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Australian philosopher, literary critic, and professional writer. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE and HUMANITY ENHANCED.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Jack of Kent on WikiLeaks

David Allen Green (better known to most of my readers as "Jack of Kent") posts on WikiLeaks. This is about a week old, but I've only just caught up with it. Hopefully he'll have more to say now that things have moved on, especially with Assange under arrest and facing the possibility of extradition. Green is one of the best legal bloggers around.

There's also a good long thread discussion, though some commenters are very quick to ascribe sinister intentions to Green, who has been one of the fiercest and most consistent advocates of free speech on the internet (and elsewhere). Free speech is important, but the public policy issues here are not only about free speech.

8 comments:

josef johann said...

I'm quite concerned about state governments possibly shutting down wikileaks based on its alleged wrongdoings, and in so doing bulldozing over the legitimate and widely acknowledged public interest being served by wikileaks.

We could end up treating a draconian expression of force as if it were some sort of even-handed decision compatible with the principled concern for security.

And it would co-opt what might otherwise have been a substantial amount of the healthy public backlash. The promise of backlash is likely one of the safeguards preventing state encroachment.

Brian said...

Have you read Johan Hari's take?

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-this-case-must-not-obscure-what-wikileaks-has-told-us-2154109.html

SimonSays said...

The "I didn't vote for Wikileaks" talking point has been brought up repeatedly and frankly is logically nonsensical given the real-life facts. Wikileaks is publishing the exact same cables as the NY Times and the Guardian-in fact giving them access to those cables before the public and working with them on redactions. So in terms of what is being published, they are cooperating and behaving no differently than their newspaper partners.

Would Jack of Kent -or any sensible commentator- say "I didn't vote for the New York Times" or otherwise accuse them of being somehow democratically unaccountable any time they publish the same cables? Absolutely not.

Ernst Hot said...

Good post, however I'm not sure if I get his argument that:

"those who wield power in the public interest should normally have some democratic mandate or accountability. However, no one has voted for WikiLeaks, nor does it have any form of democratic supervision. Indeed, it is accountable to no one at all."

How is Wikileaks different from the traditional press in this respect?

Tony Lloyd said...

"Hopefully he'll have more to say now that things have moved on"

Yup. A short post at the New Statesman : http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2010/12/meaning-liberals-assange

tomh said...

SimonSays wrote:
So in terms of what is being published, they are cooperating and behaving no differently than their newspaper partners.

And there are elected federal officials who would go after newspapers in the same way that they want to go after Wikileaks. In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday, Senator Joe Lieberman said that federal prosecutors should conduct a "very intensive inquiry” into the question of whether or not news organizations had committed a crime by publishing leaked documents.

SimonSays said...

tomh: Yes, Lieberman displays above average zeal in his authoritarianism.

flies said...

"those who wield power in the public interest should normally have some democratic mandate or accountability."

this is silly. a private citizen is free to act in his own interest, but if he acts in the public interest it has to be put to a vote??