WikiLeaks: Assange Delivers On Obama’s Promise Of Transparency

A bit more than two years ago, America and most of the world were infatuated by the new President-elect. Barack Obama was promising “integrity, transparency and accountability in government, politics and the law”. Pointing out that the Bush administration had been “one of the most secretive in US history”, President-elect Obama vowed to drastically increase government openness to citizens with a never seen before new level of transparency and accountability.

“The Bush administration has been one of the most secretive closed administration in America’s history. An Obama presidency will use cutting-edge technologies to reverse this dynamic, creating a new level of transparency, accountability and participation for America’s citizens,” said the site set up by the President-elect.

On the site, one of the ambitious and unfulfilled many promises of the new administration on ethics and government was to “conduct regulatory agency business in public”.

“Obama will require his appointees who lead the executive branch department and rule making agencies to conduct the significant business of the agency in public, so that any citizen can see these debates in person or watch them on the internet.”

An additional quote is even more damaging for the Obama administration “truth meter” standard, especially if it is put in the context of the key source of WikiLeaks: Private Bradley Manning. Manning is currently in military jail, and could face a sentence of up to 52-years. As matter of  fact, President-elect Obama, back in November 2008, was pledging to “protect whistleblowers”.

“Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud and abuse of power in government,” said President-elect Obama on Change.gov

However, two years later, not only President Obama is not talking about “protecting whistle-blowers” any longer, but instead his administration is actively trying to prosecute WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange under an obscure law, dating from 1917, called the Espionage Act. The Obama administration thinks they have a case against Assange, under the Espionage Act, for publishing classified government documents. So not only President Obama doesn’t advocate transparency any more, but he has become an enemy of freedom of information and free speech. In effect, prosecuting WikiLeaks would have some very serious and damaging First Amendment implications, and doesn’t seem to be constitutional.

We are deeply skeptical that prosecuting WikiLeaks would be constitutional. The courts have made clear that the First Amendment protects independent third parties who publish classified information. Prosecuting Wikileaks would be no different from prosecuting the media outlets that also published classified documents. If newspapers could be held criminally liable for publishing leaked information about government practices, we might never have found out about the CIA’s secret prisons or the government spying on innocent Americans,” said Hina Shamsi from the ACLU.


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18 Responses to WikiLeaks: Assange Delivers On Obama’s Promise Of Transparency

  1. Pingback:

    Vote -1 Vote +1World Spinner

  2. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Brian Brawdy
    December 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Gilbert,
    GREAT STORY!!
    bb

    • Gilbert Mercier
      +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Gilbert Mercier
      December 4, 2010 at 4:28 pm

      Thank you, Brian.

      • Ole Ole Olson
        +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Ole Ole Olson
        December 4, 2010 at 6:16 pm

        Also cheers for that awesome lead pic. Brilliant design.

        • +1 Vote -1 Vote +1James
          December 8, 2010 at 8:20 pm

          Great pic and story! Keep Government Open!!

  3. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1StarKing
    December 4, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    “he has become an enemy of freedom of information and free speech”
    -
    He has ALWAYS been an enemy of freedom of information and free speech, you just weren’t paying attention.

    • Gilbert Mercier
      +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Gilbert Mercier
      December 4, 2010 at 9:32 pm

      Oh yes I was “paying attention”. I guess you don’t read News Junkie Post much.

  4. -2 Vote -1 Vote +1CaptainWebby
    December 5, 2010 at 7:34 am

    I agree that Obama, like all other political candidates before him, had not lived up to his campaign promises. However, I have to comment on the government transparency and whistleblower issue.

    It seems naive to think that any government could have 100% transparency on all issues. The protection of our own people at home and abroad depends on information being disseminated on a need-to-know basis. Where would you like the government to draw the line? What would you be OK with not knowing?

    Addressing the whistleblower issue, I feel that Obama would protect them in cases of abuse (of power and otherwise) and in other instances where someone is abusing the system and hurting others as a consequence. Now, I don’t know what was leaked by the man in prison or by WikiLeaks but just randomly leaking documents to “get them out there” is not whistle-blowing.

    It frustrates me when people are either all or nothing on issues that have a lot of middle ground and gray area. We need to think about the Big Picture and know that we might not understand certain decisions made by people in government because we are too far removed from the process and could not fully understand unless tht were our job.

    I don’t love everything the government does but we do need it to exist. I think about that when I drive down nice, paved roads and visit National Parks.

    Thanks

    • Vote -1 Vote +1Blessed
      December 8, 2010 at 4:50 pm

      people need to know what their goverment is doing, if we don’t understand the decision that the goverment is going to make then you should make the effort to understand what the consequences would be. think about it without the people knowing whats going on behind the scenes your just putting your country on auto-pilot.

  5. -4 Vote -1 Vote +1Alkhemist
    December 5, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Is there any chance at all that Obama is working *with* Wikileaks while the NWO paints him, through the media, as a hypocrite? Could he possibly turn out to be a Good Guy? Just a hopeful thought.

  6. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Jason
    December 5, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Its time to give up on this presidency of broken promises. The man sucked so many of us in to his brand. Put aside Obamas earlier words and judge him on his actions.
    Hi actions suggest 3 things to me. Obama is stupid, incredibly weak or complicit. Perhaps even a combination of all three.
    For certain he is not the leader to bring greater transparency.

  7. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Bruce Majors
    December 5, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    It’s funny that Julian Assange is being sought on fake rape charges (“rape” in Sweden means having sex without a condom) while TSA agents get to finger anyone they want.

  8. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1A
    December 6, 2010 at 3:52 am

    That leather jacket looks so tacky. Stand down, Herr Obama.

  9. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1rj
    December 6, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Good story Gilbert, and right on the money…

    I just wish someone would leak some genuine writings of obama, you know some of his brilliant college work papers…etc…I’d even settle for some high school book reports or even a report card, how bout grade school work…anybody anybody…crickets crickets crickets

  10. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1djmaki
    December 7, 2010 at 10:49 am

    That’s Globalization:

    America want him, Australian, from England because he stoled and published secret documents and he’s wanted in Sweden for raping two girls

  11. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1demu
    December 7, 2010 at 11:03 am

    this article somehow implies that the obama administration gets their orders from anyone different than all the previous administrations.
    Good to have some tangible info on broken promises though

  12. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Sarah
    December 7, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    President Obama doesn’t care if everyone, but him is exposed.
    It’s obvious, Obama didn’t do anything when the military logs were leaked, neither did he do anything when the first set of the cables were leaked. So he is afraid of something.

  13. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1ebbiii
    December 8, 2010 at 1:46 am

    it’s not too early to think about reelection; i suspect that most of the president’s decisions in the next two years will reflect that fact. what will be interesting indeed is whether or not assange goes to trial in an american court before november 2012.

    (not that there’s anything wrong with that. the possibility of a presidential pardon exists, as unlikely as it may be.)