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DECEMBER 8, 2010 12:39PM

Wikileaks: Speak Up Now (or Forever Hold Your Peace)

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In Post 9/11 America, the United States took a dramatic turn away from the principles of law that have guided western civilization for the past several centuries.  Fundamental notions of due process, habeus corpus, trial by jury, and the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, have been fundamentally breached.  Americans mostly seemed to accept these radical changes because the effect of them was to punish “terrorists,” who therefore did not deserve these protections.

In the current attacks on Julian Assange and Wikileaks, we are witnessing the next step in the process of transforming a democracy into a totalitarian regime.  The full power of the American government is engaged in discrediting Assange and shutting down Wikileaks. Voices on the right are calling him a terrorist, while Democrats use measured terms to convey his dangerousness without explicitly labeling him or describing the harm he has caused.  Most significantly, few political figures are defending him or the principles for which he stands.  Tellingly, Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell has called for the laws to be changed in order to successfully prosecute Assange.  (What do you call a system of government that changes the laws in a particular case in order to get the outcome it desires?)

It is important to keep sight of a couple of facts in this debate.  Julian Assange, whatever you think of him or the disclosures, is not a terrorist, in any sense of the word that we have ever used before.  Although the word “terrorist” is a by nature a politically loaded term, and there is not even a definition that is widely accepted, we have always reserved it for people who cause death or serious injury.  Wikileaks has not injured a single person; Wikileaks uses information, not weapons.  Assange has written and spoken widely about his values and ethics, and believes he is helping democracy and providing a valuable and ethical service to inform the citizens of free nations all over the world.  His own words defending his work are well-worth reading, especially if you have not heard anyone else make his case.  Can you think of another “terrorist” who has stated values that are enshrined in our constitution?  It is also vital to remember that Wikileaks acts in concert with mainstream news organizations all over the globe, and all of the “damaging” material it has leaked has been co-published with The New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, and other international establishment news organizations. What rational argument is there to charge Wikileaks with “crimes” that are not also leveled on its co-publishers?

And that’s where we run into serious problems.  Whether you consider Julian Assange a terrorist, or just think he must be forcibly stopped, you are endorsing a radical transformation of constitutional protections in the United States.  If terrorists are not entitled to due process, and if terrorists are people who are acting on unpopular ideas, anyone with unpopular ideas can be designated a terrorist at any time and imprisoned or killed, on the government’s say-so.  And if you don’t think Assange should be jailed, but merely stopped, you are enforcing government-dictated limits on the already-timid press, whose unrestricted freedom is the only means by which a democracy can function. Both of these outcomes are conditions of a totalitarian state.

We are on the brink of allowing centuries of iron-clad rights and freedoms to be turned into privileges accorded only to some.  There is very little we can do to halt the radical assault on our rights, other than using the blunt-force instrument of the ballot box, and even that has had little effect on the theft of our country.  But in this case, there is one very clear and very simple action that a concerned citizen of a free country can take that sends a powerful message.  Donate $25 to Wikileaks.  This show of nominal support sends the clear message that we are against the destruction of our democracy and we are for free speech and freedom of the press.  You can donate here. It is one of the only concrete acts you can perform to halt the attacks on our freedom, and the more people who do it right now, the better chance both Wikileaks and our democracy have for survival.



Mastercard, Visa and Paypal have all suspended transactions to Wikileaks.  You can still use the link above to find out how to mail a check to Wikileaks or make donations via bank wire transfer.  However, two other sites currently allow electronic payments. Xipwire allows donations to Wikileaks (you can donate $10 just by sending the  TEXT MESSAGE “WL” to 56624).  And Flattr, which uses Paypal or your credit card to fund your account, may be suspended in the future, but is currently allowing this workaround.





This post has been edited to correctly reflect Senator Mitch McConnell's title of Minority Leader.  

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Yes, he will need legal help. He is a hero.
At this point I'd say it's a safe bet that any $25 donations to WikiLeaks that are not physically mailed in cash form without a return address on the envelope would probably land one on a government watch list.

I am beyond disturbed by this entire witchhunt.

Part of the POINT of WikiLeaks is this: If the "good guys" can intercept and receive all of this highly sensitive, secret information...so can the BAD GUYS.

Do they honestly expect that the bad guys hadn't already thought of, oh, say, bombing things like dams and bridges? REALLY? That the publication of documents enumerating likely targets MAKES them targets? Horse? Cart?

I'll just be sitting here in a corner, obeying orders.
Denise, thanks for your comment. I want to respond to the fear that you articulated about being placed on a watch-list for a small donation to Wikileaks.

