By now, anyone who is reading this blog has certainly heard about the 92,000 classified government documents - exposed and posted on the website Wikileaks- linked to the horrible mistakes and failures of the American military occupation of Afghanistan. Many of these documents shed light on failed unmanned drone attacks, faulty intelligence that led to the massacre of women and children, and the number of U.S. troops killed by weapons that the U.S. supplied to Afghanistan 20 years ago. Needless to say, the Pentagon wants it to all go away. This relatively new "leaks" phenomenon brings up a few points that I think relate nicely to many of the hot topics on this blog.
1. Conspiracy Theories. An unfortunate but vociferous side of the libertarian movement that has caused me much consternation over the years is the conspiracy theorist/junk science/quack medicine crowd; if only they could apply the same logical tools outside the realm of economics, too. With the near-constant stream of classified information being leaked all over the internet, it would seem that by now some ground breaking tidbit should have surfaced regarding the 9/11 attacks in New York City. Since 9/11, the government has ballooned, and with it vast numbers of bureaucrats who have access to classified information are starting to feel the need to expose bad things. In this article, Glen Greenwald writes about the recent expose by the Washington Post regarding the Dept. of Homeland Security. How many years will these people hold on to their crazy notions while all around them actual conspiracies are being debunked left and right? Three years? Seven years? And if ghosts exist, if bigfoot exists, if the Lake Champlain sea monster exists, why haven't we seen any high quality, undeniable proof? I mean, we can now see a three-ton great white shark leap 14 feet out of the air while hunting seals! We caught that on film - super slow-mo, for that matter! If indeed there is any credibility to any of the claims made by these conspiracy theorists, we should start seeing some hard evidence pretty soon.
2. Police Brutality. In this video, one of countless finding their way on to the web, a large cop body slams an innocent bicycle rider to the ground.
In this video, which, be warned is kind of disturbing, a 57-year-old black woman gets tazered 12 times at her own home by a young jackass cop. This was filmed by the cop's camera, but somehow ended up on Youtube.
Now these crimes - yes, crimes - carried out by government thugs are becoming viral on the internet and are no longer simply first person anecdotes passed on word of mouth. In the cases of both of these videos, the thugs were fired. Unfortunately, they can't be sent to jail because they can hide behind the badge.
Patri Friedman, the grandson of Milton Friedman and author of Beyond Folk Activism, one of the more brilliant and important political documents written in the last hundred years, talks about the importance of changing incentives and not minds. I think this is a fine example of that theory. You can write to your congressman five times a day for the next four years, but one devastating upload on Wikileaks or Youtube can do more in ten seconds than all of your impassioned letters will ever do. Suddenly, there is an avenue for people to get these terrible police officers fired immediately and to try and make sure they never carry a gun under the auspices of public service again.
3. The Media. Why, might you ask, does it take one disgruntled soldier to expose those horrible truths about the war in Afghanistan when there are so many newspapers, cable television news channels and radio news channels that we pay for? Simply, incentives. Reporters in the mainstream media are far too worried about being ostracized from their crowd and put on the black list at the correspondents' dinner to actually tell any truths. If you were to read antiwar.com regularly, these leaks come as no surprise to you. This is SOP, standard operating procedure, for an empire at war. The war reporters associated with antiwar.com have been pumping this stuff out since their inception. With one click of the mouse, Wikileaks did more to inform the public of the secret horrors of war than any of the major media outlets have in the past seven or eight years.
Expect more and more and more terrible truths about the military evils of the American Empire to become exposed over the next few years. I can only hope that with all these leaks and videos and documents, Americans become really aware and demand CHANGE!