Fighting for Our Freedom

Maybe it’s because of movies I’ve seen, or possibly because of my interest in history, or both, but Remembrance Day has always been important to me.

When I was a kid I borrowed the vinyl LP “Billy Bishop Goes To War” from the local public library. More than once.
This masterpiece of Canadian theatre has everything that a good war story ought to have. Humour. Drama. A valient hero. Politics. And tragedy. Later I bought my own copy, which I played for my child on Remembrance Day.

One of the most haunting songs I’ve ever heard is Chris DeBurgh’s “This Song For You.”

And the best war movies I’ve seen were William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives, Hal Ashby’s Coming Home , and, best of all, Peter Weir’s Gallipoli

All are powerful works of art, each carrying the clear message that wars should be avoided.

On past Remembrance Days I’ve written about copyright in The Eleventh Minute, the Eleventh Hour, the Eleventh Day and the tragic monument at the University of Toronto: In Flanders Fields….

If ye break faith with us who die
“ If ye break faith with us who die ” — In Flanders Fields, John McCrae

Sadly, the wrongs that I wrote about have not yet been righted. Earlier this week my friend Satipera shared this powerful article from the UK which looks closely at the wearing of the poppy Robert Fisk: Do those who flaunt the poppy on their lapels know that they mock the war dead?

I very much doubt that a single Canadian politician anywhere in the world will be without a poppy today. Yet who, more than they, hold the responsibility for the continued sacrifice of a new crop of young Canadians soldiers engaged in a war because … ?

“Since 2001, 158 Canadians have died in Afghanistan and another 6,700 are collecting disability payments from Veterans Affairs, about 130 of them under the age of 25. ”

— Tamsin McMahon ~ National Post: “Canada’s newest veterans having trouble accepting the label

A poppy with a "free Byron" center

Canada has been involved in an almost invisible war for nearly a decade. It is barely spoken of, but young Canadians fight and die and I can’t tell you why. I suspect they can’t, either. Unlike the glamorous Great War, or the Second World War, the only citizens who are really involved and affected are the Canadians whose children are overseas, fighting and dying. Has a decade of this fixed anything? Has anything good come of this war? A war that Canada is supposed to be withdrawing from by the end of this year. Will we really withdraw?

I can’t begin to count the times in my life that I’ve heard it said that our soldiers fought for our freedom. But there is much less freedom now than there was when I was young.

The erosion of civil rights that the blood of our soldiers was to have bought for us was never more clear than in the events around last year’s G20 Summit in Toronto.

Today, Canadians across the country are organizing and participating in the “Occupy” movement.

And Byron Sonne is on trial in Toronto.  He’s fighting for his freedom, and ours.

Where did our freedom go?

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

Image credits

Airfield to Salute” photograph by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Aramis X. Ramirez
Wikipedia: KANDAHAR, Afghanistan–Troops deployed to International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Regional Command South gathered on the flightline of Kandahar Air Field to salute fallen Canadian servicemember Sapper Sean David Greenfield on February 1, 2009. Greenfield, who was deployed as part of the 24 Field Engineers Squadron out of Petawawa, Ontario, was killed in action in the Zhari District of Kandahar Province on Jan. 31, 2009 ISAF photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Aramis X. Ramirez (RELEASED). ~ This file is a work of a sailor or employee of the U.S. Navy, taken or made during the course of the person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

freebyron poppy cc by laurelrusswurm

Advertisements

Robert Redford, the Newsmedia and the WikiLeaks’ Cablegate

2009 portrait of the actorI fell in love with Robert Redford in The Sting when he was young and I was younger. Redford is one of the cinema’s greatest undervalued comedians; his timing is flawless as showcased in early work like “Barefoot In The Park” or later “Legal Eagles”. He even brought humour to his portrayal of “the Sundance Kid,” for whom his film festival is named.

But Redford has put in some brilliant performances in political films over the years.

He turned in a brilliant performance in a cautionary tale called “The Candidate,” which demonstrates clearly how degraded democracies can become.

But there are two movies I was reminded of when I read about today’s WikiLeaks story.

At the end of the movie “Three Days of the Condor,” the inadvertent hero Redford plays achieves freedom the only possible way:

by releasing the classified information to the media.

Because we know that even though he is a whistle blower, once the world knows he will be safe.
And we know the news media will ensure that the story gets out.

We know that.

WikiLeaks "hourglass leaking earth" logo
Robert Redford also played Bob Woodward in “All The President’s Men,” the film version of the true story of the “Watergate” scandal that brought down the Nixon administration.

There are countless stories of the bravery of reporters who risked, and in many cases lost– their lives in pursuit of a story that was important to them and the public. And it still happens.

But that doesn’t alter the fact that the world has changed a lot in the last few decades. In many cases, the News Media is not doing the job we believe it is. Citizens around the globe have NOT been told about the dangers of ACTA or the importance of Net Neutrality to free speech and democracy.

Part of it is, I am sure, that technological advances, in particular the Internet, has caused great upheavals in the Media business. As ownership has been increasingly centralized, downsizing, “dumbing down” and decimation of staff has left many newsrooms in very reduced and weakened states. The agendas of the corporate masters more often determines what is reported and how.

So we are very fortunate to have WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks was gifted with a heap of really important information. In order to ensure dissemination, they passed them around to five major news outlets located in 5 different countries. Each were aware the others had the story, so they ALL had no CHOICE but to publish, with or without corporate or government approval.

In this way, WikiLeaks guaranteed that the story broke and spread.

