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From Jefferson to Assange

Posted on Dec 8, 2010
AP / Lennart Preiss

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks during a press conference in London on Oct. 23.

By Robert Scheer

All you need to know about Julian Assange’s value as a crusading journalist is that The New York Times and most of the world’s other leading newspapers have led daily with important news stories based on his WikiLeaks releases. All you need to know about the collapse of traditional support for the constitutional protection of a free press is that Dianne Feinstein, the centrist Democrat who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, has called for Assange “to be vigorously prosecuted for espionage.”

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Feinstein, who strongly supported the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, has the audacity to call for the imprisonment of the man who, more than any other individual, has allowed the public to learn the truth about those disastrous imperial adventures—facts long known to Feinstein as head of the Intelligence Committee but never shared with the public she claims to represent. 

Feinstein represents precisely the government that Thomas Jefferson had in mind when he said, in defense of unfettered freedom of the press, “[W]ere it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

In the 1787 letter in which he wrote those words, Jefferson was reflecting the deep wisdom of a political leader who often had been excoriated by a vicious press that would make the anarchist-inflected comments of an Assange seem mild in comparison. More than 35 years later, after having suffered many more vitriolic press attacks, Jefferson reiterated his belief in a free press, in all its vagaries, as the foundation of a democracy. In an 1823 letter to Lafayette, Jefferson warned: “The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted to be freely expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.”

It is precisely that agitation that so alarms Feinstein, for the inconvenient truths she has concealed in her Senate role would have indeed shocked many of those who voted for her. She knew in real time that Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack, yet she voted to send young Americans to kill and be killed based on what she knew to be lies. It is her duplicity, along with the leaders of both political parties, that now stands exposed by the WikiLeaks documents. 

That is why U.S. governmental leaders will now employ the massive power of the state to discredit and destroy Assange, who dared let the public in on the depths of official deceit—a deceit that they hide behind in making their claims of protecting national security. Claims mocked by released cables that show that our puppets in Iraq and Afghanistan are deeply corrupt and anti-democratic, and that al-Qaida continues to find its base of support not in those countries but rather in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, the very nations we arm and protect. The notion that the official tissue of lies enhances our security is rejected by the growing strength of radical Islam in the region, as evidenced by the success of Iran, the main beneficiary of our invasion of Iraq, as the leaked cables make clear. 

The pretend patriots who use the national security argument to gut what remains of our most important security asset—our constitutional guarantees of a truly free press—are just what President George Washington feared when in his farewell address he warned “against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the Impostures of pretended patriotism. …”

The pretended patriotism of Feinstein, the first Democrat to co-sponsor the bill extending the U.S. Patriot Act, represents the death of the Democratic Party as a protector of our freedoms. As a California resident, I will not vote for her again, no matter how dastardly a right-wing Republican opponent she might face. There is no lesser evil to be found in one who would so cavalierly imprison practitioners of a free press.

That is the issue here, pure and simple. It is unconscionable to target Assange for publishing documents on the Internet that mainstream media outlets have attested had legitimate news value. As in the historic case in which Daniel Ellsberg gave The New York Times the Pentagon Papers exposé of the official lies justifying the Vietnam War, Assange is acting as the reporter here, and thus his activities must be shielded by the First Amendment’s guarantee of journalistic freedom. 

Actually Ellsberg’s position, as morally strong as it was, was weaker than that of Assange, in that the former Marine and top Pentagon adviser was working at the government-funded Rand Corp., where he had agreed to rules about the handling of classified information, including the Pentagon Papers. Assange operates under no such restraints and is an even clearer example of the journalist who ferrets out news and attempts to report it. He had no special clearance that provided him access, and what he did was no different from what the editors of The New York Times did in publishing news that was fit to print.

It is outrageous for any journalist, or respecter of what every American president has claimed is our inalienable, God-given right to a free press, not to join in Assange’s defense on this issue, as distinct from what increasingly appear to be trumped-up charges that led to his voluntary arrest on Tuesday in London in a case involving his personal behavior. Abandon Assange and you abandon the bedrock of our republic: the public’s right to know.

Click here to check out Robert Scheer’s new book,
“The Great American Stickup: How Reagan Republicans and Clinton Democrats Enriched Wall Street While Mugging Main Street.”

Keep up with Robert Scheer’s latest columns, interviews, tour dates and more at



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By Susan Craze, December 8, 2010 at 9:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


I read this tonight and am wondering if we’re heading back to
HUAC and McCarthyism.  Chilling.

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By prosefights, December 8, 2010 at 9:51 pm Link to this comment

“In a free society we’re supposed to know the truth,” Paul said. “In a society where truth becomes treason, then we’re in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it.”

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By babka, December 8, 2010 at 8:48 pm Link to this comment

If government of by & for the people has perished from the earth, and if we
employ “evil” means to achieve “good” ends in the name of a “democracy” now
capable of extraordinary rendition of chat line members expressing their
opinions….and of starting illegal wars (who dare call GWB’s misbegotten
“decisions” treason?) responsible for the deaths of innocents, and the combat
deaths & suicides of our soldiers who deserve to know why their sacrifice has
meaning - the truth, warts and all, is the only way for “the people” to bestir
themselves from their media/gizmo stupors, to look up from the Christmas
shopping binges…and to ask the meaning of the Prince of Peace, and the
sacrifices of the whistle-blowers and news people still free enough to stand for

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The Falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood=dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand.
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming!  Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight:somewhere in the sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

- W.B. Yeats

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By Dalmazio, December 8, 2010 at 8:43 pm Link to this comment

@Robert Scheer - excellent article.

I agree, we must do everything in our collective power to ensure that Julian Assange goes free, without so much as a hair of censure, and further, Army Private First Class Bradley Manning also goes free (assuming he is indeed the source of the leaked documents).

Julian Assange’s situation is a clear cut case of a journalist exercising his free speech rights, as protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, and Supreme Court precedent relating to the Pentagon Papers (New York Times Co. v United States). His situation is no different than any other news organization publishing sensitive information leaked by a whistleblower insider.

Excerpted from Wikipedia:

On June 13, 1971, the Times published the first of nine excerpts and commentaries on the 7,000 page collection. For 15 days, the Times was prevented from publishing its articles by court order requested by the Nixon administration. On June 30, the Supreme Court ordered publication of the Times to resume freely (New York Times Co. v. United States). The ruling made it possible for the New York Times and Washington Post newspapers to publish the then-classified Pentagon Papers without risk of government censure. President Richard Nixon had claimed executive authority to force the Times to suspend publication of classified information in its possession. The question before the court was whether the constitutional freedom of the press under the First Amendment was subordinate to a claimed Executive need to maintain the secrecy of information. The Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment did protect the New York Times’ right to print said materials.

Army Private First Class Bradley Manning’s situation is very similar to that of former whistleblower insider Daniel Ellsberg. After some time, Ellsberg said the documents “demonstrated unconstitutional behavior by a succession of presidents, the violation of their oath and the violation of the oath of every one of their subordinates”. He added that he leaked the Papers to end what he perceived to be “a wrongful war”.

How history repeats itself.

