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WikiLeaks-Much ado

People with far more expertise in foreign policy than me have weighed in on the impact, such as there has been, of the WikiLeaks disclosures of State Department and intelligence cables.

People with poltiical axes to grind have similarly weighed in on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s high-tech terrorist cred.

Me, I think the guy and the website and the general aims of both are vastly overrated.

I mean, I get it. Assange wants governments across the world to be more open. Me, too. But where do we draw the line?

And yes, there is a line. The secrets have to be uncovered by somebody, after all, and the disclosure of certain secrets is punishable by law. Which isn’t to say that the laws aren’t worth fighting back against, but to me part and parcel to that fight is accepting the punishments that are to come.

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That’s the essence of civil disobedience, by which the person willfully breaking a law considered to be unjust accepts the consequences of the law-breaking to lay question to the moral authority of the state that enforces it.

The issue to me with the WikiLeaks approach is that it seems to me outside looking in that Assange wants to have it both ways – that he wants to push governments and bureaucracies in the world of big business to be more open while maintaining for himself the ultimate right to secrecy. Case in point: Facing a judge this week regarding an inquiry into allegations of rape and molestation in Sweden, Assange at first tried to claim a PO box as his address, then at further urging wrote an address on a slip of paper and handed the paper to the judge.

So he doesn’t want people to know where he lives, or much else about him, for that matter. That’s fine. He had to know that his crusade for openness would at the same time open his life to the same scrutiny that is his supposed overriding aim.

Another lesson learned. If you’re going to take up a crusade, you’d better be as close to being above reproach as is humanly possible.

My hope, as a strong advocate for openness in government and big business bureaucracy myself, is that this clown doesn’t set back the bigger cause with his shenanigans.

Column by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at