The Instigator
Danielle
Pro (for)
Winning
36 Points
The Contender
LaissezFaire
Con (against)
Losing
12 Points

Wikileaks

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/17/2010 Category: News
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 8,431 times Debate No: 14075
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (13)

 

Danielle

Pro

"Media is the nervous system of a democracy. If it's not functioning well, the democracy can't function." -- Jeff Cohen

Despite it's criticism, Wikileaks is one of the most responsible tools of journalism in our generation.

It's important to understand just how important of a role the media plays in our society. News organizations are responsible for shaping the way we view political candidates, many of whom we will never get to meet or observe directly. They are the ones we elect into office to run our country and essentially forfeit our liberties to. News reporters spoon feed us cherry-picked stories, making some insignificant things sensational (i.e., George Bush choking on a pretzel) and leave others completely ignored. For instance, innumerable instances of police brutality are often completely overlooked. This may be because reporters hang around police stations to be ready to pick up the latest stories, and such reports would create conflicts of interest or a less comfortable work environment.

Indeed conflicts of interest shape what is reported and not reported to the public, which can have detrimental results on a society that relies on the news to help make monumental decisions that affect the way we live our lives and perceive the world at large. Because of this, it's important for the media to be as fair and unbiased as possible, honest and relevant in their reporting. However, journalism has become an industry not about informing the public and keeping governments honest, but just another opportunity for competition and profit completely interfering with the integrity of such endeavors.

Rupert Murdoch owns 9 television networks, 100 cable channels, 175 newspapers, 40 book imprints, 40 television stations and 1 movie studio. His audience consists of 4.7 billion people - 3/4 of the entire world population [1]. Because of his strong ties to Conservatives and their platform, it's safe to say that the vast majority of his publications all have a particular right-wing bias - including Fox News, the most widely watched news channel [2]. Ironically, this is also considered the most biased news channel [3].

Why is this important? Wealthy individuals directly or indirectly tied to the media have founded and funded these think tanks that shape political discourse and influence the way people view particular people and policies. It becomes very apparent after understanding the ties of these people to politicians and other leaders that they have incentives to be less than forthcoming on various issues paramount to public interest. The fact that so many people (the majority, in fact) are receiving limited and tainted information that promotes a particular point of view essentially likens us to manipulated pawns specifically kept uninformed as if we belong to a less important under-class.

Enter Wikileaks. Wikileaks is a transparent, not-for-profit news organization that provides a secure and anonymous way for people to send information to journalists that otherwise would not have made the evening news. The anonymity factor is increasingly important in a world that seeks to stifle our civil liberties such as freedom of speech and the press -- especially because our less than ethical government cannot be trusted to simply not persecute you for truth-telling as they have done so many times before. However, unlike other anonymous sources, Wikileaks actually fact-checks all of their information, and further, provides access to their acquired resources so viewers can be confident they are receiving completely unfettered evidence.

The public needs to scrutinize information in order to have a better idea of the politicians and policies we help elect. In its landmark ruling on the Pentagon Papers, the US Supreme Court ruled that "only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government" [4]. Ironically, the government has the power to control what the press reports, rendering this a completely moot or rather obsolete point. In order for this to be effective, the press must actually have the opportunity to report important information and so far Wikileaks has proven to be the source for such monumental exposure.

Unlike other news organizations, Wikileaks does not seek to compete for profit but rather work cooperatively to help share pertinent information. This means they do not focus on hoarding information but sharing to help educate and inform as many people as possible. Because they are an independent firm, they do not hesitate to hold certain people accountable or struggle with asking tough questions regarding questionable business or political practices. As such, it becomes apparent that this is one of the most reliable and accurate sources for news we have today.

So far Wikileaks is responsible for breaking several stories regarding numerous instances of blatant government corruption. Quite obviously the government would render this information impermissible to report otherwise, leaving us completely ignorant and impotent regarding our capacity to make informed decisions. Because politicians are supposed to be public servants, the public has a right to know when they've been intentionally deceived, or when their leaders are acting completely unscrupulous.

Because the government has a monopoly on force, they cannot be responsible for holding themselves accountable. In our government we have a system of checks and balances, and likewise, media is a check on government so we can ensure those that work for us (employed by our tax dollars) are actually working in our best interest, and within the parameters of the laws they have established and to which everyone else is expected to abide. While their personal lives are irrelevant, the role they play in our government should be subject to transparency. It is precisely because of secrecy that we endure so much corruption. Moreover Wikileaks has asked for government to work cooperatively, though they were denied.

Essentially Wikileaks is a haven for whistle blowers to be forthright and help right the many wrongs of our government. Consider Daniel Ellsberg who worked for the U.S. government during the Vietnam War. He came to possess a meticulous record of how the government and military planned to specifically deceive the American people. Upon exposure of such documents, controversy inevitably ensued, but it's safe to say his whistle blowing helped shorten the war and save thousands of American and Vietnamese lives despite criminal charges being brought against him for such heroism. In this way we see the issue is more than about demanding to be kept out of the dark, but also a moral obligation to save and protect innocent people who are affected by our government's dishonesty.

