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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/2/11

WikiLeaks Through the Looking Glass: A Panel Discussion in a School of Journalism Classroom

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A student journalist said "we don't get the truth unless someone breaks the law" and claimed if Bradley Manning could do it all over again he wouldn't go to Julian Assange. (Note: There's no clear proof that he did go to Assange plus there's no clear evidence to support this student journalist's suggestion.)

McNulty managed to get in a fairly reasonable point explaining the government tends to react as if everything is a "security issue." Sometimes something is just "an issue." The implications of how we react to this "issue," McNulty argued, could be more profound than the "issue" itself.


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Paul Rosenzweig

Now, if you're wondering (like I was) who is this Rosenzweig gasbag, I looked him up and he is with the Heritage Foundation. And, if this blustering prevaricator has his way, outdated laws related to the disclosure of classified information will be updated to make it easier to prosecute Julian Assange and others linked to WikiLeaks and the US would launch a "counterinsurgency strategy for cyberspace" to go after the "infamous WikiLeaks website."

He likens members of Anonymous to the "non-state insurgents the US has faced in Iraq and Afghanistan--small groups of non-state actors using asymmetric means of warfare to destabilize and disrupt existing political authority."

In conclusion, I do not write this to share how I took on a former Homeland Security official. I share what was said on this panel to demonstrate how prevalent WikiLeaks myths are in American society.

I write about this because a student, who I believe genuinely wanted an insightful discussion, turned to a former Homeland Security official who now works for a conservative think tank and expected a fact-based discussion of what WikiLeaks means for US national security and got hot air. Rosenzweig said very little if anything on SIPRnet, the classified information database which Manning allegedly breached. And he said nothing about the fact that Bradley Manning is not Aldrich Ames, an insider who committed real espionage against the United States.

McNulty was what I expected. I do not know what he wrote about the Iraq invasion or Afghanistan but I suspect it towed the line and failed to point out how the Bush Administration was lying America into a war in Iraq.

I searched the Internet after the panel and found a story McNulty wrote on November 30, 2010, just as the US State Embassy Cables were beginning to be released. He argued journalism and national security could survive lies and "will survive WikiLeaks truth," what WikiLeaks was calling "transparency" was really "spying," WikiLeaks should not be used to attack "free media" and increase government secrecy and the "filter of news media for WikiLeaks dump was crucial to responsible presentation."

McNulty wrote, "We all understand how illegal it is to reveal state secrets, even those that are classified secret for no good reason. We also know that over the years, governments have lied to the American people in the name of national security, whether about preparations for war or dealings with our allies and enemies." It's refreshing to understand that he grasps this point.

Yet, McNulty actually wrote in the same story the "official ire may be aimed at WikiLeaks and its founder, but there's a real current of anger at the media for providing a printed and organized outlet for these documents." So, essentially Der SpiegelThe Guardian and the New York Times and other media organizations should be somewhat ashamed of publishing stories on the materials.

So, why is it so important to pushback against falsehoods and misrepresentations of the Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks stories? It's important because if falsehoods and misrepresentations are allowed to continue Manning's whistleblowing, which should be protected under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act, will be used to further advance the Obama Administration's criminalization of whistleblowing. If whistleblowing is effectively criminalized, the possibility of accountability, although already dismal, will be even more unlikely. Fewer individuals of conscience will seek to unveil corruption or fraud if they expect a hammer to fall.

The Espionage Act could in effect transform into an Official Secrets Act, which the UK has and the US does not. An Official Secrets Act would criminalize the disclosure of classified information. Press freedom in the United States would likely be diminished.

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com
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