Dear Julian, about #wikileaks…

First, I want to say that you’re a bit of a hero to me. Anyone with enough passion to put their life on the line in pursuit of a cause, deserves respect. When that passion is used to bring powerful people to account for their actions, it earns my deepest admiration.

Now those powerful people are annoyed. Your part in the release of the ‘secret’ cables seems to have tipped off a level of hysteria that maybe even surprised you. After all, the Afghan War Diaries controversy died down pretty quickly after release, with virtually everyone admitting that nothing dangerous or harmful had really been released – embarrassing, certainly, but nothing like we were led to believe by the ‘powerful people’. There wasn’t really any argument that this was information that the public had a right to know.

So, Wikileaks reveals truth. Never was it more so apparent than with the latest release of US diplomatic cables. The truth these documents reveal is often dull, sometimes confirms our suspicions, and very occasionally provides a surprise. What kind of truth is it though? The cables are a mixture of factual reporting and opinion pieces – they are not official government policy, they are ‘true’ in that they are clearly genuine, however, the content is often just background information and surmise on the part of Embassy staff. It shapes decisions, it’s sometimes embarrasing, but it isn’t policy. Because of this, some people are saying it shouldn’t have been revealed, that it gives a false impression, but these people are missing the point. We can’t choose the truth – it just is. We can’t say that we want to know when there’s collateral murder, or atrocities such as Abu Ghraib, but keep the rest. It’s all or nothing. I know which I’d rather have.

The reactions to this truth are amusing too. A stark contrast between Kevin Rudd, upon hearing the release of a far from flattering cable, and the reaction of the Afghan and Pakistani Prime Ministers. Kevin says: “harden up, that’s what diplomacy is”, while the other two use the time honoured tactic of denying the credibility of the source. While I agree that Kevin may have been “an abrasive, impulsive control freak”, I’d rather him than Karzai or Gilani any day!

Now they’ve arrested you. After you surrendered yourself to an arrest warrant on a bizarre charge. Rape? Apparently not, though that is one of the labels that have been used to make it sound more dramatic. Nothing to do with Wikileaks though, however it’s going to conveniently get you sidelined while the world’s leaders try to find other ways of protecting their vested interests. Regardless of whether you believe the conspiracy theories, clearly something took place between you and at least two women. That doesn’t paint you in a very flattering light, and probably represents a rather significant character flaw.

Character flaws don’t make Wikileaks bad though. I am reminded of a larger than life Norm Gallagher, who, as the leader of the now outlawed Builder’s Labourers Federation, graced the television news of my formative years. No-one could say that Norm was a nice guy. He was a bullying, corrupt bastard by all accounts, and there are many people who would have happily seen him, and his Sydney counterpart, Jack Mundey, rot in a jail cell. However, those same people (and their grandchildren) now potter along to the Queen Victoria Market and City Baths in Melbourne, or enjoy the wonderful Rocks and Botanical Gardens in Sydney. These fantastic places may not exist today but for the BLF’s Green Bans. So, even bad people can do very good things. Not that I think you’re bad, just that whatever else you do does not diminish the good of wikileaks.

So, now to a trial. I don’t know what the game is. I can’t believe that you haven’t got a pretty solid plan in place, you strike me as the sort of person who leaves very little to chance. Journalists the world over are going to be writing about the nature of Justice, all of them knowing that theirs is a profession that relies on uncovering truth. You are, after all, just a publisher. You didn’t steal or write the documents, you simply prepared them for publication.

I hope you frustrate the authorities just a little longer – it’s great to see them wringing their hands and furiously putting spin on their embarrassment. After all, most of these governments came to power on a promise of openness and transparency. What they forgot to say was that they meant it to only apply to others!