The past 72 hours has held one of the strangest disharmonic convergence of free speech events I have ever seen.
(1) On Tuesday, President Obama flourished his pretty rhetoric on free speech to the United Nations (UN):
Those in power have to resist the temptation to crack down on dissidents.
(2) A day later, the Sydney Morning Herald published US Air Force documents classifying Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange as "enemies of the state," an action in sharp contrast to Obama's rhetoric about the importance of protecting dissent in a democracy.
Declassified US Air Force counter-intelligence documents, released under US freedom-of-information laws, reveal that military personnel who contact WikiLeaks or WikiLeaks supporters may be at risk of being charged with "communicating with the enemy", a military crime that carries a maximum sentence of death.
(3) The day after Obama's UN address, Assange addressed the UN from the Ecuadorian embassy where - fearing extradition to the U.S. - he has been granted asylum. Read FireDogLake's Kevin Gosztola for the highlights, including an understandable demand (especially in light of the fact that the U.S. government declared Assange the "enemy") that Obama live up to the free speech ideals Obama himself so eloquently presented to the UN:
President Obama spoke out strongly in favour of the freedom of expression. Those in power, he said, have to resist the temptation to crack down on dissent.
There are times for words and there are times for action. The time for words has run out. It is time for the US to cease its persecution of WikiLeaks, to cease its persecution of our people and it cease its persecution of our alleged sources.
It is time for President Obama to do the right thing and join the forces of change: not in fine words but in fine deeds.
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