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Can Diplomacy Survive Wikileaks?

Wikileaks has blown open the private communications of American diplomats. Is diplomacy possible without secrets?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton makes a statement on the Wikileaks document release, Nov. 29, 2010. (AP)

Diplomacy has always come with secrecy. The whispered word to the envoy from afar. The parchment tightly rolled, closed with the red wax of the king’s seal. 

Today, in the age of Wikileaks, all seals are off. The most intimate, once-secret correspondence of diplomats is laid out naked for all the world to read. What we’ve learned in these last days is not always pretty.

Some looks like skullduggery. But there is also, clearly, an effort to say frankly in diplomatic cables what leaders need to know about the world. In the age of Wikileaks, is diplomacy possible without secrets?

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. He has served as a senior official in the State and Defense Departments. He’s also a former New York Times foreign correspondent and Pulitzer Prize winner.

Amb. Barbara Bodine, lecturer in public policy and director of the Scholars in the Nation’s Service Initiative at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs. She spent more than 30 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, working primarily on Arabian Peninsula and great Persian Gulf issues. From 1997 to 2001, she served as U.S. Ambassador to Yemen.

Mark Hosenball, longtime investigative journalist formerly of Newsweek and now with Reuters.

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  • cory

    Funny thing is, this is how diplomacy has probably always been handled. The only difference here is that average folks are getting an opportunity to see how it really goes behind closed doors.

    There is something about Wikileaks that I really don’t like. That being said it might actually be a good thing to have this sort of diplomatic rot exposed to the antiseptic light of day. Would it be all bad if we had to deal openly and honestly with each other?

    Finally I’d like to highlight what an embarassment this is to our government. Whatever the reality is, the appearances are of a nation and diplomatic corp that are fooloish and incompetent.

    Leftfield, Wisconsin

  • Beverly


    Only time will tell.

    Time is one thing the Wikileaks criminal will have in abundance. Being in prison will afford him plenty of time for reflection and regret.

    

  • Zeno

    It is not surprising that secrets are for sale in a government where everything is for sale. If the government doesn’t like contractors selling their stupidity to the world, then perhaps they should stop using contractors.

    Before the US government became a >Black operation I would find the leaks upsetting, but now when, even what the president has for breakfast is declared a national security secret, then the American people must rely on such leaks to get a small glimpse of what the government is doing.

    I also think, there is a revenge motive here against American Hegemony and empire. Emotionally and politically, to the world, America has become the new Soviet Union.

  • Zeno

    Can Diplomacy Survive Wikileaks?

    It would seem that Wikileaks may even be helpful to diplomacy: WikiLeaks: Arabs Agree That Iran Is a Threat.

    http://www.aolnews.com/world/article/wikileaks-arabs-agree-with-israel-that-iran-is-a-threat/19736403

    Maybe viewing truth as the ultimate enemy, is the real problem. Why wouldn’t Americans want to know that the whole region is viewing the security risks of terrorism and Iran in the same way?

  • michael

    out of all that yesterday, no mention of the Saudi elite still funding terrorist, Mrs Clinton instructing people to spy on the U.N. officials, U.S. selling bunker buster bombs to israel,the U.S. supporting the PKK and other terrorist groups in northern iraq and the freedom loving terrorist hating U.S. no mention or condemnation of terrorist attacks against Iranian scientist.

    The government keeps saying that everything they do must be secret to protect us yet calls on us yet expect open transparency of it’s citizens and the ability to spy on us.

  • Yar from Somerset, KY

    I have not looked at the documents. It may be a crime to do so. That being said, for those that have, I ask you to think about this information in a different context.
    Are American taxpayers getting their moneys worth out of our diplomatic service workers? Quit focusing on the titillating minutia and look at the whole of the release. Can our people write a report that has value? Are they spending their time productively?
    What changes must be made?
    Every communication should be written as if it will ultimately be in a historical archive. As storage of information gets cheaper every byte is retrievable. This includes voice communication as well. Don’t say it, if it doesn’t add to the working knowledge of the job.

