Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 3:23 PM ET, 12/13/2010

WikiLeaks’s Assange gains influential defenders

By Jeff Stein

The predominant consensus in official Washington that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should eventually stand trial here on espionage charges is not likely to change anytime soon. But three influential voices are now saying publicly what many others say privately: that blame should be focused on leakers, not Assange, who after all was merely the middleman for the handful of newspapers and magazines that were given first crack at classified military and diplomatic documents.

On Friday Jack L. Goldsmith, “widely considered one of the brightest stars in the conservative legal firmament” when he joined the Bush administration Justice Department in 2003, according to a typical assessment, wrote that he found himself “agreeing with those who think Assange is being unduly vilified.”

“I certainly do not support or like his disclosure of secrets that harm U.S. national security or foreign policy interests,” Goldsmith wrote on the Lawfare blog. “But as all the hand-wringing over the 1917 Espionage Act shows, it is not obvious what law he has violated. It is also important to remember, to paraphrase Justice Stewart in the Pentagon Papers, that the responsibility for these disclosures lies firmly with the institution empowered to keep them secret: the Executive branch.”

Goldsmith called the government “unconscionably lax in allowing Bradley Manning,” an Army private arrested on suspicion of giving WikiLeaks Afghan and Iraq war documents last summer, “to have access to all these secrets and to exfiltrate them so easily.”

“I do not understand why so much ire is directed at Assange and so little at the New York Times,” continued Goldsmith, who resigned from the Justice Department after only nine months on the job because he disagreed with its legal rationalizations for waterboarding and other counter-terrorism tactics.

Goldsmith's remarks came only a few days after libertarian standard-bearer Rep. Ron Paul virtually celebrated WikiLeaks for exposing America's “delusional foreign policy.”

“When presented with embarrassing disclosures about U.S. spying and meddling, the policy that requires so much spying and meddling is not questioned,” said the nominal Texas Republican, denouncing calls for prosecuting Assange. “Instead the media focuses on how authorities might prosecute the publishers of such information.”

On Monday influential Harvard political scientist Stephen M. Walt endorsed Goldsmith’s views, asking whether The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward shouldn’t be prosecuted for publishing secrets if Assange was.

"I keep thinking about the Wikileaks affair,” Walt wrote for NPR’s Web site, “and I keep seeing the double-standards multiplying. Given how frequently government officials leak classified information in order to make themselves look good, box in their bureaucratic rivals, or tie the President's hands, it seems a little disingenuous of them to be so upset by Assange's activities.”

By Jeff Stein  | December 13, 2010; 3:23 PM ET
Categories:  Media, Military  | Tags:  Jack L.Goldsmith, Ron Paul, Stephen M. Walt  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Ex-intelligence official blasts Pollard lobbying
Next: With O'Sullivan, DNI gets another top spy-world woman


The State Department should not have pressured Amazon, Paypal, Visa, and Mastercard to turn away WikiLeaks. Aside from the futility of such a move (the cat is now out of the bag), it significantly affects everyday businesses around the world which rely on established ways to get paid. The last thing they need during this holiday season is to be embroiled in politics.
As things stand now, those offended by Paypal might not use it, or its partner ebay. Those offended by Amazon, might not order the kindle. Those offended by Visa and Mastercard might use cash or checks. Worse, they may not buy much for Christmas - - even forego that planed trip, or dinner at that nice new restaurant.
And all for naught.
To be sure, the State Department is recoiling from its decision. Yet, in fear of losing face, it is paralyzed and not likely to change course. It has, however, put away the club, and as such Amazon, Paypal, Visa and Mastercard should quickly reverse course.
And the State Department might be the first to be relieved from such open defiance.

Posted by: Kafantaris | December 13, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

The Espionage Act is a poorly constructed law and should have been nullified decades ago. It is clearly un-Constitutional, as any rational, intelligent, and un-biased reader of the Act and the 1st amendment can see. And even more plain that it would NEVER apply to the news media.

Posted by: mhoust | December 13, 2010 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Ron Paul did not 'celebrate' wikileaks, he just said, first and repeatedly, that Assange was no different from the NY Times in all this, seemingly, and we should be looking at the leakers, those unable to keep the material secret, and also at the lies the leaks reveal.

Posted by: sailingaway1 | December 13, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

much ado about nothing.

the knee jerk right wing always prefers a police state.

when half intelligent conservatives see the light that is freedom of info, they still can't control the idiots that are the corporatist flunkies.

Posted by: xxxxxx1 | December 13, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

It's amusing. The fascists who commit war crime atrocioties around the world and commit treason against America are screaming about how a defender of Democracy and freedom should be murdered or inprisoned.

That's so typical. When Islamic crazies murder people or put them in prison of fake charges, that's terrorism. When Christianic crazies murder a million innocent Iraqis and torture, rape, and inprison innocent people, that's "God's Will."

Democracy requires transparency. Democracy requires freedom. These right wing terrorists in Washington (that includes you, Obama, you traitor) *hate* what is embodied in the U. S. Constitution. They hate freedom, human rights, and civil liberties. They hate truth and freedom of speech because the truth is that they've got the innocent blood of millions on their hands.

Along comes a human rights volunteer organization called "Wikilekas" which does the job that journalists are supposed to do, exposing the atrocities and treason, graft and corruption, all the petty lunacy that governments commit against each other and against their subjects and citizens, and suddenly the messenger of truth is some how the bad guy, not the Islamic terrorists, not the Christianic terrorists, not the drug carters, not the corporate mass murderers and corporate traitors.

Truth is winning because Wikileaks is winning. 95% of the world's actual citizens support and applaud the Democracy and truth that Wikileaks fights for. Only the corporate criminals, war criminals, and traitors are crapping themselves because the light of truth is finally shining on them.

Posted by: DamOTclese | December 13, 2010 4:15 PM | Report abuse

As a conservative Republican, it's disheartening to find political leaders I once respected were the first to join the lynch mob pursuing Julian Assange. Newt Gingrich joined the esteemed company of numerous lesser known Islamic radicals, by issuing the first death-threat I've ever heard from an American with such formidable political credentials, demonstrating his utter disregard for the First Amendment, and the basic rule of law for which this country is supposed to stand.

For me, nothing in the content of the leaks themselves has been so compelling as the recognition that the majority of political leaders in my own country ("The land of the free, and the home of the brave...") are raving hypocrites, having formed a sickening bi-partisan consensus to prosecute Mr. Assange now, even if they have to write a new law later under which to charge him. I understand they have convened a secret grand-jury in Alexandria Virginia to figure out how to charge him with a crime. Yes, that's right, Virginia: home of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and George Mason (among others), men who carved out the cradle of democracy and freedom now occupied by these poseurs.

