The publication of 250,000 US diplomatic cables last week by Wikileaks.com has caused quite a scandal in both the US and International community. While the legality/morality/goal of such action is dubious, the fact of the matter is that the information is out there and can’t be taken back. That being said, before taking sides on the issue (freedom of speech vs. Assange terrorist), lets analize the effects of such publication:
- Like the Pentagon Papers (Vietnam) and the Watergate Scandal, some of the cables published reveal corrupt and inmoral US goverment operations. Operations that our democratic govermentof should never have to endorse.
1. Hillary Clinton ordered a spy operation on UN leadership. The US diplomats were asked to obtain DNA samples, adresses, credit card numbers, phone numbers, tax and pager numbers and EVEN computer passwords from top UN members. Such operation is a blatant infringement of UN laws and individual privacy.
2. The oil company Shell admits to have infiltrated the Nigerian goverment at all levels. To such an extent that a Shell executive boasted that they know exactly everything that goes on within the Nigerian ministries. Such capitalistic, corrupt infiltration of a goverment is clearly anything but “democratic” or ethical.
- The publication of the cables also brought to light the high level of corruption, bribery, criminal dealings of the current Russian goverment. Now its up to the russian population to take action (if they can) and try to reform such a obscure goverment procedures.
- Some of the cables published couldn’t have come at a worse time. A time where the economy is bad, the Middle East is unstable and North Korea is highely agressive.
- By revealing that China is progessively withdrawing its support to North Korea, the north koreans will feel threatened to lose its biggest patron and thus seek to further distabilize the Korean region.
- By revealing that US is backed by many Arab countries in its attempt to contain Iran’s influence/nuclear proliferation; expect the already-radical Iranian president to turn even more radical.
- By revealing the weakness or corruption of many African presidents, the publication has put the continent’s stability at test.
- Also, USA’s political credibility has been weakened worldwide.
- Several cables revealed that behind the deities of the Saudi Arabian royalty, there are parties that include alcohol, strippers and drugs. Have only two words to say on the matter – PARTY POOPER.
- The US goverment’s response of prosecuting and shutting down Internet sites goes agaisnt the ideal of freedom of speech. Such action has only made the USA look undemocratic, like China.
- If people of the likes of Julian Assange can hack into Pentagon archives and shutdown Visa.com; imagine how easily they could steal our passwords and other personal digital information.
While unmasking corruption and inmoral actions is always justified (Vietnam, Watergate, in this case the corruption of Nigeria and American espionage in the United Nations) I believe the problem lies not in the action, but in the indiscriminate manner such information was made public. A responsible person would have taken the time to actually skim through the cables and publish that which is useful for society. The data which helps foment human relations.
What is Julian Assange seeking to gain by publishing “provoking” personal correspondence of US diplomats? (such as the one Hillay Clinton states that the Argetinian president seems “mentally unstable” or another that describes Nicolas Sarkozy as “impatient and undiplomatic”) Does this type of personal correspondence help the international community in any way? Or does it merely seek to obtain notoriety and spark bitterness between world leaders?
Just like you wouldn’t inform a patient in intensive care that his parents have just suffered a horrible death; when revealing secrets one has to take the timing and possible consequences into account. In this case, some of the cables published about Iran and North Korea seem more likely to trigger violence than “enlightment” or “transparency”. So while I wouldn´t call Julian Assange a criminal, I would definitely label some of his actions as unthoughtful.
And as for the US goverment, instead of trying to control the release of information (which is impossible), your efforts would be better spent in figuring out ways to better protect secrets so they doesn’t get “stolen” in the first place.
For more information, The Guardian has developed a detailed interface/map of the 250,000 cables