So, I guess if you want to break the law — say, counseling someone to commit murder — you might want the judge to the CBC’s ombudsman. Hundreds of people complained to the CBC’s guardian of what is right and wrong on the airwaves with complaints about the sinister and twisted Tom Flanagan’s Christian fatwa against Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange. Flanagan — who has helped Preston Manning and Stephen Harper keep on the straight and dangerously narrow path of market fundamentalism for some 20 years — called for the killing of Assange on the CBC’s flagship news show, Power and Politics, hosted by Evan Solomon.

The response to all the letters complaining about the outrageous comments — and some calling for Flanagan to be dumped from the show’s list of commentators — received a stock and insultingly curt reply:

“I write to acknowledge receipt of your e-mail. I note that Mr. Flanagan apologized on air last evening.”

That’s it? An apology — forced by the CBC, not offered up voluntarily, and very weak. It was so obviously delivered without sincerity — and in the same breath as another attack on Assange — that no one could have taken it seriously. University of Saskatchewan criminal law professor Tim Quigley wrote the ombudsman and stated:

“…in my opinion, Mr. Flanagan’s call for someone to assassinate Wikileaks Julian Assange is a crime: counseling murder. You should know that counseling a criminal offence is a criminal offence itself, even if the substantive crime that is counseled is never committed.”

Ah, well maybe Flanagan was just foolin’ around.

The release of hundreds of thousands of documents from U.S. state department records is being almost universally hailed by advocates of democracy and transparency as a welcome window into how the global elite actually behaves when it thinks citizens are not watching and listening. And as we would expect it is being almost universally condemned by those same elites who would prefer to operate in secret.

And condemned with increasing fervour and intemperance (Ezra Levant, proud graduate of the Fraser Institute also joined the fatwa call). In a laughable bit of spin which only makes U.S. imperial hubris more ridiculous, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared (as only an imperial mouthpiece could) that the leak of American secrets wasn’t just an assault on American interests but an assault on the interest of the whole globe:

“This disclosure is not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interests. It is an attack on the international community: the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity.”

Right. Like the occupation of Iraq (50,000 troops and dozens of U.S. bases will remain permanently) and continued war and occupation in Afghanistan and the literally hundreds of military bases around the globe. What is amazing is that they don’t have to try to keep a straight face in uttering these preposterous declarations — they actually believe them.

Some of the revelations seem to have gone right by most journalists and commentators — like the king of Saudi Arabia urging the U.S. to “cut off the head of the snake” — meaning Iran, of course. Does no one recall that it was Saudi Arabia’s brand of Islam — and citizens of Saudi Arabia — that spawned al Qaeda and who received extraordinary privilege of getting its key nationals out of the U.S. by plane when all other flights had been cancelled? Iran, on the other hand, has attacked no one, certainly not the U.S.

I haven’t seen any revelations about Saudi Arabia privately urging the U.S. to pressure Israel to get rid of its nuclear arsenal of over 200 nuclear weapons.

Past Wikileaks have been even more valuable to democracy than the current flood of documents but this batch will prove useful to world peace as well. For example, U.S. State Department cables reveal that the U.S. didn’t — and doesn’t trust Israel’s estimates of Iran’s nuclear weapons capability:

“In February [2005], PM [Ariel] Sharon told the Secretary that he believes there is still time remaining to pressure Iran, but that the window of opportunity is closing quickly. DefMin Mofaz cautioned that Iran is “less than one year away,” while the head of research in military intelligence estimated that Iran would reach this point by early 2007. Technical experts at the IAEC predicted that Iran would have enrichment capability within six months of the end of the suspension agreement. A few GOI officials admitted informally that these estimates need to be taken with caution. The head of the MFA’s [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] strategic affairs division recalled that GOI assessments from 1993 predicted that Iran would possess an atomic bomb by 1998 at the latest.”

This information alone might make a catastrophic attack on Iran less likely.

One enduring benefit of the leaks is what it reveals about how contemptuous our political elites are of citizens, democracy and progressive values. The leaks regarding Canada have revealed former CSIS head Jim Judd showing his contempt for human rights — for example those of child soldier and Guantanamo prisoner Omar Khadr. He told American colleagues that pictures of Khadr crying would trigger “knee-jerk anti-Americanism” and “paroxysms of moral outrage, a Canadian specialty.”

The world’s political elite seem to know instinctively how to spin this issue — notice they don’t attack the New York Times — the newspaper of record. Can’t go around calling the NYT a “terrorist” even though fare more people read this stuff in the newspapers than anywhere else. Why not call for the death of the NYT‘s editor? Easy. He is part of the elite and on most days he is busy promoting the war in Iraq — or wherever. No, this is the perfect opportunity to continue the practice of labeling democracy activists as “terrorists” and thereby trying to intimdate those who would speak out.

Time magazine didn’t go quite as far as Flanagan and Levant. Joe Klein wrote: “If a single foreign national is rounded up and put in jail because of a leaked cable, this entire, anarchic exercise in ‘freedom’ stands as a human disaster. Assange is a criminal. He’s the one who should be in jail.”

As American journalist Glen Greenwald notes, this new moral standard comes from the very people who eagerly supported the mass slaughter of innocent Iraqis. Greenwald writes of Klein’s comments:

“What about the most destructive “anarchic exercise in ‘freedom'” the planet has known for at least a generation: the “human disaster” known as the attack on Iraq, which Klein supported? That didn’t result in the imprisonment of “a single foreign national,” but rather the deaths of more than 100,000 innocent human beings, the displacement of millions more, and the destruction of a country of 26 million people. Are those who supported that “anarchic exercise in ‘freedom'” — or at least those responsible for its execution — also ‘criminals who should be in jail’?”

Good question.


Murray Dobbin

Murray Dobbin was's Senior Contributing Editor. He was a journalist, broadcaster, author and social activist for over 40 years. A board member and researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy...