Imagine for a moment that you know a man who beats his wife.
Beats his wife, has beaten her for years. Puts her in hospital on a regular basis. Breaks bones, lacerates flesh, damages internal organs. He has never been prosecuted for these offences because he is a powerful man locally, and you both live within a culture which takes such things for granted.
Then imagine that you meet him one day down the local pub and find he is complaining bitterly that one of his wife’s female friends has started talking badly about him around town. “That bitch,” he cries into his fifteenth pint. “Doesn’t she get that she’s poisoning our marriage; that she’s going to put our happy home at risk.”
Congratulations – you have now reached approximately the state of disbelief I’m in as I listen to the US state and its asshole apologists whine about how Wiki-leaks is putting lives at risk.
I’m sorry, US State Department, British Foreign Office, can we just back up a bit here? I need to clarify terms a little. Putting lives at risk, you say?
What, you mean in the same way that conducting an illegal invasion of a sovereign nation in search of weapons of mass destruction for which there was no evidence put lives at risk (when it wasn’t merely snuffing said lives out by the thousand)? You mean in the same way that incompetent bombing of Afghan villages, wedding parties and miscellaneous shepherds put lives at risk? The way in which scooping up a random assortment of human beings and detaining them against every law there is for years at a time put lives at risk? The way in which grabbing citizens with names you don’t like off the streets of Canada, Germany and Italy and flying them out to fuckwit totalitarian regimes for interrogation put lives at risk? The way acting as paymaster and approving sponsor for an unending succession of bloody-handed despots across the geo-political landscape for the last several decades put lives at risk? The way training up the best and the brightest of the world’s torturers and political murderers for the last half century put lives at risk? Putting lives at risk in that sense, you mean?
Fuck you, buddy.
Has Wiki-leaks put lives at risk. Doubtful. But let’s for a moment give the asshole cheerleaders for the Orwellian state their day in court. Let’s suppose the leaks have endangered some lives somewhere.
So – fucking – what?
Our much vaunted British legal system and its US outgrowth both function on the assumption that it is better that ten guilty men go free than that one innocent man be punished. There is a cost attached to this – but we pay that price, because we understand what we’re buying. What we are buying is civilisation.
Winston Churchill – not a man I’m given to quoting very much – understood this concept of cost and sacrifice in relation to civilisation very well. He once said:
“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”
Can anybody question that we have now arrived at that unhealthy state of affairs? Can anyone doubt that the American state (and its sad little UK lackey) have over the last decade provided us with a new high in corrupt, brutal and incompetent geo-political governance? Is there anybody still standing out there that actually thinks these people have shown themselves to be trustworthy? Is there anyone out that thinks these people need lower levels of performance monitoring and review?
Even if Wiki-leaks were to cost lives – it would still be a vital tool in the battle against an encroaching totalitarianism that we’re paying far, far too little attention to. The lives lost would be, to paraphrase Churchill, painful but necessary – a painful but necessary cost in a battle for the fragile edifice of law, human rights and civilisation that we have managed to cobble together in this corner of the world, and which our current political establishment is hellbent on tearing down. And I, as a citizen, would certainly rather die in the defence of that edifice than for any of Bush and Blair’s murderous misadventures in the Middle East overt the last decade, or the rather shabby continuation our current leaders enforce under the pretence of change. And while I can’t speak for British or American servicemen or -women, having met a few, I suspect that they, who have signed up to protect their country against all enemies, foreign or domestic, who have accepted that they may have to give their lives in that cause, would not quibble if their death came as the price for defeating a vicious, insidious and corrupt domestic foe rather than a nebulous, poorly defined and largely illusory foreign one.
So let me repeat – even if Wiki-leaks were to put lives at risk, it would still be a vital service to our civilisation.
But of course, as we all already know – Wiki-leaks does not put lives at risk. Those assholes are lying in their teeth about that, just as they lie in their teeth about every other misbegotten blood-spattered corrupt and obscene thing they do in your name.