Commentary:Ron Paul on Wikileaks

Though I do find myself supporting a few (emphasis on few) libertarian ideas – mainly ones against big business, on immigration, and about  some civil liberty issues, I am not an overall supporter of Ron Paul (R-Texas). However, I caught a glimpse of this video of Paul on the floor of the House of Representatives asking some insightful and challenging questions about how the government – and media – is portraying the Wikileaks issue.  No one should be too surprised at Paul’s response, he is a libertarian and Wikieaks stands as a venue and symbol of free speech and individual (the “people’s”) rights.

After you watch the video let me know your thoughts on Wikileaks and the meta-debate on freedom of speech, government transparency, and a citizens right to know.

I have posted the transcript in case you would like to read as you listen to the video.

WikiLeaks release of classified information has generated a lot of attention in the past few weeks. The hysterical reaction makes one wonder if this is not an example of killing the messenger for the bad news. Despite what is claimed, the information that has been so far released, though classified, has caused no known harm to any individual, but it has caused plenty of embarrassment to our government. Losing our grip on our empire is not welcomed by the neoconservatives in charge.

There is now more information confirming that Saudi Arabia is a principal supporter and financier of al Qaeda, and that this should set off alarm bells since we guarantee its Sharia-run government. This emphasizes even more the fact that no al Qaeda existed in Iraq before 9/11, and yet we went to war against Iraq based on the lie that it did. It has been charged by experts that Julian Assange, the internet publisher of this information, has committed a heinous crime, deserving prosecution for treason and execution, or even assassination.

But should we not at least ask how the U.S. government should prosecute an Australian citizen for treason for publishing U.S. secret information that he did not steal? And if WikiLeaks is to be prosecuted for publishing classified documents, why shouldn’t theWashington Post, the New York Times, and others also published these documents be prosecuted? Actually, some in Congress are threatening this as well.

The New York Times, as a results of a Supreme Court ruling, was not found guilty in 1971 for the publication of the Pentagon Papers. Daniel Ellsberg never served a day in prison for his role in obtaining these secret documents. The Pentagon Papers were also inserted into the Congressional record by Senator Mike Gravel, with no charges of any kind being made of breaking any national security laws. Yet the release of this classified information was considered illegal by many, and those who lied us into the Vietnam war, and argued for its prolongation were outraged. But the truth gained from the Pentagon Papers revealed that lies were told about the Gulf of Tonkin attack. which perpetuated a sad and tragic episode in our history.

Just as with the Vietnam War, the Iraq War was based on lies. We were never threatened by weapons of mass destruction or al Qaeda in Iraq, though the attack on Iraq was based on this false information. Any information which challenges the official propaganda for the war in the Middle East is unwelcome by the administration and the supporters of these unnecessary wars. Few are interested in understanding the relationship of our foreign policy and our presence in the Middle East to the threat of terrorism. Revealing the real nature and goal of our presence in so many Muslim countries is a threat to our empire, and any revelation of this truth is highly resented by those in charge.

Questions to consider:

Number 1: Do the America People deserve know the truth regarding the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen?

Number 2: Could a larger question be how can an army private access so much secret information?

Number 3: Why is the hostility mostly directed at Assange, the publisher, and not at our governments failure to protect classified information?

Number 4: Are we getting our moneys worth of the 80 Billion dollars per year spent on intelligence gathering?

Number 5: Which has resulted in the greatest number of deaths: lying us into war or Wikileaks revelations or the release of the Pentagon Papers?

Number 6: If Assange can be convicted of a crime for publishing information that he did not steal, what does this say about the future of the first amendment and the independence of the internet?

Number 7: Could it be that the real reason for the near universal attacks on Wikileaks is more about secretly maintaining a seriously flawed foreign policy of empire than it is about national security?

Number 8: Is there not a huge difference between releasing secret information to help the enemy in a time of declared war, which is treason, and the releasing of information to expose our government lies that promote secret wars, death and corruption?

Number 9: Was it not once considered patriotic to stand up to our government when it is wrong?

Thomas Jefferson had it right when he advised ‘Let the eyes of vigilance never be closed.’ I yield back the balance of my time.

2 thoughts on “Commentary:Ron Paul on Wikileaks

  1. I do agree that too much attention is being given to Assange because, as an Australian citizen, he’s not committing treason. The private who revealed the information, on the other hand, did, and I think he should be dealt with accordingly.

    The documents released (at least the first set) contained names of people who put their lives at risk by helping us out. They’re in terrible danger now because Al-Qaeda can now find those names and kill our allies.

    What frustrates me the most about the WikiLeaks is not that this private and Assange found something that our government was doing wrong and decided to release it. It’s that they just revealed everything indiscriminately. Real journalists find the problem and mull over what they need to reveal and what they can keep quiet for the good of our country.

    Yes, we all know that we went to war over some bad intelligence. But hindsight is 20/20. We didn’t know then, and Congress (not just Bush) did vote us into the war. Now we have to do our best with the situation we’re in. If we’re going to come out with ourselves and Iraq in good shape, it’s not going to be by revealing our records to the enemy.

    Our troops have a hard enough job as it is. WikiLeaks and that private showed a blatant disregard for the lives involved in this war. They were going with the moment and weren’t mature enough to consider the consequences of doing so.

    • Thanks for your response. I agree this private should have some significant repercussion. My issue is not revealing some of the details about what is going on during the war or issues revolving why we entered into these conflicts. My issue is, what you mentioned, that he information about folks currently in the conflict.

      I know that Assange is unorthodox in his style of “journalism”, but I think he speaks to the culture and the disenchantment with government. If Assange filtered the information it would have seemed as if it was just as much part of the “system” as CBS, CNN, ABC, the NY Times, etc. The point is that Assange’s style of disseminating information is inline with the transparency that our culture desires AND it allows the greater public to make decisions on if they agree with what is going on.

      I think the revealing of the information – even though many already believe we went war over false pretense – gives greater credibility to that belief and it also helps to convince others – who still believe we went for just reason – that they should be questioning this issue. I don’t think we can just say hindsight is 20/20 because the reality is this secrecy in operation is the status quo. I actually believe that our country’s reaction to the release of information could be a way for us to regain trust in the world. I think that seems counterintuitive, but being willing to admit that we have operated in pride, secrecy, and manipulation and apologizing for it shows humility (something that many countries, especially ours, has not displayed the this era). I am not saying we ignore that we are still in this war, we can just say “oops we screwed-up, so let’s leave”. But we should be willing to say “we screwed-up, we were deceptive as a nation, and now we want operate justly.”

      Again, I am concerned about the release of information that concern those on the ground (both Americans and otherwise), but the point of WikiLeaks is to question this entire engagement. It wasn’t a flippant act on behalf of Assange and WikiLeaks, they were not just riding the tide, they are intentionally asking us all to think about what our government does. Regardless of whether we own up to it or not, we as citizens are supporting spending trillions of dollars on a war that is unjustified, we are sending our American sons and daughters to die, we are encouraging and many argue cultivating terrorism.

      I think we should consider Paul’s point “Could it be that the real reason for the near universal attacks on Wikileaks is more about secretly maintaining a seriously flawed foreign policy of empire than it is about national security?”

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