November 30, 2010

Regarding Cablegate

American officials in recent days have warned repeatedly that the release of documents by WikiLeaks could put people's lives in danger.

But despite similar warnings ahead of the previous two massive releases of classified U.S. intelligence reports by the website, U.S. officials concede that they have no evidence to date that the documents led to anyone's death.

 Glenn Greenwald:
John Cole notes an added irony of the furor over this latest disclosure: "I have a hard time getting worked up about it - a government that views none of my personal correspondence as confidential really can’t bitch when this sort of thing happens." Note how quickly the "if-you've-done-nothing-wrong-then-you-have-nothing-to-hide" mentality disappears when it's their privacy and communications being invaded rather than yours.

I'd note an added irony: many of the same people who supported the invasion of Iraq and/or who support the war in Afghanistan, drone strikes and assassination programs -- on the ground that the massive civilians deaths which result are justifiable "collateral damage" -- are those objecting most vehemently to WikiLeaks' disclosure on the ground that it may lead to the death of innocent people. For them, the moral framework suddenly becomes that if an act causes the deaths of any innocent person, that is proof that it is not only unjustifiable but morally repellent regardless of what it achieves. How glaringly selective is their alleged belief in that moral framework.

Stephen Walt:
[T]he big question I keep pondering is this: would it be all that bad if diplomats understood that secret deals and two-faced diplomacy wasn't going to be that easy anymore, because the true facts might leak out sooner rather than in twenty or thirty years time? I can think of a few cases where secrecy has been useful (Kennedy's deal over the Jupiter missiles in Turkey during the Cuban Missile Crisis comes to mind), but in general I think human beings -- and this include foreign policy-makers -- are more inclined to do bad things when they think they can do so without being exposed.  If you have to keep something secret, that's often a sign that you shouldn't be doing it at all.

And at the risk of seeming like a naïve Wilsonian (the cruelest thing you can call a realist like me!), the whole episode raises the larger issue of whether the citizens of a republic have the right to know exactly what representatives are doing and saying in their name, backed up by the money and military power that the citizens have paid for with their taxes. And I don't mean finding out thirty years later, but now. I'm sure that most diplomats would prefer to minimize democratic scrutiny of their activities, as it would surely be annoying if Congress or the media or (God forbid!) ordinary citizens were to peer over their shoulders while they are trying to line up foreign support. But given that I am less and less convinced that our elites know what they are doing, I'm also less inclined to want to let them operate outside public view.

Ron Holland:
Wikileaks is doing Americans and citizens of other countries a real favor in showing the diplomatic intrigues and outright secrets of politicians and governments around the world acting without any accountability to their citizens. But why only tell the truth and create accountability with American foreign policy when our Federal Reserve, Congress and Wall Street elites have already created more economicwealth destruction during the last couple of years than occurred during World War Two?

There must be tens of thousands of productive, patriotic Americans working in many areas of government, Wall Street and banking and the many public and semi-private regulatory agencies out of the millions employed. Some are certainly brave enough, sorry for their past behavior or mad enough at parasitic upper level bureaucrats to want to bring the truth and dirty laundry out to the American public. Imagine the impact on power hungry political appointees, the bailed out banking elites and out of control bureaucracies if they began to fear the truth of their misdeeds could suddenly be leaked to the public on the internet...

It is time to open the closed doors of misinformation and lies from institutions ranging from the Social Security Administratio, the Federal Reserve, Treasury and Fort Knox to Wall Street and the global banking establishment. From TSA and Homeland Security to wasteful spending and corruption at all levels of government and special interests like big oil, big pharma, the military industrial complex and the agricultural and food cartels which threaten the health of Americans.

Those of you inside these institutions know the truth and millions want to hear your stories and allegations. Help free America, the European Union and other nations and peoples from elites who have done so much to confiscate our wealth and limit our freedoms.

Bradley Manning (May 25):

I want people to see the truth...regardless of who they are...because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.

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