Assange, Manning, and Snowden, Standing With the Conscience of Truthtellers

Last week, Oliver Stone’s biopic “Snowden
hit the theaters. The film illuminates the life of Edward Snowden between 2004
and 2013, aiming to humanize one of the most wanted men in the world. Just before
its release, a public campaign was
urging President Obama to pardon this renowned NSA whistleblower.

The massive US government persecution of truthtellers over the past years has
exiled conscience from civil society, locking it behind bars and driving it
into asylum. Yet, despite these attacks, it refuses to die.

From prison where she is serving 35 years, Chelsea Manning is standing up for
her dignity. Recently, she protested
her dehumanizing treatment by engaging in a hunger strike. All the while, WikiLeaks
editor in chief Julian Assange keeps publishing, giving asylum to the most persecuted
documents, while being
arbitrarily detained
in the Ecuadorian embassy for the last 4 years. As
this struggle continues, the torch for transparency and courage that kindled
hearts and has sparked public debate keeps shedding light on the state of the
world we live in.

In a debate with executive director of Freedom Press, Trevor Timm, which addressed
the question of pardoning Snowden, National security attorney Bradley Moss expressed
his disdain over the former NSA contractor providing information to the Press.
He criticized Snowden’s act, noting how journalists are unauthorized to possess
government information:

“There’s approximately 4 million people who also hold clearances. It is a sacred
trust and Snowden broke it by giving these documents to people who were not
authorized to have it.”

Moss’s statement revealed the culture of the Intelligence community that permeates
the life of not only U.S. citizens, but of people around the globe. What is
this “sacred trust” that Moss referred to that would give exclusive privilege
to a certain population? Implied in Moss’s comment is that honoring this trust
would take precedence over the right to free speech, requiring journalists to
ask for permission to engage in activities that are supposedly protected under
the First Amendment of the US Constitution. This signals the existence of an
invisible governance that claims superiority over the highest law of the land.

Government Secrecy

There are some who have come to see the internal working of a patronage network
that is bound within this exclusive trust. In his 2006 seminal writing Conspiracy
as Governance,
Assange noted
how secrecy was used by political elites “as the primary planning methodology
behind maintaining or strengthening authoritarian power”. He then assessed
how “collaborative secrecy, working to the detriment of a population is enough
to define their behavior as conspiratorial”.

In his latest book, The
WikiLeaks Files
, Assange described how through…

Read more