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President Obama has promised transparency, but has largely failed to deliver on that promise.  (Source: Dragonfly Drinks)

Ex-computer criminal and Wikileaks chief, Julian Assange condemns the U.S.'s lack of transparency, yet operates his own site in complete secrecy, the very definition of hypocrisy.  (Source: Wikimedia Commons)
Both organizations showcase a glaring lack transparency and common sense

Our coverage of Wikileaks' landmark release of 90k U.S. military documents, many of them classifed, drew strong reactions -- some supportive, some very critical.  Some could not understand -- how could I criticize Wikileaks, when I had worked so hard to reveal the government's lack of transparency with its ACTA piracy treaty and other issues?  Here's why.

Today we live in an era of cell phones, digital cameras, and internet (and the wonderful smart phone, a device which combines all three).  While expectations of personal privacy remain strong, the explosion of information access has created an atmosphere in which no business or organization can expect to cover up its actions.

That's precisely what both Wikileaks and the U.S. federal government are trying to do, and both need to wake up to reality.

On the one hand you have the U.S. government, who's played the unsavory role of the deceiver.

For all his talk of transparency, President Barack Obama hasn't pushed hard enough for it.  If the U.S. government had published the reports of civilian casualties, problematic allies, and more, Wikileaks would have been out of luck.  It would have had nothing to publish.

The information was going to get out there.  President George W. Bush, President Obama, and their military officials should have realized that.  That much is common sense.  But somehow common sense seemed to be lacking.

The U.S. government can take this as a wakeup call.  If the U.S. is truly to be a "free" nation, it needs to publish full information of its government's activities in all their gory details (no pun intended) to the public.  Otherwise, someone else will.  And that will be pretty embarrassing. 

Granted, there is a clear limit to this.  The U.S. must be careful in what it chooses to release, so as not to release documents that endanger lives of the U.S. or its allies -- such as names of supporters, informants, local contacts, troop numbers, or other dangerous details.  The key here is common sense.  Releasing the names of your supporters in a hostile atmosphere is obviously a bad idea.  Releasing reports on civilian casualties (perhaps with the soldiers' names redacted) is merely taking responsibility for your own actions -- a good idea.

Spending money on transparency is common sense.  Whether you're a Democrat, Republican, or something else, you should be able to get behind the government spending taxpayer money on informing citizens of what exactly it's doing at home and abroad.

If there's one thing worse than a deceiver, it's a hypocritical deceiver.  And that's an apt way to describe Wikileaks.

Site founder and ex-computer criminal Julian Assange has created a news organization the has engaged in a crusade against the U.S., with over 90 percent of its posts being leaked U.S. documents.  For a standard wiki, such bias could be excused as the will of the masses.  However, for a donor-financed private news organization like Wikileaks, that level of bias is unacceptable and utterly destroys the site's credibility.

People asked -- do I believe Wikleaks should go out of the way to get leaks from China, Russia, the EU and other GDP powers other than the U.S.?  I say absolutely, yes!  A legitimate news organization must show a lack of bias, particularly one playing such a sensitive role as Wikileaks.

But aside from the question of bias, there's the even more glaring issue that a site that prides itself on exposing others' secrets tries to operate in complete secrecy.  That's more than a little hypocritic, no?

Wikileaks won't release its donors' identities.  It won't release its detailed spending records.  It won't say whether the "Wikileaks" Twitter and Facebook are official or imposters.  It won't allow public feedback on leaks.  It won't publish explicit details on how its command decisions are made.

Wikileaks needs to adopt a policy of internal transparency immediately.  And it needs to work to remove the bias in its publications.

To summarize, Wikileaks and the U.S. federal government, in the wake of Bradley Manning's arrest have played the role of bickering siblings, flinging mud at each other.  And they don't seem to realize they're both embarassing themselves.  And like most siblings, they're much more alike than they realize.

The U.S. federal government deserves criticism -- not for its Afghanistan operations (which are of debatable merit), but for its lack of transparency.  And Wikileaks deserves criticism for this as well.  Both parties need to wake up and realize that when they condemn each other, they're really looking in the mirror at themselves.

It's the twenty-first century.  You're not fooling anyone.  The public is connected and informed.  Try to conduct yourselves in a manner that respects yourself and others.


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Sorry Mick
By SandmanWN on 7/30/2010 10:45:51 AM , Rating: 5
Releasing military documents about a location you are currently in active combat in is just a straight up a bad move. Wasn't too long ago when these kinds of actions would have you in front of a firing squad.

