Sunday, January 23, 2011

Much more to come from WikiLeaks


By GARY BAUMGARTEN
All’s been quiet on the WikiLeaks front for a couple of weeks now – but that doesn’t mean the whistleblower site has run out of ammunition to leak.
According to the Associated Press, WikiLeaks has only released 1 percent of the U.S. State Department diplomatic cables in its possession.
If that’s the case, wouldn’t it be prudent for the U.S. government to attempt legal action to preclude the further release of what it says is its stolen property?
At least that would clarify, in the minds of us all, the legality of what WikiLeaks is doing.
If it’s legal for it to obtain and release the information – the court will so-rule and its founder, Julian Assange, might no longer fear that he would face criminal prosecution in the United States.
If the court rules it is illegal to release the information – it might constrain WikiLeaks from doing so.
An analogy could be made to the Pentagon Papers. The government challenged, in court, the reporting of the papers, which it similarly argued were illegally obtained by the New York Times. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that to preclude their publication would constitute prior restraint and would infringe on the First Amendment. After the ruling, the Times reported on them.
The nation did not, as the Pentagon had feared, collapse under the revelation of these state secrets. To the contrary, Americans got a better look at how the Johnson administration had lied to the public to better entrench the United States in the Vietnam War.
Our innocence, as a nation, ended with that – and the people became more aware of how government works behind closed doors – how the very people we elect – even those to the highest office of the land – will lie to the people they’ve taken an oath to serve to get their way.
History will judge whether WikiLeaks is providing a service or undermining national security – just as history is judging now the effects on national security of the release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971.
There are differences, of course, between those leaks and today’s. Today there is no Mike Gravel in Congress.
Gravel (D-AK),  read the Pentagon Papers into the congressional record to ensure that they would be  publicly debated. Perhaps if a member of Congress has similar courage today to do likewise, the cables in WikiLeaks possession can be read on the floor  - making them a matter of public record as well.
Gary Baumgarten is news and programming director at the Paltalk News Network.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Gary. Your Best Reporting yet about the Freedom of the Press and Wikileaks in Particular. The Pentagon Papers Was the Fore Runner of Wikileaks in Freedom of the Press By The People Of the People and For the People. Quote *Our innocence, as a nation, ended with that – and the people became more aware of how government works behind closed doors – how the very people we elect – even those to the highest office of the land – will lie to the people they’ve taken an oath to serve to get their way.* Yes.. the Supreme Court Should Act and Soon to Clarify in the Minds of the American People Who Loves the American Constitution and Particularly the First Amendment or Confusion Will Reign. Thanks Gary Great Reporting !!