Monday, November 29, 2010

Another Addendum

"The Times has taken care to exclude, in its articles and in supplementary material, in print and online, information that would endanger confidential informants or compromise national security. The Times’s redactions were shared with other news organizations and communicated to WikiLeaks, in the hope that they would similarly edit the documents they planned to post online.

After its own redactions, The Times sent Obama administration officials the cables it planned to post and invited them to challenge publication of any information that, in the official view, would harm the national interest. After reviewing the cables, the officials — while making clear they condemn the publication of secret material — suggested additional redactions. The Times agreed to some, but not all. The Times is forwarding the administration’s concerns to other news organizations and, at the suggestion of the State Department, to WikiLeaks itself. In all, The Times plans to post on its Web site the text of about 100 cables — some edited, some in full — that illuminate aspects of American foreign policy."

- The New York Times

I had an argument with some friends recently about Wikileaks, and while I came out in support of its radical assault on secrecy, they did not. They said that the cost of publishing data like the names of Afghan informants wasn't worth it. They said that governments, and not individual citizens, should be empowered to determine what is and is not secret. I disagreed then, and I think I still do now. Post-9/11 government security paranoia has surely served us well, but it's too easy a cloak to hide under when you've got something you want swept under a rug.

Perhaps if Wikileaks, rather than publishing material itself, would simply give their leaks to the press - who do have standards and who are accountable - rather than publish raw data themselves, we might see the kind of restraint that can save lives, while still giving power back to the citizens to take their oppressors in governments and corporations to task.

Power to the people!


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