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we steal secrets

We Steal Secrets-002

It’s interesting, ironic even, that the Fourth of July is the release date of Alex Gibney’s remarkable documentary WE STEAL SECRETS: THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS.

American Independence Day seems a suitable date to examine an act that has its perpetrator, Bradley Manning, on trial for treason against the United States under violations of Articles 92 and 134 (the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Espionage Act), the most serious charge, aiding the enemy, a capital offense. The court martial has commenced and may well continue past July 4.

In the meantime, Gibney’s doco is a brilliant background briefing to what has led to Manning’s trial and Julian Assange’s embedding in the Ecuador embassy.

www. Used to mean world wide web, but in the era of cyber secrets you could well think it stands for  whistleblower website wikileaks, a site dedicated to exposing unjust and secretive systems of government.

Since Wikileaks disseminated the dizzying array of diplomatic dossiers and defence documents, Assange and Manning have been entwined, tarred as traitors and terrorists by some, hailed as heroes by others.

Academy Award winning documentarian Alex Gibney was first drawn to document the drama because he deemed it was a David and Goliath story. Then he discovered it was much more than that.

In the age of the Internet, Facebook, twitter etc, what is secret anyway? What is private? What is public? Another whistle-blower, Edward Snowden, has consequently popped up and alleged that Washington is spying on civilians. With the amount of facile baring that takes place on Facebook there’s scant nothing for spooks to discover.

The first casualty of this brave new world appears to be accountability. Assange believes government ought to be accountable but sees no personal accountability in divulging sensitive and classified information. Dizzying double standards apply.

The Swedes want Assange to be accountable to allegations of sexual impropriety. He claims political asylum. His supporters use cyberspace to insult, attack and sully the Swedish women who say Assange has a case to answer.

The power of the private citizen to attack lack of government transparency generates and promotes an uber public persona which appears to generate and promote paranoia that taints transparency in the company crusading against the politically opaque. It’s like the conundrum, hating hate. Zealotry against zeloutry makes you a zealot

Information is power. Freedom of information is empowering.  But with freedom and power come responsibility and accountability, and the contradictions are colossal, corruption a contagion.




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