Thursday, August 12, 2010

Day 224- In praise of Wikileaks

Dear Mr. President,

I have been reluctant to write to you about the recent Wikileaks controversy. I've followed Wikileaks for several months now, and, during the buildup to the release of the secret documents I was certainly anxious to find out what information they would contain, even as I was hesitant about the idea of leaking military secrets. I understand that you can't be expected to be happy about the release of secret documents, no matter how harmless they might seem, but I do think that Wikileaks serves an important purpose.

Our government is meant to be open to public scrutiny. I understand the need for national security and the secrecy that goes along with it, but the American government has become too comfortable misleading or outright lying to the American people. This deception seems especially widespread in military matters, and the kind of information released in the Wikileaks documents demonstrates that often these lies are for the simple purpose of painting military action in a more favorable light. A disturbingly large amount of our tax dollars goes to fund the Defense Department without significant public scrutiny. (Go ahead, Mr. Gibbs, say what you will, but I'm not for eliminating the Pentagon and I'm not using drugs.)

Maybe I'm in the minority here, but I would like to know what my tax dollars are buying, and how successful the operations being funded are. Beyond the monetary issues, there is a moral imperative for every American to know how, exactly, our country is representing itself in times of war. By allowing the public to access this information on Afghanistan, (or revealing evidence of US troops targeting civilians in Iraq,) Wikileaks is doing it's part to ensure that this government continues to be of and by and for the people. It's the American public's way of telling our government that we simply can't be cut out of the loop and fed a palatable bedtime story. We will find out the truth.

Perhaps people would rather be told lies, so long as they are safe and aren't asked to think too much? I think that is an incredibly cynical way of looking at the American people. Some of your most eloquent writing is on the need to leave behind our cynicism and do our part to make our country stronger. How can you ask us to do this for a government that lies to us? A government that told us the truth about our military operations, even if that truth was ugly or hard to hear, would not risk this kind of exposure. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been awful, world-changing events that will forever alter the way the world views Americans. It is the responsibility and right of every American to know exactly how and why this war is being waged. I know that you cannot publicly do anything but denounce Wikileaks, but you ought to strive to lead a government that would not engender this kind of necessary mistrust of the stories we're being told. A site like Wikileaks could not exist if the government didn't make it absolutely necessary.

Respectfully yours,


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