Skip to comments.WikiLeaks and the trouble with transparency
Posted on 12/07/2010 10:33:53 AM PST by tricksy
The first WikiLeaks moment occurred on Jan. 17, 1998. It was then that Matt Drudge reported that Bill Clinton had had an affair with a White House intern. The story, though, was not Drudge's. It was Michael Isikoff's. His employer, Newsweek, had delayed publication. Drudge went with it - which is to say that he reported that Newsweek had the story. It took another four days for the so-called mainstream media to catch up - a story in The Post confirmed it all. How late! How pitiful!...
What the Clinton scandal and the WikiLeaks disclosures have in common is a sad collapse of the mainstream media's gatekeeper role. Newsweek presumably had good reasons to postpone publication of Isikoff's story - reasons that Drudge did not share. The Times had good cause to parse the WikiLeaks cache - lives could be in danger - but Assange launched them into cyberspace anyway, not caring if American interests were damaged....
The WikiLeaks brouhaha will pass. Diplomats will once again be indiscreet at cocktail parties and rat out one another in the same way some people marry repeatedly, each time forever. The only thing worse than indiscretion is efforts to punish the miscreants by eroding the core constitutional right to publish all but the most obvious and blatant national security secrets. The government has to get better at keeping secrets. Muzzle the leakers -- but not the press.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
“It was then that Matt Drudge reported that Bill Clinton had had an affair with a White House intern. “
I didn’t realize this was classified information. What an imbecile!
Newsweek SPIKED the story for political reasons. That was Drudge's story.
What do you expect from somebody who looks like this, on purpose?
Right now, the new media are honking louder.
And the Pentagon Papers weren’t the first wikileaks moment?
And moral equivalency?
There is information that could endanger individual lives: moles in the mafia, moles in Al Kaeda, moles in the local street gang.
There is information that could endanger groups of people: How to build a nuclear bomb, how to grow and spread cholera, typhoid, anthrax, etc.
There is information that could embarass individuals and groups. The Saudi King is a two faced hypocrite and a whore to boot. Well, that description applies to most world leaders. No need to pick on the Saudi.
There is information that could embarass nobody but could weaken the argument for or against a certain ideology or policy, or certain special interests. For example, suppose there is information that the threat of harm from global warming, or of Al Kaeda, or of X is not nearly as bad as the threat from demon rum or promiscuous sex.
For each category of information where do we draw the line on transparency? Who should draw the line? And who should decide if that line is crossed or not? And what should we do if someone does cross the line?