Transparency versus State Secrets: Is Wikileaks a threat to US national security or an opportunity for greater government accountability?

By Thomas James Wood. University of Sussex The release of classified documentation by Wikileaks relating to U.S. military and diplomatic communications has been the subject of immenseinternational interest. The release of these cables has caused global debate and highlighted a number of significant modern challenges for government, journalism, human rights and the internet itself. While it is not the first-time the United States has been the source of leaked classified documents, the scale of the leak and the way in which the information has been made available to the public are unmatched. So far,the contents of the 250,000 leaked documents appear to vary from fairly uninteresting and insignificant diplomatic conversations to cables that are at best of minor embarrassment or at worst severely damaging to the United States international reputation. However, the content of the documents themselves is not the primary focus of this study, more important is the implications these events may have on transparency, human rights, national security and the freedom of information. ³A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency´ (Obama, 2009) were the words the newly inaugurated president chose in his first week in office. His predecessor George W. Bush had been widely criticised for some of his administrations activities whilst in office, in particular the reasons behind the invasion of Iraq and the eventual failure to find weapons of mass destruction. Now, however, in light of the recent release of over 250,000 U.S. defence cables by the Wikileaks organisation, President Obama and his administration¶s commitment toward increased transparency appears to have shifted as the U.S. government attempts to defend itself against what it sees as an attack on its national security. In a statement on the Wikileaks website describing why the media (and particularly Wikileaks) is important it claims ³Publishing improves transparency, and this transparency creates a better society for all people.´ Yet, Hilary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State has declared that Wikileaks ³puts people¶s lives in danger, threatens our national security and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems.¶(Clinton, 29/10/2010) This reference to Wikileaks as an existential threat represents an example of the


³speech act´ and should alert the public to the possibilities of imminent change and the potential for the exercise of new state powers (Wæver, 1995, p55).

The Oxford dictionary of politics defines accountability as ³the requirement for representatives to answer to the represented on the disposal of their powers and duties, act upon criticisms or requirements made of them, and accept (some) responsibility for failure, incompetence, or deceit.´(Mclean &Mcmillian, 2009, pg 1) In the past it has often been investigative journalists that have been responsible for highlighting examples of government ³failure, incompetence or deceit´ and bringing it to the general public¶s attention. There have been examples so called ³whistle-blowing´ throughout the twentieth century exposing government failings, some incidents more damaging than others.In any true democratic society there is the need for a free media to represent and protect the electorate from the transgressions of the state. Both national and international human right laws exist to protect freedom of speech and these laws give the public and the press the power to hold their governments accountable. Wikileaks, the Media and Human Rights The United Nations states that: ³Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.´ (United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19)

Furthermore, E.U. law declares ³The Freedom and pluralism of the media shall be respected´ (Charter of Fundamental Rights of The European Union, Article 11) and in addition U.S. law protects the individual as part of its constitution:

³Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press´ (U.S. Bill of Rights, Amendment 1)


According to these laws, Wikileaks decision to release classified material is not only legal but a basic freedomof democracy. However,Wikileaks latest releaseshave brought about a new challenge to these fundamental human rights laws as the U.S. government retaliates to what it sees as a threat to national security. In an effort to shut Wikileaks down, the United States government has cut all methods of funding, by placing pressures on, Paypal, Visa and Mastercard to block all monetary transfers to the site. The organisation ³Reporters Without Borders´ which campaigns for press freedom stated "This is the first time we have seen an attempt at the international community level to censor a website dedicated to the principle of transparency." (RWB, 2010) The traditional military-political understanding of security tends to be centred on survival of the state. It is this aspect of security threat that justifies the use of extraordinary measures to handle them. In view of a potential security threat the state is able to ³legitimize the use of force...or to take on special powers, to handle existential threats.´ (Buzan et al, 1998, p21) Furthermore by saying ³security´ a state representative declares an emergency situation effectively allowing them to use whatever means necessary to block the developing threat. This use of power is being exercised and is unmistakably evident in the actions of the U.S. government in retaliation to the release of classified documents. Already there are attempts being made to amend the Espionage Act of 1917. The SHIELD Act, which has been introduced in both Houses of Congress, making it a crime for any person to ³disseminate, in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States, any classified information... concerning the human intelligence activities of the United States or... concerning the identity of a classified source or informant who is working with the intelligence community of the United States.´ (Stone, 2010) It appears that this Act is constitutional when applied to a government employee who illegally ³leaks´ classified documents to an individual or organisation that is not permitted to receive it. However, in relation to Wikileaks and other individuals or organizations who might publish or otherwise disseminate the information after it has been leaked, the Act would ³plainly violate the First Amendment.´ (Stone, 2010) On the other hand, the First Amendment does give the government a great deal of autonomy to protect its own secrets as well as giving the government considerable authority to restrict the speech of its own employees. However, ³what it does not do.., is allow the government to suppress the free speech of others when it has failed to keep its own secrets.´ (Stone 2010)


