Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Wiki-Links Debate on Free Press and Releasing State Secrets

Rep. Ron Paul (I) of Texas defending Julian Assange of WikiLeaks on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday

Posted by: Noël Jones

You may have heard by now about the WikiLeaks debate raging around the globe with regard to WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, releasing state documents leaked to him by an Army private. The release includes cables between our State Department and foreign leaders, particularly in the Middle-East, that are an embarrassment to our government, and that of Saudi Arabia. The leaks, among other things, reveal that members of the Saudi government support Al Qaeda, which is embarrassing to the U.S. because we are allies with the Saudis, and have invaded two other countries based on the idea that we are fighting Al Qaeda.

It is important to know that this has all happened before. In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg leaked state documents proving that the U.S. government lied to the American people about our involvement in Vietnam, our reasons for being there, and the likelihood of winning. Everything we know about what really happened in the Vietnam War--the research behind every Vietnam movie ever made--is based on this leak. The government tried to go after Ellsberg for treason, in the same way our government is going after Julian Assange for treason now. In the end, he, as a whistleblower, was not convicted, and it was determined that the publishers of the leaks were exercising the right of free press under the 1st Amendment.

For an in depth exploration of this issue, here is NPR's Brian Lehrer interviewing Daniel Ellsberg:

What do you think about the leak to WikiLeaks and the information that they reveal? Is it treason, or critical information for our citizenry to know about how our government really operates? A crime, or much-needed transparency?


LVCI said...

While it's certainly illegal I do find it ironic that the United States government collects credit, email, financial information, Facebook information and so much more. Most of it now legal w/o court order in the name of "Homeland Security.".. But don't like it so much when it's done to them :-)

Is it Karma that comes back to bite them?

noel jones said...

Also interesting is that part of the reason that Daniel Ellsberg was found innocent was because the government was found illegally wiretapping him.

No such protections of our civil liberties, or punishment for their violations, now.

Laureston said...

I don't think there can be such a thing as too much transparency concerning world governments. They all lie and manipulate. Glad to see them getting some egg on their collective faces. As for the Saudis... it shouldn't come as a shock to anyone that they support Al Queda. They are the ones providing the funding for all the madrassas in the poor areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan where these fundamentalist Muslims are being schooled and recruited. It's all part of the war machine. Guns are big business. Maybe I'm a little cynical but I just call 'em how I see 'em.

noel jones said...

I don't think that's cynical, I think it's right on. Defense contracting is big business, with powerful lobbyists in Washington...

Funny how the most hawkish Congressmen (not all of them Republicans) claim to care so much about lowering the deficit, and yet they scream "anti-American" if anyone suggests ending two senseless wars overseas and cutting military spending (not to be confused with cutting benefits to veterans--there is plenty of military spending that can be cut without cutting benefits to veterans).

Dennis R. Lieb said...

It amazes me that in the 80's we had a Savings and Loan meltdown that was the result of bank deregulation. The Attorney General's office put together a team of FBI agents paired with top notch bank examiners and accountants to find 1000 people worthy of jail sentences. The public confidence inspired by seeing these people behind bars allowed the government to seize bank assets, break them down into reasonably sized chunks, mark to market and sell them off without creating a panic.

That financial carnage was a tenth of the mess we have today and yet our AG sits twiddling his thumbs while bums and crooks like the former Countrywide CEO is allowed to keep $85 million in a "no prosecution" deal with the SEC in exchange for defrauding the public and destroying his company.

I've been waiting patiently for this guy Holder to get off his ass and prosecute somebody...ANYBODY. So what's he do? Within 24hrs of the Wiki Leaks release he's all over it like white on rice. How has anything this guy Assange done compare one iota with the destruction of the entire US banking, mortgage and homebuilding industries and the vaporization of retire accounts and state and county pension funds nationwide? I'd say the clowns responsible for that are the terrorists. If Assange has the goods on the banking shenanigans, as he claims, and releases that info to the public (hopefully with direct ties to the FED, Treasury and SEC) I'd put him up there with Paul Revere.

The Scumbags are coming!
The Scumbags are coming!


noel jones said...

hear, hear!