The torture of Assange is the revenge of the West – Shane Smith – Medium
Two months into the imprisonment of Julian Assange by the UK, for the ostensible crime of ducking bail, and it has become clear that neither the UK nor the US has any intention of waiting for the conclusion of some kangaroo court to exact their vengeance. That punishment has already arrived in the form of the “ no-touch”, CIA-style psychological torture. A UN inspector who recently observed Assange found an “alarming deterioration in his mental and physical state”, and retired USAF liutenant colonel Karen Kwiatkowski believes he is being forcibly administered the powerful psychotropic drug 3-quinuclidinyl benzilate.
These methods are far more devastating and insidious than much physical torture due to the fact that the wounds form in the psyche, and are hidden from cameras. No bruises, no broken bones, no signs of the much-maligned “water-boarding”, yet psychological torture inflicts damage just as severe. Similar to the dehumanizing tactics used against Chelsea Manning during her detainment: solitary confinement, forced nudity, prolonged sleep deprivation, a colorful array of psychotropic drugs, etc.. They are meant to break the psyche of their victim. And just as they were used as tools of revenge against Manning, they are just as surely being used against Assange for the same purpose. Who, by the way, isn’t even a U.S. citizen, but an Australian national. That’s right, no one is safe from the U.S. Warfare State. If you’ve sufficiently embarrassed them, or exposed their crimes, it will find a way to get at you.
That the self-proclaimed saviors of the world, the governments of the West, self-described guardians of liberty and vanquishers of tyranny, are openly persecuting an individual for the crime of exposing the predictable outcome of this hypocritical megalomania should inspire widespread outrage and condemnation. For the most part, it hasn’t. Virtually every citadel of power is cheering Assange’s treatment, they want him strung up, because they themselves were also exposed.
The revenge springs from the stinging embarrassment felt by every rung of the Welfare/Warfare State as each new revelation of the Bush/Obama Iraq slaughter emerged: helicopter pilots chuckling while gunning down Reuters reporters and civilians, mercenaries on murder sprees among crowded Iraqi streets, and rampant abuse of the U.S.-supported Iraqi police force. Manning and Assange laid bare the consequences of allowing our government to embark on never-ending war: thugs of the First World unleashing death and destruction on the innocent civilians of the Third.
The wars were sold to us as urgent, limited military actions, with no time to examine the details or ponder the consequences. We were told that Iraq, or Syria, or Libya, was on the verge of massacring thousands of its own citizens, so the bombs had to fly as soon as possible. Shortly thereafter, the wars became open-ended, and resulted in millions of deaths, millions more displaced, obliterating the native social order, and unleashing chaos.
How will Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, and the other nations on the receiving end of U.S. bombs ever rebuild? Who would even do the rebuilding?
Thanks to Manning, Assange, Kiriakou, and the like, their whistleblowing took the wind out of the sails of the Warfare State’s military campaigns, and, ever so slightly, discredited the notion that ‘humanitarianism’ played any role in their formation or execution. Except for the great mass of the voting public, who would never really care about war unless it was fought in their own countries, directly affecting their own communities. And so we have journalists pleading with the public to care about their own government’s crimes on the other side of the world.
If journalism is anything at all, it is what Assange took part in: exposing the criminal nature of the powerful. Which is why he is also so hated among the sycophants, stenographers, and propaganda couriers that comprise the corporate media. They are the ones constantly selling us on every new war as another “humanitarian interventions”, wrap it up in counterfeit patriotism, and brand critics as “anti-American”. I’d say there’s nothing more American that opposing and exposing a corporate class hell-bent on a murderous regime-change war that our children will end up paying for, in both lives and billions of increasingly worthless currency.
Assange’s abhorrent treatment is meant to be the equivalent of a public execution. Every journalist on the planet is watching his mistreatment, and they wonder if it could happen to them. Is it worth the risk? This is not what America was supposed to become, a petty, vengeful oligarchy of warmongers. America was supposed to be the one place in the world where the liberty of the individual was enshrined as an absolute, irrevocable right. The very value of that right lay in what Assange took part in. The First Amendment exists, not to talk about the weather, but to openly criticize the powerful. It’s a shield and tool that is indispensable to a free society. The value a society places on that freedom says much about the value they place on their own liberty. And it’s difficult to resist encroaching tyranny, far easier to settle in to an easy serfdom, and let the government run amok.
The First Amendment desperately needs a reaffirmation, and there’s no better time for it than during Assange’s persecution. But for that to happen, there must exist a sufficient number of people willing to do the uncomfortable task of engaging in the battle of ideas, never ceding the inviolability of the principle that we have a right to expose the criminality of our own government.