Tomorrow’s Internet law class-our last this semester–will focus on WikiLeaks. (Good luck loading wikileaks.org. The first topic may be “if a website’s URL does resolve to the site’s home page, does the site exist?” Another of the top four Google responses to a search for wikileaks.org also failed to load: http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/. The two sites that loaded, with links to the leaked U.S. diplomatic correspondence, are http://126.96.36.199/ and http://188.8.131.52/cablegate.html.) This week it is hard not to find news stories, blog posts, rants, and raves about WikiLeaks’ dissemination of the diplomatic cables. In no particular order, with no endorsement of their respective stances, and with no representation that these are the best courses of information, here is some of what I’ve read:
- Salon.com, A few questions about the WikiLeaks release (http://www.salon.com/technology/dan_gillmor/2010/11/29/wikileaks_a_few_questions)
- The Washington Post, Anatomy of a Leak (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/nation/wikileaks-anatomy/)
- Federation of American Scientists Secrecy News, WikiLeaks Fails “Due Diligence” Review (http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/2010/06/wikileaks_review.html)
- The Washington Post, WikiLeaks founder could be charged under Espionage Act (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/29/AR2010112905973.html)
- The New York Times, U.S. Weighs Prosecution of WikiLeaks Founder, but Legal Scholars Warn of Steep Hurdles (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/02/world/02legal.html?_r=1&emc=tnt&tntemail0=y)
- WSJ Law Blog, Why WikiLeaks’ Assange Might Elude U.S. Prosecution (http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2010/11/30/why-wikileaks-assange-might-elude-us-prosecution/?mod=djemlawblog_h)
- Time.com Why WikiLeaks is Winning its Info War (http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2035817,00.html) [contains links to all of Time’s coverage of Wikileaks]
- zunguzungu.com Julian Assange and the Computer Conspiracy; “To destroy this invisible government” (http://zunguzungu.wordpress.com/2010/11/29/julian-assange-and-the-computer-conspiracy-%E2%80%9Cto-destroy-this-invisible-government%E2%80%9D/#)
I’ll post more links when I access my laptop at school.
WikiLeaks is a mother lode of discussion topics: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, national security, criminal law, extradition, ethics, Internet culture, network architecture, network security, file-sharing technology, citizen journalism, hacking, the 24-hour news cycle . . . and more, no doubt.
Hypocrisy, for example. WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange’s stated goal for WikiLeaks is to puncture organizations that maintain their authority by conspiring to hide information about their activities. In other words, secrecy–whether practiced by the United States government or sorority Alpha Sigma Tau–is inherently bad, therefore revealing secrets is inherently good. Zunguzungo.com’s* lengthy, reverential exegesis of Assange’s writings favorably characterizes his definition of a conspiracy as “simply any network of associates who act in concert by hiding their concerted association from outsiders, an authority that proceeds by preventing its activities from being visible enough to provoke counter-reaction.” Let’s see–network of associates . . . act in concert . . . hide concerted association . . . prevent visibility to outsiders . . . not accountable to anyone . . . doesn’t that perfectly describe WikiLeaks and its supporters?
Unless the topic is, say, engineering or math, I distrust binary thinking. Reducing complex problems to black-and-white alternatives requires no thought, no analysis, no understanding of human nature, no judgment, no room for growth, no self-doubt, no capacity to listen, no compassion, no heart, no soul, none of what is special about humanity. Assange’s blind faith in transparency makes him just another True Believer whose ego requires imposing his beliefs on the world.
*Which the website defines, apparently, as “harmonization [variant: harm minimization]”**
**To which I reply, wtf?