What to do about a problem like Sweden
Interesting analysis of Sweden’s approach to sex and the possible dynamic it may have played in the sort of charges brought against Assange, by an American sex worker: The Swedish Pimpocracy.
In this one, we see that Sweden has a repressive approach to dealing with AIDS (and HIV positive people) — one consequence of which has been draconian penalties on the possibility of transmitting AIDS to another. It may be on this basis that — rather than a woman’s autonomy — Sweden’s law comes down hard on unprotected sex. The Link Between WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange and Sweden’s Repressive HIV Law.
So what’s my point? Don’t neglect cultural differences.
Sexual Assault Charges
We finally saw, last Friday, the full text of the charges against Assange: 10 days in Sweden: the full allegations against Julian Assange
The article I agree with Naomi Klein. Wake up! has a good list of the details that people on the ‘nets have gotten wrong about a number of things — when and how Assange was charged, when he left the country, not “fleeing” the country, voluntarily going in the the British police when the warrant was called and so on. Agree or disagree with the rape charges; I don’t care — and in any case, it’s not up to us to judge them but a trial and jury — but do get the facts right.
For those of you convinced that Assange is being framed — remember that the issues involve an extraordinary intersection between the charges and the Wikileaks furor. So using the same rhetoric that rape apologists use in any rape allegations is counter productive. You’ve got plenty of other material to work with rather than slut-shaming of — or even issuing death threats towards — the women involved, which is completely unacceptable. In fact, some indications are that all they wanted was STD tests — which taken together with the first two articles I linked to above, makes a good deal of sense.
For those of you convinced that Assange is guilty, guilty, guilty, please don’t ignore the basic, verifiable, google-able facts. There’s a lot of perfectly usable material here about gray lines, personal boundaries, socialization and a host of other things. I’ve linked to a number of excellent articles using those starting points in previous posts.
I’m not even going to touch the current ‘net frenzy going on with the most unfortunate intersection possible of the above two groups *facepalm*. Except, you know, we see the same damn thing in all other high profile — and not even so high profile — rape cases. This one has just engaged more current social media tools like twitter and snapped in a few high profile media figures. I originally ignored the #Mooreandme as just more of the same, but then it suddenly flipped everything on its head.
I deliberately did not follow #MooreandMe for several reasons. The primary one? I was involved in these same things in the ’90s on Usenet. Been there, done that, have the tshirts, wore them out. Secondly, #Mooreandme itself on twitter? tl;dr. However that all said, this is one of the best meta analyses I’ve seen done in a long time and well worth the read, even if the whole thing surrounding #Mooreandme just makes you want to pull your hair (I do sympathize): How #MooreandMe Worked. Note that it is not actually about Assange and the sexual assault charges he faces; that’s merely the launching point.
I’m not interested in talking about Julian Assange, or the rape allegations, or Keith Olbermann, or Michael Moore. People have done that elsewhere much better than I could—a substantial list of links is available below. My interests are more instrumental: what can we learn about Twitter’s usefulness as a site for activism, having watched #MooreandMe in operation?
That line between online and real life blurs more each year. I may have done this on Usenet back in the day, but this time around, feels like the whole damn world participated.
Imprisonment, Torture, and Article 13
I needed to read just a bit further through the Articles in the Military Code (I picked Article 10). Looks like Manning’s lawyer plans to use Article 13, which is even better. From Article 13 and PFC Bradley Manning:
PFC Bradley Manning, unlike his civilian counterpart, is afforded no civil remedy for illegal restraint under either the Federal Civil Rights Act or the Federal Tort Claims Act. Similarly, the protection from cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment and Article 55 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) does not generally apply prior to a court-martial. Thus, the only judicial recourse that is available is under Article 13 of the UCMJ.
Article 13 safeguards against unlawful pretrial punishment and embodies the precept that an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Article 13 provides that:
No person, while being held for trial, may be subjected to punishment or penalty other than arrest or confinement upon the charges pending against him, nor shall the arrest or confinement imposed upon him be any more rigorous than the circumstances required to insure his presence, but he may be subjected to minor punishment during that period for infractions of discipline.
This is going to be such an ironic twist if the military has to let Manning go because they got too eager to use him to get to Assange. Given that there are at least four current examples of men tried and convicted of espionage right now who have not endured anything similar to Manning (Brad Manning Has Rights!), I’d say Coombs has an excellent case here.
Digby also picked up on the torture aspect of not letting Manning sleep in The Suggestibility Of Bradley Manning:
Sleep deprivation is well known to enhance “suggestibility” and is commonly used in interrogations:
A person’s suggestibility is how willing they are to accept and act on suggestions by others. Interrogators seek to increase a subject’s suggestibility. Methods used to increase suggestibility may include moderate sleep deprivation […]
In addition, Truthout goes into much more detail on why isolation is torture: The Torture of Bradley Manning
Assange was finally interviewed at East Anglia, where he is staying under conditions of bail. The transcript of the interview (along with an audio clip) is here: Transcript: The Assange interview.
Assange has confirmed that the next set of Wikileaks material does concern Bank of America and that it will be released “early next year.”
Digby points out this isn’t about Wikileaks anymore (indeed not, not for quite some time now): No More Secrets
On a lighter note: “WikiLeaks” Becomes a Recognized Word in the English Language.
Greg Mitchell over at Media Fix has been “live blogging” the Wikileaks controversy for nearly a month now. Each day he has a blog entry where he updates throughout the day with relevant articles. A great treasure trove of stuff.
McClatchy has been tracking Wikileaks at their site.