What would I’ve done in Assange’s place?

December 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Picture of Julian Assange during a talk at 26C3

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I recently wonder what I would have done, had I been in Assange’s place.

I mean, there can really be no question, exposing war crimes, torture, the various scandals of lying and deceiving officials and politicians, all that’s quite obviously a necessary and important function of a free press and media. And if the traditional media doesn’t carry out its natural task, because they are no longer independent, such as the propaganda brigades of Rupert Murdoch, or fear repraisals from their respective governments or pressure groups, such as the rabid US Tea Party movement, then this function has to be fulfilled by other, less conventional publications. The net, and here especially wikileaks, is a most important tool in defending public speach and freedom of information against the interests of those who want to keep a firm lid on their own failures and crimes. Exposing these is in my opinion in our best interests and should be applauded.

Then there is this recent wikileaks initiative that put a great deal of US diplomat gossip into the open. Frankly, I couldn’t care less what some pretentious, bored and constipation suffering McDonald’s athlete in the US State Department thinks of Cammeron and Clegg. If Berlusconi is considered a lecher and Merkel a retard; if they think they can trick us into following them in another stupid war, or have to force us with whatever lever they let their CIA find for them, all this is not really a surprise and no thinking adult could claim to be shocked by such revelations. Most of it is even quite funny. In a SARS-kind-of way.

Other details in wikileak’s most recent scoop are more serious and decidedly less entertaining. Some of the material uncovers real people and puts them and their relatives and friends in very real danger for their health and lives. This is something that must be looked at and avoided at all costs. It cannot be justified to inform the public about anything at the cost of endangering part of this public, however small that part may be. I don’t care who the people endangered by these reports are, it’s absolutely a no-go to publish without first assessing the potential risk and getting their names from the material.

The diplomats concerned in Britain, Europe, the US and other countries merely will suffer a little dent in their precious careers. The poor bastards in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iraq might suffer a smashed skull. Not exactly a fair deal, is it?

For example, if the material given to wikileaks was potentially risking a major “military dispute” (i.e. war) between two or more countries, would we then think, it was still justified to publish it? And if that “military dispute” was to potentially happen in Europe? Or between Europe and the US? Most probably not.

Ok, this is a very hypothetical question, far from our political reality. At the moment. Just wait two years and let another, potentially most radical political streaming take over in the US and the prospect maybe doesn’t seem so fantastical any more.

What I mean is, the publishing of the wikileaks material basically is the right thing under a given set of circumstances. But it cannot be published whithout any kind of editing and adaption whatsoever. Editorial and redactional preperation of such material is essential to protect firstly wikileak’s own sources and secondly parties who might face leathal danger by the publishing.

Just my two pennies.

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