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Saturday, July 20, 2013

Raking Muck

WikiLeaks, Manning, and the Newer Journalism

The broad case establishes a precedent that publishing national security related information about the United States is espionage.

Julian Assange, on Russia Today, June 2013.

By Binoy Kampmark
Dissident Voice
July 20th, 2013

The Manning Trial, with all its state-like ghastliness, the prosecution
pawing and bruising those who disagree with it into submission, has
thrown up a few distinct and disturbing trends.

Ecclesiastes 1:9 claims there is nothing new under the sun, and we
have been greeted to the predictable prosecution seeking to paint
WikiLeaks as the spectre haunting global security.

This is backhanded flattery of sorts – the organisation has to be seen
by the security establishment as innately wicked and corrosive to
state “values” (constipated secrecy, sinister deception, orchestrated
dissimulation).

It is therefore incumbent that every feature of the WikiLeaks’

experiment be attacked: its journalism (qualified or otherwise)

its sources, its backers.

Army Private first class Bradley Manning is but the important conduit,
and this entire enterprise on the part of the U.S. government is an
attempt to punish the flow of information all cogs and channels.

It follows that the entire chain of information has to be shown to
be inimical to U.S. interests.

Jihrleah Showman, one of Manning’s former supervisors, was trotted
out to suggest that the American flag meant nothing to the private.

Ignore the information; attack the man.

“I tapped the flag on my shoulder and asked him what it meant.
He said the flag meant nothing to him and he did not consider
himself to have allegiance to this country or any other people.”
Snowman’s inability to detect anything parochial rendered her
“distraught”.

Defense attorney David Coombs has done his best to shift gears
on his opposition.

He filed motions asking the court to dismiss the charge of aiding
and abetting the enemy, the other being alleged violations of the
federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Both are vital aspects of the case, not only against Manning, but
WikiLeaks.

It is axiomatic that projects of power require necessary enemies,
and here, the enemy is writ large.

As Coombs explained, “The government’s whole argument seems to
be premised on creating WikiLeaks as a bad organisation.” Indeed,
an organisation with “evil” intent.

On Thursday, Colonel Denise Lind ruled that from Ft. Meade,
Maryland that those charges would stand.

This does not mean that she will be swayed by them, but hope
springs eternal.

In an attempt to cast a bomb on the prosecution cause to
disparage WikiLeaks, Coombs called on the expert services
of Harvard University jurist Yochai Benkler, to consider the
question about the role of the organisation in the newer
journalism.

Benkler proved accommodating, arguing that a guilty conviction in
the case of Manning would be costly to world reporting, imposing
an onerous burden on the “willingness of people of good conscience
but not infinite courage to come forward.”

Fortune should also favour the not so brave.

Benkler discussed, in rather expansive fashion, the definition as
to what, “handing” over material to the enemy might constitute.

An organisation with the means of attracting a global audience
would mean “that any leak to a media organisation that can be
read by any enemy anywhere in the world, becomes automatically
aiding the enemy.”

Benkler is good value, at least if you are a free speech advocate.

He quotes in a paper (in progress) for the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil
Liberties Review a few choice words from Theodore Roosevelt.

Teddy might well have been Uncle Sam’s loud sissy, to use Gore
Vidal’s term of reference, but he could drag out a gem or two, a
few of which can be found in his “The Man With the Muck-rake”
(April 14, 1906):

“There is filth on the floor, and it must be scraped up with the
muck rake; and there are times and places where this service
is the most needed of all the services that can be performed.”

The New Journalism used to be a rather elegant phrase to
describe the adventurous, richly gleamed prose of its followers,
led by Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson, truth gathered
through descriptive and inventive prose, often fueled by
stimulants.

The newer journalism forged in the WikiLeaks foundry is of a
somewhat different type, forensic, keen less on ornamentation
than stripping away the deceptive fa├žade.

The state need not be indulged with any invention – enough has
been done there by the spin doctors, surgeons and dentists.

They now feel a sense of dread at this unveiling, with sources to
be seen and the lie, rendered visible.

Beware the muckraker.



Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College,
Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.

http://dissidentvoice.org/2013/07/raking-muck-wikileaks-manning-
and-the-newer-journalism

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