There was an interesting development in the WikiLeaks saga on Thursday. You probably didn’t hear about it over the weekend because the fawning corporate media was too busy comparing the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to the passage of the Civil Rights Act.
The chairman of the House judiciary committee, Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) stuck up for WikiLeaks on Thursday according to The Raw Story. Conyers made the argument that the controversial and unpopular actions of the whistleblower website are protected under free speech.
Conyers was speaking at a hearing to explore whether WikiLeaks violated the Espionage Act; the Obama administration is desperately trying to find some way they can charge its editor-in-chief with violating the law. Even if they have to do a few dirty deeds to make it happen.
According to the folks at The Raw Story Conyers said that “America was founded on the belief that speech is sacrosanct” and he outright dismissed the furious (and ignorant) calls for censorship of media outlets publishing leaked documents.
“As an initial matter, there is no doubt that WikiLeaks is very unpopular right now. Many feel that the WikiLeaks publication was offensive,” Conyers said, in his prepared remarks. “But being unpopular is not a crime, and publishing offensive information is not either. And the repeated calls from politicians, journalists, and other so-called experts crying out for criminal prosecutions or other extreme measures make me very uncomfortable.”
Both parties, along with the president want Julian Assange’s head on a platter because his organization has exposed some pretty big lies about their climate change legislation and unpopular wars. They’ve even worked hard to portray him as a threat to national security, so it seems like “threat to national security” is a new government blanket term for guy we don’t like.
I have had no doubt in my mind that the establishment is using all of the uninformed cries for censorship because of WikiLeaks as a way to con people into believing that government needs to be given even more control of information systems, digital and print.
Thankfully Conyers thinks this too. This is a good sign and it restores a bit of my faith in people because after the last decade of government ineptitude it shouldn’t be that hard to see.
“And so whatever you think about this controversy, it is clear that prosecuting Wikileaks would raise the most fundamental questions about freedom of speech, about who is a journalist, and about what the public can know about the actions of its own government,” Conyers said.
This is a pretty big deal because it shows there are still some voices in government that believe in free speech even if it exposes government lies. It also proves we should resist any and all attempts to censor the Internet.
The establishment’s reaction was to kill the messenger and ignore the fact there are some serious issues of corruption within our tax dollar fueled government. Not exactly the reaction you want to see, but it is important to note that we wouldn’t have known any of this without the Internet and the ability it gives us to share information with each other.
At least we’re taking baby steps instead of no steps at all.