“The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”—Patrick Henry

“Information is the currency of democracy.”—Thomas Jefferson

“Nothing so diminishes democracy as secrecy.”—Ramsey Clark

“The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.”—John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“A government by secrecy benefits no one. It injures the people it seeks to serve; it damages its own integrity and operation. It breeds distrust, dampens the fervor of its citizens and mocks their loyalty.”—Russell Long

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By Jennifer Macias, December 8, 2010 at 6:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I hope that those who commented have emailed, called, or otherwise let their voices be heard among the elected officials presiding over their constituency. President Obama has said he wants to be pushed into action from below. Although the top 1% percent may be stuffing their pockets, the votes of the remaining 99% hold equal value.

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By garth, December 8, 2010 at 6:49 pm Link to this comment

In Sweden, Julian Assange has been charged with ‘sex crimes.’  In the news media he’s being tried for espionage and anything else they can come up with.  Sex charges do not equal espionage.  Maybe this is a different world already.

He dipped in his wick and got it wet.  The girl or girls said, “Oh, my Julien, I asked you to where a rubber.” 
He said. “It doesn’t feel the same.”

They asked if he had an STD (Sexually transmitted Disease).

And at this point the microphone over the bedpost went dead.  So I’ll never know.  And neither will you, you lech!

Sounds a little mysterious.  Maybe A little like 1984, all over again.

Is the US Government that powerful and yet that afraid of Julien Assange?  Maybe they could kick down his door and kill his children and his elderly mother.  Like they do in Afghanistan.

Is his life in danger in a British jail?  Remember the sudden death of Ken Lay, aka ‘Kenny Boy’ to G.W. Bush.

He upped and died before his trial.

David Chapalian (I think that’s his name) a news editor on PBS told the smirky-jerky, ex-marine office boy Lehrer that this will tax cut ‘kerfuffle’ will all blow over.  The Baltimore editorial of the same day said the same thing.  We forgive and forget.

But to the Luo Tribesman, Barack Obama, how can we forget you when you won’t go away?

You keep pulling the same stunt.  You’re like a one-trick pony.

We get it!  We get it! You are not for us, the American working people.  You’re for them.  The Gilded few. 

God bless you.  But don’t try to put on a pair of cujones, now.  They just don’t fit.  You are not quite a nothing yet, but you only a micro-breath away from it.

Jump ball!

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By Conden, December 8, 2010 at 6:22 pm Link to this comment

Julian Assange should be given the Nobel peace prize, and top officials of the war criminal bush-obama administrations should be in jail.  Julian Assange and wikileaks have taken brave, noble actions—they are the only ones really threatening the american empire in our current day, and unfortunately Julian, I’m afraid, is going to be persecuted for that, big time.  How soon before the Swedish authorities hand him over to the cia to be whisked away to some secret prison in Afganistan. 

The disgusting echoes of agressive, self-righteous american exceptionalism spewed by the likes of hillary clinton, sarah palin, joe leiberman, eric holder (etc) are truly sickening, and show the consequences of not prosecuting top officials in the bush administration; they have allowed the obamas to follow in his footsteps.  Someone has to take down these disgusting right wing politicians, and wikileaks are the few people really, truly putting themselves on the line to do so.

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By Peter Knopfler, December 8, 2010 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment

Thank you Robert Scheer, and the added comments by
patriot 10101,  could it be 1984 room 101 for julian
assange, or are we going to find a way to make his
mind right, openly confess and disappear in solitary
confinement, wrapped packaged and shelved, for years
Mullen get their hands on Julian, you can kiss his
ass goodbye. I am angry, some how an all global
computer protest should take place like on DEC 14,
Julians case before the Judge, watch the media put
Julian in a blender for an ORANGE JULIUS. Shame on
all of us if we don´t figure something out for

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By Arabian Sinbad, December 8, 2010 at 4:48 pm Link to this comment

Certainly, a well written piece in support of Assange and his great services to truth and freedom of speech.

Likewise, it is a well written argument exposing the corruption, deceit and betrayal of democratic values by such crooked and opportunistic politicians such as the evil Dianne Feinestein.

Thank you Robert Scheer for a job well done that can be taken to a fair court of justice to exonerate Assange and implicate his opponents and enemies!

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By gerard, December 8, 2010 at 4:26 pm Link to this comment

My suggestion to those who want to help Manning and Assange is to get in touch with:
  The American Civil Liberties Union and/or

  Amnesty International

I am sure they are in touch with these situations and doing what they can do.  I am also sure they need funding.

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By DCambly, December 8, 2010 at 3:58 pm Link to this comment

Thank you Julian and everyone involved in WikiLeaks for giving me back my dignity.

It has been a long road over the past 8 years and now I am free again.

“the truth will set them free”

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By REDHORSE, December 8, 2010 at 3:54 pm Link to this comment

The leaks, the Assange arrest and the open propagandist capitulation of the American Press simply lays bare what we already know. The corruption is absolute. It is hard for an individual citizen to accept, hold and contain a reality with this magnitude of horror and tyranny. Most of us live in the “eye” of the hurricane. Though we know there is a storm we are for the moment safe and choose to believe we will escape its destruction. The trumped up “disappearance” of Assange says plainly that none of us are beyond reach.

      I suspect the promised Wikileaks release of materials on American Banking has some part in this attempted cover-up. I’m sure you all remember the disclosure that American Banks were caught openly laundering black market criminal/drug money and walked away with small fines and no prosecution. American representative government has been totally compromised and is openly controlled through the manipulation of revolving door financial politics and the interface of MIC shadow forces with International Organized Criminal Enterprise. These individuals walk free with the help of B.Obama, H.Clinton and people like Feinstein. Nobody even looks when the Karzai brothers are caught smuggling $52,000,000 dollars in Heroin cash or $9,000,000,000 just disappers in Iraq but the local High School kid with a joint is Public Enemy number one. (By the way my local High Schools are in the midst of a major Heroin epidemic.)

      I mentioned that I just heard an NPR report on the new International/American multi-million dollar child prostitution industry. The key word is “International”. Washington D.C. has betrayed and sold the lives and futures of Americans outright. Do what you want with the reality, but its fact.

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By m_astera, December 8, 2010 at 3:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Are you people serious?  Assange is a tool of the intelligence agencies and wikileaks is a limited hangout releasing what the agencies want released, all precisely choreographed and timed.  So now Julian is in protective custody, and the engineered “leaks” get more publicity and fake legitimacy as the other players pretend outrage.  Spare me.

Censoring the internet anyone?  Remember, never let a good crisis go to waste.

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By Bobi, December 8, 2010 at 3:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Robert Scheer - Fabulous as usual and yes you are a very brave man and furthermore you seem to be only journalist in the country who actually uses punctuation. What a concept!

Feinstein needs to go, all Californians, take note. She served I believe on the Armed Services Committee while her husband was a contractor.
If she did nothing wrong she should certainly have resigned from that
committee. She is nothing less than a right winger. San Francisco realized that years go.

Reading the comments has been very enlightening for me. The remnants of a free press. One note of humor is that it seems Obama finally lost his temper and publicly. They have gone ballistic over this. He is quite so willing to fight for the welfare of regular Americans but he will go to the limit to protect Hillary’s honor.

Some of those calling for Assange’s prosecution are so badly informed about our laws (and they let them make the laws?) that is a laughable - calling it treason. Assange is not an American Citizen.

Once again the United States shows we are the most dangerous country on earth. Assange is a hero and our leaders are so afraid terrified of
him. I welcome all and any information that informs us of our government’s underhanded methods and actions. We are a bit closer to being a democracy today.

