WikiLeaks, famous for releasing information from around the world (not just the U.S. Military and Sarah Palin’s Yahoo email) is set to make another release. This time the suspicion is that State Department cables with assessments of world leaders are about to be released.
The potential for embarrassment is fairly high and so the question presents itself fairly clearly. Is what WikiLeaks does helpful or hurtful? Do they undermine governments (not just ours, by the way) or do they shine a light on governments doing what they ought not be doing? Or is it more gray than that.
Are the people who supply information to WikiLeaks patriots, whistle-blowers or traitors? Or is it more gray than that?
On one hand the government is supposed to work for the people so one could make an argument that the people have a certain right to know whatever they like.
On the other hand, governments’ ability to conduct sensitive negotiations, military operations and legitimate covert operations require secrecy.
For example, if the upcoming leak embarrasses the State Department because a cable says something negative about a leader chances are it’s only because the State Department is being two-faced to that leader. Telling a foreign leader that we support them while secretly undermining them behind their back is not very ethical. So the embarrassment is caused by our own duplicity. I’m not inclined to feel very sorry of the State Department in that particular scenario.
Naturally every government and department decries the publication of any information almost universally citing “National Security”, a somewhat catchall citation that requires no explanation…very convenient that.
One could liken this to the Valerie Plame situation in which her identity was released. However, the difference in the Plame case was that the release was (allegedly) done as retaliation and therefore was done with malice or malicious intent and the WikiLeaks publications are not done with malicious intent.
WikiLeaks says it simply “shines a light” and that, despite the fact it’s run by a computer hacker, it doesn’t actively hack any information or break any laws and isn’t doing anything worse than the New York Times did in 1971 with the Pentagon Papers.
Personally I think if governments are embarrassed by leaked information perhaps they shouldn’t be doing that which might embarrass them should it become known.
So where do you, our readers, believe WikiLeaks fall on the spectrum that runs from traitor to whistle-blower?
Wikileaks has released their data and the major points were immediately PUBLISHED by:
The New York Times
The Guardian (in the UK)
Le Monde (In France)
Der Speigel (in Germany)
Other less well known newspapers in other parts of the world.
The Obama administration condemned WikiLeaks for the release…they said nothing about the newspapers republishing the data.
I haven’t read the entire release yet but it’s all very interesting so far.