don’t let lying dogs sleep

by Humphrey McQueen
[Speech outside the
British High Commission,
Canberra, 17 August 2012.]

The news that British police had entered the building containing the Embassy of Ecuador gave Melbourne’s Herald-Scum a further chance to distort the Wikileaks-Assange story. According to that Mass Murdoch outlet, hundreds of ‘professional protestors’ were gathering in London. This language came from an organisation, News International, notorious for its professional phone-hacking for profit in contrast to the ‘hacking’ to advance peace and justice that motivates Wikileaks and its hundreds of millions of supporters. So, here we are, the ‘professional protestors’. The implication behind ‘professional’ is that we are being paid. If we were truly professional we would have a union that would not let us work in the extreme cold and rain. Far from being ‘professional’ we are here as amateurs, as lovers of the truth behind the ‘news’ peddled by the professional liars and louts around Murdoch.

To say that one loves truth can be no more than a pious platitude. Indeed, we need to be wary of maxims such as ‘The truth will make us free’. The reality is several times more complicated. What can set us on the path to being freer is the struggle for the truth, especially the battle to communicate the truth beyond a few experts. On top of that hard task is the fact that truth-tellers are likely to end up in prison, Bradley Manning being a prime example. His incarceration is a physical expression of the emotional damage suffered by all whistle-blowers.

Without Bradley Manning, it is much less likely that the US war-machine would be after Wikileaks. Manning is a hero, displaying extraordinary moral and physical courage in withstanding months of soft torture to get him to rat. His reason for passing on the US government documents is why the world needs a Wikileaks. He had evidence of criminality. He told his superiors. They did nothing. In refusing to ‘obey orders’, and thus be complicit in those crimes, he made the material available to the world.

Manning lived out the legend about George Washington’s response when his mother asked him whether he had chopped down the cherry-tree: ‘Mother, I cannot tell a lie’, Successive US governments seem incapable of doing anything else. Their addiction to black propaganda extends to their allies in the UK, Sweden and Australia. As the US journalist and precursor of Wikileaks, I.F. ‘Izzy’ Stone used to put it: ‘All governments are run by liars and nothing they say should be believed.’

Earlier this week, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said that Assange was ‘facing criminal charges’ in Sweden, which is a bare-faced lie. The ‘special relationship’ between the US and UK is not affected by changeovers from Labour to Conservative administrations in Whitehall, as Blair demonstrated with the invasion of Iraq. UK governments are as alarmed as is the CIA at the prospect of endless exposures of its crimes from Wikileaks-style bodies.

At the same time, the Swedish politician driving the investigation in Stockholm was talking about ‘rape’. The ABC maintains a version of that slander by reporting that Assange is wanted for questioning about ‘sexual assault’, as if violence or some kind of coercion had taken place. It is a tribute to the good sense of a majority of Australians that the nature of the possible offence has broken through this campaign of character assassination. The conduct at issue is best described as misconduct and is not any kind of criminal offence in the UK, the US or Australia. However, even if Assange had never gone to Sweden, the US authorities would have come up with some way of diverting attention from their crimes onto him, as they have tried with his family background and with Manning’s sexuality. The tactic aims to fool people into believing that what goes on inside their heads is more important than the crimes they spotlight.

As much as we need to counter the black propaganda from overseas, our target has to be the liars in the ALP administration and the Australian-based media. Prime minister Gillard opened the lying with the allegation that Assange had engaged in criminal activities by releasing ‘top secret’ material. Since the Federal Police blew that charge out of the water, she has taken refuge in the claim that Australia cannot ‘interfere’ in legal processes elsewhere. That line is hard to square with interventions in Indonesia over drug traffickers and in Libya on behalf of a War Crimes lawyer.

The big lie concerns what the government has been doing by way of consular and diplomatic contact. Attorney-General Roxon and Foreign Minister Carr point to the occasions on which officials have approached Assange or his legal team. What they don’t own up to is what they are telling the US and UK authorities. Once a Wikileaks-style body publishes the traffic concerning Assange, politicians and diplomats again will have a tough time maintaining their current positions as anything more than a morass of mendacity.

