Scoop Election 08: edited by Gordon Campbell

Gordon Campbell Reviews The General Response To Wikileaks

January 6th, 2011

Article – Gordon Campbell

Surprisingly, there still seem to be a few liberals out there who regard Wikileaks as operating in a morally fraught, grey zone. As if there was something shady, or a back of the bike-sheds taint of irresponsibility to what Wikileaks has done. (For …


Gordon Campbell Reviews The General Response To Wikileaks

Surprisingly, there still seem to be a few liberals out there who regard Wikileaks as operating in a morally fraught, grey zone. As if there was something shady, or a back of the bike-sheds taint of irresponsibility to what Wikileaks has done. (For those with no such qualms, please bear with my repetition here of what will seem like the bleedingly obvious.)

Among the myths : (a) that Wikileaks dumped 260,000 diplomatic cables indiscriminately (b) that the entire process of diplomacy and frank official exchanges between nations has been put at risk by the Wikileaks revelations and (c) the allegations about Julian Assange’s sexual morality somehow lessen the validity of what the Wikileaks site that he edits has done. All three points don’t stand up to much scrutiny. Wikileaks did not dump the cables indiscriminately. Initially it released less than 1,500, without getting in front of the vetting processes (regarding the personal safety of named officials, and national security issues) of the news outlets publishing the cables. Even now, less than half the reported 260,000 cables have seen daylight.

As for the impact on diplomatic traffic in future…one could argue instead that the cables should force diplomats to lift their game in future, in that US embassy officials should no longer be able to rely on third hand cocktail circuit chatter for their obligatory missives back to Washington. Furthermore, if the prospect of revelation by Wikileaks does obstruct the capacity of US diplomats from being able to (a) conduct secret wars as the cables reveal has happened in Yemen (see below) or (b) plan to establish secret spy networks in Europe, or (c) lobby friendly local bureaucrats to orchestrate events within their host countries, then so much the better.

Plainly, Assange’s alleged sexual misconduct has managed to divert some media attention away from the content of the cables. The two things are – or should be – unconnected. Just as Assange’s personal behaviour has no bearing on the validity of what his organisation has revealed, the value of the Wikileaks revelations should equally have no bearing on the outcome of the complaints against him. All one can say is that so far, the vacillating course of the investigation makes it unlikely that a prosecution for rape as the offence is normally understood would succeed. In one of the two incidents, the alleged conflict over consent reportedly turns on whether or not (in the midst of what had hitherto been consensual sex) Assange knowingly proceeded after a condom failure had occurred. In the other incident, consent is reportedly not the issue – it is whether the act involved unprotected sex, which is a (minor) offence under Swedish law.

To Assange’s supporters, his currently-in-dispute extradition to Sweden is part of a shuttle process to enable Assange to be handed onwards to the US to face charges of conspiracy to commit espionage, a relay process that would require the assent of British Prime Minister David Cameron – as the originating country in the extradition shuttle – and Cameron’s decision would also presumably, be open to legal appeal. Even if all the charges being readied against Assange prove groundless – as seems likely – the process will have served the purpose of disrupting the Wikileaks organisation and bleeding its funds in legal fees.

History should remind us that there is nothing new about state -run campaigns to hobble and discredit the messenger. Forty years ago when Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers, the Richard Nixon White House sanctioned a burglary at Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, in order to gain information about his personal instability that could be used to discredit him.. The strategy of taking personal action against Wikileaks and its informants was set out in a Army Counter-Intelligence US Army report in 2008 :

Web sites such as Wikileaks have trust as their most important centre of gravity by protecting the anonymity and identity of the ‘insider’ leaker or whistleblower. Successful identification, prosecution, termination of employment and exposure of persons leaking the information by the government and by businesses affected by information posted on Wikileaks would damage and potentially destroy this centre of gravity and deter others from taking similar actions. [The quote can be accessed here.]

The Public Interest Test

The critics of the Wikileaks cable releases tend to fall into either of two contradictory camps. One argument says releasing the cables was an outrageous, indefensible act that has done considerable damage to US interests – while the other says that the diplomatic cables contain no evidence of wrong-doing and only tell us what we already knew. Neither contention is true. There are major revelations in the cables, and the public interest clearly over-rides any collateral embarrassment to US diplomatic interests.

How so? During 2010, the two main installments of material released by Wikileaks have been (a) the Apache helicopter attack footage from Iraq and (b) the release of the diplomatic cables. In both cases a clear public interest has been served and is easy to demonstrate. The Apache helicopter footage showed the killings of innocent people in Iraq and the callous disregard for their deaths by the people responsible – and the footage retrospectively invalidated the cover-up explanation for the deaths. Few of Assange’s critics have tried to attack him on this front. The evidence is too appalling to contradict.

As for the cables, three examples will suffice. As the columnist Glenn Greenwald has shown on his Salon site, the Wikileaks cables contain evidence of a secret war being waged by the US in Yemen, despite official denials, and despite claims in 2009 by Yemeni government officials in the New York Times that Yemeni aircraft, and not US planes, had carried out the relevant attacks.

Secondly, the Guardian has released cable information this week about the US plan for retaliation against EU countries that oppose trade in GM food. The same cables also show that US diplomats targeted the Vatican to achieve papal support to over-ride the opposition to GM crops being expressed by Catholic bishops in developing countries. In the process, US diplomats championed the interests of Monsanto and pressed to lower the trade barriers contained within Europe’s biotechnology laws. Again, the European public needs to know about this – and so does the public of any ‘clean, green’ country naively seeking to engage in trade pacts with the Americans. Thirdly, the Wikileaks cables revealed that Spain’s politicians came under pressure from the Obama administration to compromise their judicial system – ie, by blocking a proposed court case against the George W. Bush legal team that was being mounted by five tortured Guantanamo Bay detainees :

Civil rights attorney Michael Ratner, whose Center for Constitutional Rights has championed Guantánamo detainee rights, called the cables taken together “quite dramatic….The U.S. prides itself on our own independent judiciary,” Ratner said. “But here you have the hypocrisy of the U.S. government trying to influence an independent judicial system to bend its laws and own rules. And it’s the Obama administration doing it to protect Bush people,” he said.

So much for claims that the content is humdrum, and contains nothing of note.

The Methodology Criticism

Much mileage has been made of the fact that Wikileaks was publishing ‘stolen’ property – as if that was somehow detracted from the actual content. In reality, the Wikileaks provision of an outlet for whistle blowers and for the release of classified information deemed to be of public interest is no different to what good journalism routinely does, and/or should be doing far more often.

It is hard to see how the Wikileaks use of Private Bradley Manning’s access to the diplomatic cables differs substantially for instance, from Woodward and Bernstein using FBI agent Mark Felt (aka Deep Throat) as a whistleblower during the Watergate saga. Or how it differs from Bob Woodward’s privileged access these days to White House staffers (and to his being told stuff by them that he shouldn’t know) and then writing about it afterwards. With Wikileaks, the results have been far more transparent, and laudably open to analysis and to alternative conclusions.

Yet as Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, Woodward is not being painted – as Assange is – as something akin to a terrorist. Nor are the bank accounts of Woodward’s publishers being frozen. Nor is Woodward facing prosecution as Assange may be under the US Espionage Act (1917) – an ancient piece of US legislation framed to combat the Kaiser’s fellow travcllers and to silence critics of US involvement in WW1.

Again, this looks more like financial harassment to bleed Wikileaks of funds, than a legal strategy with a realistic hope of success in court. An attempt was made to prosecute Daniel Ellsberg in the 1970s under the same statute, but this was thrown out of court. Thanks to Ellsberg, the legal barrier against the US government’s ability to suppress alleged state secrets has been set dauntingly high. Basically, it can readily criminalise the leakers, but not the publishers.

The Torture of Pvte. Bradley

In the wake of the Wikileaks revelations, the US corporate world has put itself at the service of the US government, and tried to limit the public’s ability to donate to Wikileaks. In essence, Visa, Amazon, PayPal etc have chosen to block funding for an arm of the Fourth Estate that has committed no crime, and that has not even been charged with one before an American court. Similarly Private Bradley Manning – the reported source of the most contentious Wikileaks material – has also not as yet been charged with any offence in a US civilian court. Yet without being so charged, Manning has been confined for over six months in solitary confinement in conditions that as this article explains – amount to psychological torture.

Some commentators have concluded that Bradley is being put under intense psychological pressure to crack, and then to accept a plea bargain based on Bradley agreeing to testify for the prosecution in a ‘conspiracy to commit espionage’ case against Assange.

Reportedly, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Torture Convention has agreed to investigate a complaint that Manning’s treatment constitutes torture.

The question of how and why Bradley was arrested by the US authorities has been the subject of a recent bitter exchange between Glenn Greenwald at Salon, and Wired magazine. What is not in dispute is that Bradley was turned in to the FBI by Adrian Lamo, a former convicted hacker and long time associate of Kevin Poulsen of Wired.

Currently, we are reliant on Lamo for how and why Bradley first contacted Lamo back in May of last year. Yet as Greenwald has pointed out, Lamo has now given several contradictory versions to the media of how this encounter came about – and therefore, Greenwald has called on Lamo and his friends at Wired to release the chat logs they hold that contain the information that would verify which of Lamo’s various versions if any, is true. Greenwald’s initial analysis last June of the Lamo/Bradley relationship is here.

Last month, Wired replied (not very convincingly, IMHO) to Greenwald’s criticisms of their journalistic ethics here.

Greenwald’s devastating rebuttal to Wired’s comments can be found here.

The relevance of the Lamo chat logs is that their (as-yet unreleased 75 % of ) content is likely to not only reveal the exploitation of Bradley – at the time, a scared, isolated 22 year old whistle blower on duty in Iraq – by someone who seems to have promised him confidentiality and support on one hand, while then colluding to turn him in. The full logs also seem likely to contain relevant information about Bradley’s working relationship with Assange, relevant to any subsequent court action against the Wikileaks editor. As things stand, Wired’s continued refusal to release the relevant chat log information that it holds is looking more and more indefensible.

As Greenwald has pointed out, what has been released to date from the Lamo/Bradley chat logs, indicates that an entirely appropriate arms length relationship existed between Bradley and Assange. Moreover, Bradley’s own motives appear to have been those of a classic whistle blower :

Lamo: what’s your endgame plan, then?. . .

Manning: well, it was forwarded to [WikiLeaks] – and god knows what happens now – hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms – if not, than [sic] we’re doomed – as a species – i will officially give up on the society we have if nothing happens – the reaction to the video gave me immense hope; CNN’s iReport was overwhelmed; Twitter exploded – people who saw, knew there was something wrong . . . – i want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.

Bradley seems to have been radicalized by his experience of US operations in Iraq and in particular, by what he saw of the treatment of Iraqis handed over for interrogation. He now faces up to 60 years in jail for exposing how his government routinely goes about its business.

Not many people advocate total transparency. There should always be debate about where the line needs to be drawn. Obviously though after 9/11, those boundaries were vastly expanded, and – arguably – Wikileaks has emerged to provide a welcome and necessary corrective to that trend. In the process though the interesting thing is that it has aroused the ire not only of governments, but of many journalists who had willingly signed up to the cult of secrecy. It has become seen as a mark of maturity and responsibility that certain things should be kept hidden from the public – and ongoing access to political sources has come to depend on the evidence of such discretion, even – in some cases – if it means turning the media into a conduit for government spin and disinformation. Glenn Greenwald again, spelled this out in his Wired rebuttal :

Journalism in the United States has become at least as much about preserving secrets as it is uncovering them. Reporters routinely grant anonymity to government officials to spout all sorts of falsehoods — from the gossipy to the consequential — while shielding those officials from accountability. Numerous media stars for years knew the key facts of the Libby case but withheld them even as they purported to “report” the story. The New York Times sat on the NSA story for a year — until Bush was safely re-elected — because the President told them not to publish it….

