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Why we need Wikileaks


To stop this sort of thing remaining “business as usual”.

Eighteen months before Japan’s radiation crisis, U.S. diplomats had lambasted the safety chief of the world’s atomic watchdog for incompetence, especially when it came to the nuclear power industry in his homeland, Japan.Cables sent from the U.S. embassy in Vienna to Washington, which were obtained by WikiLeaks and reviewed by Reuters, singled out Tomihiro Taniuchi, until last year head of safety and security at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“For the past 10 years, the department has suffered tremendously because of (deputy director general) Taniguchi’s weak management and leadership skills,” said one dispatch on Dec. 1, 2009.

“Taniguchi has been a weak manager and advocate, particularly with respect to confronting Japan’s own safety practices, and he is a particular disappointment to the United States for his unloved-step-child treatment of the Office of Nuclear Security,” said another, which was sent on July 7, 2009.

As it says here,

An official from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in December 2008 that safety rules were out of date and strong earthquakes would pose a “serious problem” for nuclear power stations.

The Japanese government pledged to upgrade safety at all of its nuclear plants, but will now face inevitable questions over whether it did enough.

While it responded to the warnings by building an emergency response centre at the Fukushima plant, it was only designed to withstand magnitude 7.0 tremors. Friday’s devastating earthquake was a magnitude 9.0 shock.

Please note that earthquakes don’t scale up linearly; a magnitude 9 quake releases a thousand times as much energy as a magnitude 7. So the nuclear plant was in effect 0.1% prepared. A fact that the World should know (thank you, Wikileaks).

While I’m on the subject…

I must admit it’s more than likely that Julian Assange has a rampant ego; but that doesn’t detract one whit from the good that Wikileaks has done. Obviously there are many shades of grey involved, as in so many things – but I do think that the principle of freedom of the press (and other media) is generally sound, and that Assange and others like him are, on the whole, doing a good thing to further transparency of government. Historically there have been trends for secrecy and centralised power to be reduced, and I believe that this has come about mainly as a result of improvements in communications technology. When it took several weeks for a message to get across Europe, there was great scope for dictatorship and the repression of freedom – but when news can travel around the world in 1/23rd of a second, there is far less scope for them, and so I (generally) welcome anything that reduces that scope even further.

Given that the western democracies seem to be largely controlled by vested interests, often the same ones that are wrecking the planet, and seeing that there is a war being carried out by the rich against the middle and working classes that is starting to make 1984 look quite prophetic (cf the obscene disparities in wealth in most of the First World), I think we need organisations like Wikileaks. And if it requires a person with a massive ego to start the ball rolling, then wheel him on.

There is an evolutionary reason for the existence of sociopaths, after all: they come in very handy when there is a battle to be fought.

One Comment
  1. griffithinsider permalink

    I’m writing a thesis on Public Trust in WikiLeaks, the Media and the Government and need to know what your opinions are. The online survey is multiple choice and will take approximately 10 minutes to complete. Please follow the link: Would be great if you would encourage others to do the survey also.

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