WikiLeaks: Is the truth unpatriotic?

Published: December 10, 2010
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Why must the governments have secrets to begin with?

Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks indomitably dominated the headlines of late. The content of the leaked US diplomatic cables is definitively headline worthy. The repercussions of the unveiling of dangerous government secrets are colossal. As the US Justice Department considers the Espionage Act of 1917 to charge Assange with, I wonder if speaking out the truth is unpatriotic or if it’s just the only right thing to do?

According to the Espionage Act, “unauthorised possession and dissemination of information related to national defence is illegal”. But then what about the First Amendment to the US Constitution? It guarantees freedom of press.

Robert Wright writes in the International Herald Tribune, “Well thanks to Assange, many nations will now hesitate to speak candidly with us”. A concern well taken and well deserved.

Is it not the right of the people to know what their leaders are planning? If you and I are giving a chunk of our income to the government as taxes, and God knows how tough parting with that five to 10 per cent is, then is it not fair that the government tells us where our money is being spent? Is it being used to train Pakistani soldiers to fight America’s battle in Afghanistan? Let’s not answer that.

It remains to be seen how the US government will treat Assange, who has made it very clear that he has a problem with the “authoritarian regimes” of the world. Why must the governments have secrets to begin with if they can become hazardous to national and international security, once leaked? Why must officials hide information from the very public it strives to serve?

And if someone does leak the confidential information, which is not forged or tampered with, to the general public, is he unpatriotic or quite the opposite? America worries that it has angered many leaders around the globe with this WikiLeaks fiasco. I think they had it coming. Transparency and freedom of press is nothing new. If it wasn’t Assange, it would’ve been someone else, but ultimately truth does come out. Will the world punish the one who comes bearing it?

musabmemon

Musab Memon

A sub-editor on the National desk of The Express Tribune

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.