Foreign Policy

Reason.tv: Is Wikileaks a Force For Good? Four Experts on Our Wiki-Future

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Is Wikileaks a force for good, allowing journalists and ordinary citizens a glimpse at what diplomats and politicians are doing in our name? Or could the latest Wikileaks information dump be a net negative for open government advocates, resulting in tighter classification of future documents?

Reason.tv sat down with four experts on national security and government transparency—Aaron David Miller, a public policy fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, Eli Lake, National Security Correspondent at the Washington Times, Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, and Heather Hurlburt, Executive Director of the National Security Network—and asked if our Wikifuture is something to celebrate or lament.

Approximately 10 minutes.

Produced by Meredith Bragg and Michael C. Moynihan. Edited by Meredith Bragg.

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  1. None of the four ‘experts’ defend wikileaks – a bit one sided – this strikes me as national review-lite.

    1. Perhaps you could tell us what good will come from the outing of these deep dark secrets.

      1. Richard Holbrooke tore his aorta – that and you can check in with Glenn Greenwald for several pieces on the specific importance of some the recent leaks

      2. Perhaps you could tell us what good will come from the outing of these deep dark secrets.

        The voting public will actually know what the fuck we are doing in the world outside our boarders.

        1. That doesn’t answer my question!!!

    2. Exactly. Whether you are “for” or “against” Wikileaks, the video was certainly way lop-sided against Wikileaks. It’s uncharacteristic of Reason, but we apparently need to be on the lookout for a trend with Reason. I suspected there would at least be one person to defend Wikileaks, but that wasn’t to be.

  2. I don’t think wikileaks is defendable unless you believe government can have NO secrets.

    Many people agree/sympathize with ‘whistleblowers’ – leaks pointing out government wrongdoing. But wikileaks (at least lately) doesn’t seem to be approaching it this way.

    Are there any allegations of crimes/corruption in the latest leaks? No? Is there anyone we want to prosecute based on the leaks? No? Any mind-blowing allegations that will cause a reversal in foreign policy? No? Then it’s not whistleblowing, it’s just gossip/eavesdropping at best.

    1. Wait, so Wikileaks has to have allegations of crime or corruption in order to release documents?

      The government constantly tells us that we have nothing to fear from its scrutiny if we haven’t done anything wrong. Why does this principle then not apply to them, but yet to us?

      1. Because even though they may not have done something ‘wrong’, private cables can complicate relationships with foreign governments and generally just make foreign policy more difficult. How do you negotiate with someone when they know your internal thinking? When you privately (or at least not publically) call some foreign leader a loser or a criminal, how will the relationship not suffer?

        I think for domestic decision making, 100% transparency isn’t a bad thing. We should know the internal thoughts on how the government operates.

        But foreign policy is different.

        Let me turn this around and ask you something. What was released that NEEDED to be released? What important information was revealed to the american (world) public that needed to be in order to correct an injustice?

        I think some of the information is interesting, but not necessary.

        1. Why do you care about “foreign policy”? Don’t you think our government fucks with other countries far too much as it is?

          Why make anything easier for the government, ever? I don’t understand minarchists sometimes.

          1. Every government in the world ‘fucks with each other’. We’re just the biggest for now.

            I don’t feel the government has a duty to be open and honest with foreign governments…

            1. I don’t feel the government has a duty to be open and honest with foreign governments…

              Not with other governments, with US.

              A secret government cannot be governed by its citizens.

              1. A secret government cannot be governed by its citizens.

                Emphasis added for fucking justice.

              2. But if they tell US about all of their dealings, then that means that other countries have access to that information as well. Unless there’s some sort of secret decoder ring they could give to U.S. citizens.

                1. Oh well. Not worth the price of allowing a secret government.

              3. Oh I get it just American citizens should know the secrets and don’t tell anyone else. Are you for real???

                1. No, he’s saying that you can have either an “effective” foreign policy that keeps all of it’s secrets, or you can have a land governed by it’s citizens, not both.

        2. No, the burden of proof is on you to show why those things should not be released, and if that reason justifies secrecy from the public. The default position should be transparency, not secrecy. Asking why these cables “needed” to be released is like saying that everything should be secret, except that stuff all that bad stuff that we need to know about (as if that system could ever work).

          1. So everything the government thinks about foreing governments should be public? No private opinions? No closely held negotiating policies?

            I don’t think that would work in the real world and I don’t see any other government in the world playing by those rules. That would be like playing poker while your opponents cards are hidden and yours are turned over…

            Sometimes idealism hits the real world and just doesn’t work.

            1. See, here is the consistent theme I see in people who hate on Wikileaks: “oh noes, it will handicap us against the other nations”. Of course, that would be handicapping our ability to lie and control, which I see as a good thing.

