National Security In The Online World

Richard Cohen has an interesting piece in today’s Washington Post on the Wikileaks story. His point? In an online world, where not everyone plays by old school rules, government secrets will get posted once they’re leaked. Don’t expect Wikileaks, Gawker, the Drudge Report or countless other online outlets to exercise self restraint. And if they don’t, the mainstream media is bound to publish its own version of the story, which will include references to the secret stuff. And so, trying to punish the messengers – even the ones we don’t like that much (looking at you Julian Assange) – is ultimately pointless. The focus, at least according to Cohen should be on rooting out the government insiders who do the initial leaking. Hard to argue with that point. But it’s also hard to argue with the sense that, without the Wikileaks, some valuable information might never see the light of day. Check out Anne Applebaum’s Washington Post column. She notes that some of the Wikileaks information detailed serious corruption in the Putin government. But on the day of the leaks, Appelbaum notes, ” the main state television channel reported that the Moscow River had frozen, that sharks attacked Russian tourists in Egypt, and that drunken truck drivers transport nuclear weapons in the United States.” Not a peep about a corrupt government. So how do Russian citizens learn the truth without the leaks? Food for thought.