December Reflection; the Month of Leaks and Risk to Bloggers

As you may have noticed, I’ve been writing extensively about WikiLeaks the last month. A month is certainly long enough for improved reflection on what was said 4 weeks ago. For instance, you can safely say that this person at the Globe and Mail got things entirely wrong. Cablegate has not amounted to a pile of gossip with no substance – unless you ignore the revealed crimes as the people recording them in secret documents did.

We saw peoples perceptions shaken. The United States, Sweden, and other democratic countries are not as incorruptible as assumed by average people who’ve watched the news for years.

Maddow doesn’t seem to realize, in the last seconds of the second part video on her blog, that leaks are used maliciously all the time. Assange makes a strong case that the Swedish government is using its power to smear him, likely to endear themselves to their American allies.

This whole news story is remarkably distant from Saskatchewan, and most of Canada, yet it affects my life more than many humans because I’ve been a political blogger for years. The Supreme Court of Canada has recently given bloggers some defense against civil legal challenges (responsible communication), but we’re particularly susceptible to criminal charges for political ends. Our accredited media peers are also at increasing risk, and Assange accuses them of selling him out even though he’s an accredited journalist too.

It’s not surprising that the only mention of western Canada, thus far, in Cablegate has been the Tar Sands. Even more surprising to me is that a Conservative cabinet minister was set to increase restrictions on oil production because he was concerned about the environmental impact. That could be just what he was telling the US officials, or maybe he really does have some good sense. Unfortunately Prentice’s sense didn’t extend to copyright issues when he was a minister partly in charge of that Act.

I’m writing this a week before you read it, let’s see if my analysis stands up to a week of perspective.

7 responses to “December Reflection; the Month of Leaks and Risk to Bloggers

  1. Happy New Year, Sasky!

    I also think the wikileaks issue is hugely important: a game changer.

    Aside from whether or not Assange is assassinated or incarcerated or merely castigated, the ramifications for government operations and diplomacy are great.

    I expect that government employees, elected officials and diplomats will no longer take secrecy for granted. Anything that is recorded will be seen to be potentially leakable. Of course, one response will be to keep the really sensitive stuff either verbal-only or highly encrypted and locked into a highly classified category that is much less vulnerable than the cablegate released material.

    Another outcome could be a lot more positive, though. Maybe, just maybe, officials and diplomats will consider the fact that their words and actions have a good chance of being made public. That being the case, they might just give second thought to outlandish statements and/or unconscionable actions.

    WRT Prentice, his actions speak louder than his words. Even the US ambassador expressed skepticism of his sincerity regarding tar sands regulation. IMO, Prentice was telling the ambassador what he thought he wanted to hear. FWIW, I don’t think the Obama team is going to prove to be any more Earth-friendly than the Bushies. Americans want gas-guzzling mobile living rooms and they’ve never had any conscience about how it gets from the ground to the gas pump. Highway to hell, full speed ahead.

    JB

  2. Assange has answered one point you made about not writing things down. To run a government, things have to be written down for grunts to do illegal things, so they have paper to show they aren’t responsible for the orders. It’s also impossible to co-ordinate without writing.

    I think you’re right about Prentice, he’s no greenie, and neither is Obama. At least his wife’s victory garden idea seems to do a little good though.

    And if more things are misclassified, that’s more butts on the line, who are supposed to be watching out for that sort of misuse of the classification system.

  3. I had a feeling that it might come down to this, and this is why I chose to remain under a pen name that essentially reads “Anonymous” while blogging. Some might call it cowardice, but I call it insurance on my freedom of expression!

    This whole WikiLeaks thing could be the perfect excuse for governments worldwide to implement internet controls. I hope it doesn’t happen, but the track record for things like this is discouraging.

    Sadly, it seems that one US Administration looks much like its predecessor nowadays…

    Happy New Year, BTW.

  4. Every generation goes through times when their country goes a little too authoritarian, and cracks down on civil liberties. It’s why people who have struggled for freedom tell others to be constantly vigilant. I see a lot of people who don’t even know what the word vigilant means, let alone acting in defense of their liberties.

  5. Pingback: 2010 in memoriam « Saskboy's Abandoned Stuff

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