These recent events have highlighted that the information acquired by Wikileaks shows a flaw in US information protection procedures and the laws relating to leaked information. Some in the media have suggested that the difficulty for governments has been the rapid development of information technology in recent years and the challenges to security this represents. However, there is now growing debate as to whether these documents should have been so easily available to so many people. Bradley Manning a U.S. soldier while serving in Iraq stands accused of stealing and ³leaking´ the Afghan war files. He allegedlyaccessed the secret cables onSIPRNet (the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network) used by the U.S. Department of Defence and Department of State to transmit classified information. The files included the controversial ³Collateral Murder´ video of a July 2007 helicopter airstrike in Baghdad which shows the killing of ³nine insurgents´ and two Reuter¶s journalists. Later footage showed three more men being killed as they appear to attempt to help some of the injured victims. Later evidence reports that two children were also injured. The footage has damaged the reputation of U.S. military but also highlighted a weakness in the protection classified material. Bradley Manning¶s role in initially stealing and leaking the documents, although illegal, has allowed the public to gain access to the truth behind the U.S. actions during and in the build up to war. Yet, it is Wikileaks role in the events that could have greater repercussions.

Wikileaks, it could be said, removes the possibility for incidents of political subterfuge occurring. If a government has access to intelligence that the people do not, the government can claim to be making decisions in the interest of national security purely based on that intelligence ± no one can prove them wrong or say they are acting incorrectly because no one aside from the governments has that intelligence. The government can then stop that

intelligence being revealed to the governed by stating that it would be a threat to security to release that information. In recent times,the press has been accused of ³pulling its punches´ and being too supportive of government. Wikileaks essentially cuts out the middle man and eliminates political spin and manipulation in the process. Some of the criticism of Wikileaks has come from journalists and other media professionals.The award winning foreign correspondent Robert Fisk suggests for journalists to accept whistle-blowing websites without proper consideration could be a danger to the ³craft of journalism.´ (Fisk, 2010) There is even theargument that the organisation is not a legitimate journalistic institution and that rather than being investigative journalism it is


instead just guilty of encouraging the stealing of confidential documents and then releasing them with no respect for the possible consequences. However, JulianAssange¶schoice to allow in the first instance, respected media outlets such as The Guardian and The New York Times access to the cables meant that the information could be redacted before being released for public viewing. This showed a level of responsibility on the part of Wikileaks which many critics have chosen to overlook. Yet, Wikileak¶s decision to slowly release the information rather than making all the information immediately availablecan surely be criticised for having political motives as it is may well be with holding key information that could alter the public¶s opinion. This decision by Wikileaks perhaps shows an anti-American agenda as it attempts to ensure the U.S. remains in the media spotlight for along as possible. However, the recent Wikileaks revelations are not an entirely new event. Journalists have regularly used and traded in leaked information. The practice of whistleblowing can help an open democracy to progress as revelations can serve the public interest and make sure that the government is acting responsibly as well as in the public¶s interests. The role of the mass media is one of independence from direct state control and forms the fundamental basis of pluralistic democratic society. The ideals of democracy are built on the foundation of free speech and free expression, throughout the twentieth century wars were fought, lives were lost in the fight for democracy and an independent media enables democracy to exist. ³The role of the mass media in influencing and helping form opinions and viewpoints is critical to the functioning of government, and so represents a form of power.´ (Badsey, 2000) In any democratic system it is believed that power should be dispersed rather than kept under any central control and historically, United States foreign policy has been one of condemnation towards nations that do not adhere to these standards and the values relating to the freedom of the press. Wikileaks as a Threat to National Security Whilst the field of security originates in military defence there has been a clear expansion of the realm of security into other areas. This broadening and deepening known as securitization threatens to ³encompass the whole social and political agenda.´(Wæver, 1995 ,p48)Wæver, suggests that the very word itself, ³security´, whenused in international politics is an enabler for the state to claim a special right to change existing laws or make new ones. In essence, the political language acts as a smokescreen; politicians are able to legislate without providing those whom they govern with an analysable, coherent reason for doing so. Furthermore what


