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Wikileaks?
by Brad


      

On November 30, 2010 a former adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Tom Flanagan, was interviewed by the CBC on its program, Power and Politics. Nothing unusual there, but for what Flanagan said about the founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange: “I think Assange should be assassinated, actually. I think Obama should put out a contract or maybe use a drone or something.”

Although our Prime Minister was quick to distance himself from the remarks and Mr. Flanagan soon apologized (and has since been censured by his fellow professors at the University of Calgary), his remarks are a not at all unusual reaction by top officials and media pundits to the release of documents called “Cablegate.”

The documents released by Wikileaks are the contents of diplomatic cables sent between 1966 and February of this year. It is important to note that there are about three million U.S. citizens who have the necessary security clearance to view the documents that have been released. They are hardly highly protected state secrets.

But they are embarrassing at the least and very concerning to anyone who pays attention to world politics as I like to do. As a Canadian citizen protected by a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, I believe that our democracy should respect and uphold those rights, especially our right to know how and why government decisions take place (within reason and respecting that some things may need to be kept secret in the best interest of citizens).

And, even though the truth may be hard to hear at times, I want to hear it and have it guide me as a citizen, especially in my decisions on how to cast my vote. It is especially important when the Canadian government calls us on to support participating in military actions overseas. As a teacher, I feel the effects of those actions every day since I teach students who have been displaced from their home countries by war.

Because of what I have seen and read so far (my main sources of information, by the way, are The Guardian, The New York Times and The Globe and Mail), I’ve come to understand that we citizens are often kept in the dark about world events and, unfortunately, are told only partial or sometimes even opposite versions of what is really happening.

The reaction of world powers to the leaks might be best understood by listing some of the events that have taken place on the Internet this week:

Wikileaks servers were a target of “denial of service” attacks  that left those who might wish to view the material unable to do so.

Amazon.com kicked Wikileaks off its servers.

Paypal will no longer accept donations to the organization.

The U.S. Library of Congress blocked access to Wikileaks from computers inside the library even though the same information could be viewed there when hosted on, for example, The New York Times (which has not been blocked).

The DNS service that helped users to find the site refused to provide further hosting to Wikileaks.

A Congressman calls for Wikileaks to be designated a terrorist organization.

 

 

(December 5, 2010)

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