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Debate: WikiLeaks release of US diplomatic cables

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*'''Legal for WikiLeaks to post diplomatic cables.''' [http://tdn.com/news/opinion/article_64684fca-ff2e-11df-a7ba-001cc4c03286.html "WikiLeaks' posting of diplomatic cables does more harm than good." TDN.com. December 6th, 2010]: "But the person or organization receiving and publishing the documents would seem to be in the clear. The First Amendment prevents the government from telling media outlets what they can and can't publish. The Supreme Court confirmed that constitutional protection against censorship prior to publication almost 40 years ago, when it sided with The New York Times' and Washington Post's right to publish the so-called Pentagon Papers that detailed some embarrassing government lies regarding the Vietnam war. Daniel Ellsberg, who provided the papers to the newspapers, had legal difficulty. But not the newspapers that published them." *'''Legal for WikiLeaks to post diplomatic cables.''' [http://tdn.com/news/opinion/article_64684fca-ff2e-11df-a7ba-001cc4c03286.html "WikiLeaks' posting of diplomatic cables does more harm than good." TDN.com. December 6th, 2010]: "But the person or organization receiving and publishing the documents would seem to be in the clear. The First Amendment prevents the government from telling media outlets what they can and can't publish. The Supreme Court confirmed that constitutional protection against censorship prior to publication almost 40 years ago, when it sided with The New York Times' and Washington Post's right to publish the so-called Pentagon Papers that detailed some embarrassing government lies regarding the Vietnam war. Daniel Ellsberg, who provided the papers to the newspapers, had legal difficulty. But not the newspapers that published them."
 +*'''No evidence that WikiLeaks risks lives.''' [http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2010/1201/1224284485743.html Lara Marlow. "No evidence WikiLeaks disclosures risk lives." Irish Times. December 1st, 2010]: "None of the US officials railing against WikiLeaks and its founder Assange have offered convincing evidence that this or previous document dumps, about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, actually endangered lives."
|WRITE CONTENT FOR THE "Pro" BOX ABOVE THIS CODE width="45%" bgcolor="#F2FAFB" style="border:1px solid #BAC5FD;padding:.4em;padding-top: 0.5em;"| |WRITE CONTENT FOR THE "Pro" BOX ABOVE THIS CODE width="45%" bgcolor="#F2FAFB" style="border:1px solid #BAC5FD;padding:.4em;padding-top: 0.5em;"|

Revision as of 23:43, 6 December 2010

Background and context

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Pro

  • Lying diplomatic cables needed to be shaken up. Kristinn Hrafnsson, Wikileaks spokesperson: "If global stability is based on deception and lies, maybe it needs a bit of a shaking up."[1]
  • Transparency is a valuable part of democracy. Kristinn Hrafnsson, Wikileaks spokesperson: "We believe that transparency is the basis of healthy democracy. It is one of the foundations of what we base our operation on. A world without secrets is a better world."[2]
  • Wikileaks release serves public interest of revealing US objectives. The New York Times: "the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy in a way that other accounts cannot match."[3]
  • Cables show (can counter) US spying, missteps, and corruption. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in a November 2010 statement: "The cables show the U.S. spying on its allies and the U.N.; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in 'client states'; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries and lobbying for U.S. corporations."[4]
  • Cables reveal contradiction b/w US public and private statements. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said in a November 2010 statement: "reveals the contradictions between the U.S.'s public persona and what it says behind closed doors."[5]
  • Releasing cables crosses an unwritten diplomatic line. Associated Press writer Dan Perry, reporting from Jerusalem, wrote: "The torrent of condemnation heaped on WikiLeaks from around the globe suggest a widespread sense ... that in releasing U.S. diplomatic documents the group crossed a dangerous line."[6]
  • Legal for WikiLeaks to post diplomatic cables. "WikiLeaks' posting of diplomatic cables does more harm than good." TDN.com. December 6th, 2010: "But the person or organization receiving and publishing the documents would seem to be in the clear. The First Amendment prevents the government from telling media outlets what they can and can't publish. The Supreme Court confirmed that constitutional protection against censorship prior to publication almost 40 years ago, when it sided with The New York Times' and Washington Post's right to publish the so-called Pentagon Papers that detailed some embarrassing government lies regarding the Vietnam war. Daniel Ellsberg, who provided the papers to the newspapers, had legal difficulty. But not the newspapers that published them."

Con

  • Wikileaks release is an assault on global democracy. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini recently stated that the WikiLeaks release could be considered the "September 11 of world democracy."[7]
  • Wikileaks release undermines trust and, thus, diplomacy. "WikiLeaks Starts Publishing US Cables, US Considering Legal Action." Metrolic. November 29th, 2010: "For short, they all agree that it wasn’t a good idea for Wikileaks to make public some very important documents that could seriously contribute to hostile relationships between the US and a lot of countries worldwide. The key ingredient to all relationships is trust. With the release of the cables you could say that the trust that’s essential to diplomacy has been broken. As Rep. Peter Hoekstra of Michigan mentioned, shortly after describing the release as very damaging, a lot of countries, whether US allies or enemies, might ask themselves “Can the United States be trusted?” and might wonder if the country can keep a secret. Apparently it can’t since its top secret documents are readily available on the web, for anyone to read. There is a lot more that can be said regarding the US cables that just became available through WikiLeaks and we’ll probably be back with fresh reports."
  • IR depends on frank and private conversations within govts. Cameron Munter, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan. "Wikileaks - the U.S.-Pakistan Relationship." US Embassy in Pakistan. November 29th, 2010: "United States deeply regrets the disclosure of any information that was intended to be confidential. And we condemn it. Diplomats must engage in frank discussions with their colleagues, and they must be assured that these discussions will remain private. Honest dialogue-within governments and between them-is part of the basic bargain of international relations; we couldn't maintain peace, security, and international stability without it. I'm sure that Pakistan's ambassadors to the United States would say the same thing. They too depend on being able to exchange honest opinions with their counterparts in Washington and send home their assessments of America's leaders, policies, and actions."
  • Private reports do not represent official US policy. Cameron Munter, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan. "Wikileaks - the U.S.-Pakistan Relationship." US Embassy in Pakistan. November 29th, 2010: "I do believe that people of good faith recognize that diplomats' internal reports do not represent a government's official foreign policy. In the United States, they are one element out of many that shape our policies, which are ultimately set by the President and the Secretary of State. And those policies are a matter of public record, the subject of thousands of pages of speeches, statements, white papers, and other documents that the State Department makes freely available online and elsewhere."
  • Wikileaks has exposed information that can get people killed. "WikiLeaks' posting of diplomatic cables does more harm than good." TDN.com. December 6th, 2010: "If not criminal, WikiLeaks' action was irresponsible to the extreme. But that's in line with many of the organization's previous postings. New York Times columnist David Brooks observes in a recent column that WikiLeaks has published the Social Security numbers of U.S. soldiers. The organization also has published details about a device the U.S. Army developed to help neutralize roadside bombs. That's the sort of information that, if made public, can get people killed. Former President Bill Clinton believes the publication of these sensitive diplomatic documents also could have tragic consequences. In a speech last week at Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., Clinton said, "I'll be very surprised if some people don't lose their lives. And goodness knows how many will lose their careers."
  • Transparency is important, but not in the case of diplomacy. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "Transparency is fundamental in our society and its usually essential — but there are a few areas, including diplomacy, where it isn't essential."[9]


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