WikiLeaks 'tweets' Kennedy speech on secrecy

WikiLeaks defends its decision to publish thousands of classified US diplomatic cables
A woman reads the internet site of WikiLeaks as on the screen at (R) can be seen a photo of WikiLeaks-founder Julian Assange. WikiLeaks, defending its decision to publish thousands of classified US diplomatic cables, sent out a link on Twitter on Thursday to excerpts of a speech by John F. Kennedy in which the former US president denounced excessive secrecy.

WikiLeaks, defending its decision to publish thousands of classified US diplomatic cables, sent out a link on Twitter on Thursday to excerpts of a speech by John F. Kennedy in which the former US president denounced excessive secrecy.

"Kennedy on why WikiLeaks matters," WikiLeaks said in a message on its feed, @wikileaks, which was accompanied by a link to a YouTube video of the April 27, 1961 speech to the American Newspaper Publishers Association.

The selected excerpts feature remarks in which Kennedy condemns excessive secrecy, but left out were other comments in which the president appealed to the press to exercise restraint at a time of high Cold War tensions.

"Government at all levels, must meet its obligation to provide you with the fullest possible information outside the narrowest limits of ," Kennedy told the publishers in one of the chosen excerpts.

"The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings," Kennedy said.

"We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it," he added.

The president went on, however, to cite instances in which newspapers had revealed sensitive information to the "nation's foes" at a time of "national peril" and he appealed for restraint -- excerpts which did not appear in the YouTube excerpts posted by .

"In time of war, the government and the press have customarily joined in an effort based largely on self-discipline, to prevent unauthorized disclosures to the enemy," Kennedy said.

"In time of 'clear and present danger,' the courts have held that even the privileged rights of the First Amendment must yield to the public's need for national security," he said.

"If the press is awaiting a declaration of war before it imposes the self-discipline of combat conditions, then I can only say that no war ever posed a greater threat to our security," he said.

"I am asking the members of the newspaper profession and the industry in this country to reexamine their own responsibilities, to consider the degree and the nature of the present danger, and to heed the duty of self-restraint which that danger imposes upon us all," Kennedy said.

"Every newspaper now asks itself, with respect to every story: 'Is it news?'" he said. "All I suggest is that you add the question: 'Is it in the interest of the national security?'"


Explore further

US soldier arrested in WikiLeaks case

(c) 2010 AFP

Citation: WikiLeaks 'tweets' Kennedy speech on secrecy (2010, December 2) retrieved 22 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2010-12-wikileaks-tweets-kennedy-speech-secrecy.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
0 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Dec 03, 2010
Hail WiliLeaks. Here's applause for open government. I mean, does anyone really believe that the Iranians are not aware that the Saudis and many others in the Middle East are afraid of them... even terrified of them? That in their heart of hearts, they want Israel and the US to demolish their nuclear capability?
Everything I've read is either puerile or easily understood. Nothing 'secret' here, except for the persons ordering the actions.

Dec 10, 2010
And so a group of punks decide what is "excessive."

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more