I’m starting work tomorrow, so I promise that my days of writing tomes based off of whatever FRONTLINE documentary I watched the night before are probably over. However last night the news program premiered a fantastic film based off of their investigation of Wikileaks and the Bradley Manning affair from last year. If you have not caught it yet, go ahead and spend an hour watching it tonight.
I feel it necessary to write on this current and developing controversy due to the fact that many in the media feel it necessary to link Assange and his ilk to the anti-war movement, or liberalism in general. As a liberal, I feel that associating the legitimate movements and criticism against the war with the likes of this accused rapist are not just simplistic, but borderline defamatory. Liberals do not commit acts of treason.
Glenn Greenwald of Salon is a liberal, and a purist on the issues of civil liberties and civil rights. I admire his convictions, especially his criticism concerning the bipartisan efforts to constantly renew the Patriot Act and other intrusive vestiges from the War on Terror. Greenwald is seen as a close media ally of Bradley Manning, and his reporting on the unjustified treatment of Manning is warranted and necessary. Greenwald’s views are very liberal and his political idealism and purity exceed mine, especially concerning foreign policy. However Greenwald, despite his strong opinions concerning this country retains his basic goal of supporting humanity- unlike Assange.
Bradley Manning was obviously someone who never should have been in the military. He was emotionally unstable, prone to violence, and stuck in the kafkaesque awfulness created by don’t ask, don’t tell. According to Frontline, he was sent to Iraq due to the shortage of qualified intelligence analysts (yet another evident sign of the failure to adequately plan for the War in Iraq). While in Iraq, Manning allegedly downloaded the now infamous trove of classified information that he had access to. This access was possible due to post-9/11 reforms that expanded information sharing within intelligence communities.
What did Manning accomplish by leaking this information? Wikileaks helped distribute classified diplomatic cables, meaning that information coming from the State Department, not Defense, was now within the public sphere. Our diplomatic, not military, power was weakened as foreign governments now had full access to the political equivalent of our country’s private middle school journal. Wikileaks did not expose any criminal acts from our government, no war crimes committed against foreign nationals, nor any proof that the Bush Administration consciously lead the country into a war on false pretenses.
This was not an act of bravery on the part of a true whistleblower. A whistleblower is someone who alerts the public or authorities out of concern that a powerful entity is breaking the law. Assange and his ilk do not believe that American foreign policy should function at all, meaning that calling them “anti-war” is an asinine characterization and an insult to those who legitimately try to shape the role that the military or business interests have in our influence throughout the world. The organization that Assange promotes operates on a juvenile philosophy centered on sophist (or outright hypocritical) ideas concerning “transparency” and “truth.” These ideas are based on the essential nature of Assange’s experience in the ideologically purist life in the hacking community.
And this is where I get angry. Manning was troubled and distressed about what he for some reason viewed were abusive acts by the US Military. Ignoring the fact that his actions crippled the State Department, lets focus on the fact that the Military is a completely voluntary organization. No one was forcing him to sign the contract to work for a military that apparently pissed him off so much. But Manning can be seen as but one of many examples of the problems of with military recruiting in the age of a completely voluntary force, the bigger hypocrisy is evident in Mr. Assange.
Mr. Assange, beyond acting as Manning’s enabler, has embraced his role as the cavalier enemy of the state and media darling. In truth, Assange is a sociopathic hypocrite whose lack of complex understanding is extremely dangerous to the physical safety of anyone in the free world due to his technological capabilities. Assange had to be basically forced by the NY Times, Guardian, and Der Spiegel into his piss poor efforts to redact some of the names of local intelligence sources in Afghanistan and Iraq. He, for some time, outright refused to perform this basic act to protect the identities of people who faced certain death due to his belief that these people were “collaborators who deserve to die”.
The NY Times profile of Assange described an essentially paranoid individual. This is a man who believes in outright spurious information concerning the western governments and operated without regard to anything but his own promotion as some sort of folk hero amongst others with adolescent political mindsets. The fact that Assange cannot apparently listen to basic requests from his sexual partners should not be a big surprise as this is someone who does not believe that he should be responsible for his actions and that the law does not apply to him.
Assange’s lack of humanity is how we, as observant citizens, need to evaluate the difference between Greenwald, Manning, and the aforementioned head of Wikileaks. Greenwald is doing an extraordinary job as a journalist to reform a system with which he has major disagreements. Greenwald, using all the freedoms available to him under the First Amendment, reports on abusive practices and employs his careful analysis in order to better our physical and legal safety in this country. Manning is partially the victim of a flawed system, but is mainly a young kid who acted in a way that many young people in positions of responsibility act- stupid and reckless. It is Assange himself who should truly face the full wrath of the government and media. He is someone who is in effect undermining every interest of the United States by using the power and freedom not only by the First Amendment, but the Military as well. Why is Assange not using his considerable talents at exposing sensitive information in North Korea, Burma, or the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he could possibly truly promote peace? Because in the United States, he does not face a death squad for being the annoying brat that he is.
There are legitimate criticisms of American foreign policy, but this does not mean that the Military and the State Department are not completely necessary for the defense of this country within this complex global world. Manning’s betrayal took advantage of a new and beneficial era of file sharing amongst all levels and branches within our myriad of intelligence agencies (a necessary reform after 9/11). Assange’s methods and psychosis have delegitimatized the work of actual whistleblowers and the media who might hypothetically shed light on actual abuses perpetrated by the government (or anyone else for that matter). In short, nothing has been gained by the actions of these self-centered and stupid individuals. Those defending anything more than the rights of Manning and Assange to a fair and just trials in our judicial systems (civilian and military) are as delusional and juvenile as they are.