The Biggest Leak
(Campaign For Liberty) -- by Bretigne Shaffer --
So much of the debate over Wikileaks, when not focused on what kind of person Julian Assange is, has been centered around whether or not the leaked information has the potential to cause harm or even cost lives; whether releasing it was a public service or an act of gross irresponsibility. While this is obviously an important question, it misses the entire point of Wikileaks and what it represents by a mile. Likewise, most of the media attention completely overlooks the real significance of what Wikileaks has accomplished in releasing the documents.
The most important piece of information revealed by Wikileaks to date has not been the graphic videos of US soldiers gunning down civilians and two journalists in Iraq nor the US military's systematic cover-up of civilian deaths and prisoner abuse there; nor has it been that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered US diplomats to steal personal data from UN diplomats; nor the news that the Obama administration launched secret missile attacks in Yemen or even the revelations of rampant corruption in Kenya that may have influenced the 2008 general elections there.
The biggest revelation to date is this: When pushed, the US government will behave no differently from any tin-pot dictatorship in the lengths to which it will go to cover up its wrongdoings from the people it ostensibly exists to serve. The illusion that US citizens enjoy freedom of speech or anything resembling government transparency, indeed the very notion that we live under a "government of the people", has been busted wide open. The irony, of course, is that this information did not require any disgruntled government employee to secret it away, in fact it was never really "leaked" at all, but was handed over willingly to the public by the US government itself.
Even more important than this revelation of course, is the technology that has allowed all of the documents Wikileaks has obtained to be made public. For the debate over the goodness or badness of Wikileaks is really about the goodness or badness of genuine transparency and, ultimately, genuine accountability for those in power. What Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has created is a paradigm-shifting model that allows people to in effect spy on their governments, a tool that threatens to change forever the landscape in which the state exists.
Not surprisingly the state has reacted vehemently and in so doing has revealed its true nature. Politicians and commentators have called for Mr. Assange and his sources to be assassinated, Newt Gingrich and others have called him a terrorist, and legislators have proposed changing the law so that Mr. Assange can be prosecuted. Meanwhile, Government officials have successfully pressured companies such as Amazon, PayPal, MasterCard, Visa and everyDNS.com (and very likely the Swiss postal system) into suspending their services to Wikileaks.
All of this was no accident. In an online Q&A session on December 3, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said,
"Since 2007 we have been deliberately placing some of our servers in jurisdictions that we suspected suffered a free speech deficit in order to separate rhetoric from reality."
For those Americans who don't already understand the consequences of the regulatory regime under which businesses operate, the government's ability to pressure private businesses into dropping Wikileaks should make it abundantly clear that businesses operate here only at the whim of the Emperor. Just as the response to the Wikileaks releases has revealed this country's "free speech deficit", so has it called into question the notion that the US is a home for "free-market capitalism". It is this insidious intertwining of government and business that is the foundation for what Mr. Assange refers to as the "privatization of state censorship"...MORE...LINK