Why the greater fuss over the latest WikiLeaks release?

Chris Floyd takes a stab at why this particular WikiLeaks release has aroused much greater fury than the previous ones that dealt with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

What is perhaps most remarkable is that this joint action by the world elite to shut down WikiLeaks – which has been operating for four years – comes after the release of diplomatic cables, not in response to earlier leaks which provided detailed evidence of crimes and atrocities committed by the perpetrators and continuers of Washington’s Terror War. I suppose this is because the diplomatic cables have upset the smooth running of the corrupt and cynical backroom operations that actually govern our world, behind the ludicrous lies and self-righteous posturing that our great and good lay on for the public. They didn’t mind being unmasked as accomplices in mass murder and fomenters of suffering and hatred; in fact, they were rather proud of it. And they certainly knew that their fellow corruptocrats in foreign governments – not to mention the perpetually stunned and supine American people – wouldn’t give a toss about a bunch of worthless peons in Iraq and Afghanistan getting killed. But the diplomatic cables have caused an embarrassing stink among the closed little clique of the movers and shakers. And that is a crime deserving of vast eons in stir – or death.

WikiLeaks will doubtless try to struggle on. And Assange says he has given the entire diplomatic trove to 100,000 people. By dribs and drabs, shards of truth will get out. But the world’s journalists – and those persons of conscience working in the world’s governments – have been given a hard, harsh, unmistakable lesson in the new realities of our degraded time. Tell a truth that discomforts power, that challenges its domination over our lives, our discourse, our very thoughts, and you will be destroyed. No institution, public or private, will stand with you; the most powerful entities, public and private, will be arrayed against you, backed up by overwhelming violent force. This is where we are now. This is what we are now.

Jack Shafer writes about some of the things we have learned thanks to WikiLeaks that might have caused the deeper concern this time.

The recent WikiLeaks release, for example, shows the low regard U.S. secretaries of state hold for international treaties that bar spying at the United Nations. Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, systematically and serially violated those treaties to gain an incremental upper hand. And they did it in writing! That Clinton now decries Julian Assange’s truth-telling as an “attack” on America but excuses her cavalier approach to treaty violation tells you all you need to know about U.S. diplomacy.

It is quite extraordinary that the US government would seek to obtain the credit card numbers and passwords of high-ranking UN officials. Clinton’s actions are not, as it is being pooh-poohed by our elites, business as usual in the world of diplomacy. Treaties are binding as law. What possible use would such information provide as far as diplomacy is concerned? Paul Craig Roberts speculates that they might have planned to use it in some future blackmail operation. It sounds incredible, like something out of a spy novel, but when you have a lawless government like the US, whose officials have created a cocoon of immunity around themselves, people tend to get carried away with what they think they can get away with.

Justin Raimondo reminds us what is at stake in the case of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange:

What this all means is that the future of the internet is being decided, right here, right now: if the worldwide alliance of tyrants and crooks succeeds in shutting WikiLeaks down, the rest of us are doomed. If they can get away with this, they can get away with anything – including legislation regulating content. That’s where we’re headed, unless the authoritarian assault – led by Senators Joe Lieberman and Dianne Feinstein, Fox News (excepting Judge Napolitano, of course), and neocons left and right – is repulsed.

There is no more important task for antiwar activists, civil libertarians, and all those who treasure freedom than the defense of WikiLeaks, and Julian Assange. That’s why the Amazon boycott is so important. That’s why we’ve got to work tirelessly to free Assange. That’s why we must never give in to the Liebermans, the Feinsteins, and the Fox News lynch mob. As the commies would say: No Pasaran!

The extradition of Assange to Sweden would signal the final phase of Britain’s long slow slide into authoritarianism, an outcome that seems nearly inevitable for a society that imposes a draconian “speech code,” and has its population under constant surveillance. From there the plan is obviously to jail him in Sweden until the US can cook up a “legal” rationale to have him extradited for trial in the US – perhaps as a material witness in the case of Bradley Manning, suspected of providing the diplomatic cables – and the Afghan and Iraq war logs – to WikiLeaks.

Truth is on trial – and a conviction would be fatal not only to WikiLeaks, but for the cause of liberty itself. This is an issue that the ruling elite is counting on to plug the giant hole in their armor called the internet. We can’t afford to lose this one – at least without inflicting some pretty heavy damage on the enemy.

Assange is the first high-profile political prisoner is a new age of repression and fear. If he is martyred to the cause of liberty, let his bravery and determination serve as an example and an inspiration to us all. But we don’t need any more martyrs: we need living activists, like Assange, who are willing to take on the States of the world. We must tirelessly work to free him, and in the process free ourselves.

Raimondo’s comment about holding Assange as a ‘material witness’ is important. The US and other governments are in a quandary because there is nothing that WikiLeaks has done that major news organizations have not also done. So they will try and argue something like Assange colluded with the leaker and hold him as a material witness. If the US government declares someone to be a ‘material witness’ that person’s habeas corpus and other rights go out the window and he can be held incommunicado indefinitely.

WikiLeaks is the future and we cannot turn our backs on it.


  1. says

    “And they certainly knew that their fellow corruptocrats in foreign governments – not to mention the perpetually stunned and supine American people – wouldn’t give a toss about a bunch of worthless peons in Iraq and Afghanistan getting killed.” -- Chris Floyd, above, my emphasis.

    If the sleeping giant that is the American public would wake up and smell the, er, coffee, we might have a chance in this war. But, to illustrate how unlikely that is, I give you a perfect anecdote from today’s popular culture.

    My wife watches Regis and Kelly in the morning. The hosts entertained their audience by holding up a feature in one of the New York tabloids, alleging that Julian Assange had a secret bunker constructed in Sweden, and referring to him in the headline as a “creep.” For our hosts, this was a source of much amusement about Bond-style villains and the bizarre costumes they might wear.

    To see the most important issue of our time trivialized for gutter-level titillation filled my whole being with despair. I realize that the plural of anecdote is not evidence, but if this is an accurate reflection of the popular mindset then you can take the thermometer out of the carcass, for we are cooked.

  2. Steve LaBonne says

    Richard, we ARE cooked. We are already decades behind in addressing the severe structural problems of our economy and society, and at the very most optimistic estimate are unlikely to be less then several decades away from having a political system that can even begin to deal with them. I’ve never been more pessimistic about the future of my country. And I hate feeling that way, more than I can even put into words.

  3. says

    Richard and Steve,

    The highest levels of public life currently seem to be infected with either an extraordinary level of hubris or a reckless regard for the consequences of their polices or are blinded by their unquestioned military power to think that they can solve any future problem using sheer force.

    I share Steve’s sense of gloom.

  4. Dinky says

    The insides of any empire stinks, particularly when it is ripe an it’s shelf life is on the decline. The organized media which has had field days feeding the masses tripe for years, has finally found the wrath of young, cyber savvy wizards to whom troves of information of any kind is begging to be pried into. The so called new world order has got its first taste at bleeding. I hope this assault is relentless until an elitist handful in DC are made to realize that they do not rule the world. Or is this some kind of tit for tat for ruffling the feathers of the world’s money lenders?

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