Friday, December 24, 2010

Some meditations on the Assange saga

  1. Of course the US Government are out to get him. With Joe Lieberman accusing him of treason (well, actually, Fox News's Jenna Lee did. Lieberman just didn't try to run away), Palin calls for him to be assassinated (Ed notes: just how well is the US hunt for ObL going at the moment? Hmm!, Peter King publicly calls him a terrorist. Yeh. 
    • Wikileaks made the US government look stupid. Governments hate that.
    • Wikileaks may have actually committed some form of crime in the USA. I'm not a 1st Amendment (Ed: or, frankly, any sort of) lawyer.
    • Assange is, quite deliberately, the public face of Wikileaks.  
    • Of course he isn't a traitor. He isn't and has never been a US citizen. The Aussies might have their own ideas on the matter, of course :)
    • If this is some conspiracy to get him to Sweden to then have him rendered to the USA, somebody hasn't read the Extradition Act 2003. Much easier to get him from us.
    • Somebody, probably Bradley Manning (who has apparently confessed), has committed a number of crimes under US civil and military law. I hope they think it was worth it.
  2. I don't thing it is particularly relevant whether the allegations against Assange are for "rape rape" (Ed notes: and isn't the fact that we use that a horrid reflection on society's attitudes?) or "sexual assault" or some sexual misconduct that might not be a crime in the UK or (in some states in) the USA but is in Sweden. This sort of allegation is, prima facie, is worthy of comprehensive investigation and, given the Swedish legal system and the "he said, she said" nature of most sex-crimes, extradition for that investigation. 
    • Although the fervour with which it is being pursued is probably fuelled by Assange's 'celebrity'. 
    • Although for some crimes, especially private and hard to prove ones such as this, it is reasonable (ab)use of state power to target high-profile offenders, "pour encourage les autres".
    • I would note that s75(2)(d) of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 would make (at least) one of the allegations formally "rape" in the UK. And I'm aware of the allegations of force in another event - that would be a (2)(a) or (b) statutory non-consent. Interestingly, note that (a) and (b) apply to series of events - but (d) does not. So having consensual sex before falling asleep and committing a sex act on the sleeping partner is an imprisonment for life case in the UK.
    • I would also note that s76(2)(a) applies - "the defendant intentionally deceived the complainant as to the nature or purpose of the relevant act" may well cover the 'broken condom' issue.
    • The concept that you have a legal right to insist that a sex partner has an STD test seems reasonable given the dangers and the mores of this modern world of ours. Especially an overtly promiscuous partner.
  3. The two ladies talked and then went to the police. Well, yes. This is the rational argument for releasing the names of accused sex offenders - most are not one-time criminals. 
    • Although "He did that - to you? As well? Bastard!" may have played some part.
    • Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
  4. The US government seems to have been criminally negligent in allowing the initial release of the information.
    • When you get information from the spooks but you are not a spook yourself, they do "source protection". That means that you remove all the names and, often, other identifying details such as exact dates. Or more complex stuff if it is technically derived rather than human source info. Of course, Manning was a spook ... 
    • It could be written to a CD-RW? This is just piss-poor security if it was on SIPRNet; if it was on JWICS, it was unconscionable. Many much lower-grade systems - financial, UK Gov etc - have this sort of thing effectively controlled.  
  5. Claims that Assange would not get a fair day in a Swedish court need to be evidenced. Sweden might be a more difficult jurisdiction for rape defendants than others (just look at the results in some Sharia jurisdictions) But as long as his treatment is as fair as it would be for any other person accused of the same crimes, this seems entirely reasonable to me.
    • Any American court may be a different matter.
    • And the bail / no-bail thing puzzles me. But I've never been involved in those sorts of discussions.
  6. What Assange has done - good or bad - doesn't really reflect on what Wikileaks does or has done.
    • Unless, of course, he turns out to be in the pay of the CIA, the SVR, the DI (which may explain some of the stranger conspiracy theories) or the RPF. In which case, all bets are off.
  7. The Americans want to use some ancient law to prosecute Assange. Well, okay, the Espionage Act 1917 hasn't been written in the modern, cuddly internet age - but it was written when the US had just entered in to a (rather significant) war. And, frankly, most of the slightly older British Official Secrets Act 1911 is still in force.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Truism of the Day

What needs overhaul is an insane government network for classified information that permits a disturbed 22-year-old army private to have access to his government's most sensitive international dealings.
Rupert Cornwell in the Independent. H/t to Charles Crawford.
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