Monday, November 29, 2010

I see no excuse for this

There was a time when the leaking of secret government information served a useful and even noble purpose. I'm thinking in particular of the leaking of the Pentagon Papers by Daniel Ellsberg, the purpose of which was to inform and educate the American people about what the government was doing in their name. It was to expose wrong-doing in the hopes that the people would put a stop to it.

The event did have an effect on public opinion in those days. People were appalled that they had been so grossly lied to by their government and it helped to turn public opinion against the Vietnam War. That was back in the days of our innocence when we still were capable of being appalled.

But frankly, in my opinion, Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks guy, is no Daniel Ellsberg, and no higher purpose is being served by his organization's incessant leaking of confidential information. The only goal seems to be the greater notoriety of WikiLeaks and the greater glorification (in certain quarters) of Julian Assange.

There is no governmental wrong-doing being exposed, only private exchanges of information between diplomats and government officials. If these diplomats now come to the conclusion that nothing that they say in private can be held in confidence, how does that advance the cause of peace and international justice in the world?

It seems to me that WikiLeaks is leaking only because it can, and I learned long, long ago that doing something just because you can is not a good reason for it. It is the adolescent excuse for failing to exercise self-control and refusing to think through the consequences of one's actions. It is not a valid excuse and I cannot see any good coming from WikiLeaks' self-indulgent behavior.

If the rest of the world were grown up enough to simply ignore this adolescent acting out, then it would probably soon stop. Since the world isn't that grown up, I expect we will be treated to a veritable tsunami of WikiLeaking in coming months.

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