Knowing it all

Alan Duff

When I was around the age of 10, I remember the presence of a grand cookie jar in the kitchen. It rested atop the highest shelf and it never seemed to lack delicious cookies. For this reason, my parents forbid me from taking a bite from a single cookie without their permission – they obviously wanted the cookies all for themselves.
So one day, when my parents were watching television, I moved a chair over to the shelf and snatched as many cookies as my tiny hands could hold and started eating them. My parents found me by following the crumbs. I was grounded and forced to go without cookies for a long time after.
I objected, yelling, “If you hadn’t wanted me to have any cookies you shouldn’t have bought them!” I felt ever so clever until they grounded me. I didn’t own the cookies and I could have waited to have one for dessert. I believe there is a concept of responsibility, though not entirely the same, linking the cookie story and the actions of the organization WikiLeaks in exposing confidential government information.
The basic question is this: Who is the responsible party? If the story of a child taking cookies from a jar were a perfect analogy to WikilLeaks’ actions, it would be much easier to come to a concise answer. Imagining that WikiLeaks is a group of children who are sneaking around snatching the delicious secrets of countries around the world and allowing everyone to take a bite is slightly ridiculous, but probably not far off from some countries’ opinions of WikiLeaks – for example, the United States’.
This organization and the U.S. government see the issue in a different light. Since June 2010, the Obama administration has been cracking down on leaks and authorizing more thorough investigations in order to find the sources of leaks coming form inside intelligence agencies.
It is the original sources of these leaks – government officials who are giving away classified information – that are the targets for the intelligence probes.
While the United States tried to secure the identities of those responsible, WikiLeaks shows that it believes in anonymity for all its sources by stating, “As far as we can ascertain, WikiLeaks has never revealed any of its sources.”
WikiLeaks has even tried to ensure that some of the information it has leaked has remained anonymous. By keeping many of its leaders anonymous, it appears that the organization believes in transparency in all situations except for the case of revealing its own administration.
To date, it seems that if leaked information is given to WikiLeaks, it will most likely be released in the following months. Therefore, WikiLeaks is merely a tool that is willing to release information, provided it is factual and accurate.
True responsibility lies with the individuals who decide to give information to WikiLeaks. These are the same individuals who, in countries like the United States, can be punished with jail time if caught.
The ones who are the responsible parties for the leaks are not large organizations; they are regular people like U.S. Army soldier Bradley Manning or Daniel Ellsberg – the man who released the Pentagon Papers in 1971. They are the people who take these confidential cookies and decide to share them with the world.