Thursday, June 14, 2012

Leaking Freedom

It’s Flag Day.  It’s a commemoration, not a holiday (unless you live in Pennsylvania.)  The Second Continental Congress resolved on June 14, 1777 to adopt the flag as a symbol for the emerging union and in 1917 Flag Day was created.  Flags are symbols of patriotism and symbolic of the ethos of the country they represent.  The United States of America represents freedom and justice and the stars and stripes are a potent reflection of those aspirations.  Today what’s being waved is not the symbol of freedom, but instead a construction flag.  Detour ahead.

To kill or not to kill wasn’t the question last week…why the people of the world were giving Barack Obama a pass on his kill list was.  Turns out that wasn’t the issue that riled the politicians, talking heads and blogosphere.  David Sanger, the New York Times reporter who has broken a number of stories on National Security – including the Kill List story and the U.S. Cyber War against Iran spoke on Reliable Sources about Senator Feinstein calling for a hearing on how he got his information.  Somehow the reporter and his sources have become the issue.

Rather than focusing on the substance of the issue – that the President of the United States is personally choosing which of his fellow Americans and others should be exterminated without any attempt to use the Rule of Law – the Administration has successfully framed the issue as one of finding who leaked classified materials.  The bulk of the media and pundits have fallen in line with the narrative.  Politicians are suggesting that the reporter be prosecuted.  The Justice Department has launched a dual investigation.  "The unauthorized disclosure of classified information can compromise the security of this country and all Americans, and it will not be tolerated," Attorney General Holder said.
The last major instance where the hyperventilated claim that the release of classified information would compromise security was the Wikileaks release of materials in 2010.  Private Bradley Manning was arrested and held for nearly 18 months before being charged.  He was put in solitary confinement and left naked for days on end.  When his sanity was becoming an issue due to being held under non-Geneva Convention conditions, he was finally moved and ultimately charged though his trial was further delayed last week so he won’t face his accusers now until early 2013, nearly 3 years after being imprisioned.  (This from the same military that expunged a Marine for a Facebook post in a matter of weeks.)

Over 18 months have now passed since Julian Assange (founder of Wikileaks) was placed under House Arrest in England on Sweedish sexual assault charges.  On May 30 he lost his appeal and will be extradited.  At the same time the world’s financial and technological institutions coalesced together in an attempt to shut the organization down.  No major bank (let alone credit card) will process donations to the group, and Amazon which hosted large portions of the data cancelled their contract.  It’s impressive (and eerie) that these major industries have bowed to Administration pressures rather than capitalizing on economic opportunity.  What are the protecting?
According to Amnesty International Wikileaks release of information was “a catalyst in a series of uprisings against repressive regimes.”  So the “Arab Spring” uprisings were launched thanks to the open airing of information - the complete antithesis of the Justice Department claims.  It’s a head scratcher (being polite) how the Obama Administration can on the one hand take credit for bringing Democracy to the Middle East while punishing and criminalizing those who actually prompted the revolution.

Planting the flag on the battlefield helped overturn tyranny 236 years ago. Today we need to focus on making sure that its symbolism aligns with its actions. My flag is one for peace.

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