Personally I think Manning should be deported or jailed if anything released causes harm to any of our troops. If you care so little for your own country, you should leave immediately. GTFO!

While I do expect political transparency and justification for the war, I hold the military to a higher standard of trust. When the war is over I am sure they will release whatever you want, but we are active and this may cost somebody their life so I can make one suggestion... Stuff it Mick.




RE: Sorry Mick
By mattclary on 7/30/2010 12:06:00 PM , Rating: 4
If you aid and abet the enemy, that makes you an enemy. In days of yore, Mr. Manning would have been in some deep doo-doo.


RE: Sorry Mick
By TheOldCodeToad on 7/31/2010 4:33:35 PM , Rating: 4
Right on, Sandman! Governments do have a right, and generally a responsibility, to maintain information from confidential (amazingly your US Tax Return is still rather hard for people to get) to highly secret.

MANNING IS NO HERO. What Spc. Manning did has nothing to do with some kind of personal moral choice. That would be on the order of, say, knowing of a massacre that had been covered-up, or making the choice not to follow an illegal order to shoot prisoners. We entrust and insist that US military and federal agents behave with "general decency." In the end, it's all we can count on, and strangely enough it's a very reliable control.

Manning did the LEAST moral thing. He sold out his brothers-in-arms, his Nation, and betrayed his oath. Personally I'd have him shot - no, hung - in the Navy Yard in DC.

LOW LEVEL STUFF. In my mis-spent youth I wrote, analyzed, summarized, and vetted exactly the kind of raw intelligence material Manning released to Wikileaks. It's generally very low level stuff, akin to civilian police reports. I doubt that any US troops are endangered by the stuff. But...

WANT TO TALK CIVILIAN DEATHS? The pro-Manning people hide behind some moral cover... the big however in saying it was "low level stuff" is that this kind of material would contain names, descriptions, and how to find data on any Afghan who aided US troops. That information would be "in the clear," no code names or other forms of protection. So while you're feeling all warm and fuzzy about doing the moral thing, Mick, KNOW that in the next six months 10 or 20 Afghan and other civilians will turn up with their throats cut, probably including their families.


RE: Sorry Mick
By Hyraxxx on 8/8/2010 7:12:00 PM , Rating: 1
Government has no rights at all. As long as government is not voluntary it is tyranny. And it's 'citizens' are slaves.

You want to talk about morals? Tax is theft. Tax is used to fund US military strikes overseas. How many civilians have to be murdered? How many countries must the US occupy? Do we need Bush back in office to get fair criticism on this "war"?

If the US made you the executioner; If you can get a gun and some time with Manning, and a video camera, would you shoot him? Would you have the guts to pull the trigger? Or do you need to hire someone through taxes and voting to distance yourself from the atrocity?


RE: Sorry Mick
By Reclaimer77 on 7/31/2010 9:45:34 PM , Rating: 4
When Obama said "transparency" I'm pretty sure he was referring to domestic policy. I'm less concerned about what our military is doing at this point and more concerned about why his new "transparent" government is meeting in secret at 3 in the morning and ramming through legislation. I'm more concerned about using cheap tricks like recess appointments, or using Reconciliation to illegally pass health care. THAT is the kind of "transparency" that's REALLY effecting Americans on a daily basis.

For someone who promised transparency, this has been the most secret government in years.


RE: Sorry Mick
By AEvangel on 8/11/2010 6:02:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
While I do expect political transparency and justification for the war, I hold the military to a higher standard of trust.


Yeah, cause they have never lied to us before...Gulf of Tonkin, Iran Contra scandal, WMD and countless other lies they have told to get us involved in conflicts. naive much??

quote:
When the war is over I am sure they will release whatever you want, but we are active and this may cost somebody their life


Yeah, cause we don't need the truth when we are sending people out to kill and be killed...what is the point of having the truth then...better to wait till after they kill hundreds of thousands and spend trillions of our dollars in pointless wars, then we might get the truth.


By majBUZZ on 7/31/2010 7:14:40 PM , Rating: 3
But its a bad idea to let this stuff out to the enemy even if its old news and not operationally important, but sometimes like my link below the truth needs to come out.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Lai_Massacre




Meanwhile, your hero Lame . . .
By mlnorris on 8/2/2010 7:38:22 PM , Rating: 3
http://blogs.forbes.com/firewall/2010/08/01/stealt...

