Julian Assange’s heroes

Matt Drudge. Rand Paul. Ron Paul.
And he thinks banning abortion reflects “non-violence.”

Matt Drudge. Ron Paul. Rand Paul.
Oh, and he thinks taxation is “extortion” and that anti-abortion laws reflect “non-violence.”
Well, what did you expect from Israel Shamir’s buddy?

“The libertarian aspect of the Republican party is presently the only useful political voice really in the U.S. Congress. It will be the driver that shifts the United States around. It’s not going to come from the Democrats. It’s not going to come from Ralph Nader. It’s not going to come from the co-opted parts of the Republican party. The only hope as far as electoral politics is concerned, presently, is the libertarian section of the Republican party.”

Progressive? Srsly?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

27 thoughts on “Julian Assange’s heroes”

  1. “a privileged white guy who feels oppressed” is a good turn of phrase by Bob Cesca, it really does describe a type that currently exists in western politics at the moment. Their conception of freedom never seems to include people of color or women (e.g., women’s freedom to not have sex with them if they don’t want to).

    1. I wouldn’t limit it to current western politics. Classical liberalism has always been a political movement of the establishment (e.g., the founding fathers and much of early 19th century American politics). A policy of minimal laws favors actual privilege (cue Anatole France, “the law in its majestic equality …”). And libertarianism dials that up a few more notches (especially fascinating is how many libertarians [1] seem to have little objection to laws that perpetuate existing privilege).

      Related is also the often-heard comment that TSA procedures are unpopular not because their cost/benefit ratio is way off or because they infringe on civil liberties, but because white people suddenly got treated in ways that were supposedly reserved for blacks and hispanics.

      [1] In fairness, that’s not a universal trait amongst libertarians, but it’s common enough.

      1. “Classical liberalism has always been a political movement of the establishment ….A policy of minimal laws favors actual privilege”.

        This is really the crux, isn’t it? Freedom is excellent if indeed it is freedom. Yet this ideology is rooted in the assumption of freedoms where they do not exist, i.e. “privileges”. Kids who grow up in families that don’t provide the nurturing to enable them to avail themselves of whatever level playing field exists are not in fact “free”. Structural realities of growing up segregated, or in a culture that favors the promotion of efficacy in the male, but not the female, identity are limitations on freedom. Markets do not merely operate in ignorance of these realities, but are often complicit in the capitalization and exploitation of these inequities. Thus the lack of freedom is perpetuated, legitimated, and solidified.

        An example of this process in the flesh is the existence of the poverty-wage, low-skilled worker. They are assumed to be completely free in the classical sense, having chosen their profession. Yet low-skill workers on average come in general not from the privileged, but from the disadvantaged classes. If freedom existed in the classical sense, and privilege did not matter, you would see low-skill workers coming as equally from privileged backgrounds as not. The same could be said of prostitution: are sex-workers not free? According to the backgrounds from which they generally arise, the answer is clearly no, they are not.

        All of this is so terribly old, with endless amounts of data backing it up. Yet it seems to be as feeble as ever in penetrating the classical liberal ideological framework to which so many politicians, pundits and average citizens adhere.

  2. Why does this merely remind me of Nelson Mandela sitting from his jail cell supporting Ghadaffi and the Soviet Union because those were the ones most loudly calling for his release during the 1970s? Assange looks at the world through the prism in which he currently sits, and one can say civil liberties is a major personal issue for him. And right now Obama is not on the side of civil liberties when it comes to being critical of the actions of the American foreign policy establishment. And again Assange is in the thick of it regarding that issue.

    We’ll see where Assange stands on Drudge and Rand and Ron Paul if or when Assange finds his freedom again. Mandela, after all, found his way to be critical of his supporters after his release.

    1. If this is the correct interpretation it means that Assange has a really short memory. It also concedes the point that he has a narrow definition of “civil liberties”.

  3. I can’t comment Mark because I signed…

    WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange now makes his associates sign a draconian nondisclosure agreement that, among other things, asserts that the organization’s huge trove of leaked material is “solely the property of WikiLeaks,” according to a report Wednesday. “You accept and agree that the information disclosed, or to be disclosed to you pursuant to this agreement is, by its nature, valuable proprietary commercial information,” the agreement reads, “the misuse or unauthorized disclosure of which would be likely to cause us considerable damage.”


