Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Wikileaks - is it a good thing?

Wikileaks - is it a good thing?
8th December 2010

To the boating fraternity any sort of a leak is a bad thing be it lock gates, canal banks or heaven forbid, a leak in the hull of your boat. But what about Wikileaks?

Wikileaks burst upon the public consciousness over the last few days following the publication of a substantial body of internal US Government documentation, mostly relating to war theatres and combat actions. All this hullabaloo has co-incided with the arrest of its founder for alleged sex offences in Sweeden. Hmm, the conspiracy theorist within me smells a possible smear campaign.

There certainly seems to be a huge amount of action going on to suppress Wikileaks, blocking Domain Names and stopping subscription services via Mastercard / Paypal to name just two. So is Wikileaks a bad thing which deserves all these attempts to close it down?

My intitial reaction is so side with the authorities. All bodies have internal information which is not drafted for public scrutiny and is it right to expose govenrment documents in this way, possibly putting the lives of people concerend at risk?. Surely not.

But then again, I used to believe that the government officials were party to better information that us mere mortals. A case on point was Tony Blair's decision to party with the USA in overthrowing Saddam Hussian on the pretext of Weapons of Mass Destruction. I remember thinking at the time that the evidence seemed thin, but assumed that "they" knew best. Of course it turns out that "they" didn't know more than us and whilst Saddam Hussein was undoubtedly an unacceptable national leader, the WMD angle was spurious. Put simply, our troops were committed to combat based on sspurious and inaccurate information.

So how does Wikileaks fit into this? They accept leaked information and put it into the public domain - letting everybody see the evidence behind the spin and the stories. They do this anonymously which encourages further whistle blowing. Their website (there are a thousand mirror copies to prevent total suppression) explain that they are independent and unbiased, merely exposing corruption, misdirection and outright lies where they exist.

If this was a printed magazine it would have been shut down ages ago, but the internet has a life of its own. Anyone can write what they think and place in in the public domain - like my own simple personal blog. The world has changed and governments can't do what they like and try to hoodwink the public. We live in a newly transparent world, with powers under Data Protection, Human Rights etc and this development represents another way that secrets can and will be made public. I think that maybe the Genie is well and truly out of it's bottle. 

Maybe the answer to having one dirty washing aired in public is to keep your undergarments clean in the first place. After all, in this modern world you never know then the internet is going to knock you over and reveal all your blemishes on the electronic operating table.

So, is it a good thing? I don't know. Before you knock it take a look at Wikileaks and decide for yourself. I havn't posted a link because it probably wont be there when you try to access it. However, a Google search will offer an access route, and a lot of dead ends.

A heavier subject than normal.

Comments on an electronic postcard please - I have an nopen mind.


Jaqueline Almdale said...

Thank you for a thoughtful post on world affairs. Wiki leaks reminds me of the 70's and the leak of the Pentagon Papers which led to Watergate and the resignation of President Nixon. Those papers uncovered the terrible lies with which we Americans were manipulated into Vietnam. Most U.S. citizens are unaware of how the most powerful man in our country--Nixon--fought to suppress the American press to keep the information from leaking to the public. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. I stand on the side of freedom of information. WE are the government and those who act on our behalf often forget this. Knowledge allows us to hold those who represent us accountable. I've included a link to POV--Point of View--an American public broadcasting show which you may find interesting.

Starcross said...

I'm a cynic I'm afraid.
None of the leaks exposed so far have really told us anything that anyone with half an interest in world affairs didn't believe anyway, so what does it matter that they are no longer secret.
Despite this it seems that a lot of (self-styled)very important people are suddenly very embarrassed and are no doubt plotting to get their own back.

Bill Rodgers said...

As an American, I support freedom of the press. I don't care if presidents, politicians, heads of state and diplomats end up with egg on their face. Unfortunately, there are people out there who helped in the fight for their freedom, that, with their families, friends and associates are now in grave danger do to the release of their names. Wikileaks' action has and will cause the deaths of many innocent men, women, and children. Releasing the information, in general was good; doing it without thought, was not. Jaqueline, Watergate hurt only those persons that deserved public attention. Starcross has probably hit the target, anyways. (Sorry for the diatribe.)