But there are, fortunately, a few people talking sense, among them Ron Paul and Tom Hayden, two men who would find themselves at opposite ends of many questions. But on this crucial issue they agree. Similarly, Salon’s lawyer/columnist Glenn Greenwald finds a kindred spirit on the matter on former Bush administration lawyer, Jack Goldsmith:
LYING IS NOT PATRIOTIC
Texas Congressman Ron Paul spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives on Friday where he passionately defended Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.
Here’s a clip from reporting by the Atlantic Wire:
“Why is the hostility directed at Assange, the publisher, and not at our governments failure to protect classified information?” asked Paul. He went on to compare WikiLeaks to the Pentagon Papers, explaining how both exposed American wars that were based on “lies.” He also asked his colleagues which events caused more deaths, “Lying us into war, or the release of the WikiLeaks papers?”
At the end of his speech, Paul asked his listeners 9 questions, which are as follows:
Number 1: Do the America People deserve know the truth regarding the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen?
Number 2: Could a larger question be how can an army private access so much secret information?
Number 3: Why is the hostility directed at Assange, the publisher, and not at our governments failure to protect classified information?
Number 4: Are we getting our moneys worth of the 80 Billion dollars per year spent on intelligence gathering?
Number 5: Which has resulted in the greatest number of deaths: lying us into war or Wikileaks revelations or the release of the Pentagon Papers?
Number 6: If Assange can be convicted of a crime for publishing information that he did not steal, what does this say about the future of the first amendment and the independence of the internet?
Number 7: Could it be that the real reason for the near universal attacks on Wikileaks is more about secretly maintaining a seriously flawed foreign policy of empire than it is about national security?
Number 8: Is there not a huge difference between releasing secret information to help the enemy in a time of declared war, which is treason, and the releasing of information to expose our government lies that promote secret wars, death and corruption?
Number 9: Was it not once considered patriotic to stand up to our government when it is wrong?
Thomas Jefferson had it right when he advised ‘Let the eyes of vigilance never be closed’
THE LYNCH MOB MOMENT
Tom Hayden is just as impassioned as Paul, although his approach is calmer. Here is a clip from the analytical essay that he sent out to friends on Wednesday about what he calls The Lynch Mob Moment.
We know that conservatives are extremists for order, but why have so many liberals lost their minds and joined the frenzy over Julian Assange and WikiLeaks? As the secrets of power are unmasked, there is a growing bipartisan demand that Julian Assange must die.
Once-liberal Democrat Bob Beckel said on FOX, “there’s only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son-of-a-bitch.” Center-liberal legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said on CNN that Assange is “absurd”, “ridiculous”, “delusional”, and “well beyond sympathy of anyone”. The Washington Times called for treating him as an “enemy combatant”; Rep. Peter King of the Homeland Security Committee who wants him prosecuted as a terrorist; and of course, Sarah Palin wants Assange “pursued with the same urgency we pursue al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders”, or a wolf in Alaska.
This is a lynch-mob moment, when the bloodlust runs over. We have this mad overreaction many times since the witch-burnings and Jim Crow, including the Palmer Raids of the 1920s, the McCarthy purges of the 1950s, the Nixon-era conspiracy trials, the Watergate break-ins, and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq after 9/11.
Most Americans now know that those frenzied periods of scapegoating did nothing for our security, which instead damaged our democracy and left in their wake a secretive National Security State.
There is wisdom in expecting calmer heads to prevail in the WikiLeaks matter, but what can be done when the calmer heads are going nuts or hiding in silence?
Do the frothing pundits remember that we have a legal system in which the accused is entitled to due process, legal representation and the right to a defense? The first obligation of our threatened elected officials, bureaucrats and pundits is to calm down.
Hayden acknowledges that wholesale release of the WikiLeaks documents could do damage:
I can understand the reasonable questions that reasonable people have about this case. It is clearly illegal to release and distribute the 15,652 documents stamped as “secret.” Why should underground whistleblowers have the unlimited right to release those documents? There is a risk that some individuals might be harmed by the release. There is a concern that ordinary diplomatic business might be interrupted.
But he also reminds us what we have thus far gotten from Julian Assange and WikiLeaks:
1. WikiLeaks disclosed 390,136 classified documents about the Iraq War and 76,607 about Afghanistan so far. No one died as a result of these disclosures, one of which revealed another 15,000 civilian casualties in Iraq which had not been acknowledged or reported before;
2. Fragmentary orders [FRAGO] 242 and 039 instructed American troops not to investigate torture in Iraq conducted by America’s allies;
3. The CIA operates a secret army of 3,000 in Afghanistan;
4. A secret US Task Force 373 is assigned to nighttime hunter-killer raids in Afghanistan;
5. The US ambassador in Kabul says it is impossible to fix corruption when our ally is the corrupt entity;
6. One Afghan minister alone carried $52 million out of the country;
7. US Special Forces operate in Pakistan without public acknowledgment, apparently in violation of that country’s sovereignty;
8. America’s ally, Pakistan, is the chief protector of the Taliban in Afghanistan.
9. Following secret U.S air strikes against suspected al-Qaeda militants, Yeme’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh told General David Petraeus, “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours.”
10. U.S. government contractor DynCorp threw a party for Afghan security recruits featuring trafficked boys as the entertainment. Bacha bazi is the Afghan tradition of “boy play” where young boys are dressed up in women’s clothing, forced to dance for leering men, and then sold for sex to the highest bidder. DynCorp has been previously linked to child sex trafficking charges.
CORRECTING THE MEDIA FALSEHOODS
Salon’s Glenn Greenwald (who also happens to be an attorney trained in Constitutional law) has been stalking the absurd inaccuracies put out by major media outlets—like, for example, Time magazine— when they report on the ongoing WikiLeaks story.
IF ASSANGE IS GUILTY WHAT ABOUT THE NY TIMES? WHAT ABOUT BOB WOODWARD?
On Friday, former Bush administration lawyer, Jack Goldsmith, posted 7 “thoughts” on the matter of WikiLeaks. They are all worth reading, but here are the first three:
* I find myself 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. 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. The Executive was unconscionably lax in allowing Bradley Manning 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. What if there were no wikileaks and Manning had simply given the Lady Gaga CD to the Times? Presumably the Times would eventually have published most of the same information, with a few redactions, for all the world to see. Would our reaction to that have been more subdued than our reaction now to Assange? If so, why? If not, why is our reaction so subdued when the Times receives and publishes the information from Bradley through Assange the intermediary? Finally, in 2005-2006, the Times disclosed information about important but fragile government surveillance programs. There is no way to know, but I would bet that these disclosures were more harmful to national security than the wikileaks disclosures. There was outcry over the Times’ surveillance disclosures, but nothing compared to the outcry over wikileaks. Why the difference? Because of quantity? Because Assange is not a U.S. citizen? Because he has a philosophy more menacing than “freedom of the press”? Because he is not a journalist? Because he has a bad motive?
* In Obama’s Wars, Bob Woodward, with the obvious assistance of many top Obama administration officials, disclosed many details about top secret programs, code names, documents, meetings, and the like. I have a hard time squaring the anger the government is directing toward wikileaks with its top officials openly violating classification rules and opportunistically revealing without authorization top secret information….