(dailycensored.com) Harvard Law Professor Yochai Benkler is about to release a comprehensive study on the U.S. government and media’s role in censoring WikiLeaks. The forthcoming report, to appear in the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, titled “A Free Irresponsible Press: WikiLeaks and the Batter over the Soul of the Networked Fourth Estate.” In the report, Benkler dissects the mechanisms that have censored WikiLeaks.
A working draft of the report has been made available online. The draft exposes how the U.S. government, mainstream media, and the emerging corporatocracy have been working together to infringe on the First Amendment Rights of the “networked fourth estate” sites, like WikiLeaks. Essentially, the government has been tripping over its feet to find ways to stop Wikileaks from expressing speech which Benkler argues is clearly protected by the U.S. Constitution and solidly supported by Supreme Court precedent.
In the 66 page document, Benkler suggests the U.S. government has attempted to falsely frame the WikiLeaks revelations in a way to discredit WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. The false framing begins with what Benkler calls the “hurt America” argument. The report points to a string of statements made by Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Joe Libermann, and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. For example, the report quotes Biden’s claim that WikiLeaks is “more like high tech terrorist than the Pentagon Papers.” In addition, Clinton’s comment, “Let’s be clear: This disclosure is not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community – the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations, that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity.”
Immediately after top U.S. officials falsely framed WikiLeaks as a terrorist organization engaged in an attack on America, the main stream media picked up on the false framing and ran with it. Benkler shows commentator after commentator, on all the main stream media outlets, began echoing the “WikiLeaks hurts America” theme. On top of the White House’s calls, Senator Lieberman, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, suggested the possible criminality of WikiLeaks actions, “I call on any other company or organization that is hosting WikiLeaks to immediately terminate its relationship with them. WikiLeaks’ illegal, outrageous, and reckless acts have compromised our national security and put lives at risk around the world. No responsible company – whether American or foreign – should assist WikiLeaks in its efforts to disseminate these stolen materials.”
The problem with all this is that what WikiLeaks has done was nothing different than what The New York Times and The Washington Post has done. And besides that, the U.S. government’s own reviews have found that WikiLeaks has actually done little to nothing to compromise our national security. As Department of Defense Robert Gates has repeatedly said under oath, “Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.” Gates followed up in a separate hearing saying, “The review to date has not revealed any sensitive intelligence sources and methods compromised by this disclosure.”