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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


WikiLeaks spills tensions

Experts at the UA believe that students will, in the long run, have to confront the issues and repercussions raised by the latest actions of WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks is a nonprofit organization whose goal, according to its website, is “”to provide an innovative, secure and anonymous way for sources to leak information”” to journalists. It provided more than 250,000 leaked U.S. Department of State communiqués to five newspapers around the world. These newspapers began publishing stories about the documents last week.

“”I think the biggest long-term effect is going to be a reluctance with the United States government to share information with other agencies because of the fear that they’ll be exposed,”” said Brint Milward, director of the UA School of Government and Public Policy.

One of the main recommendations in The 9/11 Commission Report is that different government agencies must share more information with each other in order to prevent future terrorist attacks.

But the risk of sharing intelligence between agencies, Milward said, is that more people are aware of the information and it can be leaked.

Milward said that governments do have to balance the need to maintain confidentiality with the need for openness and transparency.

Experts at the UA believe that students will, in the long run, have to confront the issues and repercussions raised by the latest actions of WikiLeaks.

“”To relay everything you know, everything you believe, or everything you feel all the time makes it very difficult for people to interact with you, because not everybody else is any where near that open and would even appreciate being that open,”” Milward said.

As an analogy, Milward said you may be taking a class required for your major, but you’re not going to walk into the professor’s office and tell him you think he’s terrible.

“”Likewise in foreign affairs, we may not like it, but there are people who are very powerful or who control resources that are really critical to the United States, and we may have to be nice to them in a way that we wouldn’t have to if they didn’t matter or we didn’t care or we had no relationship with them,”” Milward said.

“”Now we’re saying, oh my goodness, we’ve shared information too widely, now we need to contain it and keep it where it was collected,”” he said. “”So if it is the state department, we’ll keep it in the state department, we won’t share with the CIA, we won’t share with the FBI. That may be just as harmful as the openness that we’ve had in terms of sharing internally within the government.””

David Cuillier, an assistant professor of journalism and the Freedom of Information Committee chairman for the Society of Professional Journalists, believes what WikiLeaks did is primarily an ethical issue.

But what most concerned Cuillier is how certain information is handled online.

“”The Internet is causing all sorts of new challenges that students are going to have deal with. Already, students deal with it all the time: cyber bullying, what people post on Facebook about them … things that get online that will haunt them their whole lives.

“”So this information is power. This sort of thing could lead to wars,”” Cuillier said. “”So what’s happening now could determine whether or not people here on campus are working in the suburbs five years from now or slogging through a jungle in Korea.””

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