That exposure has started with information secured by the Fairfax media. We might ask why the content was not freely available in the first place. From the Washington Embassy, US agent of influence Beazley has had one concern above all others. He and Gillard have been pleading for at least a few hours notice of any open moves by the US of A against Assange. The lickspittles need that time to get their lies straight.

The enthusiasm for the ‘American Alliance’ voiced by Gillard and Co. keeps quiet about its core component, namely, the intelligence-sharing network set up in the late 1940s. Breaking secrets is a lowlevel of code-breaking.

A second foretaste of what to expect from the high-level emails came this week when freedom-of-information requests got the assessments from the Department of Defence about the allegation that the Wikileaks had endangered the lives or safety of Australian forces in Afghanistan. The report showed that there was no evidence for that claim. The danger, according to Defence, was that the revelations would further reduce support for the war. Hence, the commitment depends on keeping the truth about corruption and criminalities from the public. The case for keeping some diplomacy top-secret is once more shown to be a defence for deceit.

The wars in the Middle East point to the context needed to make sense of the ALP’s subservience to the US over Wikileaks. As ever, Canberra is giving the war machine what it wants with the Marine base in Darwin, a base for drones out of Katherine and greater access to HMAS Sterling near Perth in a parade of sycophancy during the Obama visit last October which sickened even unquestioning supporters of the Alliance.

Assange fears for his life if tried under the US Patriot Act. No doubt, his fears extend beyond any military commission at Guantanamo to what is likely to befall him on the streets of Quito. Should he get to Ecuador, he will not be safe from the US. They will never give up. Alongside the secret Grand Jury in Virginia preparing to indite Assange, he will know that Washington will also be preparing to oversee his murder. Wherever he goes, he will be a target for an assassination team.

The US military set up its School of Assassins (aka the School of the Americas) to train Latin American officers to murder tens of thousands of trade unionists and other progressives, including Catholic nuns and a bishop. Indeed, President Correa would be watching over his shoulder for an ‘accident’ to his aircraft and for a US-backed coup against his progressive administration even if he had refused Assange’s request for asylum. The US faces a continent wide challenge to its control of resources and markets. Washington backed the failed coup against Chavez in Venezuela in 2002. Two soft coups have succeeded since 2009. More covert actions are in the pipeline to make ‘democracy safe for oil’.

The record shows that there is nothing the rich and powerful won’t do to hang on to their privileges. Why should anyone be amazed at the UK threat to enter Ecuador’s embassy when British governments have been invading countries for hundreds of years, most recently Iraq. Australia’s indigenous people can testify to that tradition.

Reflecting on the hope that the truth will set us free, we find Edward Said’s saying that the duty of the intellectual is to speak truth to power. That obligation is never confined to intellectuals. No one has done more than Bradley Manning to fulfill that moral imperative. So, what should we all be saying to the rich and powerful, that One Percent? First, we must join in telling them what they do not like to hear; even more, we must chorus what they do not want the rest of us to know.

‘Telling the truth’, whether to power or to the powerless, is not enough. Diluting the super-saturated solution of falsehoods that passes for ‘the news’ is valuable only to the extent that it helps to break the power of the US war machine as the advance guard of corporate plunder of the creativity of human labour and of the wealth of nature. That goal has brought us together in Canberra this afternoon in support of governments such as Ecuador’s that display the self-respect so lacking in British High Commission behind us and the national gasworks on the hill in front of us.

11 thoughts on “don’t let lying dogs sleep

  1. Hello Ian,

    I am well aware of the problem of survivors not being believed and I referred to that in my original comment. The situation of Aboriginal women being raped and not believed, as has happened to several people I know, is even more of a problem. However in Assange’s case the women have not only been believed by police but their version of events has been embellished and escalated by the police and this has been used by people other than the women to attack Assange. It is not a matter of believing the women but of believing the conspiritorial motivation of the US/UK/Swedish governments – and I do not believe them.