Wikileaks has not only exposed our government and elected officials' contempt for our Constitution, it has brought into clear focus the pandering and obsequiousness of our mass-media, particularly the NY Times, which has both exploited the material provided them by Wikileaks, while dissing him as one who merely "considers himself a journalist". Not unexpected from an effete corps of impudent snobs (such as they are).

Thomas Jefferson wrote: "...a little revolution now and then can be a good thing." Perhaps we are overdue.

Posted by: thomas777 | December 13, 2010 4:16 PM | Report abuse

A thoughtful and even-handed article, and something that it would do your colleagues in the US press no harm to follow.

As a non-American, I hope that, when all of this has calmed down, your readers and fellow-citizens may take a moment to ask themselves why it should yet again fall to an organization 'outside' the United States to be exposing abuses of power, and drawing focus on what Ron Paul has described as the 'Policy of Empire'.

I'm sure that many people, the core Wikileaks team included, would be thoroughly delighted to see the American people stepping up to the plate and enforcing proper accountability on their elected representatives, and those organs of state that they are elected to oversee.

It's worth noting that had this been happening all along, we might have been spared this entire soap opera, and the baseless witch-hunt which is going to waste a huge amount of valuable time, money and resources.

Posted by: rudiments | December 13, 2010 4:17 PM | Report abuse

So, let's get this straight: when the US government tortures, renditions, lies about war, destroys world economies, spies on UN personnel, manipulates and blackmails foreign governments, that's all fine and no-one gets prosecuted.

But when one man exposes all this, that's illegal and new laws need to be written to prosecute him.

The world has gone insane.

Posted by: francinelast | December 13, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

My knee is jerking here and I keep thinking about that central question....does it put our troops or allies in danger? Does it reveal secrets that affect our battlefield strategy.

Posted by: hipshot | December 13, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Though I don't believe they should publish classified documents, the documents have revealed how terrible the governments of Iran and North Korea are, and how most counties support our position. It does seem it helps strengthen the US position against terrorist states. So it may end up helping the US against these countries. This is why Iran was trying to ignore the cables.

Posted by: cbk1 | December 13, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I have little use for Assange but he has become the scapegoat for an incompetent government, particularly the state department, and an inept justice department that has no idea what to do about the situation. The current government makes the Keystone Cops look like the epitome of organization.

Posted by: rplat | December 13, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"Influential defenders" is a matter of opinion.

Hence, making this article an opinion not a true writing by journalism standards if there are any, anymore. News is no longer news, it is opinion. I hope to hell we learn the difference. The government is in the process of trying to control opinion, in discuise as news. This is the ultimate grab in power. Forget contolling media, control opinion, and the publishing of it.Wake up america....

Posted by: kbjj01 | December 13, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

God bless Mr. Assange, even if he is an atheist. A definite example of killing the messenger.

Posted by: popsharris | December 13, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Who is this dweeb and why do we think his opinion is worth more than others? The mere access to a keyboard does not give one insight. As Mark Twain said, "I have lived too long to pretend to know everything." The opposite is true for 90% of internet posters.

Posted by: ChrisW1958 | December 13, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

My knee is jerking here and I keep thinking about that central question....does it put our troops or allies in danger? Does it reveal secrets that affect our battlefield strategy.

Posted by: hipshot


that is not your knee jerking.

it is the your delusions reaching critical stage.

were there supply line routes disclosed?

battle plans revealed?

schedules published?

no just a few corporate lackies embarrassed.

those shills who rape the middle class and torture in our name are the real traitors to america.

they and their defenders deserve immediate justice.

sadly in this antiquated and corrupt system, embarrassment is all they get.

and they don't have the courage to take it with dignity.

Posted by: xxxxxx1 | December 13, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Can Madame Secretary and Gatesy, part of whose job was to prevent this from happening.

Posted by: phvr38 | December 13, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Really?!? Jack Goldsmith is the focus of the article?!? well, no surprise here in what he would say. Has he moved to France yet?

The problem with Assange and the Media (particularly the European media who is really showing their true colours), is that they have been posting and publishing REAL PEOPLE'S NAMES from private, confidential, stolen government documents.

Many of these military, diplomatic, and federal professionals are now rendered incapable of doing their jobs effectively (given all the private thoughts/strategies posted). They, their co-workers and families are also in physically danger. In addition, many cables illustrat the whole Organisational Structure of several U.S. intelligence and military groups (ie, who does what, who reports to whom) which will further danger the U.S., individuals, and has put America is in a weak position.

BTW, how do you think England, Russia, China, or Iran would react if Assange paid off one of their insiders to steal confidential government documents and notes, then post them publically on the Internet?

Posted by: SamRon1 | December 13, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

"... Russia, China, or Iran would react if Assange paid off one of their insiders to steal ...

Russia, China, or Iran would shoot them. Are we Russia, China, or Iran?

I thought we were exceptional.

And Assange didn't pay anybody did he? I certainly have heard no such thing.

I agree with Ron Paul, I take the libertarian's opinion on this. I don't have to like Assange, I don't have to like the harm it may or may not have done ... I certainly don't like and won't support those of you who think you have the right to tell this guy what he can and cannot print or publish.

What are we, China?

Posted by: eezmamata | December 13, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

an opportunity to use wikileaks to manipulate the actions of the terrorists has passed...
a shame...

Posted by: DwightCollins | December 13, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

@ChrisW1958 : That was Oscar Wilde, not Mark Twain.

Posted by: Hooaodsfiotoaiu304289 | December 13, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Playing by Assange rules, of course Woodward should have be prosecuted. He was also a member of the intelligence community while a Navy officer, and he was according to some accounts, at one point, Al Haig's briefer. But Watergate had substance while the "telegraph cables" which move nearly at the speed of light, are mostly gossip that is classified only to protect official US interest in the subject matter. Welcome to a new growth industry for the digital economy. No sensitive sources and methods left behind...

Posted by: dongonzo | December 13, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Very simple ~ Assange can be hanged and we will all be better off. Same with his friends and supporters.

And since when is Ron Paul a Conservative? Last time I looked he was a Libertarian with an historic streak of anti-semitism. Makes him much more like your typical Democrat politician than anything.

Posted by: muawiyah | December 13, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Justice Stewart in the Pentagon Papers, that the responsibility for these disclosures lies firmly with the institution empowered to keep them secret: the Executive branch
This is the same group that allowed a couple of party crashers to stand next to the executive branch as well as assorted foreign dignitaries, so why would expect them to be any more competent at guarding the secrets of this nation.

It is not Assange who should be held accountable but Manning, the Obungler, Village Idiot Joe, Gates, Clinton etc.

