Bravo, Wikileaks!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

“God, help me to tell the truth in the presence of the strong”.

Mahatma Gandhi

Of course this information should be disclosed!

The first article of the Constitution of UNESCO, a United Nations organization that I had the privilege of directing for several years, says that the “free flow of ideas by word and image” will be guaranteed. Freedom of expression, of information, of access.

Among the thousands of “classified” documents disclosed by Wikileaks, some reveal data concerning the U.S. armed forces from communications intended for the Pentagon. Others refer to “filtrations” of messages sent from different embassies to the U.S. State Department. And this knowledge alone has an incalculable value for, among others, improving diplomatic service and military intelligence. From now on, many people with think twice before sending such information. The “powers” will understand that they must proceed otherwise and that “State transparency” is much better than “State secrets”. Good political initiatives will not be destabilized; only the bad ones will. And this is a positive outcome. The communications media can help prevent absurdities, and cooperate in the right direction. Politics with a capital “P” will be the ultimate beneficiary.

But what no one can ensure is that these messages are indeed authentic. We don’t know whether they are true, especially some that obviously reflect very personal, superficial and anecdotal impressions.

If we are careful to use the term “alleged”, even with those who are known to have committed crimes or who have been accused of doing so, it would now be absurd to hastily reach conclusions based on the Wikileaks documents, without duly verifying their content.

To the extent that the leaks are found to be true, the competent authorities should undoubtedly take measures, some quite severe, and they should now be more carefully monitored by the general public, who will likewise be more vigilant.

What is really important is to support good journalism; journalism that accurately reflects events and knowledge based on criteria of total independence. And journalists who freely write and defend their opinions.

On the other hand, we need to bear in mind that the “news” always reflects something unusual and extraordinary. We must try to see the broad areas of reality that are not present in the news… because they are “normal”, “ordinary”, what’s customary. Seeing those who are invisible and not only those in the media spotlight is very important because (as I never cease to repeat) only if we have a profound knowledge of reality can we achieve a profound transformation of that reality.

In summary: it is very positive to have disclosed the Wikileaks information. It is very bad to have accepted all of it as true, without prior verification, especially on the part of those media that only publicize information that benefits them, which is often totally and blatantly manipulated to reflect the ideology of the media’s owners; and those who actively wail against journalistic transparency, with “sins” of omission and distortion…

We urgently need reliable news sources. These are becoming ever scarcer, due to the concentration of communications media in so few “hands”.

Long live Wikileaks!

And down with those who from their unyielding partisan perspectives are quick to draw the conclusions that best fit their purposes, with the same ease with which they shun objectivity.

Know and confirm, and put everything in context. Knowledge and good judgment. As T. S. Eliot asked over a century ago, “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

These are the questions.