Raking Muck: WikiLeaks, Manning, and the Newer Journalism

Published on Dissident Voice, by Binoy Kampmark, July 20, 2013.

… It is therefore incumbent that every feature of the WikiLeaks’ experiment be attacked: its journalism (qualified or otherwise), its sources, its backers. Army Private first class Bradley Manning is but the important conduit, and this entire enterprise on the part of the U.S. government is an attempt to punish the flow of information all cogs and channels.  

It follows that the entire chain of information has to be shown to be inimical to U.S. interests. Jihrleah Showman, one of Manning’s former supervisors, was trotted out to suggest that the American flag meant nothing to the private. Ignore the information; attack the man. “I tapped the flag on my shoulder and asked him what it meant. He said the flag meant nothing to him and he did not consider himself to have allegiance to this country or any other people.” Snowman’s inability to detect anything parochial rendered her “distraught”.

Defense attorney David Coombs has done his best to shift gears on his opposition. He filed motions asking the court to dismiss the charge of aiding and abetting the enemy, the other being alleged violations of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Both are vital aspects of the case, not only against Manning, but WikiLeaks. It is axiomatic that projects of power require necessary enemies, and here, the enemy is writ large. As Coombs explained, “The government’s whole argument seems to be premised on creating WikiLeaks as a bad organisation.” Indeed, an organisation with “evil” intent.

On Thursday, Colonel Denise Lind ruled that from Ft. Meade, Maryland that those charges would stand. This does not mean that she will be swayed by them, but hope springs eternal.

In an attempt to cast a bomb on the prosecution cause to disparage WikiLeaks, Coombs called on the expert services of Harvard University jurist Yochai Benkler to consider the question about the role of the organisation in the newer journalism. Benkler proved accommodating, arguing that a guilty conviction in the case of Manning would be costly to world reporting, imposing an onerous burden on the “willingness of people of good conscience but not infinite courage to come forward.” Fortune should also favour the not so brave … //

… The newer journalism forged in the WikiLeaks foundry is of a somewhat different type, forensic, keen less on ornamentation than stripping away the deceptive façade. The state need not be indulged with any invention – enough has been done there by the spin doctors, surgeons and dentists. They now feel a sense of dread at this unveiling, with sources to be seen and the lie, rendered visible. Beware the muckraker.
(full text).

(Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and can be reached here. Read other articles by Binoy).

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