WikiLeaks

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Was it right to publish the classified US documents on the Iraq war ? Could you ever be a whistleblower ?
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Was it right to publish the classified US documents on the Iraq war?
Yes, because it makes the ridiculous UK involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan harder to justify. I can understand that it may cause concern for those with family serving in Afghanistan, and the UK Ministry of Defence has suggested that it may increase the risks to UK personnel, but these risks can only exist because UK personnel are in Afghanistan in the first place... ...and they pale into insignificance when compared to the debacle that has been the MOD failure to provide UK personnel with the most basic equipment and support that would have saved many lives... ...not to mention the squandering of billions, to provide temporary 'security' in an irrelevant corner of the world, that has permanently and irrecoverably damaged the defence and security of the UK. My apologies (I’m in a very bad mood)!

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To answer the question re whistleblower. No. But, if some scumball had my kids then I'd sing like a Canary to save them with the hope I could kill the scum later. In these days of immediate comms, and easy availabilty of world coverage then it's no suprise that information is out there. As for the post above me, well...my objection is the pussyfooting around we do. If the baddies are in the mountains, then WHY are there still mountains? War, it's the only language these anti-westers will ever EVER understand, so we need to talk very loud! Far cheaper in the long run, on the tax bill and the soldiers lives.

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To answer the question, no. But leaking is the order of the day. So we will become immune to it and probably expect it. When was the last time an official announcement of any sort was not part leaked to the media. I dread that pompous, self-satisfied phrase " the BBC has learnt", when it just means that some mole of a public employee, paid by me, has phoned his mate at the Beeb or in any other media outlet of his choice. It stinks!

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...if some scumball had my kids then I'd sing like a Canary to save them with the hope I could kill the scum later.
Excuse me, but what on earth are you talking about? :confused:
If the baddies are in the mountains, then WHY are there still mountains?
Same question.....what on earth are you talking about? :confused:
Profile picture for user Al

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I've been paid as a government scientist and Civil Servant since 1975, and am subject to the Official Secrets Act, but if I thought the information was important enough, and it exposed a government as being corrupt, dangerously inept, or acting illegally, yes, I could see certain situations where there would be no options than to be a whistle-blower. Time and again in the UK we have seen whistle-blowers publicly humiliated, their careers trashed, and hounded by torch-carrying villagers like some monster. Labour were particularly good at it - hounding the whistle-blowers perhaps saved them from embarrassing domestic and international scrutiny, instead of exposing the 'dark actors' at play, and gave the maggots time to compound and cement their nefarious political activities. The treatment of Dr David Kelly, for instance, made me extremely angry, even while it was happening. In an unguarded moment he told the BBC journalist about his deep concerns on Tony Blair's 45-minute threat to the UK from Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction. This triggered an enormous backlash from the government, who were desperate to promote their illegal invasion of Iraq, which was ostensibly to rid the world of these dreaded 'WMD's. His illustrious scientific career was rubbished by Labour, and I can remember them describing him at the time as 'a lowly Civil Servant', which must have been a real slap in the face for the man, when he was argueably the leading expert on the subject of WMD. And who knows what else they did to make the guy shut up...

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I understand your sentiments, Al, but surely if you extend your logic, what is the point in anyone signing the Official Secrets Act. I had to many years ago, and left that employment many years ago but I still respect it. If you know that you might not respect it, why sign it?
Profile picture for user BumbleBee

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I signed the official secrets act myself,but I still have a conscience. If I found something being concealed that I knew to be profoundly wrong,I couldn't live with myself if I kept quiet about it. But what if I had a family dependent on me,knew my action would maybe make me unemployable ? That's the question that interests me.

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Interesting. Right and wrong are seldom black and white and often subjective judgements. So I would turn the dilemma round the other way and suggest that if anyone has any doubt about their ability to adhere to the that law they should not sign. And as I suggested in my reply to Al, the fact that individuals are not prepared to respect the Act makes a mockery of it. I would agree that there is an element of degree about it but nevertheless in a world rapidly becoming devoid of principle the way these matters are dealt with should be reviewed.
Profile picture for user spitfireman

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I signed it back in the seventies and still would not divulge some of the stuff learnt since then, no matter what. There is a fine line here, giving information to the press can be the same as giving information to our enemies.(and we have got a few of them!)
Profile picture for user Al

