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2004-01-19 11:52 AM
The Dangers of Dreaming for a Better World
(Special thanks go out to Bob Herbert of the NY Times for his insightful piece.)
In the United States, today is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
In Britain today, a twenty-nine year old Katharine Gunn is due in court today for her pre-trial hearing on charges that she violated the Official Secrets Act, an offense carrying penalties which have been described by some as draconian.
Ms. Gun at one time worked for Britain's top-secret Government Communications Headquarters, where she encountered a memo that changed the course of her life. The memo detailed an American plan to spy on at least a half-dozen U.N. delegations as part of the U.S. effort to win Security Council support for the invasion of Iraq. Said plans called for e-mail surveillance and taps on home and office phones in an effort to give the U.S. delegation information necessary to win approval from the Council.
Ms. Gun, acting from her firm belief that a war with Iraq was both morally wrong and illegal, leaked this memo in order to bring to light the illegal methods planned by that government to push it's agenda.
"I have only ever followed my conscience," she said, making no denial that she was involved in the leak. She took a principled stand against illegal activities that she believed--and history has proved her beliefs correct--would result in the deaths of many young men and women.
Britian has no equivalent to America's First Amendment protections of free speech.
In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg turned over a stack of documents relating to U.S. activities in Vietnam that came to be know as the Pentagon Papers. The Nixon administration--much like a certain other President who released the names of certain undercover operatives who happened to be married to a weapons inspector that didn't toe the party "W.M.D." line--tried to destroy Mr. Ellsberg. He was charged with treason, theft and conspiracy after being viciously harassed and having his psychiatrist's office burglarized. The prosecution of Mr. Ellsberg failed. The charges were thrown out due to government misconduct. He is lending his name to Ms. Gun's fight.
"Don't do what I did," Mr. Ellsberg stated. "Don't wait years until the bombs are falling and then put out history."
Ms. Gun has done something than so very few of us are willing to do. She has stood up for her beliefs knowing full well that the result of her stand could be her own destruction at the hands of a Machiavellian regime cloaked in the poetry of truth, liberty and freedom.
In the United States today, it is Martin Luther King, Jr. day.
It's not healthy to dream.
Joseph Haines, signing off from The Edge of the Abyss.
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