In the Internet age, government secrecy harder to maintain: expert

Dec 23, 2010
In the Internet age, government secrecy harder to maintain: expert
Journalism professor William Kirtz analyzes government secrecy and journalism in the digital age. Photo by Lauren McFalls.

WikiLeaks' exposure of thousands of leaked U.S. diplomatic cables has thrust America’s foreign policy and government secrecy into the global spotlight. The media’s role in reporting on these sensitive documents — while also trying to balance national security concerns — has sparked debate, as well.

William Kirtz, associate professor in the School of Journalism at Northeastern University, examines the potential for future “document dumps” on the Internet and discusses the challenges journalists face in the digital age.

In the aftermath of the WikiLeaks release of diplomatic cables, do you think more government secrets will be exposed, or will increased government efforts to maintain secrecy succeed?

More secrets will be exposed because the Internet makes it so easy to disseminate information—whether or not it harms national security.

What is your assessment of how the news organizations that initially received these documents covered this story?

The documents were distributed to a few leading traditional outlets, such as The New York Times, which redacted information that might endanger people and programs and discussed what they were preparing to print with government officials. And in some cases, according to Times editor Bill Keller, material was deleted or modified to address government concerns. The danger is that some group without professional journalism standards will do an Internet “document dump” of information that could indeed damage national security.

How has Wikileaks’ coverage by major news organizations compared to the coverage of those who have leaked sensitive material in the past?

The media coverage of founder Julian Assange has detailed his legal problems; their treatment of him has been much more critical than that which Daniel Ellsberg received when he leaked the Pentagon Papers. This seems appropriate; a source’s motive in disclosing information can be quite relevant.

In this new media age, what challenges do journalists face in reporting on government secrecy and preserving national security?

Threats of prosecution under the vague and outdated Espionage Act are a challenge. So potentially is proposed legislation that would make it illegal to publish the names of military or intelligence community informants. Increased use of subpoena power to compel journalists to disclose confidential sources is another problem. Finally, the mainstream media’s ongoing financial crisis may dissuade news organizations from starting and continuing the long and expensive battle to obtain information that officials want to keep secret — not out of national security concerns, but because it might embarrass them politically or personally.

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User comments : 27

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jaydee
4.2 / 5 (5) Dec 23, 2010
The Wikileaks spectacle appears to be a vehicle run by elements in our govt i.e. to "manufacture" the conditions necessary to censor the the internet, stifle govt whistle blowers even further, and to conceal the crimes that they have, and are about to commit against humanity.
Au-Pu
4.3 / 5 (7) Dec 23, 2010
In our so called free democratic nations, governments are made up of elected representatives of the people.
As they are our representatives it is immoral for them to even contemplate doing anything in secrecy from the people they have been selected to represent.
They are NOT our rulers, they are our representatives.
Perhaps they need to be forced to remember this.
More power to wikileaks for exposing their chicanery.
Wikileaks is the enemy of the corrupt and the hero of the people.
Let us try to guarantee Assange's freedom.
ormondotvos
not rated yet Dec 23, 2010
Intent? Read "Conspiracy as Government" by Assange to determine his motives!
Shootist
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 23, 2010
The Wikileaks spectacle appears to be a vehicle run by elements in our govt i.e. to "manufacture" the conditions necessary to censor the the internet, stifle govt whistle blowers even further, and to conceal the crimes that they have, and are about to commit against humanity.


"Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not after you" - Nirvana
ryggesogn2
1.8 / 5 (5) Dec 24, 2010
This is another step on the path to the Sovereign Individual:
"In The Sovereign Individual, Davidson and Rees-Mogg explore the greatest economic and political transition in centuries -- the shift from an industrial to an information-based society. This transition, which they have termed "the fourth stage of human society," will liberate individuals as never before, irrevocably altering the power of government."
"The essence of their analysis is that there is a significant power-shift going on - a shift from the historic power of nation states, to a new breed of people they term sovereign individuals."
Of course the nation-state will oppose this transition.

KomMaelstrom
5 / 5 (1) Dec 24, 2010
I just love how the word "expert" is the last word in the title. Just wanted to share that. *chuckles*
Doug_Huffman
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 24, 2010
To and back to Sovereign Individuals.

Unfortunately many individuals alive today will starve as sovereigns, depending as they do on their manor-lord for sustenance and survival.
Quantum_Conundrum
3.3 / 5 (3) Dec 24, 2010
To and back to Sovereign Individuals.

Unfortunately many individuals alive today will starve as sovereigns, depending as they do on their manor-lord for sustenance and survival.


