Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wikileaks, freedom of the press and the rule of law

Glenn Greenwald has been following the Wikileaks story closely, explaining how it represents a serious threat to press freedom and a continuing breach of the rule of law in the name of the national security state. In Joe Biden v. Joe Biden on WikiLeaks Salon 12/18/2010, he writes:

It's really not an overstatement to say that WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are the new Iraqi WMDs because the government and establishment media are jointly manufacturing and disseminating an endless stream of fear-mongering falsehoods designed to depict them as scary villains threatening the security of The American People and who must therefore be stopped at any cost. So often, the government/media claims made in service of this goal are outright false, which is why I have focused so much on the un-killable, outright lie that WikiLeaks indiscriminately dumped 250,000 diplomatic cables without regard to the consequences (on Thursday, The New York Times, in its article on Assange's release from prison, re-printed the lie by referencing "Mr. Assange's role in the publication of some 250,000 American diplomatic documents" only to delete it without any indication of a correction in the final version of the article, while the always-conventional-wisdom-spouting Dana Milbank in The Washington Post -- in the course of condemning "the absurd secrecy of the Obama administration, in some ways worse than that of George W. Bush" -- today wrote of "Assange's indiscriminate dump of American government secrets over the last several months - with hardly a care for who might be hurt or what public good was served").
Given that after the tax deal passed, it's fashionable even among some writers who should know better to lecture those of us in need of remedial education on the fundamentals of American politics involved Compromise, the two-party system, etc., I should say here that criticizing leading Democrats on the Wikileaks issue does not imply that a Republican Administration would be more Constitutionally responsible on this issue. It's clear from the statements that Republicans have been making that no such assumption is justified. It is true that the Obama Administration has made more sweeping claims for state secrecy than the Cheney-Bush Administration ever formally did, though Cheney's doctrine of the Unitary Executive essentially claimed Presidential authority to be unlimited by the Constitution or by national and international law.

Greenwald cites this Kim Sengupta report, Assange begins mansion arrest, but his 'source' feels the heat The Independent 12/18/2010, on the conditions in which Pvt. Bradley Manning, accused of leaking classified information to Wikileaks, is being held. The Justice Department is looking to build a case that Julian Assange actively assisted Manning in obtaining the material, which would allow them to indict Assange as a co-conspirator. Assange, who is neither an American citizen nor a US government employee, is not bound by the secrecy laws Manning is accused of violating. to make that charge stick, they would need Manning to finger Assange as an accomplice.

Greenwald also discussed Manning's conditions of imprisonment in The inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning's detention Salon 12/15/2010.


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