The Media Get It Wrong on WikiLeaks
It's About Broken Trust, Not Broken Condoms
The WikiLeaks story is an ever-shifting one -- witness the latest twists of the
A key problem with the media's coverage of WikiLeaks is that there has been way too much conflating going on. So some serious unconflating (disconflating?) is in order.
One of the most important aspects of the story is the changing relationship to government that technology has made possible. Back in the year 2007 B.W. (before WikiLeaks),
At that moment he was, of course, busy building an Internet framework that would play an important part in his becoming the head of the next administration. Not long after the election, in announcing his "Transparency and Open Government" policy, the president proclaimed: "Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset."
Cut to a few years later. Now that he's defending a reality in
Even more wikironic are the statements by his secretary of state, who, less than a year ago, was lecturing other nations about the value of an unfettered and free Internet. Given
Now making government accountable is, as
For the Obama administration, it appears that accountability is a one-way street. When he had the chance to bring the principle of accountability to our wars in
Then there is Julian Assange himself. Is he a visionary? Is he an anarchist? Is he a jerk? This is fun speculation, but why does it have an impact on the value of the WikiLeaks revelations?
Of course, it's not terribly surprising that those who are made uncomfortable by the discrepancy between what the leaked cables show and what our government claims would rather make this all about the psychological makeup of Assange. But doing so is a virtual admission that they have nothing tangible with which to counter the reality exposed by WikiLeaks.
But this story is bigger than Assange -- and will continue whether or not he continues to be a central player in it. So as interesting as his saga is, and I'm sure there will be books and movies recounting Assange's personal tale, this is not about one man. Nor is it about one site, though the precedent of allowing the government to shut it down is very important.
It is about our future. For our democracy to survive, citizens have to be able to know what our government is really doing. We can't change course if we don't have accurate information about where we really are. Whether this comes from a website or a newspaper or both doesn't matter.
But if our government is successful in its efforts to shut down this new avenue of accountability, it will have done our country far more damage than what it claims is being done by WikiLeaks.
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The Media Get It Wrong on WikiLeaks
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