It’s easy to laugh at Sarah Palin when she hysterically says that those who run Wikileaks should be ‘hunted down’ like the leaders of al-Quaeda and the Taliban. America’s Republicans seem to have a penchant for leaders who are prone to foot-in-mouth disease. Nonetheless the general thrust of her comments were echoed even by the likes of Hillary Clinton who described the latest batch of revelations as an ‘attack on the international community’.
This level of paranoid ranting along with things like the now infamous ‘Twitter Joke Trial’ shows just what a serious and insidious threat the war on terror is too our democracy. The plot has most definitely been lost when there is no difference between causing America grave embarrassment and suicide bombing civilians. What is more worrying is when comrades join in with this paranoid madness like Andy Newman does on Socialist Unity.
The rational kernel in the whirlwind of reaction is that there is plenty that states have to fear from open government and they obviously don’t want their dirty linen washed in public. My response to that is; so what? Nation states are not private individuals who have a right to a certain level of privacy; they are actors on behalf of and should be accountable too the people. The only way to achieve this is truly open government. People who are kept in the dark cannot be expected to hold their governments fully to account and the act of keeping them in the dark atomises them and diminishes their power. Of course, this is what people like Clinton and her ilk want; the last thing they want is for people to be able to think for themselves because it would restrict the free hand representative ‘democracy’ gives them to rise above being representatives to rulers.
Contrary to what people insist it is actually closed governments that kill; not open ones because a blinded population is more vulnerable to attack. Also, governments that feel free from the consequences of their actions are more likely to take questionable routes and yes probably even kill with impunity. The pressure of scrutiny and censure is a healthy one and one that should be welcomed in a democracy. Wikileaks has taken upon itself the responsible redaction of names following a somewhat derelict (and therefore more open criticism) approach to this issue in the first wave of releases so the moral panic created by these releases is totally out of proportion to the reality. Wikileaks should be defended as they perform a valuable democratic service in opening up governments to scrutiny. Its a shame some on the left don’t seem to appreciate the vital role they perform….