What’s with the paragons of journalistic independence? Today Christina Patterson in the Independent, and Max Hastings in his tabloid of choice, The Mail, are slashing at the Assange throat. Max has become the elder statesman and defender of the Establishment (happens to lots of us in our dotage), but Miss Patterson? Not sure what has sparked her revulsion...
Assange accepted (and possibly facilitated the transfer of) information extracted by an American from an American source, and now that the American has placed this information into the pubic domain, he is passing it on. He also had sex with two women who seemed happy enough to put out the goods on a first date but then quibbled about the guy’s manners in the sack. Most certainly, “No” means “No”, and if one half of a coupling insists on a condom then it should be mandatory. But, sex – in its infinite spectrum – can only be policed through the courts with the greatest of difficulty. By its very nature it is an intimate act between (usually) two individuals and the business of no one else. Frankly, these women climbed into bed with a comparative stranger – if things don’t happen quite as you expect who else might be to blame other than the bloke who’s taking advantage of your loose morals? And just to put this one away: Rape is not sex, and rape must be policed through the courts.
No, what we have here are a couple of groupies who succumbed to the charms of a sexual chancer and some time later decided to go to the police for advice. Whatever their concerns over bedroom etiquette were, can you imagine Mr Plod saying “no Madam, that’s all within the law and permissible”. Of course he isn’t going to. When faced with such decisions, by their very nature, peelers tend to suspect wrongdoing as a default setting and incline towards prosecution. A more intelligent and considered place to go for advice might have been a lawyer. Actually, Max, he does look like a sleazeball, so I’m kind of with you on the description and wonder at his amorous success except that power, notoriety, wealth, and danger make effective tart-traps (and I admit that Assange is less of a sleazeball when he opens his mouth and reveals himself to be articulate and intelligent, albeit a touch self-important).
But I don’t accept the suggestion that there is anything shown to be substantive that requires his surrender into the hands of foreign law enforcement, particularly when another country, the one that invented rendition and sanctions torture, wants his extradition into its morally ambiguous jurisdiction. I’m damn sure I wouldn’t go. And this is not a thing of the past – read about the conditions in which Bradley Manning is being held. US law is big on “the fruit of the poisoned tree”. I would think that their physical and psychological coercion of Manning should be prejudicing a future case against Assange if that case hinges on Manning’s testimony. Manning is going to break soon and will say whatever he has to in order to avoid further brutal treatment.
By the way, why was Assange, (who voluntarily gave himself up and had every reason not to abscond given his belief in a moral duty and the moral advantage for him in remaining available) denied bail, and then given it under such stringent conditions? And, why the call for Assange to return to Sweden when the Swedish prosecutors are quite capable of getting on a plane and coming to England to interview him? Assuming our inept airports are open.
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