As a romantic suspense writer, spies and secret missions are sometimes a part of what we do, like in MORE THAN A MISSION or SECRET AGENT REUNION. The plots boil down to fairly simple terms: Find out what happened, who did it, restore order and eliminate the threat.
Watching this Wikileaks debacle unfold, it’s almost like reading a bad suspense plot, because I keep on asking myself, “Really? You let them do that? And you haven’t done anything about it?”
Write a book like that and it will end up in the circular file of the editor or agent. But, of course, truth is stranger than fiction and you can’t get away with things in fiction which actually happen. For example:
How did they get the information?: It is alleged that information provided to WikiLeaks came from an Army PFC (Private First Class) who used his “Top Secret/SCI” clearance to download sensitive documents. Scary to think how many others have this kind of clearance.
Put that in a book and an editor/agent might say – Seriously? A private has access to these kinds of documents? Not believable.
Let’s say you’re lucky enough to get past that part of the plot and move onto the second question: Who has the information? Cue the Internet. Despite shutting down the U.S. domain for Wikileaks, it moved to a site at Wikileaks.ch. Even when it was shut down there, information continued to be mirrored at various sites and the equivalent of an Internet war has begun with groups launching distributed denial of service attacks in retaliation for actions taken against Wikileaks’s founder.
But I digress. Imagine this scenario in your suspense novel. A site has sensitive information on servers with a known location. What to do? Infiltrate the area. Physically knock out the servers. Obvious, but effective.
How about something more interesting? Develop something like the Stuxnet worm to shut down the site and have it feed back to the computers where the information originated.
Now that might pass muster with an editor/agent. Having your spies/political types sit around and seemingly do nothing for months – back into the circular file for that story.
But what about the real life implications of something like Wikileaks? There are those who are touting the First Amendment and others screaming “Treason”. Let’s start with the easy one: Treason.
Treason involves betraying one’s one nation and so Assange’s actions are not treason against the U.S. Not so with any other U.S. citizen involved with the dissemination of the information. For those who betray the U.S., there is possibly an argument for treason.
What about the First Amendment? Too complicated to discuss, but you can read some more about here at the Wall Street Journal.
There are those that think this is a good thing – all this information going public. Expose the U.S. and its corruption. It won’t damage diplomatic ties, etc.
Let’s really simplify this and see what you think. Let me know how you feel about what’s going on and the actions that are being taken to stop it.
On the release of all this information in general: You safeguard your identity carefully. Shred documents. Put your info on the Internet on select sites, like your health insurance company website or through online banking. Someone gets all that information and decides to go public. Now the world knows where you live, that you really don’t like your neighbor Bill, that you’re being treated for an STD and have since developed ED that not even Cialis will cure, are broke and have creditors knocking on your door and by the way, using all that info, someone just hacked into your bank account and wiped you out.
On the problems with diplomatic ties: You tell your best friend a very sensitive secret. She tells someone else which is bad enough, but while she is telling someone else, a third person intercepts the message and puts in on Facebook or tweets it. Will you ever tell that best friend a secret again? Probably not for a very long time.
So sound off today! Please tell me what you think about this and whether a story like this would make a good book or an unbelievable one!