When truth leaks no one stays dry

Friday 10 December 2010 12:19 PM

The first flush of WikiLeaking has awoken the world. But in the scramble to untangle the cables, response to the leaker has been anything but nuanced. The most talkative will canonise Julian Assange if the most powerful don't lynch him first.

On the balance of probability however, history will judge him neither the Messiah nor an especially naughty boy. In human affairs the truth is rarely if ever that simple. For instance, words or phrases like "democracy", "freedom of speech" or "public accountability" look grand on placards and make fine seasoning in speeches. But who among democracy's most passionate soldiers would not be on the phone to their lawyer like a rat up a drainpipe, if one of their own ill-judged deeds or utterances were made known in the wrong circles? Accountability is at its best when farthest from home.

Two realities must be held together in this age of unshackled information. Anyone who imagines that inconvenient truths can be kept hidden forever, is a fool. But when truth leaks no one stays dry.