A double standard
December 19, 2010
CHRIS Berg (''The weight of the word'', 12/12) points out that Julian Assange has done nothing more than traditional newspapers have always done, albeit on a larger scale using novel technology. Letter writer Michael Burd accuses Assange of espionage and treason. Nola Martin says he cannot expect consular assistance for embarrassing the government (Letters, 12/12). Officials in the US and Australia are yet to announce that they have found any crime with which he can be charged.
Remember the US government illegally leaked against [former CIA officer] Valerie Plame, putting US informants' lives at risk, and the Australian government against Andrew Wilkie in retaliation for revelations that governments were lying about Saddam's WMD.
The Australian government's spineless refusal to repudiate in the strongest terms calls from the US for one of its citizens to be assassinated, executed or treated like a terrorist and the Prime Minister and Attorney-General trashing his right to the presumption of innocence shows that this government has no more interest in protections inherent in the rule of law developed since the Magna Carta than did the Howard government in the cases of Mamdouh Habib and David Hicks.
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PHILIP SHEHAN, Brunswick
THE Sunday Age editorial says: ''Attempts to silence Mr Assange and those who work with him threaten the free flow of information that makes democracy possible.''
I contend that the opposite is true; if diplomats cannot exchange communications in strict confidence, then the flow of information that facilitates effective democratic government will be impeded. The natural reaction of diplomats to this breach of trust will be to become more secretive; the effect will be the opposite of what journalists want.
The damage will be to diplomacy in the free world. Chinese, Russian, Iranian and North Korean cables are not being published around the globe. Burmese generals will now know what the US knows about their secrets. The leaks, in effect, undermine freedom, rather than defend it.
ROBERT EVERSON , Dandenong
Too close to home
ALL those baying for Julian Assange's blood should look a little harder at their preferred political ideologies.
Most of us would condemn the system in Burma or that of Robert Mugabe. How strange it is that when scandals are exposed closer to home some of us become exceedingly agitated.
PAUL MURCHISON, Kingsbury
A rare glimpse
IT IS interesting the way the recent leaked cables published by WikiLeaks humanises politicians and the effect that this has.
Cables that highlight Kevin Rudd's flaws and his disconcerting recommendations on how to deal with China strip away Kevin Rudd the politician and reveal Kevin Rudd the human. This allows one a momentary glimpse of reality, as one cannot truly gauge the nature of politicians and the dynamics of politics through press statements and government policy.
When the flaws of a politician are exposed, the government quickly acts to quell the public's view of the importance of these flaws. We see the extent to which the political system is not set up to facilitate humans, but politicians who hold no embarrassing, unpopular views and only discuss things when the public is watching.
By the repetition of this representation of our leaders we soon forget that they are human and accept the belief that what is seen by the public is all that is happening in Parliament.
Leaked cables such as these remind the public that politicians are secretly human with flaws and opinions, and that much more goes on in politics than is let on. This is a valuable service as it encourages critical thinking and analysis from within the public - and that is essential to keep any government in check.
SAM TALBOT-CANON, West End, Brisbane
Reclaiming the ideals
ONE crucial question seems to be overlooked by the WikiLeaks and Assange critics and that is why are so many Americans prepared to ''leak''?
Are they traitors? Do they hate their own country? Or are they (as I believe) angry and frustrated because the corrupt and unprincipled have taken over their country and all its institutions?
Does it ever occur to the critics of WikiLeaks that those who ''leak'' actually believe in the principles of Benjamin Franklin and the constitution he inspired?
Perhaps they believe that it is not OK to go to war based on a lie and that it is not the American way to humiliate and torture prisoners of war and it is not OK to shoot at civilians and God did not give them the right to redraw borders and claim all the world's resources as their own.
Those who ''leak'' are desperate people who want to reclaim their once great and noble country from the liars, thieves and political prostitutes.
MICHAEL MILIC, Geelong
CHRIS Berg's article in your paper could have finished with one additional par.
As Thomas Jefferson said: ''Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press [read ''media''] and that cannot be limited without being lost.''
Please keep reminding Julia G and the Americans of this, as well as the leaders of other democracies - such as Britain and Sweden - and tell them we know that they are not perfect communicators and it's OK.
But inventing crimes or changing laws to cover up is unforgivable.
JOHN MATHESON, Alphington