is classified by the state as a threat to security or a security problem will ³always be defined by the state and its elites´ (Wæver, 1995, p54).To all intents and purposes the parameters of "security" are defined by the state and are therefore open to manipulation to serve political ends.

The recent Wikileaksrevelations have split opinion as to whether the sharing of classified documents with the public is a positive step toward greater government transparency and accountability or a dangerous and irresponsible act that is a threat to U.S. national security. A letter written to Julian Assange from The U.S. State Department, claims that the publication of documents of this nature at a minimum would:

´Place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals ± from journalists to human rights activists and bloggers to soldiers to individuals providing information to further peace and security;

Place at risk on-going military operations, including operations to stop terrorists, traffickers in human beings and illicit arms, violent criminal enterprises and other actors that threaten global security; and,

Place at risk on-going cooperation between countries ± partners, allies and common stakeholders ± to confront common challenges from terrorism to pandemic diseases to nuclear proliferation that threaten global stability ³(HongjuKoh, H, 2010)

So far, there seems to be no real evidence that the release of information has actually put lives at risk. Daniel Ellsberg, the man responsible for the release of the ³Pentagon Papers´ in 1971 stated ³The best justification they can find for secrecy is that lives are at stake. Actually, lives are at stake as a result of the silences and lies which a lot of these leaks reveal." (Ellsberg, 2010) This statement is supported by claims that ³U.S. officials concede that they have no evidence to date that the documents led to anyone's death.´(Youssef, 2010) However, the future is uncertain and there is the possibility that there could be bloodshed or loss of life linked to the releases.

The other concern is that the leaked documents ³place at risk on-going cooperation between countries etc´. This sentiment was echoed in a statement by PJ Crowley the current United


States Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs who felt the consequences could severely damage the United States reputation. ³The Cables, for instance, could reveal that senior government officials in other countries are the sources of embarrassing information about the inner workings of those governments, thus making it more difficult for the state department to obtain such intelligence in the future.´ (Crowley, 25/11/2010) James Rubin a former diplomat and journalist made the point more flatly and insisted that because the State Department operated in many cases by winning the trust of foreign officials, and working through persuasion and information sharing, ³destroying confidentiality means destroying diplomacy.´The diplomats trying to further these actions and interests need to be allowed to operate with a requisite degree of secrecy.(Rieff, 2011)These concerns are certainly grounded in reality but whether or not this ³embarrassment´ represents a genuine threat to U.S. national security is questionable. Furthermore, rather than it being Wikileaks that is the threat to national security it is arguably the behaviour of state diplomats and the failure to keep classified information secret that poses the real threat to security.

Whilst it is evident that transparency and freedom of information are integral to the functioning of democracy, there is also the need for there to be confidentiality of certain forms of information to aid diplomacy and interaction between states just as confidentiality remains essential for the functioning of everyday life. For example, the relationship between doctor and patient involves confidentiality as does the relationship between a lawyer and his client. Without this degree of confidentiality society would struggle to function and legal practices would become unworkable. Therefore, the problem remains on what information should be made available to the public and what remains confidential. The rapid growth of the internet has meant that legal systems have not yet had time to react to the constant new challenges the internet creates. It is apparent that new changes in legislation are imminent and that these changes are likely to be made under the guise of the protection of national security. However, it is vital that the decision makers do not act hastily when it is the rights and freedoms that underpin United States democracy that are at stake.

The Internet and National Security

Where computer technology was once one of the United States Military¶s most powerful assets, the internet is fast becoming one of its biggest threats. ³The United States' overwhelming superiority in information technologies is the key to its superpower status for


the foreseeable future´. (Chapman, 1998) However, now, the internet is increasingly becoming a threat and there is a distinct irony as the internet was initially designed during the Cold War by the U.S. Department of Defence. For many years the internet was exclusively used by scientists, academics, military personnel but by the early part of the 1990¶s there was a shift toward an internet that could be used by the general public and the beginning of the World Wide Web. Since then the internet has rapidly encompassed the whole globe and its ability to empower its users by giving them a platform for expression is unprecedented.

