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    WikiThieves And False Analogies

    WikiThieves And False Analogies

    Defenders of WikiLeaks have portrayed Bradley Manning and Julian Assange as heroes who only want transparency, and who did no real harm.

    In fact, WikiLeaks has put lives at risk and damaged international attempts to rid Zimbabwe of the Mugabe regime.  And beyond that, Wikileaks has damaged our ability to conduct diplomacy, where off-the-record frank conversations are critical.

    Defenders of WikiLeaks have constructed a justification that Manning is just another Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame someone who sought to bring truth to the historical account of major events, and Assange as merely a conduit.  Since Ellsberg is something of a folk hero to the left, the comparison has a superficial appeal.

    Thanks go out to Floyd Abrams, one of the premier First Amendment lawyers in the country (and a Senior Partner at the law firm I worked at right out of law school) who represented The NY Times in the Pentagon Papers case, for destroying the Ellsberg analogy. 

    In an Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal, Abrams explains that unlike Manning and Assange, Ellsberg specifically held back a large stash of diplomatic documents:

    In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg decided to make available to the New York Times (and then to other newspapers) 43 volumes of the Pentagon Papers, the top- secret study prepared for the Department of Defense examining how and why the United States had become embroiled in the Vietnam conflict. But he made another critical decision as well. That was to keep confidential the remaining four volumes of the study describing the diplomatic efforts of the United States to resolve the war.

    Not at all coincidentally, those were the volumes that the government most feared would be disclosed. In a secret brief filed with the Supreme Court, the U.S. government described the diplomatic volumes as including information about negotiations secretly conducted on its behalf by foreign nations including Canada, Poland, Italy and Norway. Included as well, according to the government, were “derogatory comments about the perfidiousness of specific persons involved, and statements which might be offensive to nations or governments.”

    The diplomatic volumes were not published, even in part, for another dozen years. Mr. Ellsberg later explained his decision to keep them secret, according to Sanford Ungar’s 1972 book “The Papers & The Papers,” by saying, “I didn’t want to get in the way of the diplomacy.”

    Julian Assange sure does. Can anyone doubt that he would have made those four volumes public on WikiLeaks regardless of their sensitivity? Or that he would have paid not even the slightest heed to the possibility that they might seriously compromise efforts to bring a speedier end to the war?

    Exactly. 

    Abrams goes on to point out the there are valid grounds for an indictment of WikiLeaks under the 1917 Espionage Act and that “if Mr. Assange were found to have communicated and retained the secret information with the intent to harm the United States—some of his statements can be so read—a conviction might be obtained.”

    Thank you Mr. Abrams, for scraping off the gloss people like Glenn Greenwald are putting on the whole WikiLeaks affair.

    Manning, Assange and the others involved in WikiLeaks should be prosecuted.  The real wonder is why this wasn’t done months ago.

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    Comments


    Look who runs Big White and the Justice Dept. There's your answer to why no prosecution. They hate the US as much as Assange does.

    Time to have a look at the supporters of Assange (an Australian by birth): Geoffrey Robertson, John Pilger, Jemima Khan.

    As you would be aware Robertson is totally up himself and has delusions of grandeur with regard to his own capabilities as a lawyer. He is the one who wanted to take the Pope before the human rights commission based upon some trumped up notion that the Pope prevents Africans who are either Muslim or animists, from using condoms.

    John Pilger is that creepy Marxist journalist who made his name during the Vietnam era, and I think he was in Laos and Cambodia… either way I have no time at all for the likes of Pilger (spit, spit).

    Yes, Assange should be charged with treason. What he has done in Zimbabwe is totally disgusting. He has endangered a person's life… just like he endangered many lives in Afghanistan.. of those who have been providing information against the Taliban.

    Assange should go to prison.. and as far as I am concerned he should get the death penalty for his espionage. Ditto for Bradley Manning who is no hero….

    BTW there are some cables that are actually quite hilarious. One person here in Australia, Mark Arbib has been accused of being a spy, even though he was only big noting himself at the American Embassy.

    If we prosecute a foreign national for a crime that did not take place on US soil, we could be subjecting ourselves to a precedent that we will regret.

    I lean toward handling Assange via covert ops.

    'Manning, Assange and the others involved in WikiLeaks should be prosecuted. The real wonder is why this wasn't done months ago.'

    Well as a lawyer, dude, you presumably know the answer and your wide-eyed wonderment is pathetic … almost as pathetic as Abrams ridiculous fairy tale about what Assange would have done if he had been Daniel Ellsberg.

    How about commenting on what Assange has actually done, which is to release no more than a tiny fraction of the documents leaked to WikiLeaks? How about acknowledging that thousands of documents have been withheld because they have the potential to cause harm, and many of the released documents have been redacted in consultation with mainstream media organisations? But no, acknowledging these facts would spoil the fabricated narrative that devotees of the secretive state want to peddle.

    BTW please don't judge my fellow-countrymen's intelligence on the basis of Maggie's comment. Most Australians understand that people can't be charged with treason by a country of which they are not a citizen.

    If Assange has done something Ellsberg wouldn't have done, why is Ellsberg so supportive of Assange? He's thanked him publicly for what he's done, and has been very vocal in his support. People keep saying "Assange is no Ellsberg", but who would know that better than Ellsberg?

    You should also look at the history of what Wikileaks has done and the good things that have come out of the disclosures.

    Further, Ken L is correct in saying that only about 1% of the cables have been released, and the ones that have basically show that American diplomats are assholes. Maybe this will encourage them to behave more like gentlemen and ladies instead of resorting to insulting characterizations of others like so many frat boys at a kegger.

    Finally, Wikileaks offered to let the Pentagon redact the cables before they were released and the Pentagon declined, which you would know if you'd done your research.


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