Monday, November 29, 2010

Someone, Please Explain the Pentagon Papers to Sarah Palin

As we know, about 250,000 diplomatic cables have been released by Wikileaks to five major newspapers in the US and Europe. It should be noted that months have been spent reviewing these cables to establish standards for publication between the papers prior to receipt of the materials, and the governments involved were notified months in advance what would be included in the "dump" so that they might do any damage control. By the way, Glenn Greenwald over at Salon has been keeping a list of persons killed as a result of any of the (now) three information dumps and has come up with a total of zero. Full disclosure, I have really mixed feelings about this, but the point of this post is not the actual information leak itself, but rather Sarah Palin and her reaction.

Sarah Palin has, once again, inserted herself into this conversation. God forbid that a significant (or not so significant) issue occur without her having an opinion, and whether it has anything to do with him or not, attack President Obama. Certainly the cables do refer to his administration, and the Bush Administration, the Clinton Administration, and actually go back to 1965 in some cases. What has been reviewed so far appears primarily to be on the order of embarrassing rather than dangerous. But, Sarah Palin never one to miss an opportunity to badmouth the President, and more importantly, put herself forward, blames him for the leak and the release of the information.

The tweet?
“Inexplicable: I recently won in court to stop my book “America by Heart” from being leaked,but US Govt can’t stop Wikileaks’ treasonous act?”

What she probably should do is get a dictionary and look up treason, leak, and inexplicable. It wouldn't hurt, seeing as how she has published two books in the past year, to review copyright law. I know she claims that she will never, ever, ever speak to Katie Couric again, but on the off chance that she runs for public office again which appears highly likely, and she is asked about her favorite Supreme Court decisions, or one she disagrees with, she could go learn about 403 US 731 (1971) New York Times Co. v United States. This is more commonly known as the case of the Pentagon Papers. The issue? Prior restraint. The government tried to prevent the New York Times from publishing documents reporting the results of a study on the decision making process related to the Vietnam conflict. The 1st Amendment, that pesky little amendment that Sarah Palin seems to be confused about (remember, on Oct. 30, 2008, she complained that her first amendment rights were being violated by media attacks on her). She, of the journalism degree that makes her the final word in what is "good journalism," seems not to understand that the first amendment is simply protection of the media from the government and at the time, she was pretty definitely the government.

Ezra Klien of the Washington Post, speaking on The Last Word on MSNBC, said, in referring to her tweets about Wikileaks, that he found it fascinating " small Sarah Palin's reaction is to this."

One of the best analyses I've read today about this reaction is from Sarah Jones at PoliticsUSA, writing WikiSqueaks: Sarah Palin's Incoherently Dangerous Wikileaks Criticism. Italics is Sarah Palin.

Responding to Sarah Palin's demand that President Obama do something to protect our soldiers, and blaming him completely for not averting the dump in the first place, Sarah Jones says:

"Not only is Wikileaks is hosted in Sweden where, I feel duty bound to point out, the President of the US does not have sovereignty as of yet and where it is impossible to commit treason against this country unless one is a US citizen residing in Sweden, but also, as Ms Palin must be aware (given her recent claim to a journalism degree that qualified her to discredit all American media save Fox News) there’s that pesky Pentagon Papers ruling"[sic]
"We are at war. American soldiers are in Afghanistan fighting to protect our freedoms. They are serious about keeping America safe. It would be great if they could count on their government being equally serious about that vital task.”
"Ms Palin is charging the Obama administration with neglecting national security on purpose, implying that he is anti-American, as she did during the 2008 campaign. And that must sting the President, coming as it does from a person married to a once-registered secessionist..."
It isn’t that she doesn’t know the law, it’s that she doesn’t care to know the law. It isn’t that she assumes dictator like powers as President, it’s that she has already proven in Alaska that she governs with reckless abandon for the law. This is the person quoted as saying to the Wasilla City Council leader, “’I'm the mayor, I can do whatever I want until the courts tell me I can’t.”
 I've been working on several things today unrelated to news and politics, but I kept TweetDeck open all day and popped in and out when something caught my eye. Everyone has written about this issue, most weighing in on whether or not they agreed with the release of the documents. Most of the discussion seems to be about the damage that may or may not have been done, and the next dump which is reputed to be bank information. The cluelessness of Sarah Palin puts an amusing coda on the subject, but also is very frightening. Although in the middle of the piece, this paragraph from Ms. Jones piece, is I believe, the most important point: (emphasis added)
"And this is where the real trouble begins. Are we to believe that in Ms Palin’s America, she would assume the right to shut down any blog, paper, or freedom of information act organization she disliked by claiming they were a threat to national security (and the troops)? Would it be asking too much for American citizens to get more information on Ms Palin’s understanding of the fine tightrope between transparency and security, court precedent and a general understanding of the balance of power inherent in our government? Does Ms Palin think Americans are entitled to hear her discuss these complicated issues on a regular news outlet at some point, as the rest of our lawmakers and leaders do?"
thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

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