Forbidden Secrets

For a week now I have been following those 'leaks' or rather the news and opinions as regards Wikileaks and Julian Assange. I did venture out to the actual info at first, but found the bits and pieces I came upon rather lacking in luster, or not terribly enlightening (bits and pieces on Ghadaffi for example although later revelation on Uranium sitting barely guarded are shocking and outright scary.) 

What makes the unfolding of these events so compelling, at least to me, is the sense of a war battled out, not face to face, not in physicality, but on the net through cyberattacks and the shutting down of one site and the opening of another and the persecution of what only seems to be a messenger. Interpol wants Julian Assange, can you imagine, for the crime of having sex with two women and a condom breaking with one! Ludicrous if true and more so malicious and unprecedented. Interpol and the Swedish government must have acted under pressure, and guess whose?

Julian Assange I imagine sees himself as an anarchist rather then a journalist. Criticized from all sides, I doubt he really cares. I doubt he is a nice person, someone I would want to be friends with, but the buck stops most definitely with death threats. And such coming from such illustrious folks like our Sarah Palin, who jumps at the opportunity to criticize president Obama again and wants Julian Assange classified in the same category as Osama Bin Laden the terrorist. God-dess forbid this women ever ascends to real power. But others with serious political and social clout say and do things as unforgivable. Senator Lieberman pressured Amazon to terminate their service to Wikileaks, abominable. What are you Christians thinking, wishing out loud for a live human being's death. I am appalled.

The accusations of course are that Assange endangered innocent lives and the process of peace making. We all should know though that the information has been offered to, but refused by, the US for vetting and has been sorted through 5 of those major mainstream news media that received copies way ahead of Wikileaks' publication. There are no top secret leaks and we can be fairly certain that lives were and are not endangered, but embarrassment abounds.

So should there be secrets or not? Are secrets ever justified? Do we live in an age that simply has no more considerations for privacy, where any time, anything said, seen or done can slip from the private in to the public domain and travel with the speed of light across and around the world, round and round? I am really torn about this, I wish I knew the answers. So I will just think out loud and welcome your input.

Grandmas used to say to not speak or say anything about anybody that could not be repeated to them. A sure way of avoiding embarrassment. The nature though of a lack of power is trying to gain some by - gossip, speaking behind the backs of those empowered. If it is not natural, it is most certainly most common. Should we be surprised? I think not. Should we be mortally offended? I think not. A little bit sure, but hey, nobody got killed, nobody got seriously hurt. Instead what a great opportunity to bring things up on the table, fess up to what's real and continue on, ideally with a lot more transparency and a lot less need for secrecy. 

But this is not how the world works - yet. We as a people seem so darn infantile, scream bloody murder and create a ruckus rather then sit down and talk it out. Well, I do not envy Hilary Clinton. I guess she is right, these latest Wikileak documents are an attack on the world in a way, but not a mortal one, rather one that could encourage each and every one involved to come clean and set right what needs airing out.

Instead of attacking the messenger, the transmitter of stolen information, we could focus on the fact that such an egregious violation of national security was even possible and in the silliest and simplest of ways, with the help of Lady Gaga for goddess sake! I do believe the administration already is looking in to the matter and so they should.

But why attack the messenger and not the news stations that published his message? One can only assume because we are talking big corporations and the tricky issues of free speech. And to this effect some students have been warned to not investigate this info anywhere in anyway, not even on their personal computers or they may be held liable for reading classified material. This along with Wikileaks links under cyberattacks, connecting and not connecting and then connecting again, across various countries, leaves me feeling ominous. The fact that my computer got stuck on the site and had to be rebooted the next morning did not help.  Am I still living in the United States, the land of the free?

Much depends on how we see our government. Do we believe in it's benign intent, wanting the best for us and our country - and I would hope the world at large? Or do we have ample evidence to believe otherwise? Mainly that US government is corrupted by big corporate interests and is no longer working in our interest, is no longer for the people, but for profit mainly. Depending on our view will be likely where we stand and how we judge Julian Assange. A hero or a terrorist? I suspect neither.

In Switzerland for now Wikileaks found a server not yet caving under pressure. While PayPal refused further service, effectively cutting off finances, it will be interesting what solutions this very mobile organization will come up with. For now Assange is safe from arrest, so I understand. I sincerely wish for Julian to come to no physical harm as such is never a means of solving conflict. Let us not persecute the messenger, but focus on the message and not just the obvious, but the implied ones as well. The finger pointing is not the moon!

P.S.: The question remains unanswered; can secrets have legitimacy? What does a world look like that tolerates no secrets? Are all secrets bad. or can some be viewed as in process, underground, not yet ready to face the light of day, to be exposed, but permeating, rooting, preparing for eventual emergence?

12.7.10: Huffington Post Headline reads:
"Sex, leaks and retributions? WikiLeaks leader in Police Cutsody." I like to add for some rather strange sex charges that would be handled in Sweden's lowest courts. The question is will he be extradited from England to Sweden and then to the US? I hope these charges prove to be nothing serious, but trumped up for persecution's sake and most importantly I hope Julian Assange's life will not be harmed as he has supposedly received so many death threats. One credit card has now also refused to process for Wikileaks following suit to PayPal and his Swiss Bank.

An interesting synapsis on Alternet.


  1. This is a wonderfully challenging, interesting post. I really know NOTHING about diplomacy and how it works. I don't even know what I think about Wikileaks. On the one hand, I admire the nerve of it, the daring, the in-their-faces chutzpah. On the other hand, has this endangered people's lives? I wonder. I don't know.

    In my own personal life, I try to avoid having secrets about anything. I don't do anything I'm ashamed of, and my life has always been completely open. Ask me and I'll tell you anything. I don't much value privacy. Not important to me. Nothing to hide. However I do respect the privacy of others, especially others who CARE about privacy, and I always worry about a line from Joan Didion: "Writers are always selling people out." So I try to leave other people's names out of my public communications; I try to let each person have the right and the power to say whatever they want to say about themselves. I just speak for myself, tell my own story, and leave others to tell theirs. This is not always easy. Sometimes I can't tell my own story without reference to some other then I try to change the names. That does create secrets. And this is just my own little insignificant life, a life without money or power other than the power I have to do what I set out to do. So if you throw in money and power, the stakes get higher.

    My question, in my personal life, is always--how can I tell my story and also respect the privacy of the people I've lived my story with? I honestly don't know enough about the whole Wikileaks thing to have an informed opinion. Thanks for the good links, though. I know more about it, after following your links, than I did before.

  2. Kendall, I am reminded of a friend who despised family secrets and made it a point to reveal her Mom's, but not her own!

    Thanks for taking an interest. The issue of secrecy warrants more ruminating, certainly on my behalf.

    Knowledge sure is power and the withholding can have a devastating effect.

  3. Classified - Loss of job or hiring opportunities?

  4. An interesting 1 hour expose on Wikileak from it's former, now rebellious faction within.

  5. 12.18.10: Bank of America cuts off services to Wikileaks. In turn Twitter's WikiLeaks urges: "We ask that all people who love freedom close out their accounts at Bank of America. Does your business do business with Bank of America? Our advise is to place your funds somewhere safer."