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By firefly, December 8, 2010 at 3:28 pm Link to this comment

Every one of us owes a debt to Julian Assange. Thanks
to him, we now know that our governments are pursuing
policies that place you and your family in
considerably greater danger. Wikileaks has informed
us they have secretly launched war on yet another
Muslim country, sanctioned torture, kidnapped
innocent people from the streets of free countries
and intimidated the police into hushing it up, and
covered up the killing of 15,000 civilians – five
times the number killed on 9/11. Each one of these
acts has increased the number of jihadis. We can only
change these policies if we know about them – and
Assange has given us the black-and-white proof.
Each of the wikileaks revelations has been carefully
weighed to ensure there is a public interest in
disclosing it. Of the more than 250,000 documents
they hold, they have released fewer than 1000 – and
each of those has had the names of informants, or any
information that could place anyone at risk, removed.
The information they have released covers areas where
our governments are defying the will of their own
citizens, and hiding the proof from them.
Here’s some examples. The Obama administration has
been denying that it has expanded the current “war”
to yet another country, Yemen. Now we know that is a
lie. Ali Abdulah Saleh, the Yemeni dictator, brags in
these cables to a US diplomat: “We’ll continue to say
the bombs are ours, not yours.” The counter-
insurgency expert David Kilcullen, who until recently
was a senior advisor to General Petreaus in Iraq,
estimates that for every one jihadi killed in these
bombings, they kill fifty innocent people. How would
we react if this was happening in Britain? How many
of us would become deranged by grief and resolve to
fight back, even against the other side’s women and
children? Bombing to end jihadism is like smoking to
end lung cancer – a cure that worsens the disease.

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By vertica11ift, December 8, 2010 at 3:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Mike Strong can I steal your line : Julian Assange has not spilled blood, only truth…

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By Calabashe, December 8, 2010 at 3:14 pm Link to this comment

Julian Assange is an allied patriot. BTW if there are any Pat Tillman documents in his cache - feel free to release them. I’ll take responsibility if the family objects, which I don’t think they would.

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By ElRoi, December 8, 2010 at 2:52 pm Link to this comment

Dianne Feinstein = Douche Bag.

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By ElRoi, December 8, 2010 at 2:51 pm Link to this comment

Dianne Feinstein = Douche Bag

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By samosamo, December 8, 2010 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment


“” U.S. officials took seriously Harvard professor
Samuel Huntington’s theory about a
forthcoming war between civilizations,
irresponsible and biased as the theory was.”“

This quote is from William Pfaff’s article on this
site. For me is shows another whopping
problem about who gets educated and how and
what they do with that education.

Certainly many people go to higher educational
centers to learn, but when it involves motives
such as too many people going into law to learn
how to circumvent the law, these are the people
those people in cozy positions of power want
pushing the buttons and moving the levers for
what the feinsteins want; people who study
‘spin’ so they are able better to lie and
euphemize an ideology.

It works quite well when you see effectiveness
of how the mainstream media has so carefully
cultivated the dumbstream garden to believe in
all the things our corrupt leaders try to
misrepresent to them. This creates the
devastating effects of ‘blowback’ which makes it
easier to sway these helpless and hapless
members of the special garden.

Another great point of interest from Robert

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By ray keith, December 8, 2010 at 1:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Great article Robert Scheer but what do you suggest we intact to help Assange?
Please post some suggestions tomorrow- Please

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By berniem, December 8, 2010 at 1:31 pm Link to this comment

As this nation dissolves into a fascist monstrosity bent on world domination via our beloved “free market” capitalism backed by the overwhelming destructive capabilities of our “glorious” military establishment, it is time to mobilize true believers in human dignity and shared concern for the fate of this nation as well as the planet to come together as part of a resistance movement employing the intellect and skills of all citizens who believe in true democratic principles and not the reactionary violence-prone nonsense exemplified by right wing militias. Our current governing structure is a corrupt sham as exemplified by the total duplicity of the current administration and it’s culpability in perpetuating and escalating the crimes of it’s predesessors going back as far as one wishes to look! Enough is enough! Looking forward is nothing more than a euphemism for tunnel vision and the rule of law only applies when convenient!

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By firefly, December 8, 2010 at 1:15 pm Link to this comment

Excellent piece!

The following extracts from Hillary Clinton’s Speech
on January 21, 2010 on Internet Freedom, expose the
hypocrisy now shown by the US government…………

“In many respects, information has never been so
free. There are more ways to spread more ideas to
more people than at any moment in history. Even in
authoritarian countries, information networks are
helping people discover new facts and making
governments more accountable.

During his visit to China in November, President
Obama held a town hall meeting to highlight the
importance of the internet. He defended the right of
people to freely access information, and said that
the more freely information flows, the stronger
societies become. He spoke about how access to
information helps citizens to hold their governments
accountable, generates new ideas, and encourages
creativity. The United States’ belief in that truth
is what brings me here today.

Technologies with the potential to open up access to
government and promote transparency can also be
hijacked by governments to crush dissent and deny
human rights. In the last year, we’ve seen a spike in
threats to the free flow of information. China,
Tunisia, and Uzbekistan have stepped up their
censorship of the internet. In Vietnam, access to
popular social networking sites has suddenly
disappeared. And in Egypt, 30 bloggers and activists
were detained.

On their own, new technologies do not take sides in
the struggle for freedom and progress. But the United
States does. We stand for a single internet where all
of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas.

Our responsibility to help ensure the free exchange
of ideas goes back to the birth of our republic. The
words of the First Amendment to the Constitution are
carved in 50 tons of Tennessee marble on the front of
this building.

Some countries have erected electronic barriers that
prevent their people from accessing portions of the
world’s networks. They have expunged words, names and
phrases from search engine results. They have
violated the privacy of citizens who engage in non-
violent political speech. These actions contravene
the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which
tells us that all people have the right “to seek,
receive and impart information and ideas through any
media and regardless of frontiers.” With the spread
of these restrictive practices, a new information
curtain is descending across much of the world.

As in the dictatorships of the past, governments are
targeting independent thinkers who use these tools.
In the demonstrations that followed Iran’s
presidential elections, grainy cell phone footage of
a young woman’s bloody murder provided a digital
indictment of the government’s brutality. And despite
an intense campaign of government intimidation, brave
citizen journalists in Iran continue using technology
to show the world and their fellow citizens what is
happening in their country. Their courage is
redefining how technology is used to spread truth and
expose injustice.

Those who disrupt the free flow of information in our
society, or any other, pose a threat to our economy,
our government and our civil society. Countries or
individuals that engage in cyber attacks should face
consequences and international condemnation.

We are also supporting the development of new tools
that enable citizens to exercise their right of free
expression by circumventing politically motivated
censorship. Both the American people, and nations
that censor the internet, should understand that our
government is proud to help promote internet freedom.

We look to Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough
investigation of the cyber intrusions that led Google
to make this announcement. We also look for that
investigation and its results to be transparent.”

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By ESA, December 8, 2010 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

And now widespread censorship of the Internet.  It never ends.

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By FCBarca, December 8, 2010 at 12:53 pm Link to this comment

Always a good read, Robert, thanks.

