Sunday, December 19, 2010


Watching America had a more diverse menu this week, but the WikiLeaks stories continue to pop up across the world press. People around the world are watching to see just what the US does to punish Julian Assange for his temerity. What was interesting to me is that many of the articles recognize the role the First Amendment to the US Constitution plays in this.

There are several articles worth perusing (which is why I included the link to Watching America's home page), but the one I was intrigued by came from Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The Obama administration is desperately trying to put WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on trial. The White House should back away from that idea as soon as possible. Public reaction to an indictment would be disastrous.

The desire to teach someone a lesson isn’t a valid basis for a fair trial, and slick tricks are unbecoming to a constitutional government. That’s why the Obama administration should back away from any plan to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for aiding and abetting the illegal transfer of classified documents.

If Reymer Klüver, the author of the op-ed, is referring to the US public when he uses the term "public reaction," I think he will be disappointed. Most Americans have no clue as to the basis for the whole kerfuffle, although major news outlets in this country are trying to educate them on the fly as to the nature and the importance of the First Amendment. That said, I think many in the rest of the world get it and get the hypocrisy of the Obama administration in grasping for ways to punish Julian Assange so that international public reaction might indeed be disastrous.

Klüver also has some advice to the US with respect to how to avoid some of the problems attendant to the release of classified information. That advice is nothing new or startling, and it only addresses things at the most basic level, but apparently the Obama White House needs some rudimentary education:

Of course, the United States can’t afford to have its secret documents flooding into the public marketplace en masse. But it should address that situation by improving its intelligence procedures, not by trying to put together a questionable legal maneuver.

In other words, quit classifying every document that might be embarrassing as secret, and quit employing tens of thousands of people to manage those documents.

Not rocket science, you know.



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