    The normal process of sex assault cover-up is a conspiracy between the perpetrator and the police to dismiss the pain of the survivor – the power of the patriarchy. But this is the opposite of what has happened in this case

    While it is true that only Assange and the women know what happened, these are not the only relevant facts. We know there was a desire by the US to arrest or assassinate Assange, yet he had broken no law. We know that the US and Australian governments have engaged in a character assassination – before the rape allegations emerged. We know that a request for an HIV test was escalated to rape allegations.

    As long as we ignore the nature of the smear campaign against Assange because it is uncomfortable to feminist ideological orthodoxy, which is the very reason why this has been the mode of attack – divide and conquer, then we have been effectively used and manipulated by those who want Assange dead.

    Whose side are you on, those who accuse Assange of rape or those who accuse the US/UK/Aust/Sweden of a smear campaign? “I just don’t know” is a cop out.

  2. Hello John,

    Assange?
    Assange — victory of egocentricity?

    The problem is that in many cases of sexual assault, the woman is not believed.

    I think Humphrey’s article is a bit too dismissive on the question of Assange’s conduct… especially when no one but the two women and Assange know what actually happened … for an example of how Qld courts are dismissive of the moving testimony of a young woman who brought charges of rape —> see http://www.jumpingfences.com.au/I_Never_Sing.htm

    Ian Curr

  3. Corey,

    I do not think I missed your point, your use of the words “disgusted” and “rape apologist” seem to be pretty clear, as is your comment “If he did what was alleged, then it is assault, not ‘misconduct’.”.

    As much as you might want to avoid or deny the fact that Assange has been set up with false accusations of sexual misconduct/rape/assault, this is what has happened to him.

    Your attempt to separate the attack on Assange as secondary or peripheral or irrelevant to what you might consider to be the real issues is either denial of, or support of, the attacks on him.

    You say – “It’s not about whether Assange assaulted anyone or not.” I say it is a political set up so it is of crucial importance whether he did it or not. You seem to think he did it or might of done it and as such you are being a mouthpiece for his attackers by saying Assange supporters are “rape apologists” or “undermining survivors of sexual assault.”

    Stop providing ammunition for those who want to execute Assange and Manning.

  4. You seem to have missed my point. It’s not about whether Assange assaulted anyone or not. This case is as leaky as a colander without having to perpetuate rape myths.

  5. [youtube=http://youtu.be/8vrx0wfj5B4]

  6. I have much to say on Ecuador and Rafael Correa. In short though, I think two things stand out about Correa:

    a) Correa has a PhD in economics, speaks 7 languages and has written an excellent book attacking neoliberalism called: Ecuador: From Banana Republic to No Republic. I do not know why it has not been translated into English but I suspect it soon will be. In Spanish, it has an excellent introduction by the Argentinian Marxist Atilio Boron. While I am only 40 pages into the book, I am told its strength is that it combines Correa knowledge of economics and Latin American, with his experience as Ecuador’s finance minister – a position he held until he resigned due to his opposition to the government’s continuing acceptance of the Washington Consensus.

    b) Correa is leading what he calls a ‘citizen’s revolution’ and has openly embraced Chavez and his idea of ‘socialism for the 21st century.’ His government defaulted on its foreign debt thanks to Chinese capital and has come under attack due to: its social policies, attempts to create a state channel (Ecuador had ZERO state press until Correa), and stance on a U.S. military base. (Correa famously said he will accept a U.S. military base in Ecuador when the U.S. accepts an Ecuadorian military base in Miami, Florida.) While Ecuador is a very small country, it still is an oil producing state. Correa will most likely continue on his current path while also dedicating himself to writing more books and leave a intellectual legacy.