              I’m not worried about other nations particularly. We are the 8 trillion pound gorilla in the room, and nobody will be fucking with us.

              Why are you so worried, though?

              1. I think a point is being missed here. Should the government try to keep some information under wraps, at least in the short-term? Maybe. Should the government be able to legally punish or even place prior restraints on private parties that get their hands on such information? Hell, no.

                1. This is more sensible than most comments in this thread.

                2. I agree. I don’t think it should be illegal. I just don’t think it is the right thing to do.

              2. We are not that big. And we will not always be this big. And other nations CAN cause us harm in various ways. I guess you just feel more secure in our awesomeness than I do.

                Our military is top grade, but not that far in front of others (see china’s recent advances.) Economically we are still better than others for the most part, but that could change in my lifetime as well. Maybe really soon if we keep chasing socialism and corporatism.

                Since the world began, it’s been about competition. Tribes of people competing for resources and wealth. It’s still that way, just with bigger tribes. It’s a cruel world and pacifists usually end up dead or ruined.

                1. You’re so right, globalism IS a myth!

          2. The old presumption of guilt, eh?

            Why wouldn’t we assume that you’ve got some unsavory–possibly unethical–things in your private life? Most people break the law in some form another with some regularity. Maybe we should leak your tax information?

            Maybe Wikileaks is really the irrepressibly talkative little kid watching a poker game that just can’t help but reveal players’ cards? Maybe this is interesting to people lounging around the game, but it has real implications for those playing the game.

            Maybe they should grab the kid by the scruff of his neck and throw him out of the house?

    2. I was writing my 3:15 at the time you posted this. I concur completely.

    3. Spying in the UN might not be technically criminal, but it is in violation of treaty.

      1. I doubt you could find a single delegation to the UN that doesn’t engage in “spying” of some sort.

    4. I think WikiLeaks is way more defendable than the MSM who should be doing the job that Assange is doing. If they disagree with Assange about which information should be published or held back then they need to get into the game themselves and not armchair quarterback.

    5. Are you kidding?

      Perhaps you missed the part where Hillary Clinton signed an order for U.S. officials to steal credit card numbers and other information from foreign diplomats. Or the one that shows how American officials are lying about their (supposed lack of) involvement in Yemeni air strikes.

      There are all sorts of people I would like to see prosecuted based on the leaks.

      And, yes, I also believe that the government should have no secrets. This is supposed to be a democracy (or republic), is it not? How can you exercise democratic accountability over secret policies? If we need to alter our foreign policy in order to reflect this, so be it. I’m not willing to throw accountability out the window just so we can lie about air strikes in Yemen.

      Like Spur above, I also recommend Glenn Greenwald’s recent pieces in defense of WikiLeaks:
      http://www.salon.com/news/opin…..index.html

  3. I think “frenemy” is my new favorite word.

  4. Wikileaks did itself no favors with its latest release of diplomatic messages. From my (admittedly limited) understanding of the content, nothing surprising, scandalous or illegal was exposed. In other words, it was entirely gratuitous and only damaged the US’s ability to engage in diplomacy for fear of one’s correspondence being exposed.

    If Assange and Wikileaks can find something worth exposing – illegality, bold-faced lies of a substantive nature, etc. – then they might find a bit more support and less persecution at the hands of governments.

    1. Exactly. You’re only a whistleblower if you are outing something that serves a public good.

      I’m no fan on big gov, Hillary, Obama, or their predacessors, but that doesn’t mean I want to undermine their efforts at foreign policy.

        1. I don’t hate ‘authority’. That’s a childish reaction.

          I don’t hate the government, I hate it when government does something it shouldn’t. I don’t hate cops, I hate it when cops abuse their authority. I don’t hate my boss, I hate it when he’s an ass.

          I don’t like Obama. I don’t like Hillary. It would be easy for me to jump on the WikiBandwagon and root against them. But I just don’t believe that everything the government does and thinks (especially when related to foreign policy) should be public.

          1. No one said you “hated authority”, jus the opposite. You want an authority to decide what secrets should be kept.

            WikiLeaks’ primary purpose is to make information available to everyone. Each one of us can make our own judgments as to what should be done with that information, if anything, and what course of action might be indicated or not. But the kind of complaint conveyed by [FleeingCali] is precisely the issue I previously addressed: the complaint is that providing vast amounts of information freely to everyone isn’t a good idea and might even be a very bad idea — unless a particular outcome can be assured.

            I will state the conclusion plainly: this completely misses what is most fundamental about WikiLeaks and why its work challenges established authority so profoundly. [FleeingCali] may want authority to prevent rather than enable further war — but he still wants some authority to guarantee the result he prefers.

