MINISTRY OF SILLY LEAKS
Monty Python’s Flying Circus has this great skit. You must have seen it. A pompous, supercilious British twit, a bowler hatted civil servant, after buying the London Times, strides in a totally ludicrous fashion into a fictitious Government Ministry, the Ministry of Silly Walks. All that you despise in imbedded and intransigent bureaucracies is there for you to rail against. The bureaucrat tells the supplicant seeking funding that money is tight. Defense, Social Security, Health and Education had all but gobbled up the budget; Silly Walks got less than Defense and the best that can be offered is a grant to perfect La Marche Futile, an Anglo-French Silly Walk. The result is a unvarnished look at Anglo-French relations leaving both sides flinching.
This week the International Ministry of Silly Leaks, a/k/a “WikiLeaks”, had the effrontery to publish hundreds of thousands of secret cables sent by US Embassies throughout the world back to the State Department’s home base in, appropriately, Foggy Bottom, Washington, D. C. The resulting furor was deafening. Representative Peter King called for indictments and that WikiLeaks be designated a terrorist organization. Hillary Clinton winced at the candid portraits of Heads of State, both friendly and not so friendly. The Government Establishment united against WikiLeaks’ lifting of their fog of secrecy.
What Government has forgotten is the lesson of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan where the then as yet un politicized Supreme Court stated:
"In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy…" It continued "The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.”
Those condemning the leaks claim that release of confidential information will destroy our ability to deal diplomatically with the world, that delicate negotiations will be derailed and that disclosure of misdeeds performed in our name will jeopardize national security. What pure unadulterated bull.
Those in Government and their allies forget Abe Lincoln’s call to arms in the Gettysburg Address that our nation shall have freedom “and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”.