Monday, December 06, 2010

Dirty Laundry

"In a free society we're supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, then we're in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it." — Ron Paul.
You won't see me quoting Texas Congressman Ron Paul very often, but I agree with him here.

He is of course talking about whistleblower site WikiLeaks, their release last week of 250,000 American diplomatic cables, and the subsequent criminal investigation of the WikiLeaks editor in chief, Julian Assange.

I'm confident the world won't be ending any time soon, but most of the media is acting like Assange is some kind of real life Dr. Evil... or the new Osama bin Laden. But I tend to see Assange as a little less sinister and a little more egotistical, ambitious, and naive. He thinks he's going to crush the American government? Jon Stewart has a message for Assange:
"I think you’re underestimating how cynical Americans are about our government already. We’ve engineered coups in Chile, Iran, Guatemala, et cetera. We sold arms to Iran and then used the money to fund Central American revolutionaries. We sell weapons to our enemy’s enemy, who somehow always then becomes our enemy and forces us to defend ourselves from our own weapons. That happens a lot. In fact, you know what we call that? The number 8."
And you can count me among the cynical Americans. Out of all the leaks I've read about, I already knew some of it, strongly suspected most of it, and was mildly intrigued by a few revelations. I have no idea how these leaks will impact other countries like Russia, but I'm sure they have a lot in common with us. As Anne Applebaum on Slate put it:
"In the absence of a political culture that abhors corruption, in the absence of prosecutors who pursue it, this is just another in a long series of sensational scandals. Berlusconi parties with Putin? So what, he parties with everyone."
The most I hope for is that future politicians might think ahead, just a bit, and consider the possible blowback when all their dirty laundry and egregious acts are leaked. Maybe they'll realize that the best approach is to be honest and transparent? Maybe I'm thinking like a radical again...

These leaks could be healthy for us, or they could be used to justify more censorship, new espionage laws, and more vilification of the truth tellers.

1 comment:

Trung said...

good post. i think it's important that there be transparency, especially for americans on how their tax dollars are being spent, cynical or not. obviously, the US would rather engage in a smear campaign rather than truly addressing the real issues at hand. you may be right; the level of secrecy may very well increase as more whistleblowers come forward with information.