Personally, I have mixed feelings about the issue. On one hand, the soldier who stole the documents is the primary culprit here. How is Julian Assange more guilty in disseminating the data than the NY Times or the Guardian? He may have been the main outlet, but they are all culpable if this data is as serious as we’re told it is. But the government is going after Assange as if he is the worst of the lot. I would say the leakers are the worst if they betray their security oaths. And considering the lives put in danger from these leaks, it’s a serious matter.
On the other hand, in a way it’s good for some of this information to get out. People need to know how badly their governments are acting and they need to see the real stakes going on out there because the press isn’t honest at all.
I have to say, Assange has a point when he says that what he has been able to do with his staff of five has eclipsed what all the major media outlets have done. Of course, the difference is the major media outlets are largely protecting in the interests of certain elites or their governments. He is attacking them. And frankly, the truth is hard to take sometimes, but it needs to get out. In many cases there are outrageous incidents that need to be exposed. It’s sad that we had situations like Abu Ghraib but what separates this country from others is we actually punished the people responsible (Sorry, no convincing evidence Rumsfeld was in on it).
Whistle blowers play a very important role in a free society and the corrupt always punish them. While there is a good reason to feel outrage about Wikileaks, it also may be serving an important role. It’s forcing some important issues into the open, like Iran’s nukes, Saudi Arabia’s complicity in terrorism and the incompetence of the Obama Administration.
I see a lot of conservatives calling for Assange’s head, but they’re missing a larger issue here. He should have never gotten this much data from a low level source if the administration was remotely competent. Head should roll, but they should be in Washington.
The data released so far is not news to anyone paying attention to world affairs. What it mainly does is confirm a lot of suspicions about things, and especially the poor handling of international relations that this administration has done so far. I would say he has done a service. But let’s see what else gets revealed. Only a fraction has been released so far. There might be some real regime killers in there.