How sweetly ironic that the Wikileaks saga is showing that governments in general seem unwilling to subject themselves to the same scrutiny that they demand of those they rule. Invasive body scanners, uncontrolled use of CCTV, electronic eavesdropping and the like are routine components of the modern state and are often defended by the anodyne placation of “if you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear”. This may possibly be true (albeit impossible to prove) but how delightful to see our rulers squirm as they receive a (very mild) taste of their own medicine. Given their pitiful bleating over-reaction, are we to assume that they do have something to hide? And more importantly, by what right do they hide it from those who they are appointed to serve (and here I’m not referring to the American military-industrial complex)?
But what, really, is the fuss about? Does anyone in the UK not know that at least one member of the British monarchy is a foul-mouthed, parasitic simpleton whose main activity revolves around retaining his own prime seat on the gravy train? Are we really unaware that our last Prime Minister was somewhat less than successful and that the American government might just have noticed? Did we not notice that Iran is unpopular with certain Middle-Eastern regimes? I pride myself on staying reasonably ill-informed but even I’ve noticed all these and several other “revelations” besides. The argument that damage has been done is specious: as far as I can ascertain, nothing much classified above “Secret” has been published and this is a trivial level of classification to which millions of people worldwide have routine access. More interesting, however, is the grinding triviality of most of the released material and this, in itself raises concerns: have our servants really got so little to do with their so-called “intelligence” that they resort to filling dull hours generating such spurious non-sequitors?
However, on a positive note, the powers-that-be have shown that they can still command widespread public support. Unfortunately that support isn’t for them but for the courage and determination of Wikileaks to publish and be dammed: the utter failure of attempts to take their website down is a tribute to the independent spirit that still exists on the Internet. The main mechanism that is being used to achieve this is known, with stunning appropriateness as a “denial of service attack”. In other words, dear reader, your government is denying you service!
Let’s just be grateful that, in this attempt, they have been no more successful than in their attempts to, for example, curb the excesses of bankers or bring about a rational response to climate change or, more obviously, to safeguard the security of their own correspondence. Better still, by their incompetence, they have empowered many people to act: by this afternoon, I was able to find a <a href=”http://www.wikileaks.ch/Mirrors.html” target=”_blank”>list of at least 200 sites hosting the Wikileaks archive and, most surprisingly, none of those that I visited appeared to lead to pornography. There are still decent folk out there who are determined to see truth and openness upheld. Amazon and PayPal may meekly capitulate but the frontier spirit of the early days of the Internet endures and, on this showing, is growing by the minute. Governments may yet find their subjects less browbeaten and compliant than they had imagined: all of a sudden, the frontier just got wilder!
STOP PRESS: I wrote this post on December 6. As of today (December 15) the list has grown from 200 mirror sites to over 2000!