If you haven’t heard about, read or watched something on television recently surrounding the furore that has erupted around the leaking of confidential diplomatic documents by Wikileaks, welcome back to earth.
There has been much commentary about this unprecedented releasing of secretive government information, with most people (reasonable ones) supporting the leaking of the information to the public, and some who think that ordinary people should not be privy to it, citing all sorts of disingenuous arguments such as compromising state security, the sanctity of confidential interactions and the protection of innocent people. Disappointingly, some independent media sources fall into the latter category, which is rather nauseating, considering the media’s general stance on freedom of information.
Off course, the affected diplomats and politicians seem to be in an amusing frenzy, trying to save face, suck up, point fingers, threaten, grovel or just hide. One, Hilary Clinton, accused of encouraging spying on UN Diplomats in the documents, labelled the leaks as an attack on America’s foreign policy interests and on the international community. What a load of bollocks! Talk about attacking foreign policy interests? Didn’t America attack Iraq and Afghanistan, and couldn’t these two countries be classified as foreign policy interests? To think I supported this bitch for President!
Here’s the thing about this whole incident. Politicians around the world demand a separate set of standards for themselves. They insist that ordinary plebs should be honest, transparent, respectable, diligent, hard-working, sympathetic, loyal, dependable, patriotic, law-abiding etc. They also demand that they should be exempt from these conditions. Lesser mortals than themselves are consigned to the role of mere voting fodder, and contributors to the treasury.
International relations are supposed to be simple. I’m convinced that if ordinary people (intelligent, naturally) were allowed to foster and maintain relations between countries, we wouldn’t have a tenth of the problems we now have. But just add a politician and/or a clergyman to the equation, and international relations is doomed to be totally fucked up. Politicians and clergymen bring excess baggage into the arena. They need to create their own personal playing fields and they bring with them despicable tools like religion, culture, ethnicity, race, creed, clansmanship, tribalism etc. with which to sow the seeds of acrimony and unhappiness; the latter most useful for keeping them in power.
And these morons think that they can control information. They think that information belongs to them only; they demand total rights to all information that they have conveniently categorized as too sensitive for ordinary eyes. When there is a leak, they react with venom. Why? If all they were doing was above-board, they should have nothing to worry about. But the thing is all they are doing is not above-board…
According to Heather Brooke, writing in the Gaurdian.co.uk, “…when data breaches happen to the public, politicians don’t care much. Our privacy is expendable. It is no surprise that the reaction to these leaks is different.” She also reveals that:
Leaks are not the problem; they are the symptom. They reveal a disconnect between what people want and need to know and what they actually do know. The greater the secrecy, the more likely a leak. The way to move beyond leaks is to ensure a robust regime for the public to access important information.
Politics, however, has remained resolutely unreconstructed. Politicians, see themselves as parents to a public they view as children – a public that cannot be trusted with the truth, nor with the real power that knowledge brings.
Much of the outrage about WikiLeaks is not over the content of the leaks but from the audacity of breaching previously [e]nviable strongholds of authority. In the past, we deferred to authority and if an official told us something would damage national security we took that as true. Now the raw data behind these claims is increasingly getting into the public domain. What we have seen from disclosures like MPs’ expenses or revelations about the complicity of government in torture is that when politicians speak of a threat to “national security”, often what they mean is that the security of their own position is threatened.
It’s quite clear from this latest leaking of information, that we are facing a new revolution with the onset of the digital age, as Brooke terms it, a revolution that politicians need to take cognizance off; the people want to know what the fuck is going on. Hide stuff from us at your peril!!!