    We have too many middle managers that demand reports just to prove they are doing something, when might be better to say “All Quiet on the Western Front.” (The is the extreme in the other direction.)

    We need our diplomacy, but we need to empower our diplomats to think and not just report. It takes a higher level of training than we are providing, if the leaks reported are any indication of the quality of documents.
    As a taxpayer, I want my money’s worth from these employees.

    I expect each page cost the taxpayer 50 to 100 dollars to produce before they were leaked. Now the cost likely exceeds 1000 dollars per page.
    Better security on who sees the documents won’t make us smarter, better training on what to write may make us more diplomatic.
    Isn’t that the goal?

    Kids in school get a novice, apprentice, proficient or distinguish, on their work. What grade do your guests give our diplomatic corps?

  • http://www.pnart.com peter nelson

    NPR reported yesterday that the leaks contain diplomatic communication dating back to 1966!

    Amid all the hooplah what no one seems to have noted is what a treasure trove this information is to historical research! Historians, professional and amateur, have received a huge Christmas present early this year, and it will provide many more years of fascinating study. For any historical research geek this is the most exciting thing that’s happened ever!

  • Richard in Newton, MA

    Though I’m only begun reading the latest batch of leaks, and the more embarrassing, egg-in-the-face communiques that have thus been highlighted in the press, I’ve found the policy summaries from various foreign embassies to be extremely insightful and helpful without being damaging. For instance, Moscow’s summary citing their DPRK and Chinese contacts as well as their own experts on the country on why North Korea’s needed currency reform, which as many know proved to be an abysmal failure, is a gaze into the conflicts within the DPRK that are never reported here, the Japanese, South Korean or European press. And our own State people cite the “irony” of the DPRK’s ultimate goal to engage and forge closer relations with the US because they regard the US as the “only” guarantor of their security and economic stability.

    How many talking heads have reported this?

    So again, thanks wikileaks!

  • Richard in Newton, MA

    I should have proofread the above before hitting the submit button. And I need more coffee too!

  • peter nelson

    WHERE CAN WE DOWNLOAD THE LEAKS?!

    I went to the Guardian website but their downloads only have the date, time, and other header information, not the body text! The BitTorrent “insurance” file uses a private key and the key isn’t published (assuming the BitTorrent file is even legit – some claim it isn’t).

    ???

  • Richard in Newton, MA

    Peter, what little I’ve read, I accessed via http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/. There, you’ll see “Browse latest releases” links on the left hand column. Admittedly, their website and interface is quite poor and the cablegate page itself often will not load. I’m guessing it’s Gov jamming or my ISP which is often complicit with Gov.

  • http://z15.invisionfree.com/Augusta_Alternative/index.php?act=idx John Randolph Hardison Cain

    I am from Jefferson County in east central Georgia.

    Diplomacy has not been very effective for a long period of time before Wikileaks’ disclosures. U.S. foreign policy needs to be reassessed from top to bottom. Diplomacy has been given a bad name by G.W. Bush and others who seem to think it amounts to telling other nations what to do, calling it diplomacy, and then launching military actions. It is tempting to label most diplomats as little more than ineffectual bureaucrats. They are part of the American Establishment which is invested in maintaining the status quo when we need fundamental change. Both President Obama and Secretary Clinton are Establishment politicians who represent the interests of American corporations. They have not engaged in any paradigm shifts that are required for the world to move beyond war as a means of settling international disputes. It will be interesting to watch U.S. government actions before and after the promised upcoming Wikileak release of a major U.S. bank’s internal documents.

  • Al Dorman

    (Boston, MA)
    I am tired of hearing this story reported by asking officials what their reactions are. Who cares about their feigned outrage? For all we know Bradley Manning is CIA, but anyway it doesn’t matter. Journalists should do analysis on these documents and tell us which ones are important, surprising, etc… and not act ask spokesmen for the state.

