PGP-1, PGDM 2010-12, Goa institute of Management Whistle blowing and The WIKILEAKS Case Analysis, Ethics, Legality & Impact Abhimanyu sukhwal Meghna Bhattacharya Ahefaz Khan David Vaz Ashwin Ramaswamy 2011 Ethics and Corporate governance ( ENCG )
WIKILEAKS &WHISTLEBLOWINGAnalysis, Ethics, Legality & ImpactSince 2007, the website Wikileaks has aimed to provide an anonymous way forindividuals to reveal incriminating, irresponsible, immoral and/or unethicalinformation about their employer or governement. More specifically, Wikileakssays that it accepts “classified, censored or otherwise restricted material ofpolitical, diplomatic or ethical significance.” As such, the whistleblowingintermediary website has been called the future of investigative journalism bysome and an agent of international treason by others.One of the founders and directors of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has been theposter-child for the organisation and for its legal obstacles (over 100 legalchallenges defeated). Many of his supporters (and himself) see the man as a heroexposing unethical governments and corporations. On the other hand, Assangehides in very liberal countries (Sweden for the moment) to escape nations thatwould have his head for treason.At its very core, Wikileaks protects whistleblowers, people that have theunenviable job of following their conscience and exposing higher-ups while facingthe consequences. Often intimidated, routinely fired and made to look likelibellous attention-seekers, very few countries have laws protecting these people.In fact, many more have laws protecting companies from whistleblowers. To taketwo examples, the United States has yet to make sweeping legislation protectingthem so for the moment, each case is dependant on local precedent, individualstate regulations and the mindset of single judges. Not far but on the contrary,Canada is the very worst Western country in this aspect. Having always refusedto officially protect whistleblowers, Canada has had to wait for official inquiries toexpose corruption, especially from its own government (Liberal subsidy scandal,the Conrad Black affair…). This means that the alleged wrongdoings go on fordecades and even more as certain altruistic people try to expose them but aresummarily fired and even prosecuted for slander in the meantime.Wikileaks has revealed much from our past and present but it is its future injeopardy that must preoccupy us. Wikileaks provides an international protectionfor whistleblowers and as a result is forcing honesty and transparency in countriesthat were never willing to do so with legislation. A group of illustrious Australianmedia professionals said it best: “In essence, Wikileaks, an organization that aimsto expose official secrets, is doing what the media have always done: bringing tolight material that governments would prefer to keep secret.”NEW YORK (JANUARY 28, 2011)Sherron Watkins, the former vice president at Enron who tried to blow the whistleon the accounting violations at the scandal-plagued Houston energy-trading giant,told an audience at a seminar Friday on the new whistleblower provisions in theDodd-Frank Act that she and other whistleblower employees would probably taketheir concerns to WikiLeaks rather than the Securities and Exchange Commissionnow.
Introduction:Whistle blowing is a process wherein a person exposes a wrongdoing in his organisation in front of public. The term has been coined from the practice ofpolice officers in Britain who used to blow whistle whenever there was some wrongdoing taking place. The objective of blowing the whistle was toinform and alert everyone in the vicinity of the crime or wrongdoing that has taken place so that they can take necessary measures to protect them and ifpossible catch the culprit. Whistleblowing has been existence since decades. Off late however, the phenomenon has acquired new significance because ofthe increased media penetration among the masses. Consequently, whistle blowing as a phenomenon results into greater and far reaching significance thanwhat it was around decade and a half years back.The person who exposes the wrongdoing is called as the whistle blower. A whistle blower can either be an external or an internal whistle blower. Anexternal whistle blower exposes a situation from within his organisation. There are numerous examples available wherein an internal whistle blower hasexposed a wrongdoing in his organisation. The information is either directly released in the public domain by using print or electronic media or it isreported to higher officials in the organisations. An external whistle blower exposes an outside situation of which he is not a member. For example, mostof the revenue scams that keep cropping up are examples of external whistle blowing.The common perception towards a whistle blower varies widely. Some people perceive a whistle blower as someone who wants to do good for the societyby exposing the wrong doings in front