Julian Assange Ducks the Question A Lot of Us Have About Wikileaks
December 4, 2010
It happened in a Q and A with readers of The Guardian. I am posting it to here to provide a place to comment, since it is clear from my Twitter feed that not everyone agrees. My own view is that he should have provided a serious, by which I mean a morally serious, response to JAnthony’s question. That he did not disturbs me.
What do you think?
I am a former British diplomat. In the course of my former duties I helped to coordinate multilateral action against a brutal regime in the Balkans, impose sanctions on a renegade state threatening ethnic cleansing, and negotiate a debt relief programme for an impoverished nation. None of this would have been possible without the security and secrecy of diplomatic correspondence, and the protection of that correspondence from publication under the laws of the UK and many other liberal and democratic states. An embassy which cannot securely offer advice or pass messages back to London is an embassy which cannot operate. Diplomacy cannot operate without discretion and the protection of sources. This applies to the UK and the UN as much as the US.
In publishing this massive volume of correspondence, Wikileaks is not highlighting specific cases of wrongdoing but undermining the entire process of diplomacy. If you can publish US cables then you can publish UK telegrams and UN emails.
My question to you is: why should we not hold you personally responsible when next an international crisis goes unresolved because diplomats cannot function.
If you trim the vast editorial letter to the singular question actually asked, I would be happy to give it my attention.
… And if you haven’t seen it yet, here is my 14-minute video, The Watchdog Press Died; Instead We Have Wikileaks.