Why The Wikileaks Document Release Is Key To A Functioning Democracy

from the the-difference-between-democracy-and-the-state dept

As various politicians and bureaucrats freak out and get the wrong message from the latest Wikileaks document leak, the Economist has an excellent explanation of why the leak is actually a very good thing in preserving American democracy. Will it make some diplomats jobs harder? Absolutely. But diplomacy isn't supposed to be easy. And what the documents reveal is that the US has a history of doing things it's not supposed to do. The really key insight in the Economist piece is that there's a difference between elected officials and "the state" made up of career bureaucrats, who are not necessarily subject to democratic pressures -- allowing them to make moves where they are not, in fact, answerable to the American public. And that's a problem:
The United States is nominally a democracy, but it's sadly ridiculous to think this means very much. To get at the value of WikiLeaks, I think it's important to distinguish between the government--the temporary, elected authors of national policy--and the state--the permanent bureaucratic and military apparatus superficially but not fully controlled by the reigning government. The careerists scattered about the world in America's intelligence agencies, military, and consular offices largely operate behind a veil of secrecy executing policy which is itself largely secret. American citizens mostly have no idea what they are doing, or whether what they are doing is working out well. The actually-existing structure and strategy of the American empire remains a near-total mystery to those who foot the bill and whose children fight its wars. And that is the way the elite of America's unelected permanent state, perhaps the most powerful class of people on Earth, like it.

As Scott Shane, the New York Times' national security reporter, puts it: "American taxpayers, American citizens pay for all these diplomatic operations overseas and you know, it is not a bad thing when Americans actually have a better understanding of those negotiations".

...

I'd say providing that information certainly would have been a socially worthy activity, even if it came as part of a more-or-less indiscriminate dump of illegally obtained documents. I'm glad to see that the quality of discussion over possible US efforts to stymie Iran's nuclear ambitions has already become more sophisticated and, well, better-informed due to the information provided by WikiLeaks.
A better informed public is not a bad thing... except if your entire job is based on trying to keep people in the dark. Look at who's complaining the most about Wikileaks and you realize that it's the people who benefit from not being held accountable for their actions.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 7:02am

    It's what I've been saying all along. We apparently need Wikileaks to keep our elected officials in check. Sadly. Should come naturally.

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 7:36am

    "The United States is nominally a DEMOCRACY"

    Hephaestus - jumps up and down and does a rumpelstiltskin

    "Republic, Republic, Republic ... "

     

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    NSILMike (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 7:38am

    I think it's much more nuanced. An informed public really is important, and whistle blowing is absolutely correct in the appropriate circumstances. However there is also true value in many (not all) state secrets, and endangering confidants & informants, etc. is not in our nor obviously their best interests.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 7:42am

    Re:

    What you're saying makes sense, but the issue is one of polarization. Consider, when we've granted the govt. the ability to claim state secrets and hide things due to nat'l security, the end result has been that they've used those as excuses to hide things that shouldn't be hidden.

    So, what you have to ask yourself is which is worse: abuse of secrecy, or too much openness?

    For my way of thinking, I'd rather have our govt. be too open than too secret....

     

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  5.  
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    Matt Polmanteer (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 7:45am

    MSM

    Wikileaks is doing what our Media should be doing. They are supposed to be a check on the gov't to make sure its doing what gov't is supposed to. The more secretive a gov't is the less it serves the people! I trust the American people but only when they are informed. The problem is most people don't want to know which is why they are angry with wikileaks. Ignorance is Bliss!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 7:47am

    Re:

     

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    A Dan (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 7:54am

    Typo

    It's "your entire job" not "you're entire job".

     

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  8.  
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    Hulser (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 7:55am

    The government does not have a right to privacy

    In my opinion, no government has an inherent right to privacy. Privacy is for the individual, not to bureaucratic organizations that naturally tend towards corruption and self-serving goals. Yes, there are some cases where a government has to keep things secret, but the default should be transparancy, not secrecy. Moreover, even when the bureaucrats and politicians honestly believe there is a legitimate, non-self-serving need for secrecy, I believe in a vast number of cases, the public would disagree. I'd hazard a guess that much of what governments do in secret, they shouldn't be doing in the first place.