of public. There are other set of individuals who consider whistle blower as selfish breed of individuals who wantto take advantage of the situation for personal rewards. When we look into the history, both these contrasting perceptions appear to have reasonablejustifications. In the past, people have used whistle blowing for exposing a scam involving government officials or prominent public figures so as toprevent the society from getting into big troubles. But at the same time, some people have also blown whistle for individual benefits and calmed downwhen their personal expectations were met.Another important to look into is the risk associated with whistle blowing. There are numerous instances wherein whistle blowers have been subjected toall sort of pressure for preventing them from expressing their stand in public. Some of the whistle blowers have also received death threats and some havealso been allegedly murdered. This is the reason that a sense of fear and apprehension exist whenever a person decides to blow a whistle over a particularwrong doing. Some countries like the United States of America has put forth laws for providing the security to the whistle blower in case of an threat. InIndia, there is no such law in place. However irrespective of law being there or not, whistle blowing is most of the time considered to be a risky affair andpeople try to keep quite rather than reveal the thing in public and face resultant consequences.Ethics in Whistle blowing:The other discussion point with respect to whistle blowing concerns ethics, with various opinions available on the topic. Understanding its significanceand potential dangers, companies have put in place various mechanisms including helplines and ethical training for employees to report any wrong doinggoing on in the organisation. Even this move is not beyond the ethical consideration.Is whistle blowing ethical? Is it ethical for a whistle blower to reveal the information in public before consulting the matter behind closed doors in anorganisation? Is it ethical to ask a whistle blower to resolve the matter internally even when the information is of public interest and could do considerableharm to the society? How do you identify private and public interest? Is it possible that what might appear to have a selfless motive, might have some sortof private ingredient attached to it? These are some of the question that needs to be answered when one looks at whistle blowing from an ethicalstandpoint.For example, consider a situation wherein a whistle blower is threatening an organization of going out in public with some serious wrongdoing. Theorganization in turn strikes a deal with the whistle blower to keep the information out of public domain in return of financial favour. The whistle blower
agrees and the information fails to appear before the public domain. Now thought the whistle blower’s action is unethical, what should we say about theorganization’s action of resolving the matter by indirectly bribing the whistle blower? Or even an altogether different scenario when an individual turn ablind eye to any wrong doing happening around him for fear of repercussion or because of mere apathy towards his responsible towards the society. In thiscase, can we label this particular individual as unethical as the person who blows a whistle for personal gain. Or is there a difference between the two andif yes, can we justify and quantify that difference. Thus talking about the ethics leaves us with a lot of questions that can be debated and discussed atlength.. Is WikiLeaks a Blessing or Curse for Democracy?The whistleblowing organization WikiLeaks, which posted the Afghanistan war logs this week, has made publishing government secrets its mission.Many see founder Julian Assange as a hero, but others, including the Pentagon, consider him a threat to national security. He walks in quickly, a spring inhis step. Even before greeting anyone in the room, he searches for a power outlet for his small, black computer. Its a simple, inexpensive notebook, butthe worlds intelligence agencies would pay a lot of money for the chance to see whats on it. The mans name is Julian Assange. He has just come fromStockholm, following a brief stay in Brussels. Before that, he was off the radar for a couple of weeks. Assange is practically a wanted man these days. Itsalmost as if he were on the run.Five agents from the United States Department of Homeland Security tried to pay him a visit two weeks ago, just before he was scheduled to speak at aconference in New York. But their efforts were in vain. Assange decided to stay in England after his attorney had told him that various other USgovernment agencies were also very interested in speaking with him. