The ‘Terrorism’ Creep

The response from politicians to the WikiLeaks dump of American embassy cables has been almost universal condemnation, save of course for Ron Paul, who somewhat facetiously made a public request of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to release undisclosed Federal Reserve agreements with foreign governments.

Predictably, you have the Obama administration calling the release of classified documents a danger to national security and agents in the field (a demonstrable canard). Joseph Lieberman, with the federal police at his disposal as head of the Homeland Security Committee, successfully lobbied Amazon Web Services (AWS) to sever ties with WikiLeaks after Lieberman introduced legislation to target WikiLeaks for espionage. AWS said it terminated WikiLeaks’ hosting service after citing a rather weak case of terms of service violations. Under pressure from the federal government, PayPal leveled nearly the same charge (promoting illegal activity) for terminating its donation services for WikiLeaks.

That was not the last of WikiLeaks’ troubles. AWS had only temporarily provided hosting after a massive cyber attack Nov. 28 crashed the site’s previous servers. Later, EveryDNS too stopped its support, effectively taking WikiLeaks offline for anyone who didn’t have access to the site’s IP address. And Twitter is reportedly preventing WikiLeaks-related tweets from populating its Trends list. Most recently, the Swiss government shut down a bank account, and an Interpol arrest warrant has been issued for Assange for alleged “sex crimes.”

Republicans are calling Assange a “high-tech terrorist” who “should be treated as an enemy combatant.” Sarah Palin is asking why Assange is “not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders.” Even if Palin got her way, history thankfully indicates that Assange would be free for another 10 years. Having continued their support for wars and occupations, Obama, Lieberman and Republicans have a lot more to answer for than Julian Assange, whose critics obviously do not understand where their argument is leading. Since if disclosing the truth about the government’s actions is an act of terrorism, just imagine what that reveals about the government’s actions.

To tell the truth is now considered terrorism by some. The week before, there was an unconfirmed report that anyone who demonstrated to inform passengers of the invasive and ineffective Transportation Safety Administration’s policies would be considered domestic extremists, which is just a few rungs below a domestic terrorist.

The denotation of “terrorism” is the use or threat of violence against civilians for political or religious purposes. In less than a decade, the government has manipulated the “war on terrorism” to be an attack against peaceful people who expose government misdeeds. That is inevitable, I suppose. Out of a simple inclination for job security, a monopolistic entity tasked with providing safety is going to spend a great deal of its time heightening the perception of new threats to justify expanding its powers.

The Internet has already provided a glimpse of the response from WikiLeaks supporters. Hundreds of mirror sites have sprung up. A new decentralized DNS service is in the works. Donations are being made, and Anonymous has mobilized Operation Avenge Assange, the tactics of which I do not necessarily support. The government and the media are going to get a quick lesson why you can bet on networks topping command and control every time.