Lights in our darkness

The Pentagon Papers revealed that the US government knew from early on that the Vietnam War could not be won and systematically lied to the public and Congress.

The papers also showed a deep cynicism towards the public, a total disregard for safety of soldiers and civilians, and provide a chilling parallel to the Afghan fiasco and Wikileaks.

But Daniel Ellsberg spent months copying the 7000 page Defence Department’s secret history of the war and fought endless court cases before it could be published.

Today as we saw in Climategate, internal whistleblowers simply use a scanner to make the evidence of nefarious activity instantly available to everyone on the internet.

It has its dangers and limitations, but the ability of the web to bypass the gatekeepers of secretive organisations in government and science sheds a welcome light in dark places.

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