06 December 2010
More on Julian Assange and Wikileaks: The Sarah Palin View...
Australia is clearly looking to build a case against Assange. However, it would seem that the US is also exploring what options it has in making the case and prosecuting Assange in the US. This has obviously brought the ranting and railing conservative right out. Among them is the former Vice-Presidential candidate from the Grand Old Party (GOP), Sarah Palin. The fact that some might consider her a legitimate contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 is scary enough, but the latest outburst is indicative as to what lengths this woman will go to try and capitalise on conservative popular opinion. It is also indicative of the fact that she really does not understand the difference between Osama bin Laden and Julian Assange. It is pretty clear that she obviously missed the advocacy class on why not to use exaggeration.
Sarah Palin in her infinite wisdom has taken to Facebook to condemn Assange for his role in releasing to the world some 250,000 confidential and secret diplomatic cables. Fair enough! There are good arguments to be made that it was irresponsible for Assange to publish via Wikileaks. However, Palin was not satisfied stopping there. In order to really ratchet-up the rhetoric she decided to add that Assnage should be hunted down like Osama bin Laden.
Well, after ten years of searching the US has not found or been able to confirm that it has killed bin Laden. So, it would seem that Assange really need not fear the US if it was to mount a similar "search and destroy" campaign that has been mounted for bin Laden. Although, on a more serious note, it would appear that all those who need to know where Assange is, in fact know where he is. It would also appear that an arrest is not that far away once the arrest warrant(s) are in order, assuming Assange decides to surrender to authorities and not seek political asylum in a country favourable to that proposition, Switzerland perhaps.
To further reinforce her point she suggested that Assange is not a journalist in any shape or form and compared this lack of journalistic skill to the current editor of al-Qaeda's English-language magazine, Inspire. Further intensifying the rhetoric saw Assange labeled as anti-American and with blood on his hands.
In any event, this was a political point scoring opportunity that was more about Palin slamming the White House and President Obama by implying that they were complicit in Assange's Wikileaks work because they have not been serious in hunting him down or arresting him.
Yet, this generally fits into the overall rhetoric of US politics with recent claims seeking to force the US government to declare Wikileaks a terrorist organisation. A whistleblower as a terrorist organisation, what an interesting development. However, it is symptomatic of the way the world is post 9/11. Anything that annoys us or possible effects many as opposed to a few is almost immediately labeled a terrorist organisation. I wonder what the Tea Party might need to do to be labeled a terrorist organisation? What about the Republicans or the Democrats?
However, the US is looking to invoke the Espionage Act with a view to criminal prosecution. And, it is imperative in the US view that they do this one by the numbers, and make the case bullet-proof.
The case to shut down sites that release confidential documents needs to be assessed on a merits basis. The reality is that releasing secret or confidential information can always be criminalised, but at what cost?
The question that must be answered here was whether there was any value in the releasing of these particular diplomatic cables? Simply, does the public need to know outweigh the need to maintain confidentiality?