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Wikileaks pursues this goal by posting revelatory documents, often acquired unofficially, that bring to light the criminal behavior that results in wars and other man-made disasters.
Because Wikileaks' very
existence encourages "leaks," government officials fear the website,
and particularly dislike Julian Assange.
And since the individuals
and organizations being investigated are ones ultimately responsible
to the public, such a role as wholesale supplier of evidence can be
seen as a public service.
They assert that government cannot be successful unless aspects of its behavior are conducted in secret. The fact that those aspects in question thereby lose any accountable connection to the public is discounted. The assumption here is that most citizens simply trust their governments to act in their interests, including when they act clandestinely.
Historically, such trust
is dangerously naive. Often government officials, even
the democratic ones, feel no obligation to their citizens in
general, but rather only to special interests.
In other words, long-lasting institutions/bureaucracies take on a life of their own. Thus, it should come as no surprise that many governments look upon Wikileaks as a threat to institutional well-being.
And so, in an effort to cripple Wikileaks and have their revenge on Assange, the United States and the United Kingdom (UK), with the cooperation of Sweden, first sought to frame Assange (2010) on a "sexual assault" charge.
This having failed, Assange was still left liable for jumping bail in the UK in order to avoid seizure and deportation to the U.S., where he would certainly be put on trial for revealing secrets.
He escaped to the Ecuadorian embassy in London (2012), where he was given asylum. As of this writing, he is still there.
However, a recent change
in government in Quito has led to discussions between Ecuador and
the UK that may well lead to Assange's eviction from the embassy.
Nonetheless, as the documentary filmmaker John Pilger, a supporter of Assange, has noted,
He is quite right...
never have been many brave free-thinkers about, so no one should be
surprised at Assange's poor prospects.
Few seem to have noticed that, to the extent that this picture is accurate, the ideal model has alienated those readers/viewers who cannot tell the difference between "the truth" and their own opinions.
Recently, this alienation
has opened the entire media industry to the charge that it is really
the "enemy of the people"
because it peddles "fake news" - that is, news that belies
Thus, it is simply wrong to think that, on the average, those who investigate, do research, write about things, and report through the various media are any braver or, ultimately, any more principled than the rest of the population.
As Julien Benda showed us in his 1928 book The Betrayal of the Intellectuals, while it is in fact the job of those who research and report to remain independent of the ideologies and biases of both their community and their government, the truth is that most often these people end up serving power.
This is particularly the
case when there is an atmosphere of patriotic fervor, or just plain
pressure from sources that can hurt one's career. At that point you
will find that bravery does exist but it is the exception and not
the rule - and the brave will, more often than not, stand alone.
Many American news outlets are willing to selectively use the documented evidence made available by Wikileaks. To do so is to draw on what the website has placed in the public domain. But they will not stand up and publicly defend the "whistleblower" who makes the information public.
I imagine publishers,
editors, and media moguls, and the vast majority of those they
employ, just don't have the courage to support the individual who
breaks some unprincipled law or regulation designed to enforce
silence in relation to official crimes and hypocrisy.
For example, a similar problem has long existed in Israel.
Here one finds a whole
ethnicity whose journalists are open to persecution.
Like Assange, there has been an attempt, after the fact, to claim that Nazzal is a criminal.
The Shin Bet, one of those Israeli security forces that only the naive or venal take at face value, claims that he is a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which they consider to be a terrorist organization.
No proof of this charge has been publicly presented (Shin Bet claims the "proof" is secret) and Nazzal denies any affiliation.
As it turns out, the real reason he was arrested somewhat parallels Assange's activity.
At the time of his seizure, Nazzal was on his way to Sarajevo for a meeting of the European Federation of Journalists. No doubt, the Israelis did not want him telling true, documentable, stories to an organization of European journalists.
Most Israeli Jewish
journalists, like their American counterparts, remain silent. So do
their respective publics.
It is more likely that
Americans (and others) chose their news outlets on the basis of
which one most often tells them what they want to hear - in other
words, the search for "accurate" reporting is really driven by a
desire for confirmation bias.
This situation puts truth tellers like Assange, and in the case of Israel, Omar Nazzal, in a bad position. They will have their defenders but they will be outside the mainstream - because truth itself is also outside the mainstream.
That is their
predicament, and ours as well...