The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wikileaks' paradoxical secrecy potential.

Wikileaks. There, I have said it. I have actually mentioned the biggest news story of the decade. It had to be...I have watched on the sidelines too long.

I have been thinking about what Wikileaks are doing and, it seems to me, that they may achieve the exact opposite of what they intend. Wikileaks has the parodoxical potential to usher in an era of much greater secrecy in the USA.

The problem is this: the more Wikileaks exposes the USA, the more the USA will wish to protect itself from exposure. At this time, they are attacking Wikileaks, for releasing the information and persecuting them in whatever way they can. However, this does not address the true problem here: Wikileaks is not the origin of the information: the USA government is. Some state employee - perhaps PFC Bradley Manning - perhaps not, has given Wikileaks all of its information. Indeed, Wikileaks is only able to function because there are US citizens (and those of other countries around the world), disgruntled enough to reveal "state secrets" to an outside organization. Wikileaks is not the problem, here: US internal security of information is. Quite simply, as it is presently organized, the USA is congenitally unable to keep secrets, because it is entrusting them to the wrong people.

Once the USA has destroyed Wikileaks - which it is clear it intends to do, it will have to turn its attention to the real problem: the USA itself. The only way the USA will be able, logically, to protect itself from a Wikileaks style problem, is if it massively upgrades the security on information within the USA. This means, essentially, one thing: restricting the number of people who have access to that information and vetting those people more carefully. At present, I have read in various online newspapers somewhere in the region of two to three million US government employees, in various functions, had access to the information that has been leaked to Wikileaks. That strikes me as far too many to have any measure of security. So, it seems inevitable that the USA will begin to restrict access to "secret" information, in the wake of Wikileaks. However, this creates its own problem. You see, if state employees do not have access to the information they need to make decisions, then the state itself cannot function effectively. Thus, the USA is stuck between two needs: to maintain security of information - and to be able to function as a state. The only way to resolve this would be to increase the height of the hierarchy and to centralize decision making, more. This means deciding upon a limited number of layers who have, perhaps varying access, to information - and cutting off large numbers of people who presently have access. Now, those who have been placed in the dark need to refer to "higher ups" for advice on matters on which they would previously be able to proceed themselves.

Clearly, what I have described is a logical consequence of seeking to reduce the chances of further leaks. It is also a culture of much enhanced secrecy. It is the kind of culture that, on the outside, America is not supposed to represent. Yet, that is precisely the kind of culture which Wikileaks may force America to become: one paranoid about secrecy, extremely hierarchical and compartmentalized. It would also, incidentally, be inflexible, slow to respond and may, at times, be paralyzed, by the inability of a small number of people to make a large number of decisions. In some ways, such a change in structure, would weaken America, in ways that would do more damage to America than, perhaps, a constant stream of Wikileaks revelations. Either way, America loses...

However, if America chooses the path to greater secrecy as a way to protect against Wikileaks and similar endeavours then, in a fundamental way, Julian Assange and Wikileaks, will have failed. They would have provoked a shift towards secrecy, when, in fact, they had sought a shift towards open-ness. Wikileaks may, in fact, create a much darker world than the one it seeks to usher in. Wikileaks may lead to a world steeped in virtually unbreachable secrecy, a world in which almost no-one knows what is going on - because access to that information has been restricted as much as it is possible to do so, and still have a functional State.

Yet, if Wikileaks loses, in this way, we all lose. America would become an even less pleasant place to live in, than it already is - and the world would know even less about its conduct, than they do now.

Whatever happens, this much is sure: long after President Obama has been forgotten (and he shall be, on a long enough timescale), Julian Assange and Wikileaks will be remembered, for what they sought to achieve, even if they never achieve it. Another thing is sure, too: America cannot win in this situation - indeed, they have already lost. They cannot suppress the flow of revelations - and they will only be able to prevent future ones, by changing the entire character of their nation, in ways that would be detrimental to it. Thus, it is not untrue to say, that, in this information war, one man has defeated the world's supposedly greatest superpower. History will never forget that...though future American textbooks, might leave that information out, if their present behaviour is extrapolated. Never mind...other countries will remember for them.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, 10, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, 7 and Tiarnan, 4, this month, please go to:

I also write of gifted education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, megasavant, HELP University College, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, Malaysia, IQ, intelligence and creativity.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 11:52 AM 


OpenID safireau said...

It's interesting. I've been reading up on news about this guy and he seems to have independently come to this conclusion himself. That is, he knows exactly what he's doing. I have a theory as to his type as well... if you're interested that is.

6:44 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes, Safireau, it would be interesting to hear your thoughts on his type and your reasons for thinking so.


The other question is: if he realizes his action might provoke more secrecy, why is he doing it? Is it to make the US more vulnerable, due to slowness of response etc?

3:15 PM  

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