WikiLeaks: Uncle Sam Wants You!
Julian Assange is going down! The founder of WikiLeaks may be getting a legal raw deal and as the battle over free speech gains intensity. My prediction is that he is in a no-win situation. I just wonder if he understands the futility of any defense he might put forth, and the dismal future that he will most certainly endure.
In general terms, I don’t think Mr. Assange is guilty of anything where releasing information in his possession was concerned. Particularly and in spite of the media uproar, the information he leaked had zero impact on anything! Were the troops really placed in further danger? It does not appear that way. Were any treaties damaged or canceled? Not that I know of. Was the United States government embarrassed, humiliated, frustrated or worse, angry? Absolutely! Julian, Julian, Julian… What were you thinking?
Actually I withdraw that question, because I think I clearly know what he was thinking. I believe that he was thinking he could highlight the ineptitude that has mired international diplomacy in frustrating ineffectiveness. And I believe that he hopes and believes, that people around the world will be shocked and dismayed to the point of taking action and demanding more truthful dialog from their leaders about world conflicts, diplomatic relations and international finance.
Here’s the bottom line. The United States Government wants Julian to stop airing this nation’s dirty laundry. Unfortunately, Mr. Assange, many people around the world don’t know how this government operates. I don’t care if it is the State Department, the tax man or the mail man. If you screw around with the United States government, you are going to lose because the deck is already stacked against you. You’re going to lose big! Most Americans understand this, and even as some of us may sympathize with Mr. Assange from a free speech perspective, the prudent American would very quickly come to the conclusion that taking on the United States government in such a way would be a very bad idea.
There have been many times in recent history when mainstream news outlets have reported on highly sensitive and classified information that was illegally or questionably obtained. Even so, they defiantly protected their secret or covert sources and no legal action was initiated or anticipated. Other times, information was leaked by government sources or by operatives within the political or diplomatic matrix who had personal or political grudges or even questionable agendas. One has only to remember the antics of Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby in the Valerie Plame Wilson CIA outing, or the Pentagon Papers scandal to get an impression of what I mean. This information was made public and reported on without restriction.
Mr. Assange has done the same thing. In his mind, he simply reported on information in his possession like any mainstream news outlet. Unlike most of the mainstream media, he revealed this information in a way that is viewed as antagonistic and judgmental. Mr. Assange will face severe penalties. I predict that there will be future charges of espionage, wrapped in a package that will sound, look, and feel like charges of “Information Terrorism.” I know you’ve never heard the term “Information Terrorism” before, since I just made it up. This will be bad for Mr. Assange as he becomes the first scapegoat for “Information Terrorism.” Very bad indeed.
America has a Freedom by the Numbers policy. This unwritten policy is very clear and absolutely unwavering. Americans are permitted to do and say most anything they want, as long as they do no actual harm to their fellow citizens, the government, or make overt attempts to do so. The U.S. government, through the Constitution, provides a truly amazing blanket of freedom. If an individual crosses the line through undertaking campaigns of negative or damaging rhetoric against government actions deemed harmful to any branch of government (that’s treason to you and me), we are not exempt from the wrath of Uncle Sam. This reality may seem like a slippery slope. In reality it is a “go along” to get along rule. In this country you can speak out and even rock the boat if you like. Just don’t rock the boat of Uncle Sam! From the perspective of the U.S. Government, that applies to most anyone, anywhere in the world.
I am an unwavering supporter of freedom of information and freedom of speech. I am also a realist. Sometimes prudence must prevail and we must select our battles wisely. In any battle, that may mean a more thoughtful advance, or perhaps at times, an orderly retreat so that you might live to fight another day. Julian against the world was a severely flawed plan. At the end of the day, all WikiLeaks accomplished was to provide us a clearer view of what we already knew in our hearts. Much of the world might have let this whole WikiLeaks affair go unpunished… but that is not the American way. Julian should have known that.
Right or wrong, we have an old saying in America that equals this sentiment: “You Don’t Tug on Superman’s Cape.”