WikiLeaks: What’s the big deal?

December 21, 2010

By Staff

WikiLeaks exposes secret information

Eastside Catholic High School

By Katie Sutherland

One of today’s most compelling and controversial current events is the WikiLeaks scandal.

The so-called whistleblower website was established in 2006 by Chinese dissidents, but is best known for its director, 39-year-old Australian computer hacker and Internet activist Julian Assange. Under the motto, “We help you safely get the truth out,” Assange and his colleagues published documents containing classified political and military information.

This seemingly innocent site has created global chaos. Assange has not only created problems for entire nations, but has also gotten himself into quite a bit of trouble.

He is wanted for sex crimes in Sweden. WikiLeaks is practically bankrupt, as well as condemned by several nations. Things seemingly couldn’t get worse for Assange.

Assange has caused outrage in many countries, including the United States, because of his recent leak of diplomatic cables. These files have embarrassed and angered leaders of France, Libya, Russia and Iran, to name a few.

But is Assange completely to blame? So far, the answer appears to be no. Detained U.S. Army Pvt. Bradley Manning is suspected to have given secret information to WikiLeaks. Manning has been in solitary confinement for about four months now and, although he has not received as much press as Assange, is sure to cause media frenzy when officials get to the bottom of this case.

Assange may come out of this mess with the upper hand. Although he will most likely be prosecuted in Sweden, it looks like virtually every other nation will be unable to punish him for the WikiLeaks controversy based on one small fact — his Australian citizenship. Manning, a U.S. citizen, may not be so lucky.

Should we shoot the messenger?

Skyline High School

By Olivia Spokoiny

Lately, you may have seen the media has been flooded with the controversy of WikiLeaks and its director, Julian Assange.

Government representatives have criticized Assange for publishing diplomatic cables on the Internet that were meant to remain confidential. Many Americans have expressed concern that WikiLeaks has the potential to affect the United States negatively. It is important to recognize that citizens of our country tend to take the media at face value, rather than consider the possibility of the government’s overreaction to be much more damaging than the leaks themselves.

Undoubtedly, a very complicated issue is being discussed, but WikiLeaks certainly brings several questions into play — one of the most prominent ones being, “Does the First Amendment protect the actions of Assange?”

Recently, a group of Columbia University professors have been asking the Obama administration not to prosecute Assange for WikiLeaks, as they believe he is protected by the First Amendment. Freedom of speech is one of the most basic constitutional rights, so the situation has exploded into such a mess because these rights can’t just be ignored.

The fact is that the information that was leaked is truthful. It can be argued that Assange was simply “engaging in journalistic activities.”

When discussing whether the information was obtained illegally, it becomes a completely different story. The government cannot necessarily prosecute Assange for publishing the information, because of discrepancies relating to the Constitution.

However, he is violating the Espionage Act of 1917, which is not brought up nearly as much as one would think.

The Espionage Act states that “any document … relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States” is strictly prohibited. This law, established nearly 100 years ago, seems to very broad and contradictory to the Constitution.

Because of this, it is hard to tell what the future holds for Assange. Investigations will continue until the government can finally decide whether this is an appropriate situation to uphold the rights of the First Amendment.

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4 Responses to “WikiLeaks: What’s the big deal?”

  1. Baby-Cakes on December 21st, 2010 8:31 pm

    Wikileaks is not bankrupt.. Where are your sources?

  2. brian on December 21st, 2010 8:54 pm

    LOL…Espionage Act of 1917? Do American laws apply to other countries? NO! Nice try though! :)

  3. Anonymous random reader on December 21st, 2010 9:12 pm

    Julian Assange (quote)
    “You have to start with the truth.
    The truth is the only way that we can get anywhere.
    Because any decision-making that is based upon lies or ignorance, can’t lead to a good conclusion”

    First of all, the americans wants to silence him and even asassins were proposed.

    Australia wants to take away the passport and restrict his movements

    Sweden wants him because of some silly accusations about raping without any possession of hard evidence (except from a broken condom, maybe fabricated)

    There is also a possibility of someone with major influence that would pay whatever it takes to drag Julian Assange down in the dirt.

    Several U.S. government officials have criticized WikiLeaks for exposing state secrets, harming national security, and compromising international diplomacy.
    Well, if they have reason to worry about that, it have to be something big that can destroy their career.

    In April 2010, WikiLeaks posted video from a 2007 incident in which Iraqi civilians and journalists were killed by US forces, on a website called Collateral Murder.
    Yeah, i saw that clip, they even had fun with killing all these people…

    In July of the same year, WikiLeaks released Afghan War Diary, a compilation of more than 76,900 documents about the War in Afghanistan not previously available for public review.
    I think people have the right to know all about what’s going on in the world which is wrong, that goes without saying…

    In October 2010, the group released a package of almost 400,000 documents called the Iraq War Logs in coordination with major commercial media organisations.

    In November 2010, WikiLeaks began releasing U.S. State department diplomatic cables.

    Reactions to the leak varied widely. Some western governments expressed strong disapproval and condemnation, and criticized WikiLeaks for potentially jeopardizing international relations and global security.
    Yeah maybe, but there’s lot of corruption and secrets in the world and that’s the last thing we need.

    The leak also generated intense interest from the public, journalists, and media analysts. WikiLeaks received support from some commentators who questioned the necessity of government secrecy in a democracy that serves the interests of its people and depends on an informed electorate.

    Some political leaders referred to Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, as a criminal, but also blamed the U.S. Department of Defense for security lapses that led to the leak. Supporters of Assange have referred to him as a heroic defender of free speech and freedom of the press.
    It’s true, this is how we know what kind of people we’re dealing with.

    White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that an “open and transparent government is something that the President believes is truly important. But the stealing of classified information and its dissemination is a crime.

    A crime?
    Yeah, stealing IS a crime, but that’s a small thing in comparison to what the governments have to hide like corruptions + more and if they really have a reason to worry about something, it should be their secrets, like what the government don’t want us normal citizens to know…
    And i believe normal citizens have the right to know as it concerns what’s right and wrong, and killing innocent people in Afghanistan can’t weigh up enough to justify that or any other form of life.

    And why is there war to begin with?
    This is getting more absurd day by day…

    Julian were doing the right thing until a higher power crushed his funds, but i’m sure they can’t crack wikileaks that easy, there’s allways people out there who seeks the truth, and it will reach whoever that seeks it on one way or another.
    There’s words around about a revolutionary era, and the possibility is there and we will have the answer soon enough.
    Only one way to find out…

    That’s all i could come up with, maybe someone can get something out of it, legally of course.

    Regards from Norway!

  4. christine on December 22nd, 2010 7:38 pm

    Right to free speech… free reveal!

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