Assange, Wikileaks and Collectivism

Saturday 23 October 2010 - Filed under Journalism + War on Terror

Let me first say that I applaud Mr. Assange, the founder of wikileaks, for the information that he has seen fit to provide the world concerning the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a libertarian who doesn’t believe in the rightness our recent International Adventurism, I’m very glad to have access to the raw information that our government feels we shouldn’t know in order to protect it from criticism. But Assange’s collectivist motivations are starting to become more clear, and the consequences of his actions, specifically in leaving the names of Afghan informants unredacted when he released the Afghan papers a few months ago, have the possibility of doing real world harm to real people. Externalities, we’ll call them. The New York Times:

But now, WikiLeaks has been met with new doubts. Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders have joined the Pentagon in criticizing the organization for risking people’s lives by publishing war logs identifying Afghans working for the Americans or acting as informers.

A Taliban spokesman in Afghanistan using the pseudonym Zabiullah Mujahid said in a telephone interview that the Taliban had formed a nine-member “commission” after the Afghan documents were posted “to find about people who are spying.” He said the Taliban had a “wanted” list of 1,800 Afghans and was comparing that with names WikiLeaks provided.

“After the process is completed, our Taliban court will decide about such people,” he said.

Mr. Assange defended posting unredacted documents, saying he balanced his decision “with the knowledge of the tremendous good and prevention of harm that is caused” by putting the information into the public domain. “There are no easy choices on the table for this organization,” he said.

As an old adage states, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I would argue that though exposing the truth about our current adventurism is a good thing, that exposure can have consequences which are equally as bad for some of the very people he aims to protect, and it is Assange’s responsibility to do everything in his power to ensure that individuals are not implicated in his releases. No matter the “greater good” he feels his work is doing, it is not worth it if even one person as a result. And despite the importance of his work, it is not up to Assange to make decisions which have real life and death consequences for others, especially when the solution is the simple redaction of names. That course of action is every bit as bad as what he aims to expose, and it is not the responsibility of others to pay the price for his sense of moral righteousness of what is and what is not the greater good.

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2010-10-23  »  madlibertarianguy