Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

Right message, wrong messenger

As to the thrust of this article, “star” lawyer Alan Dershowitz couldn’t be more correct: Julian Assange is a journalist, and WikiLeaks is a publication. That WikiLeaks publishes on the internet rather than on newsprint is a concern only for those intent on finding an excuse to quibble: It is not the medium but the content that defines “the press” as protected by the First Amendment in the US and by similar statutes elsewhere.

Julian Assange

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange: Alan Dershowitz objects to tortured arguments against him.
[ Image Source ]

If, therefore, the New York Times couldn’t be muzzled by the Nixon administration on putative grounds of national security, as the courts found it couldn’t, then WikiLeaks cannot now be silenced under that same tortured argument.

However, speaking of torture....

Torture at Abu Ghraib: Alan Dershowitz has no problem with this

Torture at Abu Ghraib: Alan Dershowitz does not object to this.
[ Image Source ]

The photo above depicts a captive at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, with one of his interrogators calmly standing by; the latter may be trimming his fingernails, presumably because one wouldn’t want to subject innocent people to torture with ragged nails.

Unfortunately, the photo also illustrates why Alan Dershowitz is not the most credible defender of human rights: In addition to providing excuses for the 2003 invasion of Iraq in the first place, Dershowitz later trumped himself by issuing a rationale for torture, including by implication what we see here, based on specious hypothetical exigencies unlikely to appear in reality.

In all fairness to Dershowitz, I do not imagine that he had such abusive applications of torture in mind when he wrote. However, by this time he should be aware that ideas can have effects on real lives, and what we see here is the practical effect of his advice, irrespective of his intent.

Originally published as a review of a Spiegel.de opinion article on WikiLeaks and press freedom.

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