It’s unbelievable to me that so-called “media outlets” who unethically and irresponsibly publish classified information that was stolen from the US government somehow perceive they deserve protection for their immoral actions!
A few years ago, the New York Times published a piece that pointed out weaknesses in the individual body armor of our troops in Iraq. The report referenced in the piece was not released to the public for obvious reasons: it gave the enemy a nice little roadmap for the most effective killing of US troops. The NYT was asked nicely by the Pentagon not to publish this piece – that it would put American lives at risk – while we worked to get the troops better protected.
Michael Moss didn’t care, and neither did the NYT. They published the information anyway for the enemy to exploit. I wonder how many Americans lost their lives because of it…
The Times had the right to publish the information. Should they have done so? What’s more important – the public’s right to know, or the lives of those about whom said truth is written? I would say human lives are more important than the latest expose, and just because you CAN do something, doesn’t mean you should.
We have freedom of the press. It’s protected by the First Amendment. But with freedom comes responsibility. Just as each one of us has an obligation to exercise our rights responsibly and in a manner that does not do damage to others, the media has a duty to ensure that its reporting doesn’t endanger lives. The New York Times did just that.
Michael Moss and the NYT decided that their right to an exclusive outweighed our troops’ right not to have their lives unnecessarily compromised. Yes, the NYT was protected by the law. But they were wrong.
That is the case of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, who is currently festering in a British jail, while the European authorities hash out rape charges against him.
For the record, having read some recent reports, I don’t think rape was involved. I think Assange is a whore who stuck his dick in two women in a span of several days. The women found out about one another, and decided to get even with the pig. Sweden’s odd sexual assault laws took care of the rest.
However, all that will get hashed out in courts, and the more paranoid of us will claim that somehow big, bad American spy agencies are responsible for Assange’s arrest and the pending charges. I’m not one of them. I think the fact that Assange is an arrogant, self-absorbed coward has probably influenced the decision to throw as many books at him as humanly possible, but do I think the charges were engineered by the US? Nah.
An Aussie newspaper ran an editorial today written by Julian Assange. In it, Assange attempts to take the role of the heroic David fighting the Goliath of world governments and major media outlets.
In Assange’s backwards universe WikiLeaks is the victim, and governments are the predators.
Truth is the ultimate, pure goal, while big, bad, corrupt politicians want to cover it up.
And WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks.
IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: “In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.”
His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch’s expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.
Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.
Why do names of innocent Afghan elders, women, children and other villagers who did nothing more than provide information to coalition troops need to be made public?
How does revealing military tactics, techniques and procedures to any enemy who accesses WikiLeaks or picks up a newspaper serve the truth?
Why do military radio frequencies and standard operating procedures need to be made public?
The first two releases, in particular, contained information randomly grabbed by PFC Manning from a classified computer system – in violation of a number of regulations and his promise to keep classified information out of the public eye as required by his clearance and job. They were initial radio transmissions and reports that contained names and other identifying information about our sources, radio frequencies, operating procedures, MEDEVAC requests and other information critical to our enemies. Were there tidbits that might embarrass the US and its allies? Sure.
But why do these things need to be made public? For what purpose? The only people who would find such information useful are the enemy. So why release hundreds of thousands of documents just for the few records that may contain “acts that need to be made public?”
Sounds to me the only people being “needlessly sacrificed” are the troops whose sources, procedures and plans were being irresponsibly made public by WikiLeaks.
If Assange cared only about the truth, why release thousands of records that will do nothing to promote accountability and transparency, but simply compromise the security and operations of our troops? Does a MEDEVAC request for a troop that accidentally broke his arm need to be made public? Why?
I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.
What media was gagged? The US government knew what was in those files prior to their release, and still the files were released and published – on several different occasions. The Guardian wasn’t in any way prevented from publishing a list of sites considered vital infrastructure to the US – giving the enemy a perfect list of targets. The New York Times and hundreds of other media outlets weren’t gagged, prosecuted or otherwise stopped from publishing diplomatic cables that are essentially privileged communications between government employees and that could strain relations between the US and their allies. So who was being gagged, pray tell?
These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia, was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.
Again with the claims of “truth.” Truth is great, but when it harms others, revealing it just for the hell of it is neither ethical nor admirable. And endangering and sacrificing lives out of a twisted sense of duty to change foreign policy to one’s own vision is arrogant and dangerous.
WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?
Only one difference: REAL scientific journalism doesn’t use stolen, classified information in an effort to impose the scientist’s own vision of how the data should be portrayed and used on the scientific community. WikiLeaks’ release of sensitive diplomatic and military data does just that. As Christopher Hitchens recently wrote,
The cunning of the strategy set by Julian Assange, the founder and editor of WikiLeaks, is that he has made everyone complicit in his own private decision to try to sabotage U.S. foreign policy.
Hitchens is correct. Assange wasn’t after the truth. He wanted to be recognized as the little guy who took down the Leviathan – the one who changed US policy. He taunted America by pompously commanding that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama quit their jobs, as if he had any right to make such a demand, given the fact that he’s not even a citizen of the United States.
Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.
Yes, democratic societies do need a strong media, but WikiLeaks is barely that. It acquired stolen information, records that were classified and provided to him by a petty criminal with a grudge against the military, ignored calls from the American government to return its property and merely made these records public for every terrorist to peruse. While there’s a definite need to expose corruption – both in the corporate world and in government – the need has to be balanced with responsible reporting, and WikiLeaks did nothing of the sort.
People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.
If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.
In principle, I agree. If a war is justified, the truth needs to be told. However, of the hundreds of thousands of files released by WikiLeaks, less than 1 percent were in any way inflammatory or revealed any kind of wrongdoing. Most were routine. Many were reports about weapons caches found by coalition forces. Many more were MEDEVAC requests for routine injuries. And most revealed nothing damning about our government or its actions. But WikiLeaks revealed these records anyway – records about military procedures, records that revealed the exact location of sources – some of them children who helped the coalition forces by pointing out locations of IEDs and weapons caches – records about villagers who gave the coalition forces information about the location of Taliban insurgents, and who were threatened or killed as a result.
The diplomatic cables that were released revealed the names of sites worldwide that are vital to US national security. How is giving terrorists a solid target list conducive to promoting transparency and accountability?
WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain’s The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.
Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be “taken out” by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be “hunted down like Osama bin Laden”, a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a “transnational threat” and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister’s office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.
And here we have it, folks. Assange the martyr. Assange the victim. Assange the persecuted.
Fact of the matter is, as much as I’d like to see his bloated carcass floating ass up in the Thames, and as much as Sarah Palin bloviates about treating him like Bin Ladin, Assange is still alive and penning editorials in the Australian press. And as far as I’m concerned, it says a lot about our dedication to justice and decency.
And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Julia Gillard and her government. The powers of the Australian government appear to be fully at the disposal of the US as to whether to cancel my Australian passport, or to spy on or harass WikiLeaks supporters. The Australian Attorney-General is doing everything he can to help a US investigation clearly directed at framing Australian citizens and shipping them to the US.
Australia is an ally of the United States, and as such it has the prerogative to assist its ally in the apprehension of a criminal – especially a criminal who has caused incalculable damage to military tactics and diplomatic relations with its allies. And by threatening to release yet MORE classified information – STOLEN
information – if his vendetta against the US was hindered in any way, Assange crossed the
line from being merely an unethical, odious creep into blackmail and extortion. That is a crime.
Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.
We are the underdogs. The Gillard government is trying to shoot the messenger because it doesn’t want the truth revealed, including information about its own diplomatic and political dealings.
Has there been any response from the Australian government to the numerous public threats of violence against me and other WikiLeaks personnel? One might have thought an Australian prime minister would be defending her citizens against such things, but there have only been wholly unsubstantiated claims of illegality. The Prime Minister and especially the Attorney-General are meant to carry out their duties with dignity and above the fray. Rest assured, these two mean to save their own skins. They will not.
And speaking of cowards… Julian Assange consciously and intentionally brought this upon himself and his organization. He boldly ignored requests to return classified information, and simply put every record out there without regard for consequences, while taunting American leadership and cavalierly demanding the resignations of high-ranking officials.
He ran away to Europe and allowed PFC Manning to be prosecuted (and rightfully so), but refused to courageously stand up for the principles of truth and justice he claims to espouse.
Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: “You’ll risk lives! National security! You’ll endanger troops!” Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can’t be both. Which is it?
Actually, it can. Hundreds of thousands of documents were released by WikiLeaks in the last four months. Is it not conceivable that the vast majority held nothing of importance, while a small amount compromised lives, security and alliances?
It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US, with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.
US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan. NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn’t find a single person who needed protecting. The Australian Department of Defence said the same. No Australian troops or sources have been hurt by anything we have published.
In response to this, I will quote from an above link:
The Taliban, a radical Islamic militia in Afghanistan, announced its gratitude to Wikileaks for the release and vowed to hunt down those revealed in the documents to be collaborating with the U.S. It appears that they have now made good on that threat.
Khalifa Abdullah, a tribal elder, was removed from his home in Monar village, in Kandahar province’s embattled Arghandab district, by gunmen. He was then executed.
At the same time, 70 other tribal elders received death threats warning them that the Taliban had obtained reason to believe they were collaborating with the U.S. One such threat is signed by Abdul Rauf Khadim, a senior Taliban official who was imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. When the Cuban prison was partially shut down by President Obama Khadim was transferred to Afghan custody in Kabul, where he subsequently escaped.
But no, no one was hurt by the WikiLeaks exposure. Just a few Afghans who helped coalition forces. And what are their lives when compared to the holy mission of Julian Assange? He admitted as much in the Australian press.
He insisted that any risk to informants’ lives was outweighed by the overall importance of publishing the information.