Tragic really, feels like a chapter out of some
Orwellian nightmare turned reality

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By ElkoJohn, December 8, 2010 at 12:52 pm Link to this comment

The Big Brother, Nanny State Federal Government
run by the Robber Class is crushing the working class
and the disenfranchised class in this county.
Time for another revolution in my humble opinion.
And what gets me is that the Banksters are destroying
countries Ireland. This is a Global problem.
Workers of the world unite, rise up and throw off
the chains of Profits-at-Any-Cost Capitalism.

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By marcus medler, December 8, 2010 at 12:46 pm Link to this comment

Thanks for this eye opener—look to the list of american arms traffickers—- I do
think that the fallout of this wiki event will be the purge of clintonites as well as bushies. Sad she can’t leave now!

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By cann4ing, December 8, 2010 at 12:45 pm Link to this comment

Let’s not forget that Feinstein’s husband, investment banker Richard C. “Blum had a substantial stake in, bought EG&G, a leading provider of technical services and management to the U.S. military, from The Carlyle Group in 2002.”

Anything that would undercut the deceptions that have the U.S. engaging in perpetual war in at least four countries, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, is a threat to the Blum/Feinstein personal fortune.

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By thebeerdoctor, December 8, 2010 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment

It is always good for Truthdig when Robert Scheer nails something down, which he certainly has done with this article. The people who buy into the government’s complaints about WikiLeaks, are exactly that:bought. My how the insecurity of money and the lack of access (whatever that truly means) turns news organizations into simpering fools of misinformation. WikiLeaks exposes this fraud.No wonder that are upset; they are being hoisted on their own petard.

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By Michael, December 8, 2010 at 12:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Seeing as how these leaks have shown us what our beloved leaders are really up
to, it would appear that under the terms of the Constitution and the oaths that
Feinstein and others took for their federal offices, that they could be impeached
and perhaps imprisoned for deliberating lying to the American electorate while
under that oath of office. 

Is there an attorney out there who has expertise in this area that could shed some
light on this?

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By nick name, December 8, 2010 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As a San Franciscan, I voted for Diane Feinstein mainly to get her out of San Francisco, where she was far more conservative than either her party or the City cared for. I figured she’d be safely out of the way in Washington, and be better there than any Republican would be as senator. Boy, was I wrong. For all she’s done for the country, she might as well be a full-blown Republican: she’s become as reactionary and elitist as the worst of them. I’ll never vote for her again (and I didn’t last time she ran). Only trouble is, the Republicans keep putting up candidates who are worse.

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By johanD, December 8, 2010 at 12:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank God Mr. Scheer for writing this article. The behavior of all government, specially the over blown and lazy security US forces who use American Express Black credit cards to pay for torture, “legal” killings, corrupting foreign governments, is so despicable, that none of them want anyone to find out how corrupt and full of arrogance they are. This smells very much like another failed set up by the CIA and the power of the governement as they feel they can threaten the Swedes to extradite Mr. Assange. They know damn well that there is no case and certainly not one that would demand this abusive show of power by the ridiculously fat and overblown Homeland Security. Diane Feinstein and many other of her Republican (Yes I know she is supposed to represent Democrats) colleagues who shamefully calls for prosecution of Mr.Assange and thereby undermines the freedom of press, is a “murderer”. She knew damn well that the CIA made up these false WOMD reports and coward as she is she does not want anyone to find out what a bunch of lies she supported. This grandmother is not interested in real democracy. Like dictators, they love the power of government, the power to tell people what they can do and what they certainly cannot do like exposing the lies and corruption in the US government and Pentagon.
The arrogance from people like Feinstein and for that matter President Obama to always belittle the voter, specially the liberal voter is shocking.          They always have the same defense, (the Chamberlain defense) this is the best we could get, or we the (liberal) voters do not know or understand what the stakes are and understand all issues. The problem is that many of us do more research that most of the lazy self important politicians in Washington who are more interested in raising money for their campaigns and posing smilingly for tv camera’s
Mr. Assange is one of the few journalist who is willing to fight for exposing these people and the lies they spread over the world. More important their incompetence and lies they tell their voters. He should be supported at all costs and the Main stream media have done a major disservice to freedom of Press. Unfortunately most of them, are to callous to even care. They just work for their paycheck and will repeat anything the government or politicians and. corporate leaders tell them.

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By G.Anderson, December 8, 2010 at 11:55 am Link to this comment

Diane Frankenstein, has to go. Hopefully this won’t be dependent on the enemy
running some kook against her. On so many issues she backs the plutocracy over the
people. As to those so called journalists you speak of, please don’t dignify them by
giving them a title they haven’t earned. They are corporate shills nothing more.

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By gerard, December 8, 2010 at 11:46 am Link to this comment

The current “cablegate” situation is a clear example of what might be called “electronic jiujitsu.” The theory behind the marshall arts in general is that one practices how to meet an opponent’s force, not with counterforce, but in such a way as to put the opponent off balance so that he, in effect, falls on his own sword.
  International diplomacy, being solely focused on the self-interest of each participant, (being unsubtle and simple-minded) lays itself open to such indirect and unfamiliar efforts as WikiLeaks because the methods of diplomacy-as-is are crude. They depend on tactics like bribery, secrecy and military force, all of which might be called “blunt tools” when compared to the force of electronic messaging.

A more effective diplomacy would depend less on under-handed “deals” and more on truth, accuracy and openness, plus a bit more understanding of different cultures.
  WikiLeaks cnters the scene with precisely the “weapon” which, because it represents openness and precision, causes it to meet its opponent—secrecy in government—in such a way as to turn that government’s “powers” against the government itself. (Proof: Instantly the huge constitutional right of freedom of speech is brought into question and attempts are made to even make NEW LAWS that would limit that freedom and prevent it from functioning.)
  The alternative to secrecy is not counter-secrecy,  or making freedom criminal, but openness. This, WikiLeaks has made abundantly clear. 
  Those who do not understand this point are obviously angry and frustrated. The only thing they know is the old way of dealing and part of their anger is due to mere embarrassment at having not seen their shortcomings before now. Thus the “kill the messenger” reaction.
  Those who comprehend what is going on are now called upon to defend Manning and Assange, and to help usher in a new age of opportunity for openness and understanding.

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By gerard, December 8, 2010 at 11:46 am Link to this comment

The current “cablegate” situation is a clear example of what might be called “electronic jiujitsu.” The theory behind the marshall arts in general is that one practices how to meet an opponent’s force, not with counterforce, but in such a way as to put the opponent off balance so that he, in effect, falls on his own sword.
  International diplomacy, being solely focused on the self-interest of each participant, (being unsubtle and simple-minded) lays itself open to such indirect and unfamiliar efforts as WikiLeaks because the methods of diplomacy-as-is are crude. They depend on tactics like bribery, secrecy and military force, all of which might be called “blunt tools” when compared to the force of electronic messaging.

A more effective diplomacy would depend less on under-handed “deals” and more on truth, accuracy and openness, plus a bit more understanding of different cultures.
  WikiLeaks cnters the scene with precisely the “weapon” which, because it represents openness and precision, causes it to meet its opponent—secrecy in government—in such a way as to turn that government’s “powers” against the government itself. (Proof: Instantly the huge constitutional right of freedom of speech is brought into question and attempts are made to even make NEW LAWS that would limit that freedom and prevent it from functioning.)
  The alternative to secrecy is not counter-secrecy,  or making freedom criminal, but openness. This, WikiLeaks has made abundantly clear. 
  Those who do not understand this point are obviously angry and frustrated. The only thing they know is the old way of dealing and part of their anger is due to mere embarrassment at having not seen their shortcomings before now. Thus the “kill the messenger” reaction.
  Those who comprehend what is going on are now called upon to defend Manning and Assange, and to help usher in a new age of opportunity for openness and understanding.

