14 May 2011


WIKILEAKS. The international human rights organization Amnesty International (see logo above) praises the watchdog website WikiLeaks as a force for positive change around the world. A press release appearing in the U.K.'s Guardian states that "The world faces a watershed moment in human rights with tyrants and despots coming under increasing pressure from the internet, social networking sites, and the activites of WikiLeaks, Amnesty International says in its annual roundup. The rights group singles out WikiLeaks and the newspapers that pored over previously confidential government files as a catalyst for uprisings against repressive regimes."

Adds AI's secretary general, "[2010 is] the year when repressive governments faced the real possibility that their days are numbered .... But there is a serious fightback from the forces of repression. The international community must seize the opportunity for change and ensure that 2011 is not a false dawn for human rights. .... Not since the end of the Cold War have so many repressive governments faced such a challenge to their stranglehold on power. The demand for political and economic rights spreading across the Middle East and North Africa is dramatic proof that all rights are equally important and a universal demand.

"In the 50 years since Amnesty International was born to protect the rights of people detained for their peaceful opinions, there has been a human rights revolution. The call for justice, freedom, and dignity has evolved into a global demand that grows stronger every day. The genie is out of the bottle and the forces of repression cannot put it back."

I've long been a supporter of the work of Amnesty International. The group is consistently non-biased, and just as willing to shine the light of day on misdoings among the world's democracies (including the U.S.) as on misdoings among petty tyrants or Communist/Fascist oppressors. That consistency earns my respect. I also recognize the need for watchdog groups like WikiLeaks in any society, including our nominally democratic republic which in reality is run by Wall Street. To some degree secrecy is necessary, but ANY military or political entity will inevitably carry secrecy to extremes which violate our rights and threaten our founding principles. Investigative reporting is crucial to an informed citizenry. The 1971 publication of the Pentagon Papers is a case in point -- we learned, past the strenuous and sometimes violent objections of our own government, that the government had "systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress, about a matter of transcendent national interest and significance", i.e. the genesis and conduct of the Vietnam War.

The nation's founders recognized the necessity of a dynamic balance not only by establishing a balance of powers among the three branches of the federal government, but also by protecting freedom of the press in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Increasingly, as corporate and governmental ties become more intricate, more secret and more intractable, and as the economic chasm widens between the few wealthy and the many impoverished, organizations like Amnesty International and WikiLeaks (see logo below) serve to inform and protect "we, the people".

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