            1. Wikileaks ideals may sound swell, but in reality they only have access to and release some information (and mostly american it seems.)

              Here’s an idea, why don’t you reveal all of your information to everyone? “Everyone” includes any business competitors if you have any, your friends, family, teachers, bosses, etc.

              Everyone knowing everything sounds great until you think it through. Having every government in the world have access to what our state department thinks about them or issues involving them is a terrible idea.

              1. I don’t give a f**k about Wikileaks’ ideals any more than I give a f**k about the NYTs’ ideals or FOX News’ ideals. They are a source of information.

                “Here’s an idea, why don’t you reveal all of your information to everyone? “Everyone” includes any business competitors if you have any, your friends, family, teachers, bosses, etc.”

                If I forcefully took money from business competitors, friends, family and teachers and used that money to commit acts of aggression against people both domestically and internationally then, yes, I guess I shouldn’t keep secrets from those people. But, since I’m not a sociopath that wants to force my will on others, your analogy doesn’t apply and is quite weak.

                It’s obvious (pdf)

    2. Then you haven’t been paying attention. Go back to sleep.

      So far, 1,344 cables out of 251,287 have been released (less than 1%).

      Since you’re not “good at the internet”, I’ll start you off…

      Wikileaks Cables Show Suppression of Torture Investigations

      Cables Reveal Background of Pro-Dictator U.S. Policy

      1. I, for one, am completely shocked by the revelation that the United States government has given aid to dictators.

        1. So, you agree with Jeffersonian that someone should keep this info from you? Or did you just want me to know that you’re not as asleep (or naive) as he/she?

          1. Of the 4 links you posted (I checked them out of courtesy) one of them (contractors involved in the boy sex party that afghans were prosecuted for) probably rises to something that should be released in my opinion.

            But let’s stipulate that all 4 of these qualify. My point is that targeted leaks (whistleblowing) = good thing. Document dumps of items that show no wrongdoing = bad thing.

            I don’t like wikileaks because apparently it doesn’t distinguish between these and thinks NOTHING should be secret, and everything should be public.

            1. I understand your point. That’s why I linked the blog post Arthur wrote addressing your opinion. Arthur and I have a different opinion.

            2. I agree.

            3. You don’t think the one about US support for brutal Central Asian dictators is relevant? I agree with Kolohe that it’s not surprising. However, I would exposing the hypocrisy of agencies that claim to be supporting freedom is not only a good thing, but damned necessary.

              1. I guess I’m just too old and jaded to be an idealist.

                I ASSUME that our country does business with bad people to advance our larger interests.

                In real life there’s nobody wearing white hats. I expect american foreign policy to advance american interests, sometimes at the expense of non-americans.

                1. I guess I’m just too old and jaded to be an idealist.

                  I ASSUME that our country does business with bad people to advance our larger interests.

                  In real life there’s nobody wearing white hats. I expect american foreign policy to advance american interests, sometimes at the expense of non-americans.

                  And at what point do we question if the above actions actually harm our “interests”? Too many people are guilty of ignoring the antecedant and viewing the world as though circumstances today have little correlation to actions the U.S. has done in the past. “Muslims attacked us cause they hate our freedoms!” No consideration of our history of intervention into the region (outside of the nebulous “national interests” argument). Even those who consider such history, typically shrug it off and argue that the reprisal against U.S. actions shows why we need to continue intervening.

                  1. That’s a good question. And also HOW do we question it? There’s always the possibility that covert action or diplomatic idiocy will harm our interests both in the short and long term. Short of better congressional oversight and use of checks and balances, I don’t know what the answer is. But I don’t think releasing everything to everyone is a good idea.

                2. Too old to be an idealist?

                  “I ASSUME that our country does business with bad people to advance our larger interests.”

                  Now that’s some idealism. Whose larger interests are they really advancing? I don’t know but if you trust them to do that for you, you’ve put far more faith in government than they’ve earned. I assume you also trust them to pass legislation that advances our larger interests? How big of you.

                3. Too old to be an idealist?

                  “I ASSUME that our country does business with bad people to advance our larger interests.”

                  Now that’s some idealism. Whose larger interests are they really advancing? I don’t know but if you trust them to do that for you, you’ve put far more faith in government than they’ve earned. I assume you also trust them to pass legislation that advances our larger interests? How big of you.

            4. why they would release meaningless cables…

              http://zunguzungu.wordpress.co…..onspiracy-“to-destroy-this-invisible-government”/#

          2. How are things better now???

      2. If there’s something illegal, etc. in the remaining messages, then fine, I’m okay with that. But Assange, as I said, did himself no favors by releasing the first batch.

        As far as “pro-dictator,” eh. You have to ask the question, “As opposed to what?”

