Wednesday, December 1, 2010

In Praise of Treason

‘WikiLeaks’ provides invaluable service in our Orwellian world

by Tomas Engle, from The Daily Athenaeum

Last Sunday started the trickle of "WikiLeaks" largest "info dump" to date. Headed by spokesperson and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, the website's goal of open information is noble and should be applauded by all, especially by those in the media. Since Sunday, the leaks from the current treasure trove of 251,287 U.S. State Department diplomatic cables have been slow but steady and should be the political equivalent of TMZ for the next 3 months to 6 months.

The details on these revelations have been leaked to "WikiLeaks'" favored publications, most notably the United Kingdom's "The Guardian." They can be read there or online at wikileaks.org, where the raw documents have been uploaded.

While the State Department intrigues are tantalizing, the real story is the reaction to the leaks by those in government. The outrage shown by those who wish to go over our lives with a fine-toothed comb are crying murder when exposed to a small dose of their own medicine. It is as hilarious and pathetic.

The cries of murder are real, though, as it is one of the most common slurs made against Assange's outfit. The "blood on their hands" meme is a tired one. "WikiLeaks" has proven before they are careful to protect the innocent in these leaks through redactions of names, because any number of them could be their sources.

What's even more amusing is that the cries of "blood on their hands" are coming from people who actually have blood on their hands, because they are the same bozos in Congress who got our country involved in two bloody wars and occupations.

The temper tantrum coming from the halls of power is getting worse. Many have moved from the previous slur, to calling Assange a spy and a terrorist (with some even calling for his execution). New York Representative Peter King has led the charge as he is bound to be the new Chairman of the "Fatherland" – I mean Homeland Security Committee – in the new Congress.

Recently on NBC's "Today," Rep. King said "WikiLeaks" is a "terrorist organization" and is calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute "WikiLeaks" and its founder as such under the Espionage Act. Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have also joined in the chorus against "WikiLeaks."

Like clockwork, the former "Governors-Gone-Wild" tag team of Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee have now come out and set the bar for breathtakingly stupid and tyrannical remarks.

Palin is quoted from her Facebook as saying Assange should be "hunted down like Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders," while Huckabee is quoted as saying "whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason, and I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty."

Nothing says we are not control freaks who hate transparency less than comparing whistleblowers to Osama bin Laden and calling for their deaths. Funny how just over a year ago these same people were demonizing Iran for doing the same thing: intimidating muckraking journalists with death threats.

Yesterday news broke that Interpol, the world's largest international police force, had issued an arrest warrant for Assange in connection with a rape accusation in Sweden. The charges are laughably "Kobe Bryant-esque" and have only hearsay as evidence. The fact that Interpol (an organization usually tasked with taking down drug kingpins and serial killers) is lumping Assange in with the world of high-crime should not go unnoticed.

The current legal system protects Assange, but he is quickly making enemies faster than he can handle them and has had to go into hiding. According to the UK's "The Independent," he is "not sleeping more than a couple nights in the same place".

It is a sad testament when people who speak unspeakable truths become pariahs instead of those committing the nefarious deeds.

It is because of people like Assange that we still have the semblance of functioning representative democracies in the world.

The truth is not always pretty, but if we fail at the basic task of a free society, we are destined to live a lie.

In our Orwellian world where war is peace and ignorance is strength, we need to steal the courage to boldly speak truth to power. With the words of Republican Congressman Ron Paul, "Truth is treason in the empire of lies."