The Campaign Spot

Traffic Nirvana: Julian Assange Notices Sarah Palin’s Criticism

Julian Assange notices Sarah Palin’s reaction to his WikiLeaks.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be “taken out” by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be “hunted down like Osama bin Laden”, a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a “transnational threat” and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister’s office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

And Australians should observe with no pride the disgraceful pandering to these sentiments by Prime Minister Gillard and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not had a word of criticism for the other media organisations. That is because The Guardian, The New York Times and Der Spiegel are old and large, while WikiLeaks is as yet young and small.

(I think he is misquoting her; at the least, the phrase “hunted down like Osama bin Laden” does not appear in her Facebook post on the WikiLeaks scandal. She wrote, “He is an anti-American operative with blood on his hands. His past posting of classified documents revealed the identity of more than 100 Afghan sources to the Taliban. Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?”)

I hate to say it, but the loon* seems to have a point in that his last paragraph. If the Obama administration really wants to stop state secrets from appearing all over the front page of the New York Times, perhaps they ought to start applying more pressure on that newspaper, threatening to withhold exclusive access to the president, etc.

UPDATE: Seriously? Seriously? People thought I was referring to Palin as “the loon”? Have any of you ever read anything I’ve written before?

As for the argument in the comments section that “freedom of the press” somehow means that the administration cannot apply pressure to the New York Times, adherents of that view drastically misread the Constitution. There is no constitutional guarantee of exclusive interviews with the president or other members of the administration. That is a perfectly legal and moral method of obtaining leverage, particularly when invoked in the name of national security. Think of it as a variation of the old prohibitionist slogan, “Lips that touch liquor will never touch mine”; publications that publish classified material will never get the exclusive.

I see Sarah Palin Tweeted this item. Well, the day has its good moments . . .


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