On April 16, John Shipton and Gabriel Shipton, the father and half-brother of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, traveled to Tacoma to show the movie “Ithaka,” a 2021 film about Assange’s incarceration told through the eyes of his family.
Assange is currently confined in a prison in the United Kingdom. If he is extradited to the United States, Assange could face a 175-year sentence for allegedly publishing classified documents given to WikiLeaks by former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
“Ithaka” was a very good movie that moved me very much. I highly recommend everyone to watch it, but everything I write from now is my personal opinion about the role of the government and Assange’s supposed crimes.
To some, Assange is a journalist who published hundreds of thousands of documents about the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, given to him by Manning. To others, he is a criminal for putting classified documents out into the world.
I believe Assange was right to publish those documents and that the U.S. government needs to acknowledge the wrongs it has done.
If the government doesn’t confess its mistakes and punish those who do wrong, there’s no way to know what it’s doing behind our backs. In order for the public to know about it, someone has to take the risk and tell us — someone like Assange. Knowing what the government is doing behind our backs helps us eliminate fraud and keeps our government healthy.
What Assange, who is accused of crimes, did through WikiLeaks was uncover hidden facts that we all should know. He didn’t misinform or exaggerate it — he just laid out the facts. And he didn’t necessarily do it himself; he just gave people the opportunity to do so.
If we have a real problem, it isn’t who exposed the information, it’s the information that was exposed, like the infamous killing of civilians by a U.S. military helicopter. That was a clear crime, in my eyes. If that does not matter and is justified, it shows the ethics and morals of this country. That not being a problem is a problem, and the associated discipline must be reviewed and changed.
Who should be questioned is the person who committed the murder and the person who gave the order, not the person who reported it.
The government does its best to hide its crimes, but, when the crimes are exposed, we shouldn’t let government get away with it. A government made by us and for us must not have that power over us.
Sometimes the government needs to keep secrets from us about national security. Even so, there should be no secrets that would be embarrassing for the public to know. We have not given the government permission to do just anything in our name.
Government represents the people, and it must also represent the values of the American people. We have a right to know what the representatives we have chosen for ourselves are doing, and they are obliged to report to us as our elected representatives. The fewer secrets between us, the better.
The problem is that the government hides a lot of bad things from the public. If we leave it alone, secrets will increase, and the government will take on a life of its own.
That’s why the man who revealed the secrets isn’t the problem. Don’t let Assange be buried for the wrongs of the government.
Above all, don’t let the government take away our freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Manipulating the information we take in — including in educational settings — is the most terrifying thing.
Thinking is brainwashed when information is controlled, because it often changes, gradually and surely.
Corrupt or not, many people believe in government. Therefore, if a crime is done by the government or by using government tools, it can be easily accepted. That happened in many “civilized” countries in the 20th century as well.
I feel like the same thing is happening again, and this time not only by government, but also by corporations and the rich.
If you want to learn more about Assange, his case or how to get involved as a supporter, visit assangedefense.org.
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Carl Nakajima is a vendor for Real Change and previously was an intern for the Advocacy Department. His badge number for Venmo payments is 12468.
Read more of the May 24-30, 2023 issue.