Shocker news: Apparently, you don’t have to do anything to promote the cause of peace to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Bradley Manning, the disturbed young soldier on trial for handing over classified government information to WikiLeaks, has been nominated for the prize. They might as well have nominated Bernie Madoff—they both betrayed the trust of those who depended on them.
Other than Manning violating his oath as an American soldier and allegedly breaking a bunch of laws, it is hard to see what other contributions have come out of this sad episode. Not one credible investigation of wrongdoing on the part of the U.S. military emerged from Manning’s alleged document dump. Indeed, it is hard discern any rationale for vacuuming and dumping these documents on the Internet. Let’s face it—the Dreyfus case this is not.
Rather than changing how governments do business or increasing global transparency, what WikiLeaks has done is mostly promote global cyber-silliness that ranges from the annoying to the criminal to the truly dangerous.
Some of the fallout from WikiLeaks has been downright negative. According to the Guardian, some media outlets in Pakistan used the WikiLeaks story to launch a disinformation campaign disparaging India. “An extensive search of the WikiLeaks database by the Guardian by date, name and keyword failed to locate any of the incendiary allegations,” the paper reported. “It suggests this is the first case of WikiLeaks being exploited for propaganda purposes.”
More recently, WikiLeaks has been dumping the e-mails of a private intelligence subscription service called STRAFOR. Serious intelligence people don’t take STRATFOR seriously. Why the rest of the world should be interested in the company’s internal business records is not clear. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange claims that he has unmasked “a private intelligence Enron.” We’ll see. “An initial examination of the emails turned up a mix of the innocuous and the embarrassing,” as Associated Press report notes.
Originally, the muckraking WikiLeaks claimed that its “primary interest” was “in exposing oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East.” But clearly its mission has changed to one of embarrassing and weakening the U.S. government. Dropping any pretense of trying to expose truly oppressive regimes such as those in Iran or North Korea, it now casts itself as a champion of “freedom of speech and expression.” But by publicly “expressing” a quarter-million confidential documents, WikiLeaks willfully puts at risk the lives of people working to undermine the world’s repressive regimes.
Thus WikiLeaks tortures the virtue of free speech into a frontal assault on the concept of ordered liberty—far worse than the cyber version of falsely yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Lacking the resources and knowledge necessary to vet these documents, the anonymous “editors” at WikiLeaks can’t possibly ensure that their disclosures will keep innocents from harm’s way. Even Amnesty International raised red flags over this cavalier disregard for human life.
If promoting this kind of online behavior is what the Nobel Prize Committee thinks counts for promoting the cause of peace, then we need a different peace prize.