They Said It Better Than I Ever Could...

These words that I write, they keep me from total insanity. -Charles Bukowski

Who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived, or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed? -Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Oct 24, 2010

1000 Words on Wikileaks...

So I wrote 600 words on weddings the other day.  I kinda like the format.  It keeps my writing to a minimum.  Which is probably good for everyone.  But mostly, it restrains my writing from getting out of control.  Focuses things.  Anyone who has been reading me for a while knows that I can get a bit wordy, or perhaps talkative when I really get rolling.  So I think I’m going to stick with this for a bit.  I’ll take my marching order from Esquire magazine (yep, I read it.) and keep myself under 1000 words.  Maybe two, single spaced pages in Mac Pages.  
So let’s get down to it.
So how about these guys at Wikileaks?  
Supposedly, they just recently released over 400,000 pages of documents on the Iraq war.  This coming on the heels of them releasing a bunch of stuff on the war in Afghanistan.  I was somewhat pleasantly surprised to find out that I was mentioned several times in the Afghanistan papers.  I was mentioned by my call sign.  A friend of mine from the deployment was nice enough, or more accurately had enough time on his unemployed hands to sift through all those documents and find about 10 that mentioned me by call sign.
Now for those of you who have read my words for any length of time remember my troubles while I was deployed with the higher ups in reference to an interview with the New York Times.  An article ended up being written.  I was quoted.  Which was good for the ego.  If you want to read all about it CLICK HERE.
At the time I did what I was supposed to do.  At least I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do per my chain of command.  I was writing, they did not require me to have my work vetted as the Army recommends.  But I kept any names of persons, or places out of the work.  I made up a myriad of nicknames.  Pigpen is still my personal favorite.
Then I was asked my Mr. Jim Dao of the NYT to do an interview about a piece he was doing on blogging.  I wanted to do it.  My chain of command wanted to see questions and they wanted to see my answers to the questions prior to me sending them.  I complied with all their commands.
Now here’s the thing.  And let me preface this by saying that I haven’t the faintest idea of what is in the Iraq papers, and truth be told I don’t have the foggiest idea of what’s in the Afghanistan papers either.  I don’t have the time or the inclination to sift through all that shit.  I was there, I saw it.  I sure as hell don’t want to see a bunch of military mumbo jumbo on a piece of paper that tells nothing.
Okay, NOW here’s the thing...information is probably the most valuable thing that we have in this world.  Nations, religions, corporations, and people invest immeasurable resources and time in defending it and keeping certain pieces of information secret.
The military controls information through a bunch of different regulations.  They also control it by issuing security clearances which determine what you are allowed to know.
Religions control information by classifying different pieces of information as sins.  The release of which could result in your immediate condemnation to hell.
Corporations control information through encryption on their computers and a million intellectual property lawsuits.
People guard their information in a ton of different ways also.  We all know what they are.  Just think of what you do to protect your information.  Shredding, passwords, safes, lock boxes and what have you.
Now I’m not getting at a completely open world where there are no secrets.  That wouldn’t be feasible.  Banking would undoubtedly get a bit tough under a system like that.  However, I am saying that there are many pieces of information that the government shouldn’t be allowed to protect.
The military has a habit of coming with a knee jerk reaction to any release of information by saying that said release of information endangers current and future operations and current and future military personnel.
How well this reaction stands up to scrutiny remains to be seen.  The fact is that how can an electorate or the body politic or whatever you want to call it make educated decisions about their leadership if they are ignorant of the actions of that leadership?
But the government continues to try to control the information that makes it out of there so that the debate can be framed in their own terms.
The military has made efforts to shut down blogs (normally the ones that portray the military in anything other than a pristine light) they have tried to restrict the troops access to social media websites like MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook.  This is pretty easy to figure out.  They don’t want troops telling the people at home anything that the powers that be don’t want them to hear.
This isn’t going to fly.  Not with me, and I hope not with you.  When you look at the number of men and women being sent to these dangerous places to take their own lives into their hands, they deserve a government that is transparent.  The people who finance all these wars (all of you who pay taxes) deserve to know how their money is being spent and how their children are being used toward this war’s ends.
Transparency breeds accountability.  If everything that you do, and everyone you talk to, and everywhere you go, and everything about you (speaking about the military) is recorded and released to the public for scrutiny.  Then quite possibly you will think twice about how you are going to handle yourself.
I know that not everything can be released, some secrets must be kept.  But truly, what is the military afraid we are going to find out?  Could be interesting...

1 comment:

  1. I agree with the old WWII mantra, “Lose Lips Sink Ships.” And I believe the military should monitor what is disseminated to the public, but not what a troop does in a blog or Face Book. However, I cannot put a lot of confidence in what is put out. Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch comes to mind. But I tend to believe the guys like you who are living it. Not the…ugh…officers who are in charge of public relations.

    This group is an anit-war group trying to embarrass the military and turn the tide of opinions of the American people - not to mention the world view. I think they should be arrested for treason.

    Anyways, it was (is) a joy to read your stuff, MP, though I don’t always agree with you. But you are from the heart and I can respect that no matter what the issue. Welcome home and thanks.