Should spies and killers be hung?

اعدام عاملین فساد و تجاوز در خمینی‌شهر

Julian Paul Assange  is an Australian computer programmer, political/internet activist, publisher, and journalist  He is best known as the editor in chief and founder of WikiLeaks, a media website which publishes information from whistle blowers. The site acts as a conduit for worldwide news leaks, with a stated purpose of creating open governance.  Wikipedia

Julian Assange offends me, he offends me at a visceral level, not necessarily at the intellectual level.  Although, sometimes he offends me there too.  Maybe it is Assange’s assumption that he is doing something of the highest moral value and that he is not subject to the same rulers as the rest of us.  Maybe it is because he is willing to publish leaked information regardless of the source or the danger it posses to the people he exposes – I don’t know what it is exactly, but something about him offends me.

In Iran, a 24-year old kick-boxer, Majid Jamali Fashi, was hanged for the assassination of a Tehran nuclear scientist.  The western media reports say that WikiLeaks published a confidential U.S. Embassy cable containing a detailed  diplomat’s debriefing of a person who was a ‘licensed martial arts coach and trainer’.  It is being reported that  Fashi was arrested, convicted and executed based on that information. Iran says he was working for Israeli intelligence and his arrest was a very significant accomplishment for Iran; much as killing Bin Laden was significant for us.  My first reaction to the story was outrage.  But, wait, calm down and think about this for a minute.

If Fashi helped the Israelis and killed a nuclear scientist, shouldn’t he be executed?  If an agent working for the Chinese, Russians or indeed the Iranians had killed one of our scientist, wouldn’t we be justified in executing him? Of course we would!  And as to leaked information, isn’t much of our best journalism based on confidential sources willing to tell the “real story” – like the Watergate scandal?  Watergate brought down a president and shook us to the core, but one could argue it saved democracy.  Under those circumstance, there is no crime in publishing confidential and secret information, not to me or within our criminal justice system; but Nixon was seriously pissed.   Nor is there any crime in convicting and executing a spy.   So what is my problem?  Because this story still bothers me – I mean, supposing that Fashi was not the right martial arts guy?  Or supposing he was not guilty of anything but speaking out against the government, or having too many friends on Facebook, or just having offended someone in power.

I am conflicted, I want to see the bad guys captured and punished; but I don’t want to see people punished unjustly.   It is a crime in my mind to punish people because they look like illegal, undocumented aliens, belong to the wrong church or dislike our system of governemnt and our leaders.  And therefore, it is a crime to me, to publish anything that would lead to unjust arrest and conviction of anyone.   It is a very fine line between responsibly publishing important information that discloses serious wrong doing and irresponsibly publishing anything you can get your hands on.

All of this would be just an academic exercise were it not for the man dangling at the end of the rope; nothing like a good visual is there?  I wonder if Julian looks at the pictures online, is he proud of his work, does he have any misgivings?   – [Disclosure: the person in the photograph is a real person, that is a real execution in Iran, but the man being hung is not Majid Jamali Fashi.]




5 Responses to “Should spies and killers be hung?”

  1. 1 Bill Hanigan May 16, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Julian Assange is busy trying to avoid deportation to Sweden, so I doubt that he is studiously following this story which is all supposition. Maybe the Iranians simply wanted a scapegoat & voila along comes Jamal.

  2. 2 Bill Hanigan May 17, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this the first “alleged” death due to the Wikileak releases ?

    • 3 Ken Adams May 18, 2012 at 6:07 am

      i don’t think so, but i cannot cite any specifics – all of the arab countries took a great deal of interest looking for those that cooperated with the zionist

  3. 4 Bill Hanigan May 21, 2012 at 4:46 am

    I’ve been thinking about Assange and his release of potential endangering information. I would have thought that the NY Times and The Guardian had more resources to undertake that diligence. Most of his information other than informants is diplomatic gossip that really hasn’t affected the balance of power anywhere. Julian Assange is a very small organisation and probably didn’t have the resources to dissect what information he was releasing. The Guardian and NY Times certainly did.

  4. 5 Ken Adams May 21, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Both the Guardian and the Times certainly used the information and sort it, after the first big batch, someone representing Wikipedia said they vetted all the stuff before releasing it – but as you said that would take a huge and very skilled staff. Diplomatic gossip becomes much more when it is made public, it then becomes official governmental policy when viewed by other countries, especially those that are the subjects of the gossip. It is not trivial, and I suppose as much as anything I don’t think Assange understood the ramifications of his actions – he was just being righteous exposing the corrupt and double-dealing, greedy and dishonest diplomats and politicians.

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