Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wikileaks & Misplaced Outrage

For over a week now anyone who isn't a Trappist monk has been subjected to the cries of outrage about WikiLeaks from the Obama Administration and various talking heads. At first I considered most of the Wikileaks "revelations" yawn-inducing (HAMID KARZAI IS CORRUPT?? OH NO!!! REALLY????).

I've come around. And instead of denouncing Julian Assange our government should be grovelling in shame at what's been brought to light and pledging to throw the book at some of the people mentioned in the cables: for example, the American contractors who've been procuring boys to provide sexual services to Afghan policemen. Furthermore, I am glad to see the radical secrecy begun by Bush and continued by Obama dealt a blow.

This whole affair shows just how shallow our commitment is to our supposed values. That soulless wraith Joe Lieberman is demanding the Justice Department determine whether the New York Times can be prosecuted for publishing leaked diplomatic cables (has he heard of the First Amendment?).

This is not to say that Julian Assange is any kind of saint. There's been a lot of nonsense in the past week about "sex by surprise" (which I believed at first), and smearing of the women who first went to Swedish police about Assange. All of which shows that we're still incapable of being grownups in this country. If we like what WikiLeaks is doing, Julian Assange must be a good guy. If we don't, he must be a rapist. Collectively, Americans have a four-year-old's tolerance of complexity.

In any case Nitasha Tiku at New York Magazine has done a good job of clarifying the legal situation.

Meanwhile, folding like a cheap suit in the face of government pressure, Amazon has removed WikiLeaks from their servers. MasterCard and Visa will no longer process WikiLeaks donations.

However, you can still use either credit card to donate to the Ku Klux Klan (Hat tip to techdirt).

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