Are Julian Assange and WikiLeaks Really The Bad Guys?

Glenn Beck's Wanted List
Glenn Beck's Wanted List

Glenn Beck Labels Julian Assange and WikiLeaks Really Bad Guys

This morning Glenn Beck was railing on about WikiLeaks and how the government should have shut them down after they published diplomatic cables to and from the U.S. State Department. This we expected. But then he scoffed that the government shut down the copyright infringers making faux Prada bags and yet allowed WikiLeaks to prosper (if being under DDoS attack can be seen as prospering). Aside from the issue that WikiLeaks isn’t located in the US and isn’t under our laws, for a brief moment, Glenn Beck kind of made sense.

Here’s your Professor of Doom this morning:

While Beck’s general comparison has some validity, he missed the finer points of the issue. WkiLeaks is hosted by PRQ, a Sweden-based company providing “highly secure, no-questions-asked hosting services.” Beck might want to note that even if our government wished to override precedent set by the Supreme Court in the New York Times Co v United States case in which case it was ruled that “(I)n absence of governmental checks and balances”, per Justice Stewart, “the only effective restraint upon executive policy and power in [these two areas] may lie in an enlightened citizenry – in an informed and critical public opinion which alone can here protect the values of democratic government”, it’s forbidden by Swedish law for any administrative authority to make inquiries about the sources of any type of newspaper.

Beck assumes we should shut down WikiLeaks like we shut down the Prada infringers, in order to enjoin publication of the cables. In doing so, Beck skips over the tug of war between a transparent government and the protection of U.S. national security, the eternal tango between the need to limit power without rendering it impotent. As Lord Acton warned, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

But of course, the Right isn’t interested in limiting power when it comes to issues of national security. They want President Obama to shut down WikiLeaks like the Decider would have. For a look at the reasoning behind this, The Village Voice has exposed the Right’s feelings about WikiLeaks:

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg asked, “Why wasn’t Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago?” Goldberg asserted that the leaks were “going to get people killed, including brave Iraqis and Afghans who’ve risked their lives and the lives of their families to help us.” Nonetheless, he lamented, “Even if the CIA wanted to take him out, they couldn’t without massive controversy. That’s because assassinating a hipster Australian Web guru as opposed to a Muslim terrorist is the kind of controversy no official dares invite.”

“WikiLeaks About To Leak Again and The Obama Administration Is Limp,” wrote Chandler’s Watch, further claiming that the White House “responds to the WikiLeaks bunch with cookies and milk” and suggesting its “possible complicity in this WikiLeak matter.”

The Right will always support the expansion of governmental powers under the guise of “security”, so this is no surprise. The general gist of the Right’s reaction is Obama should have assassinated Julian Assange, but since he’s too chicken to, the Right is happy to have our national security at risk if it allows them to use the information to bring down Obama.

“Which may be why Morrissey was moved to wonder, “What’s the ‘anti-war’ motive, though, in releasing a few hundred thousand diplomatic cables? Progressives are forever telling us that we need to rely less on Defense and more on State, and yet it sounds like today’s leak will do much greater damage to the latter than the previous leaks did to the former.””

Yes, that’s the question; Why is WikiLeaks doing this and why do some of the Left support it? WikiLeaks states that its “primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations.” So the goal is to reveal unethical behavior in government. How does revealing the opinions of diplomats about other heads of states combat either repressive or unethical behavior?

The argument for transparency is a legitimate one, but that’s not the exact argument being put forth in defense of WikiLeaks. However, in addressing the delicate balance between transparency and unlimited power, it’s worth noting what Nancy Kranich put forth in her public policy report, The Information Commons: “[I]f the public’s right to know is to be protected in today’s world, citizens must have optimal opportunities to acquire and exchange information. The stakes are high, for as the Supreme Court noted years ago, American democracy requires ‘the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources.'” Exceptions are routinely made for issues of National Security, but nonetheless, active citizens of a democracy will always engage in push-back against the secrecy of their government.

In the past the Left has supported WikiLeaks in revealing military secrets that they hoped would expose the US government’s agenda and lead to ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, so one can argue that the Left feels that exposure of the government will lead to a stronger argument for peace. But are the chances of peace higher after the WikiLeak’s cable dump? The leaked documents will destabilize our diplomatic efforts and hinder the State Department’s efforts to continue dialogue with our allies, and for these reasons a cessation of war is not the inevitable result of the WikiLeak’s dump.

I suspect that two things will come out of these documents that were not intended. One, the Right will be far more embarrassed by documents released than President Obama (that is, by rational readers) and two, the Left will discover just why Obama has appeared to walk back his anti-war stance to the degree that it can be argued he did such (I don’t subscribe to this notion, but it’s a legitimate complaint, especially in light of how much of the support Obama received from the Left was based upon the differences between his and Hillary Clinton’s reactions to the invasion of Iraq).

