Yahoo News recently reported that an internal U.S. intelligence memorandum warns that the release of a Senate report on torture could inflame anti-U.S. sentiment in the Middle East. This is a predictably bad argument that usefully serves to keep people worldwide in the dark about the criminal practices of the U.S. government. This argument assumes that preventing anti-American sentiment is more important than giving people access to the truth. This standard applied to World War 2 would mean that Holocaust photos shouldn’t have been shared, because it might inflame anti-German sentiment.
In other words, there is always a risk that something will offend someone somewhere. If you applied this principle consistently, you’d release barely anything – if at all. Libertarian principle also informs us that responsibility for any immoral acts committed in response to the release would belong to the people who did them. It wouldn’t be the fault of the people doing the releasing.
Of course, the discussion above presumes that people actually would commit immoral acts in response to the release of the report. As opposed to just hating the American government. The anarchist is rightfully concerned with the former rather than the latter. What the governing class and national security establishment is really concerned about is the latter. They don’t want distrust by people around the world to interfere with their projection of power.
Libertarian principle is about the opposite. It would be a good thing, if the release of the report were to impede the use of coercive American power around the globe. The lives saved would be incaluable as the military power of the American government were no longer trusted to do right. That’s one of the best anarchist arguments for the release of the report. Not to mention the fact that it will make available good information for future war crimes trials.
To make this a reality, Wikileaks and similar organizations should be encouraged to contact whistleblowers within the establishment. If the government won’t release it on its own accord, another Chelsea Manning might be willing to. They don’t even need to be an anarchist, but, it would still be a very anarchistic act on their part. The kind of act that can radicalize people and push them towards anarchism.
Anarchists should thus contact Wikileaks and encourage them to follow through on this suggestion. The result could be very favorable to liberty. Freedom cannot survive the use of torture. All the more reason to get started on this project.