     

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  9.  
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    Rich, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 7:56am

    Re:

    Every time someone mentions that the US is a democracy, someone has to scream that we are a republic, and an idiotic fight over semantics ensues. Our form of government has elements of BOTH. Get over it.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 7:59am

    Re: Re:

    It's a democrublic! Or possibly a Replocracy!

    ....or maybe it just kind of sucks.

     

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  11.  
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    Jay (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 8:02am

    Re: Re:

    Let's not forget that the government has failed to protect whistleblowers.

    I recall a story here about a guy that had his email pilfered, all because it's on a third party site.

    So if the government wants to keep secrets, it's all fine, but don't go throwing stones if your bureacracy is made of glass.

     

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  12.  
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    Hulser (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 8:04am

    You can't have it both ways

    I find it funny that on one hand, the US government is downplaying the impact of the leaks and on the other calling for the head of Julian Assange. So, which is it? Are the "friendships" with other countries really strong enough to weather some embarrasements or is the damage so great from Julian's "espionage" that he should be tried for treason? You can't have it both ways.

    On a related note, I saw some cable commentary show talking about Wikileaks and for ten minutes they were trying to decide of Assange was left or right. It apparently never entered their mind that someone could support the idea of government transparecy outside of the context of the binary view of "conservative" or "liberal".

     

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    Jay (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 8:05am

    Re: Re: Re:

    *Your = generic you, no one specific

    Guy had his email pilfered in a whistleblowing trial. Judge okayed for people to expose his email for letters in whistleblowing.

    Also, let's not forget the guy who blew the whistle on the people who put their money in Swiss bank accounts in UBS. That judge didn't say one word as he put that guy in jail.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 8:07am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Or a left wing dictatorship composed of hate bigots.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 8:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    As opposed to those love bigots everybody hates?

     

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    Rich, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 8:11am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I like the latter best. It kind of rolls off the tongue!

     

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    Not an electronic Rodent, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 8:13am

    Just me...?

    Or could the guy in that entire quoted middle section just have written "Go watch Yes Minister for a good idea just how much elected officials get to control anything not just for show in the average 'democratic' government"? /sarcasm

     

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    anonymous coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 8:36am

    Republic v. Democracy

    The United States of America is a polyarchy. Read a book.

     

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    lux (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 8:38am

    Re: You can't have it both ways

    What's more funny (read: unnerving) is the public persecution of Assange, even by the Media itself, yet they outwardly present - and thereofre promote - the leaked information, with juicy headlines of course!

    So on one hand, the Media denounces his actions, yet it's intoxicated by the information they can now stew over for months/years.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 8:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    and formerly a right wing dictatorship composed of hate bigots

     

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    MrWilson, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 9:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Or composed of a plutocracy that has successfully puppeteered the media into convincing the public that everything is black and white, Democrat vs. Republican, liberal vs. conservative, secular vs. religious, etc, rather than a system where the elites, who are beyond the false dichotomies of the political spectrum, influence whichever party is in power and either nominally support and then undermine or financially oppose whatever populist issue is currently threatening their power/wealth.

     

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    that_id (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 9:07am

    Re: Re: You can't have it both ways

    Well, I think that the msm is mostly upset because they had been planning on fluff pieces and deciding that the only thing worth reporting was the lame duck session for the next month. Now that they all have to compete with each other through the holiday season and wake up from their 'long winter's nap' they're all acting indignant.

     

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    that_id (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 9:09am

    Re: Republic v. Democracy

    One things for sure, the USA is definitely a 'dontreadabookiarchy.'

     

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    Matthew (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 9:15am

    Re: Re: You can't have it both ways

    The mainstream media denounces Wikileaks for two reasons:
    1) They want to suck up to those in power so that they will continue to be granted easy access to the scraps of information they are given.
    2) Wikileaks shows the people just how bad the mainstream media are at their job. For whatever reasons (laziness, corporate control, greed, corruption, partisanship - pick your favorite mix) today's media and what passes for "journalism" on it are exceptionally bad at telling the truth and holding people and governments accountable for their actions.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 9:20am

    Re:

    maybe the gov has dis info throughout those leaked docs. how can anyone be sure what those leaked docs say is true. Kind of like the bible.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 9:22am

    Forgive me for this quote.

    "My allegiance is to the Republic, to democracy!"

