The More Information the Better

Thursday, 2 December 2010
I am in support of Wikileaks publishing documents related to the United States government. As a journalist, I believe the more factual information we have access to, the more informed and therefore, educated we are.

When I worked at KVAL in Eugene, Oregon one of my major projects was to challenge Lane County judges on their refusal to allow cameras in the courts. Oregon state court rules clearly allow cameras in the courts in most situations. A few Lane Co. judges who were older and admitted they didn't even have TVs in their homes took it upon themselves to make up their own rules. This, in my opinion, hindered the justice process. Why? Lane County citizens could not witness what goes on inside the courtroom in major cases unless they were able to get a day off from work and sit in on it themselves.

After taking the refusal to the District Attorney and 6 months of hard work, we were finally allowed to bring our camera inside the court.

Should US Citizens know what their government is up to around the world? Should they know what happens in the depths of US-run prisons in Afghanistan? Our country has sacrificed lives, military stability and financial security for the war in Iraq. Why shouldn't we know what is happening?

It is trendy now to complain about "big government." Many people have rallied across the US to ask for less involvement from the government. Then, I wonder, why are people so angry when someone releases documents showing how the United States government conducts itself? Shouldn't there be a check and balance? Perhaps some of the statements from US diplomats about world leaders should be public anyway. Maybe they'll learn something when hearing of the impression they make on other countries.

In  modern day media, there is little privacy. Why should an entity supported financially by tax payer dollars be so protected from the public eye?

I plan to learn from the documents released and hope that in the course of disclosure, the efforts of the current administration to achieve diplomacy (a platform I support) will not be set back.

Disclaimer - my opinion is just that, my opinion. I know this is a controversial subject and respect your opinion as well.


LizP said...

KVAL needs you back! We miss you in Eugene :-)

Ted Stryk said...

I have to respectfully disagree. When you were at KVAL, you used a legal process to legally obtain documents that you had the legal right to access. Imagine if you had found someone on the inside who had access, and suppose you did not have the legal right to those documents. Suppose that source provided you with them, and they also contained some unrelated information about organized crime, including documents that named informants within organized crime rings. Now suppose you published the documents in full, without regard for the fact that you have endangered the lives and families of those informants, and ignoring the fact that this had nothing to do with your purpose of investigating traffic cameras. This is what Assange is in effect doing. Also, if diplomatic communications should be public, that should be a matter of public debate and taken up with Congress in the same way the Freedom of Information act was. Assange doesn't have the right to decree public policy.

Casey said...

I fall into the camp of just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Endangering our servicemen and women (both diplomatic and military) overseas is just inexcusable to me. I do not believe Assange is releasing this info out of journalistic integrity. Instead, he is doing it to gain personal notoriety. And he has done it at the expense of his source - who now may be court marshaled for treason.

Denae said...

Thanks for the comments! Excellent insight as always from Ted and Casey.

I want to live in a society where there is freedom of information and freedom of speech - especially when it comes to our government.

I agree that no one should put our troops in harms' way or burn private sources but there needs to be a check and balance of our war dealings and our diplomatic relations. Without public knowledge, balance is lacking.

Assange isn't doing this to help anyone out - this is true - but the US gov reaction is setting the tone which countries like China LOVE. Anything "bad" about government should not be published and citizens should only see information that the government decides that they should.