Dec. 16 News: The Media Gets It Wrong on WikiLeaks


Editor's Note: Below is a selection of significant blogs and news articles on legal reform and related political, security and media dimensions. The articles contain a sample of news, with the full article viewable by clicking the link.

Salon/Unclaimed Territory, Getting to Assange through Manning, Glenn Greenwald, Dec. 16, 2010.

In The New York Times this morning, Charlie Savage describes the latest thinking from the DOJ about how to criminally prosecute WikiLeaks and Julian Assange…. [T]he Obama administration faces what it perceives a serious dilemma:  it is -- as Savage writes -- "under intense pressure to make an example of [Assange] as a deterrent to further mass leaking)," but nothing Assange or WikiLeaks has done actually violates the law.  Moreover, as these Columbia Journalism School professors explain in opposing prosecutions, it is impossible to invent theories to indict them without simultaneously criminalizing much of investigative journalism.

Huffington Post, The Media Gets It Wrong on WikiLeaks: It's About Broken Trust, Not Broken Condoms, Arianna Huffington. Dec. 15, 2010.

The first important aspect of the revelations is... the revelations.  Too much of the coverage has been meta -- focusing on questions about whether the leaks were justified, while too little has dealt with the details of what has actually been revealed and what those revelations say about the wisdom of our ongoing effort in Afghanistan. There's a reason why the administration is so upset about these leaks.

Harper’s No Comment, Knowing a Terrorist When You See One, Scott Horton, Dec. 16, 2010.

Discussing the Wikileaks disclosures last week, New York Congressman Peter King urged Attorney General Eric Holder to designate the organization as a “foreign terrorist organization,” saying it “posed a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States.” A chorus was struck up almost immediately, with commentators and politicians following up on King’s demand.

In fact, the term “foreign terrorist organization” (FTO) is established in section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which empowers the Secretary of State (not the attorney general) to apply that label to foreign organizations, with immediate and severe consequences for those so labeled and those who communicate or deal with them in any way. The Secretary of State does not have carte blanche in this process.

Salon/Unclaimed Territory, Attempts to prosecute WikiLeaks endanger press freedoms, Glenn Greenwald, Dec. 14, 2010

Amazingly, the Obama administration is surpassing its predecessor when it comes to assaults on whistle-blowing and a free press….But if current reports are correct -- that the Obama DOJ has now convened a Grand Jury to indict WikiLeaks and Julian Assange -- this will constitute a far greater assault on press freedom than anything George W. Bush managed, or even attempted.  Put simply, there is no intellectually coherent way to distinguish what WikiLeaks has done with these diplomatic cables with what newspapers around the world did in this case and what they do constantly:  namely, receive and then publish classified information without authorization.  And as much justifiable outrage as the Bush DOJ's prosecution of the AIPAC officials provoked, at least the actions there resembled "espionage" far more than anything Assange has done, as those AIPAC officials actually passed U.S. secrets to a foreign government, not published them as WikiLeaks has done.

Huffington Post/Michael, Why I'm Posting Bail Money for Julian Assange (A statement from Michael Moore), Dec. 14, 2010.

We were taken to war in Iraq on a lie. Hundreds of thousands are now dead. Just imagine if the men who planned this war crime back in 2002 had had a WikiLeaks to deal with. They might not have been able to pull it off….So why is WikiLeaks, after performing such an important public service, under such vicious attack? Because they have outed and embarrassed those who have covered up the truth.

Mail Online, The Wikileaks sex files: How two one-night stands sparked a worldwide hunt for Julian Assange, Dec. 7, 2010.

Using a number of sources including leaked police interviews, we can begin to piece together the sequence of events which led to Assange’s liberty being threatened by Stockholm police rather than Washington, where already one U.S. politician has called on him to executed for ‘spying.’

Crikey, Assange accuser may have ceased co-operating, Guy Rundle, Dec. 9, 2010.

Even if the case comes to trial, the prospects of conviction look slim.

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