But will you recognize just how mislead you were, Jason?




Come on Jason...
By clovell on 7/30/2010 12:39:04 PM , Rating: 2
Jason, I can appreciate that you're willing to consider points of view that you don't initially agree with, but this seems a bit like a retreat from your original arguments.

> The U.S. government can take this as a wakeup call. If the U.S. is truly to be a "free" nation, it needs to publish full information of its government's activities in all their gory details (no pun intended) to the public. Otherwise, someone else will. And that will be pretty embarrassing.

Yeah - we do that, Jason. Once the danger is passed, we declassify documents like this and release them to the public. Unfortunately, the world in which we live requires discretion as well as valor when promoting ideals like transparency. Let me also say that these documents are hardly embarassing to our country. There's far more to be commended in them than there is to be weary over. Your argument here is far better suited when applied to an example that actually fits. Last, these aren't simply government documents - they're classified military documents in an ongoing conflict.

I know I can't explain to you the difference, and the discretion involved here, but given your last article on this, I think you know it already.

> Spending money on transparency is common sense. Whether you're a Democrat, Republican, or something else, you should be able to get behind the government spending taxpayer money on informing citizens of what exactly it's doing at home and abroad.

Again, discretion. As they say, 'loose lips sink ships'.

I won't quote the rest, but you touch on the track record f Wikileaks, without diving into the apparent bias in this single incident. Wikileaks has been leaking sensitive information for years, and has likely seen far more than it has released. This most recent release of such an orgy of classified material is uncharacteristic of the type of discretion that one would expect from such an organization. Such negligence can only be indicative of either a bias against the security of the ongoing coalition operations or gross incomptence.




Yeah, whatever...
By DEVGRU on 7/30/2010 1:10:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's the twenty-first century. You're not fooling anyone. The public is connected and informed. Try to conduct yourselves in a manner that respects yourself and others.


The public may be connected, but is sure as hell isn't "informed". The two aren't mutually inclusive. If it was, Obama wouldn't have ever been elected into office.

Thats the problem with this country. The left controls the majority of the mass media. And unfortunetly, its citizens read headlines and 'first paragraphs' of any given story and think they're 'informed'. No one takes time to ask questions or tries to find unbiased truth for themselves.




By wompirebat on 8/11/2010 7:48:16 PM , Rating: 2
I am curious of the motives for criticizing a whistleblower organization like Wikileaks.
If the actions of a leviathan government (such as the US) were honorable and good, would there be the necessary interest in the information Wikileaks provides?
Perhaps one could gain a little perspective to consider why it is that both parties do not provide 'transparency' of their operations.

If US “security” forces engage in morally reprehensible behavior, is it really in the interest of federal bureaucrats to provide that information to the electorate?

After witnessing gross violations of natural rights of citizens of sovereign nations, would one be inclined to provide personal information to the aggressor? After witnessing a crime, is it customary to introduce one's self to the criminal and inform him that you are a witness and prepared to inform others of his behavior?

Is Wikileaks biased in providing more information on US military operations than any other country in the world? Consider the US has a larger military budget than almost the entire rest of the world, combined.

Is it the duty of a private organization to provide so called 'transparency' for the services it provides, largely free of charge, compared to a government whose operations are funded by expropriation?

The author believes it is okay to engage in illegal military action, so long as there is sufficient 'transparency.'
quote:
The U.S. federal government deserves criticism -- not for its Afghanistan operations (which are of debatable merit), but for its lack of transparency. And Wikileaks deserves criticism for this as well. Both parties need to wake up and realize that when they condemn each other, they're really looking in the mirror at themselves.
And that anyone who reports on illegal activity is just as evil for not providing personal information about themselves... because, apparently, people have smart phones, and this entitles them to know where you live, your medical history, etc.

http://www.ted.com/talks/julian_assange_why_the_wo...




Totally Wrong
By mindless1 on 8/13/2010 12:01:52 PM , Rating: 2
The key thing to remember is this is not some novel idea, this is life or death for many people.

It's not about releasing info, it is about WHEN you release it so you don't compromise people or operations.

For example, if I knew someone was trying to kill you and I didn't want you dead, I would not feel compelled to tell them you were at Walmart - until you had left walmart at the very least.




Used Volvo Cars
By amitverma24 on 7/30/10, Rating: -1
RE: Used Volvo Cars
By FaceMaster on 8/7/2010 7:08:01 PM , Rating: 1
Honestly... does anybody REALLY fool for things like this?


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