2010-12-09 Journalists in defence of WikiLeaks, part 10

John Pilger: Statement in support of Sydney rally

"The defence of Julian Assange and Wikileaks is one of the most important issues of my lifetime. There are now two superpowers in the world — the military power of Washington and the power of public opinion and justice, which Wikileaks represents.

If the Australian prime minister doesn’t understand this, we Australians need to remind her that she may head a mercenary government but we are not a mercenary people.

Those of us in London who are working to free Julian, knowing that the Swedish prosecution is a political stunt that would never produce a fair trial, will be at his side, and we call on the support of every decent Australian."
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Robert Scheer, TruthDig: From Jefferson to Assange

"All you need to know about Julian Assange’s value as a crusading journalist is that The New York Times and most of the world’s other leading newspapers have led daily with important news stories based on his WikiLeaks releases. All you need to know about the collapse of traditional support for the constitutional protection of a free press is that Dianne Feinstein, the centrist Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, has called for Assange “to be vigorously prosecuted for espionage.”[...]

Feinstein represents precisely the government that Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he said, in defense of unfettered freedom of the press, “[W]ere it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”[...] [T]he inconvenient truths she has concealed in her Senate role would have indeed shocked many of those who voted for her. She knew in real time that Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack, yet she voted to send young Americans to kill and be killed based on what she knew to be lies. It is her duplicity, along with the leaders of both political parties, that now stands exposed by the WikiLeaks documents.

That is why U.S. governmental leaders will now employ the massive power of the state to discredit and destroy Assange, who dared let the public in on the depths of official deceit—a deceit that they hide behind in making their claims of protecting national security.[...]

It is outrageous for any journalist, or respecter of what every American president has claimed is our inalienable, God-given right to a free press, not to join in Assange’s defense on this issue, as distinct from what increasingly appear to be trumped-up charges that led to his voluntary arrest on Tuesday in London in a case involving his personal behavior. Abandon Assange and you abandon the bedrock of our republic: the public’s right to know."
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Jack Hunter, The American Conservative: The Conservative Case for WikiLeaks

"No one questions that governments must maintain a certain level of secrecy, including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who told Time that “Secrecy is important for many things … [but it] shouldn’t be used to cover up abuses.”[...] To say that government must keep secrets is not to say that all government secrets must be kept.[...]

But the worst hypocrisy throughout this controversy has been in conservatives reflexively defending the government and attacking WikiLeaks. Since when have conservatives believed that Washington should be able to shroud any action it likes in secrecy and that revealing government’s nefarious deeds is tantamount to treason? Isn’t it government officials who might secretly work for corporate, ideological or transnational interests — and against the national interest — who are betraying their country?

Interestingly, Wikileaks’ founder espouses the traditionally conservative, Jeffersonian view that America’s constitutional structure limits and lessens government corruption. [...]

Decentralizing government power, limiting it, and challenging it was the Founders’ intent and these have always been core conservative principles. Conservatives should prefer an explosion of whistleblower groups like WikiLeaks to a federal government powerful enough to take them down. Government officials who now attack WikiLeaks don’t fear national endangerment, they fear personal embarrassment. And while scores of conservatives have long promised to undermine or challenge the current monstrosity in Washington, D.C., it is now an organization not recognizably conservative that best undermines the political establishment and challenges its very foundations."
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Glenn Greenwald, Salon: Democracy Now! interview (video)

"Whatever you think of WikiLeaks, they’ve never been charged with a crime, let alone indicted or convicted. And yet, look at what has happened to them. They’ve been essentially removed from the internet, not just through a denial of service attacks that are very sophisticated, but through political pressure applied to numerous countries. Their funds have been frozen, including funds donated by people around the world for his—for Julian Assange’s defense fund and for WikiLeaks’s defense fund. They’ve had their access to all kinds of accounts cut off. Leading politicians and media figures have called for their assassination, their murder, to be labeled a terrorist organization.

What’s really going on here is a war over control of the internet and whether or not the internet can actually serve what a lot of people hoped its ultimate purpose was, which was to allow citizens to band together and democratize the checks on the world’s most powerful factions. That’s what this really is about. It’s why you see Western government, totally lawlessly, waging what can only be described as a war on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange outside the bounds of any constraints, because that’s what really is at stake here. If they want to prosecute them, they should go to court and do it through legal means. But this extralegal persecution ought to be very alarming to every citizen in every one of these countries, because it essentially is pure authoritarianism and is designed to prevent the internet from being used as its ultimate promise, which is providing a check on unconstrained political power."
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Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey, Pravda: Assange, Pinochet, Wikileaks: Prosecution or Persecution?

"However, this is not just a simple case of extradition to Sweden (which under current laws in practice in the EU, would be difficult for Assange and his team to fight against). Basically, he has already been judged by the public through media reports. It could indeed be argued under English law that the case was now null and void.

His right to anonymity has been denied him, his right to a fair and free trial has been violated, due to the fact that as we saw in the Wikileaks, extreme pressure is borne by certain governments against the judicial systems of certain states. Therefore any decision to extradite Mr. Assange comes outside the normal jurisdictional decisions arising out of European law. Read Wikileaks, and we see the full dimension of this monster.

Coupled with this, is the specter of an eventual extradition to the USA, due to what his website has been responsible for, and we see that the British justice system is once again caught up in a Pinochetgate case. If the dictator Augusto Pinochet was released by British justice, after what he did, then Mr. Assange is going to be extradited to Sweden to face the accusations of two "ladies" who shared a bed with him, as a pretext to be then shipped over to the USA, the Queen of waterboarding, torture and mass murder in medieval-style concentration camps?