Perhaps the most interesting quandary of the whole Wikileaks debate is the way in which certain criticism has seemed so backwards. Secrecy laws are being used to keep the public ignorant and avoid accountability for those in power. While a few patriotic idealists may be swayed to cite the "necessity" of such secrecy for "our own protection," one only needs to look at Wikileaks' reporting to see exactly how those laws are actually being utilized and why. Upon revelation, you would think that a rational being would acknowledge the deception and feel betrayed by playing into their naivety. However many have expressed outrage at Wikileaks for having the audacity to reveal such abominations in an effort to maintain integrity.

Opponents of this website suggest that those who lie, torture, kill or commit a plethora of other immoral and heinous crimes against humanity are less blameworthy than those who talk about it.

[1] Outfoxed Documentary
[2] http://www.guardian.co.uk...
[3] http://www.fair.org...
[4] http://www.law.cornell.edu...
LaissezFaire

Con

Resolution: Wikileaks should continue to exist and be available to the public. Readers should note that I am not arguing that the U.S. should take any actions against Wikileaks or Julian Assange; I'm arguing that Wikileaks should voluntarily shut itself down.

==War effort==
Whether one supports or opposes the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we can at least agree that *while we are fighting these wars*, 1) We maximize the amount of terrorists captured or killed and 2) We should minimize the amount of soldiers and civilians killed. I contend that Wikileaks is detrimental to both of these goals.

1-Many of the leaked documents contain reports of Afghan and Iraqi informants cooperating with the American military to help track down terrorists in those countries. Of course, Wikileaks censored the documents, so that no soldier or informant has yet been harmed by the release of this information. But that censored information is still in Wikileaks' possession, and Assange is threatening to release it if the U.S. harms him or Wikileaks. Of course, if the government did this, it wouldn't really be Assange's or Wikileaks' fault—it would be the American government's fault. The important thing is that informants will be far less willing to cooperate with the U.S., which means that the military won't be able to stop as many terrorists. Even if we shouldn't be there in the first place, capturing and killing terrorists while we *are* there is certainly a good thing, and reducing our ability to do that is certainly a bad thing.

2-In the U.S., the Afghan and Iraq war leaks haven't really had much of an impact on the average American. They don't have anything to do with the American people, who have other things to worry about, so most Americans just don't care all that much. This is not the case in Afghanistan and Iraq. Many of the leaks provide information about U.S. soldiers hurting or killing innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obviously, these attacks are not Wikileaks' fault—they are the military's fault. The information is true, and Wikileaks has every right to publish it. But that doesn't mean they *should*. Such information serves as an excellent recruiting tool for Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Although the wars themselves are the main reason soldiers and Iraqi/Afghani civilians are in danger, helping terrorist groups recruit puts them in even more danger.

But what if the leaks actually shorten the wars, like Pro claims the Pentagon papers did with Vietnam? Wouldn't that save even more lives? It would. Unfortunately, there's no reason to believe they will. The leaks contain information about military waste and corruption, and soldiers killing civilians. Hardly breaking news. And the American people are responding predictably—apathetically. If the leaks contained shocking new information that had the American people rising up in opposition to the wars, the situation would be different—but the leaks did not.

==Diplomacy==
The most recent leaks contained information about how American diplomacy really works. Most of it amounted to gossip—what diplomats really thought about foreign leaders. Some contained rather disturbing information about the State Department using diplomats to spy on other diplomats and UN leaders.

Some of the information could potentially be dangerous. Some cables showed that Saudi Arabia is urging America to attack Iran. [7] This type of information encourages warmongers in Israel and America, as well as warmongers in Iran itself, straining relations and bringing the world closer to a war with Iran.

==Economy==
The American economy is extraordinarily fragile right now—GDP is still shrinking [2], and unemployment (the broadest measure of unemployment, which includes workers who've been unemployed so long they've stopped looking for work) is the highest it's been since the beginning of the recession.[3] And it's not just the American economy that's fragile—Europe is in bad shape as well. Much of the European Union is bankrupt—Ireland [4] and Greece [5] were recently bailed out to prevent the entire Euro-zone from collapsing. The other PIIGS—particularly Portugal and Spain—may also need to be bailed out in the future. [6] The reason for these bailouts is that if these countries default on their debt, the banks that own that debt will go down. Since the world banking system is so interconnected, a debt crisis could bring down the financial system of all of Europe—or even all of the world.

Well, so what? What does the economic problems of the world and the fragility of the banking system have to do with Wikileaks? According to Julian Assange, information will be leaked early next year about several of the top banks on Wall St. [1] This leak, according to Assange, could "take down a bank or two." [1] Of course, this hasn't happened yet, but the resolution specifies that Wikileaks should *continue* to operate, so future actions are highly relevant.

