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Vail Daily columnist Richard Carnes: WikiLeaks sticks and stones

Andy Warhol’s sleazy baby brother releases a smattering of e-mails which show one State Department twit or another cracking a joke or making a wise-ass remark about one diplomat or another and the world explodes in mock outrage.

Aussie Julian Assange is at that point called a digital terrorist or hailed as the free speech fighting champion for Internet transparency.

Pick your spin.



The real issue, at least in my eyes, is not the information itself, which to date is far more embarrassing than damaging, but the fact that it was obtained from a U.S. citizen in our all-volunteer armed forces.

Army Pvc. Bradley Manning is alleged to have downloaded a few flash drives full of secret diplomatic cables (i.e., e-mails) while working as an intelligence analyst, and then handed them over to WikiLeaks.



This putz is the real bad guy, not some sleaze ball foreigner on a condom-free ego trip.

So what we’re dealing with is a deliberate security breach by a lowly private who for whatever reason was given clearance to allegedly sensitive documents, a treasonous act, for sure.

Yet I’m much more concerned over who provided the clearance, and why.



Think about it. If it was so damned easy for someone with a rank of private to get access to all this data, who’s to say our enemies (and friends too) didn’t have it already?

Here are three of the earth-shattering examples: Cuba is insolvent, the illicit diamond trade in Zimbabwe has led to the murder of thousands, and Saudi princes drink booze and enjoy pole dancers.

Wow! Who’d a thunk?

The Pentagon Papers and Watergate leaks revealed far more damaging government activities than a few behind-the-back diplomatic insults.

But each instance is now revered as textbook examples of citizens holding their government accountable for what’s being done and said in their name.

What I believe this new online form of rebellious anarchy provides is a perfect test for our government to not overstep the boundaries of freedom granted by our Constitution.

It is the biggest trial to date over who owns the Internet more than anything else.

Will Americans retain their right to keep the worldwide web free of control from any particular corporation or, more importantly, our own government?

Conspiracy nutcases claim Obama could have stopped WikiLeaks anytime he wanted by simply “turning off the Internet,” but chose not to in order to impose new restriction on said Internet.

Sorry to burst their paranoid bubble, but not only is such an act impossible, it is clearly so by the mere fact that step-by-step instructions on blowing up infidels and child porn still exists in its pages.

Anyway, we can’t unlearn something, and though I’m certainly not about to defend the slimy little end of a cactus needle (an anagram for Julian Assange: “A ninja sea slug”), it’s not as if he provided D-Day plans to Hitler.

Freedom of information on the internet should forever trump government officials who apparently cannot control and manage their own secrets.

This last bastion for freedom of speech will hopefully exist in perpetuity, regardless of who gets their panties in a wad over what appears to be little more than the equivalent of releasing a Martha Stewart secret recipe for laxative-filled Christmas cookies.

Oh, the horror.

Richard Carnes of Edwards writes weekly. He can be reached at poor@vail.net. Comment on http://www.vaildaily.com.


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