Debate Forum Topic 12/08/10

Should Wikileaks be considered a Terrorist Organization?

Julian Assange, a world-class computer hacker turned crusader-for-full disclosure-of-all-government-secrets, is in the news. After another release of State Department communication cables where the State Department personnel discuss sensitive and often frank evaluations of America’s allies and enemies from around the world, the Australian-born founder of WikiLeaks has turned himself in and is in police custody in London after Swedish officials issued a warrant for his arrest as part of an unrelated rape investigation.

Assange’s lawyers have said that he will fight extradition to Sweden, fearing he could be turned over to the United States. Assange was wanted by U.S. officials for the disclosure of the secret information in his releases and last week, Interpol placed Assange on its ‘Most-Wanted’ list.

Before his arrest on Tuesday, Assange, 39, was trying to stay out of sight as diplomats and government officials around the world dealt with the fallout caused by this newest Wikileaks release of confidential State Department cables. It can be assumed that by the way Assange is being portrayed this time around, his actions may not get the pass that earlier releases have been given.

The Obama administration has launched a criminal investigation, suggesting Assange might be charged with violating U.S. secrecy laws or even espionage. By exposing large amounts of unfiltered data, it is being suggested that Assange has possibly endangered lives. According to the documents themselves, the names or descriptions of U.S. informants are mentioned. This could be cause for them to be arrested. Human-rights organizations fear the leaks will endanger activists and journalists whose names are in U.S. cables.

Newspapers that received the leaks have attempted to redact any such names. After this subsequent leak and release of information, the U.S. Justice Department is now serious about stopping Assange, considering that the information could reveal the State Department’s inner-most confidential analyses and policy positions.

Julian Assange was 19 years old when the Cold War ended. Australian acquaintances say he was disappointed by the outcome of the Cold War, with a resounding global victory for the U.S. and its allies. Assange then began identifying with the defeated “progressives,” from the old Soviet Union, according to experts who have studied some of his writings.

The most recent data leak had information on world leaders from around the globe:  From Moammar Gadhafi’s well-endowed blond Ukrainian nurse, to the disclosure that the King of Saudi Arabia and other Sunni leaders have been saying in highly confidential conversations that they favor the U.S. and/or Israel bombing Iran’s nuclear installations now rather than waiting for the Shia theocracy to develop a deliverable weapon, to the description of Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, as exerting an “exceptionally dangerous” Islamist influence on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to the suggestion that Vladimir Putin rules Russia by allowing an elite group of wealthy Russian industrialists to siphon off cash from the world’s biggest energy producer.

So, indeed there are plenty of disclosures that may affect the ability of the U.S. to conduct its foreign policy, but does this define Wikileaks as a terrorist enemy?

Several officials, including Michigan Rep. Candice Miller, have claimed that Wikileaks should be deemed a terrorist organization. “It is time that the Obama Administration treats WikiLeaks for what it is – a terrorist organization whose continued operation threatens our security,” Miller said last Wednesday on the House floor.

Others who support Wikileaks argue that governments operating in secret are the root cause of the world’s suffering and inequality.

Forum Question of the Week:

Should Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange be treated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government?

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