The Wikileaks uproar has been mainly just noise off in the distance to me, but the increasingly frantic attempts by the Obama administration (acting in this instance like "the Communist Party of China," according to David Samuels in The Atlantic) to shut down Wikileaks -- pressuring Amazon to block it from its servers and probably launching a powerful cyber attack on it -- has finally drawn my full attention. When it becomes government policy to eradicate a whistle-blower, I get more curious about that government.
Something's up, that's for sure. Republican Congressman Peter King (NY) wants the Wikileaks founder declared a terrorist threat. Mike Huckabee said that the young pfc who got documents about American foreign/war policy for Wikileaks should be executed. And Wikileaks has done the job that not many journalists -- in fact, none -- have been willing and able to do ... shine the light on the darkest corners of the Obama administration's continuation of the international war machine.
As David Samuels comments, this used to be called "journalism." Now it's considered worthy of the death penalty. The man who launched Wikileaks, Julian Assange, expressed his own contempt for the failure of journalists to do their jobs: "How is it that a team of five people has managed to release to the public more suppressed information, at that level, than the rest of the world press combined?" he told The Sydney Morning Herald. "It's disgraceful."
United States foreign policy is only one target of Wikileaks. We were promised last week a raft of documents showing the behavior of Bank of America and other powerful corporations, a topic that I have a keen interest in and which probably many American citizens might be shocked to learn, but our own government is doing what it can -- and it can do much -- to block us from ever getting that information.
The 250,000 cables that Wikileaks published this month are only a fraction of the 16 million documents that the U.S. government classifies "top secret" every -- every -- year. In a three-part investigative series by Dana Priest and William Arkin published earlier this year in The Washington Post, Priest & Arkin concluded: "The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive, that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work."
That's a recipe for official mischief. David Samuels: "The result of this classification mania is the division of the public into two distinct groups: those who are privy to the actual conduct of American policy, but are forbidden to write or talk about it, and the uninformed public, which becomes easy prey for the official lies exposed in the Wikileaks documents."
So ... I guess I'm officially skeptical about all the hysterical, top-down trashing of Julian Assange right now.