When authorities can’t get what they want by working within the law, the right answer is not to work outside the law. The right answer is that they can’t get what they want.
The Unites States is — or should be — subject to the rule of law, which makes the extra-judicial pursuit of Wikileaks especially nauseating. (Calls for Julian’s assassination are even more nauseating.) It may be that what Julian has done is a crime. (I know him casually, but not well enough to vouch for his motivations, nor am I a lawyer.) In that case, the right answer is to bring the case to a trial.
Yes, exactly. “The law,” said Thomas More in A Man For All Seasons, “is a causeway upon which, so long as he keeps to it, a citizen may walk safely. … It is not an instrument of any kind.”
Those in power in the United States have that power only on loan, from the people. They corrupt out country who ignore the law or use it as an instrument to perpetuate that power.
And to what end?
if you’re going to declare war, you should only do it if the war is winnable. This one sure doesn’t seem to be, and our ragtag offensive against WikiLeaks is doing little except making us look helpless against a pipsqueak. … as near as I can tell, we could literally kill every person associated with WikiLeaks, impound every cent of their money, and take down all their servers, and it would have virtually no impact. All the existing documents would still be available, and other groups would pop up almost instantly to take WikiLeaks’ place. I guess I might be underestimating our capabilities in this area, but I doubt it. I just don’t see how you can win a war like this in the long run.
I don’t even see how you can degrade this kind of activity significantly short of running a Stalinesque security state.
And a hat tip to Kevin for citing Shirky.
See also Juan Cole Weighs in on Wikileaks