Wiki Leaks

Julian Assange, founder of the controversial website WikiLeaks, was arrested last Thursday, April 11th, at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. For many this arrest was great, it meant the head of an enormous hacking website was finally brought down. On the other hand, many are outraged by his arrest, exclaiming that it is in direct violation with his first amendment rights for freedom of press. So this begs the question: what constitutes true freedom of press and how far do we as a nation let it go?

The debate continues to fester online, and each side provides great points as to why this is a good or bad thing. I would like to examine some of the major contentions for each side.

Why WikiLeaks is Good: The affirmative side of this argument basically supports the idea that Assange, through WikiLeaks has been fighting injustice with information, a sort of vigilante justice of the press. Many see the fact that the government is so outraged at the leaked information as more fodder for the idea that the government does indeed have something to hide. It’s the ultimate representation of freedom of speech and freedom of press for the affirmative. Many believe that we as Americans have a right to the truth, and WikiLeaks provides the rawest source of truth. It exposes crimes of politicians, informs us of the true inner workings of our government, and provides an insight that oftentimes sways our votes one way or another.

Why WikiLeaks is Bad: The negative side of the argument recognizes WikiLeaks of a source of information, as it should, but also understands the fact that, like any news site, they exist to expel constant information that can capture the attention of its readers. It’s been proven several times that some of the information WikiLeaks is incorrect, and because a lot of the information that is correct comes from hacked government files, many believe the false information as well. This is all good and legal until it reaches the depths of defamation and slander. Furthermore, whether we like it or not, some of those government secrets need to remain out of the public’s knowledge. Remember the scene from A Few Good Men where Tom Cruise’s character demands to know the truth, and Jack Nicholson says he can’t handle the truth? Well this actually is correct to some degree. If WikiLeaks exposes the government’s secrets, then phone numbers will be spilled, along with confidential war information that in the wrong hands could lead to some major problems for the United States.

So what is the correct answer to this debate? The two sides cannot agree. But that’s why issues like these must remain at the forefront of our thoughts and arguments. Raising questions and discussing the outcomes and solutions is what makes democracy run the way it’s supposed to.