Archive Director Tom Blanton decries “Wikimania”

Congressional testimony calls for overhaul of secrecy system and restraint on prosecutions 

Thomas S. Blanton is Director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University in Washington D.C. For more information contact:  Thomas Blanton – 202/994-7000 Posted – December 16, 2010

Washington, DC, December 16, 2010 Efforts to tighten the secrecy system and crackdown on leakers and the media will be “fundamentally self-defeating,” according to
Thomas Blanton, executive director of the National Security Archive, who testified todaybefore the House Committee on the Judiciary. During the first Congressional hearing in the aftermath of “Cablegate” and the Wikileaks release of State Department documents, Blanton urged that lawmakers take a reasoned view of the issues raised by the leaks and not to “overreact.” 

“There is more heat than light,” Blanton stated, citing calls for broadening the Espionage Act and assassinating Wikileaks leader, Julian Assange. Hasty punitive reactions, he predicted, “will actually produce more leaks, more crackdowns, less accountable government, and diminished security.”

“History shows we end up doing more damage from the overreaction than from the original leak,” according to Blanton.

Blanton reminded lawmakers that the Nixon administration had once considered firebombing the Brookings Institution building to destroy a copy of the Pentagon Papers, and that President Gerald Ford had vetoed the Freedom of Information Act in reaction to government leaks–only to be overruled by the U.S. Congress.

“The real danger of ‘Wikimania’ is that that we could revert to Cold War notions of secrecy, to the kind of stovepipes and compartments that left us blind before 9/11,” Blanton said. He called on lawmakers to protect the First Amendment, rather than adopt  a “Chinese model of state control” of information.

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About carlos

I'm a curious person, of reasonable intellect, "on the beach" (retired) and enjoying my interest in anthropology, language, civil rights, and a few other areas. I've been a hippie/student/aerospace tech writer in the '60s, a witness to the Portuguese revolution in the ‘70s, a defense test engineer and witness to the Guatemalan genocide in the '80s, and a network engineer for an ISP in the '90s. Now I’m a student and commentator until my time is up. I've spent time under the spell of the Mesoamerican pyramids and the sweet sound of the Portuguese language. I've lived in Europe, traveled in Brazil, Central America, Iceland, New Zealand, and other places. My preferred mode of travel is with a backpack and I eat (almost) anything local. Somehow, many of the countries I have been to have had civil unrest (for which I was not responsible). I'm open to correspond with anyone who might share my liberal, humanist interests. I live in San Buenaventura, California.
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