  • http://z15.invisionfree.com/Augusta_Alternative/index.php?act=idx John Randolph Hardison Cain from Georgia

    I’ve read that Leslie Gelb was a CIA asset while he worked for the NY Times. I would like to know if this is true. The present Secretary of Defense is a former Director of the CIA. While these are not revelations from Wikileaks, American citizens deserve to be told the truth by our own government. We have been lied to on many occasions. We are skeptical and welcome the sunshine that Wikileaks has shined on government actions that may not be in the best interest of the American people.

  • JP

    One can hope… it’s about time U.S. adventurism came to an end.

  • peter nelson

    @Richard:

    Thanks!!

  • Kyle

    I feel like the purpose of leaking documents is to show humanitarian issues, or the overreach of government. These just show which ambassadors have flaws (all of them), and make the US less likely to receive information from sources who think it will go public. Because of this I do not support what wikileaks is doing. They could have been useful if they were interested in the public good, not in making money from gossip and tarnishing reputations like an international tabloid

  • The original Joshua

    maybe you should be asking: Is our brand of fascism and polic-state style status-qou possible without secrets?

    It is a really dumb question to ask is diplomacy possible without secrets?–on one hand we preach democracy and open-governmnet, and on the other (when it concerns us) we support authoritarianism, torture, illegal wars, crimes against humanity, state-sanctioned murder, etc…

    The ridiculous question obviously implies this show will be about maintaining the criminal status qou and painting wiki-leaks and open-democracy as something insane. One more reason Americans and the mainstream media is clearly a charade–and a harmful lie that serves only to manipulate, control, and oppress people.

    You people in the media are weak. You are appeasers.

    To be fair, these wiki-leaks dont really reveal anything that we didnt all ready know. We know the US gov. is fascist and totalitarian–a farce-controlled by war-mongering monsters. We know that US soldiers rape and torture and murder. We know China doesn’t care much about humanity. We do know that they care a lot about money and power.

  • WINSTON SMITH

    The fact that the leaker was a disgruntled gay man who had been wrongfully bullied and so had an ax to grind certainly calls into question the whole notion of repealing “don’t ask don’t tell”. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of military personnel (as well as most Americans for that matter) still consider homosexuality to be an abnormal, immoral lifestyle choice. Consequently, people are not going to accept it as normal or it should not be forced upon them. I don’t think that we should jeopardize our military and our security by conducting a grand social experiment to force military and others to accept something that they see as morally wrong. And please spare me the incorrect notion that it is the same struggle that other minoritiy groups have gone through in getting accepted. Skin color, ethnicity, gender are simply charactieristics determined at birth with no moral ramifications, whereas most people consider homosexuality to be an immoral lifestyle choice.

  • Brett

    I haven’t viewed any of the documents yet, but on the one hand, when one thinks about diplomacy in the workplace, for example, there are things said behind the scenes and things said in public. Often the most difficult people prompt behind the scenes discussions on how to “handle” them or in dealing with situations involving them, and often the behind the scenes discussions would surely interfere with the best outcome if made public. On the other hand, if we didn’t have such secretive (and what I would consider bordering on corrupt [being kind] ) ways when it comes to dealing with other nations (all in the name of national security, diplomacy, mutual agreements, etc.), leaks such as these would neither be necessary nor shocking to so many, nor would they pose a risk to our security and world reputation.

  • cory

    Is it Joshua, original Joshua, or Famous original Joshua? I’m losing track!

    Leftfield, Wisconsin

  • Brett

    ” I don’t think that we should jeopardize our military and our security by conducting a grand social experiment to force military and others to accept something that they see as morally wrong.”

    Data from other countries’ military where gays serve openly haven’t proven to support your opinions that a military with openly gay personnel would jeopardize security, morale, or any other flimsy arguments levied at this issue.

  • Brett

    cory,
    Now you got me thinkin’ ’bout some Original Ray’s pizza in New York…stop it! ;-)

  • Scott Thompson

    From Calais [pronounced "Cal-us"], Vermont:

    It’s mortifying to have one’s private discussions put out for all the world to see.