So what if a few banks fail though? Why should we care if some Wall St fat-cats lose money? We should care because of the current fragility of the world economy and financial system. Right now, the debt problems of Europe are a threat—but they're being dealt with by strict austerity programs. But even if the debt problem is fixed, the fragility of the world financial system remains. Just as a default in Europe that brings down a few banks could bring down the entire world economy, because of the interconnectedness of today's economy, a crisis that suddenly brings down a few large American banks would have the same result.

What would happen to the economy if the financial system collapsed? One of two things. A) The government could bail out the failing banks (again)--this is an undesirable option, to say the least. Robbing the taxpayers to bail out corrupt bankers surely can't be thought of as a good thing. It's also unlikely to happen, considering how angry the public still is over the last bailout. Or B) We let the banks fail. If this happened, the already fragile world economy would be brought to its knees. The recovery would be killed before it could get off the ground.

Are there criminals and corrupt scum on Wall St? Of course. Do these people deserve to be brought to justice? Yes. But Wikileaks' planned leak is not the time nor the way to do this. A sudden, public release of this incriminating information would expose the criminal activity on Wall St, but it would do so at the price of the economy of the entire world.

A better solution would to be for the SEC, or whoever the proper authorities are, to get the information and prosecute those who've broken the law. Would this be a perfect solution? No. It likely isn't even a good solution. Because of the government's notoriously close ties with Wall St, many who've broken the law would not get what they deserve. But it has the advantage of not bringing about a sudden financial crash that brings down the world economy.

So, to reiterate: Option A) Wikileaks releases incrimination information to the public, criminals on Wall St. are held accountable to the public, but the ensuing crash brings down the already fragile world economy before it has a chance to recover from the last crash. Or Option B) Incriminating information is withheld from the public, criminals on Wall St. aren't given the punishments they deserve, but the matter can be dealt with in a orderly and cautious manner that does not bring down any large banks, sparing the world another devastating economic crash. Although the gut instinct of most people is to want to punish fat-cat banker criminals—in this situation, we must hold back, to prevent all of us from going down with them.

[1] http://tinyurl.com...

[2] http://tinyurl.com...

[3] http://tinyurl.com...

[4] http://tinyurl.com...

[5] http://tinyurl.com...

[6] http://tinyurl.com...

[7] http://tinyurl.com...
Debate Round No. 1
Danielle

Pro

Thanks, Con.

RE: WAR EFFORT

1. My opponent begins by stating Wikileaks could potentially release the name of Middle Eastern informants, thus stifling our ability to nab as many terrorists as possible. Right off the bat Con is operating on a "what if" scenario. As he's pointed out, Wikileaks has yet to release such information. Assange threatening to do so is most likely an empty threat to ensure he and his colleagues are no longer ridiculously harassed, followed and attacked by various governments. It's irresponsible to consider this a strike against Wikileaks using negative evidence. The fact that Wikileaks has never done anything like this before is not a reason to assume they probably will in the future.

2. Civilian apathy is not a reason to abandon Wikileaks. In fact, it's a contention to keep it in the hopes it can be used as a catalyst for change depending on the content and severity of future leaks. Con's stance seems contrary here -- on one hand he points out that Wikileaks hasn't revealed anything substantial, yet on the other hand he condemns society for remaining complacent. If nothing significant has been revealed, why would you expect anything but complacency?

Anyway, Con's logic demonstrates that the leaks so far have (a) not been useful at sparking interest and (b) maybe helped terrorists recruit on the basis of our stupidity. The fact that we've become so accustomed to the moral bankruptcy of our military does not mean war criminals should not be exposed and personally held accountable. Even if it does not mean the masses will demand immediate withdrawal from the war, a convicted rapist deserves to be punished regardless of the victim's nationality or religious affiliation. These criminals should be exposed, and the people who let them get away with it should be held accountable or at least noted.

Additionally, if soldiers go into another country and start committing crimes against innocent civilians, it's ridiculous to suggest those crimes should be ignored in the hopes victims and their community won't retaliate. It's far more logical to punish those who are making things worse in the first place and disgracing our country - especially since Afghan citizens witness things first-hand and surely know about the crimes that are occurring *whether Wikileaks reveals them or not* making this a moot point entirely.

RE: DIPLOMACY

Con writes, "This type of information encourages warmongers... straining relations and bringing the world closer to a war with Iran." The entire point is to reveal the real reasons for going to war in the first place, and the corruption that occurs behind closed doors. Reasons for war are obviously corrupt in nature, so people will hopefully realize the unjust nature of their government and their motives, and refuse to go and fight in pointless wars. At the very least it can hold some liars accountable and bring forth truth in particularly important conversations. Con's taking an unnecessarily negative approach; I could just as easily suggest these documents can help finally bring peace in the Middle East (okay maybe that's a stretch). Apparently there's a lot of secrecy and plotting among diplomats. We should be embracing a medium that demands honesty to help us make informed decisions about the integrity of our elected officials.

