Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wikileaks vs. US Government

Let me say this out front. I think that Wikileak's unfiltered release of US Diplomatic Cables was deplorable, irresponsible and incredibly damaging to the country in which I live. I don't condone what they did in any sense. I think the power of the written word and the internet should always be used for good, and what Wikileaks did could be described as anything but.

That being said, I think the US Government response has been exactly what you'd expect from a group of people largely populated by old, out-of-touch white guys. Congressman Peter King (New York Republican), the guy supposed to be heading up Homeland Security has suggested we make Wikileaks a Terrorist Organization. Senator Joe Lieberman (Independent Democrat, CT) thinks we should look into prosecuting (for espionage?) the New York Times for publishing some of the same Diplomatic Cables.

I don't have to look at the pseudo-legalese behind what these two Government Officials are suggesting. What the New York Times and Wikileaks did is, like it or not, protected by the First Amendment. Read the Constitution, it couldn't be more clear. Neither organization conspired to acquire these documents, paid to have others do so, or were involved in the commission of the crime committed by whoever did leak those documents. If they did, let's see the proof.

(Update: Yes I'm aware Julian Assange is not a US Citizen and may not be privy to the same protections. I just don't think depriving him of what we consider basic rights is a good plan, legal or not.)

I understand that because Congressman King and Senator Lieberman head up committees responsible for Homeland security, they probably think they're just doing their jobs. That fact isn't lost on me, and I'll bet the pressure for them to act is unreal. Sarah Palin using those same Cables to criticize President Obama has probably lit a fire under everyone with anything to do with making sure such leaks don't happen.

Wikileaks was cooperating with many news affiliates, national and international when it leaked those documents. I wouldn't be surprised if a great deal of their funding came from the Associated Press and other high profile news agencies. Given the aggressive stance the US has taken, legitimate news organizations would certainly fund and foster proxy (not-for-profit) media outlets like Wikileaks for the purpose of generating news.

How much money and traction have international news agencies gotten out of this debacle? What's the phrase here? "Field day"?

The US Government needs to appeal to the people who elected it for accountability for those guilty of irresponsible journalism and make those same people "below" the diplomatic level understand why these leaks were bad. Most people, I don't think, fully understand what's at stake here. To that end, they should appeal to the common man's patriotism instead of acting like Big Brother. Finally, they should completely stop using words like "Terrorist" and "Espionage Act" in reference to organizations designed to protect and preserve the First Amendment. Deserved or not.

What would be more embarrassing than having those Diplomatic Cables leaked? Getting Julian Assange extradited to the US for trial on espionage crimes and giving him a win on a landmark First Amendment Case. The outcome for the US, according to diplomatic sources and anyone with a third grade reading level is uncertain. Prosecuting either the New York Times or Wikileak's Figure Head for terrorism or espionage is far from a sure thing. Given the way our own highest law is written, they could win by hiding behind the First Amendment.

Those are big dice I don't think our Government should even roll.

Obama and Friends should start acting like leaders instead of petty bureaucrats and appeal to the American people's patriotism and sense of right and wrong. Do I think my friends and family operating overseas on behalf of my Government were possibly endangered by what Wikileaks did?

Yes, I do. If I ever saw Julian Assange, I wouldn't say a word. A punch to the face would more accurately express my feelings for him and his actions.

Do I see a US Politician, at any level of governance, willing to represent my voice relative to the matter that isn't currently in full ass-covering mode? Someone who would appeal to me and my patriotism to take action and boycott those news agencies that supported Wikileaks?

No, I don't. I can't even hear them over all the sabre rattling.


Did some more thinking about it in the shower. The thing to do might be waiting to see if Sweden can extradite Julian Assange and see how that plays out. If he's a convicted sex offender, it at least precludes him from being a very good martyr for various anti-US causes, individuals, etc.

If Sweden can put a smudge on that worthless reprobate, I'd feel better about pulling him on charges in the US.

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