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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-10 01:29 PM
Original message
The reaction to Wikileaks speaks to a failure of accountability
Edited on Mon Nov-29-10 02:03 PM by GliderGuider
I've been watching the DU reactions to the latest round of leaks. They range from, "Government secrecy is essential and anyone who breaches it is a traitor," to a quasi-anarchist sentiment of, "Tear down the walls, let all information flow." Both positions seem unreasonable in their extremism, and of course most opinions fall somewhere in between. There are legitimate reasons to keep some things secret, and many have expressed some discomfort with the (potentially) indiscriminate nature of the leaking. It feels a bit like using a 20 pound sledge hammer to break the hinges off Pandora's box.

So why is there such a widespread sentiment that, "They had it coming"?

Essentially it's because most of us have lost faith. We have lost faith in the integrity, honesty and accountability of government. We have lost faith in the promise that the US government is "of the people, by the people and for the people."

As a result, many of us view Wikileaks as a proxy for accountability. It's a rough process for sure, and it risks exposing things that "need" to stay secret along with the things that need to be exposed to the light of day. Like our justice system, this feeling has at its core the idea that "It's better for a guilty man to go free than for an innocent man to be imprisoned." In other words, it's better that crucial secrets be revealed than for the government to be allowed rule by fiat, with untrammeled impunity and without recourse.

Those on the pro-secrecy end of the spectrum say that the secrets that are being kept are so crucial that the lack of accountability is insignificant. Those on the other "anarchist" end of the spectrum feel that the lack of accountability that permits the government to erode civil rights and pursue a unilateral agenda towards the rest of the world is anathema in a society of free and equal moral agents.

As I said, most of us fall somewhere in between. I tend to be more towards the anarchist end of the spectrum, but even I acknowledge that there are some secrets that need and deserve to be kept, not just from the citizens but from other actors on the world stage. I also recognize that in a representative democracy we hand over many of our decision-making powers along with our ballots.

So, I'm conflicted. I suspect that most of us who are somewhere in the middle have such conflicts of conscience, leaving the unconflicted ends of the spectrum to those whose world-view is black or white.

How do citizens restore accountability and trust to a governing system that has lost it?
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AndrewP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-10 01:31 PM
Response to Original message
1. That's where I am on this as well. Interested but leery
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droidamus2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-10 01:41 PM
Response to Original message
2. Agree sort of
I agree that there are is probably information that truly needs to be kept secret. On the other hand I think our government has reached the point of saying 'keep as much secret as you can get away with'. The one plus to these leaks is as a notice to the government that says 'you have gone overboard with this 'top secret' stuff and if you aren't willing to examine what you are doing and fix it by being more forthcoming then you can expect more uncontrolled leaks in the future'. There is no reason for those in government to change the way they do things unless there are consequences and being exposed as the liars they are is a big consequence (or at least I hope it is).
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-10 01:46 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. There are two possible responses by the government to this situation.
One is to improve accountability.
One is to improve secrecy.

Which path will they choose?
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-10 02:29 PM
Response to Reply #4
12. They will chose secrecy, of course.
What does that mean to you? To me it means simply another round in the continuing struggle/negotiation with government. It never really ends. And it's much more difficult to create and sustain secrecy any more.
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Angry Dragon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-10 01:42 PM
Response to Original message
3. When you hide everything
people start questioning.
The officials would be better off telling us everything they can
and the people would be more likely to let them have their secrets
that were really for national security
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xchrom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-10 01:47 PM
Response to Original message
5. The options that the people have to even find out
The reprehensible behavior of their government come
Far and few between.

We the people have a responsibility both to know
These gritty facts and to hold our government
Responsible.

