The Wikileaks dump of diplomatic cables seems to make everyone pretty uncomfortable. While many embrace the transparency it affords, few believe that all government secrets should be aired publicly. Drawing the line between the two extremes is tricky.
Here are some of the best columns I’ve read which explores the topic:
Aaron Bady’s careful analysis of Julian Assange’s manifesto on why he feels ethically justified releasing state secrets. Given it’s length, you may want to concentrate on the last few graphs — including the prescient quote from former U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt.
Clay Shirky’s analysis of the competing interests between transparency and secrets and the proper role of a democracy in helping to find the balance. His point about the authoritarian nature of shutting down the site and choking off funding appears quite valid. If we want to limit Wikileaks, then let’s do it in the open and with public debate.
John Judas lays out a compelling argument for the benefits of the release. He makes an interesting parallel to the Pentagon Papers and the Bolshevik Russian government’s release in 1917 of secret treaties between the Western powers. But the best part is at the top — where he points out the potential benefit to international relations that may arise from a healthy dose of transparency.
Don’t forget to read my own brief thoughts on Wikileak’s release of the diplomatic cables as well.