WikiLeaks, Secrets, and Lies

Simon Chesterman

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law

December 2, 2010

Project Syndicate, December 2, 2010

The latest information dump from WikiLeaks offers fascinating insights into the workings of the US State Department that will keep foreign policy wonks and conspiracy theorists busy for months. Much of what has been reported is not “news” in the traditional sense, of course, but a series of embarrassing gaffes: truths that were never meant to be said aloud.

Underlying these various, and often banal, tidbits of information – it should be no surprise that Americans found Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi “vain,” or regarded Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe as a “crazy old man” – is the larger question of whether governments should be able to keep secrets.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange argues that the answer is no, and that greater transparency “creates a better society for all people.” This raises the question of why governments keep secrets at all, and whether those reasons are justified.

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Date posted: December 8, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Chesterman, Simon, WikiLeaks, Secrets, and Lies (December 2, 2010). Project Syndicate, December 2, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1721442

Contact Information

Simon Chesterman (Contact Author)
National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law ( email )
469G Bukit Timah Road
Eu Tong Sen Building
Singapore, 259776
HOME PAGE: www.SimonChesterman.com

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