    But does it help to tear out our hair over how damaging it all is? The leaks happened. They may be regrettable, but they won’t be undone. The authorities are sure to bolt the barn door after the 250,000 horses are gone, per usual. But do they have the true diplomatic skill to turn a lousy situation to our advantage?

    There are plenty of opportunities on the face of it. Although a lot of foreigners are bound to feel burned and a lot of relationships ruptured, it’s not unheard of for some relationships to grow closer and move to a higher level after a dose of brutal honesty for one side and of humiliation for ourselves.

    And I agree with those who see great educational potential in the leaks. Most of us have no idea what diplomats really do. For someone accustomed to the dull, trite, and evasive stuff that normally gets doled out to the public, the big surprise is how incisive, literate, perceptive, and even wise these cables can be. And from a government agency! Who would have guessed? Despite the embarrassment, there’s something to be proud of, and a lot we can learn from.

  • Brett

    “…But do they have the true diplomatic skill to turn a lousy situation to our advantage?”

    Ah, therein lies the rub!

  • cory

    I don’t think it is fair to assume that our diplomatic dirty laundry is any stinkier than anyone else’s. I imagine nations not being much different than individuals in that honest and straightforward ones are hard to come by. I also imagine it has always been this bad or even worse. Think about Metternich’s peace in the 19th century or the behind the scenes dealing with the treaty of Versailles. Diplomacy has always been and will always be a dirty business. This wikileaks business just gives us a cloudy window into the seldom seen back room of diplomacy.

    Leftfield, Wisconsin

  • bones

    The First Amendment was designed specifically to protect this kind of transparency and accountability in government. Assange may be a foreigner, but he’s more in line with the spirit and letter of the U.S. Constitution than any of the politicians and reactionaries who now decry his actions. Shame on the government for being so quick to defend and attempt to justify their infallible secrecy.

  • Brandstad

    Tom,

    Can you talk about the connections between Wikileaks and George Soros? It appears to be funded and the founder of Wikileaks also uses a lawyer connected to George Soros.

  • John

    Robert Hanssen was heterosexual. Should they be banned too? He was also a very religious Catholic. Ban them too?

  • Brandstad

    In an exclusive interview with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange reportedly told Forbes that leaked classified documents from the U.S. State Department and Pentagon are “just the beginning.”

    Forbes reports that early next year, Assange claims that a major American bank will “suddenly find itself turned inside out.”

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/wikileaks-next-target-wall-street/

    Is Wikileaks trying to crash the US economy and discredit our government? I think YES

    And because of this the progressives won’t let it be shut down since it is doing their work.

  • http://brainmindinst.blogspot.com Peter Melzer

    The leaked information paints such a dismal and disappointing picture of a foreign policy that appears to exhaust itself mainly in shallow assessments and perilous misunderstandings of other cultures. No wonder so many U.S. foreign policy initiatives find no true partners.

  • Beverly

    The actions of Wikileaks has nothing to do with transparency, only stupidity.

    How are they making the world a safer place for anyone?

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Leslie Gelb is depicting massive damage from the leaks, and I’m seeing a parallel between the threats from weapons of mass destruction and the threats from weapons of mass leaking. Both have new dimensions of possibility in the 21st century. There are suitcase bombs, whether biological or nuclear. And there are “suitcase” leaks, given the internet and so on.
    Peter, I too noted that 1966 was given by NPR as the date of the first piece in the State Department dump. And I’m wondering what sort of source that is currently leaking out would ALSO be leaking 1966 data.
    But there seems something inevitable about greater transparency. It seems to me preferable to total Black Box, which was my view of Soviet government by chill-freeze. There has to be a middle ground, but I think we have a sort of guarantee that Black Box tyranny won’t come back.