        1. Um… non-dictators? Perhaps we could start fighting for what this country was supposed to be about from the beginning – freedom.

          Naive, I know.

          1. As opposed to someone worse, for instance.

            I couldn’t agree more that, for instance, the Sauds are a loathsome bunch of thieves. Does that mean we should withdraw support from them? Break diplomatic relations? Refuse to sell them military hardware?

            What about when one considers what the alternative is?

            Saudi Arabia is the perfect example of why diplomatic cables need to remain private.

            1. You mean, some people who are openly hostile to us, rather than supporting terrorists, and the fanatical vision of Islam that helps foment them, on the sly?

              1. You don’t seem to understand the Sauds’ predicament. Sure, they give wads of cash to the nutball imams, but it’s not to go wage jihad on the infidel, but to keep them from slitting the throats of the Saud family whom, it should be noted, they loathe almost as much as they do the Jews.

                So yes, those Saudis. Do you prefer to see the jihad-crazed imams with trillions of dollars in oil pelf in their quivering little hands?

                1. You have no clue about what you are talking about. The Sauds created this monster from the very first day they setup shop. The kingom was an alliance between Al Saud and Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdulwahab (Hint: that last name is what gave the name to wahabism) They even inter-married to strengthen the alliance.

        2. Given your handle, I would expect you to be a little more skeptical of “foreign entanglements.”

          1. That was George Washington.

            Jefferson was very much the internationalist. Do you think for a moment that he made each and every one of his letters to the French court public? How long do you think he would have lasted in Paris? (Express your answer in milliseconds, please).

  5. If you want people to watch it, you shouldn’t tell them it’s produced by Moynihan. Judging by Spur’s comment, it’s as predictable as anything else Moynihan works on. I guess we’ve gotten to a point where we have to start using the phrase “classical libertarian” to draw a distinction between libertarians that are libertarians for ethical reasons (non-aggression) and those that are part-libertarian (Moynihan, McArdle, etc.) for utilitarian reasons.

  6. The problem is that all these “experts” have this unspoken principle that diplomacy has to be kept secret in order to function. This is a dumb idea that not many people have been able to explain or explicitly defend. There is no reason why the government should be keeping any secrets from its so-called masters, the citizens. Here’s my principle: If the government is doing something that requires secrecy, it shouldn’t be doing it.

    1. But then they couldn’t do things like overthrow the Guatemalan government or conduct the Bay of Pigs!

      1. If the CIA can’t do stuff we don’t know about, how are they supposed to do stuff we don’t know about?!? Tell me that, bitches?

        1. That’s funny, but do you really think we should know everything the CIA does? We had covert operations as far back as pre-revolutionary war, and at just about every point in history since then. It would be better just to argue that we shouldn’t have a CIA and that we should be open and honest with all other nations. After all, I’m sure they are all open and honest with us.

          1. Are we at war with a country? Even undeclared, like in Afghanistan, or Iraq? I will agree releasing the order of battle (e.g., troop formations and dispositions) is a treacherous act. And even I understand the criticism of releasing the names of Afghanis who have assisted our troops (regardless of whether we should be there.)

            Short of that, the rest is bullshit. What’s the phrase that gives the power-hungry such a hard-on? “If you haven’t done anything wrong, what are you afraid of?”

          2. I don’t mean to insult you, Fleeing Cali, but I think you’re wrong. I don’t think secrecy is necessary for 99% of what the government should be doing.

            And as far as the CIA is concerned, I honestly doubt they have ever achieved anything of relevance to assist this country.

            These are the same jackholes who said in the late 80’s that the USSR’s economy would be growing at 5% a year for the foreseeable future. These are the same idiots who first armed Ho Chi Minh and the mujahadeen(!) What did those “pragmatic” choices ultimately cost this country?

            1. No insult taken and if I’m wrong, it won’t be the first time in my life…

              When this latest document dump began, I initially felt a little glee. I’m not crazy about our foreign policy over the last 15+ years and I have no love for the current administration. So it would be easy for me to support WIkileaks in this. But I just don’t like the idea of the government (even one I don’t agree with) being undercut by a third party in dealing with the world. I’m not a team red/team blue guy, but I am an American/not-american guy. (does that mean I’m a TEAM AMERICA! guy? 😉

              1. In other words, you don’t have faith that the US can take it on the chin? Shit man, our government must be one hell of a paper tiger.

    2. You must be a real hit at family functions. Do you announce everyone’s dirty secrets at the dinner table, on principle? Why should diplomacy not require at least as much discretion as you would expect in that circumstance? Diplomacy and secrets have gone hand-in-hand since diplomacy was invented. I just don’t think as “bosses” of the government we are entitled to all of its information. Are we not allowed to pay for a functioning diplomatic corps, which requires some amount of discretion to do its job properly?

