Santa Cruz Good Times

Oct 06th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Lesson of WikiLeaks

tom_honig_sThere’s a big lesson stemming from Wikileaks—and it’s not really a political one. Actually, there’s a lesson for us all.

Some are outraged over the documents that have now become public; others are overjoyed that “the truth” has come out.

But the overriding lesson goes far beyond that. We are now living in a Wikileaks world.

It’s hard to gauge what damage, if any, will be done by the Wikileaks revelations. Has the release of classified information been damaging—or is it just embarrassing?

The most serious aspect of the entire caper is that some innocent-seeming people who in reality weren’t so innocent could be endangered. Secrecy is the name of the game when it comes to international relations and warfare. Let’s face it, however, nothing really can be secret in this over-wired world, and now even governments need to realize it.

There’s an old saying about one’s own conduct: if you don’t want your mother to find out, don’t do it in the first place. Oh, my, but politicians have found that out over the years. Remember that Southern California “family values” legislator who was bragging about his extramarital exploits over an open microphone? Oops.

The people who seem to be enjoying the Wikileaks episode are largely the “blame America first” crowd. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has a definite purpose in releasing information—and that’s to hurt or embarrass America. Many of us who actually still believe in the American experiment feel differently—that much of the information would have been better not revealed. It’s a dangerous world and in order to defend the American people, our government needs to work in that deep netherworld of secrecy.

Alas, secrecy just may not be possible anymore. There are too many people with security clearances working on too many fronts. Leaks are inevitable; so is an outfit like Wikileaks. If it weren’t Assange revealing secrets it would probably be someone else.

So what’s the lesson?

Nothing is secret anymore.

There’s a double standard in America that I’ve noticed for years. There’s a kind of practiced yet naïve cynicism that’s existed about our elected officials. You see it all the time in letters to the editor and even some political commentary. It’s a kind of sneering, “all those bastards are on the take,” attitude, viewing entire groups of officials as crooks – even if there’s no evidence.

Yet some of those same practiced cynics are the same ones who themselves are happy to work for cash to avoid paying taxes, or who fuzz over some information on real-estate disclosures. That sort of thing.

We probably all cut corners in one way or another. We probably all do or say something that we’d regret if it were released on YouTube. Or in a Wikileaks document.

Essentially, nothing is secret anymore. Or at least it may not be.

And there’s a huge lesson for business. In a smart commentary on a business website called “Learn That,” writer Jeremy Reis ponders the impact on a company if its internal memos were to be released.

These damn internal memos used to drive me crazy when I worked in a newsroom. By the time e-mail came along, people who actually used to talk to each other and work out their differences chose instead to insult each other via e-mail. At all businesses, there are way too many written messages—and way too few actual conversations.

Reis writes: “A business generates a lot of internal documents, from inane e-mails to complex, secret business processes that provide … a competitive advantage.”

Here are his lessons: There are no completely secure systems; Weigh the risks of a data breach; Segment your data; Understand the maturity of your staff.

There are right and wrong ways to handle an embarrassing data breach.

These aren’t the skills that most businesses used to need. But as politicians have learned, assume that somewhere nearby there’s an open microphone, a running video camera, or a nosy reporter.

Who knows? Maybe Assange has done everyone a favor. Now we’re more on guard. And despite what some like to believe, what has come out really carries no major surprises. A lot of the documents are embarrassing, but even the most spirited conspiracy theorist isn’t going to find a lot of villainy there. Mostly diplomats were doing their job.

And—they’ll certainly be more careful in the future.

Contact Tom Honig at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Making a Scene

As it celebrates its 30th year, Santa Cruz County’s Open Studios is one of the most successful in the country—and a make-or-break event for many local artists


A Ritual & Initiation

The Pope has come and gone, but his loving presence ignited new hope and goodness in many. While he was in NYC, China’s ruler arrived in Washington D.C. East (China) and West (Rome), meeting in the middle, under Libra, balancing sign of Right Relations. The Pope arrived at Fall Equinox. Things initiated at Fall Equinox are birthed at Winter Solstice. The Pope’s presence was a ritual, an initiation rite—like the Dalai Lama’s visits—offering prayers, teachings and blessings. Rituals anchor God’s plan into the world, initiating us to new realities, new rules. The Pope’s presence brings forth the Soul of the United States, its light piercing the veils of materialism. The Pope’s visit changed things. New questions arise, new reasons for living. A new wave of emerging life fills the air. Like a cocoon shifting, wings becoming visible. The winds are different now. Calling us to higher vision, moral values, virtues that reaffirm and offer hope for humanity. A changing of the guard has occurred. Appropriately, this is the week of the Jewish Festival of Sukkoth (’til Oct. 4), when we build temporary homes (little huts in nature), entering into a harvest of prayer and thanksgiving, understanding our fragile and impermanent existences. We are summoned to reflect upon our lives, our humanity, our nature, our spirit and each other. Offering gratitude, becoming a magnet for others. We observe. We see the needs. We love more.


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Film, Times & Events: Week of October 2

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Extra Pop

Assembly’s pop-up space goes into regular rotation, Cabrillo wine dinner, and a visit to Mozaic


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

When people say they’re “going down” somewhere, and they’re actually traveling north. Julia Ragen, Santa Cruz, Psychologist


Downhill Cellars

An easy-drinking Chardonnay from Downhill Cellars


Gary’s Old Fashioned Snappy Dogs

Where to find the best hot dogs in Santa Cruz