Many people are in a uproar over the Wikileaks release of 251,287 United States embassy cables "the largest set of confidential documents ever to be released into the public domain." Reaction has included suggestions of naming Wikileaks as a terrorist organization. Some people have called for the execution of Julian Assange as a traitor. Proceed with caution! I’d like to take a moment to point out that history is repeating itself. Recall the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. This exact situation was tried in 1971 in New York Times Co. v. United States with the outcome being the release of the documents is protected by the First Amendment.
Though inconvenient for officials, the revelation of information contained in any of the WikiLeaks files, much like the Pentagon Papers amid the Vietnam war, is protected by the First Amendment — a point made by the US Supreme Court in New York Times Co. v. United States in 1971.
In all that I have read, and in all the news commentary I have watched on television and online, nothing has been as notable and as important as the next three paragraphs of The Raw Story’s article.
"In seeking injunctions against these newspapers and in its presentation to the Court, the Executive Branch seems to have forgotten the essential purpose and history of the First Amendment," Justices Hugo Black and William Douglas wrote, taking the side of the Times, which had recently published what was then considered the largest cache of secret military information in US history.
Read this next paragraph twice. This paragraph notes where main stream media is failing in its job in the name of page views, popularity and ad sales rather than serving the governed. Wikileaks has stepped up to do the job that our press corp has quit.
"In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy," they continued. "The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government."
In conclusion, before passing negative judgment against Julian Assange and Wikileaks, read the words of Justices Black and Douglas in regard to the Pentagon Papers.
After the release of the Pentagon Papers, Justices Black and Douglas opined that "newspapers nobly did precisely that which the Founders hoped and trusted they would do."
Please go to The Raw Story and read the entire article titled GOP Rep. asks Clinton to declare WikiLeaks a ‘foreign terrorist organization’. Take note that the people wanting to declare Wikileaks a terrorist organization and suppress information keeping you, the citizenry, in the dark are the exact same people embarrassed, or in a position of having their careers ended, by the release of these documents, like Hillary Clinton.
To close, one more quote from The Raw Story. Justice Potter Stewart’s comment.
Justice Potter Stewart added: "In the absence of the governmental checks and balances present in other areas of our national life, the only effective restraint upon executive policy and power in the areas of national defense and international affairs may lie in an enlightened citizenry – in an informed and critical public opinion which alone can here protect the values of democratic government. For this reason, it is perhaps here that a press that is alert, aware, and free most vitally serves the basic purpose of the First Amendment. For without an informed and free press there cannot be an enlightened people."