Clay Shirky a teacher and writer on the social and economic effects of the internet challenges the difficulties of attaching the term ³democratisation´ to the internet. It is his opinion that ³The web's democratic in one way and distinctly un democratic in another way... Its democratic in that it quite literally delivers power to the people (as it) essentially opens up participation in the public¶s mind.´ (Shirky, 2009) For most of the 20th century and before, the ability for an individual or group of individuals to express their opinion to the public was almost impossible but the advent of the internet has given people the opportunity to participate. Yet, it is Clay Shirky¶schallenge to the idea of the internet creating increased democratisation that is more significant. Whilst engagement and participation in political debate has undoubtedly increased, the ability for there to be a balance of the rights of the minority and majority in political decision making is currently impossible. In a democratic system each person has one vote. Online this structure does not exist and it is often impossible to tell who anyone is. Essentially, it can be that the people or groups of people with the most time and best organisation combined with understanding of the internet can bring most attention and publicity to their cause or message without it necessarily being a true reflection of public opinion. (Shirky, 2009)

Up until now, the United States and most of the Western world¶s internet experience has been censorship free. However,the idea of a state attempting to place restrictions on the online information that the public have access to is not new. There has been heavy criticism of China¶s strict censorship of the internet in recent years. U.S. Secretary of State warned ³Countries that restrict free access to information, or violate the basic rights of internet users, risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century,´ (Hilary Clinton, 2010) A statement that may prove to be somewhat hypocritical given the current

Wikileaksrevealations.Attempts by states to control the internet range in their success.The internet, by its very design, means that it is censorship resistant. The information is shared by


millions of people almost directly and although there are sites or ³virtual centre points´ such as Facebook and Google most content is created and shared by communicating directly with one another. (Anderson, 2009)

However it is certainly possible to block some content and restrict certain sites. European Laws have ensured that Internet Service Providers stringently monitor ³aspects of sexual morality and its representation in media, there remain strong public and political pressures to maintain some powers of control, especially on areas where the welfare of minors is concerned´. (Mcquail, 2000, p31) There has also been pressure from the music industry to place restrictions on file sharing websites and in future,there is the danger, that business and other organisations that view the internet as a threat to profit or their existence may try to control it in their favour. Nevertheless, until now, the internet on the whole is free from restriction and outside the boundaries of political censorship. Yet,³Critical to any security decision is the notion of trade-offs, meaning costs ± in money, convenience, comfort, freedoms (or in this case internet freedom) ± that inevitably attach themselves to any security system.´ ( Schneier, 2003, p3)

In an interview with the BBC for the award winning documentary ³The Virtual Revolution´ Ross Anderson, Professor in Security Engineering at Cambridge University talks about the dangers of trying to place controls on the internet. In accordance with Bruce Schneier¶s view, it is Anderson¶s opinion that the notion of ³trade-offs´ in security are often misleading. In his analysis the supposed ³balancing act´ between security and internet freedom is a distinct danger and furthermore, the word ³balance´ its self is often used to ³justify doing half of a wicked thing, rather than not doing wicked things at all.´(Anderson, 2009) Undoubtedly, the need for security exists to attempt to control a very small minority, however if we allow this minority to dictate social policy for everybody then there would be negative implications for democracy. The widening and deepening of what is considered a threat to national security risks treating our whole society as threats and potentially leads to oppressive conditions. Equally, ³freedom is security, openness is security´ (Schneier, 2003, p11) this is proved by the fact that Western liberal democracies are amongst the safest societies globally. Where there is freedom of speech and expression, there tends to be social harmony and the security that it represents. The alternative to security that iscreated by freedom and


openness,is a distinctly different reality, where increased security measures lead to the formation of a police state or totalitarian government. To exchange democracy and freedom in the pursuit of security would be a trade off with dire consequences. The use of language and terminology by state representative in incidents that supposedly pose a threat to national security are often telling. The concept and term ³cyberwar´ has been in existence for over a decade but there is has been a steady intensification in its use by political figures in recent years. Cyberwar is the use of computer and internet technologies to effectively attack an electronic communication network. Organisations such as the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ) have surrounded the idea of ³cyberwar´ with hype. As Ross Anderson explains, there has been very little evidence of ³cyberwar,´ yet there has been a huge expansion in state security relating to the internet. This disproportionate increase in security can at first, seem to be a reaction to the terrorist acts of 9/11 but the challenge of harnessing the internet is a growing concern for state leaders as they attempt to protect their sovereignty.

