[WikiLeaks] DSK and Assange
davesag at gmail.com
Thu Dec 1 00:15:56 CST 2011
>From today's issue of Crikey. http://www.crikey.com.au/?p=262682
Rundle: DSK, Assange and the intersection between conspiracy and violence
by Guy Rundle <http://www.crikey.com.au/author/guyrundle/>
“What really happened in room 2806?” *The Times* asked yesterday. 2806 was
the room Dominique Strauss-Kahn was staying in, in New York, when he was
accused of r-pe by a hotel maid, Nafissatou Diallo, only to have the
charges dropped after a lengthy investigation.
The case put paid to DSK’s chances of leading the Socialist party of France
— and gave a boost to the re-election chances of Nicolas Sarkozy, currently
facing near-certain defeat. Public opinion had swung hard against
Strauss-Kahn, then back towards him as Diallo’s story fell apart, and
evidence of collusion appeared.
That itself became disputed, but not enough for a prosecution to hold, even
though Strauss-Kahn’s conduct with women was shown to be sleazy and even
predatory. Strauss-Kahn’s strongest supporters always maintained that the
whole thing was a set-up, an accusation widely rejected as fantastical
Now, an investigation <http://media.nybooks.com/strauss.html> by Edward Jay
Epstein published in *The New York Review of Books* has re-opened the whole
matter dramatically. Epstein has trawled CCTV footage, electronic key
records and text messages to come up with a substantially new account of
Epstein’s account is close to unsummarisable in any way that would convey
the story, but the gist is this: on the morning of the incident,
Strauss-Kahn was informed by a friend in the UMP (Sarkozy’s party) that his
(i.e. Strauss-Kahn’s) Blackberry had most likely been hacked by elements
within the UMP.
Hours after this warning, the s-xual enounter with Diallo occurred.
Diallo’s account, Epstein shows, was even more contradictory and
inconsistent than first supposed. The hotel security staff on camera are
shown on CCTV cheering and high-fiving once the arrest process for
Strauss-Kahn has been put into play. The international head of the hotel’s
security is called about the matter, while at a football match with
By that time, Strauss-Kahn’s Blackberry — which he had told his wife (via
the hotel room phone) he would have investigated on his return to Paris —
had gone missing at some point in the day.
There’s much much more, and it gives weight of evidence to the most extreme
accusation of the Strauss-Kahnites — that the hotel, part of the French
Accor chain associated with UMP and Sarkozy, actively conspired to frame
Strauss-Kahn in order to destroy his political career.
There are two pertinent and related issues that arise from this — the first
is the role of conspiracy theories in public life, and the second is the
role in which accusations of s-xual violence or crime play in it.
The first of these is easily dealt with. For many years in the post-WW2
period, conspiracy theories had a great deal of purchase for people engaged
in rational political assessment, as it appeared that the world may be run
by networks of intersecting elites, that espionage agencies clearly engaged
in covert tactics, and that events such as the Kennedy assassination had
remained manifestly under-researched in official accounts.
In popular culture, that obsession has rolled on until rational
investigation of conspiracy has started to merge with a quasi-Gnosticism,
which offers easy concrete stories as a compensation for the lack of power
people feel over their own lives, individually and collectively. The
unquestionable machinations of the US government, the World Bank, the
finance markets, etc, etc, bleed into the plain fantasy of 9/11 trutherism,
and into the wilder reaches of alien abductions and lizard people.
In reaction to this, elite opinion has moved decisively against any notion
of conspiracy. Self-appointed guardians of the Enlightenment such as
Christopher Hitchens and David Aaronovitch — usually people who went to the
hard-left for existential reasons, now looking for a new secular faith to
give their lives meaning — now routinely decry any suggestion of deliberate
conspiracy even when there is ample evidence (i.e. in the invasion of Iraq)
that such has occurred.
*The Times* write-up of the *NYRB* piece has a sidebar by the Iraq war
spruiker Oliver Kamm conceding that though the evidence produced by Epstein
is substantial, and then recovering with some general blather about
irrationality, and the Bilderberg group.
Yet it’s the denial of conspiracy — the simple and very human act of small
groups working together, using falsehoods to manipulate larger groups —
that has become the true (and, to the power elites, very useful)
irrationality of the current age.
That irrationality is inevitably bound up with accusations of r-pe. That is
a far more explosive issue, but it has to be talked about — the plain fact
is that in our age, accusations of r-pe are potentially and actually the
honeytrap — vinegartrap — of our era.
One has hitherto hesitated to compare the Strauss-Kahn case with the Julian
Assange case, because of the different nature of the accusations —
Strauss-Kahn was accused of violently pursuing Diallo through his suite,
attempting multiple forced penetrations of her, Assange is accused of, at
the most, using the weight of his body to prevent a woman from gaining a
condom to apply, later tearing it off, and of initiating s-x while
sleeping, subsequently and rapidly consented to, with another woman.
But in both cases a similar process has occurred, especially in sections of
the left — that while some scepticism has been expressed, it has often been
discontinued, or self-stifled, by several unsubstantiated assertions, and
Despite the obvious motives that might come into play in such cases, we are
asked to subscribe to the following without question: that the public
burden of proof should be reversed in r-pe accusations (even where
consensual s-x has been acknowledged), that r-pe’s particular character —
as the non-consensual form of a common, desired, consensual act — does not
make it particularly useful as a means to discrediting someone.
We are further asked to believe that these two factors, combined, are not
uniquely useful in discrediting left-wing figures, nor more widely that
accusations of r-pe might not serve as one potential means of revenge in an
asymmetrical s-xual culture, and that it is not more easily falsely
reported than other crimes of bodily encounter, even though this involves
nothing more than retroactively reclassifying a consensual encounter.
