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Theodore Dalrymple
What’s Really Wrong with WikiLeaks « Back to Story

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I generally respect and agree with Dr. Dalrymble’s opinions and insights. In the WikiLeaks article, however, he makes 2 errors, rendering his conclusion wrong: That WikiLeaks is something evil, totalitarian. Firstly, the source of WikiLeaks reports is not illegally opened email (or other private) communication. Instead, it is information willingly provided by third parties that have something to report, generally confidential and not willingly published. Secondly, the object of information leaked is not the individual citizen. Instead, it is public servants who should be accountable. And if their actions need be kept secret, let the employing organization be smart enough to protect its cherished information.
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It seems that when a society begins to slip into totalitarianism there is created an accelerating vortex of unreflective fear in which some of the fearful ameliorate their anguish by assuming sadistic control, while others move from varying degrees of support for the sadists to an ultimate state of utter panic in which most try to survive and escape by denouncing those around them.
I'm a big fan of Dalrymple's articles, but I felt this one missed the point entirely. No, I don't think WikiLeaks will encourage the dissolving of the 'public/private' spheres. The real problem with WikiLeaks is something else entirely.

And that problem is its founder. Assange is a paranoid, narcissistic megalomaniac, who has the audacity to compare himself to Solzhenitsyn. After he was arrested in the early 90s for hacking into NASA and other US military organisations (all with the intent to sabotage), he was ordered to pay a $5000 good behaviour bond and a $2100 fine.

And how did Assange view the experience?

'If there is a book whose feeling captures me it is "First Circle" by Solzhenitsyn.

To feel that home is the comraderie [sic] of persecuted, and in fact, prosecuted, polymaths in a Stalinist labor camp! How close the parallels to my own adventures! … Such prosecution in youth is a defining peak experience. To know the state for what it really is! To see through that veneer the educated swear to disbelieve in but still slavishly follow with their hearts! … True belief only begins with a jackboot at the door. True belief forms when lead [sic] into the dock and referred to in the third person. True belief is when a distant voice booms “the prisoner shall now rise” and no one else in the room stands.' (Quoted from Robert Mann, Julian Assange: The Cyberpunk Revolutionary, The Monthly, March 2011)

Mann summed it up best when he said: 'Solzhenitsyn was incarcerated in the Gulag Archipelago, harassed for years by the KGB and eventually expelled from the Soviet Union. Assange was investigated by the AFP (Australian Federal Police) and received a good behaviour bond and a fine.'

What worries me is not Assange's opening of a legal and ethical Pandora's Box - although I think there are good arguments against WikiLeaks. What worries me is that an unstable miscreant with delusions of grandeur is in possession of sensitive information which has the potential to undermine diplomatic relations worldwide. To make a hero out of such a man is not only foolish - it's dangerous.
Carlos Almejeiras March 15, 2011 at 1:12 PM
And is not less true that the American people is more interested when Charlie Sheen goes to the bathroom that in what many lives can be saved if journalist do a real service work. Like investigating how we can better choose our legislators and do a better use with our tax dollars than getting friends with the scorn of Europe.

Guns don’t kill people. People do.
ronpaulius libertanius January 31, 2011 at 7:28 AM
Wikileaks is an obvious disinfo op/false flag "Cui Bono"
Some valid points made above. On the other hand, what is the lesser of two evils? The U.S. government has become so powerful, with a compliant press and a cowed public, that the only view expressed in the mainstream, generally, has become the U.S. government's view. This is how everyone became an unquestioning flag-waver, for example, when the war drums were beating before and during the invasion of Iraq. Since the compliant major media, now concentrated in the hands of only a few mega-corporations, can no longer be counted on to act as a check against abusive governmental power, is there not a crying need -- in fact, a desperate need - to expose wrongs that have been committed? (One example that won't be enthusiastically covered by the mainstream reportage, that could result in a public outcry, assuming the U.S. public can get its mind off their iPads: http://boingboing.net/2010/04/05/wikileaks-video-of-u.html/.)
What really surprises me is that many see this as freedom of speech. If I had my way no one would be exempt from breaking and entering anyone's computer. Is this any different than invading someones home or business? And if I receive stolen property have I not committed a crime? Today it is becoming more and more acceptable to cheat lie and steal. It should be a felony to invade another's computer and corporate advertisers do it every second of the day. I have decided to leave it all behind and go sailing. I'm tired of the rotten politics, hate and all the selfish greedy people in this country. I have no friends or family because I am considered a dirty Liberal. No,I can't be a recluse any longer and watch society degenerate into a lot of cold self servers who will do or say anything to get ahead of the next person. Who think that gain is godly and those who have not are wicked. Competition is for the way of Cain and it is the root cause for him slaying his brother. It is a dangerous thing this competition, that's being inbreed in everything Americans do from the time they are a little child and it is getting out of control as in the times of Noah. Think about it..the question of the day is?..Who is on top? Who is the Best? The smartest? The fastest? There is a top ten list or rating for everything and everyone. Yes it is time to leave, because it would take a miracle to change things and people minds at this point. And personally I don't even care to associate with the people here anymore. Things are their life yet they have no substance, no more integrity at all.
Employers can drug-test employees. Why can't we make our public servants tell the truth?
The privacy of individuals is not the same as the privacy of government officials using public money deceptively.
Suggesting Wikileaks's grab for media power will inadvertently promote totalitarianism is just woolly-headed thinking and unnecessary hyperbole.

Did Mr Dalrymple, at one time, also see Reds under every bed?
I don't see how WikiLeaks is substantially different from any other media outlet. I wonder if my favorite author, Mr. Dalrymple, would have these concerns in an equivalent scenario when the documents would get directly provided to Spiegel (Guardian, NYTimes, etc.) without the Wikileaks participation... And I also think handling the cache of the diplomatic cables appears to be done in a fairly responsible way on the WikiLeaks end. So what gives?

The only reason WikiLeaks are now depicted as a rogue player is that The State Department got hurt by the exposure. So if leaking these cables complicates the US diplomatic efforts, wasn't it the government failure to keep the cables private? Why aren't we mad the the government and military officials who not only are lousy at managing access to their own sensitive stuff but they are vindictive too, trying to gag and criminalize the journalists who just got out a juicy scoop?

There have been leaks in the past that were far more irresponsible, including schematics useful for building a thermonuclear warhead. (On the opposite end of spectra, leaking a gossip-level stuff is a modus operandi in Washington.) I just don't understand all this hysteria about WikiLeaks getting their news out - especially now that it became clear the cables were not that earth-shattering.

for one: a reign of assumed virtue has already been imposed exactly in a way described here: people think what they do not say and vice versa.

and saying that dissolution of the line between private and public has been a tool of totalitarism is also true, except that it was applied onto the people, not the power as is the case this time around.

and the-end-doesn't-justify-the-means argument has never been proven. actually, it's been proven wrong many times in history.
Its far too late to put the genie back in the bottle I am afraid.

