As a reminder, the views expressed herein are not necessarily those of the College Democrats of Fordham University, Fordham University, the College Democrats of New York, the College Democrats of America, or the Democratic National Committee.
Wikileaks is at it again. They published a series of internal wires with State Department officials. Obama Administration officials fear that the 250,000 documents released will irreparably harm U.S. foreign policy and relations. They also had the same belief about a series of documents released about the War in Afghanistan.
I posted the paragraph at the top for a reason. What I am going to say is not a popular opinion. It is my own and I take full responsibility for it.
I don't think these leaks are necessarily a bad thing.
There, I said it. You can start sending the angry letters now.
Now, I have to defend my stance, don't I?
I will begin by saying that there are many documents that I will be the first to say should NOT be put into the public eye. I will also say that there are many documents that really won't harm us that much.
With both the Afghanistan and the State Department leaked documents, you have to ask yourself: what real harm has come from these documents? In my opinion, not much. The most damning part of the Afghan ones was how Pakistan wasn't as close an ally in defeating Al Qaeda as we once thought (big surprise there). The new ones do more of the same with our foreign allies while also using some less-than-appropriate terms for many of their leaders (of which, I am certain, are nicer than what many bloggers have said of the same foreign leaders).
Also, all that these documents really do is solidify things we already believed to be true. (Warning, I am about to go computer nerd on you all.) The best example I can give you is the report that China hacked Google for their codes. (Most techies already knew for months now.) I will give you the story of Google and China in short-form.
Google sets-up base in China. China says Google must comply with censorship rules. Google agrees. In early 2010, Google says they will no longer censor their search results in China. In retaliation, China hacks into Google's systems. Google sees this breach and then installs a program that "shadows" each of the users that accesses it's servers. (Think of it as a private investigator program. A user accesses a Google server and the PI sees it and then follows the user's activity. It literally is a computerized PI.) Guess where the results of the hack went to? If you guessed "China," you are right.
Guess where and when I learned of all of this? If you answered Wikileaks, you are wrong. If you answered "Computer Security Systems" taught by Dr. David Chen in the Spring Semester of 2010, you are right.
Get this through you: I knew the facts of a story that was leaked Wikileaks ALMOST A YEAR BEFORE IT WAS LEAKED.
Coming back to point, why are leaks bad? I have never gotten that. Does the government think that they are smarter than us? Do they think that we cannot 'handle the truth?' What is so wrong about knowing the activities of our tax-payer dollars?
People think that releasing classified documents is treasonous. Frankly, I have never understood why. The public has the right and the responsibility to know what is happening on their behalf as a nation. If the government is refusing to do so, they will take the "democracy" out of our political process. Many people have ridiculed me for saying (half-jokingly) that were I to be elected President, the first thing I would do is declassify all information regarding Area 51 and extraterrestrials. (This is neither the time nor the place to have a discussion on other forms of life in the Universe, so, please don't comment below about it; it's just off topic.) Why would I do this? It's not because I think there are aliens out there but because a responsible government would be as open as possible.
I tell people that I hate both Fox News and MSNBC, not because of the political message, but because they have commentators work as reporters. That is why I prefer ABC and CNN because they report the news first and primarily. They only add commentary when it helps supplement a story. They let US come to our own opinions.
People say that the health care debate was by no means transparent. That is false. These past two years have been the most transparent in American History. What was not transparent were the discussions that happened in congressional offices. But, almost all of the floor debates and committee hearings were public. Furthermore, the White House has taken proactive steps to make government data open to the public. The White House, in particular, has posted all visitors to on its website as well as open-sourcing many modules it built to power the website.
Transparency is accountability. I am not saying that I condone or endorse the leaking of classified information, personal correspondences, or personal opinions to parties that have no business in knowing that information. What I am saying is that why does government have to be so secretive? Why does information have to be kept so secret? I do believe that the American Public is intelligent enough to come to opinions by themselves. But they cannot even come to an opinion without facts. An informed public is essential in keeping a responsible government. If we know our foreign policy and we do not agree with it, we can express our feelings and make our government change. But we cannot change government to fit the vision we want unless we know what is in need of fixing in the government.