Friday, September 02, 2011

This needs to be dealt with...

Does this bother you as much as it bothers me? This is the problem when people go spilling secrets. It puts lives at risk, even if names are not specifically divulged. In this case, thousands of classified State Department cables have been spilled out onto the public sphere, unredacted, and containing names of people who are involved in various aspects of government, including the names of whistle blowers.

For me, it's a bit of a conflict. I'm all for freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Still I think these freedoms require some self-discipline and I think there have to be some clear limits when it comes to certain things. Clearly national security is an issue that needs to be considered when we talk about freedom of speech. I often struggle with this balance for a lot of reasons, one of which is simply that I have this zeal to know what's going on and to understand the secrets and mysteries of our world.

However this is a world that is not safe, and there are people who would think nothing about destroying us in an instant. As a result of an imperfect world, the need for secrecy leads to imperfect solutions. If every citizen could be trusted to maintain secrecy, then I'd say every citizen should have access to all information. Of course, that is a bit of a dream world, isn't it?

If there are American's involved in this, I think that treason isn't too big of a word to use here. I think we tend to shy away from this word sometimes, but in some cases I think it's a valid description of what has been done. Clearly though, the big players are not Americans.

What to do about non-Americans in these cases? My thoughts are probably going to be controversial but I'm thinking that we need a concept of "foreign treason". I think we need to look seriously at the actions within some very narrow scopes, and consider that treason (or something like unto it) can be committed by a non-citizen. If a non-citizen commits an act that is so adverse to the people of the United States that there needs to be a means to bring this person to justice. As far as I'm concerned, the cases for such acts need to meet some very narrow requirements, such as putting citizens personally at risk through direct actions on the part of the person being charged. Really, this is not far from laws relating to spying. At any rate, I think that we provide a method to try these people (even in in absentia) and then provide a means by which to extract punishment. In fact, in this case, I'm not sure I'd be opposed to the use of intelligence agencies to bring these people to justice.

Anyway.... that's just a brain dump on my feelings about this.

1 comment:

Gary Myers said...

Not sure where your link was supposed to lead, but I assume it is one of the wikileaks development descriptions such as
http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,783778,00.html

Ultimately Bradley Manning is the guilty party. I disagree with what Assange and the journalists have done. But the only way my 'moral compass' can be justified over his is through some democratic structure. Maybe the country in which he is located turn him over through some extradition process, or charge him under their own laws. Any action not agreed to by that country is a balance of realpolitk.

 
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