I am Julian Assange.
I want information so that I can hold my government accountable. If my country acts improperly and in my name, I want the proof. I want to know if there actually is no evidence proving weapons of mass destruction. I want to know if America is working with Israel to overthrow Iran’s leadership. I want data that has not been spun by reporters that work for publishers and broadcasters with political and business goals that conflict with the facts. I want to know.
I am Julian Assange because I know unfettered information is valuable to democracy and a peaceful world. I can make the best decisions with the most knowledge. I can vote for the best candidates. I can support the smartest policies to help my country and the world. I am not naïve; I know that not every operation can be transparent but I have a right to know its outcome and how it has affected my country and me.
I do not believe Julian Assange has done anything wrong. The cables that have been published have all been printed in newspapers and redacted to protect individuals at risk. I do not want my country to prosecute a man whose actions are changing the way we get information and how we make critical decisions. I now know that my president and my country’s military have not been honest about the war in Afghanistan. I know that my country has killed civilians and that we have refused to acknowledge our mistakes. I have learned that our allies are secretly consorting with our enemies.
I am also Pfc. Bradley Manning. I know that if I saw the disturbing information come across my desk that I would have confronted the conflict between my oath of service to my country and the immorality of its behavior. I do not believe I would have been able to ignore American helicopters gunning down journalists carrying cameras. I believe I would have acted on my conscience and found a way to reveal the facts. There was a reporter at the My Lai massacre in Vietnam but there was only a gun camera on the US helicopter in Iraq. And the Internet. And Bradley Manning.
I believe that governments are out of control and citizens have a decreasing belief that they can influence decisions. WikiLeaks and the Internet are empowering individuals and groups with information. Julian Assange and Bradley Manning are the first two faces and voices in a crowd that will soon be too big to control. Their arrests and charges and even prosecution will only spawn a broader resistance against war and deception and corruption. The Internet is now the reporter. This is the way the world is. I do not want to hear that there will always be wars and spying and death. I want information to prevent them and to build peace.
I am saddened that Australia’s government is once more acting as a lapdog for American interests and is not demanding sovereign rights for one of its citizens. I am also distressed that the president of my country who ran for office promising a transparent government is trying to find a way to prosecute a foreign national, and is preventing Pfc Manning from speaking with his family. WikiLeaks has shown there is an America in civics textbooks and an America that functions differently in the real world. Adequate information might move us closer to the ideal. I no longer trust my president. I do not trust my congress. I place my trust in facts and I do not get them from most of the media. But I still want to know.
I am Julian Assange. And if you care about the truth, you are, too.
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