The story which has seemed to dominate the news today, or at least the sources that I frequent, is the release of the US diplomatic records by wikileaks. I’ve been a big fan of wikileaks for a while now, the release of the Minton report conducted by Trafigura concerning toxic dumping in Africa was an example of the kind of information which conventional news sources just can’t deal with but where there is a clear case for the information to be freely available. The scientology files and also the East Anglian Climate Research Unit files are other examples where there was a clear reason to get data in the public domain. You can probably see where I’m going now: I don’t understand why this data needed to be released.
Governments are routinely too secret with everyday things but much of the files released is correspondence. I don’t think the public have the right to just see all correspondence conducted on their behalf. If I write a letter to my MP that should not become public domain material, and if it did I’d be justifiable upset. Most of the documents reported so far seem fairly lame. As many other bloggers have pointed out: Middle Eastern country concerned by nuclear threat shock! Putin is thought of as alpha-dog intrigue! The US has done precisely the right thing here, insisting to go down diplomatic routes before going for the snake’s head. The only piece of data I’ve seen so far that is slightly interesting is the attempts to spy on the UN. But there’s no need to release everything sent just to cover that.
This leak looks more like one up-man-ship and an attack on the US than any real whistle blowing. It’s especially a shame because wikileaks was already on ropey ground after the Iraq War leak. For the US cyber-squad they must now be near the top of any priority list. If wikileaks goes we’re going to lose a service, although a service that is beginning to lose it’s way.