  • Nancy

    This is Democracy!
    In order to have a valid debate you need to have the unvarnished information.
    Unfortunately here in the US and around the world information is subverted, spun, and created for ones (Governments) best interest.
    Leslie said the papers show the US to be a evil player around the world.
    Americans don’t want to be an EVIL player in the world. Things have been done in the name of AMERICAN DEMOCRACY and we’ve paid a hefty price.
    I think WIKI LEAKS is doing a public service.
    This is the only path to true DEMOCRACY!

  • Jesse Woellhof

    Danbury, Connecticut

    The target of these leaks is the reckless U.S. Intelligence apparatus that allowed them to occur and the destructive foreign policies that encouraged them to occur. From reports on how and why Bradley Manning leaked this stuff, these targets become very clear.

  • Martin in Arlington MA

    The digital era has seen the steady erosion of the privacy of citizens (e-mail snooping, no knock search warrants, TSA body scanners, etc). So I say turnabout is fair play and let governments share the same feeling of vulnerability as their citizens.

    I am also annoyed with the media drumbeat against Wikileaks. Imagine if the main stream media had been as aggressive in investigating the Bush administrations claims of WMD before the Iraq war. Instead the New York Times was credulous about the WMD claims and helped the Bush administration drum up war fever.

  • http://cyberfumes.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    The more open that public servants have to be, the better. It’s the secrets tha are causing us so much stress. Where have the diplomats gotten us so far? An environment of fear where you can’t even go outside unless all of your papers are in order? Great!

    More openness of information is part of Obama’s campaign that really made me excited to vote for him, because my generation knows the great benefit of free open sharing, because we all pirate stuff online. It’s what happens when everything is overpriced.

    Honest politicians should have nothinf to fear from these leaks. As for everyone else it might be a different story. The guests keep saying that these diplo-tweets don’t really say anything in line with Asange’s goals. I don’t think that they realize it was just a lock of hair in a hostage situation.

  • Rex

    If everyone is transparent, countries that keep their secrets will have the power.

    Washington, DC

  • Dan

    Please treat callers like the woman who just spoke with greater derision. That call was painfully stupid.

    -Dan
    Boston, MA

  • Bob Saccamanno

    I’m really getting tired of this line of argument by our former government officials. There’s a bit of wiff of “CYA” in their line of argument. Yes, the leaks are damaging. But really the story isn’t all about wikileaks. It’s about the trade-off which enables and constrains the flow of intelligence in our system, and how that trade off is implemented. After the Robert Hansen fiasco, the received wisdom in Washington and New York was “geez, it’s a good thing FBI and CIA don’t over-share or Hansen would have buried more bodies and the evidence against him”. After 9-11 the mantra became the opposite: “more sharing is needed.” This particular episode flows from over-learning the lessons from the first gulf war where lots of data collected by Signals intelligence never reached the field. (See James Bamford’s book The Shadow Factory for details.) A conscious decision was made to push more data down the chain of command. But it was done in a sloppy, and now we see clearly an unconscionable manner. They’re going to punish the foolish, naive low ranking individual who should never have had access to this stuff in the first place. They’re going to go after wikileaks for its data dump. But to what extent will they go after the upper echelon people (people at the level your guests were at) who are just as responsible by being irresponsible in how the policy was planned and implemented?

  • fredericc

    The world is getting a little flatter, huh?

  • JP

    Yeah, let’s criminalize openness…

    …that way, if and when we eventually find ourselves under a Totalitarian regime, they’ll have all the protection they need and the Public will have NO RECOURSE!

  • Brandstad

    Wikileaks is only trying to discredit the US government in order to promote a French style revolution.

    The document dumps have done nothing to make us safer and you could easily say they have done the opposite since they discredit the US government.

    Iowa

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    When did Asange begin this Wikileaks? If Gelb is right that he is trying to undermine American foreign policy (I don’t think he said “diplomacy” but a wider “goal”), then it seems to me it would have been needed and appropriate about the time Bush launched the various adventures that people like me still think might have more to do with the global-size oil-dreams of Texan types than the actual roots of al-Kaida threats. Those were the days when misinformation about yellow cake in Iraq and about — that was when Abu Ghraib was popping up on the net. The USA needed a major course correction. I believe we EVENTUALLY did it by vote. But Asange is 10 years too late.

