Wikileaks should not be not protected by the First Amendment. Nor do I think it is legally. My viewpoint on this matter is not likely to be very popular with my fellow journalists. All are free to try and change my opinion, however, I do feel strongly about this.
I fully support the concept of freedom of the press. However, at the same time, there must be a limit to those freedoms as well. Acquiring and releasing classified and/or secret documents without prior approval is a violation of the law. And in some situations, it can even be deemed to be treason
Wikileaks should not be afforded First Amendment rights in this situation. Nor should the media outlets which are filing stories and reprinting portions of the leaked information. At least not in regard to this matter.
Julian Paul Assange is listed on Wikipedia as ‘an Australian journalist, publisher and Internet activist.’Assange’s bio also claims he formerly was a computer programmer and was convicted of 24 counts of computer hacking in Australia in 1992. The following year he helped start one of the first public internet service providers in Australia. In 1997 he helped invent an encryption system. Assange has taken classes at no fewer than six universities and lived in several countries over the years.
Assange is obviously no fool and is quite aware of the fact that he lives at the edges of the law. The fact that there is no true worldwide system of law and justice allows him to basically get away with leaking secret documents of foreign governments.
If Assange was an American citizen or otherwise living in the country, I’d fully support charging him with some form of treason.
There is a reason that our government withholds documents in a veil of secrecy. Not all information should be immediately made public. In cases where individuals, companies or media outlets disagree with the withholding of information, there is a judicial process to have these documents reviewed and either declared public by the court system or left as classified.
In no manner do I mean to infer that this judicial process is completely fair and unbiased when it comes to making decisions on the release of government documents to the press and general public. Indeed incorrect decisions are bound to be made on occasion. Two wrongs do not make a right though.
We as Americans may not respect our politicians very much. But we should respect the process of government. It is indeed flawed, as are all of mankind’s creations, but it is still among the very best of all means of government which have ever existed.
Yes, we should continue to focus on refining and improving the system of government, but not by blatantly breaking the law with little to no regard for the lives and careers being put at risk.
There is little doubt in my mind that the American government has the right to classify Assange as a foreign terrorist. I don’t believe such will be done publicly, but his actions are most definitely walking right along the border crossing into terrorism.
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