Are we afraid of a free press?
Ron Paul is a Libertarian/Republican Congressman from Texas. Spend five minutes watching him destroy the criticisms against Julian Assange and Wikileaks. Be sure to stay with it to his questions at the end:
I’ve been trying to make sense of the whole Wikileaks issue and several things stand out. First, the “rape charges” against Assange seem awfully damn convenient: he causes major embarrassment to several governments, and suddenly there’s an international manhunt for him on unrelated crimes. OK, sure; suppose he’s a rapist – that has, exactly, what to do with the US lying its way into the Iraq war, or supporting the Sharia government of Saudi Arabia? (Pop quiz: where did nineteen of the twenty hijackers come from?)
Second, suppose we extradited him here, and imprisoned him or executed him. We couldn’t call ourselves a free country anymore; we’d have to reprint all our stationary. Thomas Jefferson said he’d rather live in a country that had newspapers and not government, than a country with government and no newspapers. And that’s from a guy who’d just helped found a government! But suppose you don’t like Jefferson? At least note that the rest of the Founding Fathers saw fit to put freedom of the press in the very First Amendment.
Third, the criticism could be made that spies or soldiers are in danger because of Wikileaks. And that may be. Of course, we’ve killed somewhere North of a hundred thousand Iraqis (possibly as many as a million), and 4500 US soldiers, not to mention coalition soldiers, contractors, academics, enabled the looting of Iraqi cultural heritage, plus related injuries (which are far in excess of deaths), damaged US/allies relations…
Fourth, and most basic, every politician promises “transparency”, so we can see the inner workings of government. We vote them into office, so let’s not freak out when we find out how the sausage is really made. Put it another way: if your government breaks the law or does something evil, would you want to know? Why or why not?
Fifth, welcome to the new reality. As security expert Bruce Schneier says, Wikileaks is just a website; tomorrow there will be more. Somebody’s always going to spill the beans. Maybe we should stop doing things we need to be embarrassed about. And no, I don’t mean that in a fuzzy, idealistic sense; I mean our government should at least act like everyone will eventually know.
- Yeah, the Libertarian (and increasingly the Republican) motto is; “I got mine, the hell with you”. But hey, even a Libertarian is bound to be exactly right about something, on occasion.
- While some are claiming Assange and Wikileaks have won this round, I think it’s too early to tell. Support for a free press is crucial – unless you are certain you will never, ever end up on the officially proscribed side of any important issue.
- Letting arms flow into Darfur evil enough for you?
- And why is it OK for US corporations to take part in evil actions, but not OK for them to even provide data services to people exposing those actions?