RE: ECONOMY

For the sake of professionalism I'll try and ignore the fact that my opponent is an anarchist; quite obviously the demise of the current banking system, Federal Reserve, all financial sector ties to government, etc. are things traditionally embraced by those trying to overpower the current abhorrent system. Indeed my opponent's views are actually irrelevant so let's address his arguments. He points out that Assange has threatened to release certain documents that could possibly take down a bank or two, and this would be devastating to the interconnected world economy.

First, why should we believe people will be any less complacent than they have been regarding the political leaks? So far Americans have proven we'll tolerate corruption, rape, brutality, murder, etc. Con suggests this is even expected by our leaders, yet he supposes we'll somehow be shocked by the unabashedly unscrupulous and greedy actions of Wall Street Fat Cats? I somehow highly doubt that whatever completely illegal and entirely corrupt theft and manipulation they've imposed on the public via the government will surely come as no shock to most people.

Nevertheless Con presents us with yet another contradictory scenario. He says if the banks fail we can choose one of two things. We can either bail out the banks again (which he notes will most likely not happen... especially considering some of the information leaked might be about the former bail out) or we can let the banks fail, which will supposedly be the end of world as we know it. However if Con suggests the latter - bank failure - is the worst possible thing, then he cannot simultaneously suggest that bailing the banks out is equally the worst possible thing. Indeed you can either choose to bail out the banks or let them fail; it's illogical to suggest you should do both yet Con has condemned both options.

Con writes, "A better solution [instead of Wikileaks] would to be for the SEC, or whoever the proper authorities are, to get the information and prosecute those who've broken the law." How is it logical to wait for the authorities to punish themselves? The entire purpose of Wikileaks is to hold those in a position of authority accountable by those who elect them into office, therefore Wikileaks is a necessary part of the equation to ending the corruption. The SEC or whatever agency involved needs to be more transparent, and those who've offended need to be removed. Even Con recognizes his idea probably isn't a good one.

My opponent concludes with presenting two options:

A) Wikileaks releases info. Criminal fat cats are held accountable. The economy MIGHT fail since we're still in recovery.

B) No info is released. Criminals continue to steal for an indefinite amount of time - possibly forever. We wait for the corrupt authorities to punish themselves, and hope politicians finally do something moral against all incentives to the contrary. We perpetuate the obviously flawed and inherently destructive system for as long as possible. We let those in power manipulate us into thinking we need big banks to continuously exploit us just so we can keep enduring the same collapses every few decades based on the nature of investing in unregulated markets.

Option A seems not only the most moral but most practical and fundamental to human rights and justice. Con cannot complain about the system yet suggest we continue to maintain it by not fixing the problem and merely patching it up temporarily. Once again if Con suggests the government support of big banks is necessary - and it seems he does ("in this situation, we must hold back, to prevent all of us from going down with them") then he cannot simultaneously declare the absurdity of supporting the banks - and it seems he makes this suggestion as well ("this is an undesirable option, to say the least. Robbing the taxpayers to bail out corrupt bankers surely can't be thought of as a good thing"). Well which is it?

If Con really advocates tax payers supporting these greedy and corrupt thieves in suits, citizens at the very least deserve honesty and transparency. It is ludicrous to suggest they continue perpetuating corruption and fund their own exploitation. I maintain that if citizens must forfeit so many of their liberties, it is right for them to be guaranteed certain liberties in return -- including freedom of speech and press, and access to pivotal information such as the things Wikileaks has released to maintain a functioning democracy. It is the only way to maintain some level of freedom in our system.
LaissezFaire

Con

==War Effort==
1-Pro points out that Assange is unlikely to actually release information about informants, so this point doesn't matter. That was not my argument. I agree that sensitive information about informants is unlikely to actually be released. The point is that potential informants in the future will be less likely to cooperate with the U.S. if they don't think their identities are secure. It doesn't matter if their identities are actually secure—what matters is the perception that they are now less secure, which will make it less likely for Afghans and Iraqis to cooperate with the American military in the future.

2-Pro argues that the war criminals who committed the crimes Wikileaks is exposing should be punished, that "a convicted rapist deserves to be punished regardless of the victim's nationality or religious affiliation." And if Pro also provided evidence that the information Wikileaks provided led to criminals being punished and justice being done, then this would be a valid argument. But that is not the case. It is not a question of whether war criminals ought to be punished for their crimes—they aren't being punished either way. It is a question of whether or not the costs of releasing this information outweigh the benefits. And while we might wish that the actual benefits included justice for the victims of war crimes, they do not.