     

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  27.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 9:37am

    Thank you!

    I've been waiting for just this post. I've been trying to tell my friends that this information being leaked can only be a good thing, because Democracy only works well with an informed public. With an uninformed public, you get a battle between Dems and Reps where people actually believe that it's not the same choice....

     

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  28.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 9:49am

    Re:

    Actually shining a spot light on the cockroaches once in a while is a good and needed thing. You then know how badly you need an exterminator.

     

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  29.  
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    Hulser (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re: Re: You can't have it both ways

    Wikileaks shows the people just how bad the mainstream media are at their job.

    I think this is why they don't like bloggers either. The unwashed masses shouldn't interfere with big media's rightful control of information.

     

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  30.  
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    Alias (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 10:31am

    Techdirt

    God, but I

     

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  31.  
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    chris, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 10:38am

    the reason they don't want these documents/etc released is because they're private. Imagine if things you've said regarding other people in a negative light were publicized. Things you thought were confidential.

    its not like anybody who these documents dont concern changed the way they live their lives.

     

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  32.  
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    Eugene (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 10:47am

    Re: The government does not have a right to privacy

    Exactly. Human rights are for humans. Not for institutions, and ESPECIALLY not for governments.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:01am

    Defense secrets should be kept secret

    I strongly disagree with the idea that classified defense documents should be released; what they release also harms other nations. Not just USA! I think WikiLeaks is playing a very dangerous game. I'm not an old fart of the cold war era, but I am aware that 'people with an intent to harm' are also watching. People seem to forget that we are being looked at, by very motivated people that look for the weaker spots. They take time to plan an attack. The wrong bits of info released in public jeopardize the defences. Certain stuff needs to be kept behind well closed doors, etc, and only looked at by a group of people with a "need to know".

     

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  34.  
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    Matt, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:05am

    Wikileaks is not making for a better informed public. Seriously, none of these leaks have been journalistically meaningful. This not watergate, Assange is no Deep throat.

     

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  35.  
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    Eugene (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:05am

    Re:

    Well we now know lots of things about middle eastern countries who were only pretending to hate us publicly, and we now know that some countries were taking the fall for our military operations, and we now know all kinds of other amazing and important stuff going all the way back to 1966.

    Anyway, like I said above, governments are not humans. Therefore they do not have human rights. Their "private lives" are made up - entirely - by our public lives, because government is, ideally, made up of us. Therefore, it's actually OUR right to know about the private things our government is doing. Because that's us: it represents us, it reflects our decisions, it implies our ideology and ethics as a people. Should we not be allowed to control what face is presented to the rest of the world? Or should we just let a few unelected agents represent us instead?

     

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  36.  
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    Matt, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:08am

     

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  37.  
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    Eugene (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:09am

    Re:

    I keep hearing this. Are you mad because it turned out the US isn't eating babies, or because the news reports are preempting TMZ or whatever?

    Also, these cables go all the way back to 1966. If nothing else, they are historically meaningful, which is just as important.

     

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  38.  
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    Jake, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:18am

    Definitely got mixed feelings about this. It's one thing when they've got evidence of US government officials breaking the law, but who benefits from the release of documents detailing what the State Department really think about some foreign government official or organisation but keep to themselves out of tact?

     

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    Ferris, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:19am

    Who watches the watchmen? Im more concerned with who is watching the watchmen that are watching! At what point does freedom of speech become reckless endangerment?

     

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  40.  
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    Light Helmet, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:28am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If you think is sucks try living in another country.

     

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  41.  
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    Eugene (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:30am

    Re:

     

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  42.  
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    Chargone (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    no. it is not a left wing dictatorship.

    the US does not have a functioning left wing party of any significance. it has a center right party and a slightly-less-center right party. and panics about communism the moment anyone suggests that a centralized, organized system is the best way of dealing with certain things on a national level. (oh, sorry, it's 'socailism' that's the scary word these days, isn't it? for some bafflingly unknown reason...)

     

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  43.  
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    Chargone (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    actually, depending on what you're after, there are actually countries that suck less.

    not many, but they're out there.

    not surprisingly, they're smaller :P

     

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  44.  
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    Eugene (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:36am

    Re:

    Well since anyone can submit a leak to wikileaks (or the many other copycat sites out there), and anyone can go on and view those leaks once they're reviewed a released...technically that makes everyone the watchers watching the watchmen.