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently characterized Assange and his work as"irresponsible."A Forum for Anonymous LeaksAssange is the founder of the Internet platform wikileaks.org. Together with a handful of full-time employees and many volunteers, he has operated thesite since 2007. WikiLeaks gathers and publishes material that companies and government agencies have designated as secret. The site acts as a forum forwhistleblowers and only publishes original documents -- in other words, no rumors or material written by the WikiLeaks staff.In the past, WikiLeaks has published e-mails written by former US vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, exposés the corrupt activities of formerKenyan leader Daniel Arap Moi and secret documents from the US detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. At that time, the site was mainly visited byinsiders, but it gained international attention in April, when Assange invited a group of journalists to the National Press Club in Washington to watch avideo.The film showed the deadly 2007 attack by an American Apache helicopter on a group of about a dozen civilians in Baghdad, two of them employees ofthe Reuters news agency. The voices of the helicopter crew were also audible, their cynical comments only adding to the horror of the images on thevideo. Since the incident, Reuters had tried in vain to obtain a copy of the video. Assange, however, managed to get one. It was his biggest scoop to date.A Threat to National SecurityFor some people, Assange and his collaborators are heroes fighting for total freedom of information and against any form of censorship. But for othersthey are traitors.From the standpoint of the American authorities, the Australian is a serious threat to national security -- something the Pentagon has even put in writing.As early as 2008, the US military classified WikiLeaks as a serious security problem and discussed how best to combat the site. That document was alsoleaked to Assange -- and then published on wikileaks.org.Since then, some have voiced concerns about his safety, and even his life. But it isnt quite clear whether the man who is now firing up his computer inLondon is dangerous or in danger. He is certainly conspicuous: a tall, thin man with snow-white hair and skin that seems unnaturally pale for the summer -- partly because he has spent the last few weeks preparing his next project and hardly ever going outdoors during the day.In a room on the fifth floor of the building that houses the offices of the Guardian, he is giving the British daily newspaper, the New York Times andSPIEGEL an early look at a group of more than 90,000 individual reports from the war in Afghanistan, most of which are marked "secret."
Everyday BrutalityThe publication of this archive, says Assange, will not only change the way the public sees the war, it will also "change the opinion of people in positionsof political and diplomatic influence." According to Assange, the documents "shines light on the everyday brutality and squalor of war" and will "changeour perspective on not only the war in Afghanistan, but on all modern wars."The archive contains intelligence information, assessments and many names, both of military officials and sources. The publication of secret militarydocumentation of a war, which was never intended for the public, raises new questions. Is this journalism, covered by the publics right to information? Isit a legitimate look behind the propaganda machinery of the war? Or is it an act of espionage, and are Assange and his collaborators making themselvesguilty of revealing government secrets? And are they ultimately jeopardizing the international troops and the Afghan informants helping them?Part 2: A Database on a Flash DriveWikiLeaks and sites like it have already changed the way governments and corporations handle sensitive information.There have always been whistleblowers, employees of companies or government agencies who leak confidential information to the press to draw attentionto undesirable developments and corruption, or to expose abuses of power. But such an extensive database of war, which fits on a single USB flash driveand can thus be easily published on the Internet, is a new phenomenon.Is WikiLeaks a new beacon of enlightenment? Or does the website pose a threat to democratic nations, because it allows a former hacker and a few closecollaborators to decide which piece of explosive information to unveil next -- without giving the other side a chance to tell its side of the story or takelegal steps to stop the leaks? "These people can put out whatever they want and are never held accountable for it," US Defense Secretary Gates said, inresponse to the publication of the video of the 2007 helicopter incident. Rarely has a member of a US administration seemed so helpless.The problem starts with the fact that WikiLeaks, to this day, remains more of a brilliant idea than an organization in the conventional sense. It has noheadquarters or even a street address, just an anonymous mailbox at the University of Melbourne. So far Assange and a German colleague, who callshimself Daniel Schmitt, are the only two people involved