Why Julian Assange (and WikiLeaks) is not a terrorist.

And why assigning him that label is extremely dangerous for everyone

Assange may have done things that have annoyed the American government. And probably the British and Australian governments too. In fact, possibly a whole slew of other governments throughout the world.

But doing something with which the government disagrees does not a terrorist make.

Terrorists, by definition, engage in activities which terrorise. Traditionally with some political motive or goal that they require which cannot be obtained through peaceful means. Usually such organisations have tried the peaceful approach and failed and have thus resorted to terrorism. Now, to engage in terrorism the organisation concerned must use unreasonable force to try to bend the will of the people into surrendering, with the hope that political change will therefore follow through the process of the people voting for a government that will change the policy to the terrorists demands.

In modern history it’s never worked. I don’t know if it used to, perhaps it did.

But the key point is that terrorists frighten the general population. They try to ensure the general population are constantly living in fear, or terror, of something bad happening to them. They might also try to cause considerable disruption to the economy of the country by destroying infrastructure or slowing systems down to the point where they become so congested that business cannot continue as usual. But they always have a political goal they wish to achieve and will state that objective publicly.

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks to my knowledge have caused no public fear. They’re not trying to change the will of governments through terrorising the population. They have no ‘end goal’ to which the governments must acquiese in order for the leaking to desist. I’m not sure they’re trying to change the policy of any government, except to honest them up.

The problem we now face is that many in the US Senate seem intent on using anti-terror legislation to silence WikiLeaks. This is a gross misuse of the legislation and proves what I thought about the legislation in the first place. After Sep 11 2001, many sweeping powers were introduced into the various western nations, UK, US and Australia to combat terrorism. Powers that if used correctly didn’t really have too much of an impact on the everyday person. PROVIDED THAT THE PROPER DEFINITION OF TERRORIST IS ADHERED TO.

Now it seems we’re only just a whisker away from anyone who disagrees with a government being called a terrorist. To its logical extension it means that if you’re a Republican when there’s a Democrat Government you could conceivably be labelled a terrorist – and all that legislation bears down on your head in an instant. You’ve suddenly no rights to criticise the government, you’ve no rights to a fair trial, you’ve no rights to innocence until proven guilty. You’ve definitely no rights to a peaceful demonstration any more, because you’re disagreeing with your government.

There are places in the world that are like this. Most of those places are starting to learn that it really doesn’t work when you try to suppress the will of the people for so long. Some are moving towards liberalisation. In the meantime, it seems possible that the US might just be heading in the wrong direction. Which all means that everything Osama Bin-Laden wanted is coming to pass. US citizens will very soon find the very freedoms and ideals they hold so dear will be stripped away from them one by one and no-one will quite notice it’s happening until it’s too late. (TSA anyone?)

Declaring Julian Assange and WikiLeaks as a terrorist organisation is a step too far, irrespective of whether they’ve done something criminal or not (and I’m not declaring either way on that, I don’t have the full story to make that decision. I don’t need it to know it’s not terrorism though).

Bending the definition of terrorist to fit Julian Assange begins the very slippery slope of bending the definition to fit anyone who publicly disagrees with the government. Is that where we really want to end up?

Author: Steve Brown

Steve is a paramedic in Victoria, Australia who is also an ex-IT Consultant and currently uses all manner of MacOS software in his everyday life. So he usually tends to write about his experiences with that. But sometimes he'll write about medical, political or other stuff that might (or might not!) be of interest

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