Clothilde Le Coz is the Washington, d.C., director of Reporters
Without Borders (
www.rsf.org), an organization that fights for
JAnUARY dEBAtE RESULtS:
Should Internet openness be
ensured by regulation?
The 250,000 seCRe T U.s. diplomatic cables disclosed by the WikiLeaks website on November 28, all with the complicity of a number of
leading international newspapers, cannot be censored. and even if they
could, they should not be.
WikiLeaks is acting for the public interest by disclosing not only
these 250,000 diplomatic cables, but also the “afghan War Diary 2004–
2010,” featuring 92,000 leaked documents from the U.s. army regarding the war in
afghanistan, as well as publishing the video of the killing of two employees of the Reuters
news agency and other civilians by U.s. military personnel in Baghdad in July 2007. The
“war diary” release was a response to the White house, which broke its word in may 2009
when it defied a court order and refused to release photos of the mistreatment of detainees
in afghanistan and iraq. The documents show evidence that the U.s. government has misled
the public about activities in iraq and afghanistan and that U.s. officials lied about the number of casualties during the war.
WikiLeaks’ disclosure is also the biggest one involving newspapers worldwide. Partnering
with Germany’s Der Spiegel, Britain’s The Guardian, america’s New York Times and France’s
WikiLeaks is raising core questions for the future of democracy, about the role of report-
ers, the level of secrecy and the goodwill of diplomats and political figures. and for once the
experts, or at least the computer security experts, agree: it is impossible to suppress online
content that has been circulating for some time online and is now everywhere. and no
democracy, no matter how big, can ever again count on being able to cover up practices that
could shatter its reputation. C
Percentage reflects votes
received by January 14, 2011.
dECEmBER dEBAtE RESULtS:
Is it ever OK to walk away from
an “upside-down” mortgage?
YES: 58% no: 42%
Percentage reflects votes received by
december 31, 2010. Results may reflect
debate being picked up by blogs.
from an expert in the field:
Jed Babbin, who served as a deputy undersecretary of defense
in the george H. W. Bush administration, is a columnist for RealClear
Politics.com and The American Spectator.
WikiLeaks may be serving some nation’s “public good,” but it clearly isn’t
america’s. as our entire national security community knows, WikiLeaks is
putting a great strain on our intelligence, armed services and diplomatic
agencies in ways that make it far more difficult to fight the war we’re in.
WikiLeaks founder Julian assange told Time in a recent interview that
he thinks america is an authoritarian conspiracy, and he wants the U.s. to
either reform or to “to balkanize and, as a result, cease to be as efficient as they were.” assange is
an enemy of america and seeks to thwart its actions abroad.
One of the 9/11 Commission’s biggest criticisms of the U.s. intelligence community was
that by “stovepiping” information—refusing to share it within and among agencies—they failed
to connect the dots and reach the analytical conclusions that could have led to interdicting the
9/11 attacks. assange wants to “balkanize” information sharing, to disconnect the dots. By pub-
lishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents copied illegally from the siPRNet (secret
internet Protocol Router Network)—the interagency computer network on which much classi-
fied information is shared—WikiLeaks is making it harder to connect the dots by forcing the
government to reduce interagency sharing of classified information.
in this limited space, it’s hard to even list all the other ways the WikiLeaks network is working
against america’s public good. WikiLeaks has, by exposing their names, put at risk the lives of
afghans, iraqis and even a few iranians who have tried to help the U.s. fight terrorism. secrecy is
the means by which diplomacy is conducted, and has always been—not only by the United states
but by all nations. By exposing the confidences of officials of many governments worldwide,
WikiLeaks has taught them not to trust the U.s. and thus limited its ability to conduct diplomacy.
assange argues that transparency is essential to democracy, and in some ways he is right.
exposing illegal governmental acts and corruption is a primary role of a free press. But the pub-
lic doesn’t have a right to know everything, and it shouldn’t. There has to be a balance between
the need for the government to keep secret that which legally furthers national policy and the
public’s right to know. WikiLeaks seeks to destroy that balance, and, so far, it is succeeding.
WikiLeaks is acting against america’s public interest. C
FEBRUARY 2011 The Costco Connection 17
opinions expressed are those of the individuals
or organizations represented and are presented
to foster discussion. Costco and The Costco
Connection take no position on any debate topic.