     

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  45.  
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    Chargone (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:38am

    Re: The government does not have a right to privacy

    pretty much. and almost all the exceptions apply only in war time, or occasionally other sorts of emergencies.

    note how the USA seems to be almost constantly either at war or trying to cope with some sort of crisis?

    it's to partially legitimise this kinda crap.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:46am

    Suprised more people don't realize the situation

    First of all, a few months ago Wikileaks released an encrypted file simply called "insurance.rsa256" which is ten times the size of the Iraq War logs. It's already been distributed to thousands of computers across the globe. People are simply waiting for the encryption key to unlock the treasure trove.

    In addition, more people should visit the wikileaks site. They've only released 1/1000th of the diplomatic cables they have. It's way too early to say these cables contain nothing of serious note. Not to mention the fact that Wikileaks has already said 50% of the leaks they have are about the private sector. Maybe the insurance file already contains everything they have. Taking out Julian or the Wikileaks organization will do nothing to stop the leaks. It's futile and a waste of time to even consider the option.

    But more to the point, it's not about what the wikileaks information contains. The demonstration of power is all that's needed. The message to the elite that they have even less power than they thought. I find it incredibly amusing the trap they've fallen into. It was little more than 15 years ago the internet came about. People said in the beginning that internet lines should be public domain and treated like a utility and managed by the government, but free-market greed took over and they made billions. Now they need the internet to survive. They never stopped to think about the consequences, they were too busy making money and now we've got them by the balls.

    Welcome to the 21st Century old white men, you're in our world now... and it's playtime :)

     

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  47.  
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    Anon, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:47am

    We need Wikileaks. Obviously, governments will not cease their corruption.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:49am

    Wikileaks is the TSA Naked Scanner" for the governments. Now we can see all your junk.

     

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  49.  
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    RandomQuoteGuy, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:56am

    Re: Republic v. Democracy

    Good thing I live in an anarcho-syndicalist commune.

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 12:01pm

    Re:

    Celebrity gossip isn't journalistically meaningful either, but that doesn't stop MSM from devoting large amounts of time to it every day. I'm not sure where you think you were going with this. Nobody has claimed an equivalence with watergate either.

    What we are discussing are the interesting and sometimes disturbing matters illuminated in the cables. Judging by the volume of people weighing in, they find it interesting enough to talk about.

     

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  51.  
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    Ricky, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 12:11pm

    Freedom of press

    "I worry about my child and the Internet all the time, even though she's too young to have logged on yet. Here's what I worry about. I worry that 10 or 15 years from now, she will come to me and say 'Daddy, where were you when they took freedom of the press away from the Internet?'"

    Godwin

     

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  52.  
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    FormerAC (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 12:32pm

    Re:

    "while information may want to be free, human beings are usually better off when it's on a leash"

    Typical of government and big business. It's a secret, you just have to trust us. Like we trusted you on those WMDs in Iraq. Like we trusted you about deregulating financial industries.

    Government can't be trusted and big media is not doing their job as watchdog on the government because they feed from the same trough.

     

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  53.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 12:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Nah, I'd rather try to fix mine, thank you very much. Besides, most of the other country's I've been to or studied up on seem to suck more, so they're out too.

    Or am I supposed to just shut up and be appreciative?

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 12:37pm

    Re: Re:

    Couldn't have said it better myself...

     

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  55.  
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    DS, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 12:39pm

    Re:

    So do I. The saying normally goes that "Sunlight is the best disinfectant"... I'm not sure what needed disinfectant in this case.

     

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  56.  
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    Jason Buberel (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 12:46pm

    Re: Re:

    While I regret the chilling effect this will have on the sharing of information between diplomats, I too would prefer to err on the side of too much exposure:

    "The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter."

    --Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787.

     

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    Daemon_ZOGG (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 12:47pm

    "A better informed public is not a bad thing"

    I agree. I support Wikileaks. Not the US government officials. And certainly not the puppet US news media. Careerists need a short shelf-life. So they don't become careerists in the first place!! ;P

     

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  58.  
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    Drew, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 12:56pm

    Re: The government does not have a right to privacy

    And yet, the government 'has the right' to check any part of our body for anything that could be a weapon before we board a plane.