What choice do they have when the top 1% of individuals own 25% of everything, and then there's the state and local and federal governments to consider. People didn't choose when and where or under what conditions they were born. Just as an example, my parents did not have indoor plumbing, in Louisiana, until the mid nineteen sixties, some 20 years after the atomic bomb had already been dropped. It makes me sick to hear my older relatives talk about how they were living even 10 and 20 years after the atomic age even started. So what were they supposed to do? Seriously, they were all just some dumb farmer's kids and all any of them knew was basicly work from daylight to dark and go to sleep.

It's the same people's families that ignorant people like you think they just "want" to be there.
Quantum_Conundrum
2 / 5 (2) Dec 24, 2010
cont...

Most of these people don't have much of a choice because they are second and third generation of a family where the average person never even graduated high school, nevermind attend a college. How is somebody supposed to learn calculus when their parents can't even do algebra, and dumbass, they can't afford a tutor because tutors charge more money than the entire family makes, and it was supposed to be the teachers's job to teach in the first place anyway.

I'm the only person I know of in my entire extended family from grand parents to my nephews, to anyone, who even knows what a derivative is at all, nevermind differentials or determinants. In fact, I'd wager none of my parents, aunts or uncles have ever even heard of quadratic formula from roughly Algebra 1 level math.

As you can imagine, conversation with family is rather un-fullfilling.

So anyway, eat it guy. You don't know anything about how normal people live their lives. If you did you wouldn't comment.
Distort
not rated yet Dec 24, 2010
DERRRRRRRRRRRRP

Seriously, what a fluff article.
kaasinees
1 / 5 (1) Dec 25, 2010
I geuss "scientist" isn't the only title that can be bought for 5 bucks. (refering to the "expert" title if you dint get it)
Skeptic_Heretic
4 / 5 (1) Dec 25, 2010
I'm the only person I know of in my entire extended family from grand parents to my nephews, to anyone, who even knows what a derivative is at all, nevermind differentials or determinants.
That jsut means you'e American. I know it sounds lke a harsh dig on the country, but we're not exactly a brilliant people any longer.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (4) Dec 25, 2010
Most of these people don't have much of a choice because they are second and third generation of a family where the average person never even graduated high school,

Who's fault is that? We have govt mandated FREE school all across the USA.
BTW, MY grandparents did not have running water until the mid sixties when they moved into town.

That jsut means you'e American. I know it sounds lke a harsh dig on the country, but we're not exactly a brilliant people any longer.

What is the motivation? Our K-12 govt system won't allow discipline or fire incompetent teachers. The govt drives away manufacturing jobs with NIMBY attitudes and high taxes.
Why should people work hard to educate themselves for new opportunities when the federal govt pays people NOT to work for over 2 years?
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (4) Dec 25, 2010
Quantum_Conundrum - Dec 23, 2010

* Rank: 2.8 / 5 (12)

I wonder how many people would be put out of work, and how many businesses totally destroyed, if they actually do manage to pass a carbon tax.

Every truck company and every business that relies on them would go broke in a matter of months.

So you blame 1% for owning 25% of everything and then you say the govt will tax everyone out of business.

Do you blame 'the rich' for bad govt teachers, or the 'rich' for students who have little incentive to learn or the 'rich' for driving business away?
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (2) Dec 25, 2010
Do you blame 'the rich' for bad govt teachers, or the 'rich' for students who have little incentive to learn or the 'rich' for driving business away?
I do. Your policy of tax cuts to incentivize investment and deregulation to create welath are entirely contrary to reality and statistics for the past 100 years.

Every time we deregulate, financial sector wages go up, government debt goes up, unemployment goes up, middle class wages go down, small and medium businesses decline. It is corporate theft, plain and simple.

Reality tells you that you're wrong. History tells you that you're wrong. Economic science tells you that you're wrong.

Is it any wonder why you distrust science and go with "faith"?

References for the above:
http://www.fairec..._gdp.gif
http://www.fairec..._inc.gif
http://www.fairec...wage.gif
http://www.fairec..._emp.gif
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (5) Dec 25, 2010
Every time we deregulate,

What deregulation?
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (2) Dec 25, 2010
Every time we deregulate,

What deregulation?
You were alive for Reagan, Clinton, and both Bushes. Don't act stupid because it suits your lack of argument.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (4) Dec 25, 2010
Every time we deregulate,

What deregulation?
You were alive for Reagan, Clinton, and both Bushes. Don't act stupid because it suits your lack of argument.

