Laying Cable with Barry and Dub

If WikiLeaks bores anybody to death, will Julian Assange be guilty of murder?


In all the talk about people whose lives have been endangered by WikiLeaks' broad release of diplomatic cables, why don't you hear more about Elias Murr?

According to March 2008 notes prepared by then-chargé d'affaires in Beirut (later ambassador to Lebanon) Michele J. Sison, Lebanese Minister of Defense Murr offered tips on how the Israeli Defense Force could invade his own country without getting into a fight with his army.

Elias Murr with David Petraeus

The cable indicates Murr believed Israel in the summer of 2008 would repeat its 2006 broad-based attack on Hizbollah in Lebanon. (It didn't.) During that conflict, Murr reportedly said his aim as defense minister would be to ensure that the Lebanese Army did not engage the Israelis. He described plans to stash food, money, and water for the marooned soldiers of the 1st and 8th Brigades, who while sitting out the war in the Beka'a Valley would be unable to forage from a local populace described as "mainly Hizballah supporters."

According to Sison:

Murr also gave guidance to [then-Lebanese Armed Forces commander and now President of Lebanon Michel] Sleiman that the LAF should not get involved "when Israel comes." This guidance came four days after Sleiman had instructed his officers to be prepared (ref D). Murr told us that he promised Sleiman the political cover for LAF inaction. Murr's opinion is that an Israeli action against Hizballah would not be a war against Lebanon and that Syria and Iran did not ask Lebanon's permission to equip Hizballah with its rockets. As such, the LAF has been ordered to not get involved with any fighting and to fulfill a civil defense role, such as humanitarian support, when/if hostilities break out. Murr told us that he would personally speak to the Shia officers in the Army to make sure they understood why the Army was not going to participate.

The offensive never happened, but Murr's plan to cooperate tacitly with an army on the attack—from a country with which Murr's country is technically at war—seems like exactly the kind of sensitive information whose release could endanger life and limb, and underscores the many calls for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to be hunted down, executed, or at least subjected to absurdly loaded questions. (In the event, Assange was jailed yesterday on none-too-compelling sex crimes charges.) Here you have a minister of defense abjuring the defense of his own country's territory, in a country where political violence is never far away.

Yet Murr does not appear to be in any peril. A spokesman for the defense minister says the cable (which surfaced in the Lebanese paper Al Akhbar, not in the original searchable WikiLeaks cable dump) is "not complete and not accurate…does not reflect the truth about what happened during the meeting and it has no value" and is only intended "to sow discord in Lebanon." After a brief dustup in the Israeli and local media, the issue fizzled out.

That's because the Murr cable—like, apparently, every cable included in the rapidly fading WikiLeaks diplomatic database—simply revealed what everybody already knew. The Lebanese army would not engage Israel just as it has declined to engage Israel on all previous occasions; a Lebanese official exudes a mixture of bravado ("Murr told us that 'they (Hizballah) are scared, terrorized'") and confessional self-pity ("Murr reported that Christians want to sell their property so they can leave Lebanon"); and somebody in the Middle East is both looking for revenge and anticipating counter-revenge ("Hizballah must respond to the Mughniya assassination, but they know it will bring retribution").

This is news?

And it's the same way no matter what you look for. Whether you choose to drill down on intellectual property or Canadians or (as I did) Lebanon, the disclosures are eerily in tune with the cocktail party view of U.S. policy. Pick a topic, any topic, and it will conform to what you pretty much understood from following the mainstream media. Vladimir Putin (or just Vladimir, as George W. Bush insists on calling him in one of several cool literary effects in his memoir Decision Points) has broad regional desires but is uncannily tuned in to public and international perceptions. The Sunnis want the Americans to attack the Shiites. Israel is wary of, but realistic about, military assistance the United States provides to other countries in the Levant. And so on. It's a drama without plot twists, as measured and judicious as one of those unsigned editorials The New York Times and its imitators still run every morning.

Let's take an example. In March 2005 Hervé de Charrette (then an official of Nicolas Sarkozy's political party, now president of the French-Arab Chamber of Commerce, "a permanent business forum for French and Arab entrepreneurs") offers "a hand of friendship and cooperation" to then-U.S. Ambassador to France Howard Leach. He praises U.S. efforts in the Middle East, regrets the "embarrassing" decline in relations with the United States under then-president Jacques Chirac, and promises his party will reach out "to its natural partner the Republican Party, but also to the Democrats."

