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How WikiLeaks works? Why the media (and particularly Wiki leaks) is important? How WikiLeaks verifies its news stories? The people behind WikiLeaks. Anonymity for sources. Part 5 of 6.
By Admin (from 18/02/2011 @ 12:00:25, in en - Global Observatory, read 2427 times)

3. Short essays on how a more inquiring media can make a difference in the world

3.1 The Malaria Case Study: the antidote is good governance born from a strong media

Malaria is a case study in why good governance not just good science is the solution to so much human suffering. This year, the mosquito borne disease will kill over one million people. More than 80% of these will be children. Great Britain used to have malaria. In North America, malaria was epidemic and there are still a handful of infections each year. In Africa malaria kills over 100 people per hour. In Russia, amidst the corruption of the 1990s, malaria re-established itself. What is the difference between these cases?

Why does Malaria kill so many people in one place but barely take hold in another? Why has malaria been allowed to gain a foothold in places like Russia where it was previously eradicated? We know how to prevent malaria epidemics. The science is universal. The difference is good governance.

Put another way, unresponsive or corrupt government, through malaria alone, causes a children's "9/11" every day. [1]

It is only when the people know the true plans and behaviour of their governments that they can meaningfully choose to support or reject them. Historically, the most resilient forms of open government are those where publication and revelation are protected. Where that protection does not exist, it is our mission to provide it through an energetic and watchful media.

In Kenya, malaria was estimated to cause 20% of all deaths in children under five. Before the Dec 2007 national elections, WikiLeaks exposed $3 billion of Kenyan corruption, which swung the vote by 10%. This led to changes in the constitution and the establishment of a more open government. It is too soon to know if it will contribute to a change in the human cost of malaria in Kenya but in the long term we believe it may. It is one of many reforms catalyzed by WikiLeaks unvarnished reporting.3.2 The importance of principled leaking to journalism, good government and a healthy society

Principled leaking has changed the course of history for the better. It can alter the course of history in the present, and it can lead us to a better future.

Consider Daniel Ellsberg, working within the US government during the Vietnam War. He comes into contact with the Pentagon Papers, a meticulously kept record of military and strategic planning throughout the war. Those papers reveal the depths to which the US government has sunk in deceiving the American people about the war. Yet the public and the media know nothing of this urgent and shocking information. Indeed, secrecy laws are being used to keep the public ignorant of gross dishonesty practised by their own government. In spite of those secrecy laws and at great personal risk, Ellsberg manages to disseminate the Pentagon papers to journalists and to the world. Despite criminal charges against Ellsberg, eventually dropped, the release of the Pentagon Papers shocks the world, exposes the government lying and helps to shorten the war and save thousands of both American and Vietnamese lives.

The power of principled leaking to call governments, corporations and institutions to account is amply demonstrated through recent history. The public scrutiny of otherwise unaccountable and secretive institutions forces them to consider the ethical implications of their actions. Which official will chance a secret, corrupt transaction when the public is likely to find out? What repressive plan will be carried out when it is revealed to the citizenry, not just of its own country, but the world? When the risks of embarrassment and discovery increase, the tables are turned against conspiracy, corruption, exploitation and oppression. Open government answers injustice rather than causing it. Open government exposes and undoes corruption. Open governance is the most effective method of promoting good governance.

Today, with authoritarian governments in power in much of the world, increasing authoritarian tendencies in democratic governments, and increasing amounts of power vested in unaccountable corporations, the need for openness and transparency is greater than ever. WikiLeaks interest is the revelation of the truth. Unlike the covert activities of state intelligence agencies, as a media publisher WikiLeaks relies upon the power of overt fact to enable and empower citizens to bring feared and corrupt governments and corporations to justice.

With its anonymous drop box, WikiLeaks provides an avenue for every government official, every bureaucrat, and every corporate worker, who becomes privy to damning information that their institution wants to hide but the public needs to know. What conscience cannot contain, and institutional secrecy unjustly conceals, WikiLeaks can broadcast to the world. It is telling that a number of government agencies in different countries (and indeed some entire countries) have tried to ban access to WikiLeaks. This is of course a silly response, akin to the ostrich burying its head in the sand. A far better response would be to behave in more ethical ways.

Authoritarian governments, oppressive institutions and corrupt corporations should be subject to the pressure, not merely of international diplomacy, freedom of information laws or even periodic elections, but of something far stronger - the consciences of the people within them.

TO BE CONTINUED with the last part ...

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