Assange Defends WikiLeaks
May 21, 2013
U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the upper chamber has called WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange a “high tech terrorist.” The Obama Justice Department is devoting resources to decide whether or not Assange and WikiLeaks may be prosecuted under U.S. law for making public military and State Dept. cables classified ‘secret.’ Americans have their latest false patriotic cause and foreign stalking horse.
Whatever scant attention is being paid a feeble economic recovery caused by our elected representatives in Washington and their Wall Street paymasters is diminished when the talk radio right and the short attention span media serves up an international black hat (Assange) for the Red, White and Blue to rise against. While some in the political and media elite rail against Assange and his leaked documents, the public misses the opportunity to learn something from the documents – and from the government’s response.
An article in the Sunday New York Times is what clarified my thinking on this with this passage:
Yet even as the government seeks to rein in WikiLeaks, WikiLeaks is reining in itself. The confidential diplomatic cables it disclosed have unquestionably turned the discreet world of diplomacy upside down. But the disclosures have been far more modest than WikiLeaks’ self-proclaimed dedication to total transparency might suggest.
Had it chosen to do so, WikiLeaks could have posted on the Web all 251,287 confidential diplomatic cables about six months ago, when the group obtained them. Instead, it shared the cables with traditional news organizations and has coordinated the cables’ release with them. As of Friday, fewer than 1 percent of the cables had been released on the Web by the antisecrecy group, The Times and four European publications combined.
Despite Julian Assange’s proclamations that WikiLeaks is the media, the organization internally seems to realize its strength and weakness. It’s strength is the trust it’s established with people all over the world willing to share information with the organization – they’re anonymity will be protected. WikiLeaks’ weakness is that it’s not an established, well resourced international media organization. Bona fide international news organizations like the New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel have the editorial resources – and government connections – to use the raw leaks and determine what’s newsworthy without harming national security. In both the military cables and diplomatic cables cases, WikiLeaks did not ‘data dump.’ The group worked with other organizations which were suited to responsibly use the data.
Actually, the latest information from the leaked diplomatic cables have shown that U.S. diplomats hold their own abroad and provided some information that shouldn’t be withheld from the American public. Chief among the meaningful disclosures is that the Chinese government is a state sponsor of true high tech terrorism. American voters also have more information about Pakistani intransigence during the war on terror, rampant corruption in Hamid Karzai’s Afghan government and a view into the Cold War addled mind of Russian strong man Vladmir Putin.