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WikiLeaks publishes political secrets found by whistleblowers worldwide in order to educate the public on the truth of what truly happens in our government. Julian Assange, the head publisher of WikiLeaks is wanted by the United States government under the charge of espionage. The United States claims that Assange released classified information to the public that puts the defense at risk. WikiLeaks is responsible for the information that influenced the 2007 elections in Kenya. Because of this election, a civil war uprising was started in Tunisia. In addition to the election rigging, he released names of the Nazi party in Great Britain, and exposed secret documents on members of the Church of Scientology. Based off his published documents, Joe Biden, the current vice president, describes him as a “high tech terrorist.” In order to collect the information to post, whistleblowers would upload their stolen documents to an electronic dropbox shared with a server located in various parts of the world. Since the server is not in one location, there is no one organization that can claim authority for prosecution. WikiLeaks takes raw data, makes it available, and allows it to be interpreted by the people who read it. Assange says that he acts for the good of the people and exercises his freedom of speech.
Within this 60 Minutes study, the first ethical issue deals with the disclosure of classified information. From the government’s standpoint, Assange’s release of classified information puts the public at risk because he is releasing documents that often cause an uproar. The Apache video, released on WikiLeaks by Assange, showed the United States opening fire on people in Baghdad were dozens of innocent people were killed. In addition to this, 76,000 classified field reports of Afghanistan were exposed leaving our defense and our government vulnerable. However, Assange looks at this as an opportunity for the constituents to make decisions on government action for themselves. He says: “… we just speak to our promise to publish legitimate documents that is said to have an impact.” The second ethical issue presented in the 60 Minutes study of WikiLeaks is the checks and balances system presented by the public’s involvement in the release of these specified documents. Assange uses his own judgement when deciding what to publish from the sources he is provided with by the whistleblowers. Government officials and Public Leaders see this as a threat because there is no telling what he deems to be appropriate to publish and what is not appropriate to publish. Where our government has a checks and balance system through the Judicial, Executive, and Legislative branches, Assange makes decisions for himself on what to publish.
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