Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Writer's Responsibility

By Mark Danielson

I was well into a novel that would have been quite exciting. The plot was solid, plausible, and well researched. It involved terrorism in space. Three visits to NORAD headquarters inside Cheyenne Mountain and a career in the military provided me with an insight few have. My story involved simultaneously hijacking airplanes for the purpose of knocking out certain radar facilities so that an event could take place in space without anyone knowing. My profession has taught me a lot about hijacking, and since I didn't want to share this sensitive information, I aborted the book.

You see, I believe writers have a responsibility to the general public not to jeopardize their safety. True; in all probability, our invisible enemy has already pondered some of what I had written, but I see no reason to make things easy for them.

Recently I saw some incredible footage taken from space while I was in China. The Chinese government actually requested that the US provide satellite imagery of their earthquake-ravaged country. Can you imagine this happening even five years ago? What is amazing is the US not only did as requested, they released the imagery to CNN, which is where I saw it. Prior to this, the best anyone could do was see a fuzzy image of their house on Google Earth. Since this CNN release, everyone knows what technology we have. My opinion? I'm glad the US could help China, but it didn't need to be released on national TV.

The only benefit of our government releasing such sensitive information is that at some point in time, it may be safe for me to finish this book. Even so, I probably won't, just so I can sleep with a clear conscience. Sometimes, protecting trade secrets outweighs my desire to sell books.

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