WikiLeaks as This Century’s Upton Sinclair

Upton SinclairI find it interesting, though not surprising, that most discussions in the media about WikiLeaks focus on the suitable form of punishment for its editor-in-chief Julian Assange, rather than the nature of the diplomatic correspondence he and his organization have shared with the public. None of the documents were top secret—as they were either labeled secret, confidential or classified— and arguably they should be a part of the public domain. Some people are calling for the arrest and prosecution of Assange for espionage, and the branding of WikiLeaks as a terrorist organization. Rather than condemn Assange, we should commend him for doing all of us a great service.

Commenting on the good that can come from openness and transparency, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said that “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” Well, today we find ourselves in a foul, germ-ridden place, where official misconduct is allowed to breed, infect the body politic and fester. Things are done in the name of the American people that would outrage them if they really knew the truth. And some past generations had the benefit of brave individuals to shine the light and clear up the stench, and they were all the better for it.

Without question, Noam Chomsky said it best in a recent interview with Democracy Now! “One of the major reasons for government secrecy is to protect the government from its own population,” Chomsky said. Of the similarity of WikiLeaks to the Pentagon Papers— a top secret history of the Vietnam War first published in the New York Times—Chomsky noted:

“But if you look at the Papers themselves, there are things that Americans should have known that the government didn’t want them to know. And as far as I can tell, from what I’ve seen here, pretty much the same is true. In fact, the current leaks are—what I’ve seen, at least—primarily interesting because of what they tell us about how the diplomatic service works.”

The Pentagon Papers revealed that the Johnson administration had lied about the Vietnam War, deliberately expanding the war in private while telling another story in public. In recent years America has been faced with two costly, deadly and seemingly useless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The latter is causing the nation to bleed $2.8 billion a week. And the military-industrial complex eats up half of the government’s discretionary spending when other nations prefer to spend their money on high-speed rail and green technology.

slaughterhouseThis comes at a time when Wall Street is awash with record profits, yet millions are chronically unemployed. Meanwhile, the gap between rich and poor, the highest since 1928, is turning the U.S. into a nation of serfs. This is why we must embrace the spirit of WikiLeaks in 2010 and beyond, to inform citizens of potentially disastrous government decision making while something can be done to avert catastrophe.

In 1906—65 years before the Pentagon Papers and over a century before WikiLeaks— Upton Sinclair applied his own brand of disinfectant called The Jungle. His novel depicted the harsh conditions of the meat-packing industry, of diseased animals and dead rats finding their way to the dinner table. Ultimately, the visceral public reaction to The Jungle led to government reform of the food industry. More importantly, Sinclair shed light on the plight of poor and working people, on racism and immigration, on wage slavery, and the greed and corruption of people at the top.

David A. LoveIt was a book about an era when, like today, capitalism ran amok. Every generation might not get an Upton Sinclair to make things right, and some generations need one more than others. At a time when some in the media are far too eager to embed themselves in power rather than expose the powerful, the second decade of the twenty-first century desperately screams out for sunlight.

Julian Assange is Upton Sinclair exposing the rotten meat. The message is, don’t buy the rotten meat, or the rotten wars they’re trying to sell to you. No wonder Bank of America is worried that they could be next.

David A. Love

Republished with permission from The BlackCommentator.


  1. says

    @ Mr Scharf,

    You might like to read Amnesty International’s own position on Wikileaks, just recently stated:

    And this statement:

    “For this reason, we conveyed a request to the White House prior to the publication, asking that the International Security Assistance Force provide us with reviewers,” Schmitt said. “That request remains open. However, the Pentagon has stated that it is not interested in ‘harm minimization’ and has not contacted us, directly, or indirectly to discuss this offer.”


  2. says

    If you believe in total openness on all information, tell me your home address, phone number, mother’s maiden name, credit card number, social security number [if you have one], the name of your favorite pet, and your date of birth. I will show you all the journalistic integrity Assange did by publishing it all over the Net. You will get the same redaction as 77,000 Afghans did that are now at risk.

  3. says

    ¶WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is behind bars as his legal team prepares for another court battle to secure his release on bail.
    ¶A judge decided to free the whistleblower on Tuesday after supporters agreed to post a £200,000 cash deposit.
    ¶But in chaotic scenes the decision was overridden two hours
    later when Swedish authorities appealed.
    ¶As a result the 39-year-old Australian returned to Wandsworth
    prison in south-west London, where he is being held in solitary
    confinement. He will appear at the High Court within two days
    where a more senior judge will consider the appeal and whether to
    overturn the bail decision.

    █One of the women, a political activist in her 30s described as Miss A, claims she was unlawfully coerced and subjected to sexual molestation and deliberate molestation. The other woman, Miss B, who is in her 20s, has alleged he had sex with her without a condom while she was sleeping.
    █”I don’t believe Miss B felt she had been raped until she went to the police station. She was encouraged by a policewoman and a junior female prosecutor to think that way. While I don’t think there was any conspiracy, Julian says he is being victimised because of his role with WikiLeaks. The fact that he has a high profile has made him a target for opponents,” said Hurtig.
    █He, however, remains confident that his client will get a fair hearing in Sweden.
    IF Assange can get a fair hearing, THEN why does he resist extradiction

  4. says

    When WikiLeaks was set to release the Iraq trove on Oct. 18, which was, according to ex-staffers — far too early, in the view of some of them, to properly redact the names of U.S. collaborators and informants in Iraq.

    For someone so proud of divulging secrets, I wonder how Assange feels about this:

    “The release date which was established was completely unrealistic,” says 25-year-old Herbert Snorrason, an Icelandic university student who until recently helped manage WikiLeaks’ secure chat room. “We found out that the level of redactions performed on the Afghanistan documents was not sufficient. I announced that if the next batch did not receive full attention, I would not be willing to cooperate.”

    “You are not anyone’s king or god,” wrote Domscheit-Berg in the chat. “And you’re not even fulfilling your role as a leader right now. A leader communicates and cultivates trust in himself. You are doing the exact opposite. You behave like some kind of emperor or slave trader.”

    “You are suspended for one month, effective immediately,” Assange shot back. “If you wish to appeal, you will be heard on Tuesday.”

  5. says

    The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International and three other groups have sent a series of e-mails to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange calling for the names of Afghan civilians to be removed from the 77,000 classified military documents published by the online whistle-blower last month.

    Members of the Taliban were studying the documents to retaliate against any informants cooperating with the U.S. military long before Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission spokesman Nadery said, “There was no consideration about civilian lives,” after noticing a rise in assassinations of Afghan civilians seen as government collaborators.

    Those 77,000 Afgans who reported the Taliban for rapes, robberies, kidnappings, extortions, and murders are the first victims of Assange and they are being victimized all over again.

    • says

      After they put the torches out and put the pitchforks down, I am willing to pay Assanges freight to Kabul in Afghanistan to visit his victims.

      There are those who want “Justice for Assange.” He has done everything he can to resist a court of law to face the charges against him, though.

      I agree that neither the courts of Sweden nor of the US can do the justice that Assange deserves. They both have due process. In detemining the guilt of Assange under Sharia Law, I suspect the outcome would be the same. The magnitude and scope of his punishment under Sharia Law would match that of the death and destruction he caused.

      The Pentagon, several civil rights groups, and those working with him wanted to wait at least until the names of the Afghan civilians were removed. That is one of the reasons for the fallout that lead to Open Leaks.

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