Destroying our diplomatic efforts is no way to wage war for peace. WikiLeaks appears to be acting irresponsibly in the manner that they’ve gone about publishing these documents, but Glenn Beck’s suggestion that President Obama should shut them down is more of the Right’s knee-jerk support for anything defense oriented. There are legitimate needs for having the ability to expose governmental corruption and thereby attempt to hold a government accountable and responsible to the citizens. However, copyright-protected Prada bags are not the same as sensitive government documents. Leave it to Beck to classify them as such.

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks can provide an important service to the oppressed and to all citizens concerned with governmental abuses of power. In this specific case, even had the US government wanted to shut them down by legal means, they lack the authority to do so, but the government’s inability to shut them down doesn’t automatically infer that WikiLeaks acted responsibly or ethically.

As he’s wont to do, Beck’s assertion that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are “really bad guys” oversimplifies a complex matter. While they aren’t bad guys, the road to hell was paved with good intentions, and I’m afraid they’ve paved the road to hell for US diplomatic efforts. In the inevitable war between transparency and state secrets, neither should be automatically subordinate to the other without sober consideration for the consequences.

37 Replies to “Are Julian Assange and WikiLeaks Really The Bad Guys?”

  1. isn’t it funny that the same right wing nut jobs that bash wikileaks support not signing the START treaty? I’m sorry, but I don’t think security is a concern of the Republicans.

    it’s too late to stop anything. All wiki leaks had to do was to send the information to whatever news organizations wanted to publish them. No way to stop it. wiki leaks has mirrors all over the world including right here in the US. I followed one mirror back to France.

    There is much the American people need to know here. Hopefully there is enough to put Bush and Cheney into prison. What a government, including the United States government, tells its people is not always even close to being the truth. I’m tired of being lied to.

    I see this ridiculousness that Bush would’ve stopped wiki leaks at at other places too, people just laugh at them.

  2. All I can say is, thank heaven’s for WikiLeaks….not that what they did was RIGHT, but that they clearly show both sides in the tug of war that is foreign policy.

    And were we all not taught to NEVER put it to paper (or computer)? If you write it down, to anyone, it will always be vulnerable.

    And let’s be fair, these types of back and forths have been going on for years! The authors of the memos were foolish to begin with – just for sending the cables and emails. If it doesn’t stand up to the clear light of day, it should be seen for what it is.

    Thanks Sarah – for a wonderful and concise post. As usual, the tightie Righties want to kill the messenger, rather than those who composed the actual messages.

  3. Thanks so much, Dee. That means a lot — esp coming from someone as astute as you are. Glad to see you around!

  4. Yeah….and did you see the latest? I’m working on it right now. Dear God, the Right may never recover from their collective stupor.

  5. You’re right; this does expose this tug of war and foster a dialogue that’s been sorely missing in this country during the Bush years. Abe Lincoln suggested that a country that was informed would be a safe country. I hope he’s right, though he obviously didn’t count on our enemies and allies also knowing everything, via the internet:-)

  6. We’ve all known that this info would come out at some point, in this day and age, is anything truly safe?

    I would really, really like to know what went on during the bush and st. ronnie years.
    I wonder if the republicans are worried what we may find out about why we really went to war.
    I’m sure they don’t want any of that info to see the light of day. Why else is Liz Cheney out there defending her father from attacks that haven’t happened yet.

  7. I think that Wikileaks will do more harm than good. There are a lot of people out there who would like to bring down the US and other democratic countries and puting classified information in their hands would only aid and abet their causes. Sometimes blowing the whistle on a government that abuses power could be good but I doubt if there will be many leaks from Iran or North Korea.

  8. That doesn’t mean that Abe Lincoln would’ve supported broadcasting the Union’s strategy, or it’s intelligence it gathered about the south, while prosecuting the Civil War.

    The danger posed by leaking classified documents isn’t that Americans now know too much. Our government is entitled to and expected to maintain privacy in regards to protecting diplomatic relationships and preserving our national interests.

  9. You’re correct. A strong, sovereign United States is the biggest obstacle in the way of those who believe in a one-world Utopian society. It’s also the biggest defense against such naive stupidity.

  10. WikiLeaks is all bad and even folks on the left realize it now. Yes, they are the bad guys.

    In Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, North Korea…these leaks don’t happen because there are no legal protections for the leakers. If PFC Manning was Comrade Manning in China, he, Assange, the New York Times, and anyone else involved would be worm kibble by now.

    I’m certainly not defending that approach.