I have been wanting to donate to Wikileaks for many months, since Glenn Greenwald started writing about it on Salon. The same fear prevented me from doing so, and I was hearing the same thing from many of my friends. That is exactly what prompted me to write this blog post; the realization that our fear is making us complicit in the silencing of Wikileaks. It is my hope that we can all inspire each other to donate. If enough people donate to Wikileaks, it makes the act of donating less likely to be punished. A watch-list that includes millions of citizens who made small-dollar donations becomes unwieldy to manage, and more difficult to enforce.

But the point of the watch list is not really to manage lists of terrorists, otherwise the infamous and so-called "underwear-bomber" (who was on just such a list) would not have boarded a plane. The real point of the watch list is to frighten citizens from taking meaningful action in their own interests. At the present time, the lists only serve their purposes if we are afraid of them.
I agree--Assange is not a terrorist. He's a journalist.
An important post. I hope people take this to heart and give big. The idea that someone is a criminal if they say something critical of the government is a despicable act of treason itself against the Constitution. Things went haywire on 9/11 and some Americans are still very confused--they think this is World War II or something, they don't realize how they're being played by a bunch of cynical, grasping pieces. Free Julian NOW!

he is not a terrorist. if anything, he is a an agent of influence of foreign powers, or a cut out, who is very naive about what he got himself into, but terrorist is the wrong word.
the collapse of Amazon, Visa, Mastercard on this issue shows how tightly intertwined/interweaved the US Govt/Warmachine/Corporatocracy is.... aka Autocracy. maybe the public will get a slight )( clue after this.
A post after my heart, Jon. http://open.salon.com/blog/nauman/2010/12/04/in_defense_of_julian_assange. You articulate the case far better than I did. Thank you for writing. And especially for sharing Julian Assange's commentary from the Australian. If only the New York Times and the Washington Post would re-publish it. Maybe they still will, one can hope.

The resiliency shown so far by the WikiLeaks website pays tribute to the resiliency and openness of the web in general. It also makes me thankful that the name of the web starts with those two other w's - world wide. Truly.
Excellent post Jon.

I'm wondering when, not IF, but WHEN those of us who post in support of Assange will either be shut down or hear the pitter patter of FBI footsteps on our front porches? This doesn't worry me in the least, but what does worry me is the conspicuous absence of responses on posts regarding the Assange's arrest and the subsequent unconstitutional seizure of Assange's/WikiLeaks funds simply because they’re exercising free speech.

Normally, there are multitudes of posters here on OS, but it seems as though those numbers are dwindling in direct proportion to the volume of posts going up in support of Assange. As much as the folks on OS value their free speech, I would think there would be on-going, angry outcry over the fed’s actions with Assange AND the treacherous garbage the feds perpetrated behind our backs long before we became aware of it. Even the feds themselves (likely in fear that WikiLeaks was going to beat them to the punch) dropped a hydrogen bomb a few days ago about the trillions of OUR dollars they’d been loaning behind our backs.

This is all like the dinosaur chasing us naked through the streets and we can’t run fast enough to get away until we awake in a cold sweat. The feds are closing in on our liberties, our in-alienable rights. They are moving their chess pieces towards checkmate and we still have people sleeping, keeping quiet and even stating that the best way to keep the government off our backs is to do nothing. What???

When the feds take OS, Blogger, Facebook down for subversive activities, where will all those quiet voices go to make their voices heard? You either stand up for your rights or you lose them entirely. Nazi Germany should’ve taught us at least that much.
Yes, absolutely he is a journalist. If all the power elites, including the media are co-opted, then who is left to say that the emperor has no clothes? Anarchy, leaks -- they're the only choice left.
Nothing to add to the already pithy comments above, so I'll just rate this.
So here is my question. If you are in favor of WikiLeaks releasing that information and that information proves something false that you once thought to be true would you change your mind? Case in point. Let's say it vindicates George W. Bush on his reasons for going to war in Iraq...http://townhall.com/columnists/LarryElder/2010/12/09/the_wikileaks_vindication_of_george_w_bush/page/1
Start with a faulty premise and you'll reach a faulty conclusion ALL THE TIME.
""Huh? That's right, don't answer, because you have no answer. Because you're an idiot."
Those were the words that came out of AM talk-radio host Larry Elder's mouth moments after he disconnected a man who was in the middle of giving Elder an answer - an answer Elder didn't want to hear.
"You have no answer. Because you're an idiot," he said to the man he didn't give a chance to answer, but instead hung up on.
The exchange began when a caller to the show challenged Larry with a question, "Why do the terrorists attack us and not other wealthy nations, like Sweden, Canada..." The man's point was very clear - that both Osama and Saddam are only our enemies because of previous Republican foreign policy.
But Elder, of course having to stick to the talk-radio script of never admitting they are wrong or taking responsibility for anything, pulled the standard, cowardly right-winger game of disconnecting the man mid-sentence.
Ok, that is pussy material.
But wait, even that is not enough for Larry. No, Larry had to them try to sound tough as he assailed a man he cowardly disconnected as not being able to answer, and then, even more bravely, called this man whose answers he had cowered from an "idiot" for not giving an answer.
Yes, this is the scrawny little pussy that we all knew at school who would talk tough to himself in front of the mirror at home, but run away and cry at the slightest confrontation in reality.
In basic man standards, there is nothing more wuss-like than talking behind someone's back - at least there wasn't until Larry came onto the scene. Now, here is someone who hides away in some little studio where he uses a button to create the illusion he is talking to someone's face, when in reality he is still fleeing at the first sign of confrontation back to his little room with the mirror.
It is extremely obvious when Larry does this - and he does this on a regular basis, disconnects a caller who is about to give an answer that shows he is wrong, and then talks tough - of course at a grade-school bully level - about the person he just ran away crying from by hitting the disconnect button. Even most AM talk-radio idiots - even Laura Schlessinger - can manage to win over their callers in some less wussy manner.
But no, not Larry. And with his fleeing to this tactic so frequent and so obvious, one can only wonder, who is truly more wussy, Larry for doing this, or the pussified idiots who listen to and side with a cowardly little pussy like Larry Elder."
"I was driving home from an acupuncture appointment yesterday and I flipped on LA's wingnut radio station. Larry Elder was doing one of his " The Word" segments I guess and he was criticizing Michelle Obama for finally being proud of America.

