Julian Assange Oslo Freedom Forum 2010
Posted by DeadAnarchistPhil on February 23, 2011
With the verdict on Julian Assange’s extradition case being delivered tomorrow, and extradition expected, I thought I’d post this speech by him. I’m doing this to show why it’s happening to him and why he does what he does and why we should too. It took place in Oslo, Finland. I had read this before but to my shame I only skimmed it, and so did not really pick up on Its importance untill just thirty minutes ago when I had an interesting but worrying conversation with my friend Sam.
If you’d rather watch than read then watch the video at the bottom of the page. If you do choose to read I recommend you take your time and take it all in properly because it’s important. I know I so that a lot, but it truly is.
Julian Assange of the website Wikileaks.
So, we have heard a lot here [At the Oslo Freedom Forum] about the problems in the developing world and in the work that I have done, certainly I have covered many of those and we are censored in all of the rogues gallery States, China, Iran, Israel . I don’t want to talk however, today, too much about that, because censorship in the West is also a problem. Censorship in the West is used to legitimise censorship in other countries and abuses in the West of enlightenment ideals, which we should all hold dear. And the corrosion of those ideals not only impoverishes Western countries it is also used as an excuse for terrible abuses in other countries. In particular, countries that followed the common law that was set up by the British Empire. For example abuses of Libel Law were used in Africa to imprison some fine journalists in severe conditions based, on precedents set in the UK.
So I’m not sure how many people here are familiar with the basics of my work and I’ll just try and go very briefly through that, so you can try and understand where I’m coming from. As a journalist and as a programmer and as a someone who was involved in the embryonic internet and bringing the internet to people and bringing that great tool of information and publishing freedom to people, I saw that we could achieve a lot of reform with a little bit of work. Of course you all know this and you should remember Solzhenitsyn’s words “In the right moment one word of truth outweighs the world”. Solzhenitsyn was referring to a world of lies. This still is true for information across the world and it is also true for the information in the West. That in some cases one classified video can possibly stop a war and maybe fifty definitely can. So, we tried to pull together a system to automate that process. To get as much new material, censored material, restricted material – material that we thought would achieve political reform into the historical record and keep it there. We have in the process become the publisher of last resort. We have in the past three years been attacked over 100 times legally and have succeeded against all of those defenses by building an International multi-jurisdictional network, by using every trick in the book that multi-national companies use to route money through tax havens. Instead we route information through different countries to take advantage of their laws both for publishing and for protection of sources. That endeavor has been successful in putting over a million restricted documents into the historical record that weren’t there before. That is more pages of information than is in Wikipedia, that we have gotten into the intellectual record, that had been restricted.
In 1953 after Stalin died, Beria the NKVD Chief (the Chief of the Secret Police) fell out of favor and was executed. The great encyclopedia of the Soviet Union had an entry on Beria three pages long, and the publisher sent out a replacement to say that this must be removed and be replaced by an expanded version of the Bering Strait (that body of water between Vladivostok and Alaska). Into every library that bit of paper passed and was pasted in some cases by some librarians, but not in others, into the Soviet encyclopedia and ripped out in some cases but always the glue still visible. That’s not true anymore in the West because archives of information have been centralised on computers. The Guardian’s archives are only in one place, they’re not in libraries all across the nation that people look for, they’re only looked for on the internet and because of copyright legislation they’re not copied elsewhere to other places on the internet. So when something disappears from the archives, the electronic archives of the West, to which all information is moving into, it is gone forever. It is not only cease to have existed it is ceased to ever have existed. And when you go to those webpages that have been removed from Western papers you wont see the tale lines, you will just see ‘page not found’, you wont see anything in the index at all. We are now approaching the state of Orwell’s dictum, perfect dictum. That: “He who controls the present controls the past.” He who controls internet servers, controls the intellectual record of mankind. And by controlling that controls our perceptions of who we are. And by controlling that he control’s what laws and regulations we make in society. So the specific example that I’d like to give and there are many, many hundreds of these, and no doubt most of you are not aware of them, is a litigious billionaire by the name of Nadhmi Auchi the 5th richest man in the UK at one stage. Who’s birthday painting was signed by 146 members of the House of Commons. A very well-connected man. Connected politically connected in business and connected in the Social Establishment of the UK. He attempted to remove through legal threats, articles about his conviction for corruption in France in 2003 in the ‘Elf Aquitaine scandal’… And he just sent legal threats, he never went to court. And The Guardian removed four articles about that case from its records that were over five years old and it never told its readers. They were removed from the index, when you follow links to them you just see ‘page not found’. And so did The Times and so did the London Independent and so did major internet companies in the United States. But, that’s just one example of a litigious billionaire and there are hundreds. In the UK right now there are 300 secret gag orders. Those are gag orders that not only prevent the press from reporting corruption and abuse, they prevent the press from reporting that the press has been gagged.