Assange is just the cockroach making millions off of the incompetency of our government.

Posted by: krankyman | December 13, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

I am starting to think the Washington Post is the number one anti American paper in the States. The constant cheer leading love affair with Assange has become sickening. The man is a criminal - not a hero and he will pay the piper. Will the Washington Post shut down for a day and have their flags at half mass? Get over the dude Washington Post. A journalism organization should understand what is freedom of speech and what is classified military documents.

This silly journalism just makes us look even more weak.

Posted by: kryan74 | December 13, 2010 5:33 PM | Report abuse

I am starting to think the Washington Post is the number one anti American paper in the States. The constant cheer leading love affair with Assange has become sickening. The man is a criminal - not a hero and he will pay the piper. Will the Washington Post shut down for a day and have their flags at half mass? Get over the dude Washington Post. A journalism organization should understand what is freedom of speech and what is classified military documents.

This silly journalism just makes us look even more weak.

Posted by: kryan74 | December 13, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

they should take care of this like the way someone is taking care of the nuclear scientists in iran...

Posted by: DwightCollins | December 13, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

This author described him to a T

"Julian Assange is a silly little computer nerd right up until he puts our sons and daughters in jeopardy on the battlefield; then he becomes an enemy of freedom and as personally responsible for the deaths of our men and women in uniform as the terrorist that pull the trigger. This last act of posting secret military data makes him lower and more evil than the terrorist we fight. They kill our children and he stokes their blood thirst. Julian will reap what he has sown. His love for the limelight at the cost of our soldier's lives makes him a traitor to all that fight for freedom."

Posted by: kryan74 | December 13, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

I, too, have felt disgusted when Mr. Assange has been called a "terrorist". Bull. Terrorists murder and, as their name implies, sow terror. What terror has Mr. Assange wrought? More importantly, who exactly has he murdered?

He's most definitely a jack###. He blithely released records that may have put Afghani/Iraqi informants in danger. And he fails to understand that sometimes secrecy is a good thing, and that no country can do diplomacy without being able to do it behind closed doors. But that's it. I'd say he's at most guilty of the equivalent of reckless driving (not counting the potential sex crimes in Sweden).

Two other things worth pointing out: as the Washington Post's amazing "Top Secret America" series pointed out, the US will classify a ham sandwich "secret" at the drop of a pin. This has the effect that "secret" and even "top secret" designations are virtually meaningless.

Also the US has not been his only target. He has also released data on corruption in Kenya, the actions of a Swiss bank in the Cayman islands, stuff on the inner workings of the Church of Scientology, and documents about a British company's attempt to cover up toxic dumping in the Ivory Coast. The latter has become a huge scandal and led to substantive results in pushing this company to accept responsibility and it could, eventually, lead to compensation for the Ivory Coast victims. In other words, at least as far as Ivory Coast is concerned the guy's a hero.

One last thought. If Ron Paul is correct and the NY Times is also culpable in this, wouldn't then the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and everyone else who's reported on Wikileaks be equally as culpable?

Posted by: marclips | December 13, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Boy, this is one that has the socialist left and the facist right in agreement. Both types of you ideological morons thing hanging Assange is a good thing.

Do you lick the boots that kick you, it sure looks like it.

Posted by: eezmamata | December 13, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

I don't agree with the perspective of these so-called "influential defenders". Assange erred when he refused to redact any information and published the names of individuals in the Middle East who supported U.S. aims. Some of these people, members of families who might rely on them for food and other essentials, are probably now dead, as a result of Assange's irresponsible posting of stolen, confidential information. He also posted a list of "target" sites that should be of interest to America's enemies. This is unforgivable!

Assange's own top supporters/leadership have parted company with him over two issues: one, he insisted on posting everything without any reservations, as if spilling it all is a good thing----though he certainly maintains secrecy about his own life; and two, he was supposed to post any information that came WikiLeaks' way (redacted to protect lives) about any country, without bias. Instead, he is pursuing a vendetta against the United States. He was stated before that he wants to bring down our government.

Only a fool would support what Assange has done. Only a fool would assist in his attempt to destroy what's been built up here. It's so much easier to destroy than build up. Would you all prefer a world where China is in the lead?

Posted by: classyferret | December 13, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Finally, voices of reason.

Posted by: llrllr | December 13, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to give you the perspective of an "outsider" if I can. I'm Australian, 45 years old and of no particular political persuasion.
When I was a kid America seemed to be an exciting, wonderful place. I wished I was born there and lamented the fact that I lived somewhere else. America was everything a country should be.
Sadly over the years that opinion has changed somewhat. To see a country become the very thing it feared most is depressing to say the least.

Now, I want to make it clear that I'm not anti-American. The people in most part have a true sense of what's right and wrong. What saddens me is the degree of state control you have fallen under. The Russians had a saying that they feel sorry for Americans..."At least we KNEW that our government was lying to us".

Here in you find the crux of why America is almost completely alone in it's majority condemnation of Wikileaks. Your focus is being steered towards the messenger. Not the message.

Media throughout the world is recognizing that America's reactions are the tip of a very ugly wedge. Reporting of non state sanctioned information could land them in jail. Sound like any countries you can think of?

We don't hate you....We just want you to see what you have become, so that just maybe the America we all loved can come back.

Those of you with eyes wide open I wish you luck.
Your task ahead is truly challenging.

Posted by: JustThink4Once | December 13, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

"Only a fool would support what Assange has done."

Holy shiт! This isn't about supporting what Assange did, why is that so hard for you to understand?

Freedom of speech, freedom of the press as written in the constitution is a Principle, a real one. It doesn't mean freedom of speech you like only.

You people are a bunch of cowards, you don't have to balls to be real citizens of a country that really believes in freedom of speech.

Posted by: eezmamata | December 13, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse


Wikileaks frenzy used to cover-up critical news story

Dec. 11, 2010

The million-dollar question that I think must be asked today is this: Why the Wikileaks controlled-media frenzy?

Julian Assange and his Wikileaks website are the main subject of a mainstream media blitz right now and it should be clear to everyone at this point that mainstream media only covers nonsense and side-shows, while keeping totally mum about things that should be headlines. So, simple logic would say that Wikileaks is being used by the Hidden Hand to accomplish something(s), in an effort to advance or protect some part of their agenda. If the Wikileaks disclosures were actually doing any damage to the NWO agenda, no one would be hearing a peep from the media. All this is easy to understand and probably everyone has gotten at least this far with their analysis of the situation.

Through extensive research, this author now believes that the following is the REAL reason for the Wikileaks frenzy, or at least a solid part of it:

Right now Julian Assange is in London’s Wandsworth Prison. So what? But do you know who else is in that exact same prison?