    My point is, as others have written here, that WikiLeaks as a “weapon” for transparency that can only be used against (relatively and lower-case ‘l’) liberal western democracies is no weapon at all.

  11. Cut the crap. Find him, snatch him up, give him a trial and jail for life. Unless he is killed resisting arrest.

  12. The truth hurts and does it ever! Forget First Amendment! Shut’em down! No truth about government skulldugggery allowed! Kill the internet because people might find out how crooked the politicians and governments are.

  13. I the leaks gets someone killed in the field is that worth it? you all are so full of hate for bush that you are blinded. he is not in office anymore “thank god” but we still have men and women in a fight but thats ok if they get killed right. you hate bush that makes it right…right?

  14. Are you brain dead or did you just not read? For god’s sake. This is pathetic. Just try reading the last paragraph. Let us know when you get it.

  15. The bad guys are the ones who are spying, lying, conspiring, and covering it up. The good guys are the ones letting the world know what the former are doing, and don’t deserve to be targets of the security establishment and their right wing propaganda wackos like Glenn Beck because of it.

  16. They don’t need to read, they just assume all liberals think what Fox tells them liberals think.

  17. The “Decider” would have been as equally neutered in his options as Obama currently is. It is not possible for the domain to be stolen in the same manner the US government took care of the allegedly “copyright-infringing” domains. The .org tld is not managed by the same entity as the allegedly “copyright-infringing” domains. The entity that manages the .org tld is international while the “copyright-infringing” domains made the mistake of using a tld controlled by a company entirely under US influence (Verisign).

  18. This is to Matt. Perhaps I misunderstood your message but I believe that any government that cannot stand the scrutiny of the governed does not deserve to exist. It is unfortunate that it takes a non-citizen to point out these deficiencies to a populace that is so uniformed.

    Perhaps, when those in government figure out their chicanery will not go undisclosed without retribution, or revelation, we may have a more responsible, and legally responsible government. Yeah, I know-that will be the day!

  19. Yes I have Ad Block because I am not interested in ANY ads. If that precludes me from posting – so be it.

    Adios, jack

  20. Did you break it down yet? Clue: You are the satire.

    “They don’t need to read, they just assume all liberals think what Fox (tells them) liberals think.”

    Got it? Or do you need me to diagram it in 1st grade translation?

  21. Wow you are so dumb I actually cannot comment on your reply it is insane and hasd no level of logic or thought behind it. Holy mother of pearl grow a brain.

  22. Ok Wiki leaks is in another country you cries of shutting them down is declaring war on a foreign state. He is a foreign national so to arrest him is declaring war on a foreign state. Maybe under standing the topic at hand before any of you comment is the fist thing you should do. Wiki leaks does a good thing any other government that is involved in what we are doing would be punished under the WTO and UN it is time to stop acting like a bad parent the line “do as I say not as I do” is not acceptable any more it is time to start acting like a world leader again and not a school yard bully! Don’t like it bite me!

  23. by: “don’t deserve to be targets of the security establishment” do you mean the current Obama Administration? I did not think that Glen beck was a friend of Obama.

  24. Wikileaks is like a bitter pill. It tastes bad but many doses will eventually cure. The cure we seek is accountability.

    Now the onus is on the parties who wish to keep information out of the reach of organisations like Wikileaks. The same way that you keep information away from espionage. Loyal employees may mean no possibility of a leak.

    That said there is also a possibility that all this is an orchestrated show by certain intelligence organisations to achieve certain means?

  25. i like the free discussion on all of this, this site is against beck and while i disagree with the perceptions and misinterpretions against him with no relevant footnotes, i like you thinking outside of the box you live in
    0n every anti beck site i post on mediamaters, huffingintonpost etc the things i write always dissappear and they most likely will here but in case any honest proofers exist i challenge you to the world of reason before you delete, let this debate be open as Adam Wieshaupt would have had it and no doubt all of the left will descend on me as a heretic for promoting the most far left figure to ever grace history.
    Western civilization is collapsing. we have a collection of un-agreeing ideas coalescing intermingling which i never see working out in a world of peace together which we Must preserve.
    How we do this I do not know but i will be on the sideline while many here will surely fight because i believe in being civil no matter what we face as a country and i hope you do too even if we disagree we can coexist, this is America
    To whoever the admin is who deletes this post think about it, i just want the truth to come out but i know contrary ideas do not work on leftist sites. if my ideas are unsound let the public counter them, no one wants opression and slavery. im libertiarian to the core and you guys are more and more calling us right-wingers