And as pointed out by the BBC - the media doesn't owe it
To the powerful to make them comfortable.
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EFerrari Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-10 01:48 PM
Response to Original message
6. If the branches of government fail their oversight roles while
insisting on surveilling us in every possible way up to and including groping us genitally, they shouldn't be too surprised to find that their own erosion of the concept "privacy" blows back on them.
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JDPriestly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-10 02:02 PM
Response to Original message
7. Thanks to the Wikileaks, I have concluded that much of what
we call "diplomacy" is a waste of time and money. I think I know where our government could cut its budget without anyone going hungry.
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Vincardog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-10 02:10 PM
Response to Original message
8. I think the "State Secret' fig leaf is a mighty small shield being used to hide HUGE amounts of
Edited on Mon Nov-29-10 02:12 PM by Vincardog

Criminality and Corruption



I for one am willing to suffer the danger of having our "Betters" exposed on the world stage.
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jeff47 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-10 03:06 PM
Response to Reply #8
13. Perhaps you could identify an instance of Criminality or Corruption
committed by the US that was revealed by Wikileaks?

So far, everything I've seen has been done by other nations, or was revealed in the press years ago.
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Vincardog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-10 03:15 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. I was addressing the 'States Secrets' canard. Did you see the leak where the USA pressured Germany
to drop the indictments of 13 CIA agents for their roles in the illegal Rendition and torture of the German Citizen?
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jeff47 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-10 04:43 PM
Response to Reply #14
17. Did you miss where that was reported years ago? (nt)
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cascadiance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-10 02:11 PM
Response to Original message
9. When the Bush administration sought to subvert the weak FISA Court walls, trust DIED that day!
When even friendly to the administration courts (the FISA court who was headed by the judge that let Microsoft go the week before the first midterm elections of the Bush administration (Kollar-Kotelly)) "had to be worked around" for the Bush administration to pursue their warrantless wiretapping, etc. amongst other things, the people had every reason to WANT whistleblowers to burst through the normal walls of protection and expose the wrongdoing that was going on.

That's the problem when you have a system that becomes dysfunctional when those at the top are corrupt and try to use it for their own ends, and not what these agencies, etc. have been set up for. In order to fix the problem, you have to bring down their secrecy to do so.

YES, that does put us all more at risk when some of those secrets come out, but what is MORE damaging is to let that corruption and misuse of secrecy grow in scope and power that becomes far more dangerous unchecked to all of us than some of these leaks coming out). It has been noted that even Assange has held back some of these documents he has access to to focus on those that expose wrongdoing than those that might just damage our intelligence infrastructure.

Those that are in charge that are misusing their power, should not only be held accountable for their misdeeds in abusing the system, but should also be held accountable for the damage that those that are risking a lot to expose their misdeeds may in fact trigger in order to expose them.

As noted by so many others here. It is one thing to subvert our intelligence processes, expose parts of them for personal selfish agendas that reward only those that are engaged in criminal and treasonous behavior for their own rewards. It's entirely different to expose the wrongdoing of those with even potentially damaging information if the intent is to help FIX our system and get the wrongdoers out of their positions of power that has lead to the damage they've inflicted on us.
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nadinbrzezinski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-10 02:22 PM
Response to Original message
10. Government is screeching usual warnings
Things will go on...and for a change you get to see this in real time...not in thirty years.
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-10 02:27 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. I know. I'm thoroughly enjoying that part of it. nt
Edited on Mon Nov-29-10 02:27 PM by GliderGuider
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coalition_unwilling Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-10 03:22 PM
Response to Original message
15. Awesome post. Thanks. I too lean toward the anarchist end of the
spectrum -- to the 'leak it all and let the chips fall where they may' side of the spectrum. And, upon reflection, I do this b/c any time an administration official says the leaks are treasonous or will bring on armageddon, I am reminded that Bush and Cheney got away with the supreme international crime -- waging aggressive war -- and no one in power did anything about it.

I do not think there is any easy answer to the question with which you close your post. It may be too late to restore accountability and trust and now a revolution is needed to rebuild from the ground up.
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SayitAintSo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-10 03:29 PM
Response to Original message
16. So this is treasonous and outing Plame wasn't ? n/t
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-29-10 04:52 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. Not at all.
Outing Plame was definitely treason. This? Not so much.
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