My take on the WikiLeaks controversy

While I was completely pissed at his party, as well as ALL of the Federal parties, for apparently letting Bill C-12 die (which is apparently NOT the case anymore), I do like Bob Rae’s comments on the “big” WikiLeaks controversy that is currently causing heads to spin from Ottawa to Beijing to London and all points in between.

Some of what will emerge – in the Middle East, in Pakistan, and elsewhere – will compromise sources, practices, and on it goes, but none of it should “shock”.  Corruption in Russia, Arab leaders saying privately how worried they are about Iran, Americans razzing Canadians for having an “inferiority complex” and “anti-american” programming on the CBC:  there’s nothing new here, and we shouldn’t be so touchy or sensitive that we can’t handle a vigorous discussion.  CSIS directors complaining about the “shackles” that courts concerned about charter rights and due process is hardly news.

The internet is full of gossip, hate, mistrust, misinformation, as well as all that is true and valuable.  We still want our diplomats and public officials to give us their candid and honest assessment of things, and to keep the spin to a minimum.  Maybe if our public comments were closer to reality there wouldn’t be so much amazement at what we are now seeing.(emphasis mine)

Isn’t that a telling sentence? “If our public comments were closer to reality…” So true. M

Much emphasis is put on the spin of the story rather than the story itself. Politicians and their communications managers work on their message to gain maximum political advantage and the public knows this! Everything that is uttered from the mouth of a politico – no matter which party – has been dissected and processed to such a degree that often the original intent of the message is lost. The public senses that they are being played with and consequently turns off the voice. They simply don’t know which message or part of a message to believe and what to throw dans la poubelle.

Is it any wonder why people are so cynical when it comes to politics?

But I digress…

WikiLeaks provides raw and unfiltered information. One can go to their site and take a look at the actual text that was sent from ambassadorial offices. Without a filter and without spin.

What Rae says is true. Most of these so-called “sensitive” cables that have been released contain little information that has not already been widely broadcast. The Americans are worried about the Mexican drug wars – of course they are! Diplomats in Afghanistan do not hold President Karzai or others in the Afghan government is very high regard? Well, duh! Sarkozy invited Harper to the D-Day ceremonies because he felt that Stevo could use a bit of a political boost at home? Well, yeah… leaders stick together, don’t they? And Harper and Sarkozy have a good relationship.

What worries the Americans and everyone else more than anything is that the control of information has, in this case, been taken away from them. And this scares the bejeebers out of them! Without total control of the flow and content of the messaging, they cannot give it the spin that in their minds, is required to properly “interpret” or “contextualize” the messages. No government wants to lose that control but WikiLeaks has taken it away from

As for the trumped up charges against the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assnage? What a crock.This is just a way to try and turn public sentiment against Assange.

As for the calls by some for his assassination? Barbaric at best and criminal at worst. Mr Flanagan and others should be charged with uttering death threats.

To end,  I leave it to this gentleman who wrote the following letter to the Calgary Herald today:

Re: “Professor won’t face discipline for remarks,” Dec. 3.

The citizens of our liberal democracy should be alarmed at the reaction against WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

From condemnation to suggestions of assassination of Assange, we have prominent political leaders to University of Calgary professors, openly calling for this man’s termination.

What we are witnessing is the beginnings of Stalinist silencing. No matter how inflammatory Assange’s reporting may be, it is still newsworthy and carries the right to be published in any society that market’s itself to be, quote unquote, a free entity.

Let us ask ourselves the chilling question of when will people’s legitimate political expression and opposition be silenced in the way that some are suggesting Assange be silenced?

Frank Koeksal,

Calgary

Thanks Mr. Koeksal. Well put.

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One Comment to “My take on the WikiLeaks controversy”

  1. This whole Wikileaks thing is absolutely NOT a freedom of speech issue, nor is it a “whistleblowing” issue, nor a “defending democracy” issue.

    Wikileaks is all about Assange shocking people, in a way that would make Howard Stern proud, in order that he can look important and become more famous. Don’t read altruism into his work, because there is none there.

    A goodly part of what he has leaked to date would have been accessible through the usual information access channels for anyone who actually cared. That nobody did care and get it some other way does not make what he did somehow noble.

    A small portion of what he has released was classified. That means it was obtained by illegal means and that its release is, in theory, illegal. As I am sure (well, I hope, given what you do for a living) you are aware, documents are classified in the national interest when the reputation of the government or lives are at stake. By releasing such information he is knowingly attempting to damage his own government and others. One might argue that he is also putting lives at risk, but from what I’ve seen so far I can’t really say that much of what was released seems particularly hazardous to any individuals.

    So having established that he has damaged government, one might look at the reason. It would, for example, be ethically and morally correct to damage a malicious government. Assange has not, however, established that the governments he is damaging are malicious, nor that his intent is to effect change. In fact, all I can see is that his intent seems to be to damage the US government by any means possible for reasons known only to Assange, and without regard to who or what he injures on the way to doing so. He has not established any kind of moral or ethical high ground for what he is doing. Since it is clear that he is cooperating with illegal operatives (like the one who copied those classified documents for him), then it is evident that Assange is effectively an insurgent.

    Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, but freedom of speech also comes with responsibilities. Even in the US, speech that is slanderous or libellous is not permitted. Among the tests for slander and libel is that the words being tested are made public for the purpose of defaming, or insulting an identifiable person or group. In that respect, Assange has committed a grievous libel in that he has not released these documents for any public good, but only to embarrass and harass the US government.

    What he has done is ethically questionable, legally questionable, of limited or no value to anyone but himself. He’s making his own “reality show” more or less. Worse, he has, by his encouragement, ruined the life of his recent source. Further, he has seriously embarrased governments who tend to have short tempers, and lots of money to spend on “problem solvers” to deal with people who cause them embarrassment. I’m not talking USA or Canada here either. Assange is cruising for a bullet in the head from some other nation – nations that don’t need some Canadian yobbo to prod them into action.

    Assange not a hero, he’s a self-important dumbass. He’ll get his due soon enough. What I haven’t decided is whether it will be “Russian bullet to the head in 2011” or “killed in prison uprising in 2011”.

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