Monday, December 6, 2010

Does information want to be free?

Bradley Manning is a like an actor up on a stage -- remotely far above the rest of us. In solitary maybe (but I sure hope not). For 194 days. Bradley has become iconic, immobilized in the spotlight.

Meanwhile Julian Assange darts around the globe just out of reach, having his accounts slam closed behind him. Being accused of rape, allegedly for not using a condom (?!).

But besides the theater, an interesting question hinges on whether the world is a better place or a worse place since WikiLeaks started publishing State Dept. facts.

Here are some that caught my attention in a NYT article today. "Well it's 1-2-3 what are we fighting for?"

The list includes “the world’s largest integrated chemical complex” in Ludwigshafen, Germany; the Nadym gas pipeline junction in Russia, which is described as “the most critical gas facility in the world”; and the Abqaiq Processing Center in Saudi Arabia, which is called the “largest crude oil processing and stabilization plant in the world.”
The article pointed out you could easily look up most of the places on the list, and several are so large they are visible from the air.

I wonder: How much security has been breached by publishing the list? Is the tradeoff with the people's right to know worth it?

Have U.S. diplomatic relations been irreparably harmed by the revelations?

Nowadays we have corporate journalism but only rarely true investigative journalism in commercial publications. The Leaks thus fill a role of providing evidence of facts on the ground, at least facts as presented by employees of the U.S. State dept. to their superiors.  One of the most important things that comes to light is the extreme lack of accountability in how funds paid for by borrowing are spent.  Waste has the meter spinning wildly on the Cost of War website. Occupation of other countries is damned expensive. Occupying Afghanistan costs three times as much as did Iraq, economists opine.

Some truth, Bradley, was in order. Thanks for throwing yourself on the grenade to get us some of it. And Happy Birthday.
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