The Wright Perspective℠
Social Commentary from the C-Suite to Main Street℠
A Blog by Gary Wright II
The next world war - a quest for the truth
Wednesday, January 19th, 2011
"There is a new world war being waged and it is a battle for government accountability, for justice, and for the truth." -- Gary Wright II
I've previously written several blog entries about the documents on WikiLeaks.org, but in light of recent events I wanted to discuss the impact the web site has had on governments throughout the world. Regardless of the government, the people in power around the world have always kept tight control of the information available to their citizens. By excluding data and spinning stories to fit their agenda, they have kept their power and their control over the people. The Internet has changed all of that. With cell phones, cameras, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media, it is now impossible to keep secrets and once the data is leaked there is no way to get it back or delete it. Through WikiLeaks.org the veil has been lifted and the truth is now finally seeing the light of day.
The United States government, in particular, has publicly called for transparency and accountability. That is, until it actually happened. Now they are in crisis mode and doing everything they can to hide and distort the truth. They are not only going after WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange, but in December a subpoena was served on Twitter to obtain the information on several "people of interest." They also forced Twitter to turn over all data regarding all of WikiLeaks followers. At the time of the subpoena, there were over 600,000 followers. Once the news of the subpoena came out, the number grew by over 20,000. The oppressive actions of the government are not intimidating the activists, it is only strengthening their resolve.
The WikiLeaks web site says, "We are of assistance to peoples of all countries who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and institutions. We aim for maximum political impact. Disclosed documents are classified, censored or otherwise opaque to the public record."
There is a lot more to WikiLeaks.org than just the "war diaries" of Iraq and Afghanistan. They have exposed corporate and government corruption, environmental disasters hidden to the public, and human rights violations of every kind. The most recent leaks have been referred to as "CableGate" where they have obtained several hundred thousand confidential messages (or "cables") between US diplomats and embassies around the world. Only a few thousand of the messages have been leaked to the public, but they have already had great impact on the public opinion of the US. It is one thing to suspect the government of something, but quite a different matter to confirm the suspicions through the government's own documents. The "CableGate" leaks have already caused ambassadors to be recalled and caused great embarrassment to our country. So far, the news media in the US has been silent about these stories. The government intimidated several companies into stop doing business with WikiLeaks, including PayPal, Amazon, and several others.
The world revolution has begun. The citizens of Tunesia assembled protests and they didn't stop until their entire government was replaced. That sent shock waves throughout the other Arab nations. It didn't take long for the protests to spread to all of the other countries as citizens demand a fair and democratic government.
The next big data release will be over 2,000 bank records of "high net-work individuals," politicians, and companies using offshore bank accounts to hide money and evade taxes. Bank of America has already formed a crisis response team and the documents haven't been released to the public yet.
UPDATE: Former Swiss banker Rudolf Elmer was found guilty of breaking Switzerland's bank secrecy laws. Zurich judge Sebastian Aeppli fined Elmer $6,250 USD despite the prosecutors request for an eight-month prison sentence. Elmer turned over the secret banking data to the tax authorities and to WikiLeaks.ore.
The only story being covered by the US media is the case of Army PFC Bradley Manning who is accused of leaking the video from a helicopter that murdered a dozen innocent people in Iraq. The attack killed two journalists and seriously injured two children. The gunner lies to get permission to shoot them, shoots up a van of people who came to render aid, and refused to treat the two children. After the incident, the officers tried to cover up the murders. A lot of people are calling Manning a traitor, which was my reaction when I first heard the story. But after watching the video, my opinion of Manning quickly changed. I hope that before anyone labels him as a criminal, they first watch the video before forming an opinion. If he was trying to cause damage to our country, he would have sold the video to our enemies and possibly made millions of dollars. He has sacrificed his own life and freedom in an effort to deliver justice to those innocent victims of murder. You can watch the video at CollateralMurder.com
If Manning really is guilty of leaking the video, he will go down in the history books as a patriot and a hero. Since the military chain of command acted to hide the incident, the only option was to release it to the public through WikiLeaks. Manning is currently being held in strict isolation at a prison in Quantico. Despite spending many months in prison, he has not yet been convicted of any crime. Activists around the world have raised thousands of dollars to pay for his legal defense. On Monday (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day) demonstrations took place at the FBI headquarters and at the gates of Quantico. There are protests taking place around the world to show support for Manning, Assange, and WikiLeaks.
Reporting a war crime should not be a crime. It is interesting to note that before the last election, President Obama pledged to protect whistleblowers as a part of his "ethics agenda."
Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.
If Manning is found guilty, I hope that President Obama will pardon him - but I know that isn't very likely. Our country has a bad track record when it comes to protecting political prisoners (Guantanimo prisoners, rendition to torture, and Leonard Peltier).
Those who don't study history are doomed to repeat it.
The actions currently being taken by the US government are nothing new. One historic event that comes to mind is when the troops were forcing the Cherokee people onto the Trail of Tears. At New Echota, GA the Cherokee had a printing press for their Phoenix newspaper which was written in both Cherokee and English. To stop the word from spreading about the injustices taking place, the soldiers dumped all of the moveable type (letters) into a nearby water well. Back then, type was made of lead so it not only stopped the sharing of information - but also contaminated the drinking water in the well.
Technology has fundamentally changed the way that information is shared. Instead of trying to shoot the messengers like Assange and Manning, I hope the people in power around the world will focus on the real issue: what are our leaders doing and how will we hold them accountable for their actions?
-- Gary Wright II
I've written several blog entries on this topic. To read more, visit our page devoted to PFC Bradley Manning .