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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: @Rick Ryan: "Can you prove that a government can operate without secrets?"

    why would i? my point, from the beginning, is that just because we want to respect humans rights to secrets, a similar right for governments don't follow. i never said governments should not have secrets, nor they should not have rights to defend them. my point was that your argument is invalid. i did not present my take on the issue yet, and i also do not intend to go sideways. first things first.

    "Please read up on the Freedom of Information Act, who it applies to, and the restrictions within it that are LAW."

    i'm sorry to hear that you derive your morals from laws. for me, it is the other way around. i have morals which can only be changed with convincing arguments. and laws should follow from these morals. alas, they not always do. we are not discussing here whether wikileaks complies with some law (btw it does, but it is still not the point). the question was where do we stand. referring to the government as a source of the moral rules about what the government can or can not do is as dangerous as ridiculous.

    "And if you honestly believe a government is only responsible to what the people want and should disregard all morals altogether, "

    a complete misunderstanding of how the system works. governments can not have morals, as they are not people. only people can have morals. members of the government have morals. voters have morals. journalists have morals. the bradley mannings have morals. but the government as an abstract organization can not have.

    the rest of your reply is not in any way related to our discussion, and i will consider it a textbook case of moving goalposts. first things first. admit that humans' rights and governments' rights to privacy are totally unrelated issues. then we can move on to different questions.
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      Oct 25 2012: Krisztian,

      I'm just totally confused by yor response.

      On one hand you say, "...my point, from the beginning, is that just because we want to respect humans rights to secrets, a similar right for governments don't follow."

      But then you follow up by saying, "a complete misunderstanding of how the system works. governments can not have morals, as they are not people. only people can have morals."

      Followed by, "first things first. admit that humans' rights and governments' rights to privacy are totally unrelated issues."

      So, evaluting your total post, I have to conclude that:

      1. When I worked for the government and was responsible to keep secrets, I was a "people" who had the moral right to keep those secrets.

      2. But because I worked for the government who did NOT have a moral right to keep secrets, I should just disregard and throw out the window any belief I had that it would be morally wrong to disclose those secrets, at whatever cost to the citizens of the country I was obligated to defend and protect.

      Hmmm. That's puts me as a "people" in one heck of a moral dilemma.

      I'm not "moving goalposts" at all. I'm addressing a valid issue faced by many of the "people" who decide to serve their country by becoming part of "the government". When anybody releases "secrets", regardless of whether it is an individual or an organization like Wikileaks, who's secrets have they released? A governments? Or the secrets guarded by the "people" who make up that government?
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        Oct 25 2012: "When I worked for the government and was responsible to keep secrets, I was a "people" who had the moral right to keep those secrets."

        i didn't say anything of the sort. beware, nor i said its opposite.

        "the government who did NOT have a moral right to keep secrets, I should just disregard and throw out the window any belief I had"

        neither i said that. these do not follow from what i have said.
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          Oct 25 2012: OK, let me pose a question to you, because I am curious how you would answer it.

          The debate about something like Wikileaks is that if it is allowed...if there are "no secrets"...then there would be no corruption. That is the premise of the people who want something like Wikileaks to be allowed.

          I submit it is an invalid conclusion that corruption would be eliminated by Wikileaks posting all secrets, "just because" it created a "totally transparant" society or government.

          Why?

          Society...the people...can't even come to a consensus on what constitutes corruption already. As I said before, some people think all politicians are corrupt, or all people of wealth are corrupt. They think those of different faiths, or no faith at all, are corrupt. They aren't going to change their minds about corruption taking place just because they have unlimited information...no secrets.

          Corruption is determined one of two ways. It is either legally defined or morally defined, and sometimes both. With 350 million people in one country, or 7 billion people on the planet, who already have vast differences of opininions about what should be legal or moral, even with no secrets there will STILL be the arguments about whether corruption is taking place or not.

          So, why do you support any entity that would be allowed to publish ANYBODY'S secrets on the premise that it will stop corruption from taking place?

          Heck, it wouldn't even stop the DEBATE about whether corruption was taking place.

          The false premise in the reasoning of organizations (or individuals) who promote something like Wikileaks is that EVERYBODY needs to be involved...7 Billion people...in order to determine if corruption is happening. Heck, the more people you add to the decision-making process, the more likely you WON'T get a consensus on whether something is corrupt or not.

          How many people would it take monitoring something to satisfy you that corruption wasn't happening? What qualities should they posess?
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        Oct 25 2012: i don't understand why are you asking these. i clearly explained that i'm not going to discuss anything else until we come to some conclusion about your argument.

        the argument was that governments can have secrets because people can have.

        i said that it does not follow. governments do not have the same rights as people do.

        this line of thought seems to be completely abandoned, and now you are talking about ... i don't know what.
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          Oct 25 2012: And you seem to be avoiding my questions I asked which are directly related to the topic of this conversation as presented by the originator of the topic. Your stance is that people can have secrets, but governments can't. My stance (along with many recognized scholars...go read the Stanford Law Review article again) is that governments ARE the people who make up the government entity itself.

          So I guess you are correct. There is no further need for you and I to discuss it.
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        Oct 25 2012: i'm not going to discuss anything else until we come to some conclusion about your argument. not going to tell once more.

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