That is not to accept unequivocally the version of events by the accused,
either. But it does mean, that where there are clear extraneous motives and
gains from a false charge, we have a right and duty to intelligently assess
the accusations. Epstein does this for Strauss-Kahn. Since the question
nothing brigade has made another representation on the Assange case, let me
mention a few key points:
- Assange was initially accused of minor s-xual assault by one
complainant (Sofia Wilen) and of only misdemeanours by another (Anna
Ardin), who told a newspaper that “he was not violent”. After the s-xual
assault accusation was dismissed by the senior prosecutor, Ardin made a
complaint of “physical s-xual coercion”. Without the s-xual coercion
accusation, Assange would potentially have faced only non-extraditable
- After changing her view of the encounter, Ardin subsequently attempted
to delete two tweets from her twitter account (without deleting the whole
account), which had been sent the day after the s-xual encounter with
Assange that she alleged was coercive. They involve her organising a party
for Assange, and later, from the party, saying that she is “sitting here
with the coolest, most interesting people in the world”.
- Ardin also deleted a “7 step guide to revenge” from her blog, which
detailed steps necessary to destroy unfaithful lovers.
- Assange continued to stay with her throughout the week, sharing the
bed for most of it. A witness interviewed by police confirmed that there
were multiple other offers of accommodation for Assange that week. On the
Sunday, at a meeting between Assange and the Swedish Pirate Party, Ardin
agreed to be Assange’s press liaison for the week, and her name and mobile
number is listed on the press release in question.
- Ardin claimed that Assange had torn off a condom during s-x, even
though he had readily applied it earlier. Ten days after the encounter —
which she had not at the time represented as criminal — she supplied police
with a condom she claimed to be the one in question. Initial forensic
reports found no DNA present.
- At the party she had arranged for Assange, she gave conflicting
accounts of her encounter with him, telling different attendees
(subsequently interviewed by police) that a) she had not had s-x with him,
b) that she had, that it was bad but consensual and c) that she had and did
not feel safe/secure/sure around him. According to one attendee, who
claimed Assange was making a pass at her, Ardin said that if she (the
attendee) wanted to have s-x with Assange, she could.
- Wilen told police that Assange, after consensual s-x – during which
she had insisted on condom use — the previous night, had begun unprotected
s-x with her the next morning, while she was asleep. On waking she said she
had said to him “you better not have AIDS” and then explicitly consented to
the act. That encounter and evidence forms the basis of the s-xual
- One friend of Wilen’s interviewed by police said that Wilen had told
her that she was “half-asleep” when the morning s-x began, and the consent
was more or less immediate. Another friend said that she and Wilen had
spoken on the phone about “making a lot of money by going to the
newspapers” about the accusations, but that it was just “a joke”. Another
friend told police that Wilen had never wanted to make an acccusation of
r-pe, but was pushed into it by the police and everyone around her.
- Ardin and Wilen went to a small police station to report Assange on
August 20. A duty officer there, Irmeli Krans, was a political colleague of
Ardin’s, and conducted the interview with Wilen, past her shift. Later when
Assange was accused of “third degree r-pe/s-xual assault” Krans tweeted and
made comments on Facebook condemning the decision, arguing that Assange
should have been charged with second degree r-pe, and barracking for Claes
Borgstrom, the lawyer representing Ardin and Wilen. A Stockholm police
board inquiry was made into her conduct, but no action was taken.
- When the decision not to investigate Assange for r-pe/s-xual assault
was appealed, Claes Borgstrom became the women’s lawyer. Borgstrom had been
gender ombudsman for Sweden, gender equality spokesperson for the Social
Democratic party, and had co-drafted the expanded s-x crimes bill under
which Assange was accused. He essentially took on a legal aid case in order
to represent the women. His law partner was Tomas Bodstrom, who had been
Minister of Justice until 2006. In 2001 Bodstrom had facilitated the
rendition of Swedish citizens to Egypt for questioning under torture, at US
- When Borgstrom was asked why an accusation of “s-xual coercion” had
been made on behalf of Ardin, when she had told a newspaper that “Assange
was not violent and we do not fear him”, he said that the woman was “not a
lawyer. She doesn’t know what r-pe is”. Ardin had previously been the
gender equality officer of Uppsala University student union, and had
drafted the latest edition of its gender equality handbook, which included
extensive sections on s-x crimes, and reporting them to police.
- Sweden has a law that does not exist in other jurisdictions (including
the UK) whereby someone held in an existing legal process in Sweden can be
“temporarily” extradited to other countries, including the US, for
proceedings there. Bail does not exist in Sweden — the accused is held in
remand, and for s-x crime charges, incommunicado, save with lawyers.
Swedish s-x crime trials are held in-camera, and a full transcript is not
made available to the public.
- The accusations against Assange were initially made at a time when he
was applying for a Swedish work and residence permit. The permit would have
made it possible for him to register WikiLeaks there as a publisher, and
himself as a journalist, thus taking advantage of numerous government
protections not available elsewhere. Because of the s-x crime accusations,
the permits were refused.
- Anna Ardin, before joining the social democratic party (and the
Christian sub-group, the Brotherhood, which had invited Assange to Sweden,
on Assange’s request), had been a Third World-oriented activist, and had
done a thesis on the anti-Castro opposition in Cuba, including various
groups with active US and CIA contacts and support. She had left Cuba where
she was actively in contact with such groups, ahead of being deported, and
returned to Sweden, where she became active in the Social Democrats.
Yeah, nothing to see here. R-pe as they say, is about power. And so, in
very different ways, are accusations of it.
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