This comment from Times reader Jonathon Wallace in defense of Wikileaks resonated with my own views. I am storing them here in case I shall need to reference it in the future.
The US Supreme Court, in answer to similar challenges made by the Us govt to the publication of the Pentagon Papers, stated that the state must be the one to justify secrecy and must be held fully responsible for that information then being kept secret. If that information is leaked, any person has the right to publish, disseminate and discuss that information with complete freedom and impunity. The government has the obligation to legally and morally demonstarate why that information was kept secret in the first place and must then be held completely responsible for it. If it is not kept secret, only the government is at fault. The US government has not legally (or in my opinion morally) demonstrated why this information has to be kept secret. If anything, a cvery strong case can be made that all this information whould be open to public scrutiny to improve the strength of democracy by providing checks and balances imposed by a free press and a fully informed and educated populace. These are basic, fundamental, democractic principles expounded centuries ago and much of the US constituion was written with these principles in mind. Further, the US government is responsible for allowing this information to be leaked, and a US govt employee was the person who actually leaked this material. Wikileaks, like the NY Times and literally hundreds, possibly thousands of other news groups, have then published this material. The US govt, as per the ruling of it’s own Supreme Court, therefore bears full responsibility for the leaking of this information, a fact acknowledged today by the US State Department.
Further, your argument relates to the freedom of privacy an individual has the right to, which has nothing to do with the rights a govt has to keeping information confidential.
Today, the man who released the Pentagon Papers (who was vilified in a similar way at the time but is now regarded as a hero) Daniel Ellsberg said: “Every attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time.” Due to the recent debates over the pros and cons between the wikileaks releases and those of the historic ‘Pentagon papers,’ Daniel Ellsberg, who released the pentagon papers in 1971, has written and editorial about Wikileaks declaring that he rejects the mantra of “Pentagon Papers good; WikiLeaks material bad,” and that further “That’s just a cover for people who don’t want to admit that they oppose any and all exposure of even the most misguided, secretive foreign policy. The truth is that every attack now made on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time.”
Read the article Jonathon responded to here.