A short selection of Wikileaks-related articles from the past week or so that range from the amusing to the distressing:
Who is more popular than Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, and the Chilean miners combined? And leading in votes for TIME Magazine’s 2010 Person of the Year award, ahead of Lady Gaga, and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert? Julian Assange, for his work with Wikileaks.
But for those of you who think that Assange is an undeserving ass, at least you are in “good company” : Meghan McCain, daughter of John McCain, who thinks the tea party movement should get the award, also thinks that Assange (who is Australian) is guilty of being “un-American” and a “creepy rogue Swedish guy.” M. McCain–surprise, surprise– “writes” for the The Daily Beast, which next to Gawker has been one of the leading online anti-Assange smear machines. What is Assange’s sin by the way? The documents he has published “changed the way Americans view the war.”
Students at Harvard University, however, do not need to be worried about being contaminated by the influence of the rogue Swedish un-American Australian: Gary King, director of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University says: “I have had a couple of students asking [Harvard] for permission to use the previous WikiLeaks data release, and last I heard they still weren’t allowed to touch it.” See the full story, leaked to Cryptome: “Leaked Documents Provide Bonanza for Researchers,” SCIENCE, VOL 330 29, OCTOBER 2010, p 575.
If Bradley Manning leaked the documents to Wikileaks, then he is one of the very few heroes in uniform who deserved to be thanked and celebrated. In “What We Learned from WikiLeaks,” Jonathan Schell in The Nation reflects on Manning who was deeply pained to learn of the arbitrary arrests of opponents of Iraqi prime minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, and the brutal torture of Iraqis by their own government. (Remember that phrase? It’s one of the stated reasons U.S. propagandists used for justifying the invasion of Iraq.) In particular, the documents reveal the bloody activities of the Wolf Battalion, and how U.S. forces actively collaborated with it in sending them detainees to torture, many of them being killed. Faced with this, Manning allegedly told his spy/snitch, Adrian Lamo: “That was a point where I was…actively involved in something that I was completely against.” Julian Assange, for his part, once wrote: “Every time we witness an act that we feel to be unjust and do not act we become a party to injustice. Those who are repeatedly passive in the face of injustice soon find their character corroded into servility.”