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I recently commented on an online Newsweek article about the informants who have leaked government documents and I thought that I would expand upon myself even more here. The issue is whether or not these informants are heroes or villains. The problem with this issue is that the line here is so very blurry.
On one hand this man was trusted with military secrets and he betrayed that trust. This, in and of itself, would define him as a traitor. But the problem with this definition is that in reality the definition forgets the many nuances of life and the fact that whistle-blowers and leakers have to betray the trust given to them in order to report the wrong doing of others. This is also where the concept of a snitch comes from. No one likes a snitch, but those that the snitch reports back to consider that person a hero.
The Good, The Bad, and The Just Plain Wrong
Any time wrong doing is exposed there is going to be two sides to the coin. The side that looks at the whistle-blower with gratitude and the side that wants to make that person pay or be punished. If you think about it, in most cases, even when the situation is sensitive, the person who reveals the wrong doing by others isn’t the bad guy. These people are exposing an ugly truth. The people that should be getting punished are the ones that committed the wrong doing that was revealed.
The problem is when it comes to a government situation, the politicians turn on the propaganda machine and start hiding behind national security claims or whatever claims will most highly sway the public. In most cases the real truth is that the only danger is to the career and freedom of politician and other people that are committing the crimes in the first place.
Basically what I am saying is don’t shoot the messenger. We don’t bury paid professional reporters for revealing big government secrets. Of course often times the big organizations will run it by a government office to see if they can get away with it. Seems like Gestapo-like practices to me. But when real people that are not getting paid to reveal these secrets actually take the initiative to do the right thing we try to crucify them. Thats not right, its stupid and lunacy.
These are the same types of people that broke open the Enron case, that revealed the horrible practices of gold collecting companies that buy your gold. These people are doing the right thing. Just because it involves the government or even the military does not mean that it is any less the right thing. It just means it is more complicated and has further reaching implications, mainly for the careers and freedom of those behind the crimes being reported.
Has everyone already forgotten Abu Ghraib? This case was busted wide open by informants that reported the torture and sexual abuse of prisoners there. These informants were labeled heroes and the soldiers that committed the crimes criminals. You want to know why? Because the soldiers that committed this crime were nobodies. They were not important. They were not connected nor were they politicians or diplomats or generals. The military and the government were able to wash their hands clean of the matter.
Crucifying The Messenger
But then look at the informants such as Bradley Manning or Julian Assange or what about Daniel Ellsberg? These guys leaked some pretty big issues to the public eye. Right now Julian Assange’s reputation is getting torn to pieces because he made big scary documents available to the public. He didn’t do anything wrong. Heck, he did’t even promote the information. News agencies world-wide are the ones that introduced the public to the documents. Should those agencies leaders and reporters be arrested and punished?
This whole situation is absurd. If we allow the government to get away with locking up these people for revealing criminal actions by the government then we are moving more towards a Nazi-like state. We cannot allow our fears and doubts control us. We can’t keep giving up our freedoms in the name of security. Remember what Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s founding fathers, once said “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”.
Tags: Abu Ghraib, America, Benjamin Franklin, betrayed, Bradley Manning, Congress, Constitutional Rights, Daniel Ellsberg, Enron, Founding Fathers, free speech, freedom, government, hero, Humanity, informants, Julian Assange, leaked documents, military secrets, Newsweek, Politicians, Politics, security, traitor, trust, villain