Also at Wandsworth in London is John Hill (aka Muad’Dib), the man who produced the “7/7 Ripple Effect” film, which completely broke-down, and thus exposed that “terrorist attack” as the false-flag it obviously was. John’s main website is, which has been successfully exposing the British royals and other topics for years. He’s also been telling people through his offshoot website how to use the truth about QE2 (she’s not the real, rightful queen of Britain—oh you didn’t know? But are you really that surprised to find out?), to get the authorities to drop charges on any/all victimless “crime”.

As the result of Mr. Hill’s decades of anti-NWO actions and personal, original, and in-depth research, he’s been monitored and outright harassed by police for a long time. He’s also been robbed by them, as they stole all his computer equipment and even his printer in an attempt to stop him from revealing things that the crown doesn’t want people to know about. And now, he’s imprisoned for the crime of telling the Truth. The BBC even sent someone to sit outside his home for almost a week, sitting there waiting to ambush him with a camera in order to obtain footage for the attempted character-assassination they perpetrated on him through their “Conspiracy Files” disinformation TV program. John is such a benevolent soul that their attempted character-assassination really turned into a great advertisement for his film.

Basically… after all of the above, we can be certain that he is NOT one of “them”. There is not a shred of evidence to support that. On the other hand, several of Julian Assange’s own former Wikileaks associates are speaking out...

Posted by: AJAX2 | December 13, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad to see not everybody in Washington has entirely forgotten the constitution or the principles that this country was founded upon. The reaction of most in government in this country to the Wikileaks posts has been embarrassing.

Treason? Terrorism? Assange is *not American.* He cannot by definition be guilty of treason against America! And how can he be deemed guilty of terrorism when he has killed nobody and done nothing that has so far got anybody killed. (If he had, I'm sure that some spokesperson for the government would have told us about it by now.)

"Official Wasihngton" needs to quit raving, foaming at the mouth, and hyperventilating. Maybe then their brains will start working again. :/

Posted by: sakeneko | December 13, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Your artical suggests Assange should not be held accountable for releasing the documents which were leaked to him. If other media outlets chose not to do, I would think it was a matter of national security that prevented them from doing so. Granted Assange is not a US citizen, but the documents he leaked pertain to world security as it involves other nations. What you're in essence saying is that the person driving the car for the robbers of an ATM, say, is not guilty. Perhaps in this polarized with virtually no integrity judicial system perhaps you have a point. Nonetheless his actions were grevious to many nations and particularly our home, the USA. He as well as the people responsible for the leaks should be brought to trial for numerous violations up to and including treason, where applicable. The problem is if one could really track the money trail, it goes well beyond Assange and those who leaked the info.

Posted by: ewjazzed | December 13, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

The mere fact that a law from 1917 is being invoked is naked proof of how advanced soft fascism is in America. We are chasing our tails in pursuit of this terrorism garbage, and we are willing to march back to the era where Eugene Debs was imprisoned for his beliefs, and German and Irish Americans were prosecuted and even lynched for opposing an unjust war. All we need now is to start invoking the proud moment when Japanese Americans were put in camps, and our degradation will be complete.
Thanks neo-cons. Mission almost accomplished.
Can we sue Obama for voter fraud? This is the opposite of what I thought I was paying for. Silly me.

Posted by: crestthree | December 13, 2010 6:07 PM | Report abuse

interesting how WaPo encourages comments, yet won't print all of them.

Posted by: ewjazzed | December 13, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

If they don't prosecute that then they might as well shelve the classification system. That may be in fact what Assange wants, but government by terrorist really isn't what the founders had in mind.

Posted by: blasmaic | December 13, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Wikileaks’ full impact will not be felt for years to come, just as the press’ failings during the run up to the Iraq War went unnoticed for several years. Nonetheles­s, for better or worse, Wikileaks is challengin­g those in the United States to come to terms with the theory of the freedom of the press versus the actuality of the freedom of the press. It’s easy to embrace the theory. It is far more difficult to deal with the actuality, but it is the price we have agreed to pay for a free and open informatio­n culture.
Read More: http://bit­.ly/eqHXvx

Posted by: mlschafer | December 13, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Republican president George W. Bush deliberately outed an active CIA agent named Valerie Plame through journalist Robert Novak with complete impunity because Bush wanted to hurt her husband, a U.S. diplomat Joe Wilson. Bush was NOT charged with any crime.

Meanwhile Julian Assange sits in an English jail facing a dodgy charge that has nothing to do with espionage (the same U.K. refused to extradite Chile's mass-murdering dictator Pinochet to Spain to face justice) U.S. Justice Dept. lawyers try to invent a crime against him so he can be extradited here.

No one except Ron Paul, the Lyndon LaRouche of the 21st century, has said a word in public in Assange's defense.

My country's traditions and government are dead.

Posted by: jjedif | December 13, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

That so many of our citizens support our scumbag politicians in their desire to hang this stupid little boy shows how low we've really sunk. I guess the founding fathers didn't really mean what they said in the first amendment, they really mean only approved speech and popular press are worthy of freedom.

How unexceptional we have become.

Posted by: eezmamata | December 13, 2010 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Excellent article, Mr. Stein. It is clear, concise and fair (for once) to both Bradley Manning and Julian Assange.

The bottom line is obvious: If our government can not bear to let it be known that they lie, falsely detain and imprison opponents, bribe foreign officials, kill innocent civilians by mistake and do all the other things WikiLeaks has shown they do, then they should not lie, falsely detain (and etc.) in the first place!

You are also correct in pointing out that those high-ranking military officers and diplomatic officials who allowed an Army Private access to the crown jewels of our secrect intelligence are the ones who should be facing charges, not Manning and Assange. If Manning was able to download them, how hard could it possibly be for a foreign government to have done so?

Thanks again for a little common sense and sanity on this issue.

Posted by: vanmeter1 | December 13, 2010 7:05 PM | Report abuse

I love you guys, but I have a question. I hope you can all help me out.

Lets assume, for the sake of discussion, that Assange divulged information that put our troops, our allies, or our battle plans at risk. OK, freedom of the press. But what if he had taken a different route, and provided that same information only to our enemies and in secret communications? What would you call that? What should protect him? Freedom of speech?

Posted by: hipshot | December 13, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Assange's right to free speach is not the issue. He has launched an attack that will damage countless innocents, while pretending to strike at the guilty.
His rights stop, when they intrude on anyone else's rights, or anyone else's safety.

