Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wicked Leaks


After exposing war logs from the US campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past, Julian Assange, an Australian internet activist and founder of the whistleblower Wikileaks, has recently exposed 250,000 diplomatic cables from 274 embassies, including 1,796 in Manila. Malacanang is said to be "disturbed" by the leakage. All made possible by Assange's supreme hacking ability.

And now, he must be on the run. He's on the most-wanted list of Interpol for allegedly raping a Swedish woman (he claims it was consensual; probably motivated by government backlash?). US Secretary of State H. Clinton is bending over backwards for damage control, trying to "plug the leaks". Ecuador's President retracted an earlier offer to him for a safe haven. wikileaks.org says their site has been under massive cyber-attack. And now, some sectors, from vocal news commentators to radical rightists, call for his assassination.

Personally, I'm still debating whether Wikileaks is doing the public a favor, or actually posing a security risk. Yes, there should be integrity in intelligence. One can now see what's happening behind the scenes in US foreign policy. As famously phrased by the X-Files, "The truth is out there." Was the government too secretive? Maybe. But cynicism can only go so much. What if you're transparent while your adversaries, like rogue states and terrorists, deal secretly and have the advantage of knowing all info about you? There is also an issue on privacy of communication and correspondence, a well-entrenched fundamental human right which diplomats and military servicemen are also entitled to.

As the debate goes on, leaks as they do will continue to shake the foundations of government policy and intelligence measures. At the end of the day, the issue whether Mr. Assange is hero or terrorist remains. What lies ahead, how governments affected deal with a cunning computer wizard with a radical cause using the internet as forum--that will be interesting.

Richmund Sta. Lucia, Post # 3

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Below is a sampler of Wikileaks's previously unreleased footage on the Iraqi war (an incident which claimed the lives of two Reuters journalists among other civilians, and wounded two children):

video

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