September 30, 2012
To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker. –Frederick Douglass
Why is CNMI LeakSource a good thing? Because those who are afraid to stand up for what is right, to expose the truth can download documents anonymously at no risk to their government jobs, at no risk to inciting family problems and at no political or personal risk. They are totally safe in revealing the truth.
Calling people "cowards" if they want to expose the truth with no risk to themselves is wrong. Are the law enforcement agencies that have anonymous tip lines also "cowards"? Are the people who submit the tips "cowards"? I think not.
Why is Zaldy even comparing an anonymous website to a newspaper? Why does he think every source of news should resemble a traditional newspaper? Zaldy wrote:
Anyone can post anything on the internet, but a newspaper has to conduct due diligence before publishing a story. Even sources who want to be “anonymous” are known to the reporter/editor. The authenticity of documents handed to us are verified. Whatever claims they make have to be double-checked. We also need to get the other side of the story.A few points. It is true that anyone can put anything on the internet, but intelligent readers know how to distinguish truth and fiction. Furthermore, the CNMI LeakSource clearly states that they will only publish tips with valid documentation.
An anonymous website challenges readers to demand more information either from the government agency or office that was exposed, or from the person who was the subject of the leak. It inspires traditional news media to do their job. In fact, why didn't the CNMI's traditional press reveal that the Saipan mayor avoided a court appearance?! Avoiding a court summons is unethical and unlawful for any person, but for an official it is inexcusable. Ditto for the other leaked court documents exposing just how unethical some CNMI legislators or candidates are.
The argument that posting documents does not show both sides of a story is invalid. Having the information allows people the chance to investigate the facts and determine the truth. What newspaper editorial shows both sides? Were the authors of the CNMI LeakSource invited by Zaldy to give their side of the story? Read Zaldy's editorials and you know where he stands politically and even his personal views on issues.
Zaldy even called some leaks "character assassination". In his editorial he cited the DEQ official who was arrested in American Samoa for a driving violation. Sure it was a driving violation, but it also made headlines in American Samoa and did nothing to improve the already tarnished reputation of the CNMI. Zaldy failed to mention that the CNMI official was representing the CNMI on official government business on a taxpayer-funded trip. He failed to mention that she was not just pulled over for speeding, but was also arrested for DUI. Luckily, as the article on the website related, she got off with probation and a fine.
Zaldy claims that people should submit anonymous tips to the newspapers. Some people do not trust newspapers to keep what they have to report anonymous, especially in the CNMI where everyone wants to dial up on the coconut wireless. Submitting a court document to CNMI LeakSource that was not even covered by the traditional CNMI press, including the newspapers, is a valid way to expose the truth.
Zaldy attacks those who hide behind an anonymous identity, but the Marianas Variety publishes comments posted by anonymous individuals. Guess they are "cowards" too?
My family and I experienced living hell for exposing the truth about CNMI labor abuses during the early 1990's. We suffered physical assaults, death threats, damage to property, gunshots at our house, and our daughter received dozens of calls threatening that she would be raped, etc. with not one response to any of the dozen or more police complaints filed. So I have to say, I certainly would not "laugh in the face" of the CNMI LeakSource authors.
The CNMI Government has failed to follow Open Government Act over and over and over. They rely on the fact that few have resources or time to sue them.
The newspapers have missed some newsworthy stories. I know that I have written many stories on this website that were later picked up by the traditional CNMI media. Suppression encourages corruption. Free speech improves government. I say all people should be encouraged to express their freedom of speech by whatever legal means that they can. Leak away people!