“Hope is making a comeback and, let me tell you, for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change,” she said during a rally in downtown Milwaukee.

I wish I had the audio, but in typical wingnut fashion, Elder read off his jingoistic list of reasons why he's been proud of America for so many years. From what I can remember of his speech---and since the economy is in total shambles, ole Larry had to compare us with Greece. America is better than living in Greece, isn't it? And he talked about some time he spent in Italy a number of years ago and his big complaint was that the power would go out occasionally. How quickly we forget the comforts of America, he alluded to. I guess Elder must have forgotten all the power outages in LA when it gets a little too hot in the summer.

He brought up Bush 41's high approval rating right after the the first Gulf war. He was so proud. And then he threw in Bush 43's high approval ratings after we toppled the Taliban. Over 70%, he said. Wow, what memories....Aren't the Taliban back by the way, Larry? Was he proud of the Iraq war, or the way Bush handled Hurricane Katrina? Was he proud about the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the massive housing foreclosures? Is he proud of Larry Craig and Mark Foley? He didn't say. I'm sure he was proud of David Vitter though. I bet he gave him an in-studio standing ovation just like the Republicans did. Anyway, Elder, I was so proud of your list of denial."
I think individually if we can do something to not support those companies who have caved, we should. for me it was to cancel my paypal account. I just did. I left them this message: Dear Paypal - You should be ashamed for not supporting the principles of free speech that our country was founded upon. I will not give you another dime of my money, and am closing my account. . You were in a position to, and as Americans had the responsibility, to defend the constitution and our flag and the support the principles we all are supposed to stand for, and instead of standing up for those principles you have buckled under fear and cowardice. You have squelched the voices of countless thousands by not allowing people to "speak" with their own money to support freedom of speech. Your actions in regards to WikiLeaks has proven that you have become an instrument of the ever growing menace that our founding fathers warned us against.... a tyrannical government! SHAME ON YOU!
I got out of doing business with any/all of the companies that gave him up, too. Fuck em.

Still the best political post on OS in a long long time. Come back and do more, Jon.
I just had to say something about this Wikileaks business. I just read another article on here about how bad he was as he WAS MAKING the US government more CORRUPT. While almost throwing up I almost fell out of my chair laughing. No one could MAKE our government more corrupt but more politicians. They take away our rights and say it is good for us, they hide the truth from us, they lie to us and they do it all in the name of FREEDOM...WHO'S FREEDOM, I think it is theirs not ours, for most of those crooks should be in prison where they belong with the rest of the other crooks. They kill, steal and mame people while making money. I am ashamed to be a US citizen now a days. It all makes me sick when the g0vernment calls someone who is showing the truth, and putting himself at risk a CROOK while all the crimes they have done is OK. Someone needs a moral compass really badly. There are laws on the books where no lawyer is suppose to be an elected official (from the beginning of our country - check it out) even back then they knew the only difference between a lawyer and liar was the spelling, and they haven't changed one bit. Anyone who exposes their hypocrisy and crimes is a danger to their way of life, and considering what our government has done to many what is another life in the scheme of things. Another grain of sand? Let us start pointing our fingers at the real criminals instead of killing the messenger. Thanks but I had to say something on this, Just because you may not like how he is going about it, it is still the truth coming out. But maybe we all should crawl back into our bubbles where we have the perfect and honest government. I myself have never been a big supporter of bubbles. Sincerely, Sir Knight
Would love to see more posts by you on this. There have been many developments since you did this one.