Now repair to page 465 of Decision Points, wherein Bush in turn gushes about "Nicolas Sarkozy, the dynamic French president who had run on a pro-American platform."

This smoothness of cross-referencing applies within the cables themselves. Here's Murr (again, per Ambassador Sison's 2008 notes) sizing up the lessons Israel learned during its unsuccessful and broadly destructive incursion into Lebanon in 2006:

Murr harbors no illusion that they will not get bogged down in the village a second time. Instead, Murr thinks they will bypass strongholds in villages and pursue the main forces, the rockets…

Murr thinks that Ehud Barak is a very different Minister of Defense than the one who tried to win a war using airpower…

18. (S) Making clear that he was not responsible for passing messages to Israel, Murr told us that Israel would do well to avoid two things when it comes for Hizballah. One, it must not touch the Blue Line or the UNSCR 1701 areas as this will keep Hizballah out of these areas. Two, Israel cannot bomb bridges and infrastructure in the Christian areas. The Christians were supporting Israel in 2006 until they started bombing their bridges. If Israel has to bomb all of these places in the Shia areas as a matter of operational concern, that is Hizballah's problem. According to Murr, this war is not with Lebanon, it is will [sic] Hizballah…

For Murr, the LAF's strategic objective was to survive a three week war "completely intact" and able to take over once Hizballah's militia has been destroyed. "I do not want thousands of our soldiers to die for no reason," Murr declared.

And here's Benjamin Netanyahu discussing the same combat lessons with Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-New York) in 2007 (from notes by then-Ambassador Richard H. Jones):

Netanyahu said the problem was not the war's goals but rather the disconnect between goals and methods. If the IDF had used a flanking move by a superior ground force, it could have won easily. Instead, Israel "dripped troops into their gunsights," an approach he termed "stupid." The top leadership had lacked a sense of military maneuver. In addition, they had been afraid to take military casualties, but instead got many civilian casualties. If Olmert had mobilized the reserves in ten days, seized ground, destroyed Hizballah in southern Lebann, and then withdrawn, he would be a hero today. Instead, Netanyahu predicted, Olmert will not last politically.

Three years on, the political predictions have proven accurate. Ehud Barak is still Israel's defense minister, and Netanyahu defeated Ehud Olmert to become prime minister of Israel (though that happened almost two years after the comments above). The military judgments largely dovetail.

And you know who else I'll bet would corroborate these reports—in the unlikely event he were to stop by for a chat at the U.S. embassy? Hizbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah. I'm serious: I'll bet 15,000 Lebanese lira that in whatever counterpart cable went between South Beirut and Damascus (don't expect to see that one from WikiLeaks!), Nasrallah summed up his view of the 2006 war and the future war using pretty much the same language as Murr and Netanyahu.

This combination of predictability and squalidness gives the cables a somebody-else's-diary vibe: You know where it's all headed; you're just not sure the author has figured it out yet. The cable dump (healthy movement of a regular nation) also reveals an almost total continuity between the foreign policies of the Bush and Obama administrations. It's hard enough telling fish from fowl within the borders of the United States; but at the level of the foreign policy the United State projects upon the world, the differences between Republican and Democratic policy shrink, as Gen. George S. Patton said, to insignificance.

In their capacity to capture horror and render it banal, the cables make you understand how the same people can be dismissing WikiLeaks' information as unimportant while also calling for treason charges against non-U.S. citizen Assange. On May 8, 2008, Mariot Leslie, a British defense and intelligence official with NATO, tells Undersecretary of State John Rood of reservations the United Kingdom has about the incautiously named operation CEDAR SWEEP, which required U.S. use of the British base at Akrotiri in Cyprus, apparently for surveillance flights over Lebanon. The British, according to Leslie, are concerned that the invitation for these flights came not from the government of Lebanon itself but specifically from its defense ministry, which is headed up by Elias Murr, whom we met above. She and a colleague also note the Lebanese Armed Forces' reputation for torturing detainees:

FCO is concerned that human rights reports, including the State Department's own, do not reflect the sterling reputation of the LAF as conveyed in our April 14 request for use of Akrotiri airbase. HMG expects the United States to monitor use of the CEDAR SWEEP intel and ensure the LAF lives up to its commitment to maintain high human rights standards… To the extent that the USG becomes aware of arrests made as a result of CEDAR SWEEP intel, HMG expects the USG to ensure the detainees are treated lawfully. If the U.S. became aware of "reasons to doubt LAF assurances," HMG would expect to be notified immediately.