     

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  59.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 1:45pm

    Where was the uproar when Valerie Plame's identity was leaked?

     

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  60.  
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    Alex Bowles, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 1:52pm

    Best quote

    From the same Economist piece:

    Of course, those jealously protective of the privileges of unaccountable state power will tell us that people will die if we can read their email, but so what? Different people, maybe more people, will die if we can't.

     

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  61.  
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    FormerAC (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 2:00pm

    Re: Re:

    From http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2010/11/overseeing_state_secrecy

    Lets start with the Bush administration "pressured Germany not to prosecute CIA officers responsible for the kidnapping, extraordinary rendition and torture of German national

    I'm sure there will be more.

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 2:37pm

    So the government can spy on their citizens, grope, take naked pictures of them, seize anything they see fit and the people need to just take it but the government don't?

    Right.

    I for once find Wikileaks awesome.

     

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  63.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 2:41pm

    Re: Defense secrets should be kept secret

    What doesn't kill us, only makes us stronger.

     

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  64.  
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    Angry Voter, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 3:01pm

    Only a criminal would object to the truth!

    What have they got to hide?

    Only a criminal would object to the truth!

    That's what the government keeps saying when they spy on us and molest our children at the airport.

    Wikileaks is a TSA scanner for the government.

     

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  65.  
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    Doable Finance, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 3:08pm

    Wikileaks

    If America claims to be a democracy, why the big secrecy?

    There won't be Wikileaks if the elected and not-so elected officials
    were open to the public who "don't know nothing about nothing" and because of this God-given characteristic, their "government" is a big secret to them. No see, No hear, No speak. That's the American public.

     

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  66.  
    identicon
    Toa, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 3:35pm

    Re: Hephatitus

    You know, it is actually possible to be a republic AND a democracy at the same time.

     

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  67.  
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    RSleepy (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 3:43pm

    Wikileaks - US a Democracy? Republic?

    Forgive a brit but is US a Democracy or a Republic? How about Hegemony? Just my opinion.. All power to Wikileaks, peace from a poodle-dweller ;)

     

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  68.  
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    DS, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 4:19pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ok, so there's one that nobody should be surprised about, and really should have expected was going on.

     

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  69.  
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    athe, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 4:30pm

    Re:

    If they were keeping it to themselves, they wouldn't have written it down, would they?

     

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  70.  
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    someguy, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 5:57pm

    Re: Defense secrets should be kept secret

    Certain information should only be looked at bya a group of people with a ¨need to know¨

    the people need to know, what is being done with the people's tax money and what is being decided up there about the people's future. That is democracy, dont forget it is all built upon the concept of the people ruling themselves.

     

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  71.  
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    chenelson (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 6:14pm

    Re:

    You're joking, right? There was and continues to be an uproar over Valerie Plame. In fact, there's a movie in theaters right now on the topic.

     

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  72.  
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    Roger, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 7:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Derp-derp.

     

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  73.  
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    Roger, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 7:35pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Derp-derp.

     

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  74.  
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    Mr. Ben Patrick Johnson (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 7:53pm

    Close, but ...

    In most circumstances, as you say, "a better-informed public is not a bad thing." But that's not necessarily relevant to the WikiLeaks debate, as much of the information being made public (from what we've seen through popular media) is of a different category:

    It's one thing for a journalist or organization to expose specific graft, conflicts of interest, or hypocrisy within government, be it in the purview of elected officials or the "permanent state" described in the Economist piece. It's a very different thing to publish personal information about aid workers in politically sensitive zones and uncensored diplomatic conversations, some of which amount to playground trash talk.

    There is a need for national security, including the protection of both official and off-record information. There's no small amount of data regarding foreign and domestic affairs that the American public, including you and I, has no business accessing. From how The Economist presents his quote, this seemingly-obvious point appears lost on the Times' Scott Shane. It's hard for me to believe Mr. Shane, if pressed, would suggest complete (or in the case of WikiLeaks, broad) transparency as a useful strategy for international stability.

    Also, the Economist's suggestion that unelected American bureaucrats and department workers are "perhaps the most powerful class of people on Earth" is snicker-worthy. The writer might have a different take after visiting the Social Security Administration, one of our military bases, and an American DMV office (assuming his "state" isn't just federal.)