in WikiLeaks to have shown their faces in public. Otherwise, the operation consists of littlemore than the website itself, a few email addresses and a Twitter account the organizers use for PR purposes. The servers, which are distributed around theworld in places with laws that provide extensive protections for informants, are the core of the operation. Donations cover the annual overhead of about€200,000 ($258,000), and Assange and Schmitt dont even pay themselves salaries.Highly IntelligentAt the meeting in London, it quickly becomes clear how dependent WikiLeaks is on individual activists -- and, to a large extent, on Assange and his littleblack laptop. Its also clear that Assanges adversaries have an opponent to be taken seriously in this highly intelligent, self-confident 39-year-old.Assange is working obsessively on a database with which WikiLeaks intends to make the war in Afghanistan more tangible. He is wearing an oddcombination of a wrinkled jacket, a T-shirt, cargo pants and worn-out tennis shoes. He is unshaven and looks as if he hasnt slept for two nights. Well-meaning people close to him say that he urgently needs a couple of weeks of vacation.Assange disagrees. His fingers fly across the keyboard, and he occasionally pauses to say something. "We need a function that arranges the incidents bytheir relative importance," he says in his deep, sonorous voice. Before long, he has installed a filter that allows the sites users to search through thethousands of individual incidents according to their "significance." Assange has chosen the number of civilian casualties as one of the primary criteria.The database can also be searched by date and region, and each individual incident is linked to a map view showing exactly where in Afghanistan itoccurred. Its war as a multimedia presentation."Ha," he says suddenly. "Unbelievable." He has discovered yet another grotesque example of the jargon the military uses to describe reality on thebattlefield. The term is: "Vital Signs Absent" -- in other words, dead. The language of war fascinates him, which explains why WikiLeaks titled theBaghdad video "Collateral Murder." His purpose in choosing the title, says Assange, was to expose the cynical term "collateral damage" and make itimpossible to use.Our Criteria Are Crystal-ClearWhen Assange talks about this project -- over dinner, for example, during which the Australian orders nothing but two scoops of cardamom ice cream --he is intent on sending the message that WikiLeaks is a radical, carefully conceived project. Assange takes a long time to reflect before answeringquestions, and he insists on delivering his full response. He doesnt like to be interrupted.Assange says that he came up with the basic idea in the 1990s, and in 1999 he reserved the domain name leaks.org. For Assange, the fundamental rule inopen societies must be that everyone should be able to communicate freely about everything. Experience, he says, shows that wherever there are secretsthere is often wrongdoing, because people in positions of power tend to use secrets to their advantage.If his view is correct, there are probably quite a few powerful people in the world who should be very concerned, because WikiLeaks supposedly has awealth of still-unpublished material. Who decides what is published, and when?The source, says Assange. Whenever it receives an anonymous submission, WikiLeaks asks the informant why he or she believes that the material is ofpolitical or moral relevance. "Our criteria are crystal clear, and if they are met, we publish," says Assange.Who is "we? "In the end, someone has to be in charge, and thats me," says Assange. "And when in doubt, Ill always publish."Living a Nomads Life
Its a remarkable position for an organization that doesnt even publish the names of the five paid staff it allegedly employs -- and for a man who tries tododge questions about his own life. A few basic facts, at any rate, seem clear.Assange was born in 1971 to a family of artists in Queensland, Australia. His parents eventually separated, but when his mother remarried, the relationshipalso failed. It was so disastrous, in fact, that his mother took Julian and fled from her second husband, even living under a false name for a while.Even then, he was living a nomads life, and he reportedly attended almost 40 different schools.As long ago as the 1980s, the Stone Age of the Internet, when a personal computer was a Commodore 64 and modems were referred to as "acousticcouplers," Assange developed a passion for computers and networks. He later made a name for himself in the Melbourne hacker community, aftersuccessfully hacking into corporate and government networks, including American military computers."It was God Almighty walking around doing what you like," a prosecuting attorney said a few years later. The group of hackers to which Assangebelonged even monitored the Australian federal police investigation of them online. Assange was eventually fined