Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wikileaks: Promoter of transparent government, or security risk?

Much has been made about the recent release by the whistleblower website Wikileaks, which has lead to some blushed cheeks in both Canada and Britain over possible friendly-fire deaths, which were never reported as such. It also gives the American administration some headaches, and the fact that Wikileaks has over 90,000 pages of sensitive documentation, an end to this doesn't seem to be close.

Before this, I was a supporter of Wikileaks and its raison d'etre, and I thought it had done a lot of good. But with this event, I have some serious questions as to the judgment of the people who run the website.

No doubt a lot of the other things Wikileaks has released are also highly sensitive. But the large volume we've seen with this, and the possibility that high ranking officials handed over these documents, presents a very bad situation for the respective governments involved. It means that, a) there is a big amount of information out there that shouldn't be, and b) this leak could release documents that are pertinent to current and on-going operations, potentially exposing soldiers and civilians to immediate danger.

These are two considerations that, despite your views on government secrecy, are of life-or-death importance. Information is a very powerful weapon in the hands of the wrong people, and while Wikileaks may have good intentions, they could end up costing people their lives. That is a heavy burden for Wikileaks and governments to shoulder. And its possible that Wikileaks may have gone too far with this current release.

Of course, I would never support censoring the site, nor would I support prosecution. But its possible that Wikileaks, and the government, need to reach a deal on how to solve the problems of this magnitude, in order to avoid not only embarrassment, but possible dangers as well.

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