    Finally, there's the question of potential harm to human life posed by these leaks. Wikileaks suggests the information it's dumping has been carefully reviewed by attorneys and personal, and sensitive information has been redacted. But we're talking about hundreds of thousands of documents. Realistically, how much individual examination/vetting could each of these cables and emails have received? While considering this, keep in mind that it's not just an issue of international embarrassment. Lives are on the line. In fact, this afternoon, our State Department offered protection to aid workers placed in jeopardy by the leaks.

    I'll stop short of calling Wikileaks' actions terrorism. The situation is sufficiently challenging without the adding hyperbole. What these leaks ultimately amount to is good intentions refashioned into a campaign of intellectual theft and violence--one which thinking people should not condone, and certainly not as a result of one Economist columnist's fears of an impenetrable American state.

    Ben Patrick Johnson
    Los Angeles, CA

     

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  75.  
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    george, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 9:31pm

    Re:

    Actually that's not what the article is saying. It's saying that the leaks help hold burecrats in check. The electoral process holds elected officials in check.

     

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  76.  
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    G Thompson (profile), Dec 1st, 2010 @ 10:22pm

    I couldn't agree more with this article, and I actually have that encrypted file that "Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2010 @ 11:46am" talks about on my servers, everyone should

    Nearly everyone here who has been highly critical of Wikileaks is not only very US-centric, thinks for some reason these sort of leaks are a new thing [go back 10-20yrs guys.. even Fidonet had some major leaks with BBS's etc], but they are also extremely hypocritical.

    If the same type of information was released by say the Usa's cyber espionage taskforce (think USA hackers working for NSA etc) on Iraq, Iran, or Upper WhateverStan then these people would be over the moon that the "evil regime" has been ousted for its despicable conduct on the world stage.

    Another example might be the release of emails by some anonymous source that were found on a legal site that had major ties to the copyright industry. Again these people would fall over themselves in reading them and talking about the evil solicitors and their clients. [Hang on, that actually happened didn't it. hmmmm]

    Stop placing the blame on Wikileaks for failings on the USA's bureaucratic security, diplomatic ethics, and underhanded dealings and maybe unlawful behaviour. Though do remember that Diplomacy by its very nature EVERYWHERE is to do and say the nastiest things in the nicest way (whilst holding a bigger rock if possible), which is why Diplomatic immunity is such a needed thing.

    Alex Carey once said that "The twentieth century has been characterised by three developments of great political importance: the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy. "

    I think in the 2000's we can add "State power" alongside "corporate power", which means the checks and balances that Wikileaks provides (and it is only the first of many more of its ilk that I foresee in the future) is a much needed and required beast!

     

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  77.  
    identicon
    foowhowhoo, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 2:48am

    wholesale

    over 200k of un-vetted pieces of ongoing diplomatic dialog and analysis used to hash out complex and delicate foreign policy left out the curb like a bunch of trash. yea.. yea.. great idea - no secrets is stupid when you have to maintain ongoing relationships with other countries that just happened to hate each other. The stupid punk that put them out there has no idea of the damage done..

     

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  78.  
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    Spiro T. Agnew, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 2:55am

    Foreign Policy requires at least some degree of secrecy in order to be effective. If diplomats can't communicate frankly amongst themselves without fear of whatever they say being leaked, then the system actually becomes less accountable and less transparent.

    Daniel Ellsberg was doing what he thought was right, he was a patriot. Julian Assange is a criminal.

     

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  79.  
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    marak (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 3:06am

    How is Julian Assange a criminal? He's posting documents given to him, he's not an American, so your laws do not apply to him.

     

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  80.  
    identicon
    foowhowhoo, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 3:22am

    "How is Julian Assange a criminal? He's posting documents given to him, he's not an American, so your laws do not apply to him."

    Seeing as how US laws don't apply to him, he stop by for visit. I am sure they would happily issue him a visa.

     

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  81.  
    identicon
    mia, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 3:41am

    The media is a pos.
    People are getting dumber.
    The system is a pos.
    The politicians are getting dumber.

    Americans are becoming more and more entitled by the generation.

    We need a revolution. Fuck the system and lets make a new one! =)

     

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  82.  
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    Anon, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 4:11am

    Re:

    I think the other point was that we need them to keep our unelected officials in check even more.

