From Historians Against the War (HAW) Steering Committee (SC):
Over the last few weeks Wikileaks has released numerous classified U.S. government cables that have revealed what U.S. diplomats are saying to each other on a range of topics, from the war in Iraq to heads of state. The documents unveil disturbing facts about these wars, including secret CIA paramilitaries, unaccountable military task forces, and the widespread killing of civilians. The release represents a contribution to the right of the public to know, both in the United States and around the world, what the U.S. government really thinks and does, as opposed to the fictions that often pass for official statements.
In response, members of the U.S. government and public, from both parties, have unleashed a firestorm of verbal abuse, physical threats, legal maneuvers, and economic pressure to try and silence Julian Assange, the head of Wikileaks, and to prevent the publication of any more U.S. government documents.*
We call on all HAW members to oppose these attacks and to stand up for freedom of the press and the free distribution of information. Several petitions are circulating on the web — for example, at https://sites.google.com/site/wilibeaks (Voters for Peace) and http://www.credoaction.com/campaign/wikileaks/index2.html?rc=homepage (Credo). We ask you to sign them and to ask your friends and colleagues to do so as well.
* For recent background articles on these attacks, see, e.g.:
Glenn Greenwald, “Joe Lieberman Emulates Chinese Dictators”
Tom Hayden, “The Lynch Mob Moment”
Robert Scheer, “From Jefferson to Assange”
Editors of The Nation, “First They Came for Wikileaks Then . . .
Yesterday, the Executive Committee of Veterans For Peace voted to break all commercial ties with the Amazon Corporation and call for our members to boycott eBay Corp. and PayPal Corp. This includes, but is not limited to,
- Removing the Amazon link from the VFP website. Previously we had encouraged our members to use this link when making purchases from Amazon Corp., as a fundraising method for our organization.
- Urging our members, supporters and the public to boycott Amazon, eBay and PayPal corporations.
- Urging Julian Assange and the Wikileaks team to continue their fight in the most important area of free speech: government secrets.
The U.S. Justice Department is reportedly considering charging Assange under the Espionage Act. This much-discredited and little-used law was last invoked against journalists, unsuccessfully, in the failed Pentagon Papers case in 1971. However, prosecution and conviction under this act, passed in 1917 to stifle dissent during WWI, may have little to do with espionage and everything to do with government repression.
For example, the federal government used the Espionage Act to prosecute Gene Debs, the great union organizer and socialist presidential candidate, for a 1918 Canton Ohio speech against U.S. involvement in the “Great War.”
Another citizen prosecuted in the same period under the same law, according to Kevin Zeese, director of Voters for Peace, was Rose Pastor Stokes, sentenced to ten years in prison for a letter to the Kansas City Star, saying “no government which is for the profiteers can also be for the people, and I am for the people while the government is for the profiteers.”
The government-war-private corporation axis is exposed fully in this case. Credit card companies Mastercard and Visa, along with giant online retailer Ebay Corp., owner of PayPal Corp., have voluntarily joined Amazon Corp. in answering the government’s request to block WikiLeaks’ funding in an effort to keep additional information from a citizenry increasingly fed up with war, secrecy and corporate power.
VFP gave imprisoned Army PFC, Bradley Manning, its Courage of Conscience award earlier this year for releasing documents detailing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Resistance to the attack on WikiLeaks and Assange is also growing and VFP considers it important to do what we can to join that resistance.