In the wake of the recent WikiLeaks document dump, Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas), the self-styled libertarian crusader who’s spent the past half-decade building up a massive grassroots following, has emerged as a principal voice in support of the transparency that WikiLeaks has provided. In a speech on the House floor yesterday, Paul held forth at length on the controversy.
Others may disagree, but I don’t read Paul’s remarks as a defense of Julian Assange specifically — Assange is only mentioned three times during the five minute oration. This was perhaps wise, given the fact that Assange is facing charges unrelated to WikiLeaks abroad, and has become a fractious enough figure within the WikiLeaks organization itself that internecine battles have broken out, with one faction preparing to open their own site, “OpenLeaks.” But it’s certainly a defense of WikiLeaks in principle, and whistleblowers in general — Paul spends more time discussing Daniel Ellsberg than he does Assange.
On balance, Paul’s speech primarily touches on themes that he’s advanced throughout his career: his antipathy to neo-conservative empire-building, the lies that precipitated the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the primacy of individual liberty, and the value of dissent. WikiLeaks simply gives Paul’s convictions some urgency.