Does the End Justify the Means?

Does the End Justify the Means?

Shana Thrasher

FOR THE QC

Assange pictured above.  COURTESY OF  iNSIDE NEWS

Assange pictured above. COURTESY OF iNSIDE NEWS

Imagine living in the same house for years without being able to leave, knowing self-imposed isolation cannot last forever and once you cross the threshold, you will be arrested. That was Julian Assange’s reality. He’s now infamous for WikiLeaks, a website that publishes sensitive information that can call on the government and politicians to take responsibility for their actions. Other people have the opportunity to have their content published to the site. WikiLeaks was not the first example of Assange revealing secrets; he has also revealed details about other organizations. However, Assange got in trouble because he leaked particulars the U.S. government would have preferred to keep private, such as information on the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. His focus is on releasing facts that will have an impact on people, claiming he only cares about whether or not a group or government is a legitimate or illegitimate authority and subverting the actions of illegitimate authorities (60 Minutes). He is releasing information to people so that they may make informed decisions and incite change if need be.

Assange has also been blamed for releasing documents without protecting the identity of Afghans helping the U.S. government, putting those people and their loved ones in danger of being targeted by the terrorist organizations they are trying to take down. Including their names has not caused harm to any of the individuals in the documents and his releasing process has since improved upon in order to protect the identity of innocent people.

While his methods are unorthodox and, in  the U.S.government’s eyes , illegal, his intentions seem to be good. He wants to provide people with information, ensuring that politicians cannot lie their way into power and work their own agenda while keeping the citizens supporting them in the dark. The U.S. government is based on the idea of free press and citizens being in control of the government. Citizens are encouraged to vote based on informed opinions of the politicians they are electing to represent them. It’s hardly fair to say politicians can keep information private from the citizens when it could affect the way the government is run.

This issue came up when Hillary Clinton’s emails were kept private and the citizens were unable to decide if she would be able to successfully guide the nation in a safe and secure manner. Assange released the emails to the public, giving citizens the ability to see for themselves what the real issues were. The primary issue is whether the information leaked is helpful or harmful to citizens. Whether the end justifies the means. Publishing classified government documents is illegal and, depending on the content, potentially harmful to the nation. WikiLeaks is not a private website accessible only by U.S. citizens. It is available to anyone with connection to the internet. Additionally, Assange puts people in danger by leaking sensitive and private information about individuals that could make them targets. In the end, Assange’s intentions may have been good and centered in keeping the power in the hands of citizens, but his methods were dangerous and illegal.