This memo from the U.S. embassy in London objects to this British "piling on of concerns and conditions, which portend a burdensome process for getting the rest of our intel flights approved," and requests that the State and Defense Departments intercede with their UK counterparts. Apparently the intercession worked, because on May 16 Leslie returns to the embassy to concede the point, diplomatically:

Leslie expressed annoyance at the additional conditions conveyed by the FCO working level on May 14 (Ref A), noting she had not been aware beforehand that such a message would be conveyed. In fact, she regretted the tenor of the discussions had turned prickly and underscored HMG appreciation for U.S.-UK military and intelligence cooperation. To set the record straight, she clarified that [a related letter from the Ministry of Defense] was not/not intended to question whether the U.S. had obtained full GOL (vice just MOD) approval for the operation or to put any additional conditions on it. Furthermore, regarding the May 14 expectation that the U.S. must follow up on all cases of alleged terrorists who were detained as a result of CEDAR SWEEP intel, Leslie said that was not at all what HMG intended to convey to the USG. In fact, ministers had merely wanted to impress upon the USG that they take the human rights considerations seriously.

And because no discussion of torture is complete without a mention of the toilet, Leslie points out that she had been concerned mainly because "the Cypriots are hypersensitive about the British presence there and, she said, could 'turn off the utilities at any time.'"

The intellectual argument against Wikileaks—that agencies empowered to torture people and undermine sovereign nations should be subjected to less scrutiny than a municipal department of sanitation—is itself treasonous. Anybody who makes this argument is unfit to live in, let alone govern, a free society.

The emotional argument, on the other hand, is clearly powerful, as we have seen in the establishmentarian consensus that Assange needs to be imprisoned no matter how flimsy the pretext. But I expect the emotions are already fading, as the various anti-Assange factions get distracted by a trove information that is broadly useful if never surprising.

What troubles me is that it is so unsurprising. That may be explicable through capture bias: When people approach American diplomats, they make their requests (usually for American blood and treasure) in language American diplomats can understand. But the creepy thing is how even these supposedly confidential documents confirm the consensus on the United States and its roles in the world. When everybody is in agreement, it's time to worry.

Tim Cavanaugh is a senior editor at Reason magazine.

NEXT: Drug Warrior Quotes That Sound Too Good to Be True

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  1. It’s amazing that a statanic force could be so boring.

    1. It’s stutterly incredible.

      1. I was referring to Tim Cavanaugh, of course. He’s such a predictable fucking hack.

        1. And you’re not?

  2. “The intellectual argument against Wikileaks?that agencies empowered to torture people and undermine sovereign nations should be subjected to less scrutiny than a municipal department of sanitation?is itself treasonous. Anybody who makes this argument is unfit to live in, let alone govern, a free society.”


    1. OK. Let’s all play nice all the time. I’m sure the other boys and girls will do the same.

      1. You’re right, we should stoop to the level of terrorists and totalitarians. What were we thinking suggesting that we were better than them?

  3. What is WikiLeaks?

  4. What is WikiLeaks?

    (blah blah spam filter blah blah blah)

  5. “The intellectual argument against Wikileaks…is itself treasonous”

    So intellectual arguments are “treasonous” now?

    “Anybody who makes this argument is unfit to live in…a free society.”

    Oops. There goes freedom of speech. Start the deportations.

    1. Anonypussy responds to hyperbole with…more hyperbole.

      And color me shocked, shocked, that you support government secrecy.

      1. I don’t care what you think. Duly noted, however, that you believe intellectual dissent is treasonous.

        1. Nowhere, at any time, did I say a single word about intellectual dissent being treason, so it is duly noted that you are either a mendacious fuck or you can’t fucking read. Which do you prefer? I am inclined towards the former as it fits your passive aggressive sniveling.

      2. Oh SPARE me. The idea that governments should never ever have secrets is ABSURD. Such a government will cease to exist.

        If you are all anarcho-libertarian, I suppose that might be nice, but since (at least I thought) that isn’t the main constituency of Reason, there has to be some provision for government.

        Reasonable people can disagree how much power a government should have. And I tend towards the Libertarian argument that the power should be much more limited than today.

        But most would agree that one of a Governments’ jobs is to provide for the Defense of its people. *You cannot defend a country without secrets*!

        Governments have the same need for secrecy that you and I do- people wishing to do us harm can use that information to do so.

        There is nothing treasonous about accepting such a fact. We can argue about whether or not these secrets should have been secret, but a flat out dismissal of the theory that Governments can and should have secrets is not treasonous- it’s lala fairyland playtime stuff that disqualifies you from serious debate.

