In a 2010 piece for Salon.com, Glenn Greenwald addressed accusations against WikiLeaks.org from the mainstream media and the United States government in an article entitled, What WikiLeaks Revealed to the World in 2010. The aforementioned organizations made WikiLeaks appear to be an organization focused on the embarrassment of the American Republic, with the consequences of endangering national security interests and the lives of American soldiers, despite admissions by the Pentagon that there is no evidence to support these claims. Greenwald, currently writing for The Guardian, defended Julian Assange, citing the stories WikiLeaks helped uncover throughout 2010.
“It’s well worth reviewing exactly what WikiLeaks exposed to the world just in the last year: the breadth of the corruption, deceit, brutality and criminality on the part of the world’s most powerful factions,” said Greenwald.
In his brief, yet concise, defense of Assange, Greenwald uses the international headlines spurred by WikiLeaks revelations throughout the year, from a review of the 2009 coup in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, published on guatemala-times.com, to the American gunship killing Iraqi civilians and reuters reporters in 2010. These headlines help to show the international not-for-profit was revealing important information regarding humanitarian and political issues, which various governments had no right to keep from their citizens.
Of all the points raised by Greenwald, I identify most strongly with his belief in how telling the reactions to WikiLeaks efforts were at the highest levels of society. Greenwald is outraged with how the mainstream media has painted Assange and Private First Class Bradley Manning, the man who allegedly leaked the gunship video to WikiLeaks, as villains, while completely ignoring the grievous crimes and corruption several government’s were directly complicit in.
Summarizing his position, Greenwald is unsurprised that politicians are trying to paint the whistleblowers as the criminals, regardless of the shockingly corrupt nature of their own actions; yet he is extremely disappointed in the actions of many journalists who support the “party line” where the “True Criminals” should be punished, while the “Good Authorities” should be shielded.
Personally, I believe Assange’s alleged sexual assaults in Sweden have not helped his cause and allowed many mainstream media outlets to paint him as an unethical character whose actions are the results of his own unsavory ends. Nevertheless, I am as disappointed as Greenwald with many media outlets, who seem oblivious to the benefits of WikiLeaks. Regardless, of the embarrassment this organization causes in capitals from D.C. to the Kremlin, Assange and WikiLeaks are simply carrying out the tradition of investigative journalism. A tradition responsible for the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate Scandal, and while the men behind these revelations, Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon Papers) and Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (Watergate), may have been persecuted in their own times, they are now regarded as very influential individuals responsible for doing American citizens a great service. If the contemporary news community changes this precedent and whistleblowers are not only persecuted by authorities in the immediate aftermath of their actions, but thrown in jail for an undue amount of time, we begin down a slippery slope, where corruption and dark secrets are not only the unfortunate norm but accepted procedure for administrations throughout the world.
Alternatively, the debate surrounding WikiLeaks leads to a paradox that is hard to ignore. It is true that this information was classified and if leaked, theoretically dangerous to any number of nations’ interests at home or abroad. However, on the basis of ethics, it would be extremely difficult for any journalist or whistleblower with the semblance of a conscience to not publish such damning information. Information revealing the true nature of contemporary foreign policy among many of the world’s most powerful nations, policies that inappropriately tend to ignore sovereignty and human rights.