WikiLeaks inspires a sane statement on limits of transparency. (Finally!)

For years, “complete transparency” has been the mantra of every presidential administration and every for-profit and nonprofit PR department in the land. Apparently it took a diplomatic near-disaster to prod someone—Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it turned out—to issue a defense of secrecy.

“In almost every profession,” she told the press today in a statement, “whether it’s law or journalism, finance or medicine or academia or running a small business—people rely on confidential communications to do their jobs. We count on the space of trust that confidentiality provides. When someone breaches that trust, we are all worse off for it. And so despite some of the rhetoric we’ve heard these past few days, confidential communications do not run counter to the public interest. They are fundamental to our ability to serve the public interest.

“In America, we welcome genuine debates about pressing questions of public policy. We have elections about them. That is one of the greatest strengths of our democracy. It is part of who we are and it is a priority for this Administration. But stealing confidential documents and then releasing them without regard for the consequences does not serve the public good, and it is not the way to engage in a healthy debate.”

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