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WikiLeaks: The Press favors suppression of information over democracy

December 6, 2010

The editorial in Sunday’s Grand Rapids Press about where they stand on WikiLeaks effort to uncover US war crimes should tell us something about the mentality of those who make up the Press editorial staff.

The Press editorial begins by trying to frame the issue as one between closed-door government discussion and “carefully calibrated press releases.” The Pres is clear that the decision by WikiLeaks to post US government documents is not only damaging to US government credibility, it is a criminal act that should result in punishment of those responsible.

The Press editorial staff thinks the US government should go after both the US soldier who copied the documents and the person responsible for posting the documents online, Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. “The president has to go after Mr. Assange with every legal tool at hand to send the strong message that this kind of theft of classified material won’t be tolerated.”

Unfortunately, the Obama administration agrees with the advice from the Press editorial staff. A few days ago President Obama said, “The Attorney General and I don’t always agree on different issues. But I believe on this one, he and I strongly agree that there should be a criminal prosecution”.

However, the main issue of concern for people who care about justice and democracy is the lack of understanding by the Press editorial staff over both the content of the WikiLeaks documents and how US foreign policy functions.

The Press editorial makes mention of “unflattering — opinions American diplomats have of foreign leaders,” but fails to mention that the documents reveal that US intelligence agencies spied on foreign leaders and United Nations diplomats.

The Press editorial thinks that the leaks documents “could do real damage to the delicate balance of Middle Eastern power.” However, if one does not look at these documents through an imperialist lens then it is clear that what US policy is actually doing in is to increase the chances of instability in the Middle East.

What the Press editorial staff fails to either understand of to admit is that the US documents posted by WikiLeaks further demonstrates that the US has no interest in promoting justice, democracy or peace anywhere in the world.

The independent press gets this. For example, Jeremy Scahill has an excellent piece about what the WikiLeaks documents reveal about US policy with Pakistan. Scahill believes the documents reveal that the US is engaged in a “secret” war in Pakistan, where innocent civilians are being killed from US military drone attacks.

The Press editorial says nothing about the fact that the leaked documents reveal that the US (and Israel) are determined to attack Iran. The Press editorial fails to mention the US efforts to undermine the democratically elected government of Venezuela in the WikiLeaks documents and it contempt for the popular government in Bolivia. The US government documents posted by Wikileaks even reveals that the US government undermined the efforts at any serious reduction of carbon emissions at the Global Climate Summit talks last year in Copenhagen. Instead, the Press editorial felt it was important to tell us, “Lybian leader Moammar Gaddafi depends on a Ukranian nurse described as a “vuluptious blonde.”

However, the largest omission in the Press editorial on the recent Wikileaks documents is the failure to acknowledge the US role in war crimes. The Press editorial staff either refuses to or fails to understand that the US government has been committing war crimes in the form of torture and deliberate attacks on civilians in both Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the real crime, not that the WikiLeaks posted the US government documents. The Press editorial staff should be saluting the courage of WikiLeaks instead of calling for their prosecution.

The Press editorial concludes by saying that the 1971 release of the Pentagon Papers ultimately provided a public service but the WikiLeaks documents do not. Well, who better to ask about this comparison than Daniel Ellsberg, the person who released the Pentagon Papers.

Last week during an interview with Democracy Now, Ellsberg not only expressed his support for what WikiLeaks has done but he said that the public must support and defend WikiLeaks from any government prosecution.

As we said at the beginning of this posting, the Grand Rapids Press editorial from yesterday is very instructive in terms of what it tells us about the Press editorial staff’s view of democracy. In the end, it is clear that the Press not only supports the suppression of information that would enhance democracy, they support the repressive and brutal practices of the US government with their complicity by failing to call it out.

GRIID encourages everyone to look at the US documents posted on WikiLeaks and to draw your own conclusions about US Foreign Policy. As we always say from a media literacy perspective – it is better to develop critical thinking skills than to promote censorship.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Jared permalink
    December 6, 2010 5:17 pm

    So where do we draw the line then? Is it ok for anyone to walk up to the Pentagon and take our secrets? A law was broken. You are arguing that it is ok because it was for the “greater good.” Sounds a bit like vigilante justice. The whole point of prosecution here is because documents that were suppose to be protected were stolen. Case closed. That is the criminal aspect of what happened.

    I know liberals love to blame America for everything but I have real tough time believing we would be holding hands with the middle east if the U.S. wiped it’s hands clean of it’s foreign policy. Assange is an egomaniac who would like nothing more than too see the U.S. fall. Just look at his site, he put his picture up there. That look like a guy who wants to stay out of the public eye? Out of curiosity, what is the end game for all of this? what is he and/or you really trying to accomplish?

  2. December 6, 2010 5:27 pm

    Did you actually read the post? The main issue for me is that the documents posted on Wikileaks provide even more evidence of US war crimes – the torture and murder of innocent people. That is the real crime. Are you in favor of the torture and murdered committed by the US military in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan?

    I don’t really know what you mean by “liberals love to blame America for everything.” I for one am not a liberal and hate right/left labeling. Bill Clinton was a liberal and he certainly did not blame America for everything. He presided over a war in Kosovo and enforced sanction on Iraq that according to the UN and many other sources led to the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children.

    You ask what am I really trying to accomplish with this blog……two things. First, to promote critical thinking and second, to promote justice – particularly for those who are currently most affected from decisions made by those in political and economic power sectors.

  3. Kate Wheeler permalink
    December 6, 2010 6:43 pm

    I thought it was particularly ironic that the Press chose to publish various articles about Wikileaks at the exact same time that George W. Bush was here flogging his book. The Wikileaks revelations proved that a great deal of what he’d written in the book was fiction.

    Added to that is his brazen admission in the memoir that he is, indeed, a war criminal: he proudly states that he was the one who authorized our breaking of the Geneva Conventions and the torture of foreign nationals. During his presidency, of course, he would not admit that he was the one who had authorized this.

    Of course, the Press never addressed this vast gap between the documented truth and Bush’s “Decision Points.” It certainly seems like it would have been a credible part of the coverage, especially given the timing of his visit.

  4. chrus permalink
    December 6, 2010 7:16 pm

    The Grand Rapids Press doesn’t support and/or respect democracy? Who cares! Democracy is a load of crap anyway.

    This post makes sme good points but the talk of “democracy” real brings the whole thing down. Radicals should know that democracy is a farce.

  5. Jeff Smith permalink*
    December 6, 2010 7:25 pm

    when I write democracy, I am not talking about the form of electoral politics we have in this country, I am talking about rule of the people, democratic principals such as liberty, justice, equality…….how people organize and function in a society.

  6. Vic permalink
    December 7, 2010 6:52 pm

    I think rational minds can differ on the amount of privacy that should be allowed those in the business of diplomacy. Furthermore, laws are broken all the time, enforcement and prosecution seem to be meted out strangely these days. Whether or not Assange is an egomaniac is not germane to this discussion. It is a typical ploy of someone without much to stand on to throw in all sorts of inflammatory non sequiturs. I believe the for profit media model has proven to be a failure at anything other than entertaining the masses. It fails to fulfill the mission it was given as a basis for the use of this precious asset. I am unable to easily find dispassionate, informative discourse in the mainstream media. The airwaves belong to the public and I am disappointed at the way our trust has been abused.

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