Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Letter of the Day

A 'Kafkaesque' situation

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Re: Assange asks Obama to end 'witch hunt' (Aug. 20). What is it that's making governments in the West so afraid of information?

Britain has platoons of police surrounding Ecuador's embassy in London lest Julian Assange tries to make a break for it. The PM is threatening to storm the place -- an act of war, by the way. Not that Ecuador would win, but still.

It's positively Kafkaesque. This small, one-storey embassy on the ground floor of an apartment building is besieged because some guy leaked a lot of embarrassing information. He hasn't even been charged with anything.

There are no reports of harm to secret agents, no military objectives compromised. But a lot of thuggish backroom chicanery (not to mention war crimes by our side) has come to light. Maybe that's why the U.S. has a secret indictment signed, sealed and waiting for his delivery.

Our own government is not nearly so dramatic. But it is just as paranoid. Stephen Harper has cut the long-form census. He's axed the world-class Experimental Lakes Area. He's muzzled our scientists. He sees no data, hears no data and speaks no data on everything from crime to climate change to the cost of jet planes.

The demos in democracy is you and I. If our governments can't be transparent, if they are so afraid of scrutiny that they suppress or process or dismiss what we, the people, should know, and if the media doesn't do its job, then it falls to you and me with help from whistleblowers like Assange.

DAVID McLAREN

Neyaashiinigmiing, Ont.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 21, 2012 A6

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