Every government, corporation and probably NGO in the world is already moving full steam ahead to a level of surveillance that would have made Orwell's Big Brother green with envy.

What Wikileaks does is allow the watched to return the favor a bit and "watch the watchmen" This is a positive trend in a world where surveillance better than intelligence agencies could mid-last century is cheaply available at the local shopping center.

A society of Sou-Surveillance is not a pleasant thought but its far better than the alternatives.
A refreshing insight...
The article reflects the view of most people in the so called free world, it is amazing to see some of the most important newspapers give such a relevance to a bunch of criminals handled by unknown, surely non democratic,powers.
Please see also Ralph Nader's view of the matter:
http://www.counterpunch.org/nader12212010.html
Lying politicians cost hundreds of thousands death, lying bankers costs hundreds of billions dollars. So let's try the truth
What a complete load of tosh. Wikileaks is nothing to do with personal information; it is government information that they wish to keep hidden, but that really should be in the public domain. We have a right to know what shady practices governments are up to. Open government is the sine qua non of democracy, so Julian Assange has done us all a service. Why can't TD/AD see that?
True Lies are weapons too.
Dalrymple writes the following: "In the fanatically puritanical view of WikiLeaks, no one and no organization should have anything to hide. It is scarcely worth arguing against such a childish view of life." If that's what Assange and Co really stood for, he might have a point. But from what I've read, WL is primarily interested in exposing State power, not stripping us of our bourgeois privacy. So relax, Mr. Dalrymple, your secrets are safe...for now.
Distinguish: between private and public. Or is govt. not so big that it doesn't need to be shamed a bit? In a day and age when Big Brother wants to know more and more about us and does, even without a warrant, turn about would seem to be more than fair play.
it's reasonable that you takes an antiWikileaks position...a Wikileaks consequence is the slow eradication of whatever is left of western govments credibility and raison d'etre...what would we be without our masters? we would put new ones in their place...lacan 101...
Wikileaks is hypocritical in that it hides its people and funding. More than that, I do not see any dumps from Russia, or Iran, or China, or India, or Pakistan.
All this is kind of funny. WikiLeaks for better or worse is setting itself up as a censor. When you are unable to say what you mean or feel in private for fear of exposure I would think you might bite your tongue. Censorship achieved. In this era of Hyper sensitivity and (P)olitical (C)astration it's a wonder we haven't all become whimpering sissies.
The wikileaks publication of the BNP membership list indicates that it has some totalitarian impulses. What was the point in aiding the British state's persecution of a small, fringe party?
I see another cold war over the hill.
The sheer inanity of this commentary moved me to respond where I so often am able to ignore the ignorance espoused online.

Dalrymple is wrong when he writes that the idea of WikiLeaks is that all actions ought to be immediately visible. The main page of WL, if Dalrymple had bothered to utilize a browser in any way at all before writing this, contains their explicit goal: "WikiLeaks is a non-profit media organization dedicated to bringing important news and information to the public. [...] We publish material of ethical, political and historical significance while keeping the identity of our sources anonymous, thus providing a universal way for the revealing of suppressed and censored injustices." I have bolded the parts that are most relevant: that WikiLeaks was designed to promote transparency in authorities and governing structures, especially those that suppress or censor information.

Furthermore, for Dalrymple to argue that such a goal is tantamount to totalitarianism simply defies logic. The primary targets of WL are not voters, not consumers, not "the masses", but government and corporate agents and agencies, both of whom are held to be responsible us, the voters and consumers. WikiLeaks has demonstrated that government actions are not what the government claims; this empowers the citizens and voters in their decisions at the ballot box -- it does not aid a totalitarian outlook. If anything, the arguments against WL and the actions of governments against it show that they are becoming far more fascist than prevailing opinions suggest. While 'stealing' and reading emails does, yes, infringe upon a right to privacy, these government agents are responsible to the governed first: that means their actions must be able to be accounted for, not hidden nor deceptive.

As for Dalrymple's egregious claim that totalitarianism dissolves the distinction between private and public spheres -- perhaps he has forgotten its primary trait: unrestrained power. WikiLeaks is but one more method of feedback from the government to the governed -- without which, there is no freedom.
I have another question.

When does a "public servant"/politician who has accepted, after supplicating the "public", the job of "public service", become a "private person"? Justified in keeping selected information from the public of which he/she is employee. Information which points not only to methods and designs in doing the job but to character,i.e. brand name, which respresents the people / enterprise who employ him/her.

Vice-versa : a private person with no significant effects on the "lives of others" who becomes a public person by acts of Media personnel who excuse their intrusions into the private lives of private citizens, on what they call "professional ethics of journalism" as "the peoples' right to know."

But become skittish about information to the public they would prefer remain "private" about their pet "public servants".

Interest? To retain their unelected insider, ingroup, unaccountable power over the tollgate for information to the public? With this control power over actions and dramatis personae in the political processes which affect lives of countless private persons throughout the world ?

AS these so concerned ethical Media and public servants have been privileged to do for a very long time, using tools of the trade in their control.

Seems the preachers of HOPE and CHANGE don't much care for change to their power. To the hope that power returns to the people, who in the USA are in law ultimate authority, and to which "public servants" swear oath to uphold and defend..

What this guy is saying doesn't make much sense. I don't understand how more people aren't backing Julian Assange. It's sad that he is trying to make an impact to maintain truth and some can only be negative about his attempt.
Has wiki-leaks been exposing private documents and communications of non-government organisations or individuals? Those who have no legal authority to use force certainly have a right to privacy, and wiki-leaks and other such outfits would certainly be acting unethically, and I would hope illegally, if they were to expose to the public eyes the private secrets of private individuals. The government, however, has no right to privacy; nor should we hope or expect any government to be 'frank' with its citizens. As long as wiki-leaks works to undermine the secrecy of those legally authorised to use force, it is doing the job of any good journalistic enterprise; were it to begin working to undermine the secrecy of those not legally authorised to use force, I would join you in your concerns.
What a load of rot!

Americans are of the mind that Governments monitoring all of their phone calls is keeping them safe yet when a media organisation such as Wikileaks reveals the Government ordering the murder of journalists and even, aiding in child prostitution in Afghanistan, they simply don't care.

Yet Americans with their arrogance and thinking they can treat the world like crap then demand total obedience are about to hit the pavement with an almighty thud. Sadly, there are hundreds of thousands of good American citizens who will be taken down with the bad American movement.
A very interesting perspective indeed. However may I say your "outlook" of the future of the world (with Wiki Leaks posting secret documents further on) in both public and private sphere looks a bit far-fetched to me.

First of all, it's plausible only if "all else remains equal".But as reality shows, the American Government is already taking serious measures to stop events like this from ever happening again.

