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On Wikileaks and Bradley Manning: the New Reality and Solitary Confinement

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A Letter to the President

Dear President Obama,

I write to you about fathoming a new reality that the Internet has brought to our world and with concern for prisoners like Bradley Manning, who are placed into solitary confinement 23 hours of the day.

First the latter: When Egyptians have just uncovered the torture chambers of their secret police, the dark and ugly side of the former government has become exposed. But isn’t our solitary confinement another version of cruel and unusual punishment? Sensual deprivation and detachment from all human contact is a scientifically informed kind of torture. Why isn’t depriving a person from their freedom enough? Can’t Bradley be given psychological counseling if solitary confinement has made him suicidal? Isn’t that more congruous with the humane and democratic society that we want to be?

The other issue, however, is involved in a new reality that the Internet is bringing into our world. Now with cell phone cameras, twitter, Facebook, and all manner of social media, self-disclosure as well as penetration into the lives of others has reached a very new level. Governments can very well be threatened by this technology, but should a democracy be as threatened by it as an autocratic and non-democratic government? I think not.

There is some secrecy necessary for governments, especially when military considerations are involved, but isn’t democracy undermined when governments want to know everything about their citizens, but have all these levels of secrecy for themselves? Information does deliver power. Secrecy is a kind of darkness in which good and evil can be done; but mostly it is the latter.

I trust our government to be doing good in secret to attain the power to overcome the evil done there. I’m afraid, however, that we have also done evil there and often secrecy is used to cover our mistakes, rather than overcoming evil.

All that goes to show that I think there will be more exposures like Wikileaks, because that is the new reality that the Internet, which crosses the threshold of collective consciousness, is bringing us. Secrecy should be a very thin and practical cover for very practical matters at hand and not blankets that cover information for twenty years or longer. In the words of Justice Brandeis, “Sunshine is the best disinfectant.”

Shouldn’t our democracy entertain policies to keep secrecy to a minimum and only combat the evil done in darkness with good done there? That way the good will jump people from behind and surprise them with new opportunities and the promises of new life.

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Written by peterkrey

March 8, 2011 at 6:51 pm

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