That’s what so much “journalism” now is : a means of shielding secrets from the public. We’re a society in which media and political elites keep secrets compulsively with one another — doing that is one of the hallmarks of membership in those circles — and there are thus plenty of people trained to believe that Good, Responsible People keep substantive secrets from the public. It’s the same mentality that has spawned the hostile reaction to WikiLeaks: people are happy — grateful even — when institutions keep substantive information from them.

In that respect, new technologies guru Clay Shirky likens Wikileaks in this post to the 16th century rebels against Catholic religious orthodoxy :

We celebrate the printers of 16th century Amsterdam for making it impossible for the Catholic Church to constrain the output of the printing press to Church-approved books*, a challenge that helped usher in, among other things, the decentralization of scientific inquiry and the spread of politically seditious writings advocating democracy.

This intellectual and political victory didn’t, however, mean that the printing press was then free of all constraints. Over time, a set of legal limitations around printing rose up, including restrictions on libel, the publication of trade secrets, and sedition. I don’t agree with all of these laws, but they were at least produced by some legal process.

Unlike the United States’ current pursuit of Wikileaks…. The Unites States is — or should be — subject to the rule of law, which makes the extra-judicial pursuit of Wikileaks especially nauseating. In the US, however, the government has a “heavy burden”, in the words of the Supreme Court, for engaging in prior restraint of even secret documents, an established principle since New York Times Co. vs. The United States, when the Times published the Pentagon Papers. If we want a different answer for Wikileaks, we need a different legal framework first….

The key, though, is that democracies have a process for creating such restrictions, and as a citizen it sickens me to see the US trying to take shortcuts. The leaders of Myanmar and Belarus, or Thailand and Russia, can now rightly say to us “You went after Wikileaks’ domain name, their hosting provider, and even denied your citizens the ability to register protest through donations, all without a warrant and all targeting overseas entities, simply because you decided you don’t like the site. If that’s the way governments get to behave, we can live with that.”

Over the long haul, we will need new checks and balances for newly increased transparency — Wikileaks shouldn’t be able to operate as a law unto itself anymore than the US should be able to. In the short haul, though, Wikileaks is our Amsterdam. Whatever restrictions we eventually end up enacting, we need to keep Wikileaks alive today, while we work through the process democracies always go through to react to change.”

It is not OK, Shirky concludes, for a democracy to just decide to run someone off the internet for doing something they wouldn’t prosecute a newspaper for doing,

Footnotes :

Next week : A review of some of the New Zealand cables

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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    1. 12 Responses to “Gordon Campbell Reviews The General Response To Wikileaks”

    2. By Nigel Gregory on Jan 6, 2011 | Reply

      Frustratingly spot on. Excellent piece.

    3. By QoT on Jan 6, 2011 | Reply

      Gordon, I love your writing and completely agree with most of your points re Wikileaks.

      But.

      If you’re going to argue that the sexual assault charges against Assange do not impact Wikileaks’ work (I agree) it would be really awesome if you then not (a) go into them and pass judgement on those charges and (b) reproduce massively misleading and inaccurate information about them which is being used to denigrate and demean the specific complainants and rape complainants in general.

    4. By Kerry on Jan 6, 2011 | Reply

      Good analysis, Gordon.

      I’m uncomfortable with the sexual assault allegations against Assange, although as you say, Swedish law is concerned about unprotected sex as a crime; there seems to have been no failure to consent until the two women friends compared notes & then decided they needed proof of Assange’s STD status – suggesting the furore began as a matter of sexual health enquiry, rather than rape under any definition.
      Handy that it came up just as the USA deeply needed an excuse to discredit the Wikileaks organisation; almost a classic CIA honeypot exercise, really, for those of us who grew up on Le Carre’s fiction!

