Sunday, 20 March 2011
At a business meeting this week, Don’t Call Me Dave was asked if he was a supporter of Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks web site. Given that DCMD has long complained about the obsessive culture of secrecy which permeates through every fibre of Barnet Council’s being, it might seem only natural that he should support the WikiLeaks ethos.
There is no doubt that Governments around the world keep far too much information unnecessarily secret from its citizens. More often than not, the reason for the secrecy is to cover up embarrassing mistakes, incompetence or corruption. WikiLeaks is right to expose such practises.
But do we have an absolute right to know absolutely everything? If DCMD asked Barnet Council for details of its civil contingency plan in the even of a terrorist attack, he would quite rightly expect to be refused the information in the interest of national security. Arguably the council should confirm, if asked, whether a contingency plan actually exists, but to divulge the precise details of it could put lives at risk.
This is where WikiLeaks has crossed the line. It has failed to draw a distinction between information which should properly be in the public domain, and intelligence which could compromise national security and endanger the lives of our security and armed forces.
As for Mr Assange himself, he recently gave a very strange interview to the editor of Private Eye, reportedly blaming “Jews and the Guardian” for his current problems. Assange denies he is anti-Semitic. Some of his best friends are Jewish, apparently.
The Jewish Chronicle reports that last month Assange accused the BBC of trying to influence his extradition hearing on rape charges because the producer of Panorama had a “Zionist wife”.
The newspaper also claims that at a debate at the Cambridge Union last week, Assange allegedly accused Israel of permitting torture. Curiously for a man so keen on freedom of information, Assange refused to allow journalists to attend or record the debate.
So, to the question as to whether DCMD supports Julian Assange, his carefully considered answer is simply “no”. Assange is clearly two sandwiches short of a picnic, and he does the cause of freedom of information no good whatsoever with his incoherent rants and baseless accusations. The security of our nation is slightly more important than the deluded ramblings of an attention seeking publicist with a massive chip on his shoulder.