A Reuters photojournalist, his driver, and several civilians, as seen through a helicopter gun camera, seconds before being murdered by American forces.

I’ve held off on posting anything about this, mostly just because I felt like I couldn’t say anything that Glenn Greenwald hasn’t said already, or could say better. But the latest turn of events has been pretty dramatic.

First of all, someone wrote this which I saw on infoshop.org’s facebook page:

This is really the only argument you need. It also works perfectly well as a rebuttal to whatever arguments someone might come up with in order to try and criminalize Wikileaks:

Revealing crimes committed by the State or its agents (under the euphemism of “State secrets”) does not hurt American interests, endanger American lives, nor is it treasonous or otherwise criminal. What hurts American interests, continually endangers Americans both at home and abroad, and is criminal to the highest degree, is committing those crimes in the first place. – David Z, No Third Solution

Julian Assange in August, after releasing Afghanistan war documents.

This is a pretty duh statement for anyone with half a brain on their shoulders, but it shouldn’t be a surprise that people everywhere (well, in the US mostly) are screaming for The Head of Julian Assange. Apparently, the imaginary potential security implications of the leak (which even Robert Gates think isn’t a big deal) is far more dangerous to American Lives and Troops than perpetuating an unnecessary and messy war (also there’s the whole fact that Assange is merely publishing this material, not obtaining it illegally, and there are plenty of protections for journalists about that).

By extension, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Assange is on the run and Wikileaks is being attacked (like Wired clamored for back in August after the last big leak). But what really impressed me is how they’ve been treated by private entities -

While Joe Liberman is to blame for some measure of intimidation by abusing his position as Chair of the office of Homeland Security, some of those private decisions can only be explained in one of two ways – a massive conspiracy designed to shut down and close out Wikileaks, or a unique systemic reaction to an anomaly within the body.

Now I’m not one for conspiracy theories – most of the “plots” that are true are so horrific and obvious that people are willfully ignorant  about those narratives, or the real truth of them. And the ones that aren’t are likely just disinformation and noise spread around to keep people distracted. Also, most of the time people just aren’t that good – they’re disorganized, individualized, and not always as smart as we give them credit for. This is actually an international relations theory but I can’t remember which one, maybe institutionalism or something.

A Franz Kahn illustration

I really prefer the systemic idea; members of the body, acting in accordance, work to promote the health of the overall organism. Organs work in tandem and reject threats to the integrity of the system. I feel like I could go all Glenn Beck with this, just give me a chalkboard and some crude drawings of body parts.

When you get a splinter, your body will isolate it and eventually push it out on it’s own. You don’t have to consciously think about it, it’s a natural reaction to a threat – everything your nervous system does, from “fight or flight,” to registering pain when you injure yourself, is a defense mechanism, your body protecting itself.  So when EveryDNS shuts down Wikileaks.org, or when PayPal shuts them out, it is nothing more than the body working together.

As noted above, it’s clear that the establishment is more interested in persecuting Assange as a way of distracting the public from the content of the leaks, or the actions behind all that secrecy. And this too, is natural – the body is defending itself. But the government can’t do it alone; if you have a cold, it’s not just your torso that has a cold, it’s the whole body. So the other members chip in.

And Wikileaks is more then a cold; it is a deadly virus that threatens to unhinge the health of the entire body. We live in an illusion about how good it is, that everything is ok; the US doesn’t want people to know that it routinely kills innocents. There’s a lot of stuff we’re better off not knowing. Never mind that Assange has not broken any laws or been convicted of anything – the facts and the realities that those leaks entail threaten our illusions. We like to pretend that we don’t live in a country where people don’t have to be guilty, or even charged, before they’re hunted down, locked in cages, tortured (even today), and then dumped in some undisclosed secret prison burial ground.

UN "peacekeepers" torture a Somali child over a fire

It isn’t the sort of world that the government wants you to know you live in – which is why the leak is so terrible. It threatens to shatter the illusions you have about your country, and what a wonderful place it really is. Reality is harsh, and society will protect itself against people like Assange. We may not be totally complicit, but none of us want to feel that guilt, for living in a place with such wrongdoing and so little uproar about it.

The Vietnam War lasted a long time, and people literally set themselves on fire and blew things up, they were so upset about it. Afghanistan recently surpassed it as our longest war, and despite some protests and a lot of bad noise, nobody seems to care. We’d rather have the wool over our eyes – so not many people are upset with the way Wikileaks has been isolated and is being expunged from our consciousness – like any pustule, there’s a measure of insulation that protects us from it, and when it’s removed, it isn’t missed. Except by people living in the reality-based community.