Lawyers for Julian Assange said yesterday, "they would oppose his extradition to Sweden because he might subsequently face "illegal rendition to the United States, risking imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, or even the death penalty." Assange has legitimate reason to worry.
In the lawyers statement is there an element of paranoia or is it one of legitimacy?
Regardless; it is the perception as well as the actual legalities that matter.
Everyone knows the notoriety of torture and death that has been the fate of some held in detention at Guantanamo Bay so if Assange believes he could wind up there if he is extradicted to Sweden (and from there onto to the U.S.) on charges completely unrelated to American concerns (the WikiLeaks revelations) he has every right to worry.
America once known to open its arms i.e. "Give us your tired, your poor..." (words on the Statue of Liberty) because it was once seen as the land of opportunity has become a place to fear.
From this American there is a sense of shame that we have descended to use methods i.e. torture, extraordinary rendition, warrantless wiretapping, indefinite detention without charges, suspension of habeas corpus et al, which are practices most associated with some of the 20th century's most oppressive and dictaorial regimes i.e. the Soviet Union, China (under Mao), Imperial Japan, Hitlers Geramny.
With the U.S. now in league with those who committed these despicable practices along with our illegal pre-emptive wars and occupations, drone strikes and missile attacks that kill and maim innocents has made us into a dreaded militarist, imperial power; a republic in name only.
Now we sow fear, bringing democracy at the point of a gun.
We ahve crossed the rubicon. And it seems most Americans remain oblivious to what we have become in the world.
We should not ask, "Why do they hate us so much?", (that incredulous plaintive question elicited by a woman after the 9/11 attacks). We have brought this on ourselves.