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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?

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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: @ Daniel,

    Daniel, I don't know how versed you are in some of the areas your topic covers. But here is an interesting Stanford Law Review which addresses many of the questions in the narrative of your topic.

    http://legalworkshop.org/2010/03/21/deep-secrecy

    It discusses the "depth" of secrets, which should be part of any discussion about whether they should be kept secret or not.

    Note that the article does conclude that certain types of government secrets..."Deep Secrets"... can be both necessary BUT in some cases could be abused to the extent of corruption taking place. I totally agree with that conclusion. It's not a perfect world, but the article does give ideas about how the valid Deep Secrets can be monitored without having to release them to "everybody".

    "Shallow Secrets" are a different matter, as the article explains. The public may know they aren't being told "something", but they probably have an "idea" of what that "something" is about...and they will make wild guesses about it. Shallow Secrets actually lead certain segments of the population to develop conspiracy theories more often than Deep Secrets do. Many secrets concerning national security fall under this Shallow Secret category.

    Also note the article takes the realistic view that not all secrets can or should be released to everybody. It does not support any concept of "total transparancy", and actually gives very valid reasons against it.

    The crux of your topic is in the one narrative sentences you posed..."...who should decide these limits?"...where the limit being asked about is the amount and type of "secrets" being released.

    I'm all for identifying corruption wherever it occurs. But like your narrative also implied, I won't support turning it into a witch hunt by somebody who just isn't satisfied they aren't being "told everything".
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      Oct 24 2012: Thank you for the article Rick. I think that it has a lot to contribute in this discussion.

      Neither the "Shallow Secrets" nor "Deep Secrets" are themselves corruptions of the values we hold morally or in law, but that they can be the vehicles of corruption by individuals or groups that use them to advance themselves or their agendas.

      If I interpret the article correctly, it suggests that to counter the likelihood of the secrets being used in corrupt manners there has to be oversight. The oversight can be within the office or across agencies, but there shouldn't be a sole proprietor of the "Secret" because that lends it too easy towards abuse.


      We've seen leaks of information used for corrupt purposes and also investigations (witch-hunts) conducted just to harm by discrediting others. All leaks have to be vetted in order to insure the context in which they are presented.
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        Oct 25 2012: Yes, there has to be oversight. And I'm all for that happening. But the question is who should be doing that oversight, and to what extent when it comes to secrets.

        Let me be clear again...I do not support corruption in any form. But not everybody can even agree on what corruption is. Some people think that just because an individual is "rich", that makes them a corrupt person. Or if someone is simply "a politician", then they must be corrupt. Not very valid assumptions, much less facts. Both conclusions reek of stereotyping, prejudice, and result in a willingness of some to conduct discrimination (your reference to "witch hunts").

        There is oversight in government secrets now. It exists in the system. Is it perfect? Of course not...it is done by "people" who by definition are not perfect to begin with. But it is not imperfect either...not everyone doing the oversight is corrupt and untrustworthy.

        The concept of "total transparancy" by granting an organization like Wikileaks "free reign" to publish whatever secrets it wants to with no possibility of repercussion is very dangerous. Wikileaks seems to think it has a right to know and publish everything about everything. Heck, that right doesn't even exist for "government employees" (people) depending on the "secret". Do a GOOGLE search using the term "Special Compartmented Information" as it applies to "people" working for "the government". They don't have "total trasparancy" rights either.

        Lindsay Bowker made a great post which is currently at the top of this conversation as I type this. She said, "There being insufficient transparency and accountability I am ill at ease at the aggressive suppression of wikileaks and its creator." I would agree with her that "insufficient transparancy" can be as dangerous as "no transparancy". But somebody decide what "insufficient" means to begin with. Insisting on "total" transparancy is not the viable solution to "insufficient" transparancy.

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