If Amazon.com won’t host leaked diplomatic cables posted by the website WikiLeaks, Michael Moore will.
The liberal filmmaker and author announced in a web posting Tuesday that he had donated $20,000 to the cause of Julian Assange, WikiLeaks’ embattled chief who is being held in the United Kingdom on sexual offense charges and is seeking to be released on bail.
“I support Julian, whom I see as a pioneer of free speech, transparent government and the digital revolution in journalism. His commitment to exposing the follies of government and business offers the greater society a chance to protect itself from these follies,” Moore wrote in a web posting Tuesday.
“Some aren’t just follies. Some are crimes. What do we do with someone who informs the authorities — and in this case it is the free people in a democracy who are the “authorities” — that a crime has been committed?” he added. “Do we arrest HIM? Do we try to shut his mouth? Do we hound him, threaten him, track him down and hunt him as if HE is the criminal? He bravely informed the citizenry of what was being done in their name and with their tax monies. That is no crime. That is an act of patriotism.
Assange should be lauded and not maligned, the filmmaker argues.
“He should be thanked and honored, not abused and jailed,” he writes. “It dishonours this court to be used in this way, holding this man without bail. Julian has made the world, and my country in particular, a safer place. His actions with WikiLeaks have put on notice those who would take us to war based on lies that any future attempts to do so will be met by the fierce bright light provided by WikiLeaks and intended to expose those who commit their war crimes. His actions will make them think twice next time — and for that we all owe him a debt of gratitude.”
Moore points to incidents in recent US history where he feels WikiLeaks could have made a significant difference. For example, he mentions an August 2001 briefing document provided to President George W. Bush whose heading read, “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US.”
WikiLeaks deserves our thanks for shining a huge spotlight on all this. But some in the corporate-owned press have dismissed the importance of WikiLeaks (“they’ve released little that’s new!”) or have painted them as simple anarchists (“WikiLeaks just releases everything without any editorial control!”). WikiLeaks exists, in part, because the mainstream media has failed to live up to its responsibility. The corporate owners have decimated newsrooms, making it impossible for good journalists to do their job. There’s no time or money anymore for investigative journalism. Simply put, investors don’t want those stories exposed. They like their secrets kept … as secrets.
I ask you to imagine how much different our world would be if WikiLeaks had existed 10 years ago. Take a look at this photo. That’s Mr. Bush about to be handed a “secret” document on August 6th, 2001. Its heading read: “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US.” And on those pages it said the FBI had discovered “patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings.” Mr. Bush decided to ignore it and went fishing for the next four weeks.
But if that document had been leaked, how would you or I have reacted? What would Congress or the FAA have done? Was there not a greater chance that someone, somewhere would have done something if all of us knew about bin Laden’s impending attack using hijacked planes?
But back then only a few people had access to that document. Because the secret was kept, a flight school instructor in San Diego who noticed that two Saudi students took no interest in takeoffs or landings, did nothing. Had he read about the bin Laden threat in the paper, might he have called the FBI? (Please read this essay by former FBI Agent Coleen Rowley, Time’s 2002 co-Person of the Year, about her belief that had WikiLeaks been around in 2001, 9/11 might have been prevented.)
Or what if the public in 2003 had been able to read “secret” memos from Dick Cheney as he pressured the CIA to give him the “facts” he wanted in order to build his false case for war? If a WikiLeaks had revealed at that time that there were, in fact, no weapons of mass destruction, do you think that the war would have been launched — or rather, wouldn’t there have been calls for Cheney’s arrest?
The magazine Foreign Policy, writing on their blog, mocked Moore’s contribution to the WikiLeaks cause.
“Oh, goody,” wrote the magazine’s blogger Blake Hounshell. “Perhaps upset that his last film, Capitalism, was a dud and he hasn’t been in the news for a while, filmmaker Michael Moore is now offering to post bail for WikiLeaks frontman Julian Assange, who is currently languishing in a British prison while the Brits work out his extradition to Sweden, where he’s wanted for questioning.”
The following statement was entered by Moore into the London court on Tuesday, in connection with his decision to help post Assange’s bail.
