Julian Assange appeared on the Dylan Ratigan Show Wednesday afternoon to discuss the criticism that WikiLeaks has been subjected to since he had been arrested in the UK on sex crime charges.
Assange contends that he is a legitimate journalist, saying that authorities have tried to distinguish him from the press in order to deprive him of his first amendment rights. He also claims that many news outlets have agreed with the government in condemning WikiLeaks so that they won’t be placed into the same category as he is. He cited the numerous accusations of treason against the New York Times for publishing classified documents in the past.
I was lucky enough to have listened to Marcus Brauchli, a well respected journalist who isn’t too fond of WikiLeaks, speak on the subject. He feels that they key difference between what Assange is doing and responsible journalism is that WikiLeaks publishes uncensored documents regardless of the consequences. While the public has something to gain from knowledge of the state of the war in Afghanistan, no one but our enemies would benefit from knowing the names of our informants or the weaknesses of our military bases’ defenses.
After going on the offensive for a while, Assange was given a chance to respond to statements made about him by prominent politicians such as Joe Biden and Mike Huckabee.
Biden said of WikiLeaks that “its closer to being a high-tech terrorist than the Pentagon papers.” Assange pointed out that terrorists commit violent acts for political gains. “No one, over our four year history of covering over 120 countries, has been hurt as a result of what we have published. And that’s not just me saying it, that’s the Pentagon saying it.”
Huckabee was even more extreme, saying that “anything less than execution [would be]too kind a punishment” for Assange. “That’s just another idiot trying to make a name for them self,” Assange responded.
Assange seemed more paranoid than ever, describing conspiracies in the American news media and suggesting that the Pentagon might manufacture evidence against him.
It’s hard to blame him though. Pundits are calling for his assassination on national television and he is currently under house arrest for a Swedish crime called ‘sex by surprise.’ If the name of the charge doesn’t sound weird enough, the description of the circumstances provides even more ammunition for conspiracy theorists. In this particular case, even Glenn Beck is on his side!
This comes on a day when the Central Intelligence Agency launched the WikiLeaks Task Force. Or, abbreviated, WTF.
The task force, which aims to assess and repair the damage that WikiLeaks has done to their ability to recruit informants, is less controversial than other ideas being thrown around Washington about prosecuting Assange. But their name may make them seem out of touch, especially to the text savvy proponents of internet freedom that support the WikiLeaks founder. Currently, the names of informats could be only a tedious search through the leaked documents away from the people they are informing on, and that’s something that the CIA hopes to fix.