I've been following the WikiLeaks story with some interest. The hysteria surrounding the cable leaks is downright un-American.

The most disturbing thing is what looks to be a coordinated campaign to deny WikiLeaks access to American Internet companies. Amazon dropped them. PayPal dropped them. EveryDNS dropped them. Tableau dropped them. All of these companies have the right to choose whom they do business with. But freedom of the press requires a press. It's particularly troubling to think that government pressure is behind the shutdowns.

Also disturbing is Interpol chasing Assange over a minor Swedish criminal charge. I don't want to dismiss the rights of the accusers in Sweden, but the timing and publicity make it obvious the international warrant has more to do with revenge than sexual impropriety. Now the story is "WikiLeaks = Rapist", a smear which discredits the cable releases without addressing their content.

And then you get the crazy shit. A sustained DDoS attack against the WikiLeaks site which does nothing to stop the cable release but does make it harder for the organization to explain what they're doing. And a herd of nutjobs saying Assange should be assassinated. The air is poisoned.

What makes the response seem like hysteria is the actual cable leak doesn't seem that big a deal. WikiLeaks is being responsible about redaction. The source material, while private, was hardly ever kept that secure. The cables were stored globally on SIPRNet where thousands to millions of people had access. Anything shared with thousands of people is not, practically speaking, secret. And the information coming out so far has proven to hardly be blockbuster. It has been interesting, though, and embarassing.

Clearly the cable leak is against the US government's interests and of course the government is going to respond. But the response is looking a little crazy and disproportionate, not to mention ineffective. In the meantime news organizations every day are turning the material into fascinating stories about the inner workings of US relations with North Korea, China, Italy, Russia, Afghanistan. In the end the disclosure may well create more value than harm caused.

  2010-12-04 15:53 Z