and sentenced to a form of probation. Atelevision report on the case shows Assange in a trenchcoat and sunglasses, his long, brown hair tied into a ponytail. The group of hackers called itself the"International Subversives."Assange already had a young son when he was sentenced. He was young himself when he became a father, but he soon became embroiled in a bittercustody battle with the childs mother that lasted for several years -- and led to renewed run-ins with government agencies.Part 3: An Attempt to Get Revenge?Is WikiLeaks merely a way for a hurt hacker and unrecognized computer genius to get revenge? Because of his personal history, is Assange really talkingabout the government when he talks about the "enemy?"These are the kinds of questions that journalists typically ask Assange. He hates them with the same passion with which he despises the "secret" stamp onofficial documents. For him, WikiLeaks is also a project that is about transforming traditional media. He wants users to form their own opinions on thebasis of original documents, without any journalistic spin. But with the "Collateral Murder" video, WikiLeaks violated its own principles by adding aneditorialized title, for which Assange came in for some criticism.The problem, says the Australian, arises in the head of the reporter. He prefers scientific journals, with their footnotes and lists of references. Although hedescribes himself as an investigative journalist, his work is in fact more like that of an archivist and librarian. It isnt an accident that he has registeredWikiLeaks as a library in Australia.Assange and his colleagues can be very pleased with the development of WikiLeaks at the moment. A few days ago, the Australian gave a talk toinvestigative journalists in London, while his German collaborator Daniel Schmitt spoke in Hamburg -- both to enthusiastic applause. They were awardedAmnesty Internationals media prize last year.Under a ShadowBut the project has been under a shadow since May 29. On that day, Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old US soldier, was arrested at the Forward OperatingBase Hammer in Iraq and taken to a military prison at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.The US military has since made public its charges against Manning, a former military analyst. It claims that between Nov. 19, 2009 and the spring of thisyear, he downloaded the Baghdad video published by WikiLeaks, as well as 150,000 secret diplomatic cables by the US State Department and a secretPowerPoint presentation.The US military accuses Manning of having passed on the video and 50 of the wire reports to a "person not entitled to receive them." According to a USArmy spokesman, Manning could face up to 52 years in prison if convicted.It appears that Manning blew his own cover. On May 21, he apparently began a series of Internet chats with an American hacker named Adrian Lamo.The US magazine Wired has published excerpts of the chats.Lip-Syncing to Lady GagaOne of the parties to the correspondence, who US authorities believe is Manning, poured his heart out to Lamo, a complete stranger to him until then. Hedescribed how he was able to access the SIPRNET and JWICS secret networks through two work computers, and that he also found unprotected materialon a US Central Command (CENTCOM) computer. "I cant believe what Im confessing to you," he added.In the chats, he even revealed how he supposedly smuggled the material out of his workplace. He said that he inserted blank CDs into his work computersin Iraq, which he had previously labeled "Lady Gaga," so as to create the impression that he was taking home music CDs. According to the chat logs,Manning said that he "listened and lip-synced to Lady Gagas Telephone while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history."The chatter made several references to WikiLeaks and Assange, with whom he claimed he was in contact. He also suggested that he was motivated by adeep dissatisfaction with the local situation and the US military.Lamo informed the FBI and turned over his chat logs. In interviews with the US media, he sought to justify his actions by saying he was concerned thatnational security was at threat. Manning was arrested a short time later.Outing the WhistleblowersThe Manning case turned into delicate situation for WikiLeaks and Assange. It bears an uncanny resemblance to a scenario aimed at harming WikiLeaksthat the US military concocted in a secret document in 2008. According to the scenario, successful identification, prosecution and outing of individualswho pass on information to WikiLeaks would damage and possibly even destroy the site, and deter others from taking similar steps.How does the WikiLeaks founder feel about the US soldiers supposed self-incrimination?"If we are to believe the allegation, Manning was betrayed by a US journalist-computer hacker who had nothing to do with WikiLeaks," Assange says."We cant save people from themselves, unfortunately."
