General Question

cockswain's avatar

Is WikiLeaks providing a valuable service?

Asked by cockswain (15276points) November 28th, 2010

Do the sensitive documents they publish shed necessary light on shadowy dealings, or are they endangering lives?

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22 Answers

phoebusg's avatar

Yes. Especially since journalists can’t. Not due to their own inclinations as much as the institutions they work for. Governments promising transparency but doing the exact opposite. We like openness, but we don’t like demonstrating it ourselves – a bit contradicting of a comment from Obama.

I love wikileaks, I hope it becomes more popular in the rest of the corrupt world.

Making decisions requires proper information sharing. Which should be journalism’s task. So I’d say, that lack of transparency ‘endanger’ more lives. (Voting yes for illegal wars on questionable grounds as one recent example.)

wundayatta's avatar

It’s a service. It’ll make our representatives think twice before talking out of school. They think they’ve been elected and they can cop an attitude or do anything they want with impunity. That is outrageous and WikiLeaks is doing very important work.

cockswain's avatar

I fully agree with both of you. I’d like to add I don’t think it will endanger lives in the future if people are more judicious in choosing their words and actions.

jlelandg's avatar

I like that governments hate them. However this is going to end badly for them I feel.

YARNLADY's avatar

Yes, I believe the information is important and should be made public.

Jenniehowell's avatar

At the least they provide a service that shows the govt. Where their weaknesses & leaks are & at the most they provide a service that journalism has preached about providing for years while continually & hypocritically failing to accomplish. It’s somewhat refreshing to simply see info presented without too much bias & have the conclusions left up to the readers rather than mindless sheep readers being led toward particular outcomes.

ETpro's avatar

The sad thing is that while our government is far from perfect, much of what was leaked does nothing to demonstrate malfeasance. The private correspondence of our diplomatic corp discussing foreign leaders is not corruption. It is them doing their jobs. But release of such material is very damaging to relations. Likewise, releasing the names of individuals in Afghan villages who have cooperated with the US to try to root out the Taliban is going to get people friendly to us assassinated by the Taliban.

Meanwhile, Wikileaks tells us nothing of the workings of dozens of truly corrupt, blodthirsty dictators. I can see how some material deserves the light of day. But I think that Julian Assange should have exercised far greater editorial prerogative over what he did and did not release. The way it has been operated, in my opinion, is doing more harm than good.

iamthemob's avatar

I’m incredibly ambivalent myself. Basically, I can say I am glad that they’re doing what they’re doing – but, as @ETpro mentions, I’m not sure I’m happy about how they’re doing it.

mammal's avatar

It does but i’m not sure the revelations are that explosive. America will just become more belligerent and openly ruthless in their objectives, really.

Obama is swaggeringly arrogant at heart and a total enigma to me. He is arrogant because George Bush and Sarah Palin make him look so damn good. Deep down i don’t think he can stand Britain or their stuffy political class, which is absolutely fine by me, let’s be honest they are a pretty snotty, public educated bunch of prefects, they aren’t very deferential for a junior partner, that must be irritating for Washington to deal with. But i find criticism of Britain’s military involvement in Afghanistan, if true, unforgivable. that is intolerable. The British military is totally professional, to a degree that America could only dream of, American special forces are expensive and incompetent particularly with regards to rescue operations. They need a fucking rocket up their ass or sent to North Korea for re-education.

LostInParadise's avatar

If Big Brother is watching us, who watches Big Brother? Answer: Wikileaks. If we have lost our privacy to the invasion by both government and industry, it is only appropriate that government lose some of its secrecy as well. It would definitely have given George Orwell something to think about. This is a new development in our information age. I feel it is still too early to judge how effective it is.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Well, since no one else if providing this service, somebody should.

MeinTeil's avatar

To our enemies

phoebusg's avatar

This article on HF is a perfect answer for this:

“what kind of “national security” can be built on duplicity from a government that is discredited and refuted by its own documents?”

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes and no.

mammal's avatar

God bless Julian Assange our brave and perfectly flawed angel, for finding out where the stink is coming from, this sickly breed has over run our planet far too long, may all the Machiavellian, forked tongued toads, who have forged a career out of lying, flattering and deceiving, in there shit ridden scramble to the dung heap summit…. burn and squirm in the relentless glare of exposure, may they scuttle back under slimy stones and squat in the bleak crevices of the earth for ever and ever…...


mattbrowne's avatar

The financial industry is next.

New leak to be release in early 2011.

cockswain's avatar

That’s where we really need it. Americans are probably mostly amused by the latest leaks, as they really seem more like gossip and psych profiles of various leaders. I haven’t read anything really damning as to cause a significant stir. I thought it was actually kind of funny the Saudi ruler was busted for suggesting the prisoners at Gitmo be chipped like “horses or falcons”.

Leaks within the American financial industry may be damning enough to cause the sustained uproar we need.

bluemukaki's avatar

They’re doing a valuable service in providing the information to the public. What they’re not doing a valuable service of is editorialising and sensationalising the information they release.

Members of the Wikileaks organisation are welcome to individually analyse and give their interpretation of the information they have, but anonymously naming a video ‘Collateral Murder’ is far from balanced. It is a clear indication of a political agenda.

It’s no secret that Assange is critical of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars – it’s his right to have that opinion (and frankly I agree with it) – but if he controls what leaks and what doesn’t leak, and is clearly comfortable with editorialising the leaks to enact a certain emotional/political response, are we really getting any more transparency?

To me it feels like we’re getting a new, more powerful, kind of bureaucratic opacity, controlled by a man who is clearly getting enjoyment out of ‘playing spies’ with the rest of the world.

Leaks are good. People who leak documents for their own purposes while claiming to be 100% transparent should be suspected just as much as the government they aim to bring down.

What I’m saying is that don’t treat Wikileaks any differently to any other newspaper or political group – they’re not the be all and end all of freedom of information.

What I also fear is that this will prompt governments to never maintain a paper trail when it comes to secure matters, which never ends well.

Matteo_of_Eld's avatar

To keep a long rant short, I will give a brief explanation of the way a government works. A Government is the surrendering of some individual power to another so that they may decide how to use this power (financially, for protections, etc.) A government is always built on secrets. Exposing secrets can crumble governments, and is breaking the contract you signed by being born into a country and allowing a government, any government, to lead you. Exposing secrets only makes governments more unstable, and only causes problems for the people who subscribe to them, namely about 90% of all people. Wikileaks, while having good intentions, is doing more harm than good.

ETpro's avatar

@Matteo_of_Eld I think that there are legitimate areas where government needs to maintain secrecy, as in intelligence, ongoing investigation of crime and military planning. Exposing those secrets puts everyone that government was organized to protect at risk, and is a crime.

But in democratic governments, much of what the government does can and should be transparent. If Wikileaks concentrated on exposing those sorts of abuses of secrecy only, they would clearly be serving the greater good. It appears to me that far to much of their work is aimed at exposing the legitimate state secrets of democracies, while they do nothing to expose massive human rights abuses of the governments who oppose democracy.

Matteo_of_Eld's avatar

@ETpro And that was really my point, though I obviously didn’t put it down. The majority of things that Wikileaks is exposing are those that are damaging to countries in “petty” ways. Instead of exposing child abuse, it’s exposing the fact that Sally secretly dislikes her neighbour Amy.

Civic_Cat's avatar

Sally doesn’t like Amy because Amy is abusing her child.

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