Secrets Do Not Keep You Safe

Posted on Dec 08, 2010

By now you have probably read or heard about what is being called the, “cable gate,” scandal. A recent deluge of updates from the Wikileaks site has supporters and detractors embroiled in bitter debate over the moral, social, and legal implications of the release of thousands of secret government cables. The heart of the debate is whether they had any right to do so as many claim Wikileaks has put many innocent lives at risk.

A recent post`by computer industry veteran, Simon Phipps decries Wikileaks for their release of the cables while grudgingly accepting the need to defend the action. It appears that Mr. Phipps believes that Wikileaks has given cause for regulators to go ahead with legislation and technology that will squelch free speech on the Internet. I wouldn’t give them so much credit. In fact I would probably hand the prize to China and its rather successful campaign against online dissenters and whistle-blowers. However, it seems that even with an agenda as well funded and developed as China’s, “Great Firewall,” the technology behind the Internet has still allowed a great many dissenters and radicals to leak supposedly secret information to the public. Which is all just a long way of saying that Mr. Phipps doesn’t agree with what Wikileaks his done, but I suppose he’ll defend their right to do it.

Other commentators have been more hostile. Rep. Peter King thinks Wikileaks is a foreign terrorist organization. Some, such as Stephen Ward are simply skeptical. Yet in any case, I think Julian Assange has made his position rather clear in his many interviews.

My only question to critics is, when have secrets made you feel safe? I don’t think I feel any safer not knowing that there were two hundred and seventeen cases of UN peace keepers being accused of rape in Eastern Congo. Nor do I feel any better not knowing that US soldiers were specifically ordered to ignore any case of torture in Iraq. Granted, knowing these things doesn’t make me feel any better but I do feel that my position in the world is just that much stronger for at least knowing the truth of things.

In my world secrets are only valuable to liars. I only withhold information if I feel there is something to gain by manipulating a relationship in such a way as to be dishonest. If that’s how politics work, I think Wikileaks is doing the world a bloody favor. Reading this saga unfold has been like watching a family gather for xmas dinner where I know about everyone’s dirty laundry. You might even say it is a bit of a sit-com that way. However, unlike TV this is the reality we live in. I only hope that in the end we see the truth for what it is and learn to accept it. Secrets don’t make anyone safe. They just benefit those who keep them.