While WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange continues to be condemned by an unsettling number of American journalists and politicians—who seem to have forgotten the whole point of the First Amendment—filmmaker Michael Moore is not just speaking up on behalf of WikiLeaks.
Moore is offering to post bail for Assange, who has been arrested and jailed by the British.
The director of films such as Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko and Capitalism: A Love Story is, as well, "publicly offering the assistance of my website, my servers, my domain names and anything else I can do to keep WikiLeaks alive and thriving as it continues its work to expose the crimes that were concocted in secret and carried out in our name and with our tax dollars."
"We were taken to war in Iraq on a lie. Hundreds of thousands are now dead. Just imagine if the men who planned this war crime back in 2002 had had a WikiLeaks to deal with. They might not have been able to pull it off. The only reason they thought they could get away with it was because they had a guaranteed cloak of secrecy. That guarantee has now been ripped from them, and I hope they are never able to operate in secret again," argues Moore. "So why is WikiLeaks, after performing such an important public service, under such vicious attack? Because they have outed and embarrassed those who have covered up the truth."
Here’s Moore’s statement regarding the move:
Why I’m Posting Bail Money for Julian Assange
Tuesday, December 14th, 2010
Yesterday, in the Westminster Magistrates Court in London, the lawyers for WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange presented to the judge a document from me stating that I have put up $20,000 of my own money to help bail Mr. Assange out of jail.
Furthermore, I am publicly offering the assistance of my website, my servers, my domain names and anything else I can do to keep WikiLeaks alive and thriving as it continues its work to expose the crimes that were concocted in secret and carried out in our name and with our tax dollars.
We were taken to war in Iraq on a lie. Hundreds of thousands are now dead. Just imagine if the men who planned this war crime back in 2002 had had a WikiLeaks to deal with. They might not have been able to pull it off. The only reason they thought they could get away with it was because they had a guaranteed cloak of secrecy. That guarantee has now been ripped from them, and I hope they are never able to operate in secret again.
So why is WikiLeaks, after performing such an important public service, under such vicious attack?
Because they have outed and embarrassed those who have covered up the truth. The assault on them has been over the top:
**Sen. Joe Lieberman says WikiLeaks "has violated the Espionage Act."
**The New Yorker’s George Packer calls Assange "super-secretive, thin-skinned, [and] megalomaniacal."
**Sarah Palin claims he’s "an anti-American operative with blood on his hands" whom we should pursue "with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders."
**Democrat Bob Beckel (Walter Mondale’s 1984 campaign manager) said about Assange on Fox: "A dead man can’t leak stuff … there’s only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a bitch."
**Republican Mary Matalin says "he’s a psychopath, a sociopath … He’s a terrorist."
**Rep. Peter A. King calls WikiLeaks a "terrorist organization."
And indeed they are! They exist to terrorize the liars and warmongers who have brought ruin to our nation and to others. Perhaps the next war won’t be so easy because the tables have been turned—and now it’s Big Brother who’s being watched… by 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?
Openness, transparency—these are among the few weapons the citizenry has to protect itself from the powerful and the corrupt. What if within days of August 4th, 1964—after the Pentagon had made up the lie that our ship was attacked by the North Vietnamese in the Gulf of Tonkin—there had been a WikiLeaks to tell the American people that the whole thing was made up? I guess 58,000 of our soldiers (and 2 million Vietnamese) might be alive today.
Instead, secrets killed them.
For those of you who think it’s wrong to support Julian Assange because of the sexual assault allegations he’s being held for, all I ask is that you not be naive about how the government works when it decides to go after its prey. Please—never, ever believe the "official story." And regardless of Assange’s guilt or innocence (see the strange nature of the allegations here), this man has the right to have bail posted and to defend himself. I have joined with filmmakers Ken Loach and John Pilger and writer Jemima Khan in putting up the bail money—and we hope the judge will accept this and grant his release today.
Might WikiLeaks cause some unintended harm to diplomatic negotiations and US interests around the world? Perhaps. But that’s the price you pay when you and your government take us into a war based on a lie. Your punishment for misbehaving is that someone has to turn on all the lights in the room so that we can see what you’re up to. You simply can’t be trusted. So every cable, every email you write is now fair game. Sorry, but you brought this upon yourself. No one can hide from the truth now. No one can plot the next Big Lie if they know that they might be exposed.
And that is the best thing that WikiLeaks has done. WikiLeaks, God bless them, will save lives as a result of their actions. And any of you who join me in supporting them are committing a true act of patriotism. Period.
I stand today in absentia with Julian Assange in London and I ask the judge to grant him his release. I am willing to guarantee his return to court with the bail money I have wired to said court. I will not allow this injustice to continue unchallenged.
Moore has also filed a witness statement on behalf of Assange, in which he argues that WikiLeaks is more important now than ever. "Governments have always been discomfited by a probing press," explains Moore. "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."
Here’s Moore’s’s full statement:
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.