I normally don’t talk about politics or current events on this blog, or anywhere else for that matter. But today, I am making an exception, and I’d like to offer my views on the whole WikiLeaks saga. I have no idea why.
I agree, in principle, with Matt Ingram’s view that new media entities should be treated as traditional media. Clearly the world has evolved beyond newspapers, radio, and TV. I would venture to say that more news breaks over new media than traditional media these days.
But with that respect and treatment comes a responsibility. There have been plenty of times where traditional media outlets such as the New York Times have refused to publish certain things, often on the basis of national security.
Publishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents is not journalism. It’s treason against humanity. And the soldier that gave them to WikiLeaks is, in my opinion, guilty of treason against the United States.
This isn’t the same as “exposing” a story. That’s something real journalists do. This isn’t a case of Jeffrey Wigand or Erin Brockovich dong the right thing. In this case, sans any real journalistic purpose, WikiLeaks’ actions were wholly irresponsible and unjustified. Quite frankly, given the absence of any real journalistic purpose, it borders on electronic terrorism.
Why were they published? To what end? If the documents had shed light on some deep-rooted conspiracy, such as our government knowingly invading another country for oil, or to boost some politician’s ratings, then I’d be all for it. That would be responsible whistle blowing. But even in that case, one wouldn’t have to publish hundreds of thousands of unrelated classified documents to serve the cause.
Wikileaks has described itself as follows:
WikiLeaks is a non-profit media organization dedicated to bringing important news and information to the public. We provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for independent sources around the world to leak information to our journalists. We publish material of ethical, political and historical significance while keeping the identity of our sources anonymous, thus providing a universal way for the revealing of suppressed and censored injustices.
Publishing all of these classified documents is counter to their own mantra. In my view, the documents they chose to publish are not “important news and information.” Exactly what “suppressed and censored injustice” is being spotlighted here? War? It’s a dirty business. Deal with it. Wars are not fought with pillows. Putting the spotlight on how dirty war exposes absolutely nothing.
Again, if in these documents, there were cases of groups or individuals ignoring orders, violating laws, etc., then those individual documents deserve to be brought forward. The New York Times would publish them, as well they should. But they wouldn’t run a mountain of classified documents, many unrelated, through their printing presses. The last time I checked, it wasn’t a crime to call the Prime Minister of Xanadu a bumbling idiot.
I’m actually fairly liberal in some of my views these days. But I do not define “liberalism” as “hey, let’s be completely transparent, open and free, and publish classified documents online.”
If someone gave me their sister’s diary, irrespective of what it contained, and I published it word-for-word on the Internet, is that responsible? No. It’s juvenile at best.