Wikileaks and it’s figure head, Julian Assange, have been quite topical lately. Wikileaks has been working it’s way through a mother lode of leaked US documents (251,287 apparently) and slowly publishing the results. They say they have circulated an encrypted form of the documents to 100,000 people and will release the key to decrypt the documents if Wikileaks slow release of the documents is interfered with. The entire episode is upsetting a lot of people.
“Why was he not pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders?” – Sarah Palin – former governor of Alaska
“Julian Assange Should Be Assassinated” – Tom Flanagan – Former Adviser To Canadian Prime Minister
Whilst many of the documents are classified as “confidential” and many as “secret” apparently none are in the “top secret” category. What has been aired to date seems to be merely “embarrassing” rather than highly revealing or seriously damaging. The most damning revelation is probably what the leak shows regarding weaknesses in US document security.
Some claim that this event will having a chilling effect on dialogue between US embassies and sources of information. Others seem to view this as an important insight into secretive government. It evokes references to the first amendment.
My own view is summed up reasonably well by surprisingly sensible statements made today by two former Australian Prime Ministers:-
“To publish some cables containing commentary about political figures, while it’s very uncomfortable for the diplomat involved … and uncomfortable to the subject, you can’t expect a journalist to hold back on something like that,” Mr Howard told ABC Radio in Darwin on Wednesday.
“I’m sure things had been said about me.
“It’s embarrassing when it happens but … you can’t condemn the media for running this stuff.”
“Mr Assange is not himself responsible for the unauthorised release of 250,000 documents from the US diplomatic communications network,” said Mr Rudd, who has been criticised in one leaked cable as a “control freak”.
“The Americans are responsible for that.”