Another potential benefit that Pro earlier mentioned was that the release might bring an earlier end to the war, as she claims the Pentagon Papers did with the Vietnam war. I pointed out that there's no reason to believe that this is the case, since Americans don't really care all that much about the leaks. Pro responds, saying, "Civilian apathy is not a reason to abandon Wikileaks." Well, I didn't say it was—my point was that ending the war sooner doesn't count as a point in Wikileaks' favor, since it is not doing that.

So what are the actual benefits? The only one shown is that criminals will be exposed. But so what? It may make us feel good about ourselves that crimes have been brought to light, but if there are no tangible benefits to this, and the cost is harm to the war effort, then it simply isn't worth it.

Pro then claims that it's ridiculous to ignore crimes against Iraq and Afghanistan simply because bringing those crimes to light could cause more retaliation. While this sounds perfectly valid, readers must remember that the criminals aren't being brought to justice either way. If they were, this would be a different story entirely—but as long as they aren't, exposing and publicizing these crimes just helps extremist groups recruit. Pro is correct that the people of Afghanistan and Iraq are generally already aware of these crimes, but not all of them oppose the U.S., and publicizing U.S. crimes can only turn more of them against us. Is their anger justified? Of course. But that doesn't mean the effects of it are a good thing and should be embraced.

==Diplomacy==
Pro argues that it's good to reveal reasons for going to war in the first place, and the corruption that goes on behind closed doors. I agree. And if the cables leaked were that sort of information, if they contained information about lies the government was telling us to prepare for an invasion of Iran, the exposing of that information would be a good thing. But that is not what they contained.

The specific leak I mentioned had information about Saudi Arabia urging war with Israel. This certainly sheds light on the situation in the Middle East, but it does not do so in a way that brings us farther from war. The only reason Israel is currently refraining from preemptively attacking Iran is that they fear the response from the U.S. and from the Arab world. The leaks did tell Americans more about the situation with Iran—but they also told Israel more about what the Americans and Saudis thought about invading Iran. Any information encouraging Israel to attack Iran cannot be considered a good thing.

Pro also points out that we're better off exposing the secrecy and plotting among our diplomats. While the behavior of our diplomats was certainly deplorable, exposing it for the world to see is a bad idea. Even the type of diplomacy we were engaged in, with the illegal spying by U.S. diplomats, is better than no diplomacy at all. Today, with all of the world's problems, from Iran trying to acquire nukes, to the instability in Pakistan, to the North Korean aggression, diplomacy and cooperation with other world powers is needed more than ever. While it isn't Wikileaks' fault that U.S. diplomats were behaving so poorly, their exposure threatens our ability to cooperate with other countries. Other world powers will be far less willing to cooperate with us at a time when we need that cooperation the most. We know what forgoing diplomacy gets us—Iraq. Even spying, criminal diplomats are better than losing our ability to work together with other nations to peacefully solve the world's problems.

==Economy==
Pro argues that people will be just as complacent about the Wall St leaks as they were about the Afghanistan and Iraq leaks. This is obviously not true—the reason not many people cared about the Afghanistan and Iraq leaks is that they didn't affect them personally, and were happening far away. These next leaks deal with the economy, which is the #1 thing on most Americans' minds during this recession. They're about the people who helped cause the recession—obviously something Americans are going to care about.

Furthermore, it wouldn't matter if most people didn't care about the leaks. If the leaks contain information that will bring down a few banks, then the markets will react, even if most Americans don't. The reaction in the market is the important one, not the reaction in the minds of the public.

Next, Pro claims that I am being "contradictory" by saying that both of the possible scenarios that could happen after the leaks are released would be bad scenarios. I don't see how this is contradictory. I am merely pointing out that the leaks being released would necessarily be bad, no matter how Congress reacts. If, as Pro claims, I suggested that both options would be "the worst possible thing," that would indeed be contradictory. But that is not what I said. I just said that any scenario resulting from the leaks being released would be a bad one, not each would be the "worst possible" one

Pro writes, "How is it logical to wait for the authorities to punish themselves?" Unless Pro is privy to some information that the rest of us are not, there's no reason to think that the SEC is the subject of next year's leaks; some of the big banks are. While an SEC investigation may not bring justice for all of the criminals responsible, and they may not even do a good job at all, it's better than the alternative, which is complete economic collapse.

Back to the two options

A) Here, Pro misrepresents the consequences of releasing the information. We are not in a "recovery"—the recovery hasn't started yet. Saying the economy is extremely fragile is an understatement. My claims about how the fragility of the current world financial system and the interconnectedness of the world's banks could cause a few large bank failures to bring down the world's economy stand.

B) Yes, criminals aren't punished. Corruption continues. That sucks. But it's better then an economic collapse.

