Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wikileaks: What happened to freedom of speech?

Wikileaks publishing of 250,000+ diplomatic cables is a defining moment for the Western world. A young soldier allegedly stole volumes of classified and secret information from the U.S. government. The documents were acquired by Wikileaks, who is in the process of putting them all on the web.

Why do I call this a defining moment? Because now the United States' dirty laundry is being aired, and how we deal with it will say much about our ideals and our realities. I said we, and I said it for a reason. We, the citizens of the U.S., now have access to some very damning diplomatic cables sent by our government. We see our government pressuring other governments to arrest and imprison the editor-in-chief of Wikileaks. Pressuring businesses to stop hosting Wikileaks.

From the cables we see that the U.S. is pushing to influence the internal policies of other countries. That could be considered an act of war.

So how are we going to react to our governments actions? Both those revealed in the cables and those revealed in our governments response to it? Are we going to sit back because there is nothing we can do, or are we going to make our voices heard and tell our elected representatives that we expect them to act in accordance with the finest ideals of our nation, not like playground bullies?

I strongly believe that just releasing the cables was irresponsible. But I also know that Mr. Assange is not a U.S. citizen and Wikileaks is not a U.S. company. He did not hire the soldier to get him secret U.S. documents. He didn't steal them himself. He runs a whistleblower site in a foreign country. The documents he received contained things that needed to be revealed. He revealed them. He did what whistleblowers do.

John Naughton of guardian.co.uk tells us that governments are going to have to learn to Live with the Wikileakable world or shut down the net. He reminds us that Hillary Clinton just last January gave a speech on the importance of the free flow of information is for citizens to hold governments accountable. I wonder if she sees the irony in our governments response to Wikileaks?