  4. From CBS News, yesterday:

    Since the public learned in June about sweeping National Security Agency programs, government officials from President Obama on down have insisted the nation’s surveillance programs are subject to layers of oversight…

    However, the latest revelation that the NSA violated privacy rules thousands of times, as documented in an internal report — an internal report withheld from at least one leader in Congress responsible for oversight — proves the president and several others in Washington were wrong. The NSA broke privacy rules more than 2,700 times within just one year, according to a May 2012 internal NSA report that was leaked to the Washington Post, along with other secret documents…

    “The documents, provided earlier this summer to The Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, include a level of detail and analysis that is not routinely shared with Congress or the special court that oversees surveillance,” the Post wrote …
    House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said in July on “Face the Nation” that there are “zero privacy violations” in the NSA programs…

    White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest released a statement echoing the point that “the majority of the compliance incidents are unintentional.” …

    However, the documents shared with the Post make clear that the NSA deliberately withheld some information from oversight bodies, such as the 2008 unintentional interception of a “large number” of calls placed from Washington, D.C. ..
    “This is what happens when you have secret laws, no meaningful oversight, and people in charge who think the Constitution wasn’t written for them,” Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., said in a statement following the news of the NSA internal report.”

    When are you going to get it through your head that this is not about whether Assange is a good guy or a bad guy?

    1. “Assange is a tool” is the lefty mirror-image of “Al Gore is fat.”

      When the facts are uncomfortable, talk about the personalities instead.

        1. When are you going to get it through your head that this is not about whether Assange is a good guy or a bad guy?

          But this post precisely “is” about whether or not JAss is a good or bad guy. Obviously that’s not what you want Mark to write about, and that makes you all pissy inside. Here’s an idea even a “freedom-loving”libertarian should be able to get: Mark has “a right” to play whack-an-evil-albino for fun and giggles. And if it helps a few people wake up to the fact that JAss isn’t some high-minded, noble, info-just-wants-to-be-free sort of guy…. all the better. The guy is a weasel’s prick. The more that know it the better.

          1. I think both of you are mostly correct. Mark has written another is his seemingly endless series of posts in which he calls Assange an asshole. The commentariat, recognizing the pointlessness of yet more pointless Assange name calling, looks for some larger point and responds to it. But as from what I can see, there’s really nothing to respond to because there isn’t a larger point. It is just Mark calling Assange an asshole for the umpteenth time.

            I, however, would make a larger point that is similar to that made by Freeman. The debate about Assange as a person flows from the fact that when the Democratic Party was in opposition it strongly condemnedand actually campaigned against the surveillance state being established under President Bush. Yet, now that the Democrats are in power, they and much of the center left are trapped because President Obama has continued and even expanded many of those policies. What I believe we are seeing is the problem of the party of the center left being lead by a man of the center right.

          2. No one has worked harder to make these issues about Julian Assange’s personality than Julian Assange. If he truly cared about his cause, he would shut up, but it’s always been all about him in his own little mind.

            It is still of course worth debating surveillance and secrecy apart from Assange, and Mark has done that here repeatedly, so it is silly for people to say that him calling out Assange’s horrible nature is somehow an effort not to deal with policy issues about which he has written many times.

  5. Assange’s significance is his all-too-rare willingness to take on the secrecy/surveillance state into which the U.S. has drifted, along with the Western Alliance in general and even the world more broadly. He has certainly had an impact there, and that role is of course open to debate and criticism. His personality, peccadilloes and politics are a good bit off the point. Even if one find much to criticize in those personal characteristics, we should be slow to celebrate if the powers that be succeed in crushing him.

    1. Assange’s significance is his all-too-rare willingness to take on the secrecy/surveillance state into which the U.S. has drifted, along with the Western Alliance in general and even the world more broadly.

      Rare maybe, but hardly unique. There are still plenty of others. I have no idea why so many people seem to like Julian Assange as their anointed champion (I can understand why the press focuses on Assange; he makes for good copy, and they need a memorable face, but that’s an entirely different motivation from trying to muster effective opposition to bad policies).

  6. Let’s generalize!

    It was a deeply dishonorable and immoral policy to send aid to Stalin in WWII.

    Assuming everything we have heard is true, and perhaps worse still, JA is probably not quite as bad as Stalin?

    Right now his organization seems to be the only one, worldwide, capable of providing material assistance to the National Hero and Patriot, Edward Snowden.

    1. Not quite true. Speaking of Stalin, Snowden is getting quite a bit of help from KGB colonel Putin, whose surveillance state Assange doesn’t seem to find objectionable. And Snowden – your “National Hero and Patriot” and a Ron Paul contributor – decided that the Land of the KGB was a more friendly place than the Land of the Free.

