There has been endless ink spilled this week on and about the latest release by Wikileaks of diplomatic correspondence that we were never supposed to see. There have been the predictable hoorahs from progressives and predictable hang-’em-high sentiments from the right and from governments. Amid the thousands of column inches I picked out Glenn Greenwald’s interesting piece in Salon.
The WikiLeaks disclosure has revealed not only numerous government secrets, but also the driving mentality of major factions in our political and media class. Simply put, there are few countries in the world with citizenries and especially media outlets more devoted to serving, protecting and venerating government authorities than the U.S. Indeed, I don’t quite recall any entity producing as much bipartisan contempt across the American political spectrum as WikiLeaks has: as usual, for authoritarian minds, those who expose secrets are far more hated than those in power who commit heinous acts using secrecy as their principal weapon.
He shines a hot spotlight at the media:
[W]e have the group which — so very revealingly — is the angriest and most offended about the WikiLeaks disclosures: the American media … On CNN last night, Wolf Blitzer was beside himself with rage over the fact that the U.S. Government had failed to keep all these things secret from him … Blitzer demanded assurances that the Government has taken the necessary steps to prevent him, the media generally and the citizenry from finding out any more secrets: “Do we know yet if they’ve [done] that fix? In other words, somebody right now who has top secret or secret security clerics can no longer download information onto a C.D. or a thumb drive? Has that been fixed already?” The central concern of Blitzer — one of our nation’s most honored “journalists” — is making sure that nobody learns what the U.S. Government is up to …
It’s just so revealing that the sole criticism of the Government allowed to be heard is that they haven’t done enough to keep us all in the dark.
Greenwald notes another group, those with a close tie to government, that is fronting many of these attacks on Wikileaks:
It’s hardly surprising that people … who work for the Government and depend upon staying in its good graces are screeching all sorts of fear-mongering claims … That’s what the Government, its enablers and royal court hangers-on do: you wind them up and they insist that any restraints on, or exposure of, the U.S. Government will help the Terrorists get us, and subject us to other scary dangers.
Finally, Greenwald notes that much of the reactionary response ignores the rule of law:
First we have the group demanding that Julian Assange be murdered without any charges, trial or due process … The way in which so many political commentators so routinely and casually call for the eradication of human beings without a shred of due process is nothing short of demented … After a decade’s worth of American invasions, bombings, occupations, checkpoint shootings, drone attacks, assassinations and civilian slaughter, the notion that the U.S. Government can and should murder whomever it wants is more frequent and unrestrained than ever …
These are usually the same people, of course, who brand themselves “pro-life” and Crusaders for the Sanctity of Human Life and/or who deride Islamic extremists for their disregard for human life.
Greenwald notes that there can be dangers in leaks of such magnitude. However, he is clear that:
[O]ur government and political culture is so far toward the extreme pole of excessive, improper secrecy that that is clearly the far more significant threat … It’s staggering to watch anyone walk around acting as though the real threat is from excessive disclosures when the impenetrable, always-growing Wall of Secrecy is what has enabled virtually every abuse and transgression of the U.S. government over the last two decades at least.
And he concludes:
WikiLeaks, for whatever its flaws, is one of the very few entities shining a vitally needed light on all of this. It’s hardly surprising, then, that those factions — and their hordes of spokespeople, followers and enablers — see WikiLeaks as a force for evil. That’s evidence of how much good they are doing.
I couldn’t agree more.