Staff Editorial

Andrew Fergin

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WikiLeaks, for those who are not in the know, is a website that has gained immense notoriety recently for making thousands of American military documents public, both in video and textual format.

More recently, WikiLeaks released thousands of diplomatic cable letters detailing exchanges between American diplomats and representatives of various nations.

With that background in mind now, contemplate the present situation. The Obama administration has gone so far as to compare these information leaks to acts of terrorism. In reality, these leaks are the opposite; if information is truly power, then the information WikiLeaks has handed the American people is among the greatest boons they have received in a very long time.

To start, the Obama Administration has claimed that in its most recent information leak (that of the diplomatic cable letters) WikiLeaks jeopardized America’s relationship with the international community. Ignoring the irony that the administration which once boasted being among the most transparent in American history is now condemning WikiLeaks for making said administration even more transparent, the reality is that the leak of the diplomatic cables if anything poses and opportunity for America to strengthen its standing in the international community by enlightening its people as to the intricacies of modern diplomacy.

The American people for the first time can take a raw look at the diplomatic process stripped of any media bias. Cables regarding efforts to relieve Pakistan of a large quantity of enriched Uranium for example, show the American populace just how complicated dealing with unstable nations can really be.

The war documents that WikiLeaks released were similarly empowering. They revealed a number of human rights violations including denying specified prisoners in Guantanamo Bay access to Red Cross aid, an act that the United States military had previously denied ever engaging in.

Another highly influential document that WikiLeaks revealed was a video of an American Military Helicopter team in Iraq killing civilians. The jaunty casualness of the soldiers in the video as the killed enemy combatants in the video (titled “Collateral Murder”) exposed first hand the sociopathic tendencies that war can inflict on the mind of a soldier. While not pleasant to watch, for many people the video was sobering and revealed a real psychiatric problem that needed, and still needs, to be addressed.

The State Department has claimed that poor name redaction in the documents WikiLeaks has exposed put primary military and espionage units at risk. Yet, it seems we have seen this situation before. Near the end of the Vietnam War, journalist Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers to major news outlets revealing an exorbitant amount of deception committed against the American people their government.

The result was dwindling public support for continuation of the war, which ended shortly after, not an increase in death toll.

Even in the short term, if operatives are in fact in danger because of the documents WikiLeaks has released it is the fault of the State Department’s lack of willingness to work with WikiLeaks to ensure safe exposure of information.

In response to criticism regarding poor name redaction, or blanking, in some documents, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange noted that WikiLeaks “formally asked the State Department for assistance with that. That request was formally rejected.”

If the real concern was ensuring the safety of the people in the documents then it seems that the State Department should have had no reason to decline WikiLeaks request for assistance.

Transparency leads to a more open government. What is a more open government? A more open government is when the people of the nation have an idea of what is actually transpiring and can pass their own personal judgments on how the current government is conducting itself.

If a government is not transparent, then the people are not truly the ones in control; they merely are tools for selecting the ones who will actually be in control.

In this manner WikiLeaks should be lauded as champions of the American people, for they have done exactly that.

In giving the American people these documents, WikiLeaks has granted the people transparency in its most raw form, and in doing so has given a great deal of power and responsibility back to the American people.