  • john smith

    It is typical of government radio to lead off with two professional government spin artists who do the usual pretense that they are anlalysts when they do nothing but spin the US position on everything. In any case, a few points in rebuttal: First, the leakers did NOT betray any confidences. They were not in any agreement with the government of any country. It is the US government that has these secret agreements with the aorst dictators in the world.

    Second, the US is involved in secret deals with the repressive governments of the world and those governments, already tremendously unpopular in their own countries, suffer because they are revealed to be lying to their own countires and engaging in murderous actions that their own countries are opposed to, then clearly that should be revealed.

    Third, clearly american citizens have every right to know what exactly their govenrment is really doing and why.

  • Brandstad

    JP,

    Will you say the same when your medical records are leaked on the net? and published in your local paper?

  • Ren Knopf

    Asking for open and honest discussions is not always the same as asking “what do you really think?” Societal customs arose to protect bystanders from this latter query. These disclosures do look to exhibit real thoughts, but in private. We’ve all personally experienced, I dare say, the aftermath of someone’s blunt expression of their thoughts. Dirty laundry is dirty laundry, be it yours or a nations. However flawed one sees the process, the frosty result of such public disclosure on an international level could offset global warming. That’s why it is called diplomacy.
    Ren Knopf – Framingham, MA

  • TinFoil

    It is funny to me to hear representatives of the press first decry the horrible irresponsibility of WikiLeaks and then hungrily proceed to feast upon the contents of its leaks. I have so far not heard any of your guests concede that they cannot point to a single negative consequence of any of the previous Wiki Leaks. Nor have I heard them admit that Wikileaks goes through any kind of screening process at all. My understanding is that these diplomatic cables are not highly classified so there are probably thousands of Government employees who have access to them. The question I have is why hasn’t the press reported on this information before now?

  • Patrick Lowell, Ma

    Wikileaks did not leak this information, wikileaks just guaranteed the leaker’s anonymity, and verified the information was real. As messy as this is, Transparency is important for any democracy. As a citizen, I am responsible for government actions if I support them or not. I welcome any and all leaks with nervousness, but open arms. As disruptive and embarrassing as they are, the visibility is necessary.

  • http://tombstone001.blogspot.com Mohammed N. Razavi, Daleville, AL

    Democracy, in this world is not well served, and neither are we, when in the name of economics only.
    We in public should know why and when our government, in our name is dealing with crooks, thieves, murderers and the rapists when it suits our purpose.
    And when we are bad mouthing bribery and corruption while we ourselves are making deals with those who will sell their honor, their people their country and may be their ownmotther for a few dollars or may be a green card.

    How clean we can consider our selves, in the company of pigs ( no disrespect to the pigs intended)

  • Webb Nichols

    Watertown, Ma

    If there was more transparency in business there would be less exploitation, if there was more transparency in personal relationships there would be less discord and more growth and harmony and if there was more transparency in relations between governments there would be less aggression, suffering and killing and more cooperation, sharing of resources and peace.

    People can be very clear, analytical and informative without anecdotal opinions, slander or adhominem attacks.

    Language can be a very precise tool conveying intention and insight when the user is willing to remove himself from the message.

  • larry rocha

    the cables reveal a US government that is arrogant, self-serving and operates around the world with a myopic sense of entitlement. the world is sick of this.

    larry rocha
    berlin, germany

  • Agnostic

    Having your diplomats spy at the UN on their counterparts or the Bush administration pressuring Germany not to prosecute CIA officers responsible for the kidnapping, extraordinary rendition and torture of German national Khaled El-Masri is gratuitous? There is more here than confidences being betrayed. Open your eyes, America.

    Toronto, Canada

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Nathan Hale: “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

    Asange