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By Alphysicist, December 8, 2010 at 11:26 am Link to this comment

“Good morning”, lied the U.S. government.

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By faith, December 8, 2010 at 11:10 am Link to this comment

Great article Mr. Scheer.  I intend to do the same concerning the vote - I will not
support Feinstein under any terms for your very reasons.  Thanks for making the
argument with such clarity.

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By SarcastiCanuck, December 8, 2010 at 10:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

As politicians like Cheney and Feinstein lead America down the long slippery slope toward Facism,the mainstream media marginalizes,ignores and silences all voices of dissent.This is not patriotism,it is totalitarianism.Assange is just showing these hypocrytes for what they really are.Phonies who wrap themselves in the flag and use thier power to enrich themselves and their friends at the true patriots expense.Christ America,do you ever need a saviour like Jefferson right now…Good Luck my friends..

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By Mike Strong, December 8, 2010 at 10:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Julian Assange has not spilled blood, only truth, in particular, raw, mostly un-digested data the rest of us can look at to find out what is going on in our names, with our money, spilling our blood and the even greater blood of countries we attack and horribly unfortunate families we slaughter (our clean-cut young troops do this) at check points.

There is a complete class warfare pitting the rich and super rich versus the rest of us. They have an economy which works with totally different rules from ours, although it affects our economy (honest labor or product for honest money).

What is most astonishing is how little we know of other nations, not even wanting to learn other languages and how little we even care about those other nations except to call them threats, and yet how obsessed we are with meddling in their affairs.

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By kalpal, December 8, 2010 at 10:38 am Link to this comment

Government of, by and for the people may have been true for a few minutes or days after that concept was announced by Lincoln but it has not been true for more than a century. This country is operated in accordance with the wishes of the people and corporate entities who pay the bulk of the costs of running for and retaining political office.

War is a massively profitable event and anything that may persuade the populace to withdraw support for that enterprise must be quashed as quickly as possible and its proponents must be demonized as throughly as possible. 

Currently the conservatives who mostly profit from the wars are anxious to obscure the lack of credible reason to continue either of the wars since neither war will in any way make this nation more secure. The wars are kept going because the profits and graft involved are so high.

American lives and limbs are lost daily. America’s treasure is quickly being shifted to the coffers of the wealthiest war supporters and their industries. The GOP is doing its best to assure the war’s wealtheist supporters and profiteers of their total fealty.

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By Memory_Hole, December 8, 2010 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

The only free press we have in the U.S. is on the internet and a few low-circulation magazines, as well as on your local cable station.  Not CBS-ABC-CNN-Fox, and certainly not PBS, NPR or PRI either.  The oligarchs are working on taming the internet as well, as they have little tolerance for even the remnants of a free press.  Assange is of course a hero for releasing cables showing the utter corruption of the US empire. That it has dealt with him like this was predictable and contemptible.  We must all become the media now.  We are all Julian Assange.  Find “I am Julian Assange” and click “Send to Friends” on your Facebook page.

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By A. Z. Arrow, December 8, 2010 at 10:32 am Link to this comment

Lets nominate Julian Assange

What ever happened to the highly touted Whistle-Blower laws, or Obama’s campaign promise of
“Transparent government”?

Julian Assange should be given the Pulitzer Prize and then nominated for the Noble Peace Prize .
Members of Congress and the “Justice” Department keep trying to stick him with their fake
trumped-up allegations -such as “treason” and “rape”—when he isn’t even a US citizen and is
protected by UN agreements of the treatment of reporters—that the United States demanded and

The NY Times, der Spiegel, and the English Guardian are up to their necks in partnership with
WikiLeaks and with Julian Assange: as a reporter he is also eligible for the Edward R. Murrow
and I.F. Stone awards. It’s a freedom of the press issues, pure and simple.

Sherwood Ross writes:

“Like the ancient philosopher Diogenes searching for an honest man, Julian Assange has used
WikiLeaks to reveal the truth about U.S. totalitarianism by quoting its own words. The Greeks
tolerated Diogenes and Alexander the Great said he envied the man but Barack Obama & Co. are
out to prosecute him for embarrassing them before the world. The truth is dangerous and Obama
will tolerate none of it.”

Bill Quigley writes:

“The US has been going in the wrong direction for years by classifying millions of documents as
secrets. Wikileaks and other media which report these so called secrets will embarrass people yes.
Wikileaks and other media will make leaders uncomfortable yes. But embarrassment and
discomfort are small prices to pay for a healthier democracy. Wikileaks has the potential to make
transparency and accountability more robust in the US. That is good for democracy. . . ”

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By mack894, December 8, 2010 at 10:27 am Link to this comment

Sorry, the url was misprinted

Assange Case:  Evidence Destroyed,01.shtml

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By Jim Yell, December 8, 2010 at 10:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am glad to see that I am not the only one who was looking forward to seeing the post on the banking papers, but had an errant thought that he might be stopped from doing it.

Why is Assange being persecuted because he published documents that for the most part should never have been secret in the first place? Would you hire a contractor to fix your house and then allow him to keep secret where he bought the supplies, how much he paid for the suppllies, the proportion of money spent actually spent to do the job? The government is ours, the entire publics, not just the gangsters amongst us. So why should we allow more of our money to be spent persecuting someone for telling us our pockets have been picked? Shame, Shame, Shame

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By glider, December 8, 2010 at 10:23 am Link to this comment

The virtual shutdown of standard methods of transferring money from individuals to Wikileaks is a shut down of the free speech of American citizens objecting to the Corporatocracy.  Who are PayPal, Visa, Amazon, to tell individual citizens what they can do with their cash donations?  Obviously, corporate donations do not suffer such limitations.  This is the new America!

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By mack894, December 8, 2010 at 10:22 am Link to this comment

Apparently the fullest and most accurate coverage of the govt repression of
wikileaks and associated first amendment rights can only be obtained in the
foreign press, most notably The Guardian who publishes stories today about
PayPal admitting that it severed ties with wikileaks due to govt pressure.

“State Dept told us these were illegal activities. It was straightforward,” he told
the LeWeb conference in Paris, adding: “We ... comply with regulations around
the world, making sure that we protect our brand.”

I find it astonishing that just a couple of years ago, this country was so
outraged about Iraq and the lies that got us into that war, so much so the Pres
Obama based his presidential campaign on his resistance, that now so many,
including Wolf Blitzer of CNN, insist they want to remain ignorant of the truth
and I guess continued to be lied to. Investigative journalism has its limits. A
meek Bill Keller, editor of the NYT, upon being told by a BBC journalist that Joe
Lieberman was gunning for the paper, complained that he was acting
responsibly by clearing everything printed with the GOVT and asking if it’s okay
to print this and that.  The BBC journalist paused before asking if the paper
routinely cleared its stories with the govt before publication. (video on

Another stunning piece of investigative & foreign journalism uncovered the
tweets posted by the lovers of Assange that they tried to delete after deciding to
complain of condom breaking.  Fortunately for Assange, they didn’t understand
things like caches and that there is often a permanent record of blogs and such
even after you hit the delete button.