Part 4: We Have No Idea if Manning Was Our SourceCould Manning also have been the source of the Afghanistan material, as some observers are now speculating? "We have no idea if he was our source,"Assange claims. "We structure our system so that we do not know the identity of our sources."And why does WikiLeaks want to provide Manning with legal assistance, if WikiLeaks has indeed installed technical safeguards to make it impossible forit to know who submitted the material?"We have to assist all our alleged sources," says Assange. "We should remember that regardless of whether Mr. Manning was the source for the CollateralMurder video or whether he was directly or incidentally involved in any of the materials we have published, he is a young man who is detained in Kuwaitas a result of an allegation that he is our source."Staying with Supporters Around the World.After Mannings arrest, Assange also disappeared for a few weeks, and his attorneys advised him to avoid traveling to the United States. "One of ourcontacts informed me that there was consideration being given as to whether I could be charged as a co-conspirator to commit espionage," he says.Thats the reason he checked into a London hotel under a false name and then made a quick disappearance to stay with one of his supporters, as has sooften been the case in the past few years. He has stayed in places all around the world, from Kenya to Iceland, where he and a team of volunteers preparedto publish the Baghdad video.The precautions apply to everyone in his group. When Jacob Appelbaum, a well-known programmer in the Internet community, stood in for Assange at ahackers convention in New York two weekends ago, he even hired a double to pose as him after he had given his talk. Appelbaum himself went directlyto the airport, carrying only his passport, some cash and a copy of the US Bill of Rights, and took a flight overseas.Increasingly CautiousDaniel Schmitt, the German representative of WikiLeaks who is, next to Assange, the second most important voice of WikiLeaks, has also become morecautious.During a meeting with SPIEGEL in a Berlin café, Schmitt looks around to see if anyone is listening to the conversation. He also says that he doesnt wantphotographs taken in his presence.Germany is one of the most important sites for WikiLeaks, acting as one of the pillars of the relatively loose-knit organization. WikiLeaks receives manysubmissions in German, it gets technical assistance from people associated with the Chaos Computer Club, an influential German hacker organization, andGerman supporters are responsible for a large share of its donations.Schmitt, a slim, bearded 32-year-old with horn-rimmed glasses, studied computer science and worked in IT security before devoting himself completely toWikiLeaks. He looks almost pedestrian next to the somewhat eccentric Assange, who has been known to walk around in London in his socks andsuddenly do a cartwheel.Just the BeginningA foundation called "Friends of WikiLeaks" is expected to be launched in Germany this year. Schmitt is working on a brochure designed to encouragepeople to leak information, which he wants volunteers to hand out in front of the Reichstag, the seat of the German parliament, and the Defense Ministry.He has also considered placing ads in the subway.The two men, Assange and Schmitt, say that WikiLeaks has a mountain of unpublished documents at its disposal -- and that this is just the beginning."If we want to use a mountain-climbing metaphor, were only at the base camp," says Assange.Then he snaps his little black laptop shut, packs it into his charcoal-gray nylon backpack, and walks out of the room.Although Wikileaks hasnt quite delivered in terms of a major shock to a sector of society which believes itself to be immune from criticism, it has madeone point – whistleblowing has a big future.The overreaction to Wikileaks release of information and the transparently obvious targeting of Assangeproves that Wikileaks has in fact found a very responsive area in politics and government , which is apparently hypersensitive.Most interestingly, the systematic attacks on Wikileaks through a network of sites apparently based in Europe also indicates tantrums at the highest level.Fortunately for these sites, Wikileaks seems unable to retaliate in kind, but it is interesting to speculate what would happen if a less "nice" organizationthan Wikileaks was under attack. Global cyber Vietnam, anyone?The world should be paying close attention to what happens to Wikileaks, because this is "Power in action", however infantile. This response is theproduct of the mentalities currently running the world. "Banal" would be a flattering description, but this obviously self-serving malice under the pretenseof law deserves attention.For example, classified information may or may not have a degree of legal protection under Official Secrets Acts or theirequivalents. The actual specific breaches of law have been only vaguely defined. Calling something a security risk after the event is also a highlydebatable line of argument. Yet, this is whats happening, and the law is now being used to protect those responsible for massive failures of security, notpunishing the clear incompetence which allowed the leaks. "Democracy", eh?Given that politicians and governments around the world barely react at all to the endless disasters of their administrations, like poverty, homelessness,education, the destruction of the oceans, massive levels of pollution, saturation levels of global corruption, rampant crime, flagrant abuse of financial lawsand the rest of the dictionary, this obvious high sensitivity might be well worth exploring.Its not like Assange and Wikileaks released a series of embarrassing photos. The pity of it is that the damage to these incredibly smug, well insulatedelements of society has been so minimal. As a matter of fact, if you read a bit further into some of the information released, there would be grounds forinvestigation of some of the departments and individuals named.Interestingly, the reaction to the Wikileaks materials was as incompetent, bitchy andineffectual as might have been expected. The denial of service attack on Wikileaks, the Swedish on-again, off-again charges against Assange, and thematronly-virtuous outrage directed not against facts but against people revealing the facts was utterly predictable.
