Friday, December 3, 2010

The Cost of Being Kept in the Dark

WikiLeaks is revealing more than just bitchy diplomats and uncomfortable negotiations. There is also information about the how our government is treating innocent people who have been kidnapped and tortured in the war on terror. Egregious wrongs have been brought to light providing evidence supporting the claims of victims.

http://www.boingboing.net/2010/12/01/wikileaks-and-the-el.html

http://harpers.org/archive/2010/11/hbc-90007831

Making civilians disappear with dubious legal rationale is not the kind of behavior I expect out of my government, regardless of where in the world this is happening. You know what we call other groups who do that sort of thing to our private citizens? Terrorists. That kind of action is not morally defensible and if this must be the cost of doing business, then perhaps we ought to get into a different line of work.

Even if we still occupy a position on the moral scale somewhere north of Al-Qaeda, that is not good enough and sets the bar way too low. I don't expect perfection either, but when mistakes are made they must be admitted to and a heartfelt apology must be made. Then there must be accountability and investigations into the procedures and policies that got us into the mess. This is how we ought to preserve our high ideals and to do so it is essential that we citizens be informed, by the press if our government won't do it voluntarily.

Yet we have not been kept informed. The traditional press in America has been too obedient to the government, happily feeding on whatever Washington tells them so they can regurgitate it up for us. Reporters are supposed to investigate, stick their noses into what the government is up to, discover things, find whistle blowers, and then tell us so that we can make informed decisions hopefully producing an ethical government we can be proud to have represent us. The press is our advocate and the natural adversary of a government keeping secrets from its citizens or rather it ought to be.

Instead we have WikiLeaks and its editor, Julian Assange. A man who might very well be an asshole. I don't care about that beyond basic curiosity. The value of WikiLeaks is not in the character of its founder. It is in the information leaked. It is in the destruction of delusions upheld through secrets kept from us. It is in the uncomfortable truths revealed that should outrage us and foster change in how we want our government to conduct itself.

I am no friend of Islam, radical Islam, or Al-Qaeda. I do believe that Islamic terrorism should be opposed. I've no desire to help them in their war on Western civilization. But I care deeply about how we go about opposing the terrorists. The ends do not justify the means, especially if we trample our own freedoms and the freedoms of other innocents in our quest to protect our... freedoms.

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