    The final point is that while his government is far from perfect, and has come under criticisms from sections of the indigenous movement, Correa is not playing a game of bluff against local elites and Washington. In 2010, Correa was held captive by rebellious section of the police force in an attempted coup. As Correa recently told Assange, these police officers were upset because his government ended U.S. financed programs from which they benefited. In the end, Correa was rescued by special forces in the military. The footage of Correa negotiating with the police and at one point yelling at them that if they wanted to kill him, he was prepared to die for his cause, was captured on TV. Likewise, there is footage of Correa in a wheal chair (he was injured by the police) as his body guards try and protect him from police attacks with gas and physical assault. As usual, if you blinked, you would have missed all this in the press due to its terrible and often non-coverage of events.

    Anyway, I’ll try write something on Correa soon. He certainly is a fascinating leader. Back in 2007, I wrote (http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=5478) about his election victory and said he was perhaps one of the brightest leftist leaders Latin America has ever produced. Until, I don’t think I have been proven wrong.

    Rodrigo

  7. Corey,

    The assumption that there are survivors of sexual assault in Assange’s case is a myth implanted by those wanting to discredit Assange. I am disgusted that you would downplay the extent and nature of the persecution by regurgitating the false rape myth.

    Even within the logic and letter of Sweden’s sex laws, there has been no assault. Participants in consensual sex have retrospectively gone to the police to seek an HIV test – and Assange has cooperated.

    We did not invade Afghanistan to liberate Muslim women and Assange is not being extradited to Sweden to face sexual justice. Your equation of Assange support with rape apologetics is the frontline of the propaganda campaign against Assange.

    The politicisation of this particular accusation of sexual assault, by the Swedish/UK/USA states and the ideological supporters of survivors of sexual assault alike, has undermined the proper and correct assumption of the truth of allegations by women and children about what has happened to them. Whether we are sexual trauma counsellors or friends or family of survivors, the assumption of the truth of the story is essential to maintain a supportive relationship – there is no room for doubt when giving such support. However a global public prosecution of the case against Assange is not how survivors are supported, it is something very different going on. The artificial association of the rights, needs and interests of survivors of sexual assault with the high profile global police-state agenda is using rape as a political football that ultimately undermines the importance of always believing the survivor.

    The usual problem in matters of sexual assault is the police won’t believe the survivor, this is perhaps the most important reason why their immediate supporters need to believe them. However in this high profile global case, the police have launched a proactive prosecution without instruction by the women and based on matters beyond the women’s claim. This is just as much as male police power over the survivors, using them as political footballs, as police disbelief and inaction is.

  8. Hello Corey,

    Thanks for your comments and the two articles you have provided.

    Both Humphrey McQueen and Naomi Wolf refer in their articles to the term ‘sexual misconduct‘.

    Kate Harding does not, her article refers to ‘rape allegations’ on three occasions.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but neither of the two women accuse Assange of rape.

    One commentator on the Naomi Wolf article clarifies this point stating:

    “The womens’ combined testimony was not recorded on tape, only summarised by the interviewer. The summary containing the rape allegation was never read back to the woman and was never approved by her, rendering it utterly useless in court.”

    You imply that McQueen is an ‘rape apologist’ because of his use of the term ‘sexual misconduct’ when you prefer ‘sexual assault’ or ‘rape’.

    In my view McQueen’s article is not an apology for rape nor is it an apology for assault on women.

    ‘don’t let sleeping dogs lie’ touches only briefly on allegations of assault on two Swedish women.

    For the most part, McQueen focuses on abject failures by the US, UK and Australian governments. His article is scathing of the Murdoch press. He barely mentions Sweden or incidents that occurred in that country.

    Violence against women must not be condoned and WBT will not publish material that condones any such assault.

    Ian Curr
    23 Aug 2012

  9. I am disgusted that you’d reprint a speech which downplays the seriousness of the allegations against Assange. If he did what was alleged, then it is assault, not ‘misconduct’. It is easy to defend Assange and point out the dodginess of this case without being a rape apologist.

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