WikiLeaks fiasco embarrasses journalism
WikiLeaks has been the topic of much conversation since the web-based organization began publishing 250,000 confidential U.S. diplomatic documents for the cause of “good journalism” under the leadership of Australian citizen Julian Assange last week.
Supporters of Wiki-Leaks are trying to make the act of espionage a matter of free speech. The problem with that argument is that divulging a nation’s classified documents is not protected under the First Amedment. Additionally, as a citizen of Australia, Assange is not afforded the same rights and privileges as Americans. In the Information Age, not all information should be made public simply because people have the means to do so.
Bradley Manning, an Army intelligence analyst, is the prime suspect as Assange’s informant. Manning is currently being held in a pre-trial confinement cell at a military base in Quantico, Va., according to Fox News.
The illegality of the issue is quite obvious.
“For Americans to reveal classified government information it is against the law. For foreigners to do it is an act of espionage,” Kori Shacke, an advisor on the McCain presidential campaign said in an interview on CNN.
It is apparent that Assange has confused the responsible investigative reporting Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein did with the Watergate scandal with that of permissible espionage.
Releasing government secrets in the name of journalism is in no way an ethical journalistic practice.
“It is the role of good journalism to take on powerful abuses,” Assange said according to the UK’s Guardian.
There is some truth to this statement. However, compromising a nation’s security and diplomatic relations with other nations to advance the cause of transparency within government is blatantly outside the realm of journalistic responsibility.
A U.S.-based domain name provider shut down WikiLeaks on Dec. 3, but the controversial website announced hours later that it had employed a company in Switzerland and was back up and running. Amazon also booted the site off its servers, according to CNN.
WikiLeaks has lost its payment service provider, an online payment service known as PayPal. PayPal’s decision to back out from WikiLeaks was a crippling blow since the website based on private donations, according to CNN.
Assange’s whereabouts had been undisclosed since WikiLeaks began publishing the classified documents last week. There is a warrant for his arrest in Sweden on unrelated charges of sexual assault, according to CNN.
The empire of journalistic transparency Assange hoped to build is quickly crumbling around him.
After being in hiding since WikiLeaks broke, Assange turned himself in to police in Britain. He will remain in jail without bail until Dec. 14, the date of his next extradition hearing. He faces extradition to Sweden for allegedly raping two women, according to CNN.
Many have tried and failed to make the argument that WikiLeaks is an organization that is founded on the principles of free speech. It is merely a web-based version of espionage and should be blocked from servers across the globe.