Maybe it is time for the people of the world to pull together, because what is at stake here is more than a simple accusation. It is where we are, where we are going and what our rights are, as humankind.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is not a case. It is a cause. And let us all inform ourselves as to what we can do, and how far we have to go to ensure that the right to free information remains available to all.

Take down Julian Assange, and others will take his place."
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Evan Hansen, Wired: Why WikiLeaks is good for America

"A truly free press — one unfettered by concerns of nationalism — is apparently a terrifying problem for elected governments and tyrannies alike.

It shouldn’t be.[...]

WikiLeaks is not perfect, and we have highlighted many of its shortcomings on this website. Nevertheless, it’s time to make a clear statement about the value of the site and take sides:

WikiLeaks stands to improve our democracy, not weaken it.

The greatest threat we face right now from WikiLeaks is not the information it has spilled and may spill in the future, but the reactionary response to it that’s building in the United States that promises to repudiate the rule of law and our free speech traditions, if left unchecked."
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Mark Lee Hunter, Open Democracy: If Assange is a spy, then so am I

"This is the real secret that Wikileaks has so stunningly recalled to view: Some of the people in our own governments are so disgusted by what they must know, see and do to keep their jobs that they will tell someone else about it. They want certain ways of doing business to stop, and they don't believe that any other means can be effective.[...]

There is no doubt in my mind that a good number of the people screaming for Assange's head would like the news media either to go away, or to function as a docile servant of the powers that be. Of course a society can exist without watchdog media, and many do. But those are generally awful places to live, except for the people who own them.[...]

Hounding Assange and criminalizing whistleblowers will do far more damage to democracy than a pack of scribes and hackers ever could. You don't need to be a spy to guess that secret. The people screaming for Assange's blood are the architects and allies of disastrous policies that are being rejected even within the government. They are trying to conceal their failure, and Wikileaks is the proof that they failed. It must not be silenced, and journalists should be the first to know it."
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Oliver Broudy, Mother Jones: Has Assange Turned Me Into An Anarchist?

"We usually accept this just as we accept partisan gridlock and corporate lobbying: This is the way the system works. We take it for granted that very little can be done about it. Right up to the moment, that is, when someone plants himself, like the Tianamen Square tank man, squarely before the government juggernaut, and refuses to step aside. Then we're treated to an amazing spectacle: This is what it looks like when power squirms. When the US government warns its employees to steer their eyes away from the WikiLeaks documents even though they're on every front page and news site. When Sweden and Interpol, possibly in response to US pressure, pursue trumped up charges against the WikiLeaks founder. When Mike Huckabee calls for alleged leaker Bradley Manning's execution, Sarah Palin says Assange should be "hunted down," and Congressman Peter King (R-N.Y.) declares that WikiLeaks should be designated a terrorist organization.[...]

But here's where a final distinction between the anarchist and WikiLeaks revolution reveals itself: Thanks to the internet, where more than 1,200 copies of the WikiLeaks site are currently mirrored, this revolution might actually succeed.

It was precisely this kind of revolution that the internet once promised. In the '90s, we thought it was going to change everything by ushering in a new age of democracy, of equality, of access. Instead, it became just another way to buy shoes. How gratifying, then, to see that promise renewed. And how tempting to finally be able to say: Screw Joe Lieberman."
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Boston Globe editorial: Don't use archaic spy law

"While WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange damaged America’s relations with other countries by releasing some 250,000 diplomatic cables, any attempt to prosecute him under an archaic antispying law would do more harm than good.

In an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal this week, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California called for Assange to be “vigorously prosecuted’’ under the Espionage Act of 1917. While Assange has not been accused of breaking into the government’s leaky computer networks to steal the cables, his organization was the conduit in making the documents public.[...]

The law is a relic of World War I anxieties, and its very breadth helps explain why it has been used so rarely. It could all too easily be exploited to trample rights Americans take for granted — especially freedom of speech and freedom of the press. The law is vague enough that it could have been used against the journalists who exposed the Abu Ghraib scandal in Iraq, or similar instances of wrongdoing."
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Ian Welsh: Why Assange and Wikileaks have won this round

"Wikileaks and Assange have now been made in to cause celebres. If corporations and governments can destroy someone’s access to the modern economy as they have Wikileaks, without even pretending due process of the law (Paypal, VISA, Mastercard, Amazon, etc… were not ordered by any court to cut Wikileaks) then we simply do not live in a free society of law, let alone a society of justice.

Ironically the Wikileaks files reveal that the British fixed their inquiry into the war, and that the US pressured the Spanish government to stop a war crimes court case against ex-members of the Bush administration. Assange and Wikileaks are subject to extreme judicial and extrajudicial sanctions, but people who engaged in aggressive war based on lies, tortured people and are responsible for deaths well into the six figures, walk free.[...]

It has proved that the West is run by authoritarian thugs with completely twisted priorities. Kill hundreds of thousands of people and engage in aggressive war? No big deal. Cause the greatest economic collapse of the post-war period sending millions into poverty? We couldn’t possibly prosecute the people who did that, but we will give them trillions! Reveal our petty secrets and lies, and that we know the war in Afghanistan is lost, have known for years and continue to kill both Afghanis and our own soldiers pointlessly? We WILL destroy you, no matter what we have to do."
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