The latest WikiLeaks outrage — the publication of 250,000 confidential U.S. State Department cables, complete with the names of thousands of U.S. informants living in oppressive regimes — is summarized well in this article by Spiegel International. For more background, a former WikiLeaks employee writes at the Guardian about the corrupt, secretive and unaccountable culture within the organization.
This excerpt about Belarus, otherwise known as Europe’s last dictatorship, illustrates perfectly how the WikiLeaks gang has undermined its own alleged principles:
Dismay mounted, however, with the arrival of Israel Shamir, a self-styled Russian “peace campaigner” with a long history of antisemitic writing. Shamir was introduced to the [WikiLeaks] team under the pseudonym Adam, and it was only several weeks after he had left –- with a huge cache of unredacted cables –- that most of us started to find out who he was.
Press enquiries started to trickle in. A little research revealed his unsavoury history, but I was told Julian [Assange, founder of WikiLeaks] would be unwilling for WikiLeaks to publish anything critical of Shamir. Instead, shamefully, we put out a statement simply distancing WikiLeaks from him.
There followed even more damning allegations. Shamir had been seen leaving the interior ministry of Belarus, an eastern European dictatorship.
The next day, the country’s dictator, Alexander Lukashenko, boasted he would start a Belarusian WikiLeaks showing the US was funding his political rivals.
Scores of arrests of opposition activists followed the country’s elections –- but Shamir wrote a piece painting an idyllic picture of free, fair, elections in a happy country.
Human rights groups demanded answers, amid fears that Belarus may have received material from the cables. No answers were supplied. Julian would not look into the matter.
The part later in the article about WikiLeaks’ insistence that the former employee sign a non-disclosure agreement would be delicious irony if the organization didn’t have so much blood on its hands.
The chief lessons of WikiLeaks are two-fold: First, as Hot Air’s Allahpundit observes:
Wikileaks has become the authoritarian’s best friend, not only leading state police straight to the doorsteps of informants but giving potential informants every reason to keep their mouths shut when it comes to exposing their government’s crimes.
This is not a studied neutrality, or allegiance only to truth. It is for all intents and purposes making a value judgment in favor of authoritarian regimes over democratic ones. To deny this is to deny reality.
And second, Assange and his co-conspirators, rather than proving the merits of transparency, have simply demonstrated the danger of letting a small group of unaccountable people wield control over information. They are guilty of everything they accuse governments (but mostly the U.S. government) of doing, and more.
– By Kyle Wingfield