Leave it to the US Department of “Defense” to continue fighting a war it’s already irretrievably lost.
On Friday, the Pentagon “asked” online whistleblowing facilitator Wikileaks to “do the right thing” by erasing all classified US government documents from its servers and handing over any copies. I put the “asked” in scare quotes because although that’s how CNN headlined it, the actual story used the far more accurate “demanded.”
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell hinted at a range of threats which might be deployed versus Wikileaks should his demand be rejected. “If doing the right thing is not good enough for them,” he said, “then we will figure out what other alternatives we have to compel them to do the right thing.”
War Party mouthpiece Marc Thiessen hints in the Washington Post (“Sorry, Time, Assange is a criminal, not a journalist,” 08/07/10) that Wikileaks spokesman Julian Assange may be (may already have secretly been!) indicted under the 1917 Espionage Act, World War One’s prototype “national security state” legislation under which a number of individuals were imprisoned for criticizing US military policy.
Other options presumably — the current US regime is fond, to the point of obsession, of the phrase “everything is on the table” — include everything from “cyber-warfare” to actual military action against Wikileaks servers using special operations troops or drone aircraft.
Let’s leave aside for a moment — but only for a moment — the fact that this demand is the equivalent of stomping one’s foot and screeching that some huge quantity of toothpaste, currently gumming up hard drives around the world, must be recalled to a single location and put back in the tube. From a technical standpoint, it’s simply not going to happen, as anyone at the Pentagon who’s used a computer since … oh, 1983 or so … could have told Morrell if he’d bothered to ask before making himself look silly in public.
That practical consideration is important, but let’s not allow it to distract us from the moral context of the larger situation.
The state (any state, but in this case the United States) claims a right to keep secrets from those whom it governs, from those upon whose consent its purported “legitimacy” rests, from those who are taxed to pay in the first place for the activities which generate those secrets.
Ixnay on that aimclay!
It’s the equivalent of the janitor telling the building owner “it’s none of your business whether or not I cleaned the toilets, and if you try to have a look yourself I’ll hit you over the head with my mop and lock you in the broom closet. Now hurry up and sign my paycheck, I’ve got a date tonight.”
That the US government considers publication of the Wikileaks Afghan War Diary even remotely controversial shatters the whole “consent of the governed” myth. The state doesn’t work for you and in this matter it’s not even pretending to.
That it’s the disclosure of this particular type of bundle of “state secrets,” i.e. “defense”-related material, which evokes the most hysterical reaction from the bureaucracy tells us a lot about whom the state really does work for.
The primary function of the state — all states, everywhere, at all times — is to transfer wealth from the pockets of the productive class to the coffers of the political class.
Since the end of World War Two at the latest — at least intermittently earlier, but whole hog since then — that political class has been dominated by what President Dwight D. Eisenhower termed “the Military-Industrial Complex.”
The Military-Industrial Complex is an overlapping, interlocking mass of individuals, firms, political lobbies and government offices with one thing in common: The livelihood of the Complex and the livelihoods of the individuals comprising it are entirely dependent upon the forcible transfer of wealth from your pockets to theirs via a perpetual regime of “war and rumor of war.”
If it wasn’t already obvious that the Military-Industrial Complex and its members scruple not at all to lie, cheat, steal or kill pursuant to the maintenance of that regime, well, Geoff Morrell just told you so, didn’t he?
Morrell and Company have met a worthy foe — and you have gained an equally valuable ally — in Wikileaks.
They can’t say they didn’t expect this. The US “national security” establishment has spent the last 20 years fretting over the potential of “stateless / non-state” actors and networks to subvert its power. Wikileaks is that potential fully realized.
The state has been put on notice: From here on out, it walks through the valley of the shadow of Wikileaks. The toothpaste is out of the tube, and out of the tube it shall stay. If Wikileaks should be destroyed — or for that matter even if it isn’t — ten similar projects will spring up to take its place.
The Era of Secret Government is over.
Citations to this article:
- Thomas Knapp, The Valley of the Shadow of Wikileaks, Antiwar.com, 9 Aug 2010