Arquilla&Ronfeldt analysis of The Advent of Netwar, (written in 1996 in association with RAND) although compelling, seems to overstate the threat that the internet and technology have actually provided. However, when considering that the RAND organisation is responsible for guiding U.S. government policy making, it should probably be of no surprise that the U.S. has elevated cyber-war to such a high state of national threat:

³The Information Revolution is about both technology and organization. While technology innovation is revitalizing the network form, one must not ignore the importance of organizational innovation. Indeed, every information revolution has involved an interplay between technology and organization that affects who wins and loses.´ (Arquilla&Ronfeldt, 1996, p82)

Although perhaps somewhat exaggerated, it is this ³interplay between technology and organization´ that is currently taking place. It is clear that simply turning the internet off is not an option as the U.S. economy has become reliant on it and it is likely there would be mass uproar if this decision was ever taken. Therefore, ³Today, those who want to defend against netwar will, increasingly have to adopt weapons, strategies, and organizational


designs like those of their adversaries.´ (Arquilla&Ronfeldt , 1996, p82)This adoption and adaption of technology can be shown in the surveillance methods used by governments in their war against terror. One of the major developments in internet use in the past five years is the increase in online social networking. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter (as well as many more) are regularly used by members in order to maintain existing relationships as well as to form new ones. It is the fact that these sites allow users to communicate directly with each other and build networks of friends. These sites make it visible which people are user¶s friends and this makes clustering analysis possible to discover ³covert communities´ and possible terrorist threats. In the past finding these groups of people was very difficult and involved the work of intelligence workers who would effectively spy on suspects to put together evidence of other accomplice¶s involvement in crime. Today, simply because of cluster analysis of patterns of acquaintanceships, intelligence organisations are able to uncover who supports certain extremist causes, religious beliefs or any other human activity just through ³mapping social networks.´ (Anderson, 2009) This is a powerful tool in the hands of the police and government in finding out who supports particular beliefs be that Islamism, paedophilia or in this case Wikileaks and freedom of information. This kind of surveillance has been used by United States in order to discover other people¶s involvement and support for Wikileaks. Evidence of this is shown by United State District Court in Virginia documents that order asubpoena of the social networking site Twitter for personal details of people connected to Wikileaks. (Cellan-Jones, 2011) Demanding information which its originators assumed to be strictly confidential represents a change in U.S. government¶s attitudes to freedom of speech and the future of the internet as it is today. Since 9/11, the idea of ³cyberwar´has developed into a supposedly new and more dangerous threat and there is increasing use of the idea of ³cyber-terror.´ But can an act of terror exist in cyberspace? The U.S. Department of Defense Dictionary of Military Terms describes terrorism as: ³The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.´ However, it is my feeling that this definition of terrorism is inadequate as surely acts of "lawful violence" or "threats of lawful


violence" can still constitute terrorism? The United Nations definition of terrorism differs slightly: ³Criminal acts, including against civilians, committed with the intent to cause death or serious bodily injury, or taking of hostages, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in the general public or in a group of persons or particular persons, intimidate a population or compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act´.(UN Security Council Resolution 1566 (2004) ) Once again it seems that the innate problem with definitions that organisations provide is that they seem to frame them in a legal context. The definition should be a-political. In relation to the UN definition, "criminal acts" are not universal and could vary from one system to