        1. A) You obviously suffer from the same reading comprehension problems as anonypussy, as I never said one fucking word about “thinking secrets are OK is treasonous”.

          B) I am an anarcho-capitalist, so I would love to see the government unable to function. Your arguments are meaningless to me.

          1. I took issue with your fairyland interpretation that government secrecy is never a good thing (or was I supposed to take a different view of your mocking of someone who “supports government secrecy”). That you reveal yourself as an anarcho-libertarian is good, as I need no longer debate with someone who has no grasp of reality.

            The supporting condemnation of people who think intellectual arguments are treasonous is because- you jackass- that’s what the OP’s thread is all about.

            1. So you both lack reading comprehension and you won’t debate with those who hold different views. Got it loud and clear–you’re an idiot who likes government secrecy.

              1. Do you take pride in such self irony?

                In any case, to be clear for you, I love debating with plenty of people. But since I do have limited time in the year, I’m not willing to argue with subscribers to delusional fantasy.

                Don’t take it too personally, I am similarly dismissive of Marxists and those people who think BSG was science fiction.

                1. Welcome to Reason goop! Yep these boys, like the noodles at Anonymous who’ve recently employed 4Chan level technology to punish financial institutions who longer feel that is their duty to support terrorists, believe that nothing should be secret.

                  These people may be nuts but at least they’re intellectually honest – one of them admitted to me a few days ago that the designs of nuclear weapons should be leaked if the cretins behind Wikileaks get ahold of them.

            2. Indeed. Libertarianism needs to amputate its silly anarchist wing. We need serious thinkers.

              1. “I am an anarcho-capitalist”

                Pay no attention to that contradiction in terms behind the fake name.

                1. How is that a contradiction in terms?

                  1. “But of course, anarchists are collectivists. Capitalism is the one system that requires absolute objective law, yet they want to combine capitalism and anarchism. That is worse than anything the New Left has proposed. It’s a mockery of philosophy and ideology. They sling slogans and try to ride on two bandwagons. They want to be hippies, but don’t want to preach collectivism, because those jobs are already taken. But anarchism is a logical outgrowth of the anti-intellectual side of collectivism. I could deal with a Marxist with a greater chance of reaching some kind of understanding, and with much greater respect. The anarchist is the scum of the intellectual world of the left, which has given them up. So the right picks up another leftist discard. That’s the Libertarian movement.”

                    1. WRT Rand’s statement, it would seem to me that government secrecy without checks and balances is a pretty far cry from “absolute objective law”, so whatever she said about anarcho-capitalism, she certainly wasn’t supporting government secrecy on a grand scale, either.

                2. ‘I am an anarcho-capitalist’

                  Pay no attention to that contradiction in terms behind the fake name.

                  Nicely done, my young student. Don’t fret, I’ll have some new, even more devastating, talking points ready for you next month.

              2. thus says the craven Randian suck up to the most violent faction in American politics. It would be ironic if the projection wasn’t so obvious in her work as well.

            3. Goobs|12.8.10 @ 5:19PM|#
              That you reveal yourself as an anarcho-libertarian is good, as I need no longer debate with someone who has no grasp of reality.

              I think you hurt Episiarch’s feelings, Goobs.

          2. “I am an anarcho-capitalist”

            Oh, well than please ignore my comments.

          3. I am an anarcho-capitalist

            My imaginary libertarian country invades your imaginary anarcho-capitalist state and wins!!!

            Actually i just came up with a great video game idea!!!

          4. “I am an anarcho-capitalist”

            Ha ha ha ha ha!
            I am a unicorn!

            1. you like burning and destroying Capital?

              1. wait, you like burning and destroying other people’s Capital.
                O.P.C. yeah, you know me…

          5. I am an anarcho-capitalist, so I would love to see the government unable to function.

            And yet you can already read and write! Amazing. Your parents must’ve used the Baby Einstein videos with you or something.

            1. Color me shocked, shocked, that you support government secrecy.

              1. I think the dog ate that crayon. Would burnt sienna be OK?

                1. You are either a mendacious fuck or you can’t fucking read.

      3. I’m not anonymous, and I believe in SOME government secrecy. Particularly when we are dealing with other nations, who may or may not be our friends or our enemies, or may or may not have interests that are consistent with our goals. It’s a Hobbesian state of nature out there. You can’t possibly believe that all of the information generated by the government should be open for all to see.

