Author Archive: Rich Paxson
Rich lives on five acres in northern Iowa farm-country. His interests range from brewing his own beer to the linguistic anthropology of Rene Girard.
The air is still, holding now the beauty that was nascent in the sublime fury of yesterday‘s blizzard. It is seven in the morning, and I’m driving to town to get bread and eggs for Christmas breakfast.
The third convenience store I come to emerges from the pre-dawn darkness with its bright lights and full shelves, and it is open! The clerk behind the counter welcomes me warmly. I find eggs and bread, buy them and then head back to the car, but not without first thanking the clerk for working on Christmas Day. I remember her smile as I drive back home along the icy country roads.
This is the darkest time of the year, yet light emerges from the darkness and not just the neon brightness of a pre-dawn, convenience store sign. True light lies nascent in the smiles of friends, loving family and hard working convenience store clerks.
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Ron Paul gave a brief speech in the House Thursday, December 9th about Wikileaks. You can watch the YouTube embedded in this post, or read Paul’s remarks here.
Paul ended his remarks with the following nine questions:
1. Do the American people deserve to know the truth regarding the ongoing war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen?
2. Could a larger question be: how can an Army Private gain access to so much secret material?
3. Why is the hostility mostly directed at Assange, the publisher, and not our government’s failure to protect classified information?
4. Are we getting our money’s worth from the $80 billion per year we spend on our intelligence agencies?
5. Which has resulted in the greatest number of deaths; lying us into war, or WikiLeaks’ revelations or the release of the Pentagon Papers?
6. If Assange can be convicted of a crime for publishing information, that he did not steal, what does this say about the future of the First Amendment and the independence of the internet?
7. Could it be that the real reason for the near universal attacks on WikiLeaks is more about secretly maintaining a seriously flawed foreign policy of empire than it is about national security?
8. Is there not a huge difference between releasing secret information to help the enemy in the time of a declared war—which is treason—and the releasing of information to expose our government lies that promote secret wars, death, and corruption?
9. Was it not once considered patriotic to stand up to our government when it’s wrong?
Thomas Jefferson had it right when he advised: “Let the eyes of vigilance never be closed.”
“Turn yourself in, Julian Assange.” (Headline in Slate, Dec. 6, 2010)
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange surrendered to British authorities December 7th, 2010.
“Turn yourselves in, Federal Employees.” (Headline in next week’s news?)
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a memo to agency heads December 3rd, which may result in an order forbidding Federal employees from downloading or viewing Wikileaks documents.
How a government responds to the illegal release of its classified documents is predictable. How an individual struggles over whether to release classified documents is anything but predictable. Christopher Hitchens wrote the following about his own experiences in relation to Britain’s Official Secrets Act.
A democratically elected British Parliament had enacted an Official Secrets Act, which I could be held to have broken. Would I bravely submit to prosecution for my principles? (I was later threatened with imprisonment for another breach of this repressive law, and it was one of the reasons I decided to emigrate to a country that had a First Amendment.)
The 1980s BBC sitcom Yes Minister laid bare the inner workings of the British government through the twin prisms of English humor and focused insight. “Jobs for the Boys,” an episode that mentioned the Official Secrets Act, began by revealing Sir Humphrey Appleby’s need to cover-up a scandal surrounding some of his past financial misdealing. Sir Humphrey was the supremely self-serving, Permanent Secretary to the Department of Administrative Affairs (DAA).
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