“Assange Case: Evidence Destroyed. This article reproduces the tweets
published by the women days after their affairs with Assange. After they met
each other and decided to go to the police, they tried to delete their tweets and
blogs, not understand ing the theory of “caches.”

http://rix /20101001, 01.shtml

Last night my internet connection went down. I wonder if it was because of all
those cyber attacks between the White House and Assange supporters that have
been increasing on a daily basis as the White House is now engaged in taking
down mirror sites.

If Richard Nixon were alive today, he’d certainly cheer the White House on its
revenge attacks on the press.

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By c-post, December 8, 2010 at 10:07 am Link to this comment

I have long suspected Feinstein of being a closet “conservative”. Excellent article, Bob.

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By sharloch, December 8, 2010 at 9:54 am Link to this comment

it is a shame, that this country has to rely on foreigners to disclose information about the corruption within our own government.

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By peterjkraus, December 8, 2010 at 9:41 am Link to this comment

Thanks, Mr.Scheer. As usual, an insightful article,
bravely published by one who has seen the slow,
painful death of the free press from the inside.

Your courage, sir, matches that of Julian Assange. I
commend both of you.

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By SoTexGuy, December 8, 2010 at 9:39 am Link to this comment

Scheer is right, Assange is a reporter/publisher, not a spy.. And our leaders are corrupt.

About the Conspiracy Nuts and Theorists.. Deek Jackson has a good take on it and the NWO (RATED ADULT)

If you get anything out of that I heartily recommend his video “911 The Musical”.. picks up where Michael Moore left off. You’ll be humming the theme song for a week! Inspired.


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By Ching-Ching, December 8, 2010 at 9:36 am Link to this comment

The most troubling aspect of this whole thing is that companies like mastercard, visa and paypal have chosen to get envolved in something that has nothing to do with them.
Tell me that corporate american doesn’t own the media.

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By glider, December 8, 2010 at 9:36 am Link to this comment

Great article by Robert Scheer.  Julian Assange is a real world hero putting his head on the chopping block for a shot at improving humanities lot.  He is a breath of fresh air amongst the fake hope and change hubris generated by media advertising campaign $$$$.  Maybe if we are not to far gone he can serve as a lightning rod to get us off our collective asses to stop Americas Decline. 

Hey Robert how about trying to put a fund raising effort through TruthDig to allow safe donations to Wikileaks?  A little action to follow up your article.

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By eir, December 8, 2010 at 9:29 am Link to this comment

All you need to know [?] about Julian Assange’s value as a crusading journalist is that The New York Times and most of the world’s other leading newspapers have led daily with important news.”

The very Times that carefully led us to war in Iraq?  “The intimate cooperation with The New York Times, with The Guardian of London, and with Der Spiegel of Germany…these are three arch establishmentarian, vaguely, very vaguely center left” mouthpieces that are pushing Assange and Wikileaks.  Why?  Do you trust these establishment mouthpieces?

What great revelations have there been after all?  That we, along with “allies” have been waging an unjust war?  The American people were and are well aware of this.  That as Robert Scheer writes, “our puppets in Iraq and Afghanistan are deeply corrupt and anti-democratic, and that al-Qaida continues to find its base of support not in those countries but rather in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, the very nations we arm and protect.”  Boy, what a shocker!

Like to look at things from more than one side?  I encourage you to think about what Wikileaks may and may not be.  Webster Tarpley: Media’s Wikileaks “CIA Style Spin” Gives Obama Excuse to Invade Iran & Pakistan!

Look at the curious relationship between George Soros, famed billionaire currency speculator, and backer and pusher of Obama, and his role as a backer of Assange. 

Are we being played, yet again, and for what purposes?  Never accept “all you need to know.”

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By Tony Vodvarka, December 8, 2010 at 9:15 am Link to this comment

A fine statement, Mr.Scheer!  What remains of the freedom of the press and the internet will be gravely threatened if the effort to muzzle Wikileaks succeeds.

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By kenn, December 8, 2010 at 8:42 am Link to this comment

How many steps from “Freedom of the Press” to “Your Papers are NOT in order!”?

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By Rosemary Molloy, December 8, 2010 at 8:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m glad Assange is in jail.  He’ll be safer there than he would at large where he could suffer an “accident” and be taken out.  Believe that’s far-fetched?  Think about it.

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By Mike789, December 8, 2010 at 8:21 am Link to this comment

Cripes, I just want the dope on the flippin’ banks.

It’s a global war for resources. Congress got the message in the 70’s when the oil tap was turned down to a trickle. So the theatrical flats were designed and drawn down as per appeasement of the populace.

The big “Truth” is that there are certainties that must be addressed in unpleasant ways. So, you say you don’t want to give up the mege-truck or the SUV, not in my backyard to nucleur energy, windmills, right of way for a modern national grid, etc, etc, and what you get is a strategic positioning in the midst of the oil rich Middle East states and you bitch about that and how and why and who did what to whom for what reason, creating scapegoats conspiracy theories that are so nonsensical, it’s pathetic. You suck up 25% of all resources and your part-time hobby is bitchin’ about how your country projects power in your interest based on your recalcitance to change of life style complexed with a penchant for accumulating wealth without concomitant societal responsibility.

It’s obvious. Make the necessary transition or go down to the wire in an ever diminishing single energy resource economic model. You have until about 2050. Sit on your thumbs some more and then bitch about the rationing cards coming down the pike.

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By Larry Snider, December 8, 2010 at 8:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Mr. Scheer,

I believe in a free and unfettered press but also that the agenda of Julian Assange is not the agenda of the New York Times or the Guardian or Der Spiegel. That’s OK too because it is about something larger that the 1st amendment was put in place to protect. I have no particular love for Diane Feinstein, but must recognize the necessary role of the United States Senate to defend the interests of the United States in part through the vehicle of a Senate Intelligence Committee. We live in a world that in too many ways increasingly represents the vision of Hobbes Leviathan and the competing interests of a free press and security in our nuclear age present innumerable difficult choices. While I have not drunk from the well, (yet, at least), that taints my vision so as to view security as something that must be held above and beyond our Constitutional freedoms, I am aware too of the dangers that appear to be ever present and ever growing in a world that offers us technological advancement at a rate that outstrips both our wisdom and the sense inherent in our better angels.

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By thebeerdoctor, December 8, 2010 at 8:14 am Link to this comment

“Mr. Assange is not himself responsible for the unauthorized release of 250,000 documents from the US diplomatic communications network. The Americans are responsible for that. I think there are real questions to be asked about the adequacy of their security systems and the level of access that people have had to that material over a long period of time.”
KEVIN RUDD, Australian Foreign Minister

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By par4, December 8, 2010 at 8:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dianne Feinstein is not a ‘centrist’. She is a ‘corporatist’ just like most of our elected officials. All corporatists are of the far right. The only thing farther right is dictatorship. Dennis Kucinich is better described as a ‘centrist’ because he still believes in democracy and capitalism.

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By thebeerdoctor, December 8, 2010 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

I am happy to see Mr. Scheer exposing Senator Feinstein as the cowardly toad she truly is. A centrist democrat? What a laughable designation.

