(more from our WikiLeaks Symposium)
Gentle Readers, today Miss Manners would like to remind everyone that it is bad manners to tell state secrets, especially those found out because of a vindictive American soldier.
Julian Assange is not, despite his defense, doing anyone a favor. In fact, in this time of war, he is doing quite the opposite. The U.S. Government, as is the case with most (if not all) governments, certainly has its share of skeletons. But that does not justify the extent of information sharing he is doing, especially in relationship to national security. What is the real purpose of WikiLeaks releasing the unsanctioned US Army field reports from the Middle East or, more recently, the secret US Embassy cables?
The WikiLeaks website prominently displays on its opening page a quote from Time magazine; Time says WikiLeaks “could become as important a journalistic tool as The Freedom of Information Act.” The real controversy surrounding WikiLeaks, however, is not the ability or right to release information but the antiquated question of who exactly is the purveyor of truth.
The government is certainly not the arbiter of truth, but, then again, neither is the media. Journalists are interested in the truth to the extent that revealing it produces an audience and breaking a story improves their brand. No matter the reasons, though- sharing information has its consequences. More specifically, people at every level and in every field suffer from these consequences- not only public officials like President Obama, Secretary Clinton or even the Turkish Prime Minister, but the hundreds of thousands of men and women serving in the military and special forces, willingly risking their lives for their country, as well as their family and friends.
Diplomatic secrecy is essential at times, whether we like it or not, because the control in this experiment is that there are those who would use the information to harm innocent people. The most telling defense of WikiLeaks, therefore, has came from Reporters Without Borders: “Reporters Without Borders can only condemn this determination to hound Assange and reiterates its conviction that WikiLeaks has a right under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment to publish these documents and is even playing a useful role by making them available to journalists and the greater public.”
So self-interested journalists with seemingly no patriotic affiliation pick the U.S. Constitution to defend the right of WikiLeaks to publish those documents? That’s amusing. Why not appeal to Australia’s laws, where Assange is from? Oh! I know why! Because Australia has blacklisted them, as have many other countries. Assange and WikiLeaks are not the cure for Transparency, gentle readers; they are just another filter and more like volatile free radicals in the body, reacting with all in their path.
The Gnostic ideal that knowledge will save the world places too much trust in WikiLeaks. For all it is revealing, there is still plenty it is not; and, for better or worse, the truth is all-encompassing and not so particular. WikiLeaks is not being persecuted; this isn’t undue censorship by the Big, Bad Government. Like a virus in the body, an immune response has been provoked by individuals, governments, news media outlets and businesses all over the world, demanding its elimination. WikiLeaks: it is time to take the final bow and leave the stage; after all, it’s only polite.
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