another so the definition loses its meaning under different states jurisdiction. Terrorism is defined in the Chambers Dictionary as: ³the systematic and organized use of violence and intimidation to force a government or community, etc to act in a certain way or accept certain demand´. This definition explains terrorism in its broadest context and is universal, that is to say there is nothing in the definition to tie it to a particular organisations arguably arbitrary determination of what is or is not criminal, immoral or unlawful. Although there are certain differences in the definitions of ³terrorism´ all definitions agree on one key factor, that is, for an act to be considered terrorism it must involve violence. This brings into question the validity of the concept of ³cyber-terrorism´, as an activity that takes place exclusively in cyberspace then by its very nature cannot contain violence in the true sense of the word. This portrayal of cyberspace as an existential threat to national security represents the ³speech act´ and the first stage in the process of Securitization. ( Wæver, 1995, p55) The second stage of the process of Securitization is only completed when the securitizing actor is able to convince its audience that the issue itself is a threat to security. In the case of the internet it seems the audience is far from convinced. The manipulation of language and the meanings that we take from words is the subject of David Campbell¶s ³Writing Security´. ³The constant articulation of danger through foreign policy is thus not a threat to a states identity or existence: it is its condition of possibility. While the objects of concern change over time, the techniques and exclusions by which those objects are constituted as dangers persists´ (Campbell, 1992, p13) This post-structuralist approach to security shows how the meanings we associate with certain words shift and


change over time. That is to say, our understanding of the word³terrorism´ may be adapted and extended in order for it to encompass cyber-crimes.

Methodology As a researcher studying a current event which is ongoing and at the centre of the public and media¶s attention, it is of vital importance that the accuracy of the information provided by the sources be examined comprehensively. The majority of the information that has been available regarding the recent Wikileaks developments is from articles posted on the internet, with very littletraditionally printed material available. When using internet sources determining the accuracy of the information can be difficult and so as a researcher it is vital to scrutinise the source to ascertain its validity for use in academic writing.

The first challenge is that there is countless repetition of certain articles with some words or sections removed and new meaning created based on the authors own version of the event. Determining the objectivity of a source when conducting academic research is common practice but it is particularly important to be aware of when using the internet for the majority of research undertakings. ³Information pretending to objectivity but possessing a hidden agenda of persuasion or a hidden bias is among the most common kind of information in our culture.Although lack of objectivity does not necessarily mean a source provides substandard information, you must always beware of partiality.´(Watson, 2004) Respected media organisations including broadsheet news papers, television and radio reporters will often have political bias and as researcher it is important to examine what information is included, how it is phrased and why the article has been created. Furthermore, it is often the information that has been excluded that may be the key signifier to an author or organisations agenda. It is essential to be aware that much of the work published in the field of security studies fails to meet the scientific standards of logic and evidence used in the social sciences. This is because issues of national security are highly politicised and much of the work is written for political rather than scientific goals. (Walt, 1991, p213)

The second challenge is to determine the authority of the publisher or author of the article. For example, is the name of the author or publisher one that is recognizable as well


asrespected and if not does the publisher provide ³verifiable evidence of its competency´ (Watson, 2004) essentially what gives the author authority to write about the event. If the author is unknown to the researcher it is important to examine whether there is verifiable evidencesuch as autobiographical information to show his or her authority on the subject.

An approach favoured by academics and historians is to use primary sources of information rather than secondary sources that could be biased or inaccurate. This will ensure that firstly the information is unaltered and secondly that there have not been exclusions or additions of information that can affect the meaning of the source. Primary sources tend to be favoured amongst historians and academics as the material is in its original form and has not been subject to the possibilities of distortion that can occur in secondary sources. The quotations used in this paper have, where possible, been taken from their primary source or most reliable and authoritative source.Nevertheless, primary sources must still be subject to strict scrutiny as there may be bias towards certain political agendas. What's more, there are benefits to using secondary sources as documents written by academics or historians working in institutions or organisations where methodological accuracy is of paramount importance to the author¶s reputation.

The cables released by Wikileaks should also be subject to stringent analysis. As a primary source the 250,000 documents provide an insight into the inner workings of United States foreign policy and the practices of government officials across the globe. Yet there is still contention as to the reliability of the documents themselves. Although it is accepted that the documents themselves are genuinely leaked U.S. classified documents, the contents of the documents must still be examined meticulously. The opinions of one U.S. diplomat relating to Italian Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi¶s relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin do not necessarily represent U.S. government opinion or policy and so any analysis is likely to be limited by the source¶s subjectivity. Furthermore, the details of the leaked cables themselves are yet to be revealed in their entirety and the consequences of each individual leak yet to be fulfilled. For this reason, this study does not focus on the details of individual leaks and speculate as to their significance but instead attempts to study the power relations between whistle-blowing websites and the state in the discipline of security studies. The content of the released documents is likely to be a subject for historians to examine in the coming years when sufficient time has passed to make objective judgements.


