Julian Assange: enemy of the state

Power corrupts, the saying goes, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  If a government has the power to commit crimes in secret, and to punish people for revealing its crimes, what limit is there on its absolute power.

That is why Julian Assange, the founder and leader of Wikileaks, is a hero.  He has sacrificed his freedom and risked his life to make known crimes and abuses by the U.S. and other governments.

Here’s what he said about his aims back in 2006—

The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie.  This must result in minimization of efficient internal communications mechanisms (an increase in cognitive “secrecy tax”) and consequent system-wide cognitive decline resulting in decreased ability to hold onto power as the environment demands adaption.

Hence in a world where leaking is easy, secretive or unjust systems are non-linearly hit relative to open, just systems.  Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.

Only revealed injustice can be answered; for man to do anything intelligent he has to know what’s actually going on.

Source: IQ.ORG

Of course this is inherently dangerous.  Making powerful immoral people paranoid about having their crimes revealed will reduce the effectiveness of those powerful immoral people, either by damaging their reputations or making them afraid to communicate with each other or both.   But it’s a given that if you keep it up, these powerful people will use their power against you.

∞∞∞

CIA Director Mike Pompeo said in a recent speech that Assange’s Wikileaks should be suppressed because it is a “non-state hostile intelligence service.”  In other words, Wikileaks gathers information that governments don’t want it to know, and publishes it—just like any other muckraking news organization.

The difference is that Wikileaks, like other publishers, gathers intelligence on behalf of the public and not a foreign government.   If you say the distinction doesn’t matter, then freedom of the press does not include the right to tell the truth; it means nothing except the right to express mere opinion.

Secret information is leaked every day.  In my opinion, one of the purposes of classifying information as secret is to allow it to be leaked to favored journalists and politicians.  Read the next article in your local newspaper about Syria or Russia and see how much comes from intelligence sources who do not reveal their names or the source of their information.

No, the crime of Julian Assange is to reveal information that makes the government look bad.  Pompeo in his speech said that Assange had destroyed trust between the United States and its allies.  But surely the responsibility for that is in the things that the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies did, not that Assange made them known.

Pompeo said that the information released by Wikileaks benefited Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.   Wikileaks information also benefited the Donald Trump presidential campaign last year, and Pompeo was glad to quote it.

It’s true that Wikileaks publishes more information about the United States government than any other.   It also is true that abuses of power in Russia, China and many other nations are worse than in the USA.  I could not write a blog such as this if I were Russian or Chinese.

The reason Wikileaks is justified in concentrating on the United States is that the United States is the most powerful government in the world and, because of that, is in a position to do more harm than any other government in the world.  It is not that either Russia or China is less bad; it is that they are less powerful.  Also, Wikileaks publishes in English, not in Russian or Chinese.

If Julian Assange is a criminal for revealing government secrets, so are the Washington Post, New York Times, Guardian and other respected news organizations that have published Wikileaks material and other secret information over the years.

President Donald Trump has declared that the mainstream American press is his enemy.  Prosecuting Wikileaks successfully would set a precedent for him to go after that enemy.

LINKS

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo at the Center for International and Strategic Studies on April 13, 2017

Wikileaks statement responding to CIA Director Mike Pompeo via Twitter on April 14, 2017

Trump’s CIA Director Pompeo, Targeting WikiLeaks, Explicitly Threatens Speech and Press Freedoms by Glenn Greenwald for the Intercept.

A Window for Punishing Wikileaks by Noah Feldman for Bloomberg News.

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3 Responses to “Julian Assange: enemy of the state”

  1. whungerford Says:

    If the government wants to keep secrets it is up to them. If they are careless, what gets out is their responsibility.

    Like

  2. Vincent Says:

    When I saw your headline, I thought we were going to agree for once. Sadly not.

    Like

  3. Eric Says:

    shine a light, brother

    Like

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