        So, the question becomes what, and in what manner should some information be kept secret. I would suggest that an emotionally distraught Private, with the aid of an Australian publicity seeker might not be the best ones to make that decision.

        1. Exactly- I have a lot of problems with the level of secrecy in which our government engages. But a government without ANY secrecy does not and cannot exist.

          But if you accept that some secrecy must exist, it robs you of the moral highground that Reason writers often like to put themselves on- it makes it easier to just shout names, rather than engage on the details.

          1. THAT’S ABSURD!

            Wow, you’re right. That is easier!

          2. Of course a govt without secrets can exist. It is just harder to accomplish certain things if you must reveal everything you do to your citizens.

            Now, assuming you are right that some things should be kept secret, how do you in fact make sure that those are the only things being kept secret?

            1. Annoon-

              Show me a government that has EVER existed without keeping secrets. I submit that one cannot exist (for long). Just for the simplest example- if a country is being invaded, should it not keep its attack plans for the next day secret? Even from its populace?

              “…how do you in fact make sure that those are the only things being kept secret.”

              Well, gosh, I dunno. I guess we should just pass a law insisting that they keep no secrets at all! I’ll bet that would work!

              Seriously, you ensure the right amount of secrecy just as you ensure the right amount of power ceded to the government- with an engaged populous that elects representatives that hold their views of appropriate secrecy and power. And those people control the purses, policies and hiring of the departments engaged in secrecy.

              I know, it seems messy. And indeed, there is likely plenty of room for overstepping and mistakes.

              After college, when I grew up I realized that the world is complex and not as simple as most ideologues make it. And important things- including the powers of our government- require your engagement and participation. No system or set of rules or philosophy will keep the government on course and in check. You have to keep your hands on the reins and keep her heading.

              There are other ways, of course, to rein in government secrecy. Indiscriminately dumping the entire classified library of your government online for rivals and enemies to consume is not one of the ways I consider acceptable.

              1. It’s just a question of having the ‘right people’ in charge.

                The ‘right people’ are the people who are elected to government.

                So, I guess, if a majority of people believe that votes should be tallied behind closed doors with no oversight, that’s okay. And if (when) this system becomes corrupt, we’ll find out how?

                1. You’re off on a rather irrelevant tangent over there.

                2. Oh-

                  No, I said nothing about having the ‘right people’ in charge. I said the populace needs to be engaged and ensure that the people in charge are carrying out the desired policies.

                  I’m not sure what you think your critique is. You say the wrong people will get in charge and/or the majority populace will make stupid laws.

                  Uh, so what? That has been a problem forever. Do you think removing espionage laws will suddenly make it so the wrong people don’t get to power? Do you think it will suddenly make a majority populace make GOOD laws? And assuming the lack of any government secrets somehow delivers us great leadership and an enlightened populace, will that protect us from the enemy who now has the launch codes to our missiles and vulnerability analyses of our nuclear power plants?

              2. Well said Goobs. As I like to put it, no laws or documents will ever overcome the intentions of those in power.

                And yes, these arguments that you’re arguing against, can only come from an anarchist’s perspective. Which is sometimes subtly, sometimes not so subtly, mixed in around here.

                I’m no anarchist, but there’s still worthwhile stuff to be found here. Nobody’s perfect, eh?

              3. Just give it up goobs – I’ve been asking the same question for the last two days and all these people can do is curse and link me to pictures of themselves.

                And yes Ayn Rand was right when claimed that libertarians are amoral whim worshipers who believe that anything goes and don’t (or don’t want to) understand the consequences of lists of coalition informants or sites vulnerable to terrorist attacks being leaked are. Don’t know and or don’t care – or perhaps even want these (usually privately owned) sites being attacked because the Big Bad Evil Empire (TM), than 4Chan boys struggling though puberty jerk off over, deserves it. Long live the Rebel Alliance! La Resistance lives on!

          3. Fine. so go execute all the members of the parasite class who couldn’t keep a secret. Doesn’t mean the US should restrict speach (which is unconstitutional), especially outside of it’s jusrisdiction (which isn’t the whole world, no matter how bad they want it to be).

        2. Yes, everyone is out to get us and only the pentagon and Barack Obama can protect us. God damn I feel safer already.

          1. Sarcasm is impotent.

            1. the big “o” thought he was impotent. that is until Michelle told him to sit down, damn it, and eat your low fat lunch.

  6. Visa reported to just be taken down:…

    Guardian reports newest leak – Shell installed itself into government in Nigeria – nothing to see here – move on:…..ria-spying

    1. Visa reported to just be taken down:…

      Children doing a high-tech egging of corporate fa?ades.

