There's been a lot of furor lately about WikiLeaks and the US State Department documents they published (vs. stole). The United States Congress is seeking to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange; Senator Joe Lieberman in a recent Fox News interview stated that Assange (an Australian) should be tried for American treason! He is also contemplating charges against the New York Times for bad citizenship! Do Senators now get to fabricate their own laws? Next he'll outlaw literate people - oh wait - that was Pol Pot.
Every government/police system in the world wishes to prosecute Assange for his part in publishing these documents. I bet if they had their way, the US Congress, Interpol, etc. would also want to prosecute everyone who tweets or blogs, and possibly everyone who's under the age of 25 just on principle.
According to www.senate.gov, the average age of this, the 110th Congress is 57 years (55.9 House, 61.7 Senate). This is one of the OLDEST Congresses ever. The average Congressperson was born in 1953, when TVs had two channels, no remotes, and black & white pictures; they were teenagers before it was even possible to send telexes. They graduated from university five years before CNN was created, a decade before personal computers became commercially available, fifteen years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, and almost a quarter of a century before mobile phones were broadly available. The world's population has almost tripled since they were born.
Sadly for them, we are in the midst of the Communication Revolution. Going from the Industrial Revolution (their world) to the Information Revolution to this, the Communication Revolution, we have shifted from standardization (Ford Model T) to discoverability (Internet/Google) to transparency & immediacy. While foreign to these relicsleaders (many of whom have never even read email), the need to be transparent and expect to have anything be immediately exposed for all to see is today's reality. Keeping secrets like you did during the age of Leave it to Beaver, in a time where the latency between information capture and global distribution is measured in seconds is absurd.
Congresspeople: the good old days are over. The RIAA faced this with online music, the MPA is facing it with online films, and you are now facing it with pervasive (and unfettered) access to information. The systems you employed to safeguard your secrets are antiquated and designed for the Cold Warriors, not today's average 12-year-old. But like your much-vaunted HUAC and Senator McCarthy's demagogic anti-communist investigations, you have charged decrepit freaks like Lieberman to persecute these modern "evil-doers" in the name of National Security. Bravo.
History will judge you as it did McCarthy and HUAC - as a Congress unable to fathom a changing world, using its power in desperate ways to impose order, and putting its energy into holding on to the past vs. leading your country towards a brighter future.
Punctuating the 2010 US Government's reaction to this leak is their edict to all government employees instructing them NOT to read any of the WikiLeaks documents. Quoting MSNBC, the Department of Homeland Security sent out a strongly worded memo to all employees and contractors telling them that not only may they not “download or attempt to download” any of the classified WikiLeaks memos onto their computers, they also may not “discuss the content” of such “potentially classified” documents “with persons who would not otherwise be authorized access,” according to a copy of a Dec. 3 memo from the department’s Office of Chief Information Officer. NASA and the Library of Congress have blocked the WikiLeaks site from their employees.
Remember - these same government leaders have publicly decried the Chinese Government for impeding free information flow to her citizens.
The modern world has left the aging US Congress and various government Ministries bumfuzzled.
How does one de-fuzzle? I don't think it's possible - with apologies to canines everywhere, you can't teach old dogs like Lieberman/Pelosi/etc. new tricks - they're simply too withered, and sadly too entrenched.
Giving them some credit, they do understand that the WikiLeaks episode portends an even more dangerous future - one where no secrets are safe, no back-room dealings are kept in the back room, and what happens in Vegas becomes a TV movie that everyone can watch. Their strategy is to delay that future as long as possible, not realizing that their very acts (which only serve to extend the story) are actually helping seal their fate.
That this is news to Congress is not surprising given their agedness, but it is surprising that one of the youngest (and most tech-savvy) presidents in history is behaving so much like his septuagenarian colleagues.
Or is it that the very act of joining the government not only bumfuzzles but also calcifies?