Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wikileaks and the assault on openness

Oh what is one to make of this sordid scandal involving Wikileaks chief Julian Assange? As I write this, Mr. Assange is sitting in a London jail without bail on a Swedish warrant for sexual assault. I'm not here to go into the details of the alleged charges. Having unprotected sex and (allegedly) passing on a sexually transmitted disease is really not very cool. On the other hand, having world leaders calling for his head for espionage is even more unseemly.

Since the release of secret US documents last month, Wikileaks has been under assault. First Amazon (and later other firms) refused to host the Wikileaks website. Then PayPal and other firms halted the processing of electronic payments to Wikileaks. Then the Swiss bank that held the Wikileaks account froze it. Of course, what's good for the goose is also good for the gander.

All of this because Mr. Assange and his confidential sources released documents that might embarrass those in power.

Our elected officials, and their appointed minions, are accountable to the citizens of the United States. They work for us. The State Department has the task of managing the foreign affairs of the country. Their duty is to act in the best interest of the United States -- that is, the citizenry.

Destabilizing foreign governments, erecting puppet regimes and greasing the skids for American-based transnational corporations under clouds of secrecy is not in this country's best interest. I'm sure there are some very embarrassing things to be found in the leaked documents; I'm also certain that sometimes it's best to say one thing in public and something very different in private (we all do it from time to time). But let's face it, when it comes to foreign affairs, the United States doesn't have the best record of supporting human rights and civil liberties.

We would freak out in this country if it turned out that bucket loads of foreign money was being funneled to candidates for the House, Senate or White House. Yet, our government has no qualms about pumping US dollars into elections in other countries in order to elect politicians friendly to US demands.

I don't know what Mr. Assange's motives are and I don't really care. By releasing these documents, Wikileaks is imposing accountability on those who made decisions in the State Department. Accountability is supposed to be a good thing. Judges and prosecutors are forever telling defendants they need to be accountable for their actions. If it's good for Johnny Two-times on the street,  I think it's good for the President and his men, too.

Secrecy is the greatest enemy of democracy.

See also:

"Bailing Assange," Simple Justice, December 8, 2010.
"The false indignant outrage over Julian Assange," Felonious Munk, December 7, 2010.
"Julian Assange: Neocon tool?" New York Times, December 7, 2010.


Alessandra said...

So I guess you have no problem with people's lives being placed in danger by some arrogant little prick with some nameless grudge against your own country? Are you so naive as to think that all governments should operate transparently all the time? I guess those Afghans and Iraqis that helped coalition forces are just SOL for trying to make their countries better places by helping get rid of terrorists? The Taliban has already announced they are going to kill anyone whose name they find, but I guess since they are just Afghans, oh well? As for all the companies that are refusing to do business with Wikileaks, that's their decision. Perhaps they feel more a sense of loyalty to this country than people like you do. Of course, remember that your nice life of being educated and well off and having the right to spew your crap was fought for and earned by the generations before you that did the dirty work and made the hard decisions and paved your way. Your liberal rantings and whining make me want to puke. I hope to hell that the next terrorist attack gets you or someone you love. Maybe that will get your attention.

Houston DWI Attorney Paul B. Kennedy, said...

Thank you for your rant, er, comment.