In conclusion, Pro is putting nice-sounding, but vague and irrelevant notions like "honesty and transparency" above the economic well-being of everyone in the world. Sure, we'd all like to see criminals punished and corruption exposed. It is not a matter of "freedom of speech and press" as Pro suggests—I am not arguing that Wikileaks should be forcibly stopped. It is a matter of whether or not releasing information that will bring down the world's financial system at the *worst possible time* is a good idea.
Debate Round No. 2
Danielle

Pro

Thank you, LF.

RE: WAR EFFORT

1. Con agrees that Assange will likely not provide information regarding informants, but claims people will still be afraid by the possibility. However if it's clear Assange is not releasing the information, there's no reason for informants to assume he will. There is risk in this profession regardless, and no reason for them to think Wikileaks has an incentive to endanger their lives.

2. Con says the fact that people are not being punished makes Wikileaks irrelevant. That is an entirely warped way to view the situation. The fact remains that these criminals *should* be punished - which Con agrees - and punishment is apparently only possible if Wikileaks forces certain people to take responsibility for their actions by exposing them. Con says we should view this as an on-balance scenario. Without Wikileaks, these crimes definitely go unpunished. With Wikileaks, these crimes have a chance of being punished (and just because people have been slow to react thus far does not set a necessary precedent for the future). Therefore Wikileaks should press on.

Con continues, "My point was that ending the war sooner doesn't count as a point in Wikileaks' favor, since it is not doing that." Con has absolutely no idea whether or not Wikileaks can or will contribute to ending the war sooner. How can he speak for future leaks? Claiming Wikileaks cannot be helpful at ending the war the way the Pentagon Papers did is entirely presumptuous. Wikileaks at least increases the chances of something monumental like those papers being exposed.

Con states, "If there are no tangible benefits to [crimes being brought to light], and the cost is harm to the war effort, then it simply isn't worth it." The benefit to criminals being punished is justice - the foundation of democracy - being served. I'm sure if my opponent was raped repeatedly, he would not be satisfied by someone telling him it was not worth it on a cost-benefit analysis to prosecute his assailant. Moreover Con hasn't proven that there is harm being done to the war effort. Further, I've explained how so-called "harm" could actually be a blessing in disguise, for instance if it *does* help to end the war sooner (or shed light on particular pertinent information to prevent future problems).

Con concludes this segment by saying since criminals aren't being brought to justice, we should scrap all attempts at trying to change that. This is absolutely absurd. That's like saying since doctors sometimes fail at saving lives, they shouldn't try to save lives in the future. Obviously this is ridiculous. Wikileaks is the source that allows for potential changes to these atrocities, whereas Con's solution is simply ignoring them.

My opponent also says there's no point to let the world (and Afghans) know just how corrupt America really is. Why not? I've already explained why leaders should be exposed considering their monumental power, and our right to influence and shape our society as active participating citizens instead of being ruled and kept uninformed to be manipulated like royal subjects. Meanwhile, Con has simply said we should not address people's outrage; we should work around it even though their anger is justified. This solution hasn't been justified by my opponent. So far his only advocation is avoiding conflict, though this accomplishes nothing and perpetuates the problem.

RE: DIPLOMACY

Con maintains that corrupt diplomacy is better than no diplomacy, and that people may now be reluctant to work with the U.S. if they know how corrupt we are. He also claims the Middle East and Israel are closer to going to war with each other. I say the U.S. has been on its high horse for far too long, policing the globe, manipulating others, setting the rules and then breaking them without consequence. I don't mind those in charge being called out on it. This can open up new foreign policy relationships based on honesty and openness. The U.S. and Israel are not above the rest of the world. Moreover the U.N. thus far has been ridiculously incompetent, so it's not like we're losing much credibility. There is no reason to assume leaders will suddenly want to avoid diplomatic relations just because they will be exposed to the truth for once.

RE: ECONOMY

Con claims that people will care about the Wall St. leaks since Americans obviously care about their finances. However the fact that tax payers bailed out banks in the first place was ludicrous yet the Americans tolerated it. Nevertheless Con claims that the collapse of several banks will destroy the economy thus mandating a response from the public. My response has been this is not necessarily a bad thing, and in fact could be a *good* thing. Clearly all government fixes thus far have failed (that may be indeed what some new Wikileaks will reveal) thus if Americans feel the need to take the economy into their own hands and implement desired changes within the market that benefit the public, so be it. This might mean letting several banks fail and rebuilding accordingly. In fact this is what capitalists suggest is the appropriate response to the devastation failing banks caused by their own irresponsible lending practices.

Next Con says that the Wikileaks information would create a "necessarily bad" outcome. I disagree. As I just mentioned, capitalism without government interference is a legitimate possibility. Overthrowing the system entirely is another. Getting rid of the corrupt leaders literally stealing from tax payers and lying while abusing their power is another. These are all realistic positive outcomes, especially if corrupt politicians are replaced with better ones. Con hasn't been clear about the worst possible scenario either. People will decide to either bail out the banks (which he said might be acceptable) or not to (which he's also suggested as acceptable). Either way I see no reason for mandatory havoc -- or why said havoc would be necessarily bad.

