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Two Years

The genie's out of the bottle.


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5 April 2012: the two year anniversary of the release of Collateral Murder. A film that would herald a change in the 'world' as we know it.

Two Reuters reporters had been gunned down in a residential neighbourhood in Baghdad. The entire incident was filmed. Tween Nintendo freaks in a helicopter having a day of big scores slaughtering unarmed people on the streets far below.

Shocking. Unsettling. Life-changing.

The brass in DC kept the film to themselves, showing it only at stag parties in the DC area. Reuters tried to get a copy with the FOIA but were turned down. They were told that the tragedy, although unfortunate, was an unavoidable consequence of yet another US peace-keeping mission.

[Homework assignment: what would they have done in DC without their tainted source that today is regarded as responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands or millions? Would they have halted their long term plans for the invasion of Iraq? Discuss.]

And then Rop and Julian descended on the US with the film. They had two versions: an executive summary and the whole thing. The raw document. A new form of journalism was born and made it mainstream: let the people see the actual documents. Let whistleblowers safely tell the world what they know. The 'world' as we know it hasn't been the same. And will never be the same again. The genie's out of the bottle.

WikiLeaks was formally founded in October 2006. And helped various news organisations get out the materials their benevolent governments tried to stop. There was the Trafigura scandal. And the Icelandic banking scandal. And hundreds of other scandals. All forced to see the light of day. But it was Collateral Murder that put WikiLeaks and whistle-blowing on the map.

The hits kept on coming. July saw the release of the Afghan War Diaries. And again people's eyes were opened in a way the conspirators never wanted to happen.

The Iraq War Logs in October. Cablegate in November. And so forth. A big year. And Alan Rusbridger famously quipped on Twitter that it was a big moment in journalism.

Julian Assange is an insurgent. He has a small entourage of workers around him. They have limited resources. They're not a major state power and certainly not a major military power. And yet they have the ability to create headlines and herald change like no statesman, prime minister, or president. People are irretrievably attracted by the truth. And they love raw documents. They eschew spin.

Journalism took a big knock with the advent of WikiLeaks in 2010. People could suddenly see how truth was being meticulously filtered to them. They could see in black and white how divergent the truth was from the official stories they'd been fed. People started sharing information themselves - on blogs and on Twitter. They subjected each other to fact-checking the old school journalists weren't interested in. And they couldn't be slapped with gag orders.

Everywhere was an anger and an outrage. Not just against the lying. But also against the crimes against humanity their governments had been perpetrating without their knowledge and absolutely without their approval.

And then we entered phase two: the powers that be began to react. Bradley Manning was picked up in May. And tortured systematically. Julian Assange was nabbed on a series of ridiculous charges in Sweden of all places. People - including unknowing Swedes - began to realise their country wasn't the ideal of pacifist neutrality they'd assumed was the case.

Sweden had shifted silently from a paragon of social perfection into a complex alliance with the US and NATO. Goaded on by the likes of Carl Bildt, the US Republican Party's international arm, Karl Rove, and current prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, 'the powers that be' started already in the 1980s to scare people about the Soviet Union, Carl Bildt engineered entry into the EU, and Reinfelt began dismantling the prototype modern welfare state that made Sweden so admired and made the US Republicans so angry.

Those same forces figured out what to do with the leftists orphaned by the end of the Cold War: use them to split the country apart from inside with 'state feminism'. Mission accomplished.

All this is the result of the releases of 2010 and the efforts of the conspirators to put the genie back in the bottle. In their efforts to hide the half of what they do, they've foolishly let us see the full of it.

Ugly power made naked: this too is the result of the great releases of 2010. People have for the first time been able to see just how criminal their governments have become, just how badly their supposed democracies have become corrupt, just how brutally their own interests would be crushed.

Bradley Manning is going on trial. Julian Assange faces a possible extradition to Sweden and thereafter the US. The Occupy movement was all but crushed by arrogance in the White House and the cooperation of US mayors who don't believe change is needed but prefer to rely on terror to keep the peace. All the while 50% of the residents of that country live under the official poverty line.

The need for change has come. And it was the news event of 5 April 2010 that started it off.

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