The uproar over WikiLeaks and Julian Assange reminds me of the controversy surrounding the release of the Pentagon papers, when Daniel Ellsberg was nailed to the cross but turned out to be a hero for stepping up and risking everything ["The War on Secrecy," Dec. 13]. Rather than calling for the head of Assange, we should be urgently asking how a private first class in the U.S. Army could gain access to all this secret material, download it and then distribute it to whomever he so desired.
Alice A. Grimes,
Watertown, Mass., U.S.
Kudos to Massimo Calabresi on his incisive article on the planetary paranoia of secrecy now torn to shreds by WikiLeaks' buzz saw. The Humpty Dumpty of modern diplomacy has been knocked off its perch by Assange's revelations and all the Obamas and Hus of the world cannot put it back together again.
Jamshed K. Fozdar,
We need to make governments more accountable, not less. WikiLeaks may not always exercise the kind of editorial discretion that we would like or hope for, but it's at least trying to move the ball in the right direction. Before we hang Assange and WikiLeaks out to dry, perhaps it is worth remembering that it's the message that counts most, not the messenger. Attacking Assange fails to address the real issue.
Chandler, Ariz., U.S.
One may be either for or against secret information being leaked when it concerns internal matters of banks and businesses, but leaking classified diplomatic cables is an immeasurably more fundamental and absolutely unpardonable violation. Respect for the secrecy of diplomatic mail is an international tradition that is just as sacrosanct as not shooting the messenger carrying the truce flag.
All Assange is doing is publishing U.S. diplomats' rather undiplomatic and unintelligent opinions about world leaders. There is little difference between the way the U.S. and some of its allies are trying to silence Assange, and the way that China is cracking down on its dissidents. Had the WikiLeaks scandal happened in China, I'm sure the U.S. would have pointed fingers, calling China undemocratic and authoritarian.
The Secret Is Out
Fareed Zakaria states that the cables made public by WikiLeaks show the skills of American diplomats rather than their failings ["It's Not So Bad," Dec. 13]. However, while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on China to run an uncensored search engine and promised that the U.S. would spend millions of dollars on initiatives to protect Internet freedom around the world, thanks to Julian Assange we now know that Clinton also ordered diplomats to spy on U.N. officials, including the Secretary-General. Far from apologizing for the gaffes now published, including her own, Clinton has changed tack. Internet freedom is out because it "threatens national security" and "undermines our efforts to work with other countries." Heads of other countries have read of the contempt in which they are held and will continue to watch Washington and its far-flung minions with jaundiced eyes.
Re "The Sacred Cows" [Dec. 13]: One imagines that the bitter pill of compromise ought to be easier to swallow than the ruinous legacy that will blemish Congress should they fail to heed the call for a responsible fiscal reform. Partisan warfare on the economy will be savagely cannibalistic and yield one victim: America itself. The deficit not donkeys or elephants should be in the crosshairs. To go above and beyond is the American spirit, right?
The Good Earth
In "Land of Hope," Alex Perry has given further evidence supporting Desmond Tutu's observation of "adaptation apartheid," in which the poorest countries suffer the most under climate change [Dec. 13]. For the poor, only the top 20 cm of fertile soil is standing between them and extinction. Soil as a critical and largely nonrenewable resource continues to elude the radar of climate negotiators. The real question is, Will policymakers act to save drylands and our common soil resources before it is too late? Will the world step in and help do more to enhance, sustain and scale up the grass-roots movement in Niger witnessed by Chris Reij?
Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary, U.N. Convention to Combat Desertification,
Not Quite Paradise
I could respond to Derrick Chang's article "Five Reasons to Visit Lombok" with my own called "50 Reasons Not to Visit Lombok" [Dec. 13]. I spent a holiday there in 2009. Everything about the island is very poor and the towns and infrastructure are run down. That's why there are few tourists.
Ewan McLean, castle hill,