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Julian Assange, freedom of the press, and open government arrested in the UK

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This is one of those things that would be gut-splitting, rolling on the floor (in all caps), tears streaming down your face funnier than a boatload of chimps trying to peel a giant, inflated plastic banana – if it weren’t so completely tragic. One of the world’s greatest champions of free speech, free press, and open government has been arrested for unperverted perversion on behalf of a country whose citizens ironically have a reputation for libidinous behavior and cultural liberation. Maybe it’s just the tall blonde thing and that (at the time) limit-testing movie from back in the 60s.

WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange has been charged in Sweden with one count of “unlawful coercion,” two counts of “molestation,” and one count of “rape.” He was arrested in the UK and will face certain extradition to Sweden in days. In the process, all kinds of vindictive, vengeful American government things could happen. There are important Americans suggesting that Assange should be assassinated and WikiLeaks destroyed. They say that if laws currently prevent it, then they need to be changed immediately. It’s easy to wonder if undiplomatic apoplexy helped influence the UK judge to refuse Asange bail.

It’s worth pointing out that neither Assange nor WikiLeaks has been accused of any crimes for all the leaking, even though PayPal, MasterCard, and now Visa Europe have taken steps to cut WikiLeaks’ income stream and the site itself has been under constant attack and denied Internet services by some of its providers. Not to worry, though, there are already over 500 WikiLeaks mirrors, several search engines have appeared that make it easy for anyone to look through the cables, and the claim has been made that WikiLeaks has “insurance,“ so that if anything really bad happens to Assange or WikiLeaks, then there will be an “automatic” huge dump of unsanitized material.

There are people who would like to think at least one of the two women making the allegations against Assange is linked to a conspiracy. There certainly is fuel enough for a tantalizing story. The story includes links to Latin American terrorists who have been involved in coups, blowing airliners out of the sky and the usual kinds of things we expect from CIA employees. One of the terrorists even likes to brag about his foul deeds. He’s as proud of himself as can be any graduate from America’s terrorist training institution, the notorious School of the Americas.

Turns out it’s a lot more ordinary than that, and way more embarrassing for Sweden and the two women who seem like maybe they’ve watched too much American daytime TV, or never matured past the Halequin romance stage.

We have Anna Ardin as fling one. She’s the one with the interesting Latin friends. It’s a good guess that she’s just the kind of person the Rolling Stones thought up a good name for long, long ago. She’s also a “well-known radical feminist” and “campus sexual equity officer” at Uppsala University.

Then there’s Sofia Wilen as fling two. The best way to think of her is probably “pliable.” Very pliable.

The short story is Ardin invited Assange to her place for “the evening.” He stayed until the next day. During one of the really friendly times something happened to the condom. In Sweden, “things” are absolutely not allowed to happen to the condom! Mess up with the condom, even if it’s the condom’s fault and it’s not just fun & games anymore.

Assange hooked up with Wilen the next day, who was so eager that a couple of days later she bought him a train ticket to come see her in the country, and then another train ticket to go back to Stockholm the day after. There seems to have been a condom problem in there, too, only maybe not so much of an accident.

The really juicy problem started when Ardin and Wilen got together later and found out that they were co-penisating. Meanwhile, Ardin had thrown a party for Assange and had been letting him stay at her house. That is, everything was fine with both women until they found out about each other.

The rest is just the usual drama. Only in this case, governments hang in the balance. Creeping police states, vast empires, and tin pot dictators everywhere fume and fizzle. The ugly business of corrupt government lays naked to the world with the usual cockroaches scurrying madly to cover it back up.

Other than a few of the weakest, most venal governments trying to claim the world doesn’t know how to read English language diplomatic cables, there has been very little attempt to challenge the “uncomfortable” information WikiLeaks has made available. What we have is a whole room full of children caught with their hands in the cookie jar screaming that no one was supposed to look, and that the only crime is the looking, not the missing cookies, crumbs all over the floor, or broken cookie jar.

As fortune would have it, a chance to see if there is any real justice in the world has coincidentally become available. Nigeria wants Dick Cheney arrested for some pretty serious crimes he committed while he was CEO of Halliburton. It’s not the anger of betrayed romance and someone nailed to a cross of condoms, but it does involve events that have killed thousands, created a vast petroleum industry cesspool, and stolen the natural resources of a densely populated nation that could have been wealthy and successful instead of buried in grinding poverty and violent conflict.

We desperately need journalists like Julian Assange and sources like Private Bradley Manning to be free and working in this world, although Assange could do a better job of keeping his pants (and condoms) on, clearly. Services like WikiLeaks are essential if we are to have democracy and freedom instead of tyranny. There are things in the world that have a right to privacy, like much of what goes on in our bedrooms, for instance. Our governments are not on that list. The claim is that not being able to keep diplomatic secrets is going to get people killed. That safety depends on it, and nowhere more so than for those fighting wars. Exactly. It’s just those services that we have no need of.

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