Friday, December 31, 2010

What wikileaks has shown us

Julian Assange, the man brave enough to be the public face of

The unfolding Wikileaks story has been fascinating to watch, not so much for the 'secrets' which it revealed in the recent batch of leaked documents but in the other things its shown or confirmed to us:

(1) When the establishment wish to undermine a man they will try to attack his 'sexual reputation'. I suspect a similar tactic has been employed, in an even more disgusting way, with the case of Gareth Williams (ie the speculation around his sexuality and the way such speculations were then used in the press to deflect from the possibility that he had been murdered.)

(2) Equally, its confirmed - rather depressingly - how the public interest, or at least the interest of the media, is more easily captured and held by personal speculations about one man, than about vast potential injustices, such as misconduct by governments and the military. The public is willing to overlook deaths of thousands of innocent civilians in favour of lurid tittle-tattle about one man's sex life.

(3) Vast amounts of sensitive American diplomatic communication are insecurely available to thousands who have access to a particular intranet.

(4) Various huge companies like Amazon, Mastercard and Paypal will bend to the wishes of the US Government.

(5) The web group 'Anonymous' demonstrated that large numbers of disaffected techno-savy boys and men (I think its safe to say that they have a majority male composition) are able to co-ordinate to attack powerful groups when they feel it necessary. This, perhaps, hints at future struggles for Internet freedom between the class of techno-savy ordinary men around the world, and governments and multi-national corporations.

All of which is not to say that I have unreserved support for Wikileaks. I wonder whether they should perhaps stick to exposing true injustice, as opposed to also publishing a wider range of diplomatic 'gossip' type material, which, through embarrassing governments like the US may have the unintended consequence of creating even more secretive and draconian governments. Equally, I feel a lot of sympathy for Bradley Manning, the 23 year old who is alleged to have leaked the latest documents and who has been held in solitary confinement for weeks and weeks, facing, effectively, a possible life imprisonment if found guilty.

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