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Peace Prize Urged for Assange
by Jake Highton
Feb 13, 2011 | 706 views | 1 1 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Norwegian lawmaker has nominated WikiLeaks for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, declaring that its disclosure of classified documents promoted world peace.

The legislator, Snorre Valen of the Socialist Party, said WikiLeaks has advanced “the struggle for human rights, democracy and freedom of speech” just as did Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, last year’s winner.

It is doubtful that the documents, as important as they are, have anything to do with world peace. But Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. He certainly is far more worthy than warmongering President Obama, peace prize winner in 2009.

Sarah Ellison, in an article in the February Vanity Fair, wrote:

“Given the range, depth and accuracy of the leaks, the documents have produced one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the past 30 years. The WikiLeaks documents are as revealing as the Pentagon Papers but their quality and extent are incomparably greater. And they speak even more powerfully to the issue of secrecy itself.”

As lawmaker Valen said: “The release of secrets makes governments far more accountable.” As an example he cited the recent events in Tunisia: revelations by WikiLeaks of nepotism and corruption that helped bring down the ruling presidential family.

John Naughton, columnist for Britain’s The Guardian, adds: “What WikiLeaks is really exposing is the extent to which the Western democratic system has been hollowed out. When the veil of secrecy is lifted, their reflex action is to kill the messenger.”

Press critic Norman Solomon notes that governments resort to “partial truths, deceptions and outright lies” to support the U.S. warfare state.

Alexander Cockburn, acerbic press critic, makes another important point about America: “The cables show the daily business of a mighty empire acting in a manner diametrically opposite to public pretensions. The cables form one of the most extraordinary lessons in the cold realities of international diplomacy ever made public.”

Assange has acted in the noblest traditions of journalism.

Robert Lowe, an editorial writer for the London Times in the mid-19th century, wrote: “The first duty of the press is to obtain the earliest and most correct information and to disclose it. The press lives by disclosures.”

One dissenter will surely be Bill Keller, editor of the establishmentarian New York Times.

Colleen Rowley wrote an online article blasting Keller for a recent Times magazine piece about Assange. It was full of ad hominen argument, irrelevant personal description, disparaging remarks about being “unstable and unreliable” and sour comments that Assange isn’t a “real” journalist.

What Keller did not mention: Keller is a war hawk. He cheered on President G.W. Bush’s violation of international law by invading Iraq, got his facts twisted and made it clear that his careerism was more important than truth.

Keller epitomizes what’s wrong with the Establishment press.

Soviet Union redux

Prime Minister Putin rules Russia today with an iron fist, little different from the rule of the czars and Soviet leaders except for exile in Siberia.

Russian journalists who dare criticize Putin are routinely murdered, beaten and maimed. Nineteen Russian journalists have been killed in the past decade.

Putin yawns.

No wonder a journalist, whose beating shocked the nation and outraged international human rights groups, pointed out that media freedom has vanished in Russia.

A Russian television personality noted the horrible truth: the will of government is paramount. Russian journalists are reduced to flackdom. A crusading journalist, crippled in a savage beating, was convicted of “criminal slander” after a farcical trial.

Under Putin’s reign it is legal for an individual to protest. Two protesting together is a conspiracy, grounds for arrest.

A jury was dismissed after it was obvious the jurors disbelieved the far-fetched prosecution case. The new jury dutifully convicted. The defendant was sent to prison for life.

Putin law is so unjust that a former head of the nation’s largest oil company was convicted of trumped-up fraud charges, his firm handed over to Kremlin loyalists.

The victim: Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He told the alleged court: “A country that holds its own citizens in contempt is a sick state.”

Anyone calling for reform of the so-called Russian judicial system is liable to have his jail term extended by six years. Putin talks about “the dictatorship of law.” It’s actually the dictatorship of Putin.

He even decides who can run for office and who cannot, hardly surprising since Putin is a former KGB thug. The KGB still rules Russia.

Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno.
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February 14, 2011
Assange is also on his way to and even better public disclosure, his trial as a sex offender in Sweden.
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