Posted by: kesac | December 13, 2010 7:08 PM | Report abuse

While I agree that resposibility for the information leaked lies with those who leaked it rather than those who disseminate it, I am concerned with what Mr. Assange's motivations are. I have not seen any document troves from other governments around the world winding up on WikiLeaks. This could be due to other governments keeping a better lid on their information though I doubt it. Hence, Mr. Assange's motivation comes off as a vendetta against the U.S. rather than as some sort of humanitarian, whistle-blower do-goodie and that's the bothersome part of this whole incident.

Posted by: intherealworld | December 13, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

"Lets assume, for the sake of discussion, that Assange divulged information that put our troops, our allies, or our battle plans at risk"

Did he? I have seen nothing that indicates he did that.

I remember back when Bush first invaded Iraq, the embedded press people. I remember Herrendo Revolver ... I mean Geraldo Rivera standing out in front of the tank he had been riding in, drawing lines in the sand to show people where the tanks had been and where they were going.

They sure got rid of his sorry butt fast. That was divulging secret troop movement.

Did Assange do this? I have seen no evidence at all to that effect.

Don't be so quick to listen to our politicians on this matter. How much truth do you think you're going to get from the same people exposed as fools in these releases?

Assange is a punk, a little boy throwing open the bathroom door so his little friends can watch his big sister taking a shower, that's all he is.

Maybe you can beat him until he's black and blue in your house where you live for doing that, but there are more important issues at stake here.

Look at how quickly so many Americans have abandoned the first amendment, simply because they don't like Assange.

That is ugly, it is dangerous that so many of our fellow citizens lack the courage of our own constitution. They don't even have the decency to feel ashamed of themselves for throwing away the rights our ancestors died to protect.

Posted by: eezmamata | December 13, 2010 7:16 PM | Report abuse

As one of Australia's respected lawyers, Peter Gordon, observed in an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald:

"If the WikiLeaks disclosures tell us anything, it is that no political leader, whatever their colour, is going to hesitate for a nanosecond to conflate the notion of ''national security'' with ''my own career security''"


"The sight of the most prominent politicians in the world inciting either the prosecution, incarceration or assassination of Assange, or the persecution of his family, is a form of barbarism that demeans us all. Moreover, the phenomenon of companies as big as MasterCard and Visa being gang-pressed into anti-trust violations of their commercial relations with WikiLeaks is truly frightening"

I can't personally add anything further.

Posted by: ianpurdie | December 13, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Hipshot asks:

"What if Assange . . . put our troops, our allies, or our battle plans at risk."

What if he bombed Liberty Hall and destroyed the Liberty Bell? My answer is the same: He didn't do either, so who cares "What if."

Lets try and stick to what actually did happen, OK? Save the hypothetical for your next suspense novel.

Posted by: vanmeter1 | December 13, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

The truth shall set you free !

Julian Assange is a hero for shedding light on the morally bankrupt American foreign policy / U.S. State Department.

Donate to Wikileaks at

Posted by: SCOTTSCHMIDTT | December 13, 2010 8:24 PM | Report abuse

While we all hyperventialte about this mess I have one question: With all the trillions spent, with all the lives sacraficed, where is Osama bin Laden? And...why is he still walking around or "limping" around free?

Posted by: dhampton100 | December 13, 2010 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Secrets are only secrets if you keep them secret. The Govt should have been more careful about who was allowed access to these "secrets" if it wanted to keep them secret. The other lesson from this is simply that anyone in Govt that writes or utters anything should not be surprised to see their words and video posted on the web, and they should ensure whatever they say is suitably entertaining.

Posted by: droberts57 | December 13, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Ever since Dwight Eisenhower left office, we've pursued an insane foreign policy of mixed messages; hypocritical attacks on democratic movements while supporting insidious despots, and then in turn attacking the despots. "The enemy of our enemy is our friend" does NOT work. Not ever. We at first backed Ho Chi Minh against the Japanese and Vichy French, and then... One only need look as far as Manny Noriega and Saddam Hussein for other obvious exemplars: men on the payroll of the CIA one moment, and captured and deposed the next; and brutal psychopaths, both of them. Around the world there are others- ethnic cleansers, slave states, and corrupt narco-governments, the latest and most obvious of which is Karzai's Afgheroinistan. SOMEBODY has to tell the truth to the American people. If not Wikileaks...then who? Certainly not the Democrats or the Republicans. They are locked arm in arm in the goose step march to The New World Order.

Posted by: whitebeard1 | December 13, 2010 8:46 PM | Report abuse

The American government, politicians and people are behaving badly. They are driven by vindictiveness and punitiveness.

They are prepared to harass and abuse Assange with(i)unsupported claims of espionage, and (ii)encouraging a vigilante attitude that says that he is guilty notwithstanding that the charges have not been identified and the evidence has not been presented.

It is clear that Assange has done nothing more than the newspapers that publish the wikileaks and yet they seek to attack one individual on spurious grounds.

I note that they ignore their own failings and the benefits that flow to the public from the publication of these documents.

After Bush locked innocent people up in Guantanamo Bay and the American public and politicians decided that all detainees were terrorists until they showed otherwise the American justice system became unjust especially when it prevented the detainees knowing what the charges were and because they were prevented from having an opportunity to show that they were not terrorists.

The presumption of innocence was replaced by the presumption of guilt.

Holder, Obama, Clinton, the Pentagon and others have ignored human rights, rational behaviour and fairness. That is the US for you.

Posted by: robertjames1 | December 13, 2010 8:47 PM | Report abuse

Very simple ~ Assange can be hanged and we will all be better off. Same with his friends and supporters.

And since when is Ron Paul a Conservative? Last time I looked he was a Libertarian with an historic streak of anti-semitism. Makes him much more like your typical Democrat politician than anything.

Posted by: muawiyah
Would you like my address so you can come and get me, you ignorant little twit? I will be waiting. Because I am certainly a supporter.

Assange is a hero. He deserves the Nobel Prize for peace. As far as conservatives, they are a disgrace to this country, so you were actually praising Paul.

Posted by: nyrunner101 | December 13, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Excuse me but aren't people getting ahead of themselves here.
HOW ABOUT A LITTLE FACT FINDING before the gang bang?
Or maybe some old fashioned INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING before we name him "Man Of The year".
Cuz all I have heard so far is opinion, conjecture, speculation and statements without verification or attribution.

Posted by: projectmgr | December 13, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

With the web the art of government will never be the same.

Those who are trying to shut up Julian Assange are like the Holy Inquisition of the XV Century.

Shame for the countries that are trying to impose an absurd IMPRIMATUR to the print press of our age.

