Currently, there is another war for the U.S. government to pursue: the war against Wikileaks. Wikileaks does what its name indicates: it leaks information. The purpose of their unauthorized release of information is to make those in power more accountable. Talk about your suicide missions! Nothing says "hit me" more than embarrassing those in charge. We might want to ask if those who run Wikileaks have a death wish? We might also want to ask where would we be without the leaks of the past?
The Pentagon Papers come to mind when thinking about Wikileaks. Howard Zinn talked about the real issue behind Daniel Ellsberg's leaking of the Pentagon Papers that described the presidential secrets of 5 Presidents concerning their policies on Vietnam. The real issue, Zinn said, was whether the information released could actually harm our country or was it merely embarrassing--embarrassing because of the lack of character shown by our actions. Of course, when embarrassing information is leaked, leaders lose power. And nothing makes leaders angrier than when they lose power, or worse yet, face the consequences of their actions. Back in the day, the release of the Pentagon Papers moved the people to make their government more accountable. Do today's Americans have the kind of character so that Wikileaks' revelations prompt a great enough demand for change?
And what about those who leak the information to Wikileaks? Are they being patriotic? In the light of our government's policies, should they want to be patriotic? I am reminded of William Blum's line that the Japanese pilots who bombed Pearl Harbor or the Germans who supported Hitler's invasions for the glory of the Father land were being patriotic. Likewise, Americans who served their Presidents, not necessarily their country, in Vietnam were considered to be patriotic. So the question becomes, is being patriotic here a good thing or is it a euphemism for participating in or supporting gang warfare on a national level?
We, the people, not the government, have the responsibility to answer these questions. In the meantime, we Americans have a few questions to answer about ourselves.Do we even want a government, regardless of the political party in charge, that thinks it can always act with impunity or do we want a government that exercises self-restraint because of high values?Have we read the leaked information to see if we should feel threatened by its release or to see if we should demand more from our government? Do we even care enough to be distracted from our everyday lives by the issue? People who care about their country and the world should answer these questions with a demand for better policies and more information. Those in power want us to relax, mind our own business, and to quit trying to micromanage them because it makes them nervous.
If we care, then we have some responsibilities to meet. These responsibilities include the demand for even more information from our government, the demand for changes in government's policies, the demand for the release of Bradley Manning, and the demand that our government makes love, not war, to Wikileaks. If we are blindly following our leaders, then our only responsibility is to ask, "where is the remote?"
Wikileaks has provided all of us with a tremendous opportunity to become a better informed public. To that I say if leaking information is wrong, Wikileaks should continue to do what is really right and that we should join them with our support.
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