Fine Line on Leaks

After nearly a quarter million cables illustrating a raw look at diplomacy were published on WikLeaks last week, American diplomats and ambassadors are doing damage control to salvage the delicacy of negotiations on an international level. The cables give an insider’s view of prominent issues ranging from the United States secret attempt to remove highly enriched uranium from a research reactor in Pakistan, the conflict between South and North Korea and China’s influence on the matter, corruption in the Afghan government, the attempt to empty Guantanamo Bay, to other minor foreign policy observations such as a formulating alliance between Italian and Russian diplomats.

But the more pressing issue at hand is the debate between  privacy and secrecy versus transparency and accountability. President Obama’s administration has stressed accountability and transparency in American legislation and bureaucracy yet has not maintained that same message in American foreign policy. The obvious question is whether we really need to know the minute details in the confidential cables. Is this ground-breaking news or simply juicy political gossip? I would say that most of the information in the cables are simply observations from diplomats and general ideas exposed with more details that ambassadors and anyone with close ties to the respective issues within the cables already knew about. I’m not necessarily saying that the content is general knowledge but more of politicians and diplomats’ unedited version of negotiations. The general public is under the idea that WikiLeaks is essential in ensuring accountability within foreign policy. However, the cables downloaded and leaked by Pfc. Bradley Manning seem to be what Paul B. Schroder nothing more than ” more like the work of irresponsible amateurs using dynamite to expand a tunnel that also contains, say, a city’s electrical lines.”

As a student of Professor Pyle’s Constitutional Law, we’ve examined fourth amendment issues of privacy and first amendment concerns over freedom of speech and expression. Yes, accountablity is necessary in a government controlled by so few in power. However, that’s why there are media outlets that allow for the oversight of government bodis such as Congress. Prominent newspapers hire professional investigative journalists in order to expose such secrets who still maintain the duty of protecting sources and obvious confidential matters.  If we were to continue letting Julian Assange walk the fine line between disclosing our strategic , then we risk losing access to all information. Congress and other political hardballs do and will use the power to withhold all necessary information if further provoked.

There is a fine line between silence for the sake of safety and talking for the sake of mere discourse.

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Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the most prestigious distinction of military decoration awarded by the United States government. However, the Pentagon has come under scrutiny for the number of medals honored in Afghanistan and Iraq compared to previous wars. Given the advancement in technology with drone attacks and improvised explosive devices, soldiers find it harder to defend themselves against such attacks yet do not have to risk immersing themselves in one-on-one firepower combat.

However, war veterans argue that the Pentagon has created “an almost impossible standard” in being awarded the medal since the Pentagon  has become more cautious in light of technological advancements in forensics. The Pentagon was also exposed by news media for falsifying the narratives of Army Ranger Pat Tillman and Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch to justify their Medal of Honors. With the recent case of  Sgt. Rafael Peralta, who was nominated by the Marine commandant for the Medal of Honor for smothering a grenade in Fallouja, Iraq, saving the lives of his fellow soldiers.  He was denied the Medal of Honor sparking criticism of the Pentagon.

Which makes me question, has the Pentagon process of awarding medals become more politicized? Every organization associated with the government wants to protect its reputation in the face of public scrutiny. However, if a soldier defends his country against attack and goes above and beyond the call of duty, there should be a medal awarded. However, as wars have become more and more publicized, criticized, and politicized, the Pentagon has hesitantly awarded medals hoping to avoid as much embarrassment as possible.

Not that I’m advocating we give medals to every soldier for a job well done. But I do question the process of awarding medals. Yes, distinctions and varying requirements in types of medals and awards must be made. However, with the politicized nomination and confirmation process of United States Supreme Court justices, could the Medal of Honor awarding process be moving in the same direction? Regardless of the Pentagon’s political leanings, it scares me to think that even honoring a fallen soldier would have to face skepticism for his political stances.

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Engels to Angles

Friedrich Engels was a philosopher, political theorists, social scientist, and most notably the father of the communist theory alongside his partner Karl Marx. But this blog isn’t about advocating for an overthrow of our beloved republic democracy nor is pushing any type of political agenda. I am here to discuss my perspectives from Engel to angle.

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