STATEMENT OF MICHAEL MOORE
Aged: Over 18
Occupation: FILM MAKER AND AUTHOR
This statement (consisting of 2 pages each signed by me) is true to the best of my knowledge and belief and I make it knowing that, if it is tendered in evidence, I shall be liable to prosecution if I have wilfully stated anything which I know to be false or do not believe to be true.
I, MICHAEL MOORE, care of Finers Stephens Innocent, 179 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 5LS make this statement and say as follows:
1. I am a filmmaker, author and political commentator and I produce as my exhibit [MM/1] evidence of my identity in the form of a photocopy of my passport/driving licence. I am an American citizen.
2. I am aware of the various allegations Julian Assange faces in Sweden. I am willing to act as security for Julian in the sum of twenty thousand dollars USD$20,000.
3. I am the director and producer of Bowling for Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko, and Capitalism: A Love Story, four of the top nine highest-grossing documentaries of all time. In September 2008, I released my first free movie on the Internet, Slacker Uprising, documenting my personal crusade to encourage more Americans to vote in presidential elections. These experiences underpinned my conviction that it is the duty of a free press to probe, and hold government and the powerful to account – and that citizens must be properly informed and have access to information in order to exercise their democratic rights.
4. Governments have always been discomfited by a probing press. With the hollowing out of newsrooms, in large part as a consequence of the new digital world, old media have largely abandoned the territory of investigative journalism.
5. I support Julian, whom I see as a pioneer of free speech, transparent government and the digital revolution in journalism. His commitment to exposing the follies of government and business offers the greater society a chance to protect itself from these follies. Some aren’t just follies. Some are crimes. What do we do with someone who informs the authorities — and in this case it is the free people in a democracy who are the “authorities” — that a crime has been committed? Do we arrest HIM? Do we try to shut his mouth? Do we hound him, threaten him, track him down and hunt him as if HE is the criminal? He bravely informed the citizenry of what was being done in their name and with their tax monies. That is no crime. That is an act of patriotism. He should be thanked and honored, not abused and jailed. It dishonours this court to be used in this way, holding this man without bail. Julian has made the world, and my country in particular, a safer place. His actions with WikiLeaks have put on notice those who would take us to war based on lies that any future attempts to do so will be met by the fierce bright light provided by WikiLeaks and intended to expose those who commit their war crimes. His actions will make them think twice next time — and for that we all owe him a debt of gratitude.
6. I believe that Julian takes pride in his reputation and as any journalist would understands that if he were to abscond he would ruin his reputation in the media and journalism industries.
7. I regret that I am out of the country and therefore I am unable to attend court and explain in person that I expect Julian to observe his bail conditions. I am offering to stand and provide security for him abiding by his bail conditions to the value of USD$20,000.
8. I understand that by acting as security for Julian I risk forfeiture of the aforementioned sum to the crown if he breaches his bail conditions by absconding or by not attending Court as and when required.
9. The money which I will pay to the Court, to be held as security, is my own. As I am abroad I am unable to produce any statement as evidence of these funds. However I have already transferred the sum of USD$20,000 into the client account of FSI.
10. I have not been indemnified against the loss of this money in the event of Julian breaching his bail conditions, and understand that if I were to be so indemnified it would amount to a separate criminal offence for which I could be imprisoned.
11. I have been advised by Julian’s solicitors that it would be prudent to obtain independent legal advice in relation to my liabilities as security.
12. I have no previous convictions.
‘Pandemics expose the fissures of society’: Rev. William Barber tells CNN why people of color are hurt most by COVID-19
The Rev. William Barber told CNN's Alisyn Camerota on Thursday that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown a light on racial and economic inequality in the United States, as statistics are showing a disproportionate number of people of color are dying from the disease.
After citing statistics from New York City showing that COVID-19 is killing black and Latino residents at twice the rate it's killing white residents, Camerota asked Barber to explain why he thinks the pandemic has been more lethal to communities of color.
"Pandemics expose the fissures of our society," he said. "They expose all of the things we haven't fixed prior to the pandemic. So we had less health care, we had less wages in poor communities."
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As the COVID-19 epidemic continues to ravage the American public, an unsurprising story emerges: Poor communities are hot spots for COVID transmission. The death rate from COVID-19 appears to be staggeringly high among African Americans compared to whites. The Washington Post reports, for example, that while 14% of the Michigan population is black, 40% of COVID-19 deaths are among blacks.