Even the mathematics, referring to PFC Manning as the poster boy for the reaction against Wikileaks, is lousy. PFC Manning was charged regarding150,000 downloads, not the many millions of downloads and documents possessed by Wikileaks. So whos checking out the other few million leaks, andwhy arent we hearing ongoing fury about them? Brief, selective attention spans presumably make better press releases.This is "national security"? interesting bit of official non – apologia from a US senator regarding the leaked diplomatic information equated basically to"Thats the way it is, and the world has to do business with America". So if American National Security is unreliable, and the American government hasno means of dealing with security problems, everything’s fine, business as usual.Thats not quite the case. The extensive non-denial of the Wikileaks materials is also interesting. In fact, its downright suspicious. In fact, Washington hasbeen trumpeting its ineffectuality strangely. Expecting the world to put up with yet another American disaster the way America tolerates its hopelesslyinept, antiquated, corrupt and usually lunatic levels of government is naive to the point of imbecility. The American public doesnt seem to benefit verymuch from “business as usual”, and the world is now apparently getting the same treatment.This is the culture running the world. No responsibility, noaccountability, and the world can pay for it. That’s not good enough. Never has been, never will be. The fact is that governments and related scum arevery unlikely to change their ways. Historically, corruption is the basis of power and privilege. It was endemic in ancient Egypt, China, and Rome, andthings haven’t changed much. The fact that those societies also fell to bits in much the same way is also worthy of note.So the future of whistleblowing will have to be based on something a little bit more lethal to the global and American gravy trains than Wikileaks. How dopeople feel about not just one Wikileaks, but thousands of them, concentrating on the very sore points in government, finance, and the rest of the festeringsores, preferably as specialists in their fields?As most people who have worked in business, government or politics are well aware, information which canforce change does exist. Its a matter of getting it out of the public eye. Wikileaks recently stated that it had a lot of information regarding a major bank,definitely the sort of material that needs to be on view.For example, if the endless mismanagement of the health sector generally was open to scrutiny, there would be howls around the world. The strangelyreticent and incredibly slow moving prosecution of clergy for sexual molestation of children might also reveals some interesting administrative facts.Its a pretty sick world. When this is the only way to get proper levels of attention to the total failure of world governments and people in positions ofprivilege and trust, it makes democracy look totally dysfunctional. If these anointed insects in positions of power are ever to be brought to accountability,it usually takes a war. Wikileaks should be just the beginning of enforcing accountability. The net result of the recent leaks will be to convince these eliteenemas that theyve survived the worst case scenario. They need to be disabused of that notion, and quickly. There should be no safe place on Earth forcorrupt politicians, or the usually criminal/insane vested interest vermin that they serve.Failure is not an option. Wikileaks has exposed some nerves, if nothing else. There is no way that a global whistleblowing network could never be shutdown. If this is the way to take out the trash, then let the trash be taken out that way. Expected changes in the highly internet media driven society in light of Wiki leaks type of exposuresIn his published statement about why he posted a portion of the bail for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore said:"We were taken to war in Iraq on a lie. Hundreds of thousands are now dead. Just imagine if the men who planned this war crime back in 2002 had had aWikiLeaks to deal with. They might not have been able to pull it off. The only reason they thought they could get away with it was because they had aguaranteed cloak of secrecy. That guarantee has now been ripped from them, and I hope they are never able to operate in secret again."The sentiment in Moore’s statement is accurate in the present, but looking forward, I think the long-term effect of WikiLeaks may be more detrimental tothe idea of transparency. Government officials, diplomats and clandestine figures working on behalf of governments around the world do not want theirpersonal communications published for the world to see. Even against the backdrop of a global conflict in which thousands and perhaps millions areneedlessly dying, those in power are not going to view the WikiLeaks situation as an opportunity to become "more" transparent in the way that theyoperate.Moving forward, protective measures ensuring