Look at Matt Drudge, freaking out over Wikileaks’ so-called “insurance policy” against Julian Assange’s arrest. READY TO LAUNCH “DOOMSDAY FILES,” Drudge screams. (Red font, too. All we need is a siren.gif and we’re in full meltdown mode.) And Doomsday for whom, exactly? I mean, as of today, all Wikileaks has done is to make available a number of documents that were already available to some 3 million Americans. So if this information is already available to 3 million of our fellow citizens, why not us? Is it wrong for the citizens of a republic to know what’s being done in their name around the world…
…Fox News says that Assange has “warn[ed] that any government that tries to curtail his activities risks triggering a new deluge of state and commercial secrets.” That’s been taken to mean that, should he be arrested, Assange will release the encryption key, thereby unlocking insurance.aes256 forever.
At which point, we’re led to believe, the Sun will disappear, throwing the Earth and all the other planets of the solar system into the far reaches of outerspace.
Nicholas Deleon, “Does Wikileaks Represent The End Of Internet History?“
This is not a black and white world. I don’t believe there’s a black and white answer to whether Wikileaks is good for the United States, good for the Internet, or represents positive global change.
In fact, one of the reasons it’s so hard to firmly take Wikileaks’ “side,” if you will, is this insurance policy Mr. Deleon mentions. He uses the phrase “the Sun will disappear” to mock the hyperbole of those who don’t want those documents leaked. Of course, his sarcasm is well-placed: the Sun will not disappear. The planets will not be out of alignment.
But, what if the insurance policy contains the real names of all covert intelligence agents worldwide, or some sensitive information about susceptibility of the US military to harm? What if it contains some Secret Service information about the routines of the President or Vice President of the United States? Or nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons information, which could be extremely useful to those who wish to inflict harm to as many people as possible?
The Sun may not disappear, but are we now saying there is no line that cannot be crossed, just because the Internet is supposed to be a free source of information? Or worse, are we celebrating it?
Mr. Deleon uses as justification that 3,000,000 people in the US had access to prior Wikileaks documents already (although, as I’ve mentioned, we don’t know what the insurance policy comprises). That logic is laughable. One percent of one country has access to “secret” clearance information, and each one of those people had to pass a background check and/or some other vetting to obtain that clearance.
More than anything else, it’s certain that Wikileaks represents a seminal moment in the history of the Internet. Closing your eyes, stomping your feed and wishing it would all just go away, is completely ludicrous.
No, “stomping [our] feet and wishing it would all just go away” is not an answer, and I’m not sure who ever suggested that it was. Again, it’s not a black and white world. But I believe it’s ludicrous to justify Wikileaks from the viewpoint that that every person with access to the Internet should be able to see anything that normally requires a clearance.
That naturally leads to the argument that perhaps we don’t need any clearances. Perhaps we should not trust any of the people we elect, or any of our military leaders, when they say that something should be kept secret and not placed on an open site for all to see. To be allowed into our police forces, into our military, or into the ranks of the folks who protect the President, one has to undergo psychological testing and criminal background checks. Then, we ask those folks to keep some things secret, to keep us — in their view — as safe as possible. Personally, I believe this is a necessary fact of life. Some seem willing to let this slide on the Internet in the name of open access, or the lack of trustworthiness of our alleged protectors.
Sure, we may live in a world of truly open access to any information, and change our whole view of entrusting some people to keep secrets. Or if we don’t now, we may soon. If a person we elect shouldn’t be able to decide that something’s secret, then none of us can. By my reading of that fundamental question that Wikileaks has forced on us, we may be one step closer to anarchy.
I’m not “closing [my] eyes,” but I’m not throwing a party to celebrate it either.