Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Wikileaks Is Treasonous?

After watching this week’s episode of Freedom Watch featuring an interview with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange followed by a debate between Antiwar.com’s Justin Raimondo and former intelligence agent Wayne Simmons, I have to come to the conclusion that if any of the Wikileaks critics’ arguments hold water, there isn’t a single piece of information related to “national security” which should be made available to the public. I mean, in a world where something such as “national security” is deemed good unto itself and any information can be construed as harmful to that thing, where does one draw the line at “treason?” Perhaps Wayne Simmons wouldn’t be so cavalier about throwing the terms “treason” and “terrorism” around if he understood that his own standards imply his own treasonous activities.

Wikileaks’ most recent unveiling of over 90,000 secret military documents unsurprisingly sparked a lot of controversy. There were those who saw or heard stories of military blunders and catastrophic mishaps and who, oddly enough, thought that might demand some explanation from the... uh... people responsible for such blunders and mishaps. I know, weird right? Then there were those who didn’t seem all that interested in what had been released, but in the fact that it had been released.

Obviously, if you don’t know something is happening, it can’t possibly be harmful, and, therefore, the interest of the “nation” is to have the citizens kept in the dark. Thus we have comments such as those from Simmons:

All this organization Wikileaks is is a terrorist organization that is using the First Amendment of the United States that they hide behind to come against the national security of the United States... That does not ever justify any organization, foreign or domestic, claiming to be the all knowing, all seeing organization that better understands war than our leaders of this nation. (emphasis added)

In the part of the statement I omitted, he was kind enough to explain that people die in war. Or, in other words, “Shit happens. Fuck it.” And I guess we're supposed to infer that the only "all knowing, all seeing organization" is the government, right?

He then goes on to state that it’s the government’s position, not the position of Wikileaks or any other private actor, through elected officials, to divulge information to the public.

So what I’m gathering from Simmons is that “we,” the public, can have any information we want so long as it comes from a representative of the government, er, the people. But this doesn’t seem to make much sense. Surely Wikileaks could have found someone in Congress to release the documents -- Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich come to mind -- who would have been happy to have done so. So when Simmons says such fucking nonsense as “the American people should know [national security information] through our representatives,” what he really means is that information of his choosing should be released in accordance with his own specifications. To the extent that he’s entitled to his “own” opinion, that’s fine by me, but if he’s going to promote military hegemony over information, he better damn well come out and say that’s what he supports.

But there’s something interesting at work here. The justification for such censorship is based on the idea that any information showing the fallibility of the US Military is harmful to the “national security.” Never mind the fact that “national security” is never defined or that such “national security” is always used as a defense of anything the government does -- the textbook conflict of interest that results from letting the government determine what “is” and who “threatens” the “national security.” But taken to its logical conclusion, virtually every piece of information about anything the government does can be construed as a “threat.” Take for instance just about anything anarchists including myself have ever written which explicitly or implicitly seeks to delegitimize the State. Or journalists like Glenn Greenwald who regularly criticize the the US Military and the pretenses under which it engages in conflict. Or virtually every journalist out there who may in some way provide the public with information that pokes a hole, no matter how small, in the official story of the government. Even talking about the Wikileaks controversy brings to light the fact that the military is too incompetent to store its sensitive material. Of course, any admission of that nature would embolden the terrorists! Run for the hills!

And it’s not as if Simmons was claiming the information disclosed by Wikileaks was fraudulent -- only that it was not disclosed via “proper” channels. Well, there you have it: Wayne Simmons, by implicitly confirming the legitimacy of the leaked documents, is therefore guilty of treason for giving us reasonable cause to doubt the official story. Ready the gallows for the traitor!

Seriously, if the only thing that’s holy is a vaguely conceived notion of “national security,” then everyone except those few chosen “public servants” that can be trusted with "sensitive" information should be thrown in small cages and kept out of the loop. Information, and as much of it as possible, is the only thing that even remotely gives the people any control over their leviathan State. Isn’t the way in which the war is conducted, how much money is spent, and our knowledge of it all integral to the well being of the “nation” and its “security” for no other reason than we’re part of it.

Where an informed citizenry is dangerous to itself, as Simmons contends, what exactly is the point of protecting it? Well, the anarchists know, it’s so that the citizenry can be continuously exploited. Yes, information in the hands of the citizens is information in the hands of terrorists because, in the mind of the powerful, we’re ultimately just as, if not more, dangerous.