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SVT, Sweden's equivalent of the BBC, has produced a documentary in English about the history (so far) of WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks is the organisation and website which is revolutionising world politics in the information age. On the surface it is a whistleblower's publication point for people to anonymously "drop of" secret documents to be unveiled to the public through the WikiLeaks website and other journalistic and publication channels.
This is an important documentary containing a lot of interesting and informative facts about the development, philosophy and actions of WikiLeaks and primarily Julian Assange. The best quality way to watch it is direct from SVT or you can watch the YouTube videos below. (Either may be removed from public viewing by SVC or YouTube at any time. Please let me know if the links are broken - thank you.)
|WikiRebels: The Documentary (part 1 of 4).|
|WikiRebels: The Documentary (part 2 of 4).|
|WikiRebels: The Documentary (part 3 of 4).|
|WikiRebels: The Documentary (part 4 of 4).|
Do the ends justify the means?
The presenter of the documentary suggests this is the view of Julian Assange over the release of the Afghan War Diaries. Julian Assange expresses the view that the potential to save lives outweighs the danger to innocents. (ref 6 mins. 10 secs. into part 3 above) Although this is an opinion and one which I think would be indisputable on serious investigation this is not equivalent to "the ends justify the means". It does include the perception that more lives are saved this way as part of the justification but only in addition to the larger philosophical issue.
Jean Paul Sartre expressed the view that if there is a definition of sin then it is self contradiction. This is a profound and important observation. The US government presents a set of values as justification for its actions. They are in part moralistic. The moral framework that they suggest they wish to uphold is then broken in their attempt to enforce it. Worse still they then proceed to use the moral argument against opposition in defence of their own immorality. It is clearly self contradictory. This is not limited to the US government but appears to be consistent across all authoritarian regimes from the Mafia to the Roman Catholic church and from the British government to Islamic law.
Here's a simplification of the dynamic. The moral point is that it is wrong to beat people up. The bully beats people up. If you threaten to expose the bully you are warned that he/she will beat more people up if you do. The moral argument is then placed on you that you will cause more harm if you report the bully and would therefore be committing the equivalent immoral act.
The situation in the case of the Afghan War diaries is clearly more complex and more layered but philosophically it all comes out about the same. The informants, whose lives are the ones "at risk" are "at risk" from the oppressors who are being exposed. Be it the Taliban or the US government. To conspire with the oppressors to "keep secrets" is to collude with the oppression. It is unsustainable, unsupportable and entirely self contradictory, immoral and sinful. If you are a Christian ask yourself what your Christ might have done and remember he IS God. The moral high-ground (within Christianity) comes no higher than that! If in doubt read "If This Is a Man / The Truce" by Primo Levi or check out Joseph Alois Ratzinger's philosophy on love and truth (I agree with him on this point).