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I understand your sentiments, Al, but surely if you extend your logic, what is the point in anyone signing the Official Secrets Act. I had to many years ago, and left that employment many years ago but I still respect it. If you know that you might not respect it, why sign it?
I expected someone to ask that important question. To me, the difference is fairly clear cut. I proudly signed the document in 1975, and never since, but I definitely feel bound to it in practically every aspect, and will be until I shuffle off. But I would like to think that if I was privvy to information that proved my government was covertly involved in torture, genocide, etc, and hiding behind the gravity of a document like the Act, then I would speak out publicly about it, irrespective of the consequences to me. You may think that scenario is highly unlikely, but history tells us otherwise. I don't think, however, that I would have had the guts to speak out if I had been a Civil Servant in Nazi Germany, for example. It's all very well standing up to be counted, but it's a totally different thing when the price is also paid by family and friends...

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So it ends up, as I suggested earlier, being a matter of degree. I wonder about the wording of the Act - I signed it in 1969 and have long forgotten the detail and no longer possess my copy. Does it make any reference to illegal acts? Do you still have your copy?
Profile picture for user Al

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I don't think I've ever owned a copy - just signed it and handed it over...

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I signed the official secrets act myself,but I still have a conscience. If I found something being concealed that I knew to be profoundly wrong,I couldn't live with myself if I kept quiet about it. But what if I had a family dependent on me,knew my action would maybe make me unemployable ? That's the question that interests me.
I omitted to respond to your second, key, question. And the answer, of course, is that there is no answer. Each one of us will act with an eye to both our conscience and the realities of our lives, if we can. However if we are aware that there is the slightest chance that one or the other could be sacrificed then surely we do not put ourselves in that position. All of us were aware of what we were signing. My employer made me fully aware of it and asked me if I was totally happy about signing. I was made aware prior to the interview that I would have to sign the Act so I had plenty of time to reconsider. There is no excuse for accepting the obligation and then reneging on it.
Profile picture for user kev35

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There is no excuse for accepting the obligation and then reneging on it.
The wider question would be is that if you are aware that innocent people are being deliberately and habitually harmed, either by acts of commission or omission, irrespective of whatever documents have been signed, is it simply down to the conscience of the individual who is aware? Is there not only a moral but legal imperative which outweighs the legality of the document allowing such things to be covered up? In the case of Iraq, I thought it was the coalition forces who claimed the moral high ground, justifying their presence by claiming the presence of WMD's and later using regime change to justify their actions. It would seem that, if the leaks are correct, that the moral standing of coalition forces is less moral than we ever expected. Regards, kev35

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Your post has widened the debate considerably and begs a further question. How many earlier conflicts would have taken place and how would the "winners" have been perceived if the 21st century ease of access to information had been available.There is much we now know which was unknown then and that knowledge might have informed the nature of conflict and ultimately re-written history. There will always be disagreement over the justification for conflict and what is heinous for one man may not be for another. No doubt acts of perceived moral outrage have been perpetrated in the name of the greater good and who is to say what is wrong and what is right in that context? Within the parametres set by the title of the thread my view remains the same that if one harbours doubts about one's ability to adhere to the Act, then it should not be signed. There may be those, of course, who intentionally put themselves in the position in order to make mischief. Either way it is a criminal offence.

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There is no excuse for accepting the obligation and then reneging on it.
I agree with Kev35 on this one; surely there are excuses? There must be some accounting for morality; anything else smacks of ‘just obeying orders’!

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As I seem to be the only person here that hasn’t signed the official secrets act (:rolleyes:) I’m arguing under something of a disadvantage but would like to say I view classified information and political secrets as two quite separate arguments. As I understand it the documents released on Wikileaks relate largely to statistics about Iraqi casualty numbers (civilian and military) and the treatment of prisoners. To me, these fall squarely in the political category and there can be little justification in trying to hide truths that show political spin to be little more than down-right lies. Classified information that discloses know weaknesses in armoured vehicles, for example, is a different matter.

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I think you are correct in making that distinction, within certain criteria. I do not regard the disinformation of wartime statistics as anything to get over-exited about. It has been going on for centuries and is part of the conduct of war. If wikileaks was a dispassionate exercise in objectivity it would be one thing but it is simple political mischief making. Mr Assange will no doubt spend the next few months/years struggling to hide from officialdom, but I think he might be forgotten in a few months time.
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There must be some accounting for morality; anything else smacks of ‘just obeying orders’!
Exactly! And funnily enough the excuse of obeying superior orders was not accepted as a defence at the IMTFE after the Second World War. Regards, kev35