UK: The Guardian US embassy cables leak sparks global diplomacy crisis

SPAIN: El Pais The greater infiltration of history reveals the secrets of American foreign policy (Google translation to English)

USA: New York Times: Cables Obtained by WikiLeaks Shine Light Into Secret Diplomatic Channels

FRANCE: LeMonde WikiLeaks: Behind the Scenes of American diplomacy (Google translation to English)

der Spiegel: Greatest Data Leak in US Military History

Now that it is out, there is no stopping it.

Al Jazeera: Secret US embassy cables revealed

Perth Now: Australia on WikiLeaks ‘cablegate’

boingboing: Wikileaks secret US Embassy cable site live

Mobile Tribune: 1128-“When the Head is Rotten, It Affects the Whole Body” WikiLeaks Cable Quote from Saudi King Abdullah

ANTIWAR.com: State Dept: FDP Makes Germany a ‘Difficult Partner’ in Terror War -Cable Says FDP Too Interested in Personal Privacy to Be Responsible Partner

This will go on for months. Maybe years.

@glynmoody

US ambassador to the UK complains about the loss of *privacy* of those writing the cables – http://bit.ly/eHlQWC #wikileaks

Guardian: US diplomats spied on UN leadership

There is a huge amount of information, and it will take time to digest, but at least it has gotten out. That’s a good thing.

Der Spiegel also has an interactive map.

@DougSaunders

Have you noticed that you can hit the “play” button on the Spiegel map and it shows the cable-bubbles appearing year after year?

— Doug Saunders, European Bureau Chief, The Globe and Mail

The map shows Canadian cables for:

  • Vancouver 44
  • Calgary 14
  • Ottawa 1948
  • Montreal 82
  • Quebec 52
  • Halifax 136

Of course, no Canadian news outlet was selected as a recipient of any of these WikiLeaks cables.

@kady

I mean, at least if there was a Canadian media partner, there would be someone to bully/entreat over upcoming Cdn coverage. #wl

–Kady O’Malley, CBC reporter

Canadian Coverage

red maple leaf graphic

CBC: WikiLeaks reveals undiplomatic U.S. critiques

Canada’s government funded public broadcaster, the CBC, uses an American “Licensing” scheme which doesn’t allow even purely non-profit fair dealing reuse of their publications by Canadian citizens. So why would WikiLeaks even CONSIDER releasing this story to CBC?

Clearly, just like in “Three Days of the Condor,” WikiLeaks wants to spread the story as far and wide and as fast as possible. So that it can’t be stopped.

Globe & Mail: Released WikiLeaks documents shed light on diplomatic dispatches

The Globe likes to call itself “Canada’s National Newspaper,” but like that other television broadcaster, the Globe is owned by Bell Canada Enterprises. I assume that this corporate connection would be the reason why the Globe has been first so quiet and about the  fact  Canadian Internet rates are shortly to go through the roof due to Usage Based Billing.  It is only recently that it’s been possible to find UBB on their website at all.  Now  that they are, the bias is thick enough to cut with a knife.

As a blogger I prefer not to link to Globe articles because in the past they’ve broken links by placing articled behind a paywall.

So I can’t imagine the Globe standing up to government pressure to suppress the WikiLeaks story.

Having a Canadian Government in the process of pushing through Bill C-32 in the face of Universal opposition to appease the American Government, it’s easy to imagine our government buckling at the first sign of American disapproval.

So WikiLeaks released the Cables to 5 dispersed news outlets as a strategy to ensure that the story will break.  Because that is the reason for the very existance of WikiLeaks: to get the story out.  Even if it means the end of WikiLeaks.

Which is, of course, why WikiLeaks is so incredibly dangerous to governments who want to act without oversight or scrutiny.  And why Wikileaks is the destination of choice for whistleblowers with politically sensitive leaks go.  Because WikiLeaks is in it to get the story out.  Period.

Last Hurrah?

Even so, WikiLeaks has been down every time I’ve attempted to visit their site today.

I saw an unsubstantiated report that they were suffering a DDoS attack. And it isn’t hard to imagine where such an attack may have originated.

Of course, their servers may simply have gone down under the onslaught of un-official media outlets (like me).

Of course there have been tales of military personnel wishing for the demise of WikiLeaks. If they didn’t like WikiLeaks before this…

This story is out. It can’t be put back in the bottle. And that’s good.

If WikiLeaks is targeted, or taken down, what I worry about is the next story.

we are ALL in this together

Fortunately, I’m not alone in my concerns.

When Iceland’s Modern Media Initiative gets referendum approval, they are aiming to be good to go by 2012.

ICELAND TO BECOME INTERNATIONAL TRANSPARENCY HAVEN

“I am proud to advise the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative’s proposal to create a global safe haven for investigative journalism. I believe this proposal is a strong way of encouraging integrity and responsive government around the world, including in Iceland. In my work investigating corruption I have seen how important it is to have have robust mechanisms to get information out to the public. Iceland, with its fresh perspectives and courageous, independent people seems to be the perfect place to initiate such an effort towards global transparency and justice.”
—Eva Joly MEP – Icelandic Modern Media Initiative

That will be good for us all. Lets keep our fingers crossed that WikiLeaks can last that long.

Just In: WikiLeaks is Live!

Now you can peruse the Secret US Embassy Cables yourself.

Get ’em while they’re hot.

a horizontal border of red graphic maple leaves

 



Image Credits:
Robert Redford photo by Public Citizen published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.

Thanks @nomalab, @satipera and Glyn Moody and Jérémie Zimmermann