December 08, 2010
First Amendment-Inspired Subversion
David Samuels in The Atlantic:
But the truly scandalous and shocking response to the Wikileaks documents has been that of other journalists, who make the Obama Administration sound like the ACLU. In a recent article in The New Yorker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Steve Coll sniffed that "the archives that WikiLeaks has published are much less significant than the Pentagon Papers were in their day" while depicting Assange as a "self-aggrandizing control-freak" whose website "lacks an ethical culture that is consonant with the ideals of free media." Channeling Richard Nixon, Coll labeled Wikileaks' activities - formerly known as journalism - by his newly preferred terms of "vandalism" and "First Amendment-inspired subversion."If you've read any of Mr Coll's thoroughly duchessed Ghost Wars, you will find his craven defence of our masters' right to lie to us entirely unsurprising.
Mr Samuels then goes on to make the same point about the slurs mainstream hacks have been throwing at Mr Assange, but I prefer Jack Shafer's rendition:
Oh, sure, he's a pompous egomaniac sporting a series of bad haircuts and grandiose tendencies. And he often acts without completely thinking through every repercussion of his actions. But if you want to dismiss him just because he's a seething jerk, there are about 2,000 journalists I'd like you to meet.Returning to Mr Samuels:
The true importance of Wikileaks -- and the key to understanding the motivations and behavior of its founder -- lies not in the contents of the latest document dump but in the technology that made it possible, which has already shown itself to be a potent weapon to undermine official lies and defend human rights. Since 1997, Assange has devoted a great deal of his time to inventing encryption systems that make it possible for human rights workers and others to protect and upload sensitive data. The importance of Assange's efforts to human rights workers in the field were recognized last year by Amnesty International, which gave him its Media Award for the Wikileaks investigation The Cry of Blood - Extra Judicial Killings and Disappearances, which documented the killing and disappearance of 500 young men in Kenya by the police, with the apparent connivance of the country's political leadership.But what does that matter now that he's cruelly exposed our infrastructural soft underbelly to Osama Bin Blofeld's fanataninjas?