I know there are differing opinions on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks around the blogosphere, but what's shocking to me is how the media has taken on such a hostile attitude against a man that they should be rallying around and who essentially is the new-age Daniel Ellsberg. There are differences, of course, but the fact that Assange has been targeted by Big Business is shocking. What's at stake? The freedom of the press, that's what. Here's a great piece by Michael Lacy of The Village Voice echoing the same sentiments:
The outrageous behavior of Amazon, Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal directed at WikiLeaks represents a much greater threat to America than any of the alleged security breaches from Julian Assange.....Amazon, Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal set themselves up as judges, juries and executioners.
And perhaps more troubling is that while the mainstream media happily regurgitated, repurposed and -- in the case of The New York Times -- reported the context of the released diplomatic cables, they have been noticeably silent as web conglomerates reshaped the First Amendment. Or, as in the case of The Washington Post and The Washington Times, they've joined the ninnies calling for Assange's head. The chief enabler is Barack Obama's Attorney General, Eric H. Holder who announced that the Justice Department and the Pentagon were in the midst of "an ongoing criminal investigation."
The key word is "investigation." The Attorney General has yet to charge anyone, let alone bring the case.
This is the same Attorney General who has investigated Arizona's Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- the sadistic and brutal jailer who flouts the Constitution in pursuit of Mexicans. The FBI and the Justice Department have had Arpaio under investigation, on a variety of fronts, since 2008. The Sheriff's jails have been declared "unconstitutional" by the same Justice Department since 1996.
Have banks or credit card companies seized Sheriff Arpaio's home because he is under investigation? Did any internet company deny Sheriffi Arpaio access to his extensive, online marketing empire? No, that has not happened. But, with the patriots in Congress howling, Amazon and the others moved to isolate and strangle WikiLeaks.
And the press does not speak out when the single largest document dump in the history of the media results in financial institutions determining when the flow of information will stop?
PayPal's president, Osama Bedler, explained his action by pointing out that the State Department claimed WikiLeaks' dissemination of cables was illegal in a November 27 letter to Assange.
And so they did. And so what? The State Department is not a judicial body. It is part of the Executive branch -- and furthermore, they were the target of the revelations.
"Your rights on the internet are only as strong as the will of companies to let you have it," observed Hofmann. In such an anarchic environment, is it any wonder that anarchists have responded with the only weapons left? Congressional hearings are now scheduled for this Thursday, December 16. The House Judiciary Committee will not, I predict, worry much about the First Amendment.
No good will come to free speech in such a political forum.
I expected the State Department to speak out against WikiLeaks, but why have the media been so hostile to WikiLeaks and so passive about the people trying to silence his operation without a shred of evidence of him being guilty of a crime?
I wonder if they are afraid that either they or their friends might show up in some of these leaked cables in an unfavorable light. Yesterday on MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell was discussing Assange's bail in the UK and seemed afraid that he might have access to the dreaded "Internet" and destroy the world.
Stephanie Gosk: the Swedish authorities had two hours to challenge this decision and that's exactly what they've done and it has to be heard by Britain's high court within the next 48 hours and that means that Julian assange will be in jail during that time. If they lose that case, and Julian Assange is granted bail as the magistrate has granted him today, he will be allowed to go but he has to stay at a registered address and one of his supporters, luckily enough, has a 600 acre mansion in southern England and he's going to be allowed to stay there. He's not going to be free to run around, he's going to have electronic surveillance, he has a curfew and he's already turned in his passport. But it has been a victory today, a small one, he trying to fight that extradition back to Sweden.
Andrea Mitchell: He can be on a 600 acre estate with all sorts of electronic monitoring ... but can he go on the internet?!
... and sexually assault some female avatars and then destroy us all with his x-ray vision and cyber-army?? Run for your lives!
The WikiLeaks saga has exposed the vapid stupidity of the celebrity press corps like nothing since the Great Clinton Panty Raid. One thing is very, very clear --- they aren't journalists and don't even consider themselves journalists. They are celebrity public relations professionals who just aren't as bright as the real public relations professionals
Remember a reporter named Judy Miller? The media came out to support her when she wouldn't give up her source of the Valerie Plame leak.
But none of Miller's wild WMD stories has panned out. From these embarrassing results, we can deduce that either 1) Miller's sources were right about WMD, and it's just a matter of time before the United States finds evidence to back them up; 2) Miller's sources were wrong about WMD, and the United States will never find the evidence; 3) Miller's sources played her to help stoke a bogus war; or 4) Miller deliberately weighted the evidence she collected to benefit the hawks. It could be that the United States inadvertently overestimated Iraq's WMD program. For example, the United States might have intercepted communications to Saddam in which his henchmen exaggerated the scale of Iraq's WMD progress to make him happy.
"The country needs to know if the spy organizations were right or wrong," concludes the Times editorial, a fair and equitable stand. But by the same logic, the country needs to know if Miller and the Times too gullibly advanced the WMD findings of their sources—and if so, why.
Later we found out that she was being the useful idiot of the Bush administration in helping lead this country into war with Iraq by printing Bush talking points into her many "news" reports that stoked the flames of fear and disseminated lies -- lies the administration wanted the public to believe. And Miller did it so she could have unfettered access, which is power in the news business.
In their infamous September 8, 2002, above the fold, front-page story in the New York Times, "U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts" -- the same story that Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, and Dick Cheney cited in their appearances that Sunday morning on the political talk shows, the reporters Judith Miller and Michael Gordon offered the following tidbits:
"Senior administration officials insist that the dimensions, specifications, and numbers of the tubes Iraq sought to buy show that they were intended for the nuclear program."
"Although administration officials say they have no proof that Baghdad possesses the smallpox virus, intelligence sources say they cannot rule that out."
"Still, Mr. Hussein's dogged insistence on pursuing his nuclear ambitions, along with what defectors described in interviews as Iraq's push to improve and expand Baghdad's chemical and biological arsenals, have brought Iraq and the United States to the brink of war."
And who could ever forget the coup de grace?
"The first sign of a 'smoking gun,' they argue, may be a mushroom cloud."
Judith Miller should be held accountable for serving as the chief stenographer for George W. Bush's lies that have produced the horror in Iraq....
At a critical time, Miller was in a unique position of influence in America because of her high perch at the nation's "paper of record," her perfectly timed repetition of official lies, and because it was her articles to which Bush, Cheney, and Rice pointed to give their own lies the credibility they needed to reverberate convincingly throughout our political discourse.
James Moore also writes a great account of her fraudulent reporting. That Awful Power: How Judy Miller Screwed Us All
Do you think she's the only one who has ever traded in government "management" in exchange for access, which brought journalistic success and power? Are Julian Assange's leaked cables causing a few journalists to feel queasy at what we might find? Are other reporters toeing the line to defend their brethren? I may be wrong, but it does seem plausible. Let's face it, the way the media -- especially the elite Village pundit corps, who have been busy calling for Assange's assassination -- have reacted over WikiLeaks is the most implausible thing of all.