This is not the liberal democracy that we had all dreamed of, this is an encroaching privatized censorship regime and just like everything else in the West that becomes privatized and fiscalised: censorship also is not only a mechanism that is implied by the State it is something that can be hijacked by wealthy plutocrats. By big companies to use the coercive mechanisms of the State through the judicial system, through unequal access to the judicial system, through patronage networks to have material removed permanently from the historical record. So in the West and we are after all in Norway, we should not be too proud about our sense that there is no State censorship, because we have privatised State censorship. We have made it more complex and not as obvious. It is not a brute hammer anymore it is a sophisticated device. Like money laundering through Caribbean tax shelters is a sophisticated device where the brutality is hidden in its complexity. Similarly, when we see the path that countries like the United States which once had a proud tradition of ‘freedom of the press’, is going down. We have to question whether it is really holding those values anymore and what we should do about it, because if we don’t have Western countries as a beacon on the hill for enlightenment values, what countries are left to hold that value?
You may, those of you who are familiar here with World War II, may remember the statement that was put by the Nazi’s on the front of the concentration camps that “Work brings freedom” an idea that Himmler had when he himself was in prison. But, in my investigations of exposing documents which include many abuses by the United States Military, which include the main manuals for prison camps like Abu’ghraib, Bagram and Guantanamo. I have seen pictures on the front of those camps of their slogans. So guess which camp has “Honour Bound to Defend Freedom” on the front of it. “The defense of freedom as a value” is on the front of Guantanamo Bay. And I say as a perversion of the truth that that slogan is worse than ‘work brings freedom’. And we in the West should be aware of that perversion and understand that the alliance that once existed between liberals and libertarians and the military industrial complex in opposing Soviet abuses in the cold war, is gone. That once upon a time people who stood up for enlightenment values domestically in Western countries, that stood up for Human Rights and Freedom of the Press domestically in Western countries. Libertarians, liberals and the press itself were in a tacit alliance with war hawks, they were in a tacit alliance with those people who opposed the Soviet Union merely for geopolitical reasons and that alliance was to pick up a moral stick and to beat the abuses, the terrible abuses of the Soviet Union in relation to censorship. But, as of 1991 that artificial alliance, that temporary alliance has dissipated and so now we see a split and a reversion back to a different standard. Where the natural interests of authority, the natural interests of intelligence agencies, the natural interests of the military is in stifling press reporting of abuse and it has been reasserted in Western countries.
So in this broader framework of what we do, it is to try and build a historical record, an intellectual record of how civilization actually works in practice now, from the inside. Everywhere in every country around the world because all our decisions , individual decisions, our political decisions are based upon what we know. Humanity is nothing but what we know and what we have and what we have can be replaced and degrades quickly. What we know is everything and it is our limit of what we can be. So before we embark on any particular political stratagem we first have to know where we are because if we don’t know where we are, it is impossible for us to know where we’re going. Likewise it is impossible to correct abuses unless we know that they are going on.
So I ask you to think about the words of Machiavelli, think about them in their negative when he said: “Thus it happens in matters of State for knowing a far off which is only given a prudent man to do. The evils that are brewing, they are easily cured but when for want of such knowledge they are allowed to grow ’till everyone can recognize them, there is no longer any remedy to be found”. So this secret planning is secret usually for a reason because if it is abusive it is opposed. So it is our task to find secret abusive plans and expose them where they can be opposed before they are implemented because if they are exposed by the implementation, by people suffering from that abuse then the abuse has already occurred and then it is too late.
Oslo Freedom Forum Part One:
Oslo Freedom Forum Part Two:
This entry was posted on February 23, 2011 at 11:55 pm and is filed under News and politics, Religious, Political and Social Hypocrisy. Tagged: Britain, Case, Court, Extradition, False Allegations, Freedom, Julian Assange, Oslo Freedom Forum 2010, postaweek2011, Rape, State Censorship, Sweden, The West, UK, Verdict, Wikileaks. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.