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By JohannG, December 8, 2010 at 7:54 am Link to this comment

Wikileaks and Assange have exposed how fundamentally
corrupt our Government has become. I suggest that
“Shoot the messenger” should replace “In God we trust”
on all U.S. currency because that’s us.

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By BarbieQue, December 8, 2010 at 7:46 am Link to this comment


Robert Scheer hits it out of the park.

-From a Forbes interview:

Assange: “Let’s say you want to run a good company. It’s nice to have an ethical workplace. Your employees are much less likely to screw you over if they’re not screwing other people over.

Then one company starts cutting their milk powder with melamine, and becomes more profitable. You can follow suit, or slowly go bankrupt and the one that’s cutting its milk powder will take you over. That’s the worst of all possible outcomes.

The other possibility is that the first one to cut its milk powder is exposed. Then you don’t have to cut your milk powder. There’s a threat of regulation that produces self-regulation.

It just means that it’s easier for honest CEOs to run an honest business, if the dishonest businesses are more effected negatively by leaks than honest businesses. That’s the whole idea. In the struggle between open and honest companies and dishonest and closed companies, we’re creating a tremendous reputational tax on the unethical companies.

No one wants to have their own things leaked. It pains us when we have internal leaks. But across any given industry, it is both good for the whole industry to have those leaks and it’s especially good for the good players…”

Todays Uncle Sam hasn’t been a good player and is afraid of being exposed. Uncle sam wants to read our emails, track our spending, grope us if we travel, and tell us what to buy.

But Assange is a danger.

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By markulyseas, December 8, 2010 at 7:44 am Link to this comment

The Press in USA is polarized and some have hidden agendas. The term Free Press is now an oxymoron.
Julian Assange has done us a favor by exposing this and more. But there are instances in the disclosures that should not have seen the light of day.

But now that the horse has bolted it is pointless to shut the stable door with Assange inside!

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By elisalouisa, December 8, 2010 at 7:42 am Link to this comment

All true Mr. Scheer and stated so well. First reports, which are usually true, were
that Julian Assange had turned himself in followed by news that claimed
otherwise. Why was Mr. Assange refused bail? If he turned himself in as is most
likely true, he certainly would not attempt skip bail. Who knows what is taking
place at this very moment concerning Mr. Assange? Will he be administered drugs
that will alter his mind? Perhaps be coerced into making comments he does not
believe? His treatment by msm tells you who really controls the press. Thanks to
Truthdig and your committed effort in getting the real story out.

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By philosopher66, December 8, 2010 at 7:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

(Of course civilization is like many other things besides jets- always things-a chemical drainage ditch, a woodland knocked down to lengthen an airstrip or to build a slick new shopping mall where people can buy salad bowls made out of exotic tropical trees which will be extinct next week, or perhaps a graveyard for cars, or a suspension bridge which collapses because a single metal pin has shaken loose. Civilization is a hydra. There is a multitude of styles, colors, and sizes of Death to choose from.)

Civilization is like a Boeing jumbo jet because it transports people who have never experienced their humanity where they were. to places where they shouldn’t go. In fact it mainly transports businessmen in suits with briefcases filled with charts, contracts, more mischief-businessmen who are identical everywhere and hence have no reason at all to be ferried about. And it goes faster and faster, turning more and more places into airports, the (un)natural habitat of businessmen.

It is an utter mystery how it gets off the ground. It rolls down the runway, the blinking lights along the ground like electronic scar tissue on the flesh of the earth, picks up speed and somehow grunts raping the air, working its way up along the shimmering waves of heat and the trash blowing about like refugees fleeing the bombing of a city. Yes, it is exciting, a mystery, when life has been evacuated and the very stones have been murdered.

But civilization, like the jetliner, this freak phoenix incapable of rising from its ashes, also collapses across the earth like a million bursting wasps, flames spreading across the runway in tentacles of gasoline, samsonite, and charred flesh. And always the absurd rubbish, Death’s confetti, the fragments left to mock us lying along the weary trajectory of the dying bird-the doll’s head, the shoes eyeglasses, a beltbuckle.

Jetliners fall, civilizations fall, this civilization will fall. The gauges will be read wrong on some snowy day (perhaps they will fail). The wings, supposedly defrosted, will be too frozen to beat against the wind and the bird will sink like a millstone, first gratuitously skimming a bridge (because civilization is also like a bridge, from Paradise to Nowhere), a bridge laden, say, with commuters on their way to or from work, which is to say, to or from an airport, packed in their cars (wingless jetliners) like additional votive offerings to a ravenous Medusa.

Then it will dive into the icy waters of a river, the Potoma perhaps, or the River Jordon, or Lethé. And we will be inside, each one of us at our specially assigned porthole, going down for the last time, like dolls’ heads encased in plexiglass.

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By philosopher66, December 8, 2010 at 7:25 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Civilization is like a jetliner, noisy, burning up enormous amounts of fuel. Every imaginable and unimaginable crime and pollution had to be committed in order to make it go. Whole species were rendered extinct, whole populations dispersed. Its shadow on the waters resembles an oil slick. Birds are sucked into its jets and vaporized. Every part, as Gus Grissom once nervously remarked about space capsules before he was burned up in one, has been made by the lowest bidder.

Civilization is like a 747, the filtered air, the muzak oozing over the earphones, a phony sense of security, the chemical food, the plastic trays, all the passengers sitting passively in the orderly row of padded seats staring at Death on the movie screen. Civilization is like a jetliner, an idiot savant in the cockpit, manipulating computerized controls built by sullen wage workers, and dependent for his directions on sleepy technicians high on amphetamines with their minds wandering to sports and sex.

Civilization is like a 747, filled beyond capacity with coerced volunteers-some in love with the velocity, most wavering at the abyss of terror and nausea, yet still seduced by advertising and propaganda. It is like a DC-10, so incredibly enclosed that you want to break through the tin can walls and escape, make your own way through the clouds, and leave this rattling, screaming fiend approaching its breaking point. The smallest error or technical failure leads to catastrophe, scattering your sad entrails like belated omens all over the runway, knocks you out of your shoes, breaks all your bones like egg shells.

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By heavyrunner, December 8, 2010 at 6:31 am Link to this comment

It makes me sad to see how brazenly people like Dianne Feinstein defy the Constitution. The disrespect for the 1st Amendment shown by Feinstein and Obama’s Attorney General, Holder, is chilling and frightening. They are terrorists of the worst kind.

Terrorists like those who were responsible for 9/11. Somewhere there is an individual like Daniel Ellsberg, who has the communications between the higher ups, like the kind of documents that were in the Pentagon Papers which reveal the machinations behind the staging of the murderous events in New York and Washington on 9/11/2001. Part of what drives Feinstein and Hillary and lackeys like Holder is the fear that someone will pass the big secrets to Assange or someone like him. Look at the disruption that is being caused in their imperialist scheming by just the release of low level “secret” communications.

I want to see the paperwork behind the wiring of the Twin Towers and Building 7 with demolition explosives. How about all the cables between the Mossad and Dick Cheney’s office in the summer of 2001. I bet those would be interesting.

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By Maria Odete Madeira, December 8, 2010 at 6:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“It is outrageous for any journalist, or respecter of
what every American president has claimed is our
inalienable, God-given right to a free press…”

Well, if we remember the “Tree of Knowledge of Good
and Evil” bad episode, from a Biblical perspective,
God would probably be against free press.

