Friday, December 03, 2010

Glenn Greenwald: Joe Liberman Emulates Chinese Dictators

Joe Lieberman emulates Chinese dictators
by Glenn Greenwald


That Joe Lieberman is abusing his position as Homeland Security Chairman to thuggishly dictate to private companies which websites they should and should not host -- and, more important, what you can and cannot read on the Internet -- is one of the most pernicious acts by a U.S. Senator in quite some time. Josh Marshall wrote yesterday: "When I'd heard that Amazon had agreed to host Wikileaks I was frankly surprised given all the fish a big corporation like Amazon has to fry with the federal government." That's true of all large corporations that own media outlets -- every one -- and that is one big reason why they're so servile to U.S. Government interests and easily manipulated by those in political power. That's precisely the dynamic Lieberman was exploiting with his menacing little phone call to Amazon (in essence: Hi, this is the Senate's Homeland Security Committee calling; you're going to be taking down that WikiLeaks site right away, right?). Amazon, of course, did what they were told.

Note that Lieberman here is desperate to prevent American citizens -- not The Terrorists -- from reading the WikiLeaks documents which shed light on what the U.S. Government is doing. His concern is domestic consumption. By his own account, he did this to "send a message to other companies that might host WikiLeaks" not to do so. No matter what you think of WikiLeaks, they have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime; Lieberman literally wants to dictate -- unilaterally -- what you can and cannot read on the Internet, to prevent Americans from accessing documents that much of the rest of the world is freely reading.

The Internet, of course, is rendering decrepit would-be petty tyrants like Lieberman impotent and obsolete: WikiLeaks moved its website to a Swedish server and was accessible again within hours. But any attempt by political officials to start blocking Americans' access to political content on the Internet ought to provoke serious uproar and unrest. If the Tea Party movement and the Right generally were even minimally genuine in their ostensible beliefs, few things would trigger more intense objections than a political official trying to dictate to private actors which political content they should allow on the Internet (instead, you have Newt Gingrich demanding that Assange be declared an "enemy combatant" and Sarah Palin calling for his murder). Remember, though -- as The Post told us today -- it's "authoritarian governments and tightly controlled media in China and across the Arab Middle East" which are trying to prevent citizens from learning about the WikiLeaks documents.


If there's Nothing New in these documents, can Jonathan Capehart (or any other "journalist" claiming this) please point to where The Washington Post previously reported on these facts, all revealed by the WikiLeaks disclosures:

(1) the U.S. military formally adopted a policy of turning a blind eye to systematic, pervasive torture and other abuses by Iraqi forces;

(2) the State Department threatened Germany not to criminally investigate the CIA's kidnapping of one of its citizens who turned out to be completely innocent;

(3) the State Department under Bush and Obama applied continuous pressure on the Spanish Government to suppress investigations of the CIA's torture of its citizens and the 2003 killing of a Spanish photojournalist when the U.S. military fired on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad (see The Philadelphia Inquirer's Will Bunch today about this: "The day Barack Obama Lied to me");

(4) the British Government privately promised to shield Bush officials from embarrassment as part of its Iraq War "investigation";

(5) there were at least 15,000 people killed in Iraq that were previously uncounted;

(6) "American leaders lied, knowingly, to the American public, to American troops, and to the world" about the Iraq war as it was prosecuted, a conclusion the Post's own former Baghdad Bureau Chief wrote was proven by the WikiLeaks documents;

(7) the U.S.'s own Ambassador concluded that the July, 2009 removal of the Honduran President was illegal -- a coup -- but the State Department did not want to conclude that and thus ignored it until it was too late to matter;

(8) U.S. and British officials colluded to allow the U.S. to keep cluster bombs on British soil even though Britain had signed the treaty banning such weapons, and,

(9) Hillary Clinton's State Department ordered diplomats to collect passwords, emails, and biometric data on U.N. and other foreign officials, almost certainly in violation of the Vienna Treaty of 1961.

That's just a sampling.

This is what Joe Lieberman and his comrades are desperately trying to suppress -- literally prevent it from being accessible on the Internet. And "journalists" like Capehart play along by continuing to insist there's "nothing new" being revealed by WikiLeaks despite their never having reported any of this. And since the disclosures, does anyone believe that any of these revelations have received anything close to meaningful attention by the American establishment media? But remember -- as Capehart's newspaper taught us today -- "revelations by the organization WikiLeaks have received blanket coverage this week on television, in newspapers" in Free America -- showing what a Vibrant, Adversarial Press we are blessed with -- but "in many Arab countries, the mainstream media have largely avoided reporting on the sensitive contents of the cables."

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