Posted on 6 Comments

Think Before You Kill Julian Assange

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.

[Source, The Raw Story, GOP Rep. asks Clinton to declare WikiLeaks a ‘foreign terrorist organization’]

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.

[Source, The Raw Story, GOP Rep. asks Clinton to declare WikiLeaks a ‘foreign terrorist organization’ emphasis added]

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."

[Source, The Raw Story, GOP Rep. asks Clinton to declare WikiLeaks a ‘foreign terrorist organization’ emphasis added]

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."

[Source, The Raw Story, GOP Rep. asks Clinton to declare WikiLeaks a ‘foreign terrorist organization’ emphasis added]

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."

[Source, The Raw Story, GOP Rep. asks Clinton to declare WikiLeaks a ‘foreign terrorist organization’ emphasis added]

6 thoughts on “Think Before You Kill Julian Assange

  1. ….let’s put a perspective on this leak…judging from past public apathy (anemic voting totals, failures to know who are your state senators, etc.) I would venture an enlightened opinion that 95 percent of our fine citizens have not heard about the leaks and that 99.9 percent will never take the time to read just one leaked document….Potter Stewart sure was prescient, wasn’t he?…no one is protecting our democratic values and even an informed free press can’t wake up our “enlightened citizenry”.

  2. […] McCaughan draws a parallel between the outrage now and the outrage from the release of the Pentagon […]

  3. […] says it best: This paragraph notes where main stream media is failing in its job in the name of page views, […]

  4. And a further note – if this leak was either a) more unflattering to Obama and/or b) had been done by Matt Drudge or a conservative darling blogger on the right, would there be the same level of outrage?

  5. The most critical Wikileaks- damage to America is self-inflicted.
    The American panic reactions to the Wiki-leaks revelations (current and expected) is an embarrassing display of guilty behaviour, and obviously everybody thinks: what is it that America needs to hide so badly. The damage has already happened and no citizen in the world will ever again believe that America stands for freedom, democracy, righteousness and freedom of speech.

    Re. all the stupid American comments about killing Assange:

    1) Assange is not an American traitor, because he is not even American. He has never pretended to be so and he has never work for the American government or had a security level access to any of its confidential documents. He has simply published what someone else submitted to Wikileaks.

    Wikileaks can not be persecuted: they haven’t committed a crime, at least not according to existing regulation. Making information freely available to the public is not a crime.

    BTW the Internet is a global medium and Assange is Australian, so which country’s law applies to Wikileaks? Don’t tell me “US law”. Although the US frenzy right now scares everybody, the US still doesn’t rule the world and that won’t ever happen (rather it is going the other way).

    The US government does not have any right to commit murder on Assange, who is an Australian citizen: of course they could do so anyway, they’ve got lots of infrastructure to get dirty things done and cover it up. They could even fix it up to make it look like some lone lunatic did it (and there are clearly lots of them loose). But would anyone believe it after all this media exposure?

    If I was America I would pray that nothing happens to Assange.

    Wikileaks – America: 10-0.

  6. Anne, every time someone says Assange and traitor in the same sentence my ears want to bleed. I feel like if this was a prime time comedy show you’d see someone nudge the speaker and whisper in his ear only to over hear the speaker ask back “really? There are other countries than just the United States?’

    The actions of the United States government to Wikileaks has extremely scary ramifications to the future of the free Internet. Which country has the ability to change the master dns database can shutdown or redirect traffic on a whim. If other countries decide that database is not authoritative and they refer to a different database sudden may be one company on on internet and a competing company on another internet. The Internet as we know it slips into a sort of black ages that would resemble the Fidonet days of the 80s. At least until the chaos could be reigned in.

    I’m not proud of the way America looks nor how they are handling this situation. Disinformation has reigned down in as fear on the college campuses. See also. That isn’t right.

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