Congressional Hearing On Wikileaks Surprisingly Focuses More On Gov't Overly Secretive Actions
from the good-for-them dept
"Prosecuting WikiLeaks would raise the most fundamental questions about free speech, about who is a journalist and what citizens can know about their government," Conyers said. "The problem today is not too little secrecy but too much secrecy."He also noted -- in contrast to much of the hysteria we've heard -- that while the releases have been embarassing "the real-world consequences have been fairly modest." Rep. William Delahunt appeared to echo these sentiments and again noted that secrecy by the government has been the real issue:
"Secrecy is the trademark of totalitarianism. In contrast, transparency and openness is why democracy is all about," Delahunt said.Rep. Bob Goodlatte also noted that expansion of government secrecy was "out of control" and "illegitimate," while Rep. Bobby Scott noted that we need to remember the 1st Amendment. Rep. Hank Johnson warned of the "chilling effects" of prosecuting Wikileaks.
"There is far too much secrecy and overclassification in the executive branch, and I think it puts American democracy at risk."
Many panelists appeared to make similar points as well. Thomas Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, told the panel that the government always overreacts to leaks and that "more openness makes us more secure." He also urged the government to "use a little restraint" and to avoid rushing into charging Julian Assange with violating the Espionage Act.
Of course, not everyone argued this way. Many of the Congressional Reps still seemed pretty bloodthirsty to charge Assange. And some of the panelists seemed to agree. Kenneth Wainstein, a lawyer from O'Melveny and Myers, warned the panel that any lawsuit against Wikileaks would raise serious First Amendment issues but then argued that the government could easily distinguish Wikileaks from the media though he did so by misstating that Wikileaks was "indiscriminately" dumping documents -- a point that has been debunked already. Gabriel Shoenfeld, who is a big supporter of government secrecy, spent a lot of time talking about how there's too much secrecy and that the government leaks info to the press all the time but ended his talk by saying that doesn't apply to Wikileaks.
However, even those who seemed to think that the government should still seek to prosecute Assange, they all seemed to admit that the government is way too secretive and abuses its classification privileges.