At the same time, all of us who surf the Internet, or watch TV, are sometimes amazed at the outrageous myths and lies that are allowed to pass publication unchallenged. Many naive or willfully ignorant people actually believe the misinformation therein (disguised as fair and balanced), make their political decisions accordingly, and help to shape policy---often against their own best interests!
But when something comes along that exposes truths that government officials and others, for often self-serving reasons, spend a lot of time obfuscating, then truth becomes dangerous because it threatens their livelihoods. (And yet, no one is arrested for myths and lies...)
I have stewed for a while about the WikiLeaks "scandal". What made me pause was the virulence by which the leaked information, and founder Julian Assange, were savaged. It drew aside the naive curtain of benign press and government and sounded an alarm: there must be too much to hide, apart from national security issues. Governments and policies are being exposed for what they are: little more than global neighborhood gossip.
And so, since there is a lot of head-shaking among legal groups as to what "crime" has been committed, Assange finds himself wanted for sexual impropriety in Sweden. This would be laughable if it weren't so insulting.
Assange has, in effect, revealed that the Emperor has no clothes. Powerful people are being embarrassed, and those who create whole careers out of fashioning an image for themselves find they are in danger of having those images tarnished, stripped away. Rather than creating a state of world emergency, the leaks seem to have the effect of clarifying the world, so that regular folk of better-than average intelligence can see what's going on, and demand efficient, common-sense solutions. The powerful no longer have control of the source of their power: secrecy and misdirection. One only hopes there are some juicy Leaks forthcoming about the financial industry.
It makes me wonder why such "sensitive" information is committed to writing...It is as though there is some perverse wish to be discovered.
I claim no expertise in the kinds of "secrets" that preserve human safety, and how the revealing of that information puts people in harm's way. But these latest leaks have the aura of a smoking gun, information we all have a right to possess, in order to make truly "informed" decisions. Polititicians ought to be worried.
It harkens back to the Pentagon papers, which blew the lid off our involvement in Vietnam. That's when people finally took to the streets.
I still believe in free press, and I believe in the press' ability to present facts honestly and without malice. With WikiLeaks, we are seeing how Government's punitive action keeps the free press from being an independent watchdog and advocate for truth. Lately, the press seems to have become duplicitous in Government deception (remember WMD's?).
I received an e-mail from Avaaz.org, a politically active organization that seeks to organize public opinion around dubious policies and acts of government. I have shared it with you below, along with a list of valuable links for anyone who cares about freedom of expression and wants to keep current with news on the unfair crackdown on Assange and his organization:
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The massive campaign of intimidation against WikiLeaks is sending a chill through free press advocates everywhere.
Legal experts say WikiLeaks has likely broken no laws. Yet top US politicians have called it a terrorist group and commentators have urged assassination of its staff. The organization has come under massive government and corporate attack, but WikiLeaks is only publishing information provided by a whistleblower....
...WikiLeaks isn't acting alone -- it's partnered with the top newspapers in the world (New York Times, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, etc) to carefully review 250,000 US diplomatic cables and remove any information that it is irresponsible to publish. Only 800 cables have been published so far. Past WikiLeaks publications have exposed government-backed torture, the murder of innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, and corporate corruption.
The US government is currently pursuing all legal avenues it has to stop WikiLeaks from publishing more cables, but the laws of democracies protect freedom of the press. The US and other governments may not like the laws that protect our freedom of expression, but that's exactly why it's so important that we have them, and why only a democratic process can change them.
Reasonable people can disagree on whether WikiLeaks and the leading newspapers it's partnered with are releasing more information than the public should see. Whether the releases undermine diplomatic confidentiality and whether that's a good thing. Whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has the personal character of a hero or a villain. But none of this justifies a vicious campaign of intimidation to silence a legal media outlet by governments and corporations. Click below to join the call to stop the crackdown:
Ever wonder why the media so rarely gives the full story of what happens behind the scenes? This is why - because when they do, governments can be vicious in their response. And when that happens, it's up to the public to stand up for our democratic rights to a free press and freedom of expression. Never has there been a more vital time for us to do so.
Ricken, Emma, Alex, Alice, Maria Paz and the rest of the Avaaz team.
--Law experts say WikiLeaks in the clear (ABC)
--WikiLeaks are a bunch of terrorists, says leading U.S. congressman (Mail Online)
--Cyber guerrillas can help US (Financial Times)
--Amazon drops WikiLeaks under political pressure (Yahoo)
--"WikiLeaks avenged by hacktivists" (PC World):
--US Gov shows true control over Internet with WikiLeaks containment (Tippett.org)
--US embassy cables culprit should be executed, says Mike Huckabee (The Guardian)
--WikiLeaks ditched by MasterCard, Visa. Who's next? (The Christian Science Monitor)
--Assange's Interpol Warrant Is for Having Sex Without a Condom (The Slatest)