Censorship: it’s one of the words that our modern day society prides itself on combating.
The first amendment is nearly universally known and respected, but in light of recent Pentagon attacks on the online whistle-blower site “Wikileaks,” it seems that even this so called “guarantee” of freedom may be about to be revoked.
Wikileaks first became known early last year, and is in many ways a continuation of a long held “Internet hacktivist” culture.Giving unfiltered information to the masses, irrespective of political bias. This philosophy has led to the release of a plethora of restricted government documents, from internal memos within the scientific community doubting the existence of global warming to material showing unethical conduct in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is this last point that landed Wikileaks in trouble. You see, the Pentagon does not take kindly to “sensitive” documents being released to the public: (eg, reports detailing the catastrophic numbers of avoidable civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan). This growing intolerance towards public dissent has led them to take drastic actions against Wikileaks.
The US government has gone so far as to issue calls for Wikileak’s founder, Julian Assange, to be expedited to the US to face criminal trials, as well as pressured the government of Sweden to shut down the Wikileaks server.
And where is President Obama on all of this? Where is our kindly purveyor of all knowledge Constitutional? Has he led the charge to combat the Pentagon’s flagrant violations of civil liberties? The answers are no.
Not only has he backed the Pentagon’s borderline unconstitutional stance on Wikileaks, he has also failed to reverse even the most flagrant civil rights abuses of the Bush administration (waterboarding, anybody?), and has in many cases, expanded upon those policies which are, for those of you keeping score, the very policies that he ran against in his presidential campaign. For example, not only does the government now have the right to wiretap American citizens suspected of terrorist activity (see: the Patriot Act), but it can now seize the assets of and even assassinate said citizens (as in the case of the American born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki), all without having to obtain a warrant from a court.
The sticking point is that it is the government itself that defines terrorism, meaning that all the government has to do to execute one of it’s own citizens is to get some anonymous bureaucrat in the NSA to sign a piece of paper alleging that citizen’s involvement in Terrorist activities. But, of course, we as citizens can not be allowed to know about these “actions taken in the interest of national security” lest we “lose our resolve in the war on terror.”