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Wikileaks: a fine new institution worth defending

by on 26 Oct, 2010

Wikileaks, the website devoted to leaking what the authorities don’t want us to know, faces two problems.

It has internal problems to solve and it is being criticised for its revelations.  These revelations possibly put people in Afghanistan and Iraq in danger.  It has moved its operations to Sweden with its more liberal press laws to guard itself.

Wikileaks follows my principle: only those who act on information are to blame – not those who reveal it.

Years ago, I revealed a company was in financial problems.  Its suppliers stopped supplying.  It was near to Christmas and the company had to close.  The owner phoned me and asked: “How does it feel to put so many people out of a job just before Christmas?”  “Not my problem,” I told him, “you ran the company into that condition.”

Don’t blame the revealer for what others do with the information

That’s still my attitude.  Don’t blame me as a journalist for what others do with the information.  After all, both Wikileaks and I revealed what was known only to some to many others.  What the others did with that knowledge was their responsibility.

This is a strong line to take in times of war.  We are told we were at war in Iraq and are at war in Afghanistan and should curb our instincts for revelation.   In other words: don’t tell the public the real details.

My concerns about Wikileaks are that internal strife will stop its other efforts to reveal other issues.  And that the Iraq and Afghanistan leaks will dominate its work.  There is a lot more to be revealed in the corporate sector which is probably on the back burner as a result.

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