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The Obama administration grows more similar to the Bush regime with every day that passes. Today we observed more of that transformation as smilin’ Joe Biden flashed his true, Cheney-esque colors:
Vice President Biden today said that by disclosing classified documents and diplomatic cables, Wikileaks has endangered lives and “done damage” to U.S. diplomacy. In an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Biden confirmed reports that the Justice Department is looking at possible charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
“Look, this guy has done things that have damaged and put in jeopardy the lives and occupations of people in other parts of the world,” Biden said. The Vice President went on to say that Wikileaks has “made it more difficult for us to conduct our business with our allies and our friends,” citing his own meetings with world leaders.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that those in positions of power are the most vocal opponents to WikiLeaks. And unfailingly, the argument has to do with national security: we need secrets, they claim, in order to protect the American people. After all, there are evil boogeymen out there who are intent on destroying America merely because, in the words of the immortal ‘tard, “they hate our freedom.”
Sadly, the American people seem to be buying the lies:
The vast majority of Americans, 79%, are at least somewhat concerned that the WikiLeaks publications of classified documents will harm national security. Following the WikiLeaks disclosure in July of secret U.S. documents related to the war in Afghanistan, just 19% of those polled viewed it as a public service.
I’ve stated this elsewhere, but let me repeat that I do not think WikiLeaks is a perfect organization, nor do I think Assange’s actions are prompted purely by good will. But WikiLeaks and Assange are quite irrelevant here, as they represent nothing more than a step in the right direction. Any move towards open government is to be encouraged, even if done for all the wrong reasons. And so far, there is very little evidence to support the claims of Biden and others that the leaks have “put in jeopardy the lives… of people.”
So let’s look beyond the incessant fear-mongering for a moment, and approach the issue with from a less emotional perspective. It is a fact that the United States has enemies in the world – September 11 offered ample evidence of this. And the events of that day are invariably cited as proof that we are “at war,” and that government secrecy is therefore a necessary evil. Since our enemy plots in hidden sleeper cells among us, we stand at risk of being attacked at virtually any moment.
But the reality is that if such a vast conspiracy of terrorists intent on reeking havoc in America actually existed, we would be experiencing violence on a daily basis – similar to what is seen in Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel/Palestine. Anyone can go to their local Wal-Mart and purchase all of the ingredients they need to make a homemade bomb (I’ll probably be investigated by the FBI simply for writing this, but it should be abundantly clear I do not advocate violence of any kind). If there were so many millions – or even thousands – of “terr’ists” determined to destroy thrust America into chaos, at least some of them would have succeeded in doing so.
But these people don’t exist. They are a fabrication, concocted by a neo-conservative segment of society who saw fear as the best means for implementing their decidedly undemocratic agenda.
Admittedly, we do have some real enemies – and I am happy to concede that, as I noted earlier, 9/11 was evidence of this. But I would argue that these enemies were created by the secretive actions of our government, actions that were unsanctioned by the American people but done, nonetheless in our names.
Such was certainly the case with 9/11. Among other things, Osama Bin Laden cited the following as the major reasons for the attacks of September 11:
1 – U.S. troops were stationed in the “holy land” of Saudi Arabia.
2 – The U.S. continued to support Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians, and has blocked a UN settlement for the last 40 years.
3 – In stark contravention of the Geneva Accords, the U.S. military systematically destroyed Iraq’s water sanitization system during the first Iraq War. According to a UN/ Harvard study, the U.S. imposed sanctions that followed caused the deaths of some 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of 5.
If the United States had not committed these wholly unnecessary – and in the cases of 2 and 3 downright vicious – actions, we would not have been attacked on September 11. It really is that simple. So to suggest that government secrecy is somehow protecting us is completely counterintuitive, and flies in the face of what reality actually suggests. If our government is completely open, the American people will be able to prevent it from committing such horrible atrocities, simultaneously preventing the creation of enemies.
I am hardly a spiritual person, but in this case Lao Tzu had it right 2,600 years ago: A wise man views his enemy as the shadow that he himself casts. Wise words indeed.