Secondly, it's a bit too much to equate (even if only in perspective)Wiki Leaks with totalitarianism since Wiki Leaks will never be able to use the information to empower it's authority over people - it's not a government. So therefore such an impact is highly improbable if not impossible.

And thirdly, even the need for such "Leaks" justify their existence. No government should be afraid to be exposed to public unless their official rhetoric and promises is different from their actions.

I'm not expecting for Wiki Leaks to change the way things were done from the beginning of ages up until now. But at least to show us one more time just how deceitful governments and politics is.

It's a wake up call if not a call to arms. ;-)
I'm amazed that someone so intelligent as Dalrymple could get something so wrong.

No-where has Wikileaks advocated, or made, private emails public of private figures.

It has said governments - and those who comprise them - should be completely transparent to those they rule, and with whose money they command huge power over. This is the only way to accept the rule of government.
@83 dedrees

You have picked arbitrary things of the past, such as decoding enemy messages in WWII, and suggest that WikiLeaks would have automatically exposed that information. This needs no further comment except to say that it's random and irrelevant for you to suggest that. You seem to be implying that there are some things that should never be disclosed. No argument here. WikiLeaks, also, has never made such an argument.

First of all, in WL's history, there are many revelations of corruption they have disclosed abroad for which they have been applauded. Secondly, revealing a secret war in Yemen of which the citizenry has been deceived and deprived of a debate about its necessity. Your post suggests only very cursory knowledge of WL and the most recent disclosures. WL is neither perfectly heroic, nor the unwitting dupe of would-be totalitarians (who said despots might be the author conveniently does not say). Certainly, WL has disclosed important and ugly facts, which is probably why Daniel Ellsburg is cheering them on. Could we get a little less bias here? Everyone seems to be lining up vehemently for or against the organization.
the second paragraph of this article is to be taken on faith? the author decides exactly what simpleminded reason motivates these people in their quest to seek a brand of justice rare in these times at least since the truth and reconciliation commission of south africa. perhaps idealism motivates wikileaks? an idealism founded on global nations equality, economic fairness and justice for every individual? are these childish ambitions, sir?
if the dollar is obstructed in any form or fashion these days you can hear the wounded howl of the privileged over any whimper or tear of the least developed world. where is genuine justice in the most developed nation/states? undeveloped like a backward child sat in a corner to founder, ignored.
I have yet to hear anyone identify the public advantage in the disclosures.

What would have been the public benefit in announcing the existence of Ultra decoding of Japanese messages in WWII?

What was beneficial in the revelations of the New York Times that the US monitored suspicious financial transactions? What advantage was there is the spy's disclsoure to the USSR that we read the USSR's encrypted missle telemetry? Or the other spy that disclosed how we monitored their subs?

The revelations now by Wikileaks are not of government bribery at home, malfeasance or a conspiracy against the US electorate for which most would probably applaud.

They are instead leaks that will inhibit and prevent candid disclosures to US officials for decades. Place its soldiers, citizens allies and confidantes in jepordy because of warnings not received, spies not outed and documents not provided to us.



Does Wikileaks assume that everything should be public? Decisions by governments are decisions that affect the public, and in a democracy, the public should have the right to know. Private affairs are different. We all have our own public and private existence. Members of governments should have the right to private life, but not in areas where they make public decisions.
TJ, your comment is typically bereft of logic. Young and fanatic? Perhaps you are describing SNCC. Whether the supporters are all young and fanatic tells us nothing.

You suggest that Assange will hestitate or deliberately fail to release information that will draw the ire of Russia. That's absurdly lucid. Imagine hesitating to do something which has a reasonable probability of provoking one's own death. Certainly, he is no profile of courage.

If his actions caused the elder's death, he should suffer the consequences. But I fear that if we hold him to the same standard as others (i.e. Bush), nothing at all would happen to him. I will not justify death. I will, however, point out that it is highly intellectually dishonest and morally relativistic to decry Assange while affecting apathy or support for the Pentagon, which literally has the blood of thousands on its hands.

I hope leaks continue with far more discretion. Someone should take up Assange's mantle without the recklessness. It seems, and I may be wrong, that those who adamantly oppose WikiLeaks do so in part because they agree with the practices improperly kept secret from the public. This is a terrible standard, and the same goes for supporting prayer in school if it's your religion or your general theism that gets promoted. It's self-serving rather than just.
but otherwise... well put.
Ted, you lost me when you turned Nostradamus
Its no accident that most people who support Assange come from one of two groups: The young and the fanatic.

Dalrymple is right. Assange is not your liberator, he's just your editor. He's not stupid though, no Russian secrets will leave his hands. Too bad some poor tribal elder got whacked by the Taliban the other day as a result of Wikileaks. He shoulda had some polonium tea and Assange would have exercised more care.
Is this meant to be a satirical take on the most absurd, taken-to-extreme arguments against WikiLeaks? There is a dishonest feeling to this article which highlights disclosure of the obviousness of Berlusconi's sex life and dimissively mentions "even if some evils are exposed." Indeed, your case would be quite weaker had you devoted a portion to learning of a secret war in Yemen instead specifically pointing to a couple of disclosures of private natures. So the emphasis and omissions of this piece make sense. Another inconvenient missing fact here relates to WikiLeaks evolving nature. Clearly, they have made serious mistakes (i.e. previously disclosing all documents without proper screening or redacting). Also, they should have been redacting informant names earlier (although no one has been shown to suffer from this, nor has the Pentagon found it necessary to offer any of these folks protection). But the latest "dump" has involved 900+ documents out of a possible 250,000+ thus far. And they are often taking suggestions for redactions from their newspaper partners. It's getting better. So I think the means will justify the ends if they continue to hone the process.

Additionally, I am not sure I follow your logic on totalitarianism. Extreme secrecy would seem to enable the totalitarian-minded among us to more easily carry out their plans. Though not all personal cables should be published, there is an environment inclined toward too much secrecy. Public officials, ostensibly serving the public, should not be creating or supporting illegal policy in our name.

More discretion should be used, I agree. We do not need to know the "banana peel" gossip. But secret attacks, undisclosed casualties, and official policies directing American soldiers to ignore torture have to be fair game. You seem to use selective information here and ignore what may prove contrary. I can get plenty of that from listening to Keith Olbermann or Bill O'Reilly, thanks. If we acknowledge that "information is the currency of democracy" and that the US government often impedes our knowledge by falsely claiming National Security issues, then your argument becomes quite weaker.
Should Wikipidea self-censor or should have the exposed and embarassed perps do that? I don't want a "Dr Strangelove" meets "1984" because a few sensibilities were offended. Isn't that better than the lies and corruptions that allowed Bush and his administration to sell a false set of goods re: the justification for invading Iraq? The press didn't question and neither did Congress. Apparently, that would have appeared UNPATRIOTIC, smart and thoughtful, but unpatriotic.
So... your argument is that the people in power need to able to lie, misrepresent and slander without the fear of being exposed? And that if they're worried about being held to account for what they've said, they will stop talking to each other? If that's the case, perhaps we've got the wrong people in power.

