I’m going to spew a couple of cliches and some thoughts now. I’d like you to read them in context of Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, and his project, the documents being published and the public reading it.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Keep your friends close and enemies closer.
Who gate-keeps the gatekeeper?
Let me state upfront that I am in support of WikiLeaks and Assange. I think he is fast become a world wide target for governments and private entities and he needs to be protected and WikiLeaks needs to be secured.
I must also state however, that I am a journalist by trade. I have studied media theory, media law, media ethics and many, many more subjects around media and journalism. Assange is now in the business of media and publishing and has dabbled in media practices in the past (He ran an activist magazine when he was a kid) but he is, by trade, a programmer. This is scary to me. It’s scary to me that he is skilled and well-versed in technology platforms, that he is well-connected and that he is being sent some of the most sensitive information the world has every seen. Let me reiterate: Absolute power corrupts absolutely. What makes Assange different? He is no saint (I don’t even believe that saints are saints). There is no such thing as altruism, so what’s in this for Assange?
What does Assange get out of doing what he is doing? Everyone does something for a reason. There’s no such thing as a free lunch so who’s paying for Assange’s lunch? Who’s paying Assange NOT to publish their sensitive documents? What happens when Assange is bumped in to walking down the street and he launches an all out information war on the person who bumped in to him?
How much does the public really know? As well protected as WikiLeaks is, is not perhaps too open and therefore hiding something in plain sight?
I am not a conspiracy theorist but I am 100% certain that human beings are corruptible, are fallible and the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. How can we possibly put so much faith in to one human being and trust him with all of this information? I know that there is much information being published by WikiLeaks that is open to the public, but for every document being published I am sure there are thousands and thousands that are being sifted through, stored and held in the back just in case they are needed further down the line.
Again, I have to reiterate here that I am in complete support of what has been done so far by Assange and WikiLeaks but we have to be sure, as a people, not be swept up in the moment and maintain our role as public gatekeepers. Just because WikiLeaks is publishing it does not make it 100% fact, does not give anything context or relevance and does not mean that the source is reliable.
What I am calling for, I think, is a sense of ownership of information, judgement and opinion. Have your own opinion and research it, inform yourself and spread the knowledge you gain.