secrecy are only going to increase dramatically. Fewer and fewer people will have access to criticalinformation and decisions are going to be made unilaterally, at higher levels, by even fewer individuals. That is the only logical outcome of the entireWikiLeaks scandal.In this particular moment in time, WikiLeaks has struck a meaningful blow for transparency and for accountability from government officials, even ifmany people will point to the questionable aspects of national security that the documents might endanger indirectly. But already it seems that the peoplewho are applauding WikiLeaks are in the minority. If Michael Moore’s spearheading the support, then the cause is probably not one entirely popular withmainstream America. That said, Moore’s onto something with the idea that greater transparency in government is something that would be beneficial forall levels of humanity.Again, however, my thought is that the reactionary move on the part of the U.S. government and other world powers is going to be to clamp down evenfurther on information management and allow fewer people access to the behind-the-scenes decisions that affect the world. Yet within that pessimisticview of the long-term impact of this situation, there is still a chance that some people are awakened by the acts of Assange and his website and people areable to mobilize to demand more information from their governments.At the end of the day, the wars being fought around the world are well-orchestrated acts of manipulation by a select few. And whether you choose to pointto al Qaeda, the Taliban, the U.S. government, or the U.S. military-industrial complex, the formula is the same. The actions and decisions of a select fewresult in the killing and death of millions and the end result leaves nothing resolved, nothing clearly better or worse than it was before the start of conflict.That is the morsel of understanding that everyone needs to take away from the WikiLeaks incident.
What changes will take place in the highly internet media driven society in light of Wiki leaks type of exposures?Wiki leaks claims to bring “important news and information to the public”, by claiming access to/ ability to acquire and release articles with confidentialand/ or controversial information. In the highly media driven society today, the type of “exposures” that Wiki leaks encourages and indulges in, hasrepercussions/ consequences in the form of a domino effect.Responsible Journalism- Information should be used with discretion, caution and responsibly. While Wiki leaks is being hailed as the New Media, therelease of confidential pieces of information pertaining to government policies and strategic diplomacy, would harm national security and internationaldiplomacy.Also, since a lot of the news/ information are controversial in nature, their release and consequent spread sparks off immediate reaction from multiplesections at multiple levels, for equally varied reasons. The accused/ primary party criticises the release citing privacy issues, others react to the actions theprimary party has been accused of and still others take advantage of the situation. For e.g. - The controversy following the release of the 250,000 U.SEmbassy Diplomatic Cables.Lack of Verification - Given that the authorship/ sources of those articles are not revealed to the public, there is minimal possibility of verifying theauthenticity of the stated information. Wiki leaks responds to criticism by stating-"The simplest and most effective countermeasure is a worldwide community of informed users and editors who can scrutinise and discussleaked documents."Once a controversial topic comes to the forefront, not everyone stops to/ is capable of verifying/ analysing it. Irresponsible handling of information willlead to widespread chaos, particularly in politically volatile situations.Motive- Media acts as the society’s conscience as a check on the governance in a society by focussing on the actions of the government and bringingcontroversial and debatable issues to the forefront. While the intention of bringing information to the people is laudable, the power that the holder of theinformation wields is dangerous and corruptive. Media may abuse its power and spread fraudulent information for publicity.Right to Access- Currently, Wiki leaks has over 20,000 articles in its online archives. While right to information is important, who decides how much andwhich information should people have the access to?Given that we live in the age of communication, any information, however trivial, once put on the World Wide Web is not only stored for posterity butalso circulated among the millions of users all across the world. The said users together form a nameless mass that can include anyone from a child,teenager, householder/ office-goer to a terrorist. In such cases, discretion is of utmost importance, especially when dealing with controversial information,because once released, it is impossible to control the spread of the information and its consequences.