Or you could just keep shooting the messenger. I guess that's easier than taking responsibility for your own actions.
I agree with those who say the timing of wikileaks isn't the proper one. They shouldn't have started with the gossip regarding world leaders.
They should have started with Nigeria for example, or the China/US agreement on sustainability. It would have made the mistake like mr Dalrymple makes here less likely to happen.
"it is unwittingly doing the work of totalitarianism"

No, it exposes totalitarians as vulnerable human beings. Too long those actors in the political field thought they woudn't be held accountable for invading countries, personal lives and democratic processes.
Democracy demands a level of secrecy. And free speech also demands privacy.

Dictatorships don't need secrecy. Free speech is available for the dead.
Not true. WikiLeaks takes privacy only from government, not individuals.
Consider how government has taken our privacy from us (can we look forward to a day when we can fly without being subject to abject humiliation for no cause?).
This despite the fact that we individuals have a right to privacy, while the government only earns that right by not lying to us (which right, needless to say, they lost long ago).
Reading the comments supporting Wikileaks makes me feel like Mr. Hand when he asked "are you all on dope?"

People will want to tell the US about things-nuclear plants, weapons policies, satellites, the presence of a terrorist, spies in the US, a new chinese submarine--but will not do so now. An angry private with inexplicable access to secret documents is bad enough. Having your secrets brayed to the world a preening Wikileaks is enough to deter any but the suicidal.

So messages will not be passed, comments will not be made, our citizens will be at risk and our soldiers disadvantaged: all so we could learn about things as critical as Ghaddafi's blonde.

What is also so disturbing is the way English has been erroneously translated by incompetent journalists into other languages such as Spanish to make a case against other nations. So, if those file are merely subjective perceptions of officials who reported them imagine the rest.
Here is the reason why your argument doesn't work: Ordinary people get to see the cunningness of those in power, not the other way around.

Wikileaks revealed how a senior propaganda official is involved in the hacking attacks on Google servers. I completely agree that we should try to eradicate such totalitarian tendencies, today rather than tomorrow.
I should like to respond :
to Ecco:

The censorship you describe is called political correctness in the USA as in "freedom of speech and free assembly "?

and to Please Support Wikileaks :
Commentators are aware that the primary response to the Wikileaks from the powers that be is to use this as move to censor / control the internet which the Obama administration has already attempted.

As you note those that control the world, are those that control information, for the past half century via the wizards' wand of TV. Who with their lackeys among the best and brightest in media, educational and legal institutions shall not go quietly into the dark night.

We have ample evidence they don't fight in the open, they use any means to gain and retain control. The headiness of essentially unaccountable power is not ceded willingly.

Scepticism please about the means and dramatis personae in this "leakiness" which serves those losing power to gain even more power to control information. Which must NOT be freely available without filtering from those best and brightest, "for the good of the people".

I agree that the outrage to this VERY useful "leak" is contrived for purpose to limit, control the internet, the true "voice of the people".

Why does he use the word "unwittingly", as in: "WikiLeaks goes far beyond the need to expose wrongdoing, or supposed wrongdoing: it is unwittingly doing the work of totalitarianism."

I think it is being done most "wittingly", if you will.

The world Dalrymple describes in which one will not speak frankly for fear of having one's words taken down and used against one later - even by a third party - is precisely the world in which millions upon millions of Soviet citizens lived for most of the 20th Century; and many paid with their lives for indiscreet comments. Parents could not even tutor their own children in religious training at home for fear a childish remark or purposeful exposure would land the parents in Siberia. That is the world of no privacy.
I agree in principle, but disagree the motive of this "freedom fighter" Julian Assange , with his instrument the Marine.The world has become habituated to calling anyone who has an adolescent temper tantrum that damages other people in mass as freedom fighter. Significantly other adolescents gloatingly called the best and brightest of whom the present CEO of the enterprise the USA is example. None of whom would like the true description as useful idiots to totalitarians previously extra- USA and NOW in the highest offices of government within the USA. Precisely because the freedom fighters ignorance of history of totalitarians other names to soften and gull to their ends. Via their handmaidens in schools,universities and other propaganda media in the West during the past half - century. Orwell as always pertinent.
The line "In effect, Wikileaks has assumed the role of censor to the world,..." is precisely the kind of grotesque role-reversal conservatives are mocked for. Danny Ellsberg and Wikileaks - those gosh darned censoring totalitarians! If Uncle Sam's going to lie during wartime, well, he's entitled to his privacy 'aint he? Why give the left ammunition like this?
Please Support Wikileaks December 07, 2010 at 5:34 AM
An interesting contrast of views here. I have to say I support the pro-Wikileaks view - for a number of reasons but predominantly my support is for the future of the internet. Governments "killing" sites (or even the founders of sites...as some on the lunatic fringe of US politics have advocated) because they do not like their operations being scrutinized is just the beginning. The beginning of the end of the internet. How long until any number of sites are shutdown because they present views counter to the prevailing powers, both political and, possibly more importantly, financial?

Please read this article from the Guardian, which says it all far better than I can.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/dec/06/western-democracies-must-live-with-leaks

Do not be fooled - the wonders of the internet remove power from the elite - and they do not like that one little bit.
@Imagine John Lennon's still dead
(Gee, what a nick, Imagine is probably one of the most famous, but least recognised (i.e. most mistaken), anti-property, thus anti-freedom songs ever published).

"YOUR secrets could be exposed too"
Wake up to reality: why would wikileaks be interested in private people's lives? What risk is a private person to society? A private person holds no power. Even if he'd be a sociopathic serial killer, he'd still be an incidental lone rider and inflict not even a fraction of the damage that governments structurally do on a large scale and on a daily basis.

"YOUR secrets" are already increasingly being untangled by the government (central storage of DNA, fingerprints, biometric data, interconnected databases, etc.) as they regard you to be guilty until proven innocent.

The institutions wikileaks reports on consist of people that have assumed the power to control your life, to tell you what you can or cannot do, at their whim, which changes by the turn of the moon. But these people go to great lengths to hide from you what their real agenda is, and what they need your money for.

They're after power, and more of it, but to get it they have to lure you into thinking they provide you with a service, so you don't mind their one-sided extortion scheme too much. They only (purport to) care about you when they need your vote. Voting means handing over you sovereignness to an abuser.

These power-mongers need to be exposed for what they really are, nobody is interested in a private person's personal details (apart from gossip, blèh) except for the government, as it can use that information to control that person's life even further.

As I wrote before, Mr. Dalrymple's "childish view of life" is the view held by governments around the globe, and if he really thinks it is "childish", he should try and hide things (like his income) from the government. He will find armed 'kids' on his doorstep soon enough.

