Jumping onto the Tail End of the Bandwagon
So I had a weird supervillain dream again. My arch nemesis asked me, as I slowly lowered him into the pit of electric alligators, what I thought of WikiLeaks and the debate surrounding it. This was clearly a pathetic stalling technique, but somehow it worked. I stopped just long enough to tell him that his pathetic stalling techniques wouldn’t work on me—which apparently was the precise amount of time he required to make his escape, using what I can only describe as unconventional shoes. I shall not make that mistake again.
As I lay curled in the fetal position and wrapped in my silken duvet, bemoaning my defeat, I could think only of the secret agent’s parting taunt: “Until next time, my oldest foe!” I had my late manservant wheel in the video communicator and situate it next to the bed, so I could call my colleague, Heavy Shark. It comes as no surprise, I suppose, that Mr. Shark was not much help in this matter, having just suffered his second defeat at the hands of The Brick Shithouse, a relative minor league defender of truth, justice, blah, blah, blah. He did offer me one helpful piece of advice. “You gotta have a readymade answer for all that shit, man,” he said. “That’s how I beat The King and his Pawns of Virtue. God, what a buncha smartasses.”
So, mister secret agent, know that from henceforth, you must choose your pathetic stalling techniques wisely, or suffer horribly! In the meantime, if you were at all interested in my actual response, I do have something to say, which you cannot interrupt with your various insidious articles of clothing.
WikiLeaks is and always was benign. That is to say, it is neither a force for good or for evil: it is basically a service provider. Much like the Internet on which it exists, it provides a vault of information for which, in earlier times, a person would have had to do some serious digging. Its accessibility in a single virtual place doesn’t change the fact that the information would be out there, regardless. There has been much ado over the notion that journalists have published some of the documents found on WikiLeaks—documents, it should be noted, that were deemed more or less innocuous. In the past, a journalist would have had to physically obtain such documents from a person who was just itching to leak them, and then digitize them for print. Or have that person email the documents. In either case, there would then be a copy somewhere out in cyberspace.
In any organization, governmental or commercial, there has never been a shortage of people dissatisfied or disturbed by reality of the business. Neither has there been a lack of people looking for revenge, momentary fame, or a quick buck. And then there are the do-gooders, the pubescent know-it-alls masquerading as adults, who feel the need to point out your every minor fault to the entire world. Sure, maybe you killed a few civilians through reckless negligence, or because maybe you just don’t give a rip, but who doesn’t nowadays? And, yes, maybe it rattles the sensitivities of a fragile few, but seriously, what are they going to do, charge you with war crimes? How quaint.
Which brings me to the heart of the matter: most of the documents on Wikileaks are either dated, relatively unimportant, or are already common knowledge. If spies were being outed and intelligence operations were being interrupted, I wouldn’t have to feed secret agents to sharks on a regular basis, because they (the agents, and consequently, the sharks) would have better things to do. So who, exactly, is being harmed here? Since it seems that roughly three quarters of government is keeping up appearances, I’d have to say that the PR people are the ones who suffer. Sure, some other country might try to get some leverage on you by calling you a bunch of baby killers, but that’s amateur hour compared to your election process. So don’t worry too much. Embarrassment is merely that. As long as you say you’re sorry, everything will be all right.
Someone, not me, once said that the secret is only as good as the person keeping it. If you’re still worried about the security of your state secrets, try getting better people. Failing that, impose greater restrictions on information that you actually care about, and heftier penalties for releasing said information. If that, too, fails, you can restrict the movements and discourse of your general population so they wouldn’t know how to leak a secret if they knew they had one. And if even that fails, you can do what I do and occasionally throw random lackeys into a volcano because they “looked at you funny.”
Fear is a powerful motivator, but if you’re still finding leaks, I’m selling some really great obedience chips.
I’m practically giving them away.