The latest wikileaks reveal has left much of our media in a bind; by releasing these secret documents, wikileaks has replaced the media as the source for truth, even an ugly truth. It wasn’t so long ago that this type of whistleblowing was regarded as ‘keeping them honest’, but the reaction to these releases has been absurd. I can’t imagine that other notable whistleblowers would be threatened with assassination, but here we are. Now Julian Assanage is certainly a misogynistic egomaniac who may have raped two women, and I am not in any way defending that man. However, the organization that he founded has proven very capable at doing exactly what it was set out to do.
The content of the latest leaks, which were American diplomatic cables sent over many years, have mostly been things that everyone already knew. The frankness of the diplomats may surprise those of us more used to the boring consensus-building style of diplomacy, but having honest opinions (even if they make the parties in question look like insecure babies) is integral to creating policy that reflects reality. It’s the dirty underside that has also been brought to light by these leaks that represents the true importance of the leaks.
The taxpayers deserve to know that those countless millions of aid dollars pouring into Afganistan is leaving at the airport. Just yesterday, another Canadian soldier died in Afganistan, and the fact that NATO governments know that this death was in vain while they publicly posture otherwise is sickening. The wikileaks cables reveal more damning evidence that the Vatican obstructed investigation into child-sex abusers while publicly proclaiming they were fighting that very scourge. They also revealed that the US government enabled a government contractor to sell little boys into sexual slavery to Afganistan government officials. All these egregious abuses of justice by the government would remain shrouded in secret, were it not for Wikileaks.
Despite standing up for the little guy, the world governments have been swift to act- cutting off wikileaks funding and making their continued existence as difficult as possible. Their claim that lives are endangered by these leaks is spurious at best, considering that the content of the leaks was poured over by four independent newspapers and that information was voluntarily redacted. Admittedly, some leaks detailing critical infrastructure to US security may look to be a terrorist wish list, but the location and significance of those sites was already available to anyone with an internet connection, though not with the seal of approval from the US government.
Free information is the basis of an informed society, which is why watchdogs like wikileaks are integral. The overreaction to this radically free information is telling- governments wish to commit their own legal abuses without fear of reprisal, masking their abuses under a label of “Top Secret”. Ideally, we would live in a system that has none of those abuses, but as the leaks show, we haven’t made it there yet. Until then, we need a wikileaks to tell us what they don’t want you to know.