CRPS, or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (Type 1), is a change in the nervous system that's usually triggered by a very painful episode. The bad kinds affect the brain, nerves, muscles, skin, metabolism, circulation, and fight-or-flight response. Lucky me; that's what I've got. ... But life is still inherently good (or I don't know when to quit; either way) and, good or not, life still goes on.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Julian Assange and Swedish herrings (red)

The Interpol-ation of Julian Assange, the most widely-known of the Wikileaks founders, is a thoroughgoing exercise in logical fallacies and predatory smoke-screening.

First, the fallacies...

Straw man: The sex was consensual, though it may have gotten out of hand in one case. Charges weren't brought until the two girlfriends found out about each other. They backed and forthed about whether they wanted to press charges or not. (Whether large men in dark suits paid them furtive visits is open to debate.)

Selective memory: Sweden has a shamefully high rate of unexamined, unpursued, unprosecuted cases of true rape -- that is, forced sex, nonconsensual sex, sex with minors. Why pursue this sexual "irregularity" over condom use and infidelity?

Entrapment: Why give him direct permission to leave the country, at his explicit request, then send the Rottweilers after him?

These charges are not designed to bring someone down. They're designed to tie him up. How else were they going to keep tabs on someone who can afford to dress like that without having a fixed address?

The real harm was not done by Assange. That imputes too much leverage to a self-infatuated ho with mad hash skillz.

The U.S. was hoist by its own sloppy petard. The State Department and the Military decided to share records, without sharing precautions. Let's look at that, shall we?

The U.S. State Department, whose core purpose is the pursuit and use of social and political information, has an educational requirement involving alphabet soup behind your name; a staggering array of tests; and a final examination for *entry-level positions* that takes days to complete. The computers are subject to high levels of security, including an inability to even accept removable media.

The U.S. Military has three things it wants to know: What's your name? Got a pulse? All your parts attached? And some people scrape by on the third try.

The military develops some of the fiercest computer security in the world, but guess what? Removable media! Oh, and all that State Department data ... accessible by anybody with technical skills. Guess what the Army and Air Force specifically teach? Technical skills, maybe?

Well done.

So here's the setup:

Tons, masses, heaps of socio-political data ...
- collected on the basis of strict secrecy
- sometimes at terrible personal risk
- on people and issues who remain viable and valuable;

Gets passed by the State Dept. ...
- from graduate-prepared, carefully-selected, highly-socialized personnel
- in an environment with lojack and hijack protections in place
- with no meaningful guarantees of its continued protection;

To the U.S. Military,
- an organization with minimal entry requirements
- and a post-adolescent social environment
- staffed by technically competent personnel.

Doesn't that seem kind of silly to you? I realize most of us are not masters-prepared, much less possessed of a law degree, but pure common sense would make that unthinkable. Wouldn't it?

Now, as for the leaky boy ...

While being accused of being gay is a common put-down these days, in the U.S. Military this accusation could lead to someone losing his job, his housing situation, his social network, and his entire career path. Feel powerless, much?

They're isolating, freezing, and tormenting an idiot kid over the staggering, monumental idiocy of the Military implementation of secrecy AND the State Department's lack of due diligence.

They're hunting down and marginalizing a tired, aging hack who misjudged the value of his own charms, over his willingness to advertise that kind of collective stupidity.

There were a whole lot of much brighter, much better-educated, far better-informed people who fucked up on a simply staggering scale before Assange or that kid ever got into this.

Where are the courts martial? Where are the heads that should be rolling out the state dept. doors and down the steps -- bouncing on the way?

The real damage, sadly, is to the wider world. The US has lost credibitlity and leverage on the world stage to a degree unmatched by anything since the initial invasion of Iraq. That, folks, is the real tragedy: we have demonstrated that we are poisonous even to our most important friends.

How many more will die for _this_ mistake, eh?


  1. The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" garbage has finally been axed. That won't be implemented for some time, though.

    Keep in mind that those who Asked never did get court-martialed, but those who Told anything incriminating about themselves -- or who were under sufficient suspicion -- certainly were. (That disparity is also illogical, and technically illegal.)

    That kid's childish burst of vindictive power-play was just as foreseeable and just as comprehensible as ever, because the DA/DT legislation was still in full force.

  2. I will have to re-evaluate my thoughts regarding damage:

    "The real damage, sadly, is to the wider world. The US has lost credibitlity and leverage on the world stage to a degree unmatched by anything since the initial invasion of Iraq. That, folks, is the real tragedy: we have demonstrated that we are poisonous even to our most important friends."

    My view is focused not so much on the damage as it is on the masks falling of everybody in power and how we, common peasants, end up in the crowd targeted by "Manufacturing Consent", Chomski's words.
    In the end the question becomes "can we live as a species rather than nationalistic troglodytes", because if we can't we will justify the statements made by three great men:

    “There is almost no kind of outrage—torture, imprisonment without trial, assassination, the bombing of civilians—which does not change its moral color when it is committed by ‘our’ side. The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.” George Orwell

    “Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.” George Washington

    “One of the great attractions of patriotism—it fulfills our worst wishes. In the person of our nation we are able, vicariously, to bully and cheat. Bully and cheat, what’s more, with a feeling that we are profoundly virtuous.” Aldous Huxley

  3. ...and let the games begin?

    China’s Naval Ambitions

    Beijing’s drive to extend its military and territorial reach is making America’s close allies in the region nervous and raising legitimate questions about American diplomacy and future military procurement. The commander of America’s Pacific forces recently revealed that China could soon deploy a ballistic missile capable of threatening American aircraft carriers in the region.

    The Pentagon has a long history of hyping the Chinese threat to justify expensive weapons purchases, and sinking well-defended ships with ballistic missiles is notoriously hard. But what should rightly concern American military planners is not so much the missile but the new Chinese naval strategy behind it.

    China seems increasingly intent on challenging United States naval supremacy in the Western Pacific. At the same time it is aggressively pressing its claims to disputed offshore islands in the East and South China Seas. Washington must respond, carefully but firmly.



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