If nothing else, this qualification alone disqualifies the article.
Imagine John Lennon's still dead December 06, 2010 at 3:55 PM
I've noticed that those commenters who are assailing Mr. Dalrymple are ignoring his larger point, that the exposure of secrets will not stop at those of the U.S. Government.

Johann, Bob, Chielie, jjyz, Nils, Virginia...
YOUR secrets could be exposed too, someday, by someone. That's the point. But for now, go ahead and enjoy your blame-America-porn.

Dalrymple is on to something which I've been becoming aware for over the last few years. Humanity is developing the means (internet, cell phone video, 24x7 television, etc) to ensure no one can have privacy. It's not left vs right. Andy Warhol was off; he ought to have said, "In the future everyone will have 15 minutes of privacy".

We'll have to paraphrase Orwell: forget Big Brother... Everybody Is Watching Everybody.
This is straight from Wikipedia (no relation!)
WikiLeaks has won a number of awards, including the 2008 Economist magazine New Media Award. In June 2009, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange won Amnesty International’s UK Media Award (in the category “New Media”) for the 2008 publication of “Kenya: The Cry of Blood – Extra Judicial Killings and Disappearances”, a report by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights about police killings in Kenya.
The Wikileaks team have been publishing hidden crimes for several years now. Imagine the day when you might wish for a ‘Robin Hood’ who would expose the baddies who had caused ill to you or your loved ones.
Try thinking of Wikileaks as ‘a court of last appeal’ – where you are standing out on Main Street, crying for justice or pleading that the facts be heard.
I feel for all the brave ones fighting all over the world for what they believe is right and true. Try thinking of Assange and the Wikileaks team as fighting bravely in their own way, to bring truth out into the open – and thus give peace a chance.
Richard
Mr. Daniels,

An unfortunate review, but one that is not surprising given the ethno-cultural baggage you carry.

In these dark days, the ends *always* justifies the means. Particularly with your people, whom are at the heart of every aspect of our cultural destruction and economic enslavement, there exists a very long tradition of deception.

You can whimper about "totalitarianism" all you like - but the truth is now plain for all the world to see.
Well said, but I must confess, I am still in the phase of enjoying the embarrassment and discomfort of the powerful elite!

Dishonesty, especially my own, has always bothered me, a lot.
Whoa, save the shoe-horn for your feet! The idea behind WikiLeaks isn't that life should be an open book, but that authority or government should be. Wikileaks' interest in making secrets public only applies to governments and corporate and criminal malfeasance. With claims that run contrary to their own public position, the onus is really on you to point out official statements to the contrary or a series of actions (in Wkiileaks case, these would be document releases) that show evidence to support your claim - and a record of Sarah Palin's emails from her period as a Governor and vice presidential candidate aren't the same as mine or any other person outside of government.*

I'll grant that some of the cables' subject matter featured in the news (Wikileaks isn't dictating what material journalist feature for stories, remember) share plenty with tabloid dramas of celebrity escapades, but it's only there because it's the work of the government. And as far as totalitarianism is implemented in the practical sense, the lack of privacy tend to only apply to those outside of the core sphere of government control - essentially the opposite of Wikileaks' aim.

I can't help but laugh at your third paragraph and speculate about the lack of editorial vetting it must have received - it is a complete fabrication of Wikileaks' principles. I have attempted to follow their story for several years and I have never seen anything either presented as a statement of purpose or a trend of releases that would give you cause to conclude such things. "Wikileaks will accept restricted or censored material of political, ethical, diplomatic or historical significance." I don't think anything I do falls within those boundaries.

All in all, this article is an obvious hack-job.

*The emails from her personal Yahoo! account were released to demonstrate her purposeful and systematic use of public, non-government email accounts which would not be subject to preservation for government business, a violation of policy.
R Hartman - well said.
A surprisingly naive view from Mr. Dalrymple.:
"In the fanatically puritanical view of WikiLeaks, no one and no organization should have anything to hide. It is scarcely worth arguing against such a childish view of life."
Mr. Dalrymple totally ignores the fact that 'no one and no organization should have anything to hide' is the credo of all governments around the world - but only applied to 'ordinary' people, not to the 'elites'. Governments seek to find out every single detail about individual people's life, and promote that "not having anything to hide" is the ultimate virtue in man's life.

For in the government's view, everybody is a potential criminal, not in the least when viewed in relation to trying to not pay all 'required' taxes. But at the same time, the government is making all sort of plans to extort as much money from, and sow as much fear into, that same individual, who is not supposed to find out how he is being double crossed.

People not saying what they think v.v. might get them into trouble just as well as the opposite, when politically correct opinion is all that counts and truths can no longer be spoken (Geert Wilders, Elizabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff).

Wikileaks just confronts the hypocrites with their own actions, and may hopefully wake some people up to the true nature of governments. Assigning any more significance to Wikileaks gives it too much credit; the information released is not 'global' enough.
Eloquently expressed.
Dr. Dalrymple is a bit too kind. Hidden behind the childish sounding website is a man determined to bring harm to others. WikiEspionage is a far more appropriate title for Mr. Assange's dubious enterprise. His behavior is indicative of a Londoner who would demand his right to illuminate his front porch during a blackout in the height of the Nazi blitzkreig. He withholds allegiance to his benefactors. He aids and abets a traitor. He more than deserves the hell he has brought upon himself.
This article makes some excellent points that I've not seen in other commentary about the Wikileaks affair.

Nation States and businesses may very well began the process of trying to control almost all types communication. Everyone will say what is expected not what is real.

The 'truth' about almost anything will become even more difficult to share between nations, businesses, and individuals.

As others have notied, Wikileaks has done great harm to the free nations of the world. Innocent people will almost surely die as a result of the recklessness and arrogance of Wikileaks and its sources.

In a very real sense, it is/was an electronic act of terrorism against the United States in particular and the Free World in general. The consequences of this attack are going to with with us for a very long time and in nasty and unexpected ways.
Dalrymple may be right, but I am still enjoying the spectacle of all those pompous pin-striped men slipping on the proverbial banana peel. I mean, this is the State Department--a huge government bureaucracy that can't keep track of the people on the "do not fly list," or the millions of aliens within our borders, staffed by vigorously enforced affirmative action policies, a veritable poster boy for Equal Opportunity Employment, revealed now to be equally inept at keeping control over their own in-house paperwork, but blisfully and unapologetically enjoying all the perks and protection of their very militant government employees union.

For me, the implications of the 250,000 leaked documents is that they represent the output of our tens of thousands of employees in the State department over many years and yet reveal so little. Pity the poor Iranian spy pouring through these documents for vital information, skimming the petty gossip, and lurid inside dirt, putting aside the speculative musings of foggy bottom types, ignoring all the "secret" policies and procedures already printed by the New York Times, looking for some possible statement of a coherent plan, a detailed but unknown retaliation that his Mullahs back home should know about. He might do better watching a James Bond flick!