What deregulation? Was the FDIC abolished? Or the Federal Reserve or the SEC or.....?
Tell me one regulatory agency that has been abolished or any regulations that have eliminated, not just rewritten.
You can't call it 'DE-regulation', but you can call it 'RE-regulation'.
Quantum_Conundrum
3.4 / 5 (5) Dec 25, 2010
ryggesogn2:

Do you honestly believe everything that happens to someone is their own choice or their own fault? I think there was a word for people who believed and taught that, oh yes, "Pharisee".

When people like that quit school it wasn't because they were lazy or stupid, it's because they had to go get a full time job to support their parents and siblings, and things like that. and then it becomes a cycle that ruins people one generation after another.

I guess stuff like that just doesn't occur to people like you though.

It'd be nice to have a whole decade or generation of people graduate from school with perfect gpa, and 36 on the ACT.

Guess what? You can't get that when you have a civilization where people think an 18 was a "high" score on an ACT, and people watch pro wrestling and Desperate Housewives, and won't watch educational programming so that even the educational channels have to resort to soap operas just to stay on the air.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (4) Dec 25, 2010
It'd be nice to have a whole decade or generation of people graduate from school with perfect gpa, and 36 on the ACT.

Only if the grades were not inflated and if the ACT was rigorous.
But I would rather have people who are taught to think not score on tests.
My grandfather's 8th grade education was sufficient to understand that FDR was a socialist and bad for the USA. There are PhDs who don't understand that.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (5) Dec 25, 2010
"The graph below shows inflation-adjusted federal spending on finance and banking regulations between 1960 and 2010. As we can see, with very few exceptions, regulatory spending on finance and banking has gone up for the last 50 years from to $190 million in 1960 to $2.3 billion in fiscal 2010. Also, real expenditures for the finance and banking regulation category have risen 45.5 percent from 1990 to 2010, with a 20 percent increase in the last ten years. It rose by 26 percent during President George W. Bush’s administration."
http://www.americ...oks-like
Quantum_Conundrum
3.4 / 5 (5) Dec 25, 2010
FDR was a socialist and bad for the USA. There are PhDs who don't understand that.


Oh yes, because monopolies like the coal companies a century ago are just so "gooooood". It's just great for one or two people to get all the reward while everyone else busts their ass and gets paid barely enough to make ends meet. That's just awesome man. We should de-regulate everything immediately, and go back to the good old days when your boss could shoot you for asking for a raise, and dock half your pay over some trivial bs.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (4) Dec 25, 2010
your boss could shoot you for asking for a raise

How could he do that and not be arrested for murder or shot by his 'employees'?
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) Dec 25, 2010
What deregulation? Was the FDIC abolished? Or the Federal Reserve or the SEC or.....?
Tell me one regulatory agency that has been abolished or any regulations that have eliminated, not just rewritten.
You can't call it 'DE-regulation', but you can call it 'RE-regulation'.
Glass Stegal for one. Shall we continue?
DamienS
5 / 5 (2) Dec 25, 2010
I'm the only person I know of in my entire extended family from grand parents to my nephews, to anyone, who even knows what a derivative is at all, nevermind differentials or determinants. In fact, I'd wager none of my parents, aunts or uncles have ever even heard of quadratic formula from roughly Algebra 1 level math.

As you can imagine, conversation with family is rather un-fullfilling.

Had this comment and some others in this thread been the only comments of yours that I'd read on this board, I might have concluded that you're a reasonable chap who, despite the circumstances of his environment, has bettered himself through education.

But that view is at odds, given how much ignorant crap you spew elsewhere and repeatedly refuse to listen to reason when it's clearly presented to you. Perhaps old habits are hard to break...
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (5) Dec 26, 2010
What deregulation? Was the FDIC abolished? Or the Federal Reserve or the SEC or.....?
Tell me one regulatory agency that has been abolished or any regulations that have eliminated, not just rewritten.
You can't call it 'DE-regulation', but you can call it 'RE-regulation'.
Glass Stegal for one. Shall we continue?

Are banks still regulated by the Federal Reserve and FDIC?
"Banks will voluntarily reinstitute Glass-Steagall practices in response to market and capital pressures, says Kenneth Moelis, CEO of New York-based investment bank Moelis & Company. "
http://www.thestr...all.html
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (4) Dec 26, 2010
"When the Internet economy allows an increasing number of people to live anywhere, low costs win. Texans spend 8.4% of income on state and local taxes compared with 11.7% for New Yorkers. Dollars that would rent a fifth-floor walk-up in New York City instead can buy a small ranch and maybe even acreage in Texas’ suburbs, where prairie begs to be paved for another Applebee’s.

Read more: http://www.nypost...c"

The author's of The Sovereign Individual said this would happen.