Since I'm expected to have an opinion on the story that will never die, here are some notes of where I stand.
Some of this is muddle-headed and needs tightening. But which parts? I don't want the radicals on both sides to win the debate. I want responsible and responsive government without being considered the enemy. Maybe it's hard to think clearly about a complicated issue that involves politics of several countries, the Internet (which is complexity incarnate!), especially in the span of 140 characters. This is book-length material.
- Transparency in government dealing is a good thing. Translucency, paradoxically, might be an even better thing. I expect to be able to know everything my government does, at least eventually.
- Laws should be well-known and publicly available. If I break a law I can't reasonably be expected to know, is that law just? Transparency should be almost 100% in that regard.
- Should I be able to know what government employees at all levels say to each other? Examples of stuff I shouldn't be able to know, at least not in real-time:
- negotiations on sensitive subjects, like business transactions, agreements.
- politicians and civil servants (and soldiers and other members of the state apparatus) should be allowed to have a private life. When they leave for home, and as long as they don't break any laws and are not conducting official business, let's leave them alone.
- That doesn't answer the question about what should be secret and what shouldn't be.
- Nothing should be secret forever. History has proven that nothing can be secret forever, but secrets should have time-limits and now that we live with technology, publication should require no human interaction whatsover.
- what should be secret?
- troop movements?
- negotiations between organizations, as long as the results of the negotiations are eventually released, and it can be proven that the process was at least lawful, at best democratic
- Should WikiLeaks members who release documents go to jail?
- that's a matter for the courts. In fact, why doesn't Assange leap at the opportunity to have his say in open court? Not so much dare them to arrest him for any "crimes" related to the release and publication of documents, but expect that if they're accused of a crime, that they have a hearing in court with everybody under oath. No grandstanding.
- If he or anybody from WikiLeaks goes to court, how about no grandstanding? No claims, at least not in court, that they're the victim of a political smear.
Opinions on the reaction (in terms of actions taken) from those defending WikiLeaks through payback, etc. I worry about what all-out war means. It often leads to escalation and mutually-assured destruction. This is not a call to 'can we all just get along'. It's an expression 'I love the Internet and want it to stick around so please tell me what I can do to defend it'.
Julian Assange is obviously the person of the year, and WikiLeaks is obviously the story of the year. Nobody and no other story is even close.