Hell Hath no Story Like the Pentagon Scorned

Posted: June 13, 2010 in Assange, Internet
Tags: ,

What a story Wikileaks is. While most journalists bend over backwards to not offend authority, Wikileaks founder and journalist, Julian Assange, is the object of a veritable Pentagon manhunt due to the none too pleasing fact for Washington that Assange may be in possession of 260,000 classified diplomatic cables. And while Assange lies low, the world holds its breath waiting for the incriminating documents to come online where they will almost certainly discredit U.S. foreign policy and foreign governments in the mid East and beyond. Wikileaks has already raised the ire of the mucky mucks over at the Pentagon with its “Collateral Murder” video which shows US war choppers killing unarmed

In the Crosshairs

Iraqi civilians and seriously wounding children. But while Collateral Murder damns US military tactics, will the cables damn US State strategies? Intriguing stuff.

The irony is absolutely stunning if we take a big picture look at the story from its beginnings over four decades ago.

In the late 1960’s, Western society was quite literally blowing up. Minority races, women, and environmentalists were demanding a change to the social order. Martin Luther King’s assassination provoked riots in over a hundred cities. The Troubles had drawn blood in Northern Ireland. Two-thirds of France was on strike. Hundreds of protestors were massacred in Mexico City. The Russell Tribunal indicted the US government on charges of genocide. Tanks were rolling in Prague. And amidst all the turmoil perhaps a bigger revolution was unfolding: four IMPs were connected to form the ARPANET.

The significance of plugging together four microcomputers to form the larval internet would not be recognized for another generation. Originally, envisioned by its Pentagon funder as a distributed computer network robust enough to survive nuclear detonations, it has now metamorphosed into –not just the technological wonder familiar to us all –but the greatest irony of all time. The Pentagon Establishment, the greatest power centre in the history of humankind, an organization whose primary purpose for six decades has been to impose obedience throughout the world to the dictates of the money men,1 has, quite simply, enabled forces that are well on their way to undermining all agents of authority. Yesterday’s expert views are consigned to the yellowing, crusty pages of the Encyclopedia Britannica; the wiki-mass has taken their place. Children download movies while studios throw tantrums. The professional journalists are blogged out of existence. US copter cowboys slaughter a grouping of Iraqis for millions of youtubeans to witness. And now the Pentagon tries to close Pandora’s virtual box. Remarkable.

(One last point: Assange appears to be a free software hacker. Much more on this topic, anarchism, the internet, decentralization and Wikileaks here: On the Nature of Software Anarchism. It’s all connected.)

1 Here I’m reminded of the following quotation from Thomas Friedman, “The Lexus and the Olive Tree”: “The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas… And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”

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