I have to talk some more about the Wikileaks story. Notice that I don’t say “controversy.” I’m not sure what is so controversial about telling people the truth.
I don’t mean that, of course. As an attorney I know that the theatrical concept of “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” is utterly alien to the procedural systems that make everything from Traffic Court to International Treaty negotiations work. We talk about wanting to find the truth, but even as we talk, we are often kicking evidence under or behind the bushes.
What is truth? Any good Evangelical or Taliban would tell us that it is often necessary to lie to reach greater truths. The “Christian” Southern Baptist Convention agrees with the anti-Christian Mormon Church that many things Jesus said in the Bible are not true. When Jesus said the greatest law was to follow the Golden Rule, most modern Christians believe that he wasn’t speaking the truth. Today’s corporate “Christian” truth is that everyone should take care of themselves first, get all they can and say whatever is necessary to grab and keep the most stuff possible.
There was a time when self-styled conservatives would proclaim “The truth shall set you free.” But now the official Republican line is: “Telling the truth should land you in jail, or in front of a firing squad.”
This isn’t just about Wikileaks. The Tea Party movement claimed to be about reforming government, so that the will of the people could be heard and enacted. They told us that we should stop politicians from hiding behind legalities and procedural details and let the people decide.
But the Tea Party Republican candidate for Senate in Alaska lost the election. Now he’s suing to overturn the expressed will of the voters. He’s actually arguing in Court that ballots that clearly show a voter preference for a candidate should be thrown out because voters wrote in a phonetic instead of grammatically correct spelling of a candidate’s name. The truth is that he’s attacking the will of the people because of his desire for a lucrative job raking in corporate “donations.”
The Republicans who speak loudest about prosecuting Julian Assange for violating a 1917 law are the same ones who told us throughout the Bush administration that we had no business following the law, if that meant not invading countries, or bringing charges against soldiers who used children for target practice, or giving political prisoners due process rights. How quickly their contempt for the law changes when the lawlessness they praised and practiced is turned toward disclosing their corruption, dishonesty, self-dealing and other mendacities.
If we are suddenly so committed to the rule of law, why is Guantanamo prison still open? Why haven’t we applied the rule of law to the children and farmers and even occasional combatants who are held there? If the law is now important to us, how soon will we be extraditing the Bush administration figures for whom other countries have issued warrants?
Extradition questions pop up on the other side of the Wikileaks problem. The U.S. wants to extradite Assange to face political persecution for revealing too much of the truth. Assange wants to avoid a Swedish test of sex crime allegations. But some legal scholars, point out that Sweden has laws much more protective of press freedom than England, and that Sweden might be a harder place than England from which to extradite Assange.
Political analysts point out that England’s current class of ruling politicians is so sychophantic toward any desire of U.S. leaders that they are much more likely to extradite Assange to the U.S. than is Sweden, regardless of limitations in the law. With more to hide than Sweden, the truth is that English politicians are more likely to take a very lax, Republican attitude toward adherence to laws on due-process or the rights of an unwanted political prisoner.
All these shifting positions on truth and law help distract attention from real issues. People who long campaigned to have sexual abuse recognized as a true social problem suddenly start arguing that Assange is a target of untrue allegations – they know this “truth” without any hearing on evidence. And little attention is paid to either the inconsistency or the possible losses to women’s rights that come from crafting exceptions for ‘important’ men.
The Republicans gain cover for overt discrimination. The Wikileaks story started just as the Pentagon was acknowledging that there is no military reason to continue discrimination against gays. This followed hard evidence that some military specialities, like translation and intelligence were truly harmed by anti-gay discrimination.
But while Faux News and right-wing blowhards fabricate against Wikileaks for publishing the truth, the Republican Party voted to reaffirm its opposition to ending discrimination in the military, even if such discrimination hurts the nation’s security. Even if their stated reasons repeat lies that even conservative generals admit are untrue. The Wilileaks distraction protected the corporate media from any coverage of the Republicans intentional use of untruths, against national security, solely for political and economic gain.
The same distraction was used as cover for a huge step toward ending Social Security. President Obama, giving the Republicans exactly what they want, chose the middle of the Wikileaks excitement to embrace a Republican tax plan that includes a cut in Social Security taxes, with the guaranteed effect of advancing the announced Republican plan of undermining and destroying Social Security?
Spinning the tax cut as a stimulus, Obama pretended that it is a one-year-only cut. But the Republicans who dictated the “deal” immediately stated the truth that they intend to convert the one-year only cut to permanent status, when their new majority takes over in January. They could not win a public debate over ending Social Security, so they waited for a distraction moment and had Obama embrace their plan, burying the Social Security cut under layers of argument about tax cuts for the middle class.
These days, Republican pundits claim that Obama was responsible for the Bush administration deficits and “borrow-and-spend” policies to fund Haliburton, KBR and the Wall Street bailouts. In the next election cycle, they will be claiming that Wikileaks was responsible for the cuts to Social Security. The truth is always their enemy.
What is truth? One truth is that we no longer have a two party system. We have two branches of one Corporation Party running our government. While corporate media focused on the evil of Wikileaks revealing the truth, the back pages of a couple of publications told us that the FDA under Obama has continued the Bush era practice of letting drug companies go on selling some brand name medicines, even after science proves them to be more dangerous than the diseases they are supposed to cure. But the medicines are profitable and their sellers give millions to politicians. So the FDA hides the science and lets the companies keep selling the poisons. And the press focuses on the “more important” Wikileaks.
The leaks prove that Senator Diane Feinstein knew, before she voted in favor of Bush’s wars, that all the claims to support her vote were untrue. She voted not for freedom or defense, but for investment profit. This is a truth for which she now wants blood.
And she wasn’t alone. The reason the Democrats didn’t support single-payer, and do support prosecution of Assange, is that they are financed by the same corporate interests that fund the Republicans. For them, Wikileaks is nothing more than the new “communism” or “terrorism.” It is a code word identifying a new “enemy,” pursuit of which allows them, once again, to escape scrutiny or responsibility for how they run the country. And progressives, once again, let them get away with it. Truth.