Despite the fact that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has not broken any laws, the US government remains determined to get him behind bars, seemingly by any means possible. Attempts to torture Bradley Manning into giving evidence against the Wikileaks founder appear to have failed, but now a US Grand Jury has been set up to gather alternative forms of "evidence". Meanwhile, Washington is actively encouraging Sweden to extradite Assange from Britain, then hand him over. So what exactly is the US government trying to achieve with this global witch-hunt? When and how will it end?
Let's examine four possible reasons why the US government wants to get hold of Julian Assange, and gauge their potential for success.
1. Make An Example Of Him.
This of course is part of the reason why Bradley Manning was tortured. Wikileaks revelations have severely embarrassed the US government, and they are determined to intimidate anyone even thinking of following Manning's or Assange's example.
It won't work, of course. Treating innocent people like hardened criminals only generates increased public resentment of authorities. Just imagine the global outcry if Assange were sent to Gitmo. Then imagine how donations would pour into Wikileaks, and how many more Wikileaks-style sites would spring up in support.
2. Disrupt His Work With Wikileaks.
Even though the US government has not succeeded in having Assange extradited to Sweden, let alone the USA, their efforts have clearly succeeded in hampering his work. Forced to wear an ankle bracelet and visit the local police station twice a day, Assange is effectively under house arrest. His communications and movements are being monitored, and he is forced to spend time with lawyers instead of fellow activists. On top of this, the US government has encouraged groups like Visa, Mastercard and Amazon.com to block donations to Wikileaks, thereby creating a funding problem.
Although Wikileaks is still able to operate and release new leaks, the disruption agenda has been reasonably successful to date. Even the sabotaged submissions "Drop Box" has remained closed. Don't expect US harassment of Assange to end any time soon.
3. Make Julian Assange the New Face Of Evil.
For members of the US military-industrial complex, the Global War On Terror was a conveniently timed replacement for the Cold War. But failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Osama Bin Laden's demise, and the positive vibe of the Arab Spring have been taking the media spotlight from evil terrorists. Meanwhile, the US economy is becoming a basket case and the US public is growing tired of new military adventure. Are those who profit from endless war now searching for a new, exciting battlefield?
Cyber-space is already ablaze with increasingly damaging attacks from nation states and hacker groups, and government funding is being ratcheted up accordingly. By characterizing Assange as one of the bad guys, the US administration can make a clear "with us or against us" delineation, paving the way for increasingly draconian laws to regulate Internet use. Who's going to protect YOUR online information, terrified citizen, and how much are you going to pay them for it?
Again, this is a cynical, short-sighted approach. Compared with anonymous, invisible hackers, Assange presents a convenient face for the marketing of a new Global War On Information. But Assange has done nothing illegal, and nothing worse than any decent media organisation should do. Besides, if they imprison Assange now, others will take his place. If they shut down the Internet, activists will build a new and better one. But meanwhile, of course, there are profits to be made... for someone.
The last motive for US government pursuit of Julian Assange is obvious, but widely over-looked. Top officials have been embarrassed by CableGate and the Collateral Damage video, but what else does Wikileaks have in store for them? Who else might be prepared to leak their secrets?
The world has changed but few people in power seem to understand the implications. They still think they can keep all their skeletons in the closet. Do they really think they can wind pack the technological clock? If they really want to keep their secrets safe, their best hope is to resign, cross their fingers, and go "spend more time with their families".
The US government is not going to suddenly stop harassing and intimidating Julian Assange, Wikileaks, and supporters of all kinds. Only concerted public pressure, combined with proper judicial decision-making in the UK and Sweden, will be able to turn the tide of public opinion and force the US government to back off.
Meanwhile, it's important that Assange not be deported or jailed, as this will seriously threaten Wikileaks' short-term ability to operate. Public support is essential!
Assange will appear at the High Court in London for an extradition appeal hearing on July 12-13th. It's important that people everywhere make their voices of support heard NOW!
Get active right now. You can support Wikileaks on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. You can safely donate to Wikileaks or you can contact your friends, local media and politicians requesting their support.
Together, we can change the world. Courage is contagious, my friends!