      1. It’s vandalism and anyone worth respecting should condemn it.

        1. Anarchists demonstrate to the world that they have the maturity level of toddlers with the ethical capacity of the Taliban.

          1. And still too many libertarians are all cuddly to them. Ayn Rand was right about them (as she was almost everything) and I can see why see why she disdained the heavily anarcho-influenced Libertarian movement of the ’60s, especially that bizarre amoral asshole Rothbard.

            1. You’re off on a rather irrelevant tangent over there, but please continue, the projection just gets funnier with your every post.

              bizarre amoral asshole

              Who is Ayn Rand, Alex.

          2. Wait, aren’t you describing liberals? Er sorry, for a moment I forgot from whence anarchism arose.

            In some fundamental ways I have to respect what anarchists (at least claim) they’d like to achieve. Unfortunately, they want to have their cake and eat it too.

            1. Unfortunately, they want to have their cake and eat it too

              There’s nothing “unfortunate” about it. Capitalism and anarchy are opposites. They cannot co-exist. To wish for something that is impossible indicates a serious mental disorder. Which is why the few serious libertarians here regard the anarchists as little better than angry, delusional, obscenity-spewing adolescents.

              1. They… aren’t opposites. You can perhaps make an argument that the prevailing ideas behind these two philosophies are vastly different from each other, but believing in a self correcting market isn’t the opposite of believing people have the power to self govern. And the truth about Rand is that while she professed productivity, she didn’t really profess freedom. She thought libertarians were stupid basically because they believed that people had the right to be as unproductive as they want as long as they deal with the natural consequences. She thought the property rights of Native Americans were forfeited b/c they weren’t as advanced as the white man.

                I credit Rand for showing me what is wrong with anarchy and vigilantism, but her snobbery was blatent. She was brilliant and productive, and she thought brilliant and productive ppl should rule the world. That isn’t very different than the religious right thinking Christians should rule the world, or hippies thinking organic farmers should rule the world. I don’t know why libertarians are encouraged to worship her.

                1. Let’s just say anarchy and capitalism are mutually exclusive. Without a government to enforce contracts, it doesn’t matter how much capital you own- you only control it so long as the guy buying rocket launchers next door allows you to.

                  The idea that people would just get along and go along without a government is fantasy.

                  1. you only control it so long as the guy buying rocket launchers next door allows you to.

                    this is always true. We ancaps refer to the guy with rocket launchers as “the government”.

                2. “And the truth about Rand is that while she professed productivity, she didn’t really profess freedom.”

                  That statement alone disqualifies your commentary from any further consideration.

        2. ” anyone worth respecting should condemn it”

          Good to know who to respect. Goose stepping to your tune.

          1. Isn’t this where one of the local wits yells “Drink!”?

  7. What is Wikileaks?

  8. What is Wikileaks?

  9. What is Wikileaks?

    1. I was hoping that after the third incantation, you would turn into a frog… or something.

  10. I don’t know. It sounds like somebody who already knew to throw out all the covering BS being spouted, and look at real world motivations, would be unsurprised. Those who don’t understand that (and there are a lot of them who are both producers and consumers of news) are probably shocked by these revelations.

  11. apparently, every cable included in the rapidly fading WikiLeaks diplomatic database?simply revealed what everybody already knew.

    I didn’t know that.

    Forgive me; that is, unless you’re simply being hyperbolic.

  12. Some times Tim is hard to read.

    I think he may be agreeing with me…but if not i have to say it.

    All this stuff that everyone supposedly already knew, i did not know shit about.

    If i do not know shit about it and all the journalists and government critters did then why the fuck didn’t they say anything?!?!?

    Anyway if everyone knew about it then i would like to see one article published before the wikileaks leaked that explains that Saudi Arabia wanted to bomb Iran. If such an article cannot be produced then the claim that everyone knew about it before is bullshit!

    1. I’m not going to go looking for it. But I’ve claimed here many times that our Mideast policy was meant to placate the Saudis.

      1. We did know the sheiks of the Saudi Royal Family liked rock-and-roll, liquor and prostitutes, didn’t we?

        1. Who doesn’t?

    2. He probably means “everyone already knew that” in the same sense that everyone you ask now will tell you they saw the real estate crash coming. No one’s going to say yeah, I fucked that right up. Total blindside! Boy was I stooooopid.

