THE BLOG
12/11/2010 03:14 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Julian Assange, Osma bin Laden, and Salman Rushdie

In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.

Rings true, does it not? And who said this? None other than Rupert Murdoch, back in 1958 when he was young and presumably not the ultra-conservative reactionary that he is now with Fox TV and the rest of his empire being essentially a propaganda machine for warmongers and reactionaries. And, these days we are witnessing a fierce battle between those who want to hide as much as they can, and those who want the public learn about what is being hidden; those who cannot handle the truth - at least not in public - and those who can. And, who are the two sides in this epic battle? On one side is a guy named Julian Assange with extremely limited resources - just a website called Wikileaks that is run by volunteers - but equipped with a deep and honest conviction that the public has a right to know almost anything that the governments that represent them do, while the other side consists of the entire United States political establishment. The only people who seem to be willing to defend Assange are the progressives and some libertarians.

Glenn Beck, the "star" of Fox TV, asserts that Assange is a menace; that similar to Al Qaeda's "Operation Hemorrhage" Assange's WikiLeaks is a "perfect storm" that is attempting to defeat us with "thousand cuts," and may even be colluding with the American communist party to create "chaos." Read again: American communist party, the dinosaur that became extinct decades ago. Beck also predicts that Assange's leaking activities would get the ball rolling towards "bringing down the system," which he believes is a leftist tactic. But, who can blame Beck? When President Obama, the man who made so many progressive promises, has turned out to be just another politician - and a very weak one at that who buckles easily under pressure by just about anyone and anything, from the Republicans to the Israelis - is a "socialist" in the view of Beck and people like him, then what Assange is doing must be worse than a socialist thing; it must be a communist thing, right?

Now, if such hallucinations were restricted to the Beck type of people, we could easily ignore them. But, no, sane people are also saying the same. Consider just a small sample:

As Davis Samuels aptly points out, when it comes to deciding what to do with Assange and his Wikileaks, Attorney General Eric Holder has become our era's H.R. Haldeman, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has turned into John Erlichman, and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs into John Dean. Remember the trio? They were President Richard Nixon's men when the courageous Daniel Ellsberg publicized the secret history of Vietnam War - the Pentagon papers - had a big role in the Watergate scandal, and Nixon's attempt to silent his critics in the press. Holder has even threatened Assange with prosecution.

Clinton has declared the leaked documents "assault on international community" that "tear at fabric of government." Well, I do not think so. The only thing that the leaks have torn apart is the duplicity of a government that says something in public - not just to us citizens, but also to the globe - but does something else behind everybody's backs. Is it not shameful that U.S. Secretary of State may have ordered American diplomats to spy on foreign diplomats and obtain information as private as their credit card numbers and their DNA? Here is how State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley tries to justify this: "Diplomats are diplomats. And their job is to interact with people, gather information, gain perspective on events around the world and report those findings in a way that helps inform our policies and form out actions..."

Representative Peter King (R-L.I.) declares that Wikileaks should be declared a foreign terrorist organization. Really? Which is worse? Wikileaks that has only revealed the duplicity of the U.S. government - leaks that, by the way, have not killed or injured anyone and have not inflicted the catastrophic economic damage on the U.S. - or the illegal - many believe criminal - war that Republicans began in Iraq that has killed nearly 4500 U.S. soldiers and injured tens of thousands, and wrecked our economy, not to mention hundreds of thousands of Iraqis that have been killed? Which one is worse? Wikileaks, or the all the cuts that Republicans like King have made in the budgets all over this country that have put millions of people below the poverty line, and at the same time given $1 trillion tax cuts to the richest of the rich?

The staffers of Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), the turncoat Democrat, call Amazon to pressure the company to remove Wikileaks from its servers. Senator John McCain condemns Wikileaks, calls it "anti-U.S.," and blames the New York Times for the released documents. Why is Wikileaks anti-U.S.? Is it because it has revealed the duplicity of the government? Is the messenger guilty, or the message?

And, consider this: After filing antitrust lawsuits against Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, the Department of Justice has settled with Visa and MasterCard... the same two companies that stopped processing donations for WikiLeaks. "The companies agreed to stop allowing customers to donate to WikiLeaks after one of their biggest legal headaches conveniently disappeared," according to Jason Ditz of Antiwar.com. The settlement terms were agreeable on all sides, and MasterCard has even said the terms are no different than the policies it currently has in place. It "defended its decision to block WikiLeaks by arguing that the organization is using donations to commit crimes."

Newt Gingrich, that great teacher of morality, has declared that we should treat Assange as "enemy combatant." Really? I thought that we are closing Guantanamo, and do not treat people as such anymore. Well, may be Gingrich is still counting on the President not delivering on his promise of closure of Guantanamo. After all, he has not done so after nearly two years in office, among many other promises that he made but never delivered. In fact, a catch all spending bill which narrowly passed in the House of Representatives effectively ends the Obama administration's effort to close the detention center, because the bill "forbids the Obama administration from transferring any detainees held at Guantanamo Bay to the United States for the purposes of giving them an actual trial."

