Shortlog - a log of everyday things



I've been following the news coverage on Wikileaks with a good deal of interest over the past few days, and I think it's an important thing to re-share with the world. If you somehow haven't heard what's going on: a few days ago, WikiLeaks released a few hundred US embassy cables from a collection of over 200 thousand cables to various media outlets. They give a very detailed, transparent view of the state of government corruption the world over.

An article from Forbes (and the associated interview) pretty solidly explains the ideas behind WikiLeaks. The most important quote, in my opinion (ahh, I need to implement quote blocks for my blog ahhh):

Julian Assange: "[Wikileaks] just means that it's easier for honest CEOs to run an honest business, if the dishonest businesses are more effected(sic) negatively by leaks than honest businesses. That's the whole idea. In the struggle between open and honest companies and dishonest and closed companies, we're creating a tremendous reputational tax on the unethical companies."

The same is true of government, but at a larger scale. I completely believe that a government should fear its people, rather than its people fearing the government. The fact is that people are much more vulnerable to temptations when they're free from oversight than when they're held accountable for their actions. When you're employed by the public, you should be accountable to the public, and secrecy in government tempts civil servants to take actions that wouldn't fly if everyone knew what was going on. Obviously, most government heads are against this, since it reduces their personal freedoms to what they should have been when they became civil servants. This opinion piece pretty accurately summarize why I support the mission of Wikileaks.

As a result, I am appalled by many of the public statements made against Assange and Wikileaks. For instance:

If you have differing opinions, I'd love to hear why. Which means I really ought to implement some form of comments on my blog. Sadly, that won't happen for at least another week; it's project crunch time at Berkeley.

Oh, here's a link to the Guardian's reposting of the leaked cables, if you'd like to read them at length.

Sarah sends in this article with contrasting views on the motivations behind secrets and lies, as they pertain to Wikileaks. "In place of candid assessments and provocative analysis, many important decisions will now be based on oral briefings and meetings that are not recorded in minutes. Decision-makers will be wary of openness even with their closest staff." Perhaps, but secret undocumented conversations have always been the norm. Such a change just means that said corruption is harder to orchestrate in today's quick-moving world of internet communication - passing around the message of the details of the unsavory deeds to be done is now more difficult for those that would do so. This comes across to me as a good thing - it turns an evil government into a slower-moving government, unable to keep up with the transparent, honest one.