    5. By Owen on Jan 6, 2011 | Reply

      An interesting response from Adam Curtis is to ask yourself: what if the leaks had damaged a cause that you believed in?
      http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurtis/2010/12/wicked_leaks.html
      Great site, BTW.

    6. By peasantpete on Jan 7, 2011 | Reply

      Actually, really very serious revelations are highly unlikely to appear.

      That sort of stuff would be extremely well hidden (if it ever occurred).

      Governments love passing laws that irk their subjects.

      A common reaction is “If you have nothing to hide why complain.”

      Seems that this does not apply to governments.

      Gossip and tittle tattle is tantamount to terrorism? Since when?

      Why is it that governments, everywhere, object to open public discussion?

    7. By Tze Ming on Jan 8, 2011 | Reply

      Hi Gordon, good summary, especially the Greenwald/Wired rundown, which has been doing my head in. However, I have to point out some inaccuracies in your presentation of the sex charges against Assange.
      I preface this by saying that I strongly support the work of Wikileaks, while also seriously considering the rape and molestation charges against Assange, and having been particularly grossed out by the (mostly male and left-wing) vilification of his accusers. I also currently work for a human rights organisation that has been following all elements of the Wikileaks issue very closely for over a year.
      So it is with some research behind me that I can say that the sex charges have been widely misrepresented by Assange and his lawyers, as is in their interest. The second charge to which you refer, is in fact specifically an issue of consent (ie you cannot consent while you are asleep). There is no such thing as a ‘minor’ charge in Sweden of having unprotected sex. There is a charge of ‘minor’ or non-aggravated rape, which is the charge to which he is in fact answering: non-consensual/coerced sex. The other charge is sexual molestation.
      The article to which you are linking is one of the worst examples of misreporting on this issue. There is no such crime in Sweden as ‘Sex by surprise’. This widely reported nonsense arose though a literal translation of överraskningssex, a Swedish slang word for rape. Your link to the AOL article perpetuating this indicates the quality of that article linked.
      I would recommend rather, this legal Q&A as a far clearer summary of the Swedish charges, which goes directly to legal and primary sources from the Guardian.
      http://garrulouslaw.com/2010/12/the-julian-assange-case-frequently-asked-questions.html

    8. By Maia on Jan 8, 2011 | Reply

      Hi Gordon

      I’ve been a big fan of yours for a long time, and I agree with a lot of what you say here.

      But I’m really, really disappointed in your reporting about the charges against Assange. The idea that the charges are a technicality, or about things that are only illegal in Sweden hasn’t been backed up by any knowledgeable authority that I’ve seen. The only link you provide in support of your summary has been pretty firm pretty firmly debunked.

      A news report based on leaked copies of the women’s statements has been available from the Guardian for three weeks. I don’t think you accurately paraphrase this account:

      Her account to police, which Assange disputes, stated that he began stroking her leg as they drank tea, before he pulled off her clothes and snapped a necklace that she was wearing. According to her statement she “tried to put on some articles of clothing as it was going too quickly and uncomfortably but Assange ripped them off again”. Miss A told police that she didn’t want to go any further “but that it was too late to stop Assange as she had gone along with it so far”, and so she allowed him to undress her.

      According to the statement, Miss A then realised he was trying to have unprotected sex with her. She told police that she had tried a number of times to reach for a condom but Assange had stopped her by holding her arms and pinning her legs. The statement records Miss A describing how Assange then released her arms and agreed to use a condom, but she told the police that at some stage Assange had “done something” with the condom that resulted in it becoming ripped, and ejaculated without withdrawing.

      And your description of the second charge bears no relation to this:

      The following day, Miss W phoned Assange and arranged to meet him late in the evening, according to her statement. The pair went back to her flat in Enkoping, near Stockholm. Miss W told police that though they started to have sex, Assange had not wanted to wear a condom, and she had moved away because she had not wanted unprotected sex. Assange had then lost interest, she said, and fallen asleep. However, during the night, they had both woken up and had sex at least once when “he agreed unwillingly to use a condom”.

