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Her Honor

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To Leak Or Not To Leak?

Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2010

The Berkeley, California city council is considering a resolution to "support and free Pfc. Bradley Manning and proclaim him a hero."

The resolution has been put forward  by the Peace and Justice Commission, a group appointed to advise the council.

The agenda item poses an important question: Should local governments extend their reach and take actions on issues outside their communities?

It is important to note that the first responsibility of local government is to perform the necessary duties to ensure a healthy and safe community, supporting fundamental  services to the public and ensuring fiscal stability.

It is also important to remember that before voting on an item, the elected officials must have sufficient facts in order to make the best decision.

The facts surrounding the leaking of confidential documents are still unfolding.  And while freedom of speech and transparency are essential to our democracy, there are times when confidential materials must be kept confidential.

Municipal governments operate under strict "open meeting" laws, requiring decisions to be made in public. However, it is recognized that there are some discussions that must be held in "closed sessions." The circumstances allowing for such closed door meetings are very strict, and include certain negotiations and legal matters.

One might argue that the confidential diplomatic dispatches that have been leaked are equivalent to the matters deemed confidential for local officials.

In the end there are two fundamental questions. Should councils take actions on  issues such as those arising from the WikiLeaks? In some communities this is standard fare; in others it is an extraordinary action. Ultimately it is up to the elected officials and those who vote them in office.

The more important question is: Are there any circumstances where confidential information should be leaked? 

What do you think? 

Tags: Berkeley, California, WikiLeaks

 
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