Posted by: karrasvan | December 13, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

It is truly shocking to an Australian how little the United States values democratic ideals and rights. Assange is simply providing a forum for information, to be freely disseminated.
He is exercising his basic rights, rights garuynteed to him as a fundamental tenant of a democratic society.
The right to free speech, the freedom of information, the freedom of the press. He is doing what US media organisations almost never do. He is questioning authority, he is providing a check on government actions, he is providing balance for the public. He is doing what the free press is supposed to do in a democratic society. He is challenging the right of the powerful to control all avenues of information. He is providing an alternative view. He is fostering discourse and forcing politicians to justify their actions. He is holding them to account.
As an Australian would say he is keeping the bast#rds honest. Perhaps if news organisations like the Washington Post was doing it's job properly and actually acting as the pillar of a free society it is supposed to, we wouldn't need organisations like Wikileaks to do the job.
All the accusations and recriminations being levelled at Assange were levelled at Daniel Ellsberg when he published the Pentagon Papers. History has spoken in that case, Ellsberg is regarded as a hero, a man who provided a great example of what can be acheived in a free society. The ruling of the Supreme court in that case has already deemed what Wikileaks is doing as lawful and just.
The man who released the Pentagon Papers (who was vilified in a similar way at the time but is now regarded as a hero) Daniel Ellsberg said: "Every attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time."
Due to the recent debates over the pros and cons between the wikileaks releases and those of the historic 'Pentagon papers,' Daniel Ellsberg, who released the pentagon papers in 1971, has written and editorial about Wikileaks declaring that he rejects the mantra of "Pentagon Papers good; WikiLeaks material bad," and that further "That's just a cover for people who don't want to admit that they oppose any and all exposure of even the most misguided, secretive foreign policy. The truth is that every attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time."

What happened to America? How are you any different from China. Your political leaders openly calling for the illegal assasination of a journalist for publishing the truth which has embaressed the government. How can the US critisize other authoritarian states? How are you any different?
It is sickening how far from the tenants of the constitution the US has strayed.
Sad, and frightening.
There was a time when the US was respected for it's commitment to freedom and deomcracy. That day is now long dead.

Posted by: jonathonwallace | December 13, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse

We will get this sorted out. Lets wait and see what, if any, charges are brought against Assange. I doubt there will be any unless he has damaged our war against terror or put our people in harm's way. And if he did, then lets prosecute.

Posted by: hipshot | December 13, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

One, do you think Secretary of State Clinton and other American leaders should hop up and down and shout 'yah, the first ammendment in action!' Should we not allow them a little room to complain? With all the moaning and groaning here, what actually has U.S. leadership done to Assange? Nothing much yet, but it doesn't matter, the U.S. is still depicted as the oppressor. The U.S. is not allowed to react at all.

Two, what horrible truths about the U.S. were revealed in these leaks? I'm not aware of any. If anything, the leaks showed our leaders are at the top of their game, trying to carry out goals that we're all aware of. Doesn't matter, some posters here and some commentators just portray things as-if something terrible is amiss. Where's your evidence?

Did the U.S. pursuade some companies to pull back services from Assange? I thank them for trying to protect what we have here in the United States. In addition, WikiLeaks may have broken some laws or violated contractual agreements. Agreements have to matter.

That post from the guy in Australia who says the U.S. in now a big disappointment to him: Well, the U.S. has made big mistakes, not the least getting involved in two wars....but it's hardly on a path to fascism, and to suggest otherwise requires lots of distortion. Go for it though!.....if you want a world ruled by non-democracies, and if you don't care if your and my children live in such a world, with fewer freedoms than we enjoy now. Go ahead, push down the Big American Power.....feels goooood...jealousies are quenched...but you share responsibility for what ensues.

Assange's own closest co-workers abandoned him on principle. He violated basic principles, for example, by not redacting names of people who would be harmed by his revelations; in addition, he decided to go after the U.S. instead of revealing information in a more neutral, benign way, as it should be done. His co-workers are starting a new group that's more apt to get things right. From what I read, they are right, he is wrong.

Posted by: classyferret | December 13, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

The King is nude!

How unfortunate that the King knows it well but doesn't care!

Posted by: Bapidada | December 13, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

It's obvious the USA pressured Britain to jail Assange on trumped up sex charges. Both Britain and Sweden should be ashamed of themselves for bowing to US pressure. For all we know, Obama has already signed a secret finding declaring Assange a "terrorist." That means he can legally be held indefinetly by the USA or an ally country. Perhaps he even legally can be killed. As for Australia, I congratuate you that one of your own has the guts to stand up for freedom of speech and real journalism. Here in the states, we mostly just have propaganda news. Fox news and news releases from "official government sources." Like Pravda use to be in the old USSR. Riddled with lies and half truths.

Posted by: magnifco1000 | December 13, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

"Would you all prefer a world where China is in the lead?"

They are in the lead. Check out the standardized test scores on their kids.

As for that list of sites WikiLeaks published, government will now need to do something as opposed to merely saying "Trust us," and it will be possible for the public to monitor progress in making the country more secure.

Shockingly little is done to avert real security threats, so long as the government has the option of keeping them secret from the public. In fact it will divert disproportionate resources to threats less urgent, merely because they are in the public eye.

Did the secrecy of that list put some magic forcefield around the listed places to protect them from terrorists? No.

Posted by: fzdybel | December 13, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

The real crime is that Bradley Manning is being treated like a terrorist, kept in solitary confinement, while those who murdered civilians in Iraq (which his leak revealed) get off without even a slap on the wrist.

Posted by: Student_Of_Irony | December 13, 2010 9:38 PM | Report abuse

Classyferret, push down the big American power? I'm not seeking to do that, nor could I. America has more money, power and control than nay other nation on Earth.
My own country is inextricably linked to the United States ina lmost every way also, economically, culturally, politically. There was a time when I would have said philisophically too.
We both believe in the same ideals, or most Australians used to think we did.
Do you believe in a free press? Do you believe in the rule of law? The right to a fair trial? The presumption of innocence before guilt? The freedom of information? The freedom of the press?
We do. Strongly.
Wasn't it an Amercian who said "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death you're right to say it?"
You say that America is not on the path to a fascist state, and I'm sure they are far from that currently. However, there is no doubt they have eroded their deomcratic values in the last decade. No doubt at all. They now imprison without trial, they supress the free flow of information, they actually have political figures openly advocating tha assasination of a journalist.
These are the actions of a non-democratic country. These are actions we would traditionally associate with Communist China.
In my country if any elected official, political figure or journalist openly advocated the illegal assasination of a journalist, whatever nationality he happened to be, that person would be hounded from office, accused of lunacy and potentially charged under the law for inciting violence. It would be considered an anethma to everything a free society stands for.
You say I am jelous. Of what? My mother is American, I technically hold US citizenship, half my extended family lives in the US. I love the US, I love it's people. I truly respect the constitution, the bill fo rights. I believe in the fundamental democratic principles the US founded on.
I'm not jelous, I'm really, really saddened by what the US appears to be becoming. This is not the shining beacon on the hill. This is something much darker, and it's a betrayal of the principles Jefferson wrote so eloquently about.
This is no less than a supression of humna rights. This is a rejection of free speech, free press, the right for the public to be informed.
And for your info, Wikileaks has not published a single document which has not been vetted and checked by reputable news organisations such as the NY Times and the Guardian.
Robert Gates admitted that the DoD does not know of a single individual who has been harmed as a result of Wikileaks activity.
The Wikileaks documents do show that the US military has kept a tally of civilan casualties caused by it's actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to it's own figures it is responsible for literally tens of thousands of deaths of innocent civilians. This bothers me alot more than some hypothetical danger Assange is accused of posing by the people he has embarressed.

