Steven Aftergood vs Wikileaks

Steven Aftergood, a veteran crusader against excessive government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, has unleashed a merciless critique of Wikileaks and its methods whose ferocity has really left me taken aback.

I think Aftergood makes a number of solid critiques of Wikileaks, most notably the point that there’s little value in invading the privacy of private associations and that indeed such activities do more to undermine liberal ideals than to promote them. It’s also definitely true that Wikileaks’ methods are quite different from journalistic methods, and also that there are some downsides to that approach. On the other hand, there are also some upsides.

All in all, I’m left with a sense of massive disproportion between the individual points Aftergood makes and his overall scornful attitude. It’s often the case that when you have organizations working in a similar space with similar goals that they disagree—at times strongly—about the best way to proceed. To my way of thinking, the most reasonable thing to conclude is that it’s a good thing that not everyone is doing the same thing. The world needs a diversity of approaches, not excommunications over relatively minor differences.