Posts Tagged ‘sean brown’

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Who is Private Bradley Manning? Mainstream Media Focuses on Wrong Subject in WikiLeaks Scandal

12.21.10

With people on one side calling Julian Assange a hero and others calling him a terrorist for his organization WikiLeaks publishing classified government documents online, it’s hard to determine where I stand.  Am I for his anarchistic, reveal the secrets, power to the people ideology?  Or are his actions putting lives in danger and a detriment to the free world?

Guest blogger Sean Brown wrote his take on this fiasco yesterday and you can read it here.

Considering the fact that we were misled into the war in Iraq under the guise of WMD which were never found and that the embarrassing revelation at Abu Ghraib informed us that America was torturing its war prisoners, it’s hard to trust the government these days — if it ever was trustworthy to begin with.  Assange’s goals with leaking these confidential documents is to bring transparency to governments, which will create justice.

A noble goal, indeed.

But at the same time, I don’t know that what he’s doing is all that productive.  In the short term, at least, he’s reinforcing the tight security measures and potentially liberty-busting new laws like the SHIELD Act. While the unauthorized release of classified information is already illegal, lawmakers are taking aim directly at publishers now with this new legislation, which could have some serious ramifications on the freedom of the press — all in the name of national security (pretty much the official conversation ender these days, regardless of party affiliation).

What’s interesting is how much face time Assange has gotten for all of this, when the reality is that someone else is leaking this information to him to publish.  Who is on the inside sending them the documents?  And why aren’t they the ones being scrutinized all over the mainstream media?  It seems that we’ve forgotten that old adage: don’t shoot the messenger.

Perhaps its even shadier than that.

It turns out that the accused culprit behind a leak was Pfc. Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old Army Private, who has been held in solitary confinement for over seven months with no trail date even set. You won’t see his face on the main page of CNN or Yahoo or Fox News.  You’ll for sure see something about WikiLeaks or Assange’s rape charges (which, if legitimate, are serious crimes and nothing to be brushed aside) on them all, though, without having to look much beyond the top headlines.  MSNBC and CBS News have run stories about Manning, but they’ve not gotten the nationwide attention as the other two heavy hitters.  Not by a long shot.

How ridiculous that the mass media continues to fail miserably at exposing the injustices being done by our own government, whose own questionable actions are a direct result of Assange’s methods of exposing the injustices being done by governments. And instead of focusing on the real story that should be investigated — Private Manning — the media takes aim at WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, neither of whom are the real issues here.

There will always be another WikiLeaks.  Another rebel looking to spread secrets and gain notoriety.  Another insider looking to break the code of conduct.  Similar to the futile effort by the music industry to end piracy by demonizing Napster, the government’s knee-jerk reaction against WikiLeaks and Assange is a hollow attack all for show, focusing on his salacious rape charges instead of the stories that truly affect Americans.

Like why an American not yet convicted of a single crime is being held in a Supermax-like captivity with no trial in sight.

Image courtesy of Steve Rhodes’ Flickr Photostream.

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Why Americans Shouldn’t Fear Julian Assange and WikiLeaks

12.20.10

Before the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” saga took over the headlines this past week, the whole WikiLeaks and Julian Assange drama dominated the news streams, with some labeling him a hero and others branding him a terrorist.  I have yet to write on this complex situation, but I will be shortly.

Until then, though, I have the honor of introducing friend, writer, blogger, human extraordinaire Sean Brown as the first guest blogger on Agree to Disagree; I couldn’t be more proud.  I could also gush on about his talents but, instead, I’ll let his words speak for themselves.

Take it away, Sean:

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Somewhere along the line we lost track of reality, of the ideals make us a truly great country. While there are many tangible things to point to as success, it is a shared belief, a common intangible faith in our system that sets us apart. Somewhere along the line we, as a nation, and more specifically as those interested and engaged in public policy, got caught up in a wave of hysteria. It didn’t start with the terrorist attacks in New York City, but that was the event that blew the top off the mountain and exposed not only the fear of the unknown too common in the American people, but the exploitation that so often accompanies such fear in America.

Julian Assange is not a terrorist. WikiLeaks is not a terrorist organization. More to the point, WikiLeaks is not the enemy. Wikileaks is a reality in the modern world, and Julian Assange is merely the messenger, introducing to the mainstream this new way of life. WikiLeaks is upsetting the established order, the balance between government’s right to secrecy and a thriving investigative media’s responsibility to inform the citizenry. For good, but more likely for ill, after 9/11 and the resulting Patriot Act (which should be pointed out, was heavily endorsed by both parties) the government has grown increasingly more bold in their intrusion into private citizen’s affairs under the guise of National Security.

Enter Julian Assange, Bradley Manning, and WikiLeaks. The United States government got sloppy in its control of delicate communications. If the reports are true, Bradley Manning, for one reason or another, stole a massive amount of these communications and gave them to Julian Assange, and WikiLeaks, for publication. Though the publication of the latest batch of documents has proven to be mildly embarrassing rather than detrimental to national security, Bradley Manning (again, if the allegations are proven true) abused his position with the US Government and the US Army when he stole those communications and passed them on for publication. If the allegations are proven factual, he should receive a punishment fit for his crimes against the state.

But then there is the problem of Julian Assange, and WikiLeaks. Neither being US citizens, nor entities. Merely recipients, and at the very worst solicitors, of secrets from nations and corporations, around the world. Seeking to expose the truth, to poke holes in the propaganda fed to us by governments and corporations alike. When the vast majority of media outlets are owned by only a handful of corporations and individuals, the special relationships between players must be examined. This is not the reality in the United State’s media today. Too often do those who report the news seek to influence opinion, rather than allowing an individual to form his or her own opinion based solely on the facts. Often times does the media trade favorable coverage in exchange for access, and this is a detriment to an informed citizenry. One must question whether the true goal of the mainstream media in today’s America is to inform or persuade. Whether to educate or influence. And to whose advantage.

WikiLeaks, among other independent information organizations, seeks to inform only. To offer firsthand sources of information and to allow those accessing the information to form opinions based on fact, rather than the carefully crafted message that is often presented in its place. This is something that we, as Americans, should celebrate. More information is better. Transparency is a good thing. We lose sight of the fact that We Are The Government, that they work for us. If we blindly accept everything they tell us, we allow ourselves to be manipulated toward desires advantageous to their positions and to not our own. I am happy that WikiLeaks and other independent news organizations have the potential to keep not only the government, but other media outlets honest. We must not blindly accept that WikiLeaks is evil, that their work is detrimental to our state, lest we give up more of the freedoms that make us Americans.

The harm will come not from the secrets exposed, but from the complacent erosion of constitutionally guaranteed rights that follows in the aftermath.

By Sean Brown.
You can read more by Sean Brown at his blog, The Anarchist Project
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Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.