بدھ، 1 دسمبر، 2010
Uncle Sam threatens WikiLeaks prosecutions
It seems that the exposure is bringing WikiLeaks praise and applause by embarrassing the world`s most powerful country. But auestions are raised when one takes a closer look at the website. How long will a website committed to whistle blowing on the US government be tolerated?
A day after US authorities said they would be conducting a criminal investigation into the leaks of thousands of confidential US diplomatic cables through the whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, Beijing expressed its hope that the situation would be carefully handled.
"We don't want to see any disturbance to China-US relations," Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular news briefing.
The criminal investigation, announced by US Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, raises the chances that the website and its founder will be targeted.
"The United States deeply regrets the disclosure of any information that was intended to be confidential, including private discussions between counterparts or our diplomats' personal assessments and observations," she told reporters.
Holder said that, "to the extent that we can find anybody who was involved in the breaking of American law and who has put at risk the assets and the people that I have described, they will be held responsible; they will be held accountable."
Holder said that Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks and an Australian citizen, was not immune from prosecution just because he was a foreign citizen, according to Reuters.
"We will move to close those gaps (in US law), which is not to say that anybody at this point, because of their citizenship or their residence, is not a target or subject of an investigation that's ongoing," Holder said.
It seems that the exposure is bringing WikiLeaks praise and applause by embarrassing the world's most powerful country. But questions are raised when one takes a closer look at the website. How long will a website committed to whistle blowing on the US government be tolerated?
WikiLeaks, since this summer, has embarrassed Uncle Sam several times. This July it released some 90,000 documents on the US-led Afghanistan War. This week a further 250,000 US diplomatic documents were made public, creating a "9/11 of world diplomacy."
But it is worth noticing that most of the materials that were exposed are sensational in nature, yet minor pieces of information, and the negative effects their release can pretty much be mitigated by some remedial work.
The US State Department has condemned the WikiLeaks release, which seems only to have increased the credibility of the website. WikiLeaks claims that it has a large number of volunteers working all over the world with access to confidential information for free. The powerful and ubiquitous CIA has not been able to identify the source of the sudden leakage of diplomatic secrets. It sounds more or less unconvincing. Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, is still on the run, despite his high public profile.
Is there some tacit understanding between the website and the US government? It may be worth asking. And what does it mean to other countries that are on the radar screen of WikiLeaks?
If granted real authority, once WikiLeaks sets its sights on other countries, the fallout could be drastic. Leaked information could severely damage the social stability of nations that are not able to handle the release of so much sensitive information.
An information tsunami is flooding every country, but different countries have different abilities to control and absorb it.
Developed countries, especially the US, dominate the global flow of information at the moment.
Countries like China, despite their rising status in the information world, must have a line of defense against a hurtful information campaign.