, other than the parties who have an interest in covering their own potentially negligent behavior need to investigate whether Assange is actually guilty of something, other than embarrassing government officials.  Which is possible.  Or maybe not.

This is still the United States, and we do still have a First Amendment.  Don’t we?

Some states are writing their own laws.  In Michigan, you can face either felony or misdemeanor charges for posting messages on the internet or sending email,“…if the person knows that the conduct causes the victim to suffer emotional distress and to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed or molested.”

This new digital age is proving to be very interesting, isn’t it?  And we’re only just getting started.

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