      1. Yes, secrets can be good and necessary. A synonym of diplomacy is tact. Tact = “a keen sense of what to do or say in order to maintain good relations with others or avoid offense” Diplomacy is about NOT saying what you really think sometimes. And we are taking private thoughts/opinions of diplomats and making them public.

      2. My family doesn’t claim the right to oppress others, to interfere with the lives of others, to imprison others, or to go to war with others.

        Hardly surprising that you’re when it comes to power, you’re a bootlicking little fucking toady. Why don’t you go to Central Asia and kiss the asses of the dictators putting people to death by torture for the crime of speaking their minds.

        Fucking fascist.

        1. Why just central asia? There’s plenty of places in the world where dictators are killing people There are plenty of places in the world where people are starving and dying of disease. Call me inhuman, but I don’t stay awake at night thinking about them.

          Maybe we should send the army over to free all of these people?

          1. No, but we shouldn’t support them, either.

          2. Yes, the US should send armies to free these people, uproot the non-libertarian aspects of their cultures and establish a libertarian legal system, even a libertarian-leaning dictatorship* if necessary.

            *don’t laugh, it not a contradiction in terms. Democracy is incompatible with libertarianism; especially if one’s culture is decidedly non-libertarian.

            1. Dude, does it hurt to hold both of those opinions at the same time? ‘Cause it would mine, ya know, if I were a hypocrite.

      3. I’m so glad when little Tony comes to me with his curiosities and questions. Come and sit on my knee little man and I will tell you all about life.

        You must be a real hit at family functions. Do you announce everyone’s dirty secrets at the dinner table, on principle?

        Haha, what does this have to do with what the government, our civil servants, should be doing on the job? The government doesn’t have a right to keep secret from me what it does with my money. You’re so cute when you get all confused like this.

        Why should diplomacy not require at least as much discretion as you would expect in that circumstance? Diplomacy and secrets have gone hand-in-hand since diplomacy was invented.

        Theft and murder have existed for even longer, should we sanction those activities too? Really, why does diplomacy require secrecy? If it does, that means that it requires the government to hide things from us and/or lie to us. Don’t you think you should be asking why instead of just accepting it?

        I just don’t think as “bosses” of the government we are entitled to all of its information.

        Of course we should! As the government’s bosses, we are entitled to know everything that it does with the company resources.

        Are we not allowed to pay for a functioning diplomatic corps, which requires some amount of discretion to do its job properly?

        Huh? I don’t think its a question of “allowed,” I think its downright impossible for you to consent to paying for something that by definition you don’t know about. In order to consent to paying for those services, we have to KNOW WHAT THEY ARE.

        1. So heller according to you, not even troop deployment information, the identities of secret agents, or even the identities of people in the witness protection program are properly kept secret, since we get to know everything our government does.

          1. Troop deployment movements: You mean like an offensive war? Is it a justified war (Is any offensive war justified?)? Context!

            Secret agents: Secret agent man! Why do we need secret agents Tony? Seriously think!

            Witness protection program: You mean not disclosing the secrets of someone who ISN’T in the government? One of these things is not like the others…

            Come on, you can answer your own questions if you take a little more time to think about why we have these things instead of just shouting them out.

            1. Why do we need secret agents. Hmm. Because, contrary to what seems to be the understanding of Wikileaks cultists, the USA isn’t the only country doing bad things out there.

              It’s so curious… the sort of radical unexceptionalism being applied to the US, i.e., that it should have no national interest, would only really work in the presence of a world government. Is that what you want? Because otherwise we’re going to have competing interests with other countries.

    3. Can you tell me which country practices this ‘open and honest’ diplomacy you speak of?

      1. I never spoke of “open and honest diplomacy,” so could you ask a direct question?

        1. You said that diplomacy shouldn’t be secret. That, to me, means you think everything should be out in the open (not secret.) I’m curious since you think it’s a misconception that diplomacy should be secret, that maybe you know of someplace in the history of the world where a country was open and honest with it’s dealings with foreign countries.

          1. Haha, so you can’t think of a single example of diplomatic talks that are out in the open, in front of the press and the cameras? How about, the UN? How about when foreign leaders meet and you can read what they said on the news? All those lovely handshake photo ops for the press? Ringing any bells?

            Probably the vast majority of diplomacy goes on out in the open. Then you have to ask, are the Wikileaks cables actually interfering in diplomacy. Most of them are bullshit reports from diplomats and agents stationed in other countries. Why does this stuff have to be secret? Or why does it have to go on at all?

            1. The ‘open’ talks at the UN are not open. They are theatre and don’t represent the internal wishes/goals of the countries talking in many places. You’re confusing what countries say publicly with what they say/think privately.

