WHY THE WORLD NEEDS WHISTLEBLOWERS

Why the World Needs Whistleblowers
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WHY THE WORLD NEEDS WHISTLEBLOWERS



Written by Sarah Dixon
Photos and illustrations by James Duncan Davidson / TED
26 Monday 26th July 2010

"The government has built a national security and intelligence system so big, so complex and so hard to manage; no one really knows if it's fulfilling its most important purpose: keeping its citizens safe." 

These were the opening lines of the Washington Post’s Top Secret America report published last week. The report used anonymous sources and leaked classified material to lift the lid on the true extent of America’s spy game. Today the world looks on as Wikileaks, the infamous whistleblowing website, the New York Times and the Guardian release the Afghan War Diary, a document of raw intelligence calculated to leave military officials furious. It seems that for all the secrecy, laws and paranoia, old fashioned whistleblowing will never be laid to rest.
 
In an interview with TED Julian Assange, the man behind Wikileaks, explains why he feels it is right to encourage the leaking of secret information. He maintains that the more money an organisation spends on trying to conceal information, the more good it is likely to do if leaked. For Assange, leaked intelligence reveals the true state of governments, their human rights abuses, and their activities, it’s what the ‘history of journalism is’.
 
On the media’s role in making information available to the public, Assange maintains that “the rest of the world's media is doing such a bad job that a little group of activists is able to release more of that type of information [classified documents] than the rest of the world press combined.”
 
 
 
That sounds like a challenge to us Julian! In the spirit of free speech we vow to leak all classified information that comes into our hands, protecting our sources of course.
 
First one to release screen shots of Cameron’s inbox wins our undying respect.

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Comments

  • Guest: todd.sassaman
    Mon 02 - Aug - 2010, 23:24
    @guest-barbar: Right back at ya, pal. I suppose they're too busy oppressing their own citizens to have ventured out to other countries lately. Let's hope they remain inwardly-focused.
  • Guest: barbar
    Fri 30 - Jul - 2010, 05:28
    wow the comments are too naive what did china do to other countries citizen? none what did north korea do to other countries citizens? none what did burma do to other countries citizens? none what did US do to other countries citizen? blowing them up, installed a dictator to oppress its own citizen, killed and assassinate the country's activist to protect US companies....rob their resources, create mass refuges (ex: iraqis) etc..
  • Guest: todd.sassaman
    Wed 28 - Jul - 2010, 18:06
    I must agree with the prior poster who predicted nothing good will come of this (my paraphrase). It's so much easier (and presumably entertaining) to leak documents in a liberal democracy where there are no serious repercussions for doing so. I have so much more respect for people in regimes like Iran and China who use technology to promote freedom and self-expression. They are truly at risk for their beliefs, whereas the Wikileaks people seem to be putting others (service people who are not decision makers) at risk. That's my humble opinion, at any rate.
  • Guest: todd.sassaman
    Wed 28 - Jul - 2010, 18:05
    I must agree with the prior poster who predicted nothing good will come of this (my paraphrase). It's so much easier (and presumably entertaining) to leak documents in a liberal democracy where there are no serious repercussions for doing so. I have so much more respect for people in regimes like Iran and China who use technology to promote freedom and self-expression. They are truly at risk for their beliefs, whereas the Wikileaks people seem to be putting others (service people who are not decision makers) at risk. That's my humble opinion, at any rate.
  • Guest: vastad
    Wed 28 - Jul - 2010, 12:08
    A fascinating article fromthe Pakistan Daily whose own sources (allegedly, everything is suspect in this game) say that China thinks it's a Mossad front. Former member of Wikileaks John Young left to form cryptome.org because he called it a CIA front. That big scary word COINTELPRO is being passed around. Read it here: http://www.daily.pk/cia-mossad-and-soros-behind-wikileaks-19280/
  • Guest: vastad
    Wed 28 - Jul - 2010, 08:35
    In reply to the post above. I respect your assertion good sir, that to a limited extent (and it is limited, you haven't tested your right to free speech) that perhaps unfairly, the countries that at least play lip-service to free speech are being targeted by this leak. On the other hand, you are being a little bit naive. You are ignoring the "chicken or the egg" question that needs to be answered in tandem with your criticism of Julian Assange's actions. 9/11 didn't occur in a vacuum. It has context. There are many hands stained with the blood of innocents and the scum of corruption in the pie. I'm not talking about tin-foil hat conspiracies where lizardmen from Mars and the Vatican made George Bush do it. You don't need that crap because the reality suffices perfectly. Al-Qaeda's roots go back to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. I'm pretty sure you'd agree with me that the CIA intended to give the Soviets their own personal Vietnam. They succeeded fantastically with near-zero loss of (innocent) American lives and bankrupted and shamed the USSR. That war was most definitely a factor in the fall of Communism. But there was a price to pay. It sowed the seeds for today's harvest, where the lives of young men who had NOTHING to do with the decisions of old men are reaped. Al-Qaeda came about the same way Afghanistan and Iraq came about: No exit strategy. The intelligence community is supposedly lead and ranked by the nations best and brightest. Supposedly. You do not arm, fund and give a huge morale boost and sense of manifest destiny to rebels who fought a proxy war for you and then expect them to quietly disappear and disperse peacefully to their former lives. But apprently, that's what it sounds like to me. I for one would be eager to see just what idiocy occurred in secret, for "the good of the nation", that turned a proxy military force into the Al-Qaeda of today. Some of those old men are still alive. The same old men who had their hands on the controls of those two jetliners just as much as the terrorists. Some of those old men might be in those wikileaks documents today. And the old men of the future, groomed by fate, the young men who who are losing their humanity, they are speaking through those documents too. You do bring up a very VERY good point. One I cannot deny would truly show the good Wikileaks is capable of. We have no documents from Myanmar or North Korea.
  • Guest: SM_NEWS
    Wed 28 - Jul - 2010, 08:11
    What this ignorant individual fails to realize is that the reason why "whisleblowers" such as him are able to be as gainfully employed as they are is because they live in the most open liberal democracy in the world. Countries with such a degree of freedom of speech will ultimately be more scrutinized because of the availability of information, while countries that should be pursued for REAL civil rights violations are not. Point your attention to China. Point your attention to Burma, to North Korea, to Myanmar, to Zimbambwe. Not to a country that WAS attacked in a vicious attack and has been trying for the past 9 years to stop that from happening again. The only thing this man accomplished was give information to our enemies that, at least, didn't really give them much intel or, at the most, will probably cause Marines and Soldiers to lose their lives in combat.

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