Posted by: jonathonwallace | December 13, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Freedom of speech is dangerous. Assange is speaking truth to power and power is biting back. But if nobody speaks the truth, our freedoms will vanish. Already the government can spy on your internet and emails with no warrant. They can review your financial and business records with no warrant. You can be placed on a "no fly list," with no explanation given or even detained incommunicado. This is not the America our forefathers envisioned my friends. Now, it takes a foreigner my friends to remind us what freedom is. Stand with Assange, because if nobody does, we will wake up very soon to an America where freedom is gone.

Posted by: magnifco1000 | December 13, 2010 9:58 PM | Report abuse

"The real crime is that Bradley Manning is being treated like a terrorist."

You can be sure that trained interrogators are with Mr. Manning right now, working to get him to implicate WikiLeaks or Julian Assange as partners in his scheme to secretly copy classified information.

They are treating Manning like a spy. Is he kept incommunicado from other prisoners? You are joking of course? How else do you propose to interrogate a spy? You were expecting Camp Cupcake?

Filtered by the media and WikiLeaks, I hope these leaks may have more positive than negative effect. But basically we have this information through a fluke, not as the result of principled whistle-blowing. The kid did this for self-aggrandizement and revenge for grievance. How else do you explain Manning's seeking out a "journalist" to confess to? If the main objective had been simply to get the information out, he'd have kept his trap shut and stayed hidden.

What happens next to him is going to be worse than one of those "Darwin Award" snuff segments you see on YouTube. It's as inexorable as the laws of Physics. The people who say that this leak was deliberately done in order to hurt the United States are entirely correct, but it's Bradley Manning who has to answer for that, not WikiLeaks.

Posted by: fzdybel | December 13, 2010 10:07 PM | Report abuse


I agree, there's been some erosion of values and I'm not alone in being horrified that we started this war in Iraq and that people, ours and theirs, are being killed as a result. But we've had periods before when our behavior was horrible and we recovered somehow: from slavery, the Salem witch hunts, McCarthyism, Vietnam. There hasn't been much to be proud of in this decade....but Assange's activity is not the anecdote. The spin-off group might possibly do better. A principled putting forth of information, not aimed at any country and protective of those who might be endangered by revelations, would win the world's respect. This activity by WikiLeaks has been unprincipled, lazy, biased...with the intent to do harm. As I've written before, it's so easy to tear down and very hard to build up.

Posted by: classyferret | December 13, 2010 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Some 2 million people; gov employees, military, contractors, etc., already had access to these documents. Certainly, the intelligence agencies of pretty much all major countries already knew what was in them. But, that's not what is worrisome
here. What's frightening is how the USA can pressure MasterCard, Pay Pal, Amazon and ISP's to deny Wikileaks service. And to do so without even charging Assange with a crime. To just say he is guilty and go after him. Forget the documents, they are half rubbish and loaded with sophmoric quips from obviously underworked State Department employees anyway. But look at the power and actions of our government. Frightened? You should be!

Posted by: magnifco1000 | December 13, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

The poster who thinks he knows all about Bradley Manning's motives misses the point. Whatever Manning's motives, he is not the one who murdered innocent civilians. He simply let the world know about it. The point remains that he is being treated like a mass-murderer when all he did was let people know about a mass-murder by American troops. The poster's callous comments about what is being done to Manning simply reinforce how dispicable the government's actions are in this regard: persecuting the whistleblower while murderers go free.

Posted by: Student_Of_Irony | December 13, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

I find it incongruous when so many people criticise Assange for the release of information which will endanger people. I think it's more dangerous when people make up information which ultimately kills people. More specifically, I refer to when Colin Powell and George "slam dunk" Tenet told the UN that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. This led to hundreds of thousands (including US soldiers) dying. The true regret should be that all documents weren't available then so it could have been seen for the unconstructed lie that it was. If Americans really want to fulfil their insatiable Old Testament desire for revenge, they should look a bit closer to home than Julian Assange.

In a perverse way I hope some of your looney politicians keep baying for the killing of Julian Assange. Seeing Australia and most other countries don't have the death penalty, there will be a refusal to allow him to be extradited. Under other circumstances any extradition attempt would only be successful with countries like China, Iran and Saudi Arabia. The US is living in interesting times when they are a member of that club.

Posted by: sydneycynic | December 13, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

When Wikileaks published information in regard to the Kenyan govt implicating it in the murder of political opponents, was that unprincipled, lazy, biased? Why is that only the case when the US govt is called to account?
Wikileaks doesn't publish information restricted to one govt. It is just that it has published alot of information recently provided to it, that pertained to the actions of the US govt.
Wikileaks hasn't torn anything down. Wikileaks doesn't provide opinion pieces, it doesn't editorialise, it simply publishes information provided to it.
It vets that information with reputable news organisations and it releases it in cooperation with them. Wikileaks even offered the US State Department an opportunity to vet the cables before they were publishes, the standard actions of a enws organisation. This opportunity was turned down by the State Department.
These are the actions of a responsible media organisation. This is supposed to be the role of media in a free society.
They should challenge the govt, this is democracy.
If you personally prefer the alternative media organisation set up by people formerly associated with Wikileaks, fine, go to them for your information.
I am all for that, the more diverse the public discourse, the more varied the sources of information the better it is for the advancement of a free society.
It is when information is curtailed simpyl to prevent govt embaressment that we have lost a grip on what it is to live in a democracy.
And that is all it is. The govt is embarressed. The public is informed. That is good investigative journalism, in the tradition of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers.