              1. Heller I admire your idealism, and wish things worked the way you say they do, but I haven’t lived in a world full of honesty, openness, and countries all trying to achieve win-win solutions.

                1. The US has 1000’s of RVs on hundreds of launchers, no one is going to fuck with us on that level if they can avoid it, all it could achieve at best would be mutual annihilation (there is no way that the SSBNs could ALL be taken out). Even the low end estimates of American civilian firearm ownership are in the hundreds of millions, who has the capability to land (at the very least) 10s of millions of troops on our shores? There are a sufficient number of chemists (see you local high school) who can make HE of some kind, which (shaped charge people!) means not even armored units would be safe.

                  SO WHO IN THE FUCK ARE YOU AFRAID OF?!?!?

      2. I never spoke of “open and honest diplomacy,” so could you ask a direct question?

    4. Some of the Wikileaks cables make my point.

      The Saudis are relatively pro-American and work with us against Islamist radicals, Iran and other regimes and groups that seek to do harm to America and Americans. Yet they have to maintain a different public posture for domestic religious and political reasons, namely to keep their throats from getting cut by the lunatic imams in their nation.

      Exposure that they are, privately, working with us on thwarting Iran’s nuclear program, I am certain, did not go over well there, nor would exposure of their efforts to resolve the Palestinian issue.

      Do we really want to destabilize Saudi Arabia through leaking of these cables and possibly put in power a regime there that would make Osama bin Laden look like Mother Theresa?

      1. Mother Theresa was a sadistic bitch, so maybe a different analogy is in order.

        1. Fine, pick a true humanitarian on your own and answer the question.

          1. They helped create those fucking radicals through their support of Wahhabi Islamic “leaning centers.” Now they are supporting us because they know we are the only thing standing between them and their destruction at the hands of the radicals they created.

            And honestly, how can they really help us stop Iran’s nuclear program? Short of going to war with Iran themselves? (And almost surely getting their asses handed to them).

            1. The Wahhabis date back to the 1700s, BP. The current Sauds didn’t create them, but they do pay them off to keep them from urging their flocks to bump off the Sauds. That does include the Wahhabist “learning centers.”

              Saudi Arabia can provide intel, coordination with other Arab states, local knowledge, operatives, etc. Should all of that be exposed in open communications? I think the question answers itself.

              Grow up, folks.

              1. The founding of the Saudi kingdom was an alliance between al saud and Mohammad bin Abdulwahhab. See here

                Although the region in which the country stands today has an ancient history, the emergence of the Saudi dynasty began in central Arabia in 1744. That year, Muhammad ibn Saud, the ruler of the town of Ad-Dir’iyyah near Riyadh, joined forces with a well-known Islamic scholar and Imam, Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab,

  7. My point is that targeted leaks (whistleblowing) = good thing.

    As long, one suspects, as you agree with the whistleblower that the subject of the leak is corrupt/criminal/should be stopped. That’s not an easy topic to get a consensus on.

    Document dumps of items that show no wrongdoing = bad thing.

    But, if the documents are so harmless, why not release them?

    Oh, I know, because it might embarrass/complicate the doings of our State Department. Given what State seems to spend most of its energies on, I remain to be convinced that is such a bad thing. I think we’re back at “hard to get a consensus on.”

    1. I must not be making my point clearly enough.

      I am not against selected leaking of documents. I am against the wholesale leaking of thousands of documents, many of which do nothing but maybe cause embarrassment. I’m not sure what sort of business you are involved in, but try to imagine that your competition/opponent gets to read the internal though processes and opinions that you have about them. Would that be a good thing?

      1. It has me quite conflicted that I am indirectly supporting the Obama administration, and at the same time I am agreeing with Tony. But I really do think that not everything in the world needs to be public. Maybe that’s because I have a pre-facebook/twitter brain.

      2. I am not against selected leaking of documents.

        We can’t even begin to discuss this unless we know:

        Selected by whom? According to what criteria?

      3. I’m not sure what sort of business you are involved in, but try to imagine . . . .

        I don’t work for the government, so this is an apples and oranges question as far as I’m concerned. The question of “what privately owned documents can and should be kept confidential?” is completely different from “what government documents can and should be kept confidential?”.

        The opposition to Wikileaks seems to fall into two camps:

        (1) No one should ever release any document unless and until the government wants it released, and

        (2) Wikileaks should be shut down because I would run it differently if I were in charge.

        1. I don’t believe that wikileaks should be shut down, I just think what they are doing is wrong, and possibly harmful. The burden here falls on the government to protect secrets a bit better if it truly wants to keep them secret.

