There is a public interest in understanding how the world works and what is done in our name. There is a public interest in the confidential conduct of foreign policy. The two public interests conflict.
By operating outside the state system, WikiLeaks acts as a check on state power
While fascinating in their own right, these WikiLeaks document dumps are also fascinating in the way they draw out fairly fundamental intuitions about the rights and privileges of the American state.
Organisations such as WikiLeaks, which are philosophically opposed to state secrecy and which operate as much as is possible outside the global nation-state system, may be the best we can hope for in the way of promoting the climate of transparency and accountability necessary for authentically liberal democracy.
The real danger, it seems to me, is not the revelation of assorted classified material but our tendency to overreact, either to actual security threats such as the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber or, in this case, to a massive information dump.
The whole point is that he is releasing documents by the hundreds of thousands–indiscriminately, for which the only rationale can be that the very idea of official secrecy is wrong.
“The scale of the releases is the only thing that gets them attention.
The reality of modern media is that it is hard to get attention on specific topics, or for very long. If you want to get attention for your release, its gotta make a splash. If WikiLeaks released just one document, odds are nobody would know who they are and we would not be having this discussion as that would not be worth much news coverage.” – anon
No one who feels WikiLeaks has wronged them has any capability (that I know of) to legally go after much of anybody. For example, what if WikiLeaks next distributed detailed instructions about how to make a nuclear or chemical weapon, snatched off some Pakistani or Syrian server. Regardless of the ensuing results, does the public’s power to hold WikiLeaks accountable and culpable really only extend to “don’t visit their website”?