      Early the next morning, Miss W told police, she had gone to buy breakfast before getting back into bed and falling asleep beside Assange. She had awoken to find him having sex with her, she said, but when she asked whether he was wearing a condom he said no. “According to her statement, she said: ‘You better not have HIV’ and he answered: ‘Of course not,’ ” but “she couldn’t be bothered to tell him one more time because she had been going on about the condom all night. She had never had unprotected sex before.”

      I hope you will correct your account.

    9. By Tze Ming on Jan 8, 2011 | Reply

      Reiterating that I fully support the work of Wikileaks, this characterisation of the sex offence charges against Assange is inaccurate, and the dismissal of the accusers’ credibility is misinformed.
      a) There is no law in Sweden prohibiting unprotected sex. It is however illegal in Sweden to sexually penetrate a woman when she has not given consent because she, eg, she is asleep.
      b) I note that by now, even Assange’s lawyers now admit that this was no ‘CIA honeytrap’ case. Also, the coordinator of the Swedish Wikileaks branch has testified to the credibility of the accusers: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/17/julian-assange-sweden

    10. By Rosalea on Jan 9, 2011 | Reply

      Here in the States the media have difficulty with a charge such as “unprotected sex” as there aren’t many jurisdictions–if any–that criminalize it. It’s easier just to say “rape”.

      On the topic of journalists’ reaction to Wikileaks, here’s a link to a recent poll of journalists in a MeetUp group in the SF Bay Area:

      http://www.meetup.com/SF-Journalists/polls/257054/

      Not that it’s a comprehensive poll–only 25 people have responded–but by far the majority think that Wikileaks, whether or not it’s a news organization, is entitled to First Amendment protection.

      I’m inclined to think that the impetus for the actions taken to nobble the site originate not from the government but from the financial institutions that are the subject of the next batch of information.

      The treatment of Bradley Manning, however, is an entirely other–and shameful–matter.

    11. By QoT on Jan 9, 2011 | Reply

      Gordon, your comments on both the Swedish investigation and the nature of the allegations made against Assange are outdated, inaccurate, and support a culture which minimizes rape and demonizes victims of sexual assault.

      Maia at Capitalism Bad, Tree Pretty has covered this along with numerous feminist blogs – I’m not linking to them in the hopes that this comment makes it through your spamtrap.

    12. By Pierre_I on Jan 9, 2011 | Reply

      What has been exposed to public scrutiny is the extent of disregard of US law by the US Govt. In response to the embarrassment of their behaviour that has been brought to light, we have seen the rather stunning image of the Vice President of a democracy urging the unlawful and extrajudicial termination of Mr Assange. Under US Code, that would be a felony. Where is the public concern with such action?

      US Code Title 18 —CRIMES AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE, Part 1 —CRIMES, Chapter 1, – General Provisions, § 2. Principals

      (a) Whoever commits an offense against the United States or aids, abets, counsels, commands, induces or procures its commission, is punishable as a principal.
      (b) Whoever willfully causes an act to be done which if directly performed by him or another would be an offense against the United States, is punishable as a principal.

      A political leader inciting assassination is hardly the hallmark of great moral stature. Be that as it may, history will judge the players accordingly.

      Beyond this, the misuse of the UCMJ for political ends surely should create disquiet in the international arena, as it resonates with the warnings of the M-I Complex alarm expressed by Eisenhower http://www.h-net.org/~hst306/documents/indust.html .

      “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

      We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together”.

      “Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades”.

      “Military justice is to justice what military music is to music”.
      Groucho Marx, (1890-1977)

      The leak of classified material by the currently incarcerated Pfc, Bradley Manning , is fundamentally problematic to the military. The duty of the soldier is sacrosanct, sworn to in the oath of allegiance. While this has been used as a justification for falsification of evidence, lying to the public and similar activity, (thảm sát Mỹ Lai, 1968, and the coverup by the US Army of unlawful killing of a defenceless population…) and similar abuses of power, it fails to pass preliminary inspection.

