Here is my response to “Why Wikileaks is Wrong” by Amy Bruckman:
Amy, your argument falls by the categorical imperative: if your argument was correct, then any government openness would be bad and all government information should be classified. You are opposing and undermining the very essence of democracy.
“The best weapon of a dictatorship is secrecy, but the best weapon of a democracy should be the weapon of openness.”
quoted in Kantrowitz, “The Weapon of Openness,” in Crandall and Lewis, “Nanotechnology, Research and Perspectives,” 1992
Wikileaks has received the 2008 Economist Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Award and the 2009 Amnesty International Human Rights Reporting Award (New Media).
Please reconsider your analysis in this light. Let’s talk about this.
You quote a five step test for when to whistleblow. Here are my responses regarding the war in Afghanistan and whether or not whistleblowing is justified in this context.
1 Do you believe the problem may result in ‘serious and considerable harm to the public’?
The war in Afghanistan has resulted in 1338 confirmed deaths of US personnel and tens of thousands of Afghan deaths, mostly civilians. The US has conducted and condoned assassinations, secret disappearances and kidnappings, torture and rape, all contrary to US and international law.
2 Have you told your manager your concerns about the potential harm?
In November, 2001 I attempted to bring a written resolution before the Washtenaw County Democratic Party opposing the War in Afghanistan. It was ruled out of order by the chair without being submitted to discussion or a vote.
I went to the Rules Committee to ask for a rule permitting debate on my resolution. I was told, “Henry you can stay but if you open your mouth, if you say one word, you will be arrested and removed by force if necessary.”
3 Have you tried every possible channel within the organization to resolve the problem?
Since 2001, I have attended public meetings, written extensively in my blog, written repeatedly to my congresspeople and spoken to several of them in person. I have stood on a street corner by the Ann Arbor Federal Building holding a sign on many cold winter days, often alone.
4 Have you documented evidence that would persuade a neutral outsider that your view is correct?
There is ample evidence that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable, that it serves no strategic purpose, that it is an illegal war of aggression under US and “customary” international law (in particular, the Nuremberg Principles). And bin Laden is not there, he is in Pakistan, protected by our “ally”.
5 Are you reasonably sure that if you do bring this matter to public attention, something can be done to prevent the anticipated harm?”
I am not sure that what Wikileaks has done will prevent the anticipated harm. But I think it will help. I am sure that if nothing is done, the harms will continue and intensify.
Having said that, I myself would not access or release data in this manner, because I think it would be professionally unethical from the perspective of the System Administrator’s Code of Ethics.
Henry Edward Hardy
Copyright © 2010 Henry Edward Hardy