Poppycock. If fear like this had prevailed, there would not be a coloured president in the Whitehouse today. WikiLeaks does not attempt to achieve: it just shows what is already there. There IS no hiding malintent, anymore.
That Wikileaks is not a government is besides the point. The outfits like Wikileaks are busy undermining the basic institutions of Western society - and the result is alternative arrangement known as totalitarianism The fact that misguided guys like Assange will probably be the first to be punished by new authorities is also beside the point. They are useful idiots. Theodore Dalrymple understands that because he knows history of the 20th century and has absorbed its lessons. His detractors do not and have not. Ancien regime in France was immesuarbly better than the regime of the French revolution, for all its real and enormous faults. Ditto for imperial Russia and the communist regime and the Weimar republic and Nazi Germany.
Theodore Dalrymple December 05, 2010 at 4:04 AM
The idea behind Theodore Dalrymple is that life should be an closed book, that everything that is said and done never should be revealed to everybody, that there should be only secret agreements, deeds, or conversations. In the fanatically puritanical view of Theodore Dalrymple, every one and every organization should have things to hide. It is scarcely worth arguing against such a childish view of life.
Wikileaks is not a government. It has no military or police force. Regardless of your opinion of its actions, you have not made a case for calling it "totalitarian."

I suggest that we worry more about a coming "totalitarian" American government, in which both major parties compete to deprive the individual citizen of basic constitutional rights.
Stephen Hollingshead December 05, 2010 at 1:19 AM
Excellent point. Shakespeare's Hotspur emits an endless flow of words -- his rebellion is doomed because he cannot grasp the distinction between what is properly private and what properly public.
A quote from Ron Paul on Wikileaks

"In a free society we're supposed to know the truth," Paul said. "In a society where truth becomes treason, then we're in big trouble. And now, people who are revealing the truth are getting into trouble for it."
"This whole notion that Assange, who's an Australian, that we want to prosecute him for treason. I mean, aren't they jumping to a wild conclusion?" he added. "This is media, isn't it? I mean, why don't we prosecute The New York Times or anybody that releases this?"

Here, here Dalrymple I agree this WikiLeaks will further the ends of totalitarianism, and further I would say, that it seems to me that this whole spillage was probably anticipated if not intended by it's origional creators.
At least 3 million people had access to those files whos contents cannot be claimed to the status of top secret. Many more could also view the pages 2nd hand. Indeed this is a most ominous harbinger.
Good work!
sincerely yours RT
a little cartoon:

http://www.acting-man.com/blog/media/2010/12/cartoon.png

sums it up rather nicely.
Here is another interesting discussion re Wikileaks - curious to see the company TD keeps re his views on this matter.

http://www.acting-man.com/?p=5710

I fully support Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange and hope he remains strong and, more importantly, safe. Since when is truth the enemy of the people?
One of my favourite US politicians, Dr Ron Paul, thinks we need more organisations like Wikileaks ( with particular interest in the "secret" activities of the Fed ). I'm with Ron Paul and not Dalrymple on this.

http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2010/12/ron-paul-suggests-we-need-fed-wikileaks.html
Nils, succinct comment - brilliant!!!
This is one time I cannot agree with you, Mr Dalrymple. The arguments used are the very ones used by those that don't want 'ordinary' citizens to know anything at all. "Cloaked in secrecy or matters of national interest." To my mind, what we have read thus far appears to tell us no more about international politics or diplomacy than an episode of Yes Minister. All rather ludicrous, tawdry and, in the main, boring.

It is of some interest that the current attempt at the assassination of Wikileaks coincides with Julian Assange advising that Wikileaks has procured information that will result in the "bringing down" of two major banking institutions. Ah, now there lies real enemy!

Wikileaks has simply made available to broader readership documentation from those that have to power to implement war in foreign lands, determine the fate (albiet from a safe distance) of citizens in Baghdad, Kabul (and into the future no doubt other places) - and I think free and open disclosure that demonstrates the decision making process is a good thing.

Mr Dalrymple, what is your opinion of "whistleblowers" in private industry and public service - are the actions of Wikileaks not dissimilar?

Is it of no concern that such severe pressure has been brought upon those that acted as "carriers" for Wikileaks that they have withdrawn support. (Amazon, Paypal, et al) That prominent individuals in the US have called for Julian Assange's "disappearance", claimed that he is a terrorist, urged Sweden to lay spurious charges against him (do read how the charges were arrived at - nonsensical to say the least).

I am an admirer of yours and generally are in agreement with your views. Not this time.
I disagree with Dietrich and his simplistic approach to privacy. While all kind of Internet organizations are collecting data about private citizens, governments are becoming more and more secretive. Never before have been the world closest to totalitarism that at the present. In matter of security there is a flaw in wikileak,in the present article nothing justify censorship.
Thank you for these prescient comments. How we all wish that our officials in charge of national security - from the President on down - had responded decisively months ago, when Assange announced exactly what he would do. This WikiLeaks affair adds evidence to D'Souza's thesis that the Obama administration aims to bring America down, and the free world with us.
This is a thought-provoking article, which I can sympathise with, but do not fully accept the conclusions of. Secrecy is an expansive, even protean concept; it could mean anything from a husband preserving the privacy of his wife's intimate disclosures to an army clandestinely plotting to overthrow their government. Any person of intelligence and rational moral understanding could not support or militate against all privacy as a whole, any more than they could say all writing is morally right or wrong.
As far as secrecy being the precondition of frankness, which is unfortunately true in some cases due to fallen human nature, this does not make it a good thing. You could equally describe it as the precondition of nuclear testing, successful criminality, or pedophilia.

