Tangerine Bolen, MPH-HMP is founder and director of RevolutionTruth, a global community and organization dedicated to defending WikiLeaks, whistleblowers, and legitimate democracies.
I founded and lead RevolutionTruth, a growing, global community and organization dedicated to defending WikiLeaks, whistleblowers, and legitimate democracies. RevolutionTruth defends WikiLeaks (WL) - not because WikiLeaks is perfect or uncomplicated. The WikiLeaks phenomenon is indeed, very complex. We defend them for two primary reasons: First, the way the U.S. government has responded to WikiLeaks and Julian Assange is both alarming and dangerous. The federal government has signaled a willingness to change U.S. laws on espionage, in order to ensnare Julian Assange.
What does this mean? It is the threat of a severe curtailing of the "free" press. A press that is already highly compromised, in its corporatized, sanitized state. If the U.S. government has its way, journalists could be forced to reveal their sources, and anonymous leaks of classified information (i.e. instances of whistleblowing) could be considered "espionage." The U.S. government's actions and behavior around WikiLeaks is an irresponsible assault on our democratic freedoms. Freedoms that have already been profoundly weakened since the year 2000.
Under the Bush administration, the U.S. government began to engage in unprecedented spying on U.S. citizens - both legally and extra-legally. Innocent people are being wire-tapped without cause. Journalist's emails are monitored in an attempt to discover sources of classified information. Innocent citizens, regular people who are exercising their democratic rights of free speech or protest, are monitored. Why? Because the law now allows for this. The Patriot Act has encouraged an unprecedented over-reach into our lives as private citizens. In lockstep with the Patriot Act's over-reach, the Department of Homeland Security has classified hundreds of different types of citizen groups, including environmentalists, as "threats". A cursory examination of the policies and behaviors of the federal government over the last ten years illuminates an odd and chilling trend: the U.S. government is treating its own citizens as enemies.
This is madness. It is democracy's death by a thousand cuts, and this death is one that largely goes unnoticed while a nation sleeps.
When considering WikiLeaks, one must ponder several fundamental questions. Foremost is this: Is it ok for any one organization to have the power to expose state secrets, at random? The answer to this is: "No, but..." No, on the surface, it is not ok that a stateless organization have the power to release critical state secrets at will. Every democracy has need of some measure of secrecy. In a world of political realism, with countries that behave far, far worse than the U.S., this is a simple fact.
But a democracy (or a democratic republic) has to balance secrecy and transparency. A democracy is the will of the people, it IS the people; in the U.S., it is the people, allegedly governing themselves, through representation. A democracy EARNS its secrecy, by abiding by and upholding laws that serve true democratic governance. A democracy earns its secrecy by serving the best interests of its citizens. In order to survive, democracy must have functioning checks and balances against abuses of power - across all systems of government. Those checks and balances must be especially robust when it comes to our national security agencies - or we find ourselves in the unenviable position of trading our civil liberties for an illusion of safety.
We have moved so far away from healthy and functioning democratic governance in the last ten years, that it is mind-bending. We stand poised on a metaphorical cliff in the U.S.: Fundamental rights and freedoms remain basically intact at present, but they are either being chipped away, or outright assaulted. As a people, we are too tired, too busy, too entertained, too distracted, to pay attention to what is dying in our midst.
Is it ok for any one organization to expose state secrets, at will? No, but....WikiLeaks functions as a profound course correction - a clarion call in profoundly dark times. WikiLeaks' revelations momentarily give us, the people, the keys to the kingdom. And these revelations prove, without a doubt, a systemic lack of accountability, abuses of power, lack of integrity, and unethical behavior, much of it in the name of a twisted sense of "national security". Since 9/11, our national security body is so dysfunctional, it too often produces the antithesis of what it is allegedly working toward. National security is not this rampant destruction of rights, nor is it starting wars based on lies. In the midst of this madness, WikiLeaks' revelations paint a clear picture of a nation that has abandoned its democratic moorings.
Does WikiLeaks itself need a course correction? Perhaps. EVERY organization needs checks and balances, EVERY organization needs to be accountable. And an organization that wields such power as WikiLeaks absolutely has to adopt impeccable and relentless journalistic standards. Even beyond this, WikiLeaks needs to be examined for the game-changing phenomenon it is - and rational, sensible, people of the world - people who do not have a stake in denying freedoms, but who understand the dangers of political realism, need to think on best uses of, and evolution of WikiLeaks. And the outcome of these deliberations needs to be taken seriously by this organization.
But we, the people, have much to think on, and much to do. We stand at a critical juncture - not just in our own nation's history, but in the history of humanity. WikiLeaks has redefined the nature of that juncture. This organization has momentarily made it possible for common people to regain power through access to truths we need. These truths help us to put our governments back in place; subsequently, WikiLeaks helps us ensure legitimate democracies.
Yet the U.S. government's assaults on freedom are so effective that many people are afraid to express support for WikiLeaks. When loss of freedoms occurs by slow creep, or at a time of collective struggle, such as ours, people are inured against any visceral sense of this loss. Under the mantle of byzantine laws and trillion dollar bureaucracies, and under the menace of a government that is both openly and subtly threatening punishment for supporting WikiLeaks, self-censorship becomes reflexive. It becomes normal to be quiet, to not make waves. WikiLeaks is the new "red scare".
Each week I encounter at least one instance of hushed tones and hesitation, fear, reluctance and comments such as "I have a business to run" or, "I have a mortgage to pay". These are legitimate daily concerns, however, what do these things have to do with WikiLeaks? Is the message we are getting from this rabid attack on everything WikiLeaks, that if we support them openly, we could lose everything? This message, unfathomable as it seems, has permeated the consciousness of too many Americans. And this fact alone should be enough to fuel the fight for our rights - this fact should send alarm bells clanging inside each of us. We are on a very slippery slope in the U.S., backed by ten years of undeniable evidence of a federal assault on democracy, and we falling.
RevolutionTruth supports WikiLeaks, because, if we allow ourselves to fall into the trap of building our own mental prisons, if we fail to stand up and together, and choose the course of our nations, we fail ALL of our futures. We fail to take this breath of freedom, this moment of possibility, and we slink back to allow a profoundly wayward government (and other, even more insidious powers) to define our world. If we fail to stand up, now, we sell ourselves, and our children, into modern-day, corporate, national security state slavery. At this particular juncture in history, where you may be afraid of the U.S government's response to WikiLeaks, silence is our enemy.
The choice is yours. Will you wait on the sidelines as the U.S. government sinks deeper into its own lies and pathology? Which side do you stand on? The truth - painful, ugly, dangerous as it may seem, or the way the truth is being taken from you, ever more lawfully?
It is up to us to shape our futures. The members of RevolutionTruth know where we stand. And it is on the right side of history.
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