In recent weeks, the news has been dominated by the Wikileaks disclosure of classified State Department documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most recently, in the name of freedom of speech, defenders of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange have been mounting hacking attacks on those trying to disavow him, ranging from Amazon.com and PayPal (for cutting off Wikileaks access) to the Swedish prosecutor who accuses him of rape.
Should the OPC’s Freedom of the Press Committee be defending Wikileaks and Assange? We haven’t done so, on several grounds. For one thing, we three FOP co-chairs don’t agree with Assange’s basic position that all secrets should automatically be exposed; if spilled, some would damage national security and risk lives, and we believe the New York Times did the right thing in weeding out such material before printing the Wikileaks dump.
For another, Assange needs no help from us in getting his viewpoint known, since everything he gets his hands on lands on front pages around the world. If anything, he enjoys a little too much freedom of the press.
Finally, we object to those defending him by somehow conflating the Swedish charge of rape with an attempt to silence Wikileaks. Changing the subject is a classic tactic to use against women claiming rape.
But this is not an open-and-shut case, and clearly an issue of moment for practicing journalists. We invite OPC members to weigh in on the issue and tell us what you think. Log in to the website, comment on this article and take the poll.
— Jeremy Main, Larry Martz and Kevin McDermott