In an article in the Wall Street Journal, Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Democrat who (unfortunately) represents my state, California, has called for Assange "to be vigorously prosecuted for espionage." Feinstein co-sponsored the bill that extended the Patriot act that has limited our freedom, and is the same Senator who supported the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, knowing full well that Iraq had nothing to do with the September 11 attacks. But, now that Assange and Wikileaks have allowed us to learn about what is going on in those two countries, Feinstein has the nerves to call for his prosecution.

And, William Kristol - the "little Lenin" of the neoconservatives - has called Assange "the villain." I ask, which one is a villain? Kristol, who was one of the "brains" behind the invasion of Iraq that has brought upon the world so much misery, or Assange who has only publicized some documents to inform the people about what their government is doing, and in particular what it is doing in Iraq?

And, do not let these morally bankrupt characters muddy the issue. They believe in what Prescott Bush, the patriarch of the Bush dynasty, said in an interview in 1966: "There are three things to remember: claim everything [that is supposedly good], explain nothing [about what you do behind people's back], [and] deny everything [when your wrongdoings are revealed]." The crux of the issue is the bogus claim of these characters that the release of the documents harms the national security of the country. It does not, period. Remember that even at the height of the Cold War we did not have the security apparatus that we have today, and that was when the Soviet Union's thousands of nuclear warheads were pointed at us, nor did we have so many bogus claims by so many bogus "pundits" about what is or is not harmful to our security. The fact is, the over-stretched American empire does not want to tell the American people what it is doing, or did, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and many other places. It is as simple as that. So, if anyone is to be prosecuted as the result of Wikileaks documents, it is the politicians who have gotten us into the quagmire that their adventures and illegal war in the Middle East have created, from George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, to those in the Obama administration that continue to wage foolish wars abroad.

Have Assange and his comrades broken any law by releasing the documents? Read the article here by Gilead Light, a member of the white collar criminal defense group with a law firm in Washington, D.C., who has worked on numerous criminal defense representations, including a jury trial on charges of espionage and other national security violations, and then decide for yourself. All I can say is that Assange et al. have only opened our eyes to what is really going on.

Now, since some have likened Assange to terrorists and Osama bin Laden, let us take a look at what happened to him, and compare it with what the political establishment is trying to do to Assange. Eight days after September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks George W. Bush allowed at least 13 members of bin Laden's family and their body guards to fly out of the United States, when no one was allowed to fly, without even having them interrogated first. To my knowledge, no asset of members of bin Laden's family at large (aside from that of a few of his own immediate family) has been frozen or confiscated. And, although Bush could go after bin Laden in late 2001 when he had been trapped in Tora Bora, he did not do that and instead focused on his long-planned invasion of Iraq. After all, the Bush family had many business dealings with the bin Laden family; see here, here, and here.

But, when it comes to Assange, he is first ridiculed because he is "on the run." He was not, but even if he is, perhaps he is afraid for his life. After all, as early as 2008 there was a secret report that called Wikileaks a "threat" to U.S. Army. Then, he is called upon to turn himself in. I am sorry, but terrorists do not turn themselves in! Have we asked bin Laden to turn himself in? Assange did turn himself in, not only because he has not committed any major offense, if at all, but also because the charges against him are so bogus that even Glenn Beck believes are fabricated. After all, even if Assange committed some sort of sexual offense in Sweden, what does that have anything to do with his courageous journalism? Nothing, but it is being used to discredit the man.

And, why are they ratcheting up the pressure on Assange? Is it because he has threatened that his next releases will have to do with banks and financial institutions and how they have shafted the people, leaks that may bring down one or two of the fat cats?

But, I want to go even further. Do you remember Salman Rushdie, the man who published the infamous book, The Satanic Verses, which, in addition to its shallow content, insulted hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world? What did the world do when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a Fatwa, calling for his murder? It rushed to his defense, as it should have, because only when we can tolerate such insults and deal with them peacefully and through discussions not threats, can we declare ourselves believers in freedom of expression and thought. How about the Danish Cartoonist Kurt Westergaard who drew his notorious and insulting cartoons about Prophet Muhammad? Again, everyone rushed to his defense.

So, I ask: is it not true that freedom of thought and expression goes hand in hand with free flow of information? After all, there would be no thoughts without information. So, if that is true, why is it that the same political establishment that defended Rushdie and Westergaard in the name of freedom of thought and expression is now savagely attacking Assange? Obviously, it is because in the view of the establishment such noble concepts should serve their interests. But if they begin hurting their interests, the political establishment will forget about such noble principles.

The atrocities that have occurred in Guantanamo, Bagram, Abu Ghraib, and elsewhere; the lies and exaggerations that the public was fed with in order to justify invasion of Iraq and the drumbeats of an unjustified war with Iran teach us that we should be skeptical about the official versions of what has happened, and hence support courageous people like Julian Assange who try to tell us the real truth.