Gathering My Thoughts On Wikileaks

As I struggle to concentrate on my last seminar paper of my bachelor’s degree, I find myself obsessively gravitating toward the latest Wikileaks headlines again and again.  I’m starting to come up with an overarching set of ideas about what the whole thing means and how I should interpret it through my value set.

Today on Facebook I was asked by one of my old platoon commanders, “Do you think it is wrong to publish American secrets?”  I decided that my response was long and detailed enough to post here in lieu of a proper essay:

My qualified answer is, “Not categorically.” I don’t believe that secrets can be American, as long as America is a functionally democratic republic.  I would characterize the leaked docs as US Government secrets, most of which are not a threat to national security and to whose existence the citizenry are inherently in opposition.  I think there are very few secrets that are actually as damaging to national security as the government will inevitably put on when they’re leaked.

While I hope that PFC Manning is sleeping soundly in the knowledge that he followed his conscience, I acknowledge that he knowingly broke Federal Law and should, by all rights, pay the time.

Publishing the names of the Afghan informants was wrong, and publishing the DoS list of potentially critical targets was questionable.  Generally, though, my take is that the more the voting public knows about what goes on in its name, the better.  I am very much glad, for instance, that the IZ War Logs revealed that, while public reporting had accounted for 104,000 IZ civilian deaths, DoD had secretly logged 109,000 such deaths and lied openly about doing so.

I think that Wikileaks is immature in the sense that they appear not to fully understand what it is they’re publishing.  Their redaction of the Iraq War Logs was pretty haphazard.  My hope is that future iterations of the Wikileaks model will be more sophisticated about this and will also be able to break out of Assange’s theory about changing forms of government.

Once the semester’s over I’ll have to sort my thoughts out in an essay or two.

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