You'll notice that Con's main argument thus far has been "Wikileaks is useless." However if he's implying that people will be so passionate about their new financial situation, then clearly this will change and people WILL become engaged in political discourse. This would therefore negate the rest of Con's argument that Wikileaks doesn't/won't help anything.

Con also says that the option is either letting the SEC handle punishing criminals (i.e., nothing being done to punish them -- just how it is now) or witness an economic collapse. I've explained ad nauseum why this is not mandatory and/or necessarily bad. My opponent glosses over Wall Street crimes as if it's permissible to just let these so-called fat cats get away with their deceit. However as Con explained, their actions have literally threatened the entire world economy. People have lost everything - homes, careers and more on behalf of greedy bankers. Punishing those *responsible* for the collapse should be the utmost priority -- not turning a blind eye as Con suggests. This not only leaves criminals unpunished but allows citizens to be continuously screwed over.

- CONCLUSION -

My opponent has ignored my arguments pertaining to the value of justice. He's repeated that nothing positive can come from Wikileaks despite my lengthy explanation (particularly in R1) regarding the importance of such a medium in a functioning democracy. Con hasn't given a sufficient reason to keep citizens completely in the dark to continue being taken advantage of. As I said in R1, the public has a right to use Wikileaks in order to have a better idea of the politicians and policies we help elect. Nobody is above the law. Considering we forfeit so many of our liberties to a government that cannot be expected to regulate itself, it's important we have this check to keep government's honest. Wikileaks gives power back to the people, and is our defense against tyranny.
LaissezFaire

Con

First, I'd like to thank theLwerd for a fun debate.

==War Effort==
1-Again, it isn't the actual likelyhood of informants being exposed that matters—what matters is the perception of the safety of that information among potential informers. With Wikileaks having access to that information so easily, that perception of safety goes down, even if Assange never *actually* releases the information.

2-Pro continues to argue as if her position was on the side of justice for the victims of war crimes. It is not. The leaks provide information about those crimes, but, as I've said, nothing particularly new or shocking. The leaks don't make a difference as far as the possibility of prosecuting war criminals goes, because the lack of specific reports of these crimes is not the reason the criminals aren't being prosecuted. We already know who's a war criminal and what they've done—a lack of details isn't what's stopping the prosecution. Since the information Wikileaks released doesn't actually help bring justice to any war criminals, this is not a point in its favor.

Pro also states that even though the leaks released won't help stop the wars, future leaks might. This isn't really fair to argue, since all information about the wars Wikileaks actually had has already been released. Speculating on leaks that Wikileaks *might* get in the future isn't really an argument—I could just as easily argue, "what if Wikileaks found and released some big leak that *helped* the pro-war side?" They could release a leak that showed that Iran was a couple months away from making ICBMs—a leak that later turned out to be planted by Israel. That wouldn't be a fair argument either, since there's no evidence that that's happened, or would happen in the future—it's just speculation about what Wikileaks might get.

Next, Pro tries an emotionally packed non-argument about me being raped. In addition, she continues with the presumption that this is a matter of prosecuting criminals vs. not prosecuting criminals, which is not the case. Again, since the criminals won't be prosecuted either way, and Pro has failed to show that Wikileaks will even increase the possibility that they'll be prosecuted, this is irrelevant.

Pro concludes by saying, "So far [Con's] only advocation is avoiding conflict, though this accomplishes nothing and perpetuates the problem." Well, Pro's advocation is to increase conflict, which also accomplishes nothing and perpetuates the problem, AND makes the problem worse.

==Diplomacy==
Here, I made two main arguments.
1-Information Wikileaks released brings the U.S. and Israel closer to war with Iran
2-Because of the evidence of spying and other illegal activities by U.S. diplomats, other countries will be less willing to work diplomatically with the U.S., at a time when we most need diplomacy.

Pro, rather than responding to these core arguments, chose to rant about the U.S. and Israel "the U.S. has been on its high horse for far too long, policing the globe, manipulating others, setting the rules and then breaking them without consequence." "The U.S. and Israel are not above the rest of the world." These are nice sound bites, but they aren't really responses to what I said.

Pro does respond to 2) at the end, with "There is no reason to assume leaders will suddenly want to avoid diplomatic relations just because they will be exposed to the truth for once." I don't expect world leaders to suddenly break off diplomatic relations with the U.S.--but the leaks do make diplomacy harder. Other countries will be less willing to work with the people who they know have been spying on and stealing from them. Both of my contentions stand.