Even though at present there are very few academic publications relating to the latest Wikileaks revelations the issues surrounding the alleged threat to United States national security are not entirely unprecedented. Stephen M. Walt sees the use of history as ³among the most important developmentsin security studies´ (Walt, 1991, p217) and furthermore the use of comparative case studies methods in generating, testing and refining theories. Daniel Ellsberg, a former United States military analyst released top secret documents relating to the decision making process behind the war in Vietnam. Like Wikileaks, Ellsberg made the decision to release the documents through reputable media outlets such as the New York Times and other publications. At the time of release, ³The Pentagon Papers had raised a storm concerning the rights of the press to publish classified government documents´ (Mcgovern& Roche, 1972, p173) but it was the contents of the papers that proved more significant. They revealed the policies and practices of U.S. government that led to the Vietnam War and showed the suppression of truth as well as the level of dishonesty that the executive leadership committed before and during the war. Therefore, ³the question of whether the press was justified in publishing the Pentagon Papers, then, cannot be separated from their substance´ (Mcgovern& Roche, 1972, p174) and this logic must surely still apply to the documents released by Wikileaks.

Daniel Ellsberg has spoken of his support for the recent release of US classified documents claiming that ³every attack made on Wikileaks and Julian Assange was made against me and the release of the Pentagon Papers at the time.´ (Ellsberg, 2010) This relates to theaccusation of sexual assault whilstJulian Assange was in Sweden. A crime that he firmly denies, believing it to be a clear attempt by U.S. government to discredit him and evidence of a ³smear campaign´. The verdict of these allegations is still yet to be reached and speculation holds no value in social sciences, however, ³The ability to represent things as subversive, dirty or sick has been pivotal to the articulation of danger in American experience.´ (Campbell,1992,p3)

Whilst conducting research it was impossible to ignore the vast public interest in the Wikileaks releases and the debate surrounding the subject. Literally millions of comments, articles, blogs and videos have been posted across the internet varying in opinion, political bias and academic value. Although an unscientific process due to the quantity and value of the material as well as the difficulties in verifying its origins, it is still worth mentioning that it appears (from my extensive although still limited research) the majority supports Wikileaks


and the protection of the internet and freedom of information. That is not to say that Wikileaks and Julian Assange are unreservedly praised on forums and blogs and there is an extreme group who condemn the release of the documents and have even the call for his murder. Although the inclusion of this information is unscientific (any attempt to quantify and judge public feeling accurately would be an incredibly long and difficult process and certainly impossible given the time constraints of this project) it is, nevertheless, my feeling that it should be briefly referred to as it has clearly generated a great deal of public interest and feeling. Conclusions The recent events represent a new challenge for government and for transparency. There clearly needs to be a line drawn somewhere between complete transparency and strict secrecy of government, censorship and increased controls on information that is available. Wikileak¶s attempt to bring greater transparency is, perhaps, a step too far too soon. But the U.S. government must err on the side of caution in its reaction to Wikileaks. As given the choice of greater transparency or stricter authoritarian control, most, I¶m sure, would opt for increased transparency. Whilst events continue to unfold, making conclusions is not easy. However what has become evident is that Wikileaks has raised the profile of whistle-blowing to a point that it purportedly threatens national ³security´ and constitutes a form of³cyber-terror´. As great thinkers, such as Wæver, Buzan and Campbell agree, the states choice of language can be an ominous warning of what is to come. If the state chooses to exercise its powers then it becomes possible that the internet, transparency, democracy and in turnaccountability are the casualties of tightened controls. There is a sense of irony then, that a website, that set out with the intention of creating greater transparency and accountability in government could in fact be the catalyst for new legislation that leads to increased secrecy and stricter controls on freedom. Yet, there is still hope, as attempts by states to harness the internet in the past have, for the most part, been a failure. Furthermore, the internet, by its very design, is effectively impossible to censor and humans, by their very nature, are incredibly resourceful and it is this combination that in all probability means that the internet will remain free and open for future generations to enjoy. An illustration of this combination of factors can be seen in the creation


of ³Openleaks´, a site designed to take Wikileaks place should the United States government¶s attempt to close it succeed.

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