Mr Assange said: “No one has been harmed, but should anyone come to harm of course that would be a matter of deep regret – our goal is justice to innocents, not to harm them. That said, if we were forced into a position of publishing all of the archives or none of the archives we would publish all of the archives because it’s extremely important to the history of this war.”
Translation: my quest is more important than the lives of some inconsequential Afghans. But at least I’ll be sorry about it.
And of course, there’s no mention of the infrastructure we built, of the children we MEDEVACed and treated for injuries sustained in insurgent attacks and IED explosions, of the supplies we provided…
The rest of the whining diatribe is more of the same: WikiLeaks is critical to freedom. WikiLeaks has published startling facts (he lists five). WikiLeaks is the victim and needs to be protected. Blah. Blah. Blah.
I’m all for government accountability, and wrongdoing needs to be exposed and remedied. That is clear, and I support exposing said corruption.
What I don’t support is certain libertarian types laying claim to any government secret merely because the government’s authority comes from the people. You can’t run a nation as large as this without secrets – secrets that are a matter of national security. And as a matter of national security, the government has the authority to classify certain information. As my favorite economist Walter Williams says, “As human beings, we all have certain unalienable rights. Of the rights we possess, we have a right to delegate to government. For example, we all have a right to defend ourselves against predators. Since we possess that right, we can delegate it to government. In other words, we can say to government, “We have the right to defend ourselves, but for a more orderly society, we give you the authority to defend us.” And since we gave the government that authority, we can’t complain when information is classified and kept from us for reasons of national security.
What Assange did was trample said delegated authority. He assumed the role of the governed from whom the right to govern lawfully originates and took it upon himself to expose matters of our national security to the world using stolen information.
And now he arrogantly claims victim status.
Tell that to the Afghans he got killed.
UPDATE: Mike has some strong words and brings up some good points. While I chose to fisk Assange’s writing, Mike has general observations on this clown’s character. Go. Read. Here’s a taste:
First, Julian claims to be doing this because he hates “Bastards.” We must be clear here, though: He’s done little expose of the Russians, none of the Chinese, North Koreans, Vietnamese, Iranians, Zimbabweans, or any other group of “bastards.” Mostly, he’s attacking the US. Remember that US? The one that gives food to half the world, sends entire fleets of ships to clean up after earthquakes in Haiti, tsunamis in Indonesia, that US? The “Bastards.”
Here’s a hint from Speaker to Morons: Compared to any of those other countries, the US is the good guy.
In other words, he’s picking on us because we have a relatively open society that makes it possible.
So basically, he’s an inept loser of a spy and a moral coward.
The check on this is that after the sole Russian document release, they openly offered to put a hit on him if there was another. There has not been another.
UPDATE ZEE SECOND: OK, I’m pissed. The update I initially wrote decided not to save, so now I’m forced to rewrite, and that makes me angry.
The Telegraph reports today that Assange is not only a criminal, but also a lying hypocrite. While I’m sure you’re not shocked by this, please take a look at the concrete examples.
A certain secretive fellow, currently in custody, attempts to conceal his record:
Julian Assange had a blog. But he deleted it.
Thanks to Peter Risdon, however, we can take a look.
What was this about transparency, Julian? Don’t you think the people who support you – especially those misguided lunatics who toss money at you – have a right to know what you’re writing? I guess transparency and accountability should only be applied to the US, and not to Julian Assange, who is to be given a pass.
Here we have an example of yet more transparency and hypocrisy:
When he appeared in court Mr Assange initially refused to offer an address beyond an Australian post office box number, prompting Judge Riddle to warn him that there would be serious consequences of his behaviour.
After a brief conversation with his lawyer Mr Assange gave a Melbourne address in writing, saying that he wanted it to remain private, but the judge then directed a court clerk to read it out.
So apparently, it’s OK for Assange to release documents that point to the location, GPS coordinates and other identifying information about Afghans who provided support to coalition forces, giving the Taliban and al Qaida exactly the map they needed to exact their revenge. But when it comes to revealing his own address, Julian is not so forthcoming. Hypocrisy, thy name is Assange!
And then there’s the sanctimonious lying!
Assange in August:
1,300 people were eventually killed [in Kenya], and 350,000 were displaced. That was a result of our leak.
And yet, if you check out his editorial in yesterday’s paper, you will find his spurious claim (already shown to be a lie) that no one has been harmed as a result of his actions.
WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US, with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.
The cowardice is stunning in its scope, but not unexpected. Julian Assange is a sanctimonious, lying, hypocritical coward, and as more and more embarrassing information about him begins to surface, his frothing cheerleaders begin to get more antagonistic. Yesterday, they decided to punish MasterCard and Visa for refusing to process WikiLeaks donations. Today they’re threatening Amazon.com.
Apparently these cyber attacks are revenge for ceasing to do business with their folk hero-hypocrite. Because they support freedom and justice and equal rights, but that support doesn’t seem to extend to companies who make decisions (AS IS THEIR RIGHT) to cease practices that may be detrimental to their business.
Such stunning hypocrisy is right in line with the moralistic sack of perfidy that is Assange.