==Economy==
Pro now suggests that even though the leaks would bring down the financial system and destroy the world's economy, this could be a good thing. The negatives of this option are obvious—as Pro points out, during the last crash, "People have lost everything - homes, careers and more." But Pro offers no support for her assertion that destroying the financial system would be a good thing, other than the claim that vague, unnamed "capitalists" suggest that doing so "is the appropriate response to the devastation failing banks caused by their own irresponsible lending practices." This hardly shows that financial collapse is a good thing, and that Wikileaks should cause one.

The main benefit the leak would bring is "justice." Pro argues that punishing the criminals responsible should be our "utmost priority." This is absurd. Going back to Pro's rape example, it would be as if the only way the authorities would be able to punish the rapist is if they murdered his victims. Sure, the criminal responsible would be punished—but at what cost? The cost in the real world is the economic well being of everyone. To punish bankers for destroying people's wealth and jobs, Pro suggests we sacrifice even more people's wealth and jobs. That is not justice.

==Conclusion==
Pro repeatedly appeals to ideals of truth, justice, and fairness. Surely, if these appeals were legitimate, and Wikileaks actually did help us in those ways, Pro would be able to provide evidence of this. She has not. She has failed to show that Wikileaks' leaks are beneficial, and I have shown the many ways that they are not.
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by umsong36 3 years ago
umsong36
I have to write an argumentative examination 2 weeks from now. I visited this website again to refresh my mind about certain topics. After seeing people supporting for Wikileaks' presence, I had activated my account to join this debate.

In a way, I am frustrated. Unless I am mistaken, we are arguing only about the possible effects that Wikileaks would bring. I really think that we are asking wrong questions here. To begin with, I believe no one can predict accurately the benefits and harm that Wikileaks would bring in future. No one has a clue. Predicting future itself is without credibility.

We should not focus on the future. We should not focus on the past. We should focus on the present.

As much as I hate all governments, I have to say that Wikileaks need to be banned. This is looking at an ethical point of view. Most, if not all, information posted on Wikileaks, is oftened in illegal means; therefore, Wikileaks should be shut down. This is a simple argument, but probably the best argument against Wikileaks.

One may argue that we are combating corruption; therefore, our wrongdoing justifies it. This is very much like saying we can steal from thieves or that we can kill murderers if we wish. Ethics do not support this practice.

One may argue that what Wikileaks is doing is not really illegal. It is just posting articles obtained by "anonymous users." Staying above the earth for one more second, (sorry I have to be blatant about this and use the words of Professor Philip K. Howard) people are acting like an idiot. If I see someone shooting another person and I am the only witness. Do I not have the responsibility and a moral duty as a citizen to report? It is a fallacious justification. This kind of justification allows the Internet pirating etc. We know it immoral; thus, it should be illegal; thus, the government has the right to curtail such activities.

We should focus more on moral principles not practicality or possible effects of Wikileak
Posted by adealornodeal 3 years ago
adealornodeal
"Ironically, the government has the power to control what the press reports, rendering this a completely moot or rather obsolete point."

Could you elaborate on this point?
Posted by tatter_d 3 years ago
tatter_d
This is a very difficult debate to take sides on as both are right as far as they go. The fact is that our economic and political systems have reached a point whereby they are being destroyed from within. We may go on this way for sometime to come but, eventual collapse is inevitable. This will happen with or without Wikileaks.
I am of the belief that truth will out and that Wikileaks, so far, has done more good than harm. Whether or not this will remain the case is anyone's guess, but trying to protect a broken system by continuing to allow rampant corruption, and crimes against the people, I believe, will solve nothing. It will only delay the inevitable.

I thoroughly enjoyed this debate. One of the more interesting I have seen on this site. Thank you both.
Posted by SoSilly 3 years ago
SoSilly
'She has failed to show that Wikileaks' leaks are beneficial' - Reducing corruption isn't beneficial?
Posted by Sieben 3 years ago
Sieben
Con doesn't carry his burden... Con doesn't explain why wikileaks would have to shut itself *down*. The debate devolved into a wikileaks = good/bad discussion. If wikileaks is doing some harmful stuff, they could just stop doing it. There's no reason to abandon their operation entirely.

Overall I think its a tie in terms of the cost-benefit analysis of wikileaks. I voted pro on the basis that she identifies that wikileaks type organizations are a necessary condition for justice. Con harps on that they are an insufficient condition, which isn't really clashing.

All in all, I totally agree with Con that wikileaks hasn't revealed anything too earth shattering for the anti-state movement. However, I do think that their ability to access classified information is good because it shows that the state doesn't have all the power.

/shrug
Posted by LaissezFaire 3 years ago
LaissezFaire
Thanks for a great debate, Lwerd. I hope you had fun too.
Posted by LaissezFaire 3 years ago
LaissezFaire
Sorry I took so long to post my round; I'll try to be faster next time.
13 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by 9spaceking 1 month ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I was and still am neutral on the usefulness of Wikileaks, but Pro made a more convincing argument in this particular debate.
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