It's troubling to see innocent whistleblowers like Tom Drake bankrupted by selective and vindictive prosecutions. It's equally repugnant to see news game-changers like WikiLeaks teetering on financial collapse, orchestrated by governments and businesses. An amazing nonprofit organization, Freedom of the Press Foundation, launched yesterday. It's aim is to foster more transparent government by insulating groups like WikiLeaks from commercial censorship.
In case you haven't noticed, a free press--something enshrined in the First Amendment--is under an unprecedented, brutal assault in this country. This takes many insidious forms, from prosecuting whistleblower sources under the Espionage Act, to rampant over-classification, to the financial blockades of one of the most important news outlets in the world.
Another thing that deserves notice: The U.S. government and business have done everything in their power to shut down WikiLeaks. In addition to refusing to allow its founder, Julian Assange, to enjoy the political asylum he's been granted, the United States has refused to grant him assurances against extradition. Those close to WikiLeaks are under travel restrictions normally reserved for terrorists. In the most obvious from of government creep, Visa, MasterCard and PayPal are not accepting donations for WikiLeaks, which choked off 95% of its funding.
While we seem paralyzed in ending the government's crackdown on whistleblowers, there's now something easy and concrete you can do to help end the commercial censorship: donate anonymously to pressfreedom.org
Freedom of the Press Foundation is now serving as a conduit for donations to organizations like WikiLeaks and the National Security Archive--to insulate their fund-raising efforts from draconian political and business pressures.
Board members range from Pentagon Papers whistleblower Dan Ellsberg to actor John Cusack.
You can donate not only to WikiLeaks, but to various journalistic and investigative projects. There will be a rotating list of participating organizations expected to receive financing. By accepting donations for more than one organization, the site hopes to prevent any single one of them from being targeted.
I urge people to think beyond WikiLeaks. If you believe in investigative journalism and government openness, transparency, and accountability, you should think about organizations committed to--an paying the price for--these ideals.
A free press is a lynchpin for democratic government. WikiLeaks documents were published in all the major news outlets around the world. It has not, as Congressmen warned in stark terms, created "a clear and present danger to the national security of the United States." Rather, it has made phenomena like the Arab Spring possible.
Financial blockades of terrorists is one thing. Cutting off funding for news organizations is part a the slick and dangerous slide towards tyranny.