BY GAREN YEGPARIAN
Daniel Ellsberg (The Pentagon Papaers), Sibel Edmonds (Turkish money in U.S. politics), Julian Assange/Bradley Manning (Wikileaks), and now Ed Snowden (NSA-phone-gate [that’s my invented term]).
These are among the best known of the leakers who reveal government secrets when their consciences, civic awareness, and sense of duty drive them to realize the government is doing WRONG. They are on the front lines of American democracy and citizenship that have built what liberties citizens of the U.S. now enjoy (often without realizing how precious and fragile they are).
Without this kind of check on the actions of government, any government of any country of any era will tend to grow more and more powerful and intrusive. It is the nature of large entities to do so. Corporations and religious institutions are no different. In fact, the only way to check the latter two is through government, which is the only entity that is subject to the control of citizens. Of course citizens have to be alert, ever vigilant, to keep government in their service, instead of becoming government servants. That’s where the heroes named above come in.
But we must also understand what drives the particular big entity called “government” into the misbehaviors that citizens must check. Government is charged with securing the lives and rights of its citizens. It is also an entity, a being of sorts. Both of these motivations impel it to perpetuate and secure itself. But periodically, the people, employees, actually doing the work lose sight of the necessary and appropriate bounds they must honor, and that’s what produces the scandalous behaviors that require citizens’ oversight and action.
Part of how that “need” to persist manifests itself appears in the form of what has been described as the “deep state” that governments create as a means of saving themselves in case of a very serious threat. In Turkey, it is connected to the “Ergenekon” grouping that has been undergoing prosecution by the current government because these two factions represent different sectors and mentalities of Turkish society. In the U.S., it’s easy to argue that the NSA, with its über-secret operations is a part of the country’s “deep state” institutions.
I brought up Ergenekon because in the process of restraining the activities of deep-states, it is possible to abuse the process of remediation. In Turkey, the Islamist government has been using the opportunity to weaken its secularist/Ataturkist/military opposition.
All of this leads us to the necessity of sunshine, open government, transparent processes that citizens can watch over. It also makes emphatic the need for alert and engaged citizens, not passive ones who are too busy with reality television or the (artificially worsened) struggle to earn a living.
So where are the leakers of our homeland? Ironically, on the Turkish occupied, Western Armenian, side of the border, there must have been some, otherwise, the Ergenekon prosecutions might never have succeeded! Had we had just one courageous soul come forward, the infamous Protocols signed by Yerevan and Ankara might never have gotten far enough to become the dangerous legal document now threatening the Republic of Armenia’s future.
We must overcome our fear of (usually imaginary) immediate harm or embarrassment at revealing hidden misbehaviors so that Armenian statehood, whether it is one country or multiple, is strengthened.