Thursday, 9 December 2010

US State Department announces World Press Freedom Day: A superlative for hypocrisy is needed

Having spent the past two weeks doing everything it can to shut down some creepy man's website and his access to his funds, the US State Department in its wisdom found  today to be the day to announce that the US will host the World Press Freedom Day next year, which will focus on freedom of information on the internet . In the announcement they voiced their concern "about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information.”

From the official announcement: 
The theme for next year’s commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age.

In January, Hillary Clinton gave a powerful speech on the internet, calling it the 'iconic infrastructure of our age' and warning that "As in the dictatorships of the past, governments are targeting independent thinkers who use these tools." She meant China and other undesirables of course, not herself and her department.

Calling it hypocritical doesn't quite cut the mustard - it's time to coin a superlative.

To a add a significant caveat:  placing so many private individuals unredacted names on the web, as the US embassy cables do, displays deplorable recklessness . These people have families and careers one presumes that they wish to protect and nurture. This is not the first time that Wikileaks has recklessly placed people at risk, e.g. Amnesty International's unheeded warning that publishing the names of Afghan's working for US and other foreign forces puts them in immediate danger of assassination.

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