Wikileaks matters because government lies, and the United States Government is no exception. Liars don't want the truth exposed, so they prosecute those with the courage to tell it. It really is that simple. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise wants something the liars can confer, whether that be a job, access to power, or simply to be let alone to profit by playing the game of liar's poker known as good citizenship. But sometimes good men are not good citizens. When that happens, truth tellers are called criminals.
Julian Assange of Wikileaks is a truth teller. So he is being prosecuted and called a sex offender by Sweden. Interpol has asked member nations to arrest him on site. He is accused of, gasp!, having sex without a condom. This is risible swill. When ordinary activities become a crime the government gets to pick and choose whom to prosecute. Is it any mystery that the world's governments are on a manhunt for a man accused of having consensual, but unprotected sex? This man, after all, publishes secrets the government tell us must be kept if we are to be safe.
These liars should feel shame, but they are incapable of shame so long as we give them are support. Instead of shame, we get self-righteous posturing by presidents, senators, prosecutors and all those with a stake in the game as it is played today.
An alumnus from Columbia's School of International Affairs told the university's placement center this week to warn students seeking jobs with the federal government against reading documents posted on Wikileaks websites. "The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified. [The alumnus] recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as ... Twitter. Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information," the writer warned. Better to be the blind dupe of the plutocracy than a free and informed citizen of the world.
The Governments of Russia, France, Thailand, China and the United States are seeking ways to block the free flow of information. United States Senator Joseph Lieberman, who hails from my home state and can politely be described simply as a pig in a parlor, called upon Amazon to drop links from its sites to Wikileaks. The internet broker obliged, prompting a backlash from customers offended that a purveyor of information would play cheap whore to Lieberman's pimpish request.
Information is like water, it flows without restriction unless blocked. When blocked, it must gather enough force to overcome a dam. The governments of the world now seek to obstruct the free flow of information with threats of prosecution, new laws, economic pressure and propaganda. It tells us all this is done so that leaders can perform vital affairs of state. Government needs freedom to lie, dissemble and to keep the the people from knowing what is done in its own name.
But the printing press produced pamphlets, books and ideas that transformed the world, frustrating the censors' every effort to keep truth from flowing. The Internet, too, has the capacity to produce revolutionary change, perhaps helping to undermine the claims of parochial sovereigns everywhere. Of course, government will seek to strangle the truth and truth tellers.
A trusting people will tolerate this. But what happens when the people decide its government is unworthy of trust?
Should we trust a government that bails out bankers and lets the homes of ordinary Americans be taken by foreclosure proceedings that rely on forged papers?
Should we trust a government that sends out sons and daughters to die in conflicts picked on the basis of lies? (Ten years later we're no longer looking for weapons of mass destruction; now we're just looking for a way out.)
Should we trust a government that permits the rich to grow ever richer while ignoring the distress of the middle class?
No wonder the government lies. If it acknowledged the truth many Americans live, the walls would come tumbling down, and waters of rage would roil. Our government lies because the truth would expose it to be a naked emperor.
Wikileaks matters because it shares inconvenient truths those we pay to represent us do not want us to know. Reporters Without Borders is calling upon all to support online freedom and the principle of "Net neutrality." It reminds us that the flow of information is a right worth fighting to preserve. What will you do today to demonstrate your support for truth in government?