Wikileaks, Governmental Privacy, and Personal Privacy

As you probably already know, Wikileaks has published many military documents regarding the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Recently, they have also released private communications amongst diplomats, in which, candid words are used to describe many foreign heads of state.  This is a large issue, so I feel it’s one I should probably address.

Now, if you know me, then you know I’m not a black-and-white kind of guy.  My thoughts are often multi-faceted and they many times contradict each other.  I don’t pretend to have any answers, or take any sides.  I simply muse upon topics in various ways and hopefully come away with a more complete picture of myself, rather than a formed belief about the topic at hand.  This Wikileaks issue has definitely brought out the wishy-washy nature of my thought process.  Whatever your views are on this topic, it can be universally agreed that it is complex, at best.

Over the course of the Bush presidency, I was often very frustrated at the level of secrecy that the government operated at.  I believe that a government should conduct itself with a certain amount of transparency to ultimately provide high levels of public discourse and Official accountability.  The shroud that was put over the public at large was thick and foreboding.  Couple that with the level of privacy that the government expected of its citizens, and you essentially had a governing body that expected everyone to be an open book except themselves.

Now, we have a new president and unfortunately, little has changed in terms of privacy, both in the government ranks and in the lives of the public.  Small, hopeful steps have been made – pictures of soldier’s coffins can now be taken and released, state and federal budgets are more open to public eyes, but ultimately, the same arguably illegal eye is on every American, guilty and innocent alike.

Along comes Wikileaks.  It provides the ultimate in transparency.  It forced government and military documents out into the open for all to see.  It took the large watchful eye of the government and positioned a mirror in front of it.  Now, they feel what we feel – exposed, violated, and in danger.  We’ve been told that if we had nothing to hide, then we had nothing to fear – isn’t the same true for them, ideally?

Yes and no.  I like to think that the highest ranking officials of our governing leaders would be the example-setters.  The cream of the crop.  The tall men in suits that set the bar for the rest of us.  Ultimately, though – they are human.  Humans are flawed.  Humans are greedy.  Unilateral, unquestioned human nature in the position of power is a foul-mouthed memo waiting to happen.  Should we hope to find them above the ranks of those that would abuse their positions?  Absolutely.  Should we expect it?  Absolutely.  Should we realistically expect it?  Well, maybe not.

Further, I can’t say with any degree of certainty that these leaked documents put anybody in harm’s way – I’ll only say that if they did, it damned well better be worth the price.

So there we have it.  My contradictory thoughts on the whole thing summed up:

  • I like government transparency.
  • I like personal privacy.
  • I believe our officials should feel the same comfort of privacy as the citizens they protect.
  • I like the notion of a shrouded government being exposed.
  • I dislike the notion of an eye-for-an-eye.
  • I admire the size of Wikileaks’ collective balls.
  • I seriously question the nature of the “service” they are providing.
  • I wish everyone would follow the age-old corporate rule of, “Never say in written word what you don’t want to see in print.”

One thought on “Wikileaks, Governmental Privacy, and Personal Privacy

  1. Government transparency demands an informed and well read population. Sadly, it seems that when government transparency is forced on this population they in turn get brainwashed by corporate media hype into thinking the guy is a terrorist and in the end only lose more of their rights. I’m with Julian Assange on releasing the documents because the government is acting illegally and outside the bounds of the Constitution and I’m all for sparking discussion on the issue because truth will eventually come to light. I just wonder how long it will take this baby like population to wake up and realize the government is out of control..

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