Posted by: jonathonwallace | December 13, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

I think that the U.S. gov't and press/media response to the latest round of wikileaks has been so distorted and twisted and falsified as to be almost unbelievable. Rove and Cheney are amateurs compared to what this president and his administration are capable of. And the U.S. media is at the low point of being able to resemble any respectable semblance of an effective 4th estate as might have been imagined by the founders of the 1st amendment. I find Gleen Greenwald's discussion on this matter the most accurate and cogent of anything available on the web or elsewhere.

Posted by: mickster1 | December 13, 2010 10:38 PM | Report abuse

"The point remains that he is being treated like a mass-murderer when all he did was let people know about a mass-murder by American troops."

Oh no, they treat mass-murderers completely differently. Manning is being treated like a spy. Didn't your mommy tell you? Two wrongs don't make a right.

Posted by: fzdybel | December 13, 2010 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Sure there are backers - - - until the leaks hit them. Then we'll see.

Posted by: manv | December 13, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

It is about time!!! Remember, it's not polite to shoot the messenger. GO JULIAN!!

Posted by: lindasmith2 | December 13, 2010 11:32 PM | Report abuse

Dear manv, Whatever leaks can't hurt you, unless you have some nasty secret to hide, can it? Would you burden mankind with hiding your dirty secrets? What honor is in that?

Posted by: lindasmith2 | December 13, 2010 11:39 PM | Report abuse

Hey all,
I am an Australian, hope you don't mind me dropping in to say hi. Pleased to meet you. :-)
But you can be sure that I speak not as an Australian, nor as an anti-American, nor as an anything-other-an. Other than as a citizen of the world - our world is global, whether some amongst us might like it or not, and unless we plan on retreating to some cave in the never-never, well, embrace it and enjoy it I say.
So hi to you.

And I think that in something as big as Wikileaks; something with as much coverage, and variance in that coverage, as Wikleak..well, it can unfortunately be easy to lose the main thread.

So if I can bring it back to basics please? Which leads me to - for those who condemn the basic level, exactly why?? I think no one would deny it's just plain big. I think few would deny that its volume, for example, especially so unprecedented as it is, is big. I think few would try to argue that it's as simple as saying "well, nothing at all that our governments ever do should ever be secret." It's a tough discussion.

But if you specifically argue against Wikileaks and Julian Assange, seriously, what alternative are you proposing? if it was only 100,000 documents would that be ok by you? 1000 docs? 100? Where would you draw the line in the sand???

Surely not at zero? The level at which we'd still be arguing against the assertion that the world is round rather than flat.

Call that extreme, but if you specifically argue against Wikileaks and Assange, then that is also extreme.

There's just so much more air to breathe if our heads are out of the sand.

Posted by: dna2 | December 14, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

jonanathon write: And that is all it is. The govt is embarressed. The public is informed. That is good investigative journalism, in the tradition of Watergate and the Pentagon Papers.

If embarrassment was the only problem we could all laugh and get on with it. The US actually came out looking pretty good in the leaked documents. Volume is also not so much the problem. The problem is that WikiLeaks violated basic priciples respected by real journalists: he published information that shouldn't have been in print because it endangers lives; he's made it all about the United States when he should have established the WikiLeaks organizatin as more benign; he also printed information that is certain to harm delicate diplomatic relationships between countries.

Assange should have redacted information. He should not appear to be singling out the U.S..

His actions convey that he intends to cause harm wherever and whenever he can. He'll undermine, try to win the world's sympathy by depicting himself as a poor victim....all the while harming as much as he can. This is what's wrong with WikiLeaks.

The Pentagon Papers were revealed to help bring a close to an unwinnable, war. Assange, in contrast, is a scatter-gun sabateur.

Posted by: classyferret | December 14, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

"Assange should have redacted information. He should not appear to be singling out the U.S."

WikiLeaks did redact information. Actually, they let their "media partners" do it for them. WikiLeaks published only the redacted versions on their website.

WikiLeaks does not single out the U.S. and they have in the past published material leaked from other governments. However they are dealing with putting the content of a HUGE leak before the public, and that leak was from a US source.

Posted by: fzdybel | December 14, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

"The Pentagon Papers were revealed to help bring a close to an unwinnable, war. Assange, in contrast, is a scatter-gun sabateur."

The "scatter-gun" you want to indict here is Bradley Manning, not Julian Assange. Manning had little idea what all was in the material he provided to WikeLeaks - it was too voluminous. Manning handed over everything he could get his hands on.

The "sabotage" here is merely against the war of secrecy being waged by governments against their own citizens. There is much more to WikiLeaks than Julian Assange, who is only a spokesperson. In fact, WikiLeaks just spun off a whole new organization with similar goals and methods for you to curse at, by a bunch of people who were ticked at Assange for hogging the spotlight.

Posted by: fzdybel | December 14, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Classyferret :
Wikileaks did redact information. Every single document that wikileaks has published has been vetted by news organistations such as the NY Times. These documents, all 250,000 of them were offered to the State Department to vet, an offer the State Department refused.
Your critisism is based on a falsehood. Wikileaks has not published a single document that has not been vetted by organised media organisations.
Robert Gates openly admitted the DoD did not actually know of a single person harmed as a result of Wikileaks activity.
No one can name or idnetify a single person harmed as a result of wikileaks activity.
Your other critisism, that these leaks hurt diplomacy, is a massive problem for me. What you're suggesting is that basic freedom, a well informed public, the truth, the right to publish, freedom of the press, the global communities right to know, are all secondary to the United States State Department's current interpretation of what is in their best interests. That's the attitude of an imperial power, not a democracry interested in the advancement of human rights.
Yous ay America came out looking good. In whsoe eyes? Other Americans? Because the global reaction has been less than positive. I'm not sure if your media is really showing the American public what the global reaction has been.
There's a real backlash globally against the way Assange is being treated by the US. Alot of people in democratic countries are appalled by the complete lack of respect the US shows for freedom of the press and free speech.
Just as an example today a wikileaks diplomatic cable shows that Dyncorp mercenaries in Afghansitan (contactors regarded as part of the DoD's 'total force') paid for parties for Afghan police recruits at which young boys were sold for sex. These were referred to as Bacha Bazi parties. There are articles now appearing on the web about this, I won't link them as I doubt the Washington Post would apreciatte that. Google it to find out.
This is from a State Department cable that was marked confidential. This emans that the State Department knew about DoD employees using funds provided by US taxpayers to fund pedo parties for Afghjan police. This is shocking, not just because of the action itself, but because the State Department knew about it and intentionally made it confidential.
If people in the US can't see why this information must not be kept secret and is absolutley in the public's interest to knew, there's a serious case of moral bankruptcy.
How any govt could argue that this information should and must be kept secret is well beyond a rational, ethical, moral person.

Posted by: jonathonwallace | December 14, 2010 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company