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Julian Assange may look like your stereotypical creepy albino hacker, but he should be regarded as a genuine hero. Regardless of what revelations are brought about by this latest batch of leaked government documents, the purported goal of Wikileaks is as noble as they come. Government secrecy represents a vestige of an old social paradigm based on rigid power hierarchies and an entrenched elite class. If we are to engender an era of genuine democracy, absolute transparency in every aspect of our government is imperative.
One wonders why there is such an abundance of clandestine documents in the first place. This year alone, Wikileaks has released more than 76,900 documents related to Afghanistan, 391,832 about Iraq, and now 251,287 diplomatic cables – and all of these documents were intended to be kept hidden from the public. Why is there a need for such copious secrecy in a representative democracy such as our own? Government officials will undoubtedly tout “security” concerns – and indeed, they have already begun to do so. But the best possible defense for the United States is total governmental transparency, as this would allow the citizens to oversee and restrain the very actions which created our enemies in the first place.
Even as Assange’s attempts to minimize potential danger are scornfully rejected, the Obama administration has stepped up the rhetoric in labeling Assange’s democratically-motivated actions as “criminal.” Yet the Obama administration must tread carefully, for they run the risk of creating a martyr-like figure out of the elusive Assange. In spite of mainstream media coverage implying the opposite, Assange’s actions represent a bold affront to the old-world order of fascistic, confidential government hierarchies. If more people begin to see through the Obama administration’s shallow attempt deride Assange’s revolutionary deeds as the works of a petty criminal, Assange and his organization stand to ride a tidal wave of discontent into the creation of a genuine alternative movement. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
So far it seems that nothing truly shocking or groundbreaking has been revealed in any of the documents leaked thus far in 2010. Due to the sheer volume, it is likely that untold revelations lay buried deep within, needles waiting to be found as progressive minds around the globe delve into the depths of the proverbial haystack. But even if the most profound realizations to be garnered from the leaks are that “that Ankara helped Al Qaeda militants in Iraq and that the US helped Iraq-based Kurdish rebels fighting against Turkey”; or “the documents included US diplomats’ conversations with Russian politicians and ‘unflattering’ assessments of some of them”; or even that “other world leaders who have clashed with the US, such as Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Libyan leader Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, also come off badly in the no-holds-barred private cables,” the actions of Julian Assange and Wikileaks have struck a blow for genuine democracy around the globe, and for all those who aspire to a world of meaningful, transparent self-governance.
The top U.S. military commander, Admiral Mike Mullen, is reported to have “urged Wikileaks to stop its ‘extremely dangerous’ release of documents.” Mr. Mullen is correct in asserting that the leaks are “extremely dangerous,” but for entirely different reasons than he might presume. The leaks are dangerous only to a crumbling power structure which exists as a remnant of our brutal, dictatorial past, as the Internet age continues to foster the emergence of a new social paradigm based on universal equality and self-governance, with information freely available to all.