A Shoot-out at the not so O.K. Corral

The whole saga of the leaked documents just keeps growing .  It isn’t an American story, although the documents are American, it is truly an international story; almost every country is in some way implicated by what its diplomas said to American diplomas or what Americans said to or about them.

AT first the story felt good to me, like Watergate, when the president was caught being really bad: “Catch the bad guys, expose them for what they are!”  Freedom of the press at its finest, just what the framers of the Constitution had in mind, protect the citizens from government corruption with a press that is free to publish every bit of detail they can uncover.  And the Constitution has been strengthen by case law since by judges determined to honor the framers and further protect the press by protecting its sources.  What higher form of democracy is possible?

That was my first take, but since I have been following the fallout and have been getting more and more uncomfortable with wikileak, its founder, purpose and supporters.  For one thing, it is beginning to feel like an attack on the United States to me, not an attack on corruption.  Those documents could change many international relationships, bring down some governments and expose leaders, soldiers, diploma and others to grave dangers.  I often find fault with our government’s or any other government’s use of classified to protect corruption or bad policy and think more things should be made public.  But who makes that decision – if our own public officials can’t be trusted to act in unselfish ways that are against the public interest, what makes me or anyone else think that some “guys” from Wikileak are more trustworthy?  Do they understand the issues better?  Are they free from private agendas?  Are they out to make a better world, which I am sure they would say they are, but who defines that world?  We define ours, however imperfectly, through the electoral process.  How were these guardians of right and wrong chosen?

The final blow for me came today with the revenge attacks.  This is the wild-wild west all over, a frontier without the regulation and protection that comes with an organized society; it is simply lawlessness.  They did not prove in a court of law or any other place their right to the information and worse they stole it, as it was not given by the agency that possessed it.

This is a new chapter in the Internet that I had not anticipated.  This is not better search capabilities, cheaper products or faster access, nor is it the open exchange of information that created the Internet.  It raises a very difficult issue, which information should be exchanged?  Wikileak has taken down their own open exchange, neither you nor I could post as we might on Wikipedia and have our comments subject to universal scrutiny.  There is a great deal of discussion these days about protecting your personal and private information on social media sites.  Pray tell, what is the difference, was this not personal and private information – the opinions of diplomas? And now who will protect them from stalking? Or are we to believe all of the diplomas and leaders regardless of which country represent are criminal and deserve whatever befalls them now?


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December 2010
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