Dalrymple wrote a previous essay lamenting the decline of fully-confidential references in the NHS, but the difficulty here is not with the fact that medical students can read what their professors write about them but that libel laws are so tight they have a choking effect on freedom of speech in Britain. This must have been a serious problem for Obama to sign the SPEECH Act into law; if we adopted similar standards where an outright lie must be stated masquerading as objective fact for the civil tort to be completed, professors and employers could confidently write negative references about those who deserved them. A society which, metaphorically,speaks no evil when the devil is listening and takes pleasure in scolding him behind his back is not a moral one- although like most ethical standpoints it does admit of certain exceptions in real life. I know this may be unpopular on a conservative site but I believe the extreme levels of reticence which surrounded sexuality for many years, and which Dalrymple along with many neo-cons seemingly wishes to return to, leads not to a deeper human life but to an easy ride for rapists and child molestors. Is it better to "protect" children from knowing how Mum and Dad made them or to safeguard them from actually suffering rape? The more layers of secrecy and shame are placed over sex, the less likely victims of such evils are to come forward. In France, victims of rape are usually identified in the publicly available court documents and newspapers while in Britain their names are kept secret; I would trace this not to the ultra-feminist movement but to the British reluctance to discuss sexual matters openly, which to me speaks not of refinement but evasion. Civilization consists of controlling the animal functions in a way that we can live together in peace, not hiding those functions behind a fig-leaf. Before the anonymity laws came into force many victims did not approach the police due to fear of their name being on public record. If we continue to chip away at the idea that sex is a taboo subject- which is not a necessary condition of sexual morality and responsibility- we will be able to prosecute far more perverts.
would serve this criminal right if he gets the reverse of what he intended!
would serve this criminal right if he gets the reverse of what he intended!
As a person who knows what a totalitarianism is from a personal experience, I second the thesis of Theodore Dalrymple. The dominant infantile leftist political culture of the West favors descent into a totalitarian quagmire (under the slogan of FREEDOM from religion and legitimate Western governments, of course, just like all the totalitarian movements in history). Observe the highly selective outrage of the mainstream press - they are appalled at (legitimate) interest of the USG in the corrupt and out-of-control UN bureaucracy – unaccountable venal bureaucracy that habitually acts in defiance of the UN charter. The press is not noticing that governments now take for granted that Russian mafia is an arm of the Russian state, (and the Russian state does not hesitate to use it), that Putin personally sanctioned to kill Russian dissident Litvinenko on the UK soil and to jail innocent people in the YUKOS case, and so on. Of course, that would interfere with Western NGOs and Hollywood celebrities lionizing Putin.
Mr Dalrymple argues that exposing government secrets might lead citizens to fear for their privacy. He even seems to suggest that it might make them reluctant to express themselves. I think the history of democracy proves him wrong. Keeping an eye on our governments - and if necessary exposing what they do wrong - is a corner stone of our political system. One could as well argue that more effective control raises the level of trust among the public.
So what you`re saying is that no one should tell the people of this country the truth about what it`s government does. We should just shut up and eat the Bull they feed to us. That sounds way better, (WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION) then being told the truth. That must be why Bush and Dick didn`t want an investigation of 9/11 to "slow down" the retaliation being taken out on Iraq. Wake me up when the rides over.
I agree with you. And where is the truth in all of wikileaks. We don't know. Gossips, facts seemed to be all pilled up one big mountain, and privicy is broken. We can een secret still remain?
Washington insider December 03, 2010 at 5:02 PM
U.S. Government employees are on notice not to attempt to view the Wikileaks material on government computers, as they might thereby see secrets they, the government employees, are forbidden to see without the necessary security clearances.

U.S. government employees would then know less about their own doings than would the general public, and the French general public.

George Orwell. Call your office!
Washington insider December 03, 2010 at 4:50 PM
I once read in the book of life:
If you don't want it on the front page of the newspaper, don't write it down.
Why did we spend all those years perfectly paper, a communication medium that burns quickly?
And don't email it to the U.S. Army.
What do U.S. diplomats think the Internet is?
A place where pornography is HIDDEN?
Regarding these comments, it is disheartening to see how extensive is the naivete about how the world really works. Failure to grasp the serious negative consequences of this event show an almost child-like simplicity.
interesting, and uncommon, view. merits serious consideration. thanks.
Mr. Dalrymple, your conclusion that WikiLeaks serves totalitarianism is contradicted by the response of perhaps the most totalitarian government in the world today (certainly the most draconian when it comes to the Internet). China has blocked access to WikiLeaks - no one can reach their sites behind the Great Firewall. If you were correct, then one would expect the opposite reaction from totalitarian or authoritarian governments.

On this issue, I think one can safely side with those who want MORE freedom in this world, rather than those who want more power and control, particularly for the US Government. Freedom-loving people need to reject the "security" response that is always brought forward whenever our government has to deal with the spread of information outside its control.
I read many years ago that one should never put in writing anything that would cause you any discomfort if published on the the front page of the newspaper. It is pretty obvious that Wikileaks has brought us closer to a world where nothing but the trivial and inoffensive will be written down and frank discourse will be limited to spoken communication in a private room and only after assurances that the other parties will not make a written record of what is discussed.
There is simply too much secrecy in so called democratically elected western governments. This secrecy is touted as necessary for national security; but is more to do with conceiling from the citizens, things governments would rather the citizens do not know. It is surely time for open government, by the people for the people. It is time for vested interests to be the vested interests of the people not of the leeches and parasites who linger on the steps of our parliments to exchange favours for favours with our elected REPRESENTATIVES, who have never been granted any such right. If Mr Dalrymple thinks that rank has its priveliges, then hopefully, thanks to the likes of Wikileaks, come the revolution, he will learn to the contrary.
Right on target, Nils. Great line!
Mr. Dalrymple, I understand your point, but on balance I believe the Internet serves freedom far more than it does totalitarianism.

The scenario in your post makes me wonder, a propos of the old chiche, "what would the world look like if everyone behaved as if what they did could end up on the cover of the NY Times?" Probably a lot better than it does today
The author confuses the privacy rights of individuals (which the culture Wikileaks has emerged from is trying to strengthen against ever increasing government intrusion) with organizational privacy i.e. secrecy. If organisations are acting against statutes, values or the law they forfeit the right to secrecy. The individuals executing these actions are exposed only as the agents of these bodies while they still have a right for personal privacy.

If the author were to come into possession of information that could help to uncover corruption, human rights violations etc. would he be content to keep this information to himself? I would consider it immoral to withhold that information.

And yes there is human nature and yes there will always be corruption. No reason not to try to make a difference. After all: "We know what we are, but know not what we may be."
Further to my previous comment, may I draw your attention to the news story here:
http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/03122010/58/world-cup-fifa-member-media-ruined-england-bid.html

The allegation made in this story is that England's bid to host the soccer World Cup was dead in the water because members of FIFA, the sport's governing body, resented investigations that had been launched by the UK media.

Would you take the part of FIFA, and agree with them that any nation that has the temerity not to gag its press should be ruled out of consideration?
Mr. Dalrimple is largely overestimating the impact of the Wikileaks. In the best case they gave us some prove of facts (crimes) that were already largely known but bluntly denied by those who committed them. All the rest is gossip, stuff in which tabloids excel.
hm... you didn't say this when Bush passed the Homeland Security Act and other wonderful tools to track our private communication channels. I guess it's ok when governments do it in the name of "our" safety, but when citizens seek transparency, it's illegal.
Your main point - that government cannot, in general, be expected to operate without secrets - is well taken. Over and over, in the course of history, new governments have attempted to do so, with uniformly disastrous results.

But that is not what Wikileaks set out to do! It does not believe, or assert, that "everything that is said and done should be immediately revealed to everybody, that there should be no secret agreements, deeds, or conversations". You have set up a straw man.

Wikileaks seeks to uncover specific instances of bad faith on the part of governments. According to its founder, its "primary interest is in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to people of all regions who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their governments and corporations".

