The Loyal Opposition

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Dear Uncle Gus,

What's your opinion of Wikileaks and its publication of classified government documents? Maybe I'm being sloppy, but isn't it ironic that Uncle Sam is getting a taste of going through the nudie scanner?


Sloppy Joe

Dear Sloppy,

While I can understand, perhaps, a very brief smirk directed at the likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, I wouldn't indulge it for very long. I haven't been able to spend much time following this story, but three things really stand out to me about it.

First, many of the most scandalous things that are coming out are things that anyone with a reasonable degree of curiosity might have known about or strongly suspected, anyway. Iran smuggled weapons, via ambulance, to the Party of God in Lebanon? What a surprise. Many people know things like this are going on. The real question (and scandal) is why our diplomats like to imagine that nobody does.

Second, we are seeing confidential documents being published. While it may be hard to believe with Barack Obama running things, there are many proper reasons for the government to keep certain kinds of information concealed from the general public. (One that keeps coming up is the kind of evidence that would have to be used to win convictions in court, were we to make civilian trials of foreign combatants a policy. Much of it is obtained by individuals working under cover, and whose lives would be at risk were the source of that information known.) I am a little too alarmed about the fact that so few people seem concerned that confidential information is coming out like this to entertain any sense of "irony" for very long.

Third, on top of all this, depending on the nature of a given document, it can be both immoral and properly illegal to release it. I am not one to cheer about something that strikes me on its face as immoral and anarchic -- and as something that people are probably going to get away with.

I recommend that you think about this in terms of a concept from parliamentary government, the "loyal opposition," which Wikipedia elaborates upon well enough:

[The term] indicate[s] that the non-governing parties may oppose the actions of the sitting cabinet -- typically comprising parliamentarians from the party with the most seats in the elected legislative chamber -- while maintaining loyalty to the source of the government's power.
I vehemently oppose Barack Obama in no small part because of the damage his policies present to my country. How constructive is it for him to look bad if what it took to do so was harmful to America?

My pleasure at seeing Obama and Clinton's ox being gored is more than eradicated by the knowledge that the way it occurred in this case is potentially very damaging to my country, and thus to me.

-- CAV

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