Journalism is not an Attack, Wikileaks is not Warfare

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on Firedoglake or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

Wikileaks is under attack!

Journalists and politicians are calling for the criminalization of Wikileaks, or worse, the assassination of its members. The US government is coercing companies into blocking access to Wikileaks, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is normally very strong on internet freedom, has been forced to “evolve” her positions.

If you’re a supporter of Wikileaks, or even a relatively dispassionate observer, you likely find these actions to be offensive, or even downright criminal. How dare the US move so arrogantly, so aggressively, against Wikileaks for what seems to be nothing more than the second coming of the Pentagon Papers? We believe in free speech, in transparency and accountability for our government. It’s outrageous that Washington would move so decisively to crush a project like Wikileaks.

But are Wikileaks’ supporters actually feeding this response from the government? In our rush to rationalize and defend Wikileaks and their actions, have we inadvertently opened the door to attacks by the US government?

The answer can be found in how we’ve chosen to frame the debate so far. Continue reading “Journalism is not an Attack, Wikileaks is not Warfare”

WikiLeaks: Legitimacy of power directly proportionate to its transparency

“Cablegate” actually works in America’s favor and its rollout quite possibly may have been sanctioned by pro-US interests, says Byron DeLear. He also finds cause for optimism, given the huge reach of the internet and the inability of governments (as yet) to control it or the information flowing through it.

Open societies (the West) will ultimately benefit from open-source government. Yes there is corruption in the Empire that needs to be rooted out, the folly of endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the unholy tryst twixt Washington & Wallstreet—but foreign nations lead by strongman thugs, monarchies, theocrats, narco-neocommunists, will never thrive under sunshine. The West possesses the cultural infrastructure to best metabolize this new “sunshine paradigm” and morph itself into a productive vessel for peer-to-peer democracy. The celebration of knowledge, human ingenuity—not to mention the DoD—have made it possible for billions of people all around the world to be connected with one another, making all this disinfectant (WikiLeaks) possible.

Let’s hope so (and it’s not just the West that can make this happen either.) But serious forces exist that do not want the internet open. Given its distributed structure and that it is vital for business, government, and commerce as well as for activism, it would be difficult but not impossible to strangle it.

So, while I hope what DeLear envisions happens, I think we’re in for some tumultuous and perhaps dark times first. John Perry Barlow nailed it.