My first impression of the WikiLeaks website was that it looks more like a political forum than the domain infamous for spilling more than a million pages of classified government and military secrets. Under their "War Logs" link they ask you to comment on what you see there, and sprinkled here and there, they ask for donations to protect the information and the cause. But as I read further, the seething facts of a dishonest, militant, greedy, self destructive country seep over me, and that familiar feeling of rage, disgust and sorrow overwhelm me.
It's not that it really comes as a surprise to me that our country has blood on its hands. I've known it for a while. Honestly, all you have to do is google it and thousands of links will instantaneously slap you in the face, many of them on government websites, openly chronicling their seedy dealings here and around the world. But even so, that was clearly only the tip of the tip of the iceberg. There was still the "classified" information: the nuts and bolts of invasions, coups and overthrows too horrid to share with the American public. And then along came WikiLeaks. Needless to say, the powers-that-be weren't too stoked about this considerable leak in their intelligence.
Just to name a couple: using US diplomats to spy on foreign political officials, in particular top UN officials, wanting details as intimate as forensic evidence. Our friends the Saudis REALLY want us to bomb Iran, and some really embarrassing details on how we feel about other countries and their governments...oops.
Of course, the Middle East holds most of the spotlight in these documents, with over 15,000 documents on Iraq alone.
With the release of this colossal amount of underground information, the US government is seeking to prosecute and shut down the site and those responsible for it. If you read into WikiLeaks, you'll find that no one man is in charge of the site, contrary to what we're being told. It's a collective effort. But that doesn't sound as good on late nite news...
So, in a classic twist of irony too good for fiction, the US government wants to charge Julian Assange under the Espionage Act of 1917. And as I write this, Interpol has just issued an international warrant to arrest Assange. But let's start with the first bowl of bullshit, shall we? To give a little back story, The Espionage Act of 1917 was passed in July of 1917 during our first foray into Communism Crazyland, and after our entry into "The war to end all wars." (hmmm, clearly the US wasn't there for that naming ceremony). Anyway, the Act prohibits all attempts at interference with military operations (US government...ahem), the support of the US's enemies during wartime (everyone celebrating Ramadan, you're under arrest), likewise the promotion of insubordination in the military (um, don't ask, don't tell) and interference with military recruitment (any picture of a flag draped coffin, de-limbed soldier or just war in general). So, since it appears that pretty much all of us are in some form actively violating this Act, it raises the question whether this is not merely a free speech issue. Ah, got you there too. In 1919, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Schenck v. United States that the act did not violate the free speech rights of those convicted under its provisions. Hmmmm, tricky.
Furthermore, just to pull the leash a little tighter, several amendments were added to the Act via the Sedition Act in 1918. These amendments declared it against the law to use your first Amendment rights to speak "any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of government of the United States...or the flag of the United States, or the uniform of the Army or Navy." Ummmmmm...I'm no spy but I'm pretty sure that's everyone from the First Lady to Joe the Plumber and Victor the Vegan to Gary the gun-toting tea party activist. That would make an interesting prison cell tho wouldn't it?
So, let's break this down. We're charging a guy under the Espionage Act for leaking information regarding our own government willfully and without reserve or remorse putting this country and all its people in ever surmounting danger?
And what about this business about the Interpol warrant? Oh yeah...can you say framed? Just as the first round of WikiLeaks documents make their way out into the world, the founder is conveniently accused of sexual deviance. Oh horrors! And now it went from a Stockholm court to Interpol? What the fuck? How did that happen? As a Swede, I know the amount of bureaucracy you have to go through just to get your address changed.
But hey, what better way to corner your prey than from several angles, under several guises so the unsuspecting public will just continue to wave their flags and boo at the chosen antagonist.
We dug this grave. Whatever is being leaked right now is what we have sewn. We have planted the seeds that formed this sickening weed strangling our rights. Assange is no more a traitor than I am, or you, reading this. Our government and military's history of spilling blood for money and prestige would eventually come to a head, like all good thrillers. The real question is, what will we do with this new information? What will the people do now that we are finding truth in corners we never knew to look? Now that we're being handed information about our government, the people chosen to represent US, will it be more of the same...or will these millions of pages turn the minds of a lethargic and apathetic nation? Stay tuned...