The Null Device

Assange arrested

Julian Assange has been arrested in London, and is facing an extradition hearing to do with some somewhat suspicious-looking rape charges in Sweden. There is triumphal news coverge in the US, with statements like "the international manhunt is over"; in the official narrative, this is a high-value terrorist mastermind who has just been captured.

It looks like Assange is about to find out what happens to those who pick a fight with a hegemonic superpower. (Hint: they don't use lubricant.) Wikileaks, however, intend to keep publishing. How they'll keep funding the organisation is unknown, given that MasterCard has now suspended all card payments to them, and it's likely that Visa will follow suit.

I wonder whether Assange will even make it to Sweden, or whether (a) the rape charges will evaporate into thin air as soon as the US submits an extradition request (they don't have any laws they could charge him under—the 1917 Espionage Act is somewhat shaky on the matter—but they do have the benefit of a compliant British government who might reasonably be trusted to rubber-stamp and fast-track an extradition request in the interest of the "Special Relationship" if given a half-plausible pretext to do so), or (b) the plane chartered to take him to Sweden will take a detour to GuantanĂ¡mo or Diego Garcia (or some pro-US Middle Eastern government with practiced torturers and reasons to be pissed off about their back-room dealings with the infidels having been made public). Perhaps they'll even find some child pornography on his laptop beforehand, just to underscore that this is a bad, bad man, and not any kind of martyr.

Of course, this is just one ringleader being made an example of. Wikileaks is still out there, and still drip-feeding the world with its revelations for now, and there is a list of mirrors in case the main site is shut down, and symphathisers are hosting an encrypted file, allegedly containing very damaging revelations. However, the NSA has acknowledged that it is monitoring traffic to and from Wikileaks, and thus probably has a good list of downloaders. Social network analysis can find people they know who may have anti-US or anti-establishment sympathies. A series of synchronised raids by law enforcement and security services, seizing or "sanitizing" computers, may destroy most copies of the data and, more importantly, put the frighteners on anyone thinking of sticking their head up and saying "I too am Wikileaks".

In the longer term, though, another Wikileaks will happen sooner or later unless they reengineer the internet from the ground up to eliminate the possibility of anonymity and provide mechanisms of centralised control. The MPAA and RIAA have been pushing aggressively for this for reasons of protecting their intellectual-property-licensing business models, but now Wikileaks may have made this a matter of priority. Perhaps from now on, we can expect the US to agree with China that the internet should be made controllable.

There are 5 comments on "Assange arrested":

Posted by: meanwhile Wed Dec 8 11:17:09 2010

Posted by: Wed Dec 8 11:54:50 2010

The interesting thing is, while Wikileaks has been drip-feeding the cables on its own website, media outlets such as The Guardian and Der Spiegel apparently already have the entire archive, under embargo. Are the NSA monitoring Guardian readers? Is there any suggestion the US is going to try to extradite its editor? The target is simply too broad, I believe. And if the NSA can monitor traffic going between nodes within Europe, that never passes through the US, then surely that's a story in itself.

Posted by: Wed Dec 8 15:50:22 2010

you can help by mirroring (you'll need an rsync server) and seeding insurance.aes256 torrent magnet:?xt=urn:btih:76a36f1d11c72eb5663eeb4cf31e351321efa3a3&dn=WikiLeaks_insurance&

Posted by: acb Wed Dec 8 15:53:06 2010

Re: the NSA monitoring non-US traffic: are you familiar with ECHELON? There's a lot of information that can be reconstructed from electromagnetic leakage, fibre-optic taps, surreptitious monitoring devices in data acentres (with or without the assistance of friendly local intelligence agencies) and such.

And this may not be about Cablegate so much as about the bank files.

Posted by: Wed Dec 8 15:54:41 2010

"Note that markup is stripped from comments; URLs will be automatically converted into links." ORLY? ;)