      “It looks like a bloodbath down there! What the hell is going on?”
      WO/1 Hugh C. Thompson Jr, Helicopter Pilot My Lai 1968

      (Thompson was belatedly awarded a DFC while being ["for heroism above and beyond the call of duty while saving the lives of at least 10 Vietnamese civilians during the unlawful massacre of non-combatants by American forces at My Lai"] years after placing himself and his crew between the rampaging company and the cvilian population. …Thompson landed and told his crew that if the U.S. soldiers shot at the Vietnamese while he was trying to get them out of the bunker that they were to open fire at these soldiers… ).

      The US Armed Forces Oath is:

      “I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God”.

      It may be argued that Pfc Manning , being aware of the abuse of power by the US Army, DoD and US Govt, in falsification of reports to the public was acting within the oath he took to uphold the higher duty of defending the Constitution of the US, and certainly to the extent that there is/was a disconnect between reality and the public reporting by the government, he may have been acting to highlight “domestic enemies”, those parties that were falsifying the state of affairs to the public, to which the US government prides itself as being accountable to (recent history of apathy to the abuse of office by incumbents (Bush, Cheney etc) notwithstanding).

      What is unconscionable is continued incarceration and reported use of coercion:

      UCMJ 831 ART. 31. COMPULSORY SELF-INCRIMINATION PROHIBITED
      (a) No person subject to this chapter may compel any person to incriminate himself or to answer any questions the answer to which may tend to incriminate him.
      (b) No person subject to this chapter may interrogate, or request any statement from an accused or a person suspected of an offense without first informing him of the nature of the accusation and advising him that he does not have to make any statement regarding the offense of which he is accused or suspected and that any statement made by him may be used as evidence against him in a trial by court-martial.
      (c) No person subject to this chapter may compel any person to make a statement or produce evidence before any military tribunal if the statement or evidence in not material to the issue and may tend to degrade him.
      (d) No statement obtained from any person in violation of this article, or through the use of coercion, unlawful influence, or unlawful inducement may be received in evidence against him in a trial by court-martial.

      “Justice delayed is justice denied”.
      Willian Gladstone (1809-1898).

      UCMJ 833. ART. 33. FORWARDING OF CHARGES
      When a person is held for trial by general court-martial the commanding officer shall, within eight days after the accused is ordered into arrest or confinement, if practicable, forward the charges, together with the investigation and allied papers, to the officer exercising general court martial jurisdiction. If that is not practicable, he shall report in writing to that officer the reasons for the delay.

      History will ultimately pass judgement on the players of this drama. I doubt it will treat the US Govt kindly, and I do think that Wikileaks, and Bradley Manning, will be held in higher esteem than Bush or the sadly morally underperforming Obama.

      The fine line between expediency and criminality by the institution of government appears to be in question, yet the resounding silence on the subject is the most notable feature of public response. Where is the moral outrage of being lied to? The outcry against criminality being covered up and being cloaked in the tattered remains of the patriotic symbol of the flag. Where is our contemporary M. Emil Zola? “J’Accuse!”.

      “…That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security….”

      In the context of the Declaration of Independence, how does exposure of systematic abuse of power by the Government not embody the noblest attributes of citizenship, and comply with both the spirit and intent of the oath or affirmation?

      Embarrassment is a small price to pay for retaining the moral highground, yet appears to be too high a price for the ethical minnows that pervade the current crop of governments.

      “The character of a man is known form his converstations”
      Menander (342 BC – 292BC)

      “If liberty and equality, as is thought by some are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost”.
      Aristotle (384BC – 322BC) Politics

    13. By Nigel from New Zealand on Jan 9, 2011 | Reply

      Wow, what a slam dunk, i have been trying to explain to as many people who will listen about this hit piece on Assange & how it all ties in. It is difficult to connect all the dots in such a concise manner as you have here & even more difficult to find people that actually care. Instead they sit back in apathetic ignorance. Now all I have to do is send links to this article to everyone I know. You’re a true hero in my eyes Gordon & thank you for this exceptional piece of real journailsm.

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