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WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Arrested, to Invoke Nuclear Option?

Dec 7, 2010

Julian Assange was arrested in England today. What now?

Picture 13 WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Arrested, to Invoke Nuclear Option?

Well, it finally happened. British Police arrested Julian Assange on the Swedish rape charges that led Interpol to send out an international warrant for his arrest and extradition. It had been a manhunt we’d all been watching intently—as one one Death and Taxes commenter put it, “This is getting good—I’m going to get some popcorn.” But when the arrest finally came, the accompanying “thermonuclear leak” that was supposed to take place—the simultaneous leak of all WikiLeaks’ remaining documents—didn’t happen.

It didn’t happen because Assange may yet walk free. He is currently being detained in England, but British Authorities have not yet decided whether to extradite him to Sweden—which is itself a tacit acknowledgment of Assange’s stance that Interpol’s international arrest warrant was politically motivated rather than criminally justified.

In his own words, US Attorney General Eric Holder has attempted to find a way to characterize Assange’s actions as criminal. Holder said he had “authorized just last week a number of things to be done so that we can hopefully get to the bottom of this and hold people accountable,” and that he was conducting “a very serious, active, ongoing investigation that is criminal in nature.” Attempting to find a criminal framework for one’s actions post ex facto sounds like the definition of politically-motivated criminal assessment to me.

So why then, would the collective cat of international government refrain from going in for the kill once it finally had the mouse in its trap?

Specifically because Assange outsmarted the powers that be with a particularly genius move of decentralizing himself. As has been reported in recent days, over “100,000 people” have been given the a key to unlock an encrypted security lock on all WikiLeaks’ remaining documents. “If something happens to us, the key parts will be released automatically,” the New York Times reports.

In addition, more than 200 WikiLeaks mirror sites have been set up by unaffiliated people who will publish all the remaining documents once the encrypted key unleashes them, so that destroying the WikiLeaks website and its accompanying servers will not hamper the flow of information.

Assange has described this disseminated encryption key as a “thermonuclear device”—a new form of Mutually Assured Destruction for the information age.

Before this “thermonuclear tactic” of the encryption key was in place, he was merely an international target—public enemy number one to governments whose main priority is autocratic information control, despite their ostensible “free speech values.”

But once the authorities realized that silencing Assange would only deepen their problems, suddenly their approach softened. He’s being arrested, sure, and even being denied bail. But he’s not being immediately extradited, tried, silenced, and locked in a hole forever based on some trumped-up rape charges that may or may not have ties to the CIA.

There’s a good chance that Assange will walk free, and will be able to continue his work as a hobgoblin to secrecy and and world oligarchy. And he did it by beautifully employing a maxim Chris Anderson of ‘Wired’ made famous: information wants to be free.

With the blame diffused off Assange and onto the nameless masses who want information to be free, there is simply no none left to blame. It’s like the last scene of “Spartacus,” when the gladiators all step forward and claim, “I am Spartacus.”

Today over 200 mirror sites and counting pronounce, “I am Assange.” This, more so than any one man, should scare the living shit out of the world’s governments.

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