Information is power, Julian Assange and the public’s right to know

I’ve been writing political commentary for decades. Starting in the late 80s and through around the time of George W. Bush’s Iraq War and for a few years beyond I wrote many articles that were published online. Some appeared in Online Journal (now Intrepid Report), at Consortium News, at TomPaine.com, at BushWatch, at the Smirking Chimp and several other sites.

The U.S. and the world seemed to be more politically awake around the time of the Iraq War than they are today. During that time, the majority of people were aware that the Bush administration’s rationale for the war was false. The public soon realized the “weapons of mass destruction” excuse was a lie. People were paying attention, informing themselves, reading articles and listening to alternative media that told the truth about the war.

Today governments are still lying to the public about war and trying to cover up war crimes. However, unlike during the Iraq War, governments are now getting away with some of their most egregious lies, including their propaganda against Julian Assange.

The corporate press (as opposed to independent media) have falsely portrayed the U.S. government’s mistreatment of Assange. Because of this, the public doesn’t fully understand that the real reason Assange is being persecuted is that he exposed war crimes and other evil deeds of powerful U.S. political figures. It seems very few people are aware of the defining facts about the Assange case.

Based on my recent conversations with alternative journalists, I know I’m not the only one wondering how the U.S. public has grown so indifferent to protecting the rights of non-mainstream journalists and whistle-blowers. My friends and I have raised the question: Is public indifference mostly due to our being exposed to years of propaganda, to a general feeling of being powerless to challenge the powerful, or is it just fatigue?

The people will have to put up at least a little bit of a fight on behalf of whistle-blowers and other truth tellers if we have the heart to protect the limited freedoms we have left. One obvious place for average citizens to start is ascertaining the facts about the Assange case, and that means digging past the many smears, lies and distortions the public has been told.

This kind of independent citizen investigation is one way the public was able to determine that the Iraq War was based on untruths. Being well informed helped people avoid jumping on the bandwagon for perpetual regime change war.  Today some of the same politically powerful people who fooled us about Iraq are still trying to deceive us into supporting illicit wars.

It might help alleviate the problem if more people once again worked to become accurately informed. We need to learn from reliable alternative news sources (not from corporate media) and care enough to speak out against unjust war. The world would benefit if the pubic would make the effort to find out what is true about Assange and support him and other whistle-blowers who tell us the truth about war crimes and other government misdeeds.

Thomas Jefferson was right to say the only way we can have any semblance of democracy is if we have a public that is well informed. Information is power, and a public that doesn’t seek or value it will be powerless

Carla Binion is an Intrepid Report contributing writer.

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