The War On Whistleblowers

Yglesias looks for a deeper lesson in the Army's arrest of a young intelligence analyst accused of leaking the Wikileaks footage:

An alternative investigation might focus not on who leaked classified video of a U.S. military operations, but on the question of why that sort of video should be classified. Certainly I can see why the Army might have preferred to keep it under wrapsin the eyes of many it reflected poorly on their conductbut it hardly contained operational military secrets. In general, we expect things undertaken by America’s public servants in America’s name on America’s dime to be matters of public record. The security services have, however, largely managed to leverage the legitimate need for some level of operational secrecy into a fairly broad exemption of themselves from this basic principle.

And this is why whistle-blowers matter. That video, in any case, was very illuminating. By disseminating it,  real debate became possible, and many persuasively added perspectives that helped put it in context. It helped me understand the kind of things that war entails, the random events, and sudden decisions that can lead to legitimate self-defense or, in a second, a war crime. I believe that democracies benefit from such revelations. It's what separates us from authoritarian regimes. These soldiers, after all, are operating in our name. Without divulging real secrets, we have a right to know. Because without knowing, we cannot make the decisions about war and peace that an informed public has to make.