The thing I want to know now is: Why hasn’t the CIA assassinated Julian Assange? Indeed, why didn’t the CIA or the DIA or the NSA or the phone cops that came for Johnny Fever take this guy out with a poisoned umbrella or an exploding cigar long before we ever heard the name of the WikiLeaks founder? Hell, why have we even heard of Wikileaks in the first place?
I’m not necessarily advocating that we take him out. First of all, even if it were a good idea, it’s too late now. But think about it. If you go by nearly every Hollywood treatment of the CIA or the NSA, Assange is precisely the sort of guy who should have been garroted in his French hotel room years ago. He’s setting up a website — a series of websites, really — that will allow whistleblowers, traitors, cranks, and misguided morons to publish the government’s most closely kept secrets. Some of these disclosures are guaranteed to damage American national security and put U.S. interests and lives at risk. What are super-cool CIA assassins for if not stopping this sort of thing in its tracks? Whether you think the CIA is an honorable and unfairly maligned outfit that does democracy’s dirty work, or if you think it’s a hotbed of lawless evil setting back human progress at every turn, you would still expect the spooks to off this guy quietly before anyone had heard his name.
What I think is interesting about this is that the Wikileaks case is a perfect illustration of how not just outfits like the CIA and NSA but also the far more powerful entity most commonly known as “The Man” aren’t nearly as powerful as many think they are. Wikileaks threatens not just national interests but corporate interests, so not only could it potentially out the CIA agents who sold crack in the inner cities, invented AIDS, and killed Kennedy, but it could reveal the secret chemical Colonel Sanders puts in his chicken to make you crave it fortnightly. It could blow the lid off the upholstery business and divulge the locations of the 100-year lightbulb, the working prototype of the electric car, the Bush family’s huge stockpile of Nazi gold, and, of course, the formula for the everlasting gobstopper.