B.G., a blogger with The Economist, notes Julian Assange’s strategy and says the following:
It’s telling that Mr Assange hasn’t placed his servers in some technically capable autocracy with a desire to thumb its nose at the world, say Iran or Venezuela. He needs liberal democracies. Their laws guarantee the safety of his information. And when trying to solve what looks like a digital problem, the best path is to consider where the problem is physically vulnerable. Anti-spammers, for example, have finally notched up some successes in the last two years by going after server locations; spammers need servers in places like America, which has reliable networks and vast fields of vulnerable personal computers. But America also has laws, and ways to enforce them.
The entire point to Wikileaks is radical transparency, a view that the average person deserves to know the innermost workings of the systems they live within. No government can live up to such a rule consistently, but while the “representative” ones at least make a show of denial — “yeah yeah, you’re involved, just pull the lever and go away, the experts are at work” — an autocracy openly says The People will know squat and like it. Iran not being an ideal place for a Wikileaks server is, on a scale of obviousness, somewhere between the answer to 2+2 and “drinking battery acid is not a good idea”. Some states having useful loopholes is not, in and of itself, a defense of states as a concept if your standard is essentially Government Kryptonite.
My gripe against Mr Assange is that he takes advantage of the protections of liberal democracies, but refuses to submit himself to them. If he wants to use the libel protections guaranteed by New York State, then he should live in New York, and commit himself to all of the safety and consequences of America’s constitution. If he wants to use Sweden’s whistleblower laws, then he should return to Sweden and let its justice system take its course. This, as we’ve written in the paper, is what distinguishes Mr Assange from Daniel Ellsberg. Mr Ellsberg did not flee America after releasing the Pentagon Papers; he stayed here and stood trial. Regardless of what you think about Mr Ellsberg’s motives, he followed the basic tenets of civil disobedience: break a law, then publicly accept the consequences. Mr Assange just protects himself.
I wouldn’t be so quick to talk up the “safety” of the U.S. constitution while U.S. politicians are screaming for his head on a plate…
That line drive out of the way, considering how many different entities are touched by these latest revelations (BTW: the focus on the U.S. is largely due to its self-claimed hegemony & the relative tunnel vision of its media. When the subject is foreign policy, the reaction of others is looked at as if it were chuckle-worthy.), it seems almost quaint to think there’s a certain one to accept consequences from. What’s being disobeyed is bigger than any particular nation.