Now, I know what you are thinking. It’s become fashionable to call for the WikiLeaks’ founder to be assassinated (Tom Flanagan), or charged with terrorism (Newt Gingrich), or hunted down like “al-Qaida leaders” (Sarah Palin on Facebook).
Right-wing types are reaching rhetorical heights in describing what they’d like to see done to Julian Assange. But, in the dark recesses of their tiny black hearts, a lot of conservative politicians love him.
Those “al-Qaida leaders” who somehow mysteriously eluded Palin’s party when it controlled the White House — as well as the entire U.S. military and intelligence establishment — for year after year? Well, maybe some enemies are more useful alive than dead.
Assange is probably the best bogeyman the right-wing has had since Osama bin Laden (still at large, Mrs. Palin). He’s a gangly, pale foreigner with a weird accent and weirder haircut — in short, he’s an academic. Ipso facto, he’s a conservative’s ideal enemy.
As such, there is no chance that any sensible conservative will actually participate in a plot to dispatch the WikiLeaks boss with “a drone,” which apparently is my friend Flanagan’s weapon of choice.
If Assange did not exist, it would have been necessary for conservatives to invent him.
However, as a card-carrying member of the same latte-sipping, Volvo-driving, secular-humanistic One-World-Government elitist cabal from which Julian Assange sprang, permit me to say this: I’m not a big fan.
I don’t like that he has been blase about how the leaks have, truly, put some lives at risk. I don’t like how he has styled himself as a selfless martyr — when former U.S. Army private Bradley Manning took all the risks, and is consequently contemplating a lifetime in jail.
I don’t like Assange saying he’s a journalist, and then threatening to release a “thermonuclear device,” if someone goes after him with a legitimate legal process. That’s not how real journalists talk.
And, most of all, I don’t like the serious crimes with which he was charged this past week. If guilty of rape, as the Swedes allege, Assange deserves far more time behind bars than Manning.
That all said, here’s the unvarnished Wiki-truth, unpopular as it may be: WikiLeaks has done some good.
For starters, if you believe in free speech and a free press — and true conservatives should — then Assange is doing what any journalist would do. Some of the finest newspapers in the world — The New York Times, Le Monde, El Pais in Spain, The Guardian in Britain and Der Spiegel in Germany — are his media partners. Last time I checked, no one was targeting any of them with a drone.
The way some U.S. conservatives are reacting, you’d think Assange typed up every one of those 250,000 diplomatic cables himself. In reality, WikiLeaks has helpfully shown the world the American diplomatic corps is completely reckless with sensitive information — and shockingly indifferent to its allies. Without cable-gate, neither problem was going to get fixed. Now, they may be.
Importantly, WikiLeaks has unearthed wrongdoing, across the globe. The exposure of a secret dirty tricks manual by the Church of Scientology in 2008? The shocking 2007 videotape of a U.S. Apache helicopter machine-gunning to death Iraqi children and citizens in Baghdad — and a Reuters journalist? WikiLeaks.
Exposure of pedophiles in U.S. sporting associations? Documentation of corruption in the Kenyan government, or in British banks, or in U.S. fraternal groups? All WikiLeaks.
You may be unconvinced. But at the end of yet another WikiWeek, it really doesn’t matter what any of us think of Assange.
As of this morning, there are more than 500 WikiLeak mirror sites around the planet.
WikiLeaks’ founder may be disappearing.
But WikiLeaks is not.
— Kinsella is a lawyer, consultant and Liberal Party spin-doctor. He blogs at warrenkinsella.com