     

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  83.  
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    GOLDNSQUID, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 5:15am

    Re: Re:

    It is not an idiotic fight over semantics. Democracy is mob rule and is only good if your in the majority. That distinction is a major one that has gone away over the past few decades. For example taxing the "evil" rich. They are a minority and don't have the votes to counter the ignorant masses and the politicians know it. We are not suppose to be a democracy and these people should be protected from the mob but sadly this isn't the case. There are more examples but that is an easy one to pick out. We only use some democratic processes to do things like pick our representatives. This is also why we have the electoral college to protect the smaller population states from the larger while still giving the larger population states a little more say.

     

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  84.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 7:30am

    We don't live in a Democracy. We live in a Republic. Read the constitution. You tards.

     

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  85.  
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    dave (profile), Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 9:15am

    Re: Re: Re:

    >>....or maybe it just kind of sucks.

    it does. it just sucks less than everything else.

     

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  86.  
    identicon
    bjupton, Dec 2nd, 2010 @ 1:41pm

    Re: Wikileaks - US a Democracy? Republic?

    A Fascism. But we don't call it that.

     

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  87.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Dec 3rd, 2010 @ 1:25am

    Re: Re:

    Too bad in the US you technically only have three parties, two on the extremes (republicans ("rightwing") & democrats ("leftwing")) and one smaller one more in the middle (liberals).

    It's not very effective as a democracy, in my (foreign) view.
    But I look at it with Dutch eyes, in The Netherlands anyone can start a political party and get elected.

     

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  88.  
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    Kevin (profile), Dec 4th, 2010 @ 10:12am

    Information is a good thing providing people are given all of it, and when all of what is given is able to be understood for what it is. However it's not for any John Q Public to decided for the rest of us what should be known or not known. Unless he himself is placed in that position by lawful appointment, and understand all of what’s going on behind the scenes. Until this happens the public role should only be on a "need to know basis" in matters of National security.

    However "John" does the right to run his mouth recklessly to a point and have his own opinions without taking an oath. That's why he elects people to office, pays taxes to hire police officers, and fire fighters, and goes to the doctor when he's ill. He also damn well better understand that secrets need to be kept when his country sends troops to war as well. Each one of these professions I've mentioned has issues of secrecy and confidentiality to respect and is sworn to an oath.

    The way I see it, the only thing here that isn't ok is mob rule, and this is exactly what it seems Wikileaks is advocating by the unregulated release of sensitive information. There has to be some sense of responsibility in place for the repercussions for such an act on the part of the person releasing the info.

    What good does it serve for someone to expose one or two problems only to create 20 or 30 more? Maybe their initial goal in the first place is to create chaos. What a great way to get a pack of dogs fighting than to throw a bit of red meat into their midst. Hitler knew this, so did Stalin, Lenin, and Mao. Hell, all people manipulating for power in some way shape or form do.

    Human nature being what human nature is mandates some regulation in the dissemination of information be in place. Incidentally,this is a Republic, meaning "Rule of Law" not a Democracy. Not once in any of the founding documents of this country is the word Democracy used. This is a word that has far too often been misused to define our form of government, more often then not by people who advocate Socialism. We may use the concept of Democracy to elect our officials, but the law is the law, and any changes to the laws must be acted upon by the officials that we elect. Remember, a lynch mob is a form of a Democracy too.

     

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  89.  
    identicon
    Karl, Mar 9th, 2011 @ 12:11pm

    document disclosure

    What disturbs me the most is that NASA and the Government has for decades lied about the 5 mile high towers and ruins of buildings on the moon, photographs of these towers and ruins have been airbrushed over by NASA, 1000'3 of photos have been altered so we the tax paying public have been lied to and continue to this day about alien bases on the moon and mars. the time that these document's has arrived we must know the truth.

     

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  90.  
    identicon
    pajalnik, Dec 8th, 2011 @ 11:33pm

    Bullshit. Anyone who says that there is NEVEr a good reason to keep secrets in this day and agbe (in ANY point in time in civilized history) is a fucking idiot. And this asshole does not discriminate between what secrets SHOULD be revealed and what are legitimate state secrets. Of course he doesn't, since he is in it just for the money. So he doen't care that he releases secrets that could very well get innocent people killed

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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