Times of uni­ver­sal de­ceit

The Pak Banker - - 4editorial - Dr Mo­ham­mad Taqi

The US govern­ment has now or­dered all its em­ploy­ees to stay away from the Wik­iLeaks web­site even on their home com­put­ers and not read what the govern­ment still con­sid­ers clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion. Big Brother keeps dig­ging it­self deeper into a hole

"Thoughtcrime is death. Thoughtcrime does not en­tail death. Thoughtcrime IS death" -Win­ston Smith in Ge­orge Or­well's 1984.

Last week's Wik­iLeaks had a dis­tinct Or­wellian aura to it. One could al­most hear the 1984 theme mu­sic play­ing with O'Brien ask­ing, "What are your feel­ings about Big Brother?" "I hate him," replied Win­ston Smith. And then, of course, the all too fa­mil­iar re­tort from O'Brien, "You must love him. It is not enough to obey him. You must love him."

But, ap­par­ently, thoughtcrime has been com­mit­ted. Some, who did not love Big Brother, de­cided to dis­obey him too. The 250,000 se­cret diplo­matic ca­bles started be­com­ing pub­lic, one bag­ful at a time. Big Brother, of course, is writhing in agony be­cause the com­mon­ers did not heed its warn­ings in­vok­ing sacro­sanct na­tional se­cu­rity or the pre­sumed dis­rup­tion of the world or­der. How­ever, the agony is not just of de­feat but is also com­pounded by the fact that "one man with a lap­top" and a pri­vate, first-class sergeant carry far more cred­i­bil­ity with the pub­lic around the globe than the su­per or quasi-su­per­pow­ers and their clients. Prometheus has stolen the fire from Zeus and has handed it over to the mor­tals.

The humpty dumpty of the of­fi­cial truths that these di­plo­mats and the gov­ern­ments that they worked for and with had so painstak­ingly cre­ated has taken a great fall. The com­mon cit­i­zens feel vindi­cated, as they had known all along that the gospel of of­fi­cial truth is noth­ing more than a mi­rage they were sup­posed to be­lieve blindly. All the king's men and women have now set out to put their humpty dumpty back to­gether again - through what­ever means it might take.

What is still lost on the govern­ment func­tionar­ies around the world, and es­pe­cially US of­fi­cials, is that this trust deficit be­tween them and the pub­lic did not de­velop overnight. Whether it was ly­ing about the Hiroshima bomb­ing, over­throw­ing Iran's Dr Mos­sadegh, the slaugh­ter of thou­sands of Chileans in­clud­ing Dr Allende, cre­at­ing the Afghan mu­jahideen mon­ster, the Iran-Con­tra scan­dal, lies about WMDs and stage­m­anag­ing the top­pling of Sad­dam Hus­sein's statue, the list of the skul­dug­geries per­pe­trated on the world is end­less. Decades of dis­in­for­ma­tion, half-truths and lies have con­trib­uted to a cred­i­bil­ity gap be­tween the words and ac­tions of gov­ern­ments, es­pe­cially the US govern­ment, which is now wider than the Grand Canyon.

What also re­mains lost on the US govern­ment and those abet­ting its cam­paign against the founder of Wik­iLeaks, Ju­lian As­sange, is that go­ing af­ter him on grounds as flimsy as bro­ken con­doms ( the charge against As­sange be­ing that he al­legedly pro­ceeded with sex, de­spite protests from his pre­vi­ously con­sen­sual part­ners, af­ter pro­tec­tion broke down), is erod­ing what­ever lit­tle cred­i­bil­ity they might have left. From the out­set it be­came clear to most ob­servers that the US lit­er­ally has no case against Mr As­sange and would very likely re­sort to press­ing Swe­den to pur­sue the al­leged sex­ual ha­rass­ment charges against him. Last week, the Voice of Amer­ica's Pashto ser­vice Deewa Ra­dio con­ducted a spe­cial on Wik­iLeaks and whether they con­sti­tuted es­pi­onage or jour­nal­ism. Spe­cial Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Richard Hol­brooke recorded this 'ex­clu­sive' ob­ser­va­tion for the tele­cast: "The Wik­iLeaks is very un­for­tu­nate. This is an ap­palling breach of se­cu­rity by who­ever did it - we think we know who it is - but who­ever did it vi­o­lated his oath of of­fice to the US and com­mit­ted an act for which he will be charged to the full ex­tent of the law."

The host then asked me and other par­tic­i­pants to com­ment on Hol­brooke's re­mark. My take was, and re­mains, that the US does not stand a chance in hell to pros­e­cute As­sange un­der the present US and in­ter­na­tional laws and that Richard 'the bull­dozer' Hol­brooke was al­lud­ing to pul­veris­ing sergeant Bradley Man­ning - the lit­tle guy who al­legedly dis­obeyed Big Brother. How much more Or­wellian can it get? Ap­par­ently it can. The US govern­ment has now or­dered all its em­ploy­ees to stay away from the Wik­iLeaks web­site even on their home com­put­ers and not read what the govern­ment still con­sid­ers clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion. Big Brother keeps dig­ging it­self deeper into a hole.

At the time of this writ­ing, Ju­lian As­sange is be­ing re­manded in Bri­tish po­lice cus­tody, af­ter be­ing de­nied bail in the Swedish case re­ferred to above. Repub­li­can Mike Huck­abee wants As­sange as­sas­si­nated, a few oth­ers want the use of mil­i­tary force against him, and Sarah Palin wants him "hunted down like Osama bin Laden". What these right-wing hacks keep for­get­ting is that, de­spite be­ing sub­jected to decades of con­trolled me­dia and man­u­fac­tured truths, the world at large re­tains a vo­ra­cious ap­petite for the un­var­nished truth.

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