WikiLeaks: The Touchstone Your reaction speaks volumes

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WikiLeaks
is a touchstone. Amid all the brouhaha and legal shenanigans engaged
in by various governments — the
Brits
, the
Swedes
, the
Americans
— the prospect of having a web site devoted to spilling
the secrets of the elites has brought out everyone’s true
colors
. To those truly devoted to liberty, it has evoked cheers;
for those with other agendas, it has provided a target for their
polemical arrows.

The cheers,
sad to say, have been few and far between: the jeers, however, have
been deafening. The legacy media, which has led
the pack
in denouncing WikiLeaks, is intent
on keeping its gatekeeper role, no matter what price is to be paid.
Our "journalists" are even ready to sacrifice the
First Amendment
, just as long as they’re assured the Information
Police won’t be coming for them anytime soon.

Aside from
the few cheers, the WikiLeaks case has inspired three responses
from its critics: hypocrisy, vitriol, and outright weirdness.

None are more
hypocritical than former New York Sun chess-columned turned
"national security expert" Gabriel
Schoenfeld
, a neocon who spent a great many months some years
ago defending
Steve
Rosen and Keith Weissman
from accusations of having committed
espionage on behalf of Israel.

Charged
with violating the
Espionage Act
— the same legal weapon the administration is
said
to be preparing to prosecute Julian Assange — Rosen and Weissman
engaged in a two-year-long effort to procure highly classified US
secrets from Pentagon analyst Larry
Franklin
. Successful in their quest, they summarily handed over
the stolen information to top
officials
at the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., with whom
they regularly met. Unbeknownst to them, the FBI was on
their trail
, and they were arrested and prosecuted.

The AIPAC defendants
had no more energetic defender than Mr. Schoenfeld: if the two traitors
were convicted, he averred, then every journalist in Washington,
whose job it is to collect information, would be imperiled. In high
dudgeon, he
wrote
:

"The
Justice Department has irresponsibly confused the distinction between
spying and lobbying. Keith Weissman and Steven J. Rosen, two former
employees of AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying organization, are charged
with unlawfully receiving and transmitting classified national-defense
information. The stakes are high."

He then approvingly
noted the judge in the case had "decided a pivotal preliminary
issue in the Weissman-Rosen case. The defense has subpoenaed 20
present and former administration officials to appear as witnesses
for its side, including Elliott Abrams, Richard Armitage, Douglas
Feith, Dennis Ross, Paul Wolfowitz, Stephen Hadley and Condoleezza
Rice. The idea is to use their testimony to demonstrate that their
clients had every reason to believe that what Mr. Franklin told
them in conversation — no classified documents ever changed hands
in this case — was part and parcel of the normal back-channel method
by which the U.S. government sometimes conveys information to the
media and/or to allied countries, in this case, to Israel."

Move along,
nothing to see here…

In spite of
the fact that Rosen and Weissman had been caught
red-handed
turning over highly classified information regarding
al-Qaeda, nuclear secrets, and Iran to Israeli government officials
— and thus were clearly acting as agents of a foreign power — Schoenfeld
demanded their release and cried "Persecution!":

"Under
the circumstances, this is a case that should never have been brought.
No fair-minded jury could conclude that Mr. Weissman and Mr. Rosen
acted with criminal intent. Jurors will see only two lobbyists going
about their jobs, interacting with government officials in an ordinary
fashion as other lobbyists do all the time. Yes, protecting classified
information is crucial to our national defense. But the law is narrowly
and properly tailored to protect innocent people from becoming ensnared
by it."

Ah, but WikiLeaks
is a horse of a different color, according to Schoenfeld. Writing
in the Wall Street Journal, he avers:

"WikiLeaks
is something else. It is not informing our democracy but waging
war on its ability to conduct diplomacy and defend itself. If Mr.
Assange were tried before a jury and sent to jail, our security
would be enhanced and our cherished freedoms not abridged one whit."

According to
Schoenfeld and the War Street Journal, if WikiLeaks had
obtained those classified documents and then duly turned them over
to the
Israeli government
, Assange would be one of the Good Guys, a
mere "lobbyist" on behalf of transparency, and engaged
in doing what journalists in Washington do "all the time."
Unfortunately, he took those classified cables and put
them on the web, for all to see
: therefore, he is "waging
war" on the US government and ought to be prosecuted.

How’s that
for hypocrisy?

Turning to
vitriol, we have the example of Michael
Moynihan
, and Reason magazine: both have taken the
lead, among ostensibly "libertarian" publications, in
going after WikiLeaks and Assange, hammer and tongs. Moynihan, a
senior editor at Reason, has written a
number of pieces
for the magazine smearing WikiLeaks. In one
article, he avers that Assange is not a journalist but a "political
activist" — precisely the
formulation
used by the
Obama administration
to lay the groundwork for prosecuting WikiLeaks
under the Espionage Act.

Read
the rest of the article

December
20, 2010

Justin
Raimondo [send him mail]
is editorial director of Antiwar.com
and is the author of An
Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard
and Reclaiming
the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement
.

The
Best of Justin Raimondo

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