In an age when almost everything we do and possibly much of what we say is quickly made public, even if we thought they were private, why would anyone be surprised at the latest blooming Wikileaks scandal, with many US diplomatic communications (‘cables’) now made public? I wont go onto a session about using electronic devices, though that could easily be part of the conversation. True, many people have no idea that they have individually and collectively surrendered privacy. Pick up your cell phone and your location may be broadcast even without your being aware. So, calls and messages sent can be used to locate you quite precisely. True, the exchange of such information has many possible benefits, as we found for example when earthquake victims could be located under rubble once they had made a call for help. With that type of development, are people in government somehow holding on to an outdated notion about privacy and public access to information?
But, the wikileaks debate or discussion will be and should be about what needs to be put in front of the eyes of the general public. Having long worked for public organizations which prided themselves on their privacy, even secrecy, I think I understand some of the pressure to keep some information away from the public. I also understand that some things are kept away from the public for no very good reason, and that inertia and an inability to really explain or justify what is being done can drive the love for secrecy or confidentiality. Remember, that working for a public organization is supposed to be doing the people’s business, so the line between some and total disclosure could be a hard one to rationalise. Yes, the work that is done may need a certain lack of disclosure during the time that work is active, but then we get to decisions about when disclosure should occur, not whether it should occur.
I believe that only the most naive of public officials will be taken aback by the wikileaks revelations. All should know that unfavourable and unflattering opinions are expressed all the time, not just regarding adversaries, but also regarding so-called associates and friends or allies. It happens too within organizations, and wikileaks would find that people’s hair stood on end if similar disclosures were made about whawt employers said or thought in private about employees or competitors or government officials.
Yes, the US government may feel that it needs to send some messages (no pun) about tolerating the wanton disclosure of information it would rather not have disclosed, so I would not be surprised in the Espionage Act comes into play. But, is that what is needed? Leaks are very much part of government business and it seems a little a*** backward to say that the wikileaks are bad leaks. The US government may be embarrassed and wished that it had not happened, and be miffed that will all the security and surveillance (and pat-downs do not have any impact here) cannot stop those who wish to make mischief. Damage control to save face may be needed: hope the budget is there for that. Maybe the US government will have a good look in the mirror first before it takes its next step. Of course, its next step may be known to us before the government lets us know officiallly. Tweedledee. Tweedledum.