          In my mind, governments are competing ‘companies’. So to me it’s natural for me to want ‘my’ company to have it’s secrets from other competitors. If I worked for Microsoft, I would not want Google to have inside information about my company. Since I’m an american I don’t want the world to have inside information about us.

          I think the original intention of congressional oversight (especially in intelligence/foreign relations) was to allow an smaller, elected group of americans check in on State, CIA, etc because of the realization that some things needed to be kept secret from other countries.

          I agree that TOO many things are classified. Long ago in the navy I always thought some of the ‘Secret’ and especially ‘Confidential’ material was ridiculous (you could get the information from the news) but I also accepted that I couldn’t be a one-man truth squad who determined that for myself.

      4. “I’m not sure what sort of business you are involved in, but try to imagine that your competition/opponent gets to read the internal though processes and opinions that you have about them. Would that be a good thing?”

        Works for linux. I mean it was such a great model, that google and apple started to integrate the idea into their platforms.

        1. @Yone +10

    2. Whistleblower status is a special protection offered to people who engage in acts that are otherwise illegal or at least in breach of contract, in order to encourage the uncovering of real wrongdoing. You aren’t a whistleblower if you indiscriminately dump secret information.

      I must be careful or the Greenwaldians will attack me: Wikileaks has not released all of the cables. But most of what has been released doesn’t really rise to the level of whistleblower-worthy wrongdoing.

  8. The documents leaked so far are selective on a number of different policy topics and represent a tiny portion of the documents in wikileaks possession.

  9. It just seems to me that it would be too easy to undermine Wikileaks. Intelligence agency A, B or C releases credible looking nonsense that undermines country X. Y or Z. It’s not like Wikileaks can confirm the authenticity of what it is getting and it would be easy enough for whatever security service to come up with stuff that looks credible that undermines their enemies and put it out there.

    1. Actually Wikileaks is highly aware of this. There was an interview with Assange where that scenario was brought up. He gave an example of a document they received that was damaging to a construction company. They didn’t publish it because they didn’t know anything about the leaker and therefore suspected that it was a fake written by a rival company. They then published it after the leaker contacted them with contextual information that proved the document true.

      1. Heller-that just makes it harder, but certainly far from impossible, for intelligence agencies to use Wikileaks for their own purposes. I think supporters of Wikileaks need to accept that this is going to happen-that some intelligence agency (or, more likely, most of them) is going to figure out how to use Wikileaks to undermine its enemies, and at the same time shoot Wikileaks credibility all to hell.

        1. So what do you want to do about it? Shut Wikileaks down because they might get slipped a fake leak?

          1. Never said anything remotely close to that. But I do think that Wikileaks utility as some sort of whistleblower clearinghouse is…limited and rapidly expiring are the best terms I can think of.

            1. Well we’ll see won’t we?

  10. Cry some more, MSM hacks.

  11. Wiki leaks have served nothing but a problem to most governments. I feel that governments will have to restart trust with each other. although it does serve as some entertainment, it comes at a cost of many serious issues, and goes against what Wiki stands for. It was definitely an anti american act

  12. I haven’t heard so much self serving tosh for a long time. Two quick points.

    Your experts and many other commentators hostile to WikiLeaks labour under the unstated delusion that diplomacy, as it was practiced before the leaks, was somehow working well and furthered American (and Western i.e. my) interests. If you accept this assumption then, yes, the leaks will make things much harder and cause damage. But as we all suspected, and now that it’s out in the open we all know, US diplomacy and foreign affairs have been a disaster area for a very long time, with devastating consequences for the US and its allies.

    I cringe at reading a few of these documents. With my small understanding of some of the peoples, cultures and languages they deal with – something which seems to elude most Americans and their diplomatic representatives – I can actually appreciate why US diplomacy has been such an abysmal failure since before the Vietnam war.

    The second point is in some ways even more important. The illusion of American competence, the “can do” we hear so much about, has now been comprehensively shattered – if it hasn’t already been done so by the litany of self-inflicted disasters and missteps of the last decade or so. The most technologically advanced nation on Earth cannot keep some of its most sensitive secrets, secret. It’s almost laughable. If I was a conspiracy theorist I would have to say that no nation on Earth could be so stupid and put it down to a deliberate high level leak the purpose of which will become evident in time. But I don’t believe in conspiracies and I no longer believe in American competence either.

    1. Pretentious European Troll is Pretentious..

      1. That’s five words Sy. Good! Keep on trying. Maybe you’ll able to put together a coherent English sentence one day.

      2. As for the “European” bit: you are only about 10,000 miles out!

    2. Agreed

      1. @Joe i met – Sy seems to be lost…..

  13. The most amazing thing I learned from the whole Wikileaks story was about Assange being accused of rape. It seems that in Sweden it’s illegal to have sex unless you use a rubber! I guess that’s what what you get with Socialism.