      I’m glad that the Manning/Snowden/Greenwald/Assange axis has put the surveillance issue on the table. I’m even glad that Rand Paul has decided to play along. And yes, I’m glad that Stalin helped defeat Hitler.

      But unlike some of my friends on the Blue Team, I can tell the difference between Stalin’s help in defeating Hitler and Churchill’s help in the same cause. Churchill was, by his (not always brilliant) lights, a friend of human freedom. Stalin was an enemy of human freedom, temporarily and accidentally useful in defeating another enemy. I’m grateful to Assange, Greenwald, Rand Paul, and their unfortunate pawns in just about the same way I would have been to Stalin. The point is not to mistake a fellow traveler for a true friend.

      1. Obviously, for Snowden, the Land of the KGB is a more friendly place than the Land where Bradley Manning and John Kiriakou are in prison for revealing U.S. war crimes and torture.

      2. Churchill a friend to human freedom? Tell that to the Indians and Iraqis….To Churchill, they were all “wogs” who should be second class citizens.

        Strategically, Churchill did more to frustrate FDR’s desire to open a second front to more speedily defeat Hitler, leaving most of that job to the Russian people and of course Stalin. So the strange part is that Stalin, the enemy of freedom, ends up promoting freedom in defeating Hitler. Life is complicated, ain’t it?

        As for me, I am not part of any axis, but I do know that Assange, Manning, Greenwald and Snowden deserve our thanks. We don’t have to support them any more than we supported the domestic policies of Stalin (Stalin killed kulaks, Andrew Jackson killed Indians, by the way…), or Stalin’s ordering the murder of Polish partisans in the Katyn forest.

        Also, let’s not blame Snowden for wanting to find safety from Obama (and Obama’s Republican friends like McCain who want to see Snowden dead) and had to end up in Putinland.

        I think, Mark, you should analyze your negative feelings about Snowden and ask yourself if you’d feel this way if he was running from Cheney-Bush officials.

      3. “Not quite true.”

        Quite true. (See, I’m good at assertions too, but I am coincidentally a very interested student of the Eastern Front)

        “I’m grateful to Assange, Greenwald, Rand Paul, and their unfortunate pawns…”

        I really don’t understand the lumping together here at all, except as a knee-jerk reaction from a highly motivated political partisan. That’s sad. The issues really are a lot bigger than a massively corrupt Republican party and and oh, let’s call it 50% corrupt Democratic party. And this isn’t about the clearly flawed personalities of the players.

        There doesn’t seem to be anyone on the SameFacts team that understands global IT structure, deep down. And how that structure affects global civil liberties. A blind spot, literally. Not ONCE have any of you addressed the underlying state of play, as it has unfolded, inexorably (but quite predictably) to today. Instead, it’s just a steady dribble of recriminations against these current, essentially doomed players.

        1. Whoops, in dashing in while cooking the Ras al Hanout marinated, indirect grilled lamb chops over rose wood, making the baba ghanouj from Japanese eggplants from the garden, and the marinated tomatoes, also from the garden, I misread Mark’s “not true”.

          To address that, so what? Putin’s a corrupt mafia/KGB goon. The US quite stupidly pissed him off. So Snowden gets to “live” in Russia for a year. Then what? Right. His endgame is suicide or a life sentence in a US prison, and he’d be lucky to avoid Bradley Manning’s torture.

          Now, later tonight we’re off to San Diego to snorkle La Jolla cove, and I’m going to try to forget about the latent fascists of all stripes who seem to always live among us.

      4. “Speaking of Stalin, Snowden is getting quite a bit of help from KGB colonel Putin”

        Apparently you think that Snowden has an obligation to turn himself over to people who want to put him in solitary confinement for life if they can’t manage to execute him.
        Would you please let us know how you reconcile your views on incarceration with your belief that Snowden’s decision to avoid the American criminal justice system by the only means open to him makes him into a hypocrite.

  7. […]
    David Miranda, who lives with Glenn Greenwald, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.30am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals.

    The 28-year-old was held for nine hours, the maximum the law allows before officers must release or formally arrest the individual. According to official figures, most examinations under schedule 7 – over 97% – last under an hour, and only one in 2,000 people detained are kept for more than six hours.

    Pissing off the Government Via Investigative Journalism Can Be Bad for Your Loved Ones: Glenn Greenwald’s Partner Detained, Possessions Stolen Under UK Terrorism Act

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