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Wikileaks Is No Watchdog

Wednesday, December 01, 2010 - 07:05 AM

Reshma Saujani

We seek transparency from our government to expose wrongdoing. However, the content in the WikiLeaks so far does not expose any thing done wrong by U.S, officials. The only thing that WikiLeaks has accomplished is to put diplomatic communications at risk.

The cables that have come out are consistent with the public view of how it thinks the United States should conduct its diplomatic business. So far, there are no great revelations, no instances of duplicity or wrongdoing in the content of the cables.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange holds himself out to be a champion of transparency, a whistleblower of some sort. But what has he blown the whistle on? Is it wrong for the U.S. to engage in private diplomatic conversations?

Having private dialogue with other countries does not run counter to public interests, it promotes debate. Diplomacy by definition is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states.

Successful diplomacy at times will relies on private, closed door negotiations.

As Secretary of State Clinton stated, protecting sensitive diplomatic communications is important because it identifies conflicts, fights crime, assists human rights defenders, and ensures global economic security.

Transparency for the sake of transparency does not make government more open. In fact, the reaction to Mr. Assange's conduct will likely have adverse consequences. One of the major recommendations of the 9/11 Commission was to loosen the flow of information so that we can fight terrorism more effectively and save lives. However, this increased transparency also had the added consequence of making it easier for information to be leaked.

Unfortunately, in response to WikiLeaks, the Pentagon has increased restrictions on how classified documents will now be handled. The gains that have been made by increased flow of information between departments in our fight against terrorism might be now lost.

By stealing confidential documents, revealing the details of private negotiations and releasing them in the name of transparency, Mr. Assange put diplomacy at risk.

Mr. Assange stated on Tuesday that he thinks Secretary Clinton should resign. That is nonsense. His call for the Secretary's resignation simply demonstrates that Mr. Assange thinks the best defense for his wrongful conduct is to play offense.

Reshma Saujani ran an unsuccessful campaign in the 2010 Democratic primary against Rep. Carolyn Maloney in New York's 14th district, which covers Manhattan and Western Queens. A community activist, attorney for hedge funds and a legal scholar, she is a graduate of the University of Illinois, received her Masters in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and her JD from Yale Law School.

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Comments [4]

Wikileaks Bank Of America

I can't wait til Wikileaks Drop the BoA Documents this year...

Jan. 17 2011 10:00 AM
David ores from Nyc

Why isn't wiki leaks guy protected under whistle blower type laws? Or the person who leaked / revealed the bad behavior....possibly criminal behavior... Why is he not considered a "whistle blower" as defined by Federal law.

Dec. 04 2010 06:18 PM
John Herrera from Mwlville, Long Island

Can't imagine who the leaks were leaked to . Usually one would want to leak what was once secret information to people that would be interested or effected by that leak. I hope the leakers weren't counting on the American public for a reaction. In this country we had a former secretary os state admit he sent over 50,000 young Americans to die in a war he knew we shouldn't be in and couldn't win and America yawned and went back to watching Seinfeld. We had a military officer decide to turn the U.S. into a Central American country and ignore the legislative branch of the government and funnel drug money to the contras, and he was punished by being ordained an 'American Hero' and made a media star. I'd like to go on, but it's time for me to an episode of 'Everybody Loves Raymond' that I've already watched on four prior occasions.

Dec. 03 2010 08:52 PM
Ray Dries from Queens

One of those adolescents that your guest referred to as irresponsibly naive insisted that "Sunlight is the best disinfectant" was Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. Your guests was determined to trivialize that view about how a democracy should work. Given the softball questioning, so typical of Mr. Leher when he obviously shares his neoliberal world view with his guest (calling his guest a liberal is the typical ploy to shift the discourse to the right by rebranding neoliberalism as American liberalism and dismissing anyone to the left of center as irrelevant).

Your guest lacks credibility due to his background as a Clinton NSC staffer. It is as if you asked the defendant on trial "What do you plea?" Is anyone surprised when he says he is innocent. But of course it is not enough to claim that the documents prove that nothing illegal took place but he must trivialize the message and belittle the messenger.

People like your guest believe that they are a part of a governing elite who should be left alone to do their work unobserved by a potentially mettlesome public. They know best how to run the world and the less the working stiffs know what they're up to the better.

Just look at the bang up job they're doing in the middle east. Or those trade agreements with China and India where we send them are jobs and our multi-nationals are allowed to scramble for a share in their markets. No wonder they prefer to work in secret. Everything is fine until someone shines a light on their activities and then they hit the talk show circuit, like the Brian Leher Show to spin, trivialize and defame. Your guest claims that nothing in the documents is news to anyone in the know. But if that is the case why are they all so busy with spinning the story by every conceivable outlet.

Secrecy is like a cancer on the bodypolitic. We see the result of this 'theory of governance.' Posturing politicians, backroom deals, an unholy alliance between corporations and government, self-serving government officials, and widespread cynicism amongst the electorate.

Democracy requires an informed public in order to flourish and a self-governing people need transparency in order to make informed decisions.

Dec. 01 2010 01:38 PM

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