The latest leaks of US government documents were a reaction against the steadily mounting mass of information that administrations have seen fit to classify. To take just one example, it was revealed that Russian specialists on the Iranian ballistic missile program factually refuted the U.S. suggestion that Iran has missiles that could target European capitals or intends to develop such a capability. Yet the US government and media have consistently given out exactly the opposite story. If, as Jefferson said, "Information is the lifeblood of democracy", what is wrong with letting the citizens glimpse a little of it from time to time? (Mind you, if Jefferson were alive today I warrant he would be in Guantanamo or some such place "where the dogs don't bark").

In other diplomatic cables US ambassadors systematically distorted the political and economic facts that they are supposed to be reporting to Washington, and clearly showed their disdainful if not contemptuous view of allied governments and nations.

By your logic, Wikileaks' actions will cause those ambassadors to stick to the truth in future, and to keep their prejudices to themselves. Is that necessarily a bad thing?
Your premise/assertion "The idea behind WikiLeaks is that life should be an open book, that everything that is said and done should be immediately revealed to everybody, that there should be no secret agreements, deeds, or conversations."

is wrong. And I think your conclusion re childishness is therefore flawed as well.

There are functions of power and secrecy covered in the fog of lies that passes for our political conversation that are actually in play here. It is not black/white. And to treat this complex issue in this way, to me, simply contributes to the problem.

How you get to "totalitarianism" from these leaks is unclear, and strange to me. The particulars you cite are the unimportant things. How about the cover ups in our dealings with the Spanish Court? Or the communications about the false arrest and detainment of the german man who was renditioned, both wrongly and illegally.
These are not matters of national security. But embarrassment of a country that belies its principles.

These are just a few comments in response to yours. I think your article is flawed in its premise and there fore most of the conclusions.
Well said. The US has been blamed for all the world'd ills. So there is a sense of schadenfreude in its discomfiture and embarrassment.I wish WikiLeaks could expose some Chinese cables so that the world can see what this 'new superpower' is doing to impose its hegemony.
Only the naive believe that hypocrisy is news. Hypocrisy is of the very nature of diplomacy!
This is so stupid it's hard to respond rationally. There is a difference between "opening and reading other people's emails" and "opening and reading the government's emails". The government works for us, they are our servants, we should know exactly what they are doing. Not the other way around.

Keep sticking your head in the sand you whimpering gutless coward. I'm sure someone will be there to protect you.
The problem is that governments often make decisions that adversely affect their own supporters. As such, "leaks" might indeed have the consequence of making governments more secretive, but it also might lead to people re-evaluating the support that they give their governments (and upon which their governments rely) and, at the very least, might lead to governments thinking twice about the assumption that they can get away with anything.

Wikileaks, though sometimes petty, is not the source of the "evil" it brings to light.
It's untrue that everyone will carry around this fear; paranoia will only infect those in power, not common people. And for how long have governments being spying on the common people? That said, I also find the recent leaks gratuitous and arrogant.
I don't find it self-evident that the breakdown of the public-private distinction is a key feature of totalitarianism. The article provides little argument / evidence for this claim. In fact, the many people I know who spent much of their lives in such systems mainly describe the efforts of party elites to separate the public sphere (what was published, shown on tv) from the private (actual experience of citizens, truth of what was happening in the country).

What does characterise totalitarian regimes is the clandestine collection by _public_ officials of irrelevant (to the provision of legitimate state services) information about the private lives of persons - just the type of invasive action described in the article - and maintaining that information in a secretive manner.

Like these messages talking about Sarkozy's private life, and Berlusconi's interest in sex.
The last great hope of mankind was based on the premise of rule by the people, all people. How shall we rule if the representatives of us, all of us, classify and deny access to information that is essential for us, the people, to change course as is necessary from time to time.

We are in monumental times. The power that was won by our forefathers is the greatest gift given to us, the benefactors. It is our duty to carry that gift of freedom, justice, and rights to all. Why should there be any argument about universal rights, power, and freedom. The argument is being made, but why, and by whom. What is the motive?
GREED POWER PRIVILEGE ELITISM AND YES EVIL

They win when good people fail to act.
It's obvious that governments will now circle the wagons, mistrust everyone, and keep even the most innocent messages under lock and key.

"WikiLeaks has assumed the role of censor to the world, a role that requires an astonishing moral grandiosity and arrogance to have assumed."

From what I read, Mr Assange is perhaps the last person on Earth to assume that mantle.
I normally love your work (and bought "Mass Listeria" in hardback years and years ago), however in this you have made a bloomer.

Sowing distrust BETWEEN members of an authoritarian conspiracy REDUCES their ability to act, because they will no longer share information among themselves.

Thus it is not the content of the cables (or of the Afghan or Iraq logs); it is the FACT that nobody in thei right mind wil now trust US agencies with sensitive data that might prove embarrassing.

On nett (after the first histrionic knee-jerk) capacity for tyranny is undermined.

(If you think the word 'tyranny' is hyperbole: try taking umbrage - however slight - at a TSA pornoscreener... then living the rest of your life as a marked 'extremist').

Love your work; I used to have an article of yours from the Speccie, taped to my office door when I was a tutor.
Whether leaking of sensitive documents is wrong or right seems a quaint discussion. The larger question is how to prevent such leaks in the internet age.

Obviously the days of old media being the gatekeeper of information are over.
Absolutely correct. The Victorians were and are derided for their 'hypocrisy', but they recognized that there is a public sphere and a private sphere to life. They insisted that people should conduct themselves correctly in the public sphere, but that what they did privately was their own business, as long as it did not scare the women or horses.
Some writers write elegantly but shallowly. I've always found Dalrymple's writings to be both elegant and profound - a rare combination indeed. I look forward to reading what he has to say and he has has yet to disappoint me. Thank you.
I don't think you said anything at all. Just a mush. My honest opinion. Most of what you attribute to Wikileaks ("requires an astonishing moral grandiosity and arrogance to have assumed", "Wikileaks will sow distrust and fear", et al) is PRECISELY projection - just exactly the role that the US State Department has assumed for itself without the consent of the government.

Or maybe you did? Do you like bribery and corruption, rendition, torture, using drugs on prisoners, interfering in other countries' judicial systems, ignoring the well being of most of the world's population and relying on puppet states and dictators ..?

Well, the list of abuses is long. I am glad to see the abusers' abuses named and proven myself, even if I don't entirely believe Wikileaks to be an altruistic whistelblower/publisher.
You are clearly only aware of the superficial revelations in the leaked transcripts. What about the US airstrikes, which killed civilians, in Yemen, for example? I think discovering both governments lied to their respective public about this is pretty important to know.

Also, Wikileaks is not saying EVERYTHING should be in the public sphere, just that the people who claim reasons for authority should reveal that information, and if they say "No", then maybe we should take it.
Geez, I had no idea that the defense of liberty involved granting the government a right to privacy.