    3. “Anyway if everyone knew about it then i would like to see one article published before the wikileaks leaked that explains that Saudi Arabia wanted to bomb Iran.”
      Would it make you happier to say that not many people found this surprising?
      I didn’t “know” it, but I’d be ‘way more surprised if Obama were ever caught not lying.
      As a “revelation”, I’d say it’s right up there with, oh, “Russia is largely lawless”.

    4. It’s kind of like how everybody in the family knows that genteel Aunt Margaret is a closet alchoholic and that her pool is dirty in spite of a steady rotation of handsome young pool boys, but never are these facts mentioned in polite company.

  13. Caption contest: Dumb and Dumber.

    1. Goob and Goober?

  14. Once again, people are blaming the breach of information security on Wikileaks.

    Information security was breached by whoever gave the information to Wikileaks.

    And, given what we have learned about infosec in our government intraweb, I have to believe that the Russians, the Chinese, hell, probably the fucking Belgians, all have admin-level access to everything by now.

    1. Net Neutrality would solve this.

    2. Once again, people are blaming the breach of information security on Wikileaks.

      We have lately have had a lot of Randians come out of the wood work. Thinking has never been their strong suit. Poseur creepiness is more their thing.

    3. With the ease of one Army private accessing this information, would it be any surprise if Russian and Chinese intelligence already had copies of this stuff long before Wikileaks ever had it?

      1. It would be quite a surprise if they didn’t.

    4. The IMF shows Belgium with a higher per-capita GDP than Germany, Japan or the UK. You don’t think they get that money making waffles, do you?

  15. An equally plausible explanation for the banality of the cables is that Assange and Wikileaks were used as tools by the folks at the NSA and State Department, among others.

    Cavanaugh should read (or re-read) Cliff Stoll’s The Cuckoo’s Egg or Wikipedia’s entry on Operation Mincemeat to see how that’s been done.

    1. I’m sure Tim would rather stay on Planet Earth.

      1. I can tell you he didn’t pay his annual dues for tin-foil hat activation.

    2. Say what you will, Carl Pham is right. It is equally plausible.

      OTOH, I’m sure that work in the diplomatic corps, and even in covert agencies, on a daily basis is predictable and boring. If it all resembled a James Bond movie, we’d likely see a lot more secret superweapons going off every year than we do.

  16. The cable dump (healthy movement of a regular nation)

    And Tim Cavanaugh brings it in for the big win!

    Great article, Tim.

  17. “Whether you choose to drill down on intellectual property or Canadians or (as I did) Lebanon, the disclosures are eerily in tune with the cocktail party view of U.S. policy.”

    Almost as if they’re written by the sort of people that attend those parties, rather than intellects vast, cool, and unsympathetic.

  18. The best government ‘secrets’ aren’t hidden in a armoured vault, they’re buried in thousands and thousands of pages of shit available for anyone to read…like the tax code. One big fucking mystery the tax code is, whatever it is, on any given Monday you call the IRS.

    I have to admit, one thing I am surprised about learning from the Wikidump is how relatively effective Iran sanctions and back-room dealing to with other countries to screw with Iran have been. The Obamanites come off as relatively competent in that thread, which is noteworthy given the misery I see from them elsewhere.

    But I agree with the general theme of the article. Its some kind of newsflash that Karzai’s so on the take he’d blow Osama for $50? Is that really surprising anybody out there? C’mon…

    Ultimately what I think pisses the politicians off about this isn’t the exposure of reality – reality isn’t a secret – its the exposure of rhetorical horseshit these people shovel that we’re supposed to be hearing. Karzai isn’t a political crack whore in the Fantasy Narrative of “Partner in Building a New Afghanistan” or whatever. The more repressive the society, the more that contrast hurts. That’s where the sting is for the ruler. The inverse is true as well, everybody in relatively free USA knows Karzai’s on the take, so no one gives a shit. Same thing happened with Clinton and Monica. The Republicans we’re like “HA! He’s doing his secretary!” But the American people had known that since G. Flowers in ’92, subconsciously the body-politic forgave him for it then and was like “No shit Sherlock” when the elephants tried to roll him with it in ’98.

    1. Ultimately what I think pisses the politicians off about this isn’t the exposure of reality – reality isn’t a secret – its the exposure of rhetorical horseshit these people shovel that we’re supposed to be hearing.

      You get it.

  19. Typical Randians:

    Wikileaks, what are they? A state? No! A recognized official body? Not by many. So how dare they affect the world around them? Don’t they know their place? That these individuals would choose to act instead of being acted upon is insolent. They are like children egging corporate fa?ades! They are vandals with the maturity level of toddlers! Anarchist! Taliban! Only governments have the right to shut down domains! Who the hell do they think they are? Fucking libertarians. If they keep up what they are doing we are going to sit here and drag on the ends of our cigarette holders held in our velvet gloves and bitch about them. Don’t think we aren’t serious. We’ll do it!

    1. Typical “Randian”:

      Giving away a list of sites vulnerable to terrorists to terrorists we are trying to fight serves only the terrorists.

      Doing things for the sake of doing things with no regard to consequences is what Rand called whim worship – and she was right about libertarians 40 years before this event and all the adulation Wikileaks has received from people who admire the smell of their own farts because it smells of freedom – the freedom to do anything.

      1. Oh please, that list is so scattershot is functionally worthless. Who knew that we relied on mines in predictable locations (most of which are identified as countries, not even cities or companies), on dozens of underseas cable landings, on vaccine manufacturers, on ports? Heck, the only locations in the Middle East aside from Israel are major oil transport hubs and pipelines. You mean the US might be harmed if terrorists shut down a major oil pipeline?

        Or the Australians could shut down CroFab manufacture, rendering us helpless against a rattlesnake+cottonmouth attack by kangaroo scrotum pouch-wearing denizens of the Land Down Under.

        Or the Kuwaitis could disrupt 50% of our non-North American natural gas imports. Granted, 99% of US natural gas is North America-sourced, so that’s only 0.5%. And natural gas has substitutes. And we have reserves.

        Also, the Suez Canal and Strait of Hormuz are apparently important. And did you know we have border crossings with Canada and Mexico?

        You could look up “important ports,” “important mines” and “largest supplier of [important resource]” on Google and have just as comprehensive a list.

        1. “You mean the US might be harmed if terrorists shut down a major oil pipeline?”

          God I hope you’re being sarcastic. Seriously though this personality cult around Assflange is extraordinary – nothing he does can be wrong. Don’t believe me? Ask 4Chan.

          1. I don’t care about Assange. He’s free to pursue his celebrity but his importance as anything more than a mascot is overhyped.

            But the hysteria about the importance of the leaks and the grasping for something, anything, that shows how reckless the release was and its terrible impact on national security is equally ridiculous. That list of “critical sites” gives zero information. You want to know how terrorists can shut down the US? Blow yourself up in line for a TSA screening. That’s how terrorism works: it’s not about disrupting the military parts manufacturing supply chain, it’s about killing people. And it’s one heck of a lot easier than destroying any of the sites on the list.

            There’s no prioritization and little justification for many of the sites outside of close allies like Canada. The plurality of the focus was on undersea cable landings, which are publicly available. If anything, the picture should be that the US is highly economic interdependent, and that sites important to its economy are diffused all over the world and in predictable places. There’s no secret cobalt mine in the Amazon; it’s in Kinshasa, one of the only major producers. GlaxoSmithKline, Roche and BAE are important. We aren’t directing secret traffic through the Cape of Good Hope; important sites include the Straits of Gibraltar and Hormuz, and the Suez and Panama Canals. Only one site in Iraq is listed, and none in Afghanistan are. The list goes on.

            We simply don’t have much critical infrastructure in highly vulnerable areas, for obvious reasons. The US doesn’t have some Achilles heel revealed by that list. Sites of interest in the Middle East should be plainly obvious, and desirable targets for terrorism in the US should be equally obvious.

            Moreover, the other assumption is that terrorists not only were unaware of but have the means to damage these areas: undersea cable landings, mines, sea lanes. This isn’t like giving a list of key Western Front supply points to the Axis.

          2. As for 4chan, some men just want to watch the world burn.

            All it takes is a handful of people with LOIC firing in the background to DDOS a poorly protected site. Heck, there’s even a JavaScript version. It didn’t work with PayPal or Amazon because they probably have protections against such attacks. Again, overhyped importance. The media is casting Anonymous as some sophisticated army of rogue hackers, but it’s really just a few hundred folk with a taste for ready-made vandalism schemes.

  20. That was a great piece of information., I enjoyed reading it

  21. And as for “Randians” crawling out of the woodwork, go to Reason TV’s YouTube channel and search for Ayn Rand. there’s a great number of videos from people who pretend they understand her philosophy and claim to live by it.

  22. “Randians” (objectivists) have no need to hide in the woodwork. They prefer the light. Anarchist cockroaches, on the other hand…

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