Monday, November 29, 2010

Wikileaks and Max Boot

Max Boot at Commentary: "One can understand if the editors of the New York Times, Guardian, and Der Spiegel have no respect for the secrecy needed to wage war successfully — especially unpopular wars like those in Afghanistan and Iraq. These are, after all, the sorts of people who, over a few drinks, would no doubt tell you that diplomacy is far preferable to war-making. But it seems that they have no respect for the secrecy that must accompany successful diplomacy either. That, at least, is the only conclusion I can draw from their decision to once again collaborate with an accused rapist to publicize a giant batch of stolen State Department cables gathered by his disreputable organization, WikiLeaks."

Boot goes on to commit what Glenn Greenwald has pretty accurately described as mode of operation of Wikileaks critics: He says there's nothing important to be seen here while at the same time warning of terrible consequences for the release of this supposedly inconsequential information.

For me, what's interesting is that Boot wants the New York Times, in particular, to become a much more ideological newsgathering operation than it is. Think about it: The Wikileaks information is out in the public domain. It was going to be whether or not the Times participated in the embargo or not. (And in fact, Wikileaks tried to exclude the Times this time.) What Boot is suggesting then is that the Times refrain on reporting on information that's clearly in the public interest because the potential impact is undesirable. In any other context, he'd rightfully sneer at Times' efforts to keep information from its reading public. In any case, the Times has tried to balance its obligations to citizenship and public-interest reporting by redacting and omitting names from documents it has seen. But just because the government declares something secret doesn't mean it should be. Boot's view of all this is, to use a conservative term that's recently been in vogue, rather statist.

No comments: