TED Conversations

Daniel Sheehan


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Where do we stand on on WikiLeaks?

To what extent should we support or oppose WikiLeaks?
Are there limits to what should be exposed to the public by investigators? And who should decide these limits?
When corruption is exposed through leaks how far up or down the ladder should we assign responsibility?
How should bias in reporting leaks be balanced?
If these leaks are produced for corrupt purposes how do we deal with it?
How can we present and prosecute exposed corruption in the public theater without it turning into a witch-hunt?


Closing Statement from Daniel Sheehan

A great deal of this conversation has been on whether our governments have a right to keep secrets from us. Many have pointed out corruptions that the secrets have protected, others site our loss of privacy at the hands of our governments.
Also many insist that transparency is protection from the abuses of authority by the people that we place our most sensitive information with, but few agree that "total transparency" can be achieved or as an over all goal is appropriate.
But it is clear that we believe that whistle blowers should be protected from retaliation.

I believe that we have an increasing problem with the "Free Press" which has become more of a commercialized or biased press that is more concerned with profits or has fallen to the hands of specialized interests, and is enthralled by the depthless mirrored image of spectacle. What had once been an instrument of information now serves mainly to incite and titillate the masses.

It's my opinion that WikiLeaks, and sites like it that supply an outlet for whistle blowers, should have our support as members of the Fourth Estate.

A grateful thank you to everyone that has participated in this discussion.

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    Oct 23 2012: This is a very complicated topic.

    At its heart it requires consensus on what information the public ( the global public) has a right to have.

    And then it requires consensus around whether "we the global public", have a right to that information any way we can get it without an intervening process to assess whether the information at issue is in the "public domain" and how, by what procedure it should be disseminated..

    Most things that are "public"involve some sort of rules of common use and access..(a park can be closed at night, prohibit vehicles etc.) So what "we te global people" might agree is "public information:" doesn't mean we can obtain it any way we want.

    And then we don't have any consensus amongst "we the global people" on what supersedes rights and procedures that might otherwise determine how we gain access to what is in the public domain..e.g. global whistle blower laws"..situations in which the information is proof of violation of public trust or is about an urgent matter of public safety.

    As a lifelong "good government person" who seeks and support transparency and accountability between all governing bodies and "we the people"( all government should be by our consent). Wikileaks showed us almost everyday that government was lying to "we the people" on issues of great consequence to our lives, our planet, future earth and future people. And through possession of this information we were empowered to try to re re establish accountability to us and to the truth.

    There being insufficient transparency and accountability I am ill at ease at the aggressive suppression of wikileaks and its creator. Wikileaks gave us an inside view of what we had a right to know in most cases about issues of enormous significance to humanity. But fighting to save wikileaks doesn't strike me as the wisest or most fruitful response either.

    So maybe "how can we" begins with discoverable truths we can seek and share.

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