• Justice at any price?

    Posted by Micah

    29 July, 2010

    Micah Challenge International Director, Joel Edwards reflects on WikiLeaks

    If God was WikiLeak what would become of us. Does justice always have to go public - even if its risks other people's lives?

    I have to admit my ignorance and say that before they unveiled 90,000 secret documents about the war in Afghanistan, WikiLeaks was a complete secret to me. I thought someone had misspelt Wikipedia.

    The decision to reveal hitherto unknown information about US and Coalition military action has apparently shown up evidence of civilian casualties previously denied by the governments and secret communications between Allied forces and Afghan informants.

    Needless to say it has created a political storm with politicians in Whitehall and the Whitehouse working overtime on damage limitation exercises. Right now there is critical concern about how far WikiLeak has exposed informants to Taleban firing squads.

    But in all of this Julian Assange, WikiLeak's CEO, remains unrepentant. His only concern he says is to reveal truth in the pursuit of justice. And he justifies his actions by claiming that they have withheld the publication of a further 15,000 documents with far more revealing information.

    The high risk revelations have reignited the tension between truth on the streets and national security. Who is now responsible for the national interest? Can anybody with any piece of information leap into the limelight armed with secrets in order to protect our values? And how do we now distinguish between our journalists' personal gratification and our common interests? And can ‘justice' be justified at any price?

    I'm all for justice but WikiLeak makes me nervous. Evil really should be exposed but I am not convinced that it always needs to be exposed in the pages of our commercial publications in the first instance. It would have been more assuring to learn about a sustained period of attempts to bring this to our ‘authorities' in order to bring our governments to accountability. What we have here is not transparency but immediate and sensational transparency.

    Sooner or later all democracies are likely to be exposed under our Official Secrets legislation. Admittedly that arrangement is not always in the interest of justice. But it's the immediacy of these disclosures which will affect individual's security as well as the aid and support for Afghanistan precisely at a time when the debates about troop withdrawal are so delicate that will tempt us to see this as a piece of mischievous journalism rather than a thirst for justice.


    No one is as committed to justice as God is. But if God acted like WikiLeak then heaven help us all! Justice can be ruthless in its demands but it's not always immediate and public in its application.


    This article first appeared on Joel's Blog, Micah Challenge International