  26. Good guys, bad guys, right, wrong, has no one yet realized that this is simpy how the game is played? How it has always been played, and really the only way it can be played. Lying, covering things up and using questionable tactics to succeed is and has always been common practice in government and whether it’s moral or not it is sometimes nessasary. The main goal of a government is to protect it’s citizens and sometimes in order to protect them against those who don’t follow your laws means breaking them yourself. And of course they hide this from us, because everyone wants to think they are the good ones, we all want to secretly look down our noses at other countries and believe ourselves to be above reproach, to be in some way superior to others, and for the government to shatter this delusion would be unforgivable. The truth is there is no perfect government, no completely moral one because governments simply exist to serve the purposes of their citizens, which will often conflict with the citizens of other countries. It’s not really good or bad, it simply is, and until someone can iron out those kinks in that utopian society, it will continue to be. Because by the nature of the game and competition in general, no one can win unless someone else loses, and if you’re the only one refusing to play the game then you’ve already lost.

  27. Fact: Secrets are hard to keep. Cork out of the bottle. post-it-all 1-to:world. Yous school or corporate emails? Problem ? Just as much the printed book once was. Main question: what’s next: E-Power to the people. Maybe it is good thing, because together we can control what no government can (ie. the global society we need to survive) Technology is a thread, it always was.. it always was unstoppable. However we NEED it to survive. So live with this and let’s discuss it

  28. So let us really discuss this, nobody has suggested the fact this nation as it exists today is founded and built off the backs of oppressed individuals. For those whom are prejudice, you are feeding into the whirldwind of distraction. The fore-founders know this country would grow beyond the spectrum of their initial prospective, and thus the Constitution and The Bill of Rights was created to sustain the core function of performance. How can a government whose power is from the people, effectively execute the revelant issues of the governed, while destroying the credibility therein. It is beyond reproach to accept these actions as viable, to deliver up our freedom for false and scrupulous protection is directly affecting humanity. What will it take to wake people up? Martial Law? More immigrants with lesser laws pertaining to them due to lax border protrols? More witnesses dead because of the truth told by them contridicting the main stream media package feeds? If I am to be placed on a death hit list by the government for waking up out of their matrix then I must speak the truth. It is beyond our government, it something alive and breathing, we are being attacked, watched, listened to and recorded, even plotted against as you may or may not read this. Private organizations created by the “elite class” has infiltrated the mechanisims as they have in other countrys for a very long time. Wonder why there is no real free market, wonder why we persued a deal with Cuba to lift an illegal embargo for the return of a political refugee? What is a “economic hit-man”? What is a “jackal”? What is the difference between a chemtrail and a comtrail? How secret should you government be if your government is attacking YOU?

  29. Невід’ємні права Людини.
    Неотъемлемые права Человека.
    Droits inalienables de l’homme.
    Rechte des Menschen.
    Inalienable human rights.

    The basis of legal protection, Mr. Julian Paul Assange of WikiLeaks could be justification for its compliance with existing international law and fundamental human rights (including this and the right to know who controls the people and what they as an intellectual, moral or and professional level, in so far as regards their ability to regulate public social processes).
    In addition, there is legal justification of his right not to disclose sources of information, if released information corresponds to reality and affects the basic rights of many people.
    Regarding of formal charges, Julian Paul Assange (Julian Paul Assange) from WikiLeaks: judging by the charges against him (published in the online information), it probably is not the accused should be, it is likely the victim, because of the very essence of the charges it is clear that it is the actual discrimination and baseless carping from the opposite side, having little to do with human rights and simple logic.

    If it is true what is written on the Internet, Julian Paul Assange got into this situation by formally put forward claims of activists of the feminist movement, which I think is unreasonable requirements, violating his rights as a person. Formally put forward the claim to be in violation, in my opinion, international law and established international human rights law, even in Sweden and have such laws, so distorting the relationship between men and women. Human rights can not be waived or prohibited by national law any country – is repealing the Human Rights Act would be unlawful. The discussion should not abuse the rights and on equality – it means respect for the equal rights of men and their parity, negotiation of reciprocal rights with mutual responsibilities. Me it seems to that in this case is present abuse of right, overstatement of rights for one side due to the illegal diminishing of rights for other side. Therefore, even if in terms of morality, not really nice to meet two girls, from the point of view of the law – he is innocent, if they met voluntarily and without violence.
    I do not understand the position of the Australian Government. Julian Paul Assange, if I understood correctly, is the citizen of Australia, a prosecution was pulled out him in one country, detained in other country. The government of Australia is not interested in the fate of an Australian citizen and it does not want to fulfill their responsibilities to protect its citizens?

    For lawyers, attorneys Julian Paul Assange from WikiLeaks.

    I think that Americans must remember, what people wrote their Constitution, what country they dreamed about, must remember about Bill of Rights.

    Necessary to protect not only the rights of women, but as it turns out, and the rights of men.

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