Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Ultimate Result of WikiLeaks

Unless you've been vacationing on an uninhabited island in the remote reaches of the Barents Sea, you have probably heard of the ongoing fiasco of a self-promoting huckster named Julian Assange and his website called WikiLeaks. Much has been written about Mr Assange, most of it negative and none of it, in my opinion, harsh enough. There are many villains in the WikiLeaks story: Julian Assange, a self-serving and egotistical ass clown who believes he knows better than everyone what the world needs to know; the individual who betrayed his oath and his duty in order to steal sensitive documents and pass them to Mr Assange; and the media outlets desperate for readership that recklessly air material that may place lives in danger and complicate international diplomacy. I'm reminded of the words of Treebeard the Ent from The Lord of the Rings: "There is no curse in Elvish, Entish, or the tongues of men for this treachery!"

The best thing I've read so far on the WikiLeaks issue is this article by Anne Applebaum, which is well worth your time to take a few minutes to read: In Seeking 'Free Speech,' WikiLeaks Strikes a Blow Against Honest Speech. Ms Applebaum hits the moral and ethical nail squarely on the head when she notes that the documents exposed by WikiLeaks, while embarrassing, don't reveal much of anything that the world didn't know...or, at least, suspect, before. She writes that,

"This is certainly embarrassing for those who made the remarks. I am less sure whether their revelation gets us anywhere: On the contrary, it seems that, in the name of "free speech," another blow has been struck against frank speech. Yet more ammunition has been given to those who favor greater circumspection, greater political correctness and greater hypocrisy....Don't expect better government from these revelations; expect deeper secrets."

She goes on to note that the ultimate result of the leak of these documents will be that,

"...only authoritarian leaders will be able to speak frankly with one another. A Russian official can keep a politically incorrect statement out of the newspapers. A Chinese general would never speak to a journalist anyway. Low-level officials in Iran don't leak sensitive information to WikiLeaks because the regime would kill them and torture their families. By contrast, the low-level U.S. official who apparently leaked this week's diplomatic cables will probably live to a ripe old age.

"In fact, the world's real secrets - the secrets of regimes where there is no free speech and tight control on all information - have yet to be revealed. This stuff is awkward and embarrassing, but it doesn't fundamentally change very much. How about a leak of Chinese diplomatic documents? Or Russian military cables? How about some stuff we don't actually know, such as Iranian discussion of Iranian nuclear weapons or North Korean plans for invasion of the south? If the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, is serious about his pursuit of "Internet openness" - and if his goal isn't, in fact, embarrassing the United States - that's where he'll look next. Somehow, I won't be surprised if he doesn't."

Yes, I'm also waiting for Julian Assange to live up to the lofty goals he claims. But, as with so many other things, I'm not holding my breath.

And neither should you.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



KathyA said...

Assange re-defines the term 'narcissism.'

Mike said...

There was a Times journalist (name?) on Charley Rose last night that talked to this idiot. Julian is supposedly going after the Russians and Chinese next. We'll see how that works out.

Anonymous said...

Assange said to day that he has the dirt on big banks and will release that next. He also stated today that Hillary should resign.

Bandit said...

How did I come up anonymous?

Bilbo said...

Kathy: no argument from me.

Mike: like I said, I'm not holding my breath.

1. I don't know what additional dirt anyone could have on the big banks.
2. I'm sure everyone is as impressed with his opinion on Secretary Clinton as I am.
3. I'm sure you can come up with a better alias than "Anonymous."