WikiLeaks Biggest Fear: “Will Fear Prevail?” (UN Human Rights Commissioner/Concerns) by Ambassador mo
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Clamping down appears the impulse almost instinctively expected and accepted today by most citizens of our western democracies when the veneer of invincibility is pricked even when not pierced. Physical security at risk from terrorism is existent nontheless, whether probable or not. The fear of transparency though poses as or more tangible threat to our open, democratic societies even when national secrets are exposed surreptitiously. It is a democratic asset that institutions of government, elected or imposed, never be fully certain of absolute secrecy lest they become absolute in power.
Weighing the Dangers/Risks
The government’s fear of exposure, inconvenient, embarrassing or even perhaps dangerous to notions of national security, can be nonetheless the citizens’ comfort. The ideological superiority of transparency though cannot provide carte blanche for those who would expose confidential information. There are bona fide national security concerns and associated genuine dangers. There is an impediment to the functioning of government institutions.
So, where is the balance? Perhaps it is best to recall FDR’s historic words, at least for us Americans who pride ourselves so much on our independence and free thinking: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” So, our former President’s advice, command leaves little room for doubt as to what is the greater danger to America and its citizens. It is especially instructive as it came from a President who would lead America through a World War that perhaps posed the greatest danger to our nation’s survival and to liberty of thought and identity for all mankind.
Reserving Judgment, but
Challenging the would be “Official” Account of History
I will reserve judgment regarding the good and bad, the moral and legal propriety of WikiLeaks. Much information remains to be incorporated into a more conclusive analysis. Similarly, I will reserve judgment regarding Mr. Julian Assange and his possible guilt of sexual misconduct or something that may be more of a conspiracy to discredit and distract. Certainly my personal experience though calls for me to be especially vigilante regarding authority embarrassed or called to account, particularly if official versions of history are challenged. The Freedom of Information Act can be as seductive to our naiveté as it can be at times actually useful in facilitating at least to some degree the objective highlighted by its label. However, what concerns me now is to what degree some US citizens, even officials may be employing fear to violate not only American standards of open society but also the rule of law even as legality might be employed for dubious political motives in some other jurisdiction:
Calls for Mr. Julian Assange to be “killed” (including by sometime preacher, television personality, governor and US Presidential candidate) can be seen in the light of laws on incitements to violence and murder.
Threats against US and global based financial institutions – Pay Pal, Amazon, Master Card, Visa etc - to cut off funding to WikiLeaks have the flavor of detouring the rule of law, well beyond government driven intimidation. Relying upon similar “methods,” originally designed to cut off funding to alleged terrorist groups, may be going beyond the edge in this instance, when seeking to curtail our right to be informed, at least until a US court can hear the matter and rule taking into consideration the presumed conflicting interests of freedom and national security.
UN Human Rights Commissioner on Possible Efforts
To “Silence” WikiLeaks
In this context, the message from the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights, to alert US authorities that they may be violating international law, is noteworthy as to the specifics of this situation and perhaps indicative of where the never ending balancing act between freedom and open societies on one side and security and fear on the other is veering today in America:
From UN Human Rights Commissioner:
“I am concerned about the reports about pressure exerted on private companies, including banks, credit cards companies and Internet service providers to close down credit lines for donations to WikiLeaks as well as to stop hosting the web site or its mirror sites. While it is unclear whether these individual measures taken by private actors directly infringe on States human rights obligations to ensure respect of the right to freedom of expression, taken as a whole they could be interpreted as an attempt to censure the publication of information thus potentially violating WikiLeaks right to freedom of expression.”
Official Beijing & Washington: Importance of Differentiation
The message implicitly is even more jarring that now there is a growing view that the US Government is increasingly lagging international standards of freedom of media and expression and is now being alerted to its possibly violative behavior at the same conference where China is being rebuked for its treatment of Nobel Peace Prize recipient Liu Xiaobo? Not that its likely, how would the US Government react if WikiLeaks, (not even Mr. Assange), was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize? Would US Government officials appear? Like Beijing, (recall that Chinese communications have also been "targeted" by WikiLeaks), would US diplomacy discourage, intimidate allied states, in this instance other democracies from attending?
By Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey
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Direct links below to WikiLeaks film journals.
“WikiLeaks/UN Human Rights Commissioner:” diplomaticallyincorrect.org/films/movie/wikileaksun-human-rights-commissioner/23505
“WikiLeaks/How Far? (Conversation with Carne Ross, Independent Diplomat - resigned over Iraq War mistruths & Amb. Muhamed Sacirbey:” diplomaticallyincorrect.org/films/movie/wikileakshow-far-part-2independent-diplomats-carne-ross/23489
“WikiLeaks/How Far at UN, (Conversation continued): diplomaticallyincorrect.org/films/movie/wikileaksshow-far-at-un-part-3idependent-diplomats-carne-ross/23490