Log in

No account? Create an account
20 February 2011 @ 08:28 pm
Writer's Block: The more you know  
Should websites like Wikileaks be defended for sharing confidential corporate and government information with the public, and why?

Should websites like Wikileaks be defended for sharing confidential corporate and government information with the public, and why?

Secrecy is the keystone of all tyranny. Not force, but secrecy ... censorship. When any government, or any church for that matter, undertakes to say to its subjects, "This you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know," the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motives. Mighty little force is needed to control a man whose mind has been hoodwinked; contrariwise, no amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. No, not the rack, not fission bombs, not anything—you can't conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him.
—Robert A. Heinlein, If This Goes On— (Emphasis mine.)

Since the Internet first became available to the general public, I've heard people who defend the government prying into one's online activities on the basis that "if you're not doing anything wrong, then you have nothing to hide."

These same people are the ones who argue, in turn, that Wikileaks is revealing things that should best be kept secret, that the internal workings of business and government are best left under lock and key "for our own good".

This is exactly backwards.

Yes, we should know these things. We must know these things. We are not disinterested parties. What the banks and megacorps do, they do to us, their customers, their employees. What the government does, it does in our name.

There are things that I would not have done in my name.

If those I have elected to serve the machinery of government seek to tell me that I am forbidden to know of them, I would name them tyrant, and would remind them with whose consent they govern.

Wikileaks is performing a function vital and necessary to democracy and to the governance of free human beings. The wealthy and powerful must be called to account, they must know that their actions run the risk of being brought to light.

Once upon a time, this function was called journalism, and it was practiced by such diverse outlets as the Washington Post that backed Woodward and Bernstein, and CBS News under the auspices of Walter Cronkite, who earned and deserved the title of "The Most Trusted Man in America". Investigative journalism is a thing of the past, though, smothered in favor of gossip and Official Press Releases by budget-slashing corporate masters who see no profit in baring secrets to the rank and file.

Wikileaks has picked up the fallen torch of the Fourth Estate, and shoved it square in the face of the banksters and the Shadow Cabinet. Do they "deserve" protection? By the laws of the United States of America, they have it. They are entitled to the same legal precedents that have protected journalists and their sources for most of the 20th century ... and if those protections do not extend into the One-and-Twenty, then we have abdicated any claims we might have had to freedom.

I feel: determineddetermined
Yasha-tauryasha_taur on February 21st, 2011 05:33 am (UTC)
Amen, Brother!
one in a billionsiege on February 21st, 2011 05:42 am (UTC)
This (your referenced quote) is why I say that the CIA's motto ("Truth shall set you free") only works if the truth is known. And it also disturbs me to not have truth known -- and to observe groups that might as well add "Entertainment" to the name of their news outlets become a "most trusted source" mostly because they insist on telling people they are.
Araquan Skytracer: Spirit of '76araquan on February 21st, 2011 06:09 am (UTC)
Yes. Yes indeed.
leonard_arlotte: GRRRR!leonard_arlotte on February 21st, 2011 07:18 am (UTC)
Well said.

Every Wednesday I go to dinner with friends. At the place we go, one of the TVs is always showing Headline News. However, at the time we are meeting for dinner, they have a show dedicated to the latest celebrity scandal, or what South Carolinian mom has gone and killed her kids this week.*

It disgusts me. I used to watch HLN for hours on end, because it showed NEWS. The slutty dress that Lindsay Lohan wore to her latest dog and pony show they call the justice system in Hollywood is not NEWS.

* - This is nothing against South Carolinians, it just seems that is all HLN shows. Last week they started showing some story about some mom who drowned her babies or something, and I told my friend "bet it's South Carolina. It's always South Carolina." It was South Carolina. Y'all need to do something spectacular so people will have something to respect you for. (And I don't mean secede again! :) )
Moonfire: seriousmoonfires on February 21st, 2011 06:53 pm (UTC)
Woodward and Bernstein exposed a criminal conspiracy at high levels of government. Most of what Wikileaks is doing is revealing work product of the government that was part of the day to day business of the State Department. Clinton really wasn't lying or trying to cover it up when she was saying the work depends on frank opinions of the officers and staff. Just because something is distasteful doesn't mean it's a wrong to be exposed. Would you like it if your Coast Guard record and all it's related data, including medical was posted online? That would be a rough equivalent.

There might be an argument for the parts of the military data showing knowledge of the handful of known but covered up incidents, as those were crimes, but again revealing intelligence data of people who worked for us in the mideast? That's almost complicity to murder, knowing what happens there. When you take a shotgun and fire it into a crowd, you're responsible for all who get hit, not just your target.

I guess, taking that last sentence there, what annoyed me the most was their indiscriminate release of information. "We've got it and you can have it all, no matter what" is not serious investigative or any journalism. The newspapers are the ones who turned it into that.

You didn't touch on the part of the question that asked about corporate information. Wikileaks has stated they have internal documents of several large companies. This is stuff not done in 'our name' by any government, but private enterprise. (Government contracts do not count, they do not direct the ultimate use of the product). This is again, work product, but might include such things as trade secrets, which do have de facto legal protection. There is no grey area to that. If they do do something with those, there might be a lot of hurt.

Assange's paranoia and public attitude don't help their image. Claiming the US Government can make rape charges appear in Sweden are as far fetched as they come, especially when Swedish law is explained in detail, and the fact that statements were taken before the whole affair took off.