Love it or Hate It, America MUST Defend Wikileaks' Constitutional Rights

Warning—Rare, but passionate political rant to ensue, below:

Companies bowing to government pressure (even if they later deny it and employ PR-disaster-recovery tactics) to restrict payments to Wikileaks are doing so to "protect their brand" (aka: CYA) but also setting an incredibly dangerous precedent.

As Jeff Jarvis said recently:

image I can use Visa and Mastercard to pay for porn and support anti-abortion fanatics, Prop 8 homophobic bigots, and the Ku Klux Klan. But I can’t use them or PayPal to support Wikileaks, transparency, the First Amendment, and true government reform.

It’s easy for us to sit from the sidelines and agree with the pundits and prosecute, try, and convict Wikileaks as espionage or terrorism (gosh, anything but Journalism!) without ever legally giving Wikileaks and Assange their day in court.

Let me be clear, I believe having America’s state secrets being published like this is a shameful and unsavory way for our nation to show its face in the world today.

However, ignoring the Rule of Law in favor of arrogantly saving face (and making sure you change any laws necessary so you can prosecute)—is against the American ideal and puts our entire national security—the security of AMERICAN CITIZENS—in greater peril than attacks on our nation from external forces ever will.

Note: I am willing to concede that Wikileaks may have committed a crime of theft if they aided and abetted the acquisition of the documents through illegal means, but the publishing of the documents can and must be protected

As others have said, Information is the antidote to fear. If the US State Department is having a hard time in negotiations with other countries because of the Cables, that is the STATE DEPARTMENT’S FAULT, not Wikileaks’.

Let me say that again: If the US Government has problems with what they, themselves said about foreign governments, they should stop saying it—secretly or otherwise.

image John Adams defended the British soldiers tried in the Boston Massacre not because it was popular, but because it was right

Later he commented that act was "one of the best pieces of service [he] ever rendered [his] country."

Fourteen years ago, the New York Times published "Lessons from the Pentagon Papers" where R.W. Apple stated (emphasis added):

Though the Pentagon Papers dealt with a foreign war, they taught a lesson applicable to domestic politics as well: It is almost always better, once trouble breaks, to get out all the damaging evidence at once, rather than stonewalling and allowing it to trickle into the public domain, thus creating the impression of an ever-mounting crisis. It is a lesson mostly unlearned.

Why? Partly the natural impulse for self-protection, partly the deep-seated governmental belief that the public should not be allowed to watch the sloppy business of policy-making because it would not understand and partly the conviction that the policy makers know best and mean well.

In this vein, Wikileaks can not be held to any other criticism than any other journal, publication, book or press should be or would be had these cables landed on their doorstep.  Freedom of information and public review is what makes America unique in the world.

Take Note: The day Wikileaks is convicted of terrorism for publishing is the day the First Amendment of the United States of America will die.




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