Wikileaks show a loss of liberty
By Ryan McConnell
Life, Love, Liberty. These three words are unique in that they are nearly indescribable; they are more concepts than anything else. As such, our perceptions of them are all relative.
In recent years it has become more and more abundantly clear that liberty, and our concept of freedom itself is rapidly changing and arguably, quickly diminishing.
Fortunately, not everyone just submits to Big Brother. One of these men, Julian Assange, created “Wikileaks” the biggest unsanctioned disclosure of documents since Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers that shook the nation and their view on the Vietnam war. The papers revealed that the United States had secretly escalated the war while promising to end it (archives.gov/research/pentagon-papers). This shocked the nation and infuriated the populace.
Wikileaks disclosed a multitude of documents containing information concerning Among the leaks were a video entitled Collateral Murder, showing unarmed Iraqis being gunned down by an American helicopters (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8603938.stm); the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, which revealed the true human cost of the conflicts (https://wikileaks.org/irq/); and over 250,000 diplomatic cables, which shone an uncomfortable spotlight on US foreign policy.
Julian Assange is wanted in Sweden , with the UK seeking to arrest him to be extradited back to Sweden for his actions. Publicly, the United States has claimed they are legally unable to prosecute him, however the National Defense Authorization Act, gives the federal government to indefinitely detain citizens without due process.
In London, he was granted asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy, where he has continued his work for over three years, constantly aware of the 24-hour police presence the British have barricading the premises. Should he ever leave the Embassy, he would undoubtedly be arrested immediately, despite a lack of formal charges being filed against him. However, Sweden has agreed to meet with him at the Embassy to discuss the situation, and the Ecuadorian authorities have declared that Mr. Assange may remain there is long is he wishes.
The inflammatory whistle blowing of the Pentagon Papers was not rivaled until the creation of Wikileaks, and the actions of Edward Snowden. Snowden began his intelligence career working is a security guard for the National Security Agency, but quickly began to work in technology-information for both the NSA and the CIA. He was stationed in both Geneva and Japan before being transferred to Hawaii, it was there he would make a decision that would not only alter the course of his life, but the course of modern history (biography.com).
After working in Hawaii for a few months, Snowden began to collect documents showing information on illegal activities the United States was partaking in, and revealing that the United States was violating both international treaties, international sovereignty, and its very own Constitution. This included a program called PRISM designed solely to collect information on American citizens in the real-time (http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/prism), a clear, blatant, and abhorrent violation of the fourth amendment. These documents also revealed that United States intelligence agencies had been spying on some of the nation’s closest allies, including France, Britain, and most notably, Germany. In choosing to give these documents to the press, he abandoned a fairly cozy life on the island of Oahu, and a $200,000 a year salary.
“The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this capability, the vast majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards,” said Snowden in an interview with The Guardian.
“I don’t want to live in a society that does these sort of things … I do not want to live in a world where everything I do and say is recorded. That is not something I am willing to support or live under.”
On May 20th, Snowden left his life of luxury and made for Hong Kong, and after a little over a week began to leak thousands of documents to The Guardian, the NY Times, the Washington Post, is well is several other major newspaper companies. Less than two months later, the United States Justice department issued charges against Snowden for theft of government property and violating the Espionage Act ( Finn, Peter; Horwitz, Sari (June 21, 2013). “U.S. charges Snowden with espionage”. The Washington Post. Retrieved April 11, 2015)
Two days after the US issued those charges, Snowden went to Russia when the United States annulled his passport, revoking his ability to travel. Both Bolivia and Colombia, among others, had offered asylum, but without his passport Snowden was unable to leave. He was, however, allowed to remain in Russia. Interesting, isn’t it? A citizen of an Orwellian United States being forced to seek asylum in Russia for revealing the wrongdoings of what claims to be the land of the free.
While calling the United States the land of the free is getting harder and harder to do with a straight face, the actions of Snowden and Assange certainly give meaning to the phrase “Home of the Brave” and so long as people like them are ready and willing to stand up and risk everything in the name of liberty, there certainly is hope for the future, and the personal freedoms this nation was founded on.