Assange Answers Critics, Says 'Don't Shoot The Messenger'
The Australian newspaper has published a commentary by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that attempts to explain how he sees the organization's role in the world. It opens with a quote from media mogul -- and native Australian -- Rupert Murdoch in 1958:
"In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win."
Assange goes on in the commentary, titled "Don't shoot messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths," to paint WikiLeaks as an upstart media organization with a mission similar to esteemed publications such as The New York Times and Der Spiegel:
"Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption."
Currently held by British authorities as part of an investigation into Swedish sex-crimes allegations, Assange says he feels singled out by political leaders for his role in exposing government secrets:
"Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the U.S. government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a U.S., citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the U.S. for me to be 'taken out' by U.S. special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be 'hunted down like Osama bin Laden', a Republican bill sits before the U.S. Senate seeking to have me declared a 'transnational threat' and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister's office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me."
The commentary by Assange also challenges the claim by the U.S. government, and others, that lives have been jeopardized by WikiLeaks:
"Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by U.S. agencies, Australian politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: 'You'll risk lives! National security! You'll endanger troops!' Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes. It can't be both. Which is it?
"It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the U.S., with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone."
Assange wraps up his piece with a call to defend the freedom of the media to publish what it sees as the truth:
"In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the U.S. Supreme Court said 'only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government'. The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth."