Global Education

Wikileaks: Treason

By Connie Gong
Published: December 2010

Wikileaks has made front page news once again for its recent release of thousands of pages of confidential diplomatic cables. This comes only months after the October 2010 release of over 400,000 documents regarding the Iraq War and the July 2010 release of 92,000 documents related to the War in Afghanistan.
The site’s stated goal is to ensure that whistleblowers and journalists are not jailed for releasing sensitive documents, an excuse the site has used to justify the indiscriminant release of confidential information that has thrown American diplomacy into a crisis.
In the name of transparency, Wikileaks has openly revealed intimate operational details about the United States’ military operations within Iraq and Afghanistan, including the identities of informants and undercover allies.
Every piece of information providing Americans with an uncensored glimpse into foreign policy developments also allows foreign governments and American enemies similar insight. Covers are blown, intelligence networks are disrupted, and American agents lose their ability to access information necessary to protect the lives of American citizens, at home and abroad.
The problem with Wikileaks is not the site’s attempts to promote transparency, but rather its disregard for the detrimental ramifications of the information it releases. Site founder Julian Assange has been widely criticized for his egotism, recklessness, and notorious anti-war agenda. Wikileaks, under Assange’s lead, seems to be more about self-promotion and sensational new-making than about providing the public with unbiased, prudent information.
Sometimes, secrecy is necessary for the preservation of our nation’s security and the safety of our citizens. We elect officials to represent us because we don’t have the time or knowledge or experience to deal with the complexities of international relations and diplomacy.
In doing so, we place a certain amount of trust in our government to weigh repercussions and make decisions that will create favorable outcomes. Our leaders spend their time considering the political situation of our country, and without that level of knowledge and experience, the hasty conclusions we come to may not be in our best interest.
This doesn’t mean we follow our government blindly, but it does mean we shouldn’t demand complete transparency at all levels of government operation. We allow the CIA and the military to keep secrets because complete openness would leave all of us vulnerable to the whims of radical or ignorant minorities.
Wikileaks cannot seem to determine when its revelations will have positive impacts and when they will cause irrevocable damage to the United States. In the recent leak of thousands of US diplomatic cables, many of the documents held nothing that would inform the public or lead us to make reforms to improve our policies.
Even informative documents came at a heavy cost, revealing details that deeply strained diplomatic relations, damaged alliances, damaged US prestige and endangered foreign diplomats.
Many cables contained information that amounted to no more than highly classified and damaging gossip. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was described as feckless, vain and ineffective. Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi apparently rarely travels without the companionship of his senior Ukrainian nurse, “a voluptuous blonde.
Another account mocked Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe “deep ignorance on economic issues (coupled with the belief that his 18 doctorates give him the authority to suspend the laws of economics).
More substantial cables revealed that Saudi Arabia has repeatedly urged the United States to launch air strikes on Iran to eradicate its nuclear program; the Yemeni government has been covering up US air strikes on suspected Al Qaeda militants; American diplomats to the UN were instructed to gather computer passwords, credit card numbers, and biometric information about top UN officials; China attempted to hack into Google’s servers as part of an elaborate sabatoge plan; and the US and South Korea have plans for invading North Korea after Pyongyang’s hypothetical collapse.
These revelations have the potential to disrupt American operations abroad, in ways that may be impossible to predict. One effect that is certain: America’s credibility on the world stage is collapsing, as it reveals itself incapable of protecting classified information.

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