  14. I feel as though I’ve missed something so please excuse my possible ignorance in the following —

    The anti-Wiki point seems to be that the cablegate data-dumb will hinder the State Dept from working behind closed doors as efficiently and thus will harm their ability to work. Correct?

    Since when does the State Dept work on behalf of the US people?

    I know they work for the government, but the government is not the people.

    I fail to see how Wikileaks can harm we the people when at most it’s shown us that the government lies to us about just about everything.

  15. This piece is very one-sided and non-objective.

    Assange and Wikileaks, have shown and will continue to show that the U.S. National interest far outweighs the human interest.

    How is it that anyone demanding truth from governments is criminal?

    1. The jacket did a better job explaining and defending wikileaks on red eye than Mike’s four friends and ‘experts’

  16. Before wiki leaks it was easier for me to locate an ICBM in the US then it was to find out Putin is like Batman.

    Why again is diplomacy cables more secret then the location of an ICBM?

    On another note it is also easier for me to locate that ICBM then it is to get the voting record of the supreme court on their decision to take or leave a case or for me to get a map form the department of agriculture of lands that are in the Conservation Reserve Program.

  17. To those that would argue that the government should be left alone with their secrets with no one to drop the dime every once in awhile; what do you think would be the current status of Julian’s health right now if this weren’t so highly visible?

    Would our trustworthy government have allowed him to live this long?

  18. As long as I expect my government to provide for the common defense, then I expect it to keep secrets. Even from me.

    Anyone who thinks governments shouldn’t be entitled to keep secrets, or who doesn’t think it should be able to enforce that policy does not believe that their government should be able to provide for the common defense. That’s all there is to it.

    Should our government be as secretive as it is? No. But that doesn’t mean we ought to throw the baby out with the bath water.

    1. If you let the government keep secrets from you, it’s a little hard to regulate what is being kept secret, since it’s secret. You can either have a government where no secrets are tolerated, or you can have a secretive government that runs the very high risk of doing things you don’t want it to do behind your back. I choose the former.

    2. If you let the government keep secrets from you, it’s a little hard to regulate what is being kept secret, since it’s secret. You can either have a government where no secrets are tolerated, or you can have a secretive government that runs the very high risk of doing things you don’t want it to do behind your back. I choose the former.

    3. If it’s Rosemary’s Baby we should.

    4. The job our government does in providing for the common defense is shitty at best.. a complete joke at worst…

  19. i take solace in the fact that wikileaks has started something that authority-lovers will, most likely, not be able to stop.
    i dont like wikileaks, but i am fine with their existence. the outing of afghans and iraqis who helped the us and may become targets now is definitely wrong, but this seems to get overblown because it is the only strong hand the pro-authority figure types can play.

    this whole argument really just comes down to whether or not you feel that our highest level diplomats and gov officials are trustworthy when no one is looking.

  20. When did “Reason” become a less psychotic version of the “Weakly Substandard”? Kochtopus “libertarians” heart murderous Empire. Big surprise.

  21. There is nothing wrong with your internet connection, ladies and gentlemen. You have just seen four mindless, intellectual vegetables telling you everything they know about truth, justice and the American way.

  22. Thanks for reminding me again why I didn’t give money the last donation drive. I’m sure the LvMI will spend my money better than to produce videos defending the state.

  23. Dear Reason. Please fire Moynihan.

  24. Dear Reason,

    Thank you for that wonderful video of “experts” defending the poor underfoot empire. Perhaps the title should have been “Why Wikileaks is a Force for Evil.”

    And as always, kudos on being the shining example of history’s greatest political oxymoron: pro-state libertarianism. Keep up the good work!

    Regards,

  25. Anything that makes the US government or any government look bad is good in my book. Any true libertarian should have fairly close to the same view. If they do not they are simply not libertarians and merely confused. Sorry, Reason, you are libertarian fail. Good luck in your next 40 years as a neo con front. Not.

  26. “tyranny of data points?” It is our responsibility as citizens to know what our government is doing, so we can vote correctly or otherwise redress our grievances. If we are kept in the dark by an elitist govt, then we can only go on what they tell us. Not very reassuring. Data points cannot be tyrannical, only people with power can.

  27. Fake libertarians strike again. These people are anti liberty and shame on you for giving over your forum to them. Yet another example of why I will have nothing to do with Reason, Cato or any of the beltway faux libs, as if I need another example. No principles.

  28. Is eli lake a jewish turd?

  29. How about mbt kisumu sandals this one: there are X driving deaths a year- what % of driving deaths (or serious injuries) involve alcohol, or other intoxicating substances? kisumu 2 People are pretty darn good drivers when they are not impaired.

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