But about freedom: freedom implies projective

“From Jefferson to Assange”?! That’s much too epic,

Robert is perspectivically analyzing effects, and not
causes. “AssangeLeaks” is just a supervenient effect
in discardable late Wagnerian formatting. Assange
could be anyone.

Pertinent would be to analyze the
“ProjectiveTrajective” weave that is dangerously
feeding Assange.

Interesting would also be some analysis about the
behavior of the systems in
“QuantumLeapingCatastrophe” in which, in the extreme,
the system can jump to outside the system or the
system can, even, erase the system.

This is an inclusive game, it is not a game where
someone can place oneself outside the system moving
the pieces of the system, that is a “GodDelirium”, no
one is outside the system, and, in a limit strange
loop, when the system “bites its own tail” generating
a circular clinamen, it is the autopoiesis of the
system that will enact a response, which may not be
the expected response by aspirants-to-gods with
panoptic implants.

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By ardee, December 8, 2010 at 5:41 am Link to this comment

I take it as a privilege to post the first non-raving post here under this thread…Patriot, perhaps, but not to my own definition thereof.

I have long considered the death of the Free Press as a perhaps fatal blow to our democratic way of life. Without those like Assange we allow free reign to those like Feinstein. I think she has been at the heart of power for so long as to have lost all sense of the reality of our system of governance, what it was supposed to be and what she has helped turn it into.

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By Kath Cantarella, December 8, 2010 at 4:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is where the appalling terrorism legislation of the past few years gets turned on the citizens it was supposedly created to protect. Watch what happens to Bradley Manning. Assange’s general invitation to publish on his website is not inducement to a criminal act or espionage. He has not broken any US or Australian laws by publishing information, regardless of whether or not we have a right to that information under freedom of information laws (and I believe we do, most of it at least). Certain members of the US government may have broken the most serious international laws (that the US has ratified!) by invading a sovereign nation without cause and have possibly breached their own freedom of information laws, at least in a purposive sense, by classifying evidence which would reveal this crime. And if the other embarrassing crap, or the war logs, are worthy of classification, please explain how, in a closed court if need be. Is Feinstein trying to say that Assange went to Manning and convinced him to breach his employment contract? If so, does she equate this with espionage? A lot of possibly legally vulnerable US officials are freely throwing around accusations of criminal activity. They need to present any charges and evidence to Assange’s lawyers or shut up, because they are angering a lot of top legal minds in Australia, the UK, and Europe. And they may be dragging the Swedish prosecutor into a possible breach if she has any culpable knowledge of unfounded grounds for US extradition. Assange is an Australian citizen and he WILL be defended by an Australian government no longer under Howard, despite Prime Minister Gillard’s criticism of his actions. People who would start unnecessary ‘pre-emptive’ wars are war criminals, even if the invaded country’s leader is a criminal, because he’s not the only one who will die in the war. The International Court of Justice can try anyone implicated in the illegal invasion of Iraq in absentia, whether or not their country recognizes that court’s authority (Milosevic didn’t). SO STOP ANGERING INTERNATIONAL LAWYERS. AND STOP BREAKING YOUR OWN LAWS AGAINST INCITING VIOLENCE BY CALLING FOR THE EXECUTION OF A US CITIZEN WHO BREACHED HIS GOVERNMENT EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT. These men aren’t anarchists, they are trying to hold those who they believe are abusing official power to account. That is inherently moral, and usually legal. Witholding knowledge of a crime is to be an accessory to that crime. So far Private Manning seems to be a better citizen than his accusers. Any officials concerned about the personal repercussions of leaked material would be smart to begin sincerely cleaning up their act. Do they honestly think no one of international legal consequence understands what they are watching unfold? HUGE mistake. Sheer hubris. Most legal minds are turned to you at any free moment, pouring through their memories of statutes and Constitutions. Iraqi civilians are dead. US soldiers are dead. Co-alition soldiers are dead. Wake up and smell the corpses rotting in your front yard. These are terrible crimes, not government privileges.
I believe in the law, and in the inviolability of the rule of law. The law represents justice, not the privileges of power. The Executive is NEVER above the law. The Executive may break the law, but it is always subject to the law. Beware of the honest lawyer because THAT is the honest lawyer’s gospel.

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By Ralph Kramden, December 8, 2010 at 3:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Jim Hightower posts a quote: “Speak the truth but ride a fast horse.” Robert Scheer, this is the time for guts. Never mind the “true grit” of phonies like John Wayne, Limbaugh, Palin, Shrub, Beck. I mean the real stuff like Zola. You know what happened to him? Either we stand up or the crime of quietism will be on us just as it was with the good Germans. It amazes me that toddies like Dianne Feisnstein and Lieberman are invoking espionage and treason charges. I never heard a word from them when the Israeli spies were captured. Both their patriotism is suspect but they lead the lynching mob. Typical. “Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels,” let us keep that in mind, eyes on the prize. Meanwhile, Obama is either a sissy,or a wanna-be rich, he may well be a war criminal. Hell, dump him, he is more than worthless he is a mole for the ruling class.
I thought I was brave but know I know the fear of even placing a “Free Assange & Manning” bumper sticker. I will do it but the brain-washing is fierce and who knows who will throw a brick through my windshield. In the spirit of Emile Zola, onwards. Amazon, Visa, MasterCard, what a bunch of goose-stepping enterprises. Then the Brits and the Sweades. They are that powerful these bastards, criminal bastards.Well, besides the gas chambers, what did the Nazis do that we haven’t done? Medical experiments, CBW, torture, disappearances, and then the death by our sanctions of 500,000 children. CHILDREN. That is how one can explain the horror of Nazi Germany: the good people did nothing or pretended not to know.
What is to be done?

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By American, December 8, 2010 at 2:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A terrific statement by one of America’s most respected journalists! Mr. Scheer is a man of great courage and integrity!

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By writeon, December 8, 2010 at 2:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

So we move further and further away from classic, old-school-style democracy… and towards what exactly?

Well, it sure looks and smells like Mussolini’s Corporate State, where business and government merge into a new whole. In this form of state there’s not much room for democracy.

Assange was, I believe, both an idealist and incredibly naive. Poor guy. He actually seems to have believed that our civil rights mean something and that the people have the right to speak freely and criticise the rich and powerful elite that rule over us. His belief that democracy needs a strong and free press, that the corporate/state controlled mass media was failing in its duty to hold the power-elite accountable and scrutinize their actions, was a fateful mistake on his part. Not that he was wrong about the need to have a free press in a democracy, but that we still live in a semi-functioning democracy. We don’t.

Arguably democracy died in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. And it certainly died when it was revealed that the justification for the invasion was a pack of lies, and then the criminals involved in the conspiracy were allowed remain unpunished despite them having committed a colossal series of unprovoked warcrimes costing hundreds of thousands of civilian lives and massive material destruction, virtually wiping an entire country off the map.

Since that heinous warcrime things have only gotten worse. Habeus Corpus no longer applies universally, a cornerstone of our freedoms. The President claims he can order the assassination of anyone, anywhere: acting as judge, jury, and executioner. Two thousand civilians have been murdered along the AfPak border in illegal, terrorist, drone attacks. And now they are crushing with a vengence the Wikileaks site and preparing to crucify Assange on trumped-up sex charges, what one used to label Kompromat in Eastern Europe under the Stalinist dictatorship.

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