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WikiLeaks has teased the genie of transparency out of a very opaque bottle, and powerful forces in America, who thrive on secrecy, are trying desperately to stuff the genie back in.
How far down the U.S. has slid can be seen, ironically enough, in a recent commentary in Pravda (that's right, Russia's Pravda):
"What WikiLeaks has done is make people understand why so many Americans are politically apathetic. After all, the evils committed by those in power can be suffocating, and the sense of powerlessness that erupts can be paralyzing, especially when government evildoers almost always get away with their crimes."
"So shame on Barack Obama, Eric Holder and all those who spew platitudes about integrity, justice and accountability while allowing war criminals and torturers to walk freely upon the earth. The American people should be outraged that [their] government has transformed a nation with a reputation for freedom, justice, tolerance and respect for human rights into a backwater that revels in its criminality, cover-ups, injustices and hypocrisies."
Odd, isn't it, that it takes a Pravda commentator to drive home the point that the Obama administration is on the wrong side of history.
Some bloodthirsty U.S. politicians even are calling for the murder of WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange, while some in the U.S. news media favor only prosecuting him and his leakers, while insisting that "responsible" journalists should be protected.
In this view, severe punishment should be
reserved for people with access to the government's dark secrets who
out of conscience decide to share that information with the people, a
prospect that some pundits find objectionable.
"The government has to get better at keeping secrets," wrote the Washington Post's Richard Cohen. "Muzzle the leakers - but not the press."
The corporate-and-government-dominated media appears apprehensive over the challenge that WikiLeaks presents. Perhaps deep down they know, as Dickens put it, "There is nothing so strong " as the simple truth."
As part of the attempt to discredit WikiLeaks and Assange, much of the media commentary over the weekend portrayed Assange's exposure of classified materials as very different from and far less laudable than what Daniel Ellsberg did in releasing the Pentagon Papers in 1971.
As a chapter of distant history and a point of some First Amendment pride for U.S. journalists the Pentagon Papers case and Ellsberg can now be safely defended. Not the same for WikiLeaks and Assange who today are facing a relentless assault, organized by the U.S. government and its many powerful allies.
But Ellsberg for one strongly rejects the mantra "Pentagon Papers good; WikiLeaks material bad." He continues:
"That's just a cover for people who don't want to admit that they oppose any and all exposure of even the most misguided, secretive foreign policy. The truth is that EVERY attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time."
As often is the case amid the pressures of the moment, it is easier for pundits and politicians to go with the flow rather than swim against the current. So they find it convenient to treat the motivations behind the WikiLeaks disclosures as reckless or self-interested. But that's not what the evidence shows.
WikiLeaks's reported source, Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, having watched Iraqi police abuses and having read of similar and worse incidents in official messages, reportedly concluded, "I was actively involved in something that I was completely against."
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