Wednesday, May 4, 2011

How Far is Too Far?

Brian Cox

Everything you say can and will be used against you

Stanley Crystal’s interview with Rolling Stone is a prime example of what everyone should already know: you need to watch what you say. The Michael Hasting’s article on General McCrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, unveiled self-incriminating quotations on the part of the general. McCrystal was ‘relieved’ of his duties following the magazines publication. In short, McCrystal made a massive mistake and Rolling Stone published it. The magazine is not at fault for McCrystal’s actions; in fact, they did what every journalist would do. By McChrystal bashing the Obama administration in an interview, he gave Rolling Stone an exclusive newsworthy story. It is not very often that a high-ranking government official—in this case the man in charge of the war in Afghanistan—publicly disagrees with the commander in chief. The question should not be if it was right for Rolling Stone to publish the general’s quotes, it should be would it be right for the magazine not to publish it? Journalist have the responsibility to report truth when it is presented to them. Journalism is not centered around making friends and showing utility; it is about telling the whole story.

Is Assange the next Daniel Ellsberg?

Many people have made the connection between Julian Assange and Daniel Ellsberg. At the surface, the two seem to have striking similarities. Both men have been involved with a controversial leak of classified information. The similarities do not go much farther than that, however. Daniel Ellsberg was part of the Pentagon’s intelligence. He had traveled to Vietnam to document the war and portions of his findings were released in a private government document. That is the same private document that he would later release to The New York Times and the Washington Post. These documents became known as the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg maticulusly edited the information he released to the newspapers. He ensured that troops would not be placed in harms way from releasing the documents and also made sure to only release the information that was important for the public to know.

Assange, on the other hand, is the publisher. He received the information from Braddley Manning, a 22-year-old dual citizen (American and British). Manning illegally accessed the information, which he had no right to see, and gave the information to Assange and Wikileaks. The differences between Ellsberg and Assange are clear, but that does not mean that Ellsberg finds no merit in Assange’s work. In fact, when Ellsberg addressed people’s disagreement with the leak, Ellsberg said, "that's just a cover for people who don't want to admit that they oppose any and all exposure of even the most misguided, secretive foreign policy. The truth is that EVERY attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time."

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