Right Thinking From The Left Coast
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Friday, December 10, 2010

In Defense of Wikileaks

I don’t agree with everything Ron Paul says here, since I think the leaked cables are less than the damning picture he paints there. These aren’t the Pentagon Papers.  But I think he makes some very good points on the Wikileaks scandal:

To be honest, the attacks on Julian Assange from our government do not really surprise me.  Stephen Peter King wants Wikileaks branded a terrorist organization, but he’s crazy anyway.  DiFi, who has called for Assange to be prosecuted under the Espionage Act—an act that no media have been successfully prosecuted for breaking—has always deferred to government power.  Joe Lieberman, now calling for charges against the New York Times, has a long long history of opposing any and all personal liberty.  Eric Holder, currently rattling his saber as loud as he can, is eager to prosecute anyone who crosses the Administration.

But these are government worshippers and I expect this from them—especially given the ridiculous secrecy with which the government is clouding its actions these days (remember the WaPo piece I highlighted a few months ago—850,000 people with top secret clearance, 16 million documents and an intelligence community so secretive that no one really know how much it costs).  In fact, I would say that the politicians are right to be mad at Wikileaks.  It’s our leaders’ job to keep secret information under wraps (although this stuff was only classified, not secret).  I don’t like how far they’ve gone with secrecy, but even the biggest libertarian would not dispute the principle of the government classifying and concealing dangerous information.  I don’t like their explicit threats against a free press, but I think their anger is valid.

What’s been far more revealing is the shameful and often factually challenged assaults from the media.  Part of this is their general tendency to defer to the powerful—if Obama is outraged about something ... well, by gum, the Inside the Beltway “reporters” are going to be outraged about it too.  And part of this is their general tendency to panic about everything.

But part of it, as David Samuels points out, is that Wikileaks is doing the job they’re not doing.  I made this point earlier in the week but should probably expand on it a bit.

In a functional democracy, the media should have an adversarial relationship with the government.  They shouldn’t be protecting power, but trying to attack it.  It’s one thing to keep certain information quiet, like when we’re going to launch an attack or what Afghans are helping us.  It’s another to always and automatically defer to government secrecy, whether it serves the public good or not.  It’s another thing to, as many have, simply accept the government’s claims and move on without any critical analysis.

Wikileaks isn’t playing that game.  They think, correctly in my opinion, that keeping important information secret is the government’s job, not the media’s.  They’re not having water gun fights on the White House lawn with the President’s staff; they’re trying to find out just what the fuck our government is up to.  And seeing someone do what the media is supposed to do—however haphazardly and recklessly they might be doing it—is driving our establishment media bonkers.  It’s like they came home and found someone diddling the wife they forgot they were married to.

I’m not fond of Assange with his increasing delusions of grandeur.  And it’s perfectly fine for people charged with the defense of this country’s government to criticize him.  I don’t even really have a problem with Amazon, Visa and other companies refusing to do business with him (unless, as seems possible, they were pressured into it).  But for the media to turn on him is just ridiculous.  This is what you guys used to do.  This is what you guys are supposed to do.  Quit blaming Assange for laziness and genuflection to the powerful.

Update: This was earlier in the week, but still worth reading: Olbermann accused Assange’s rape accuser of being a CIA plant based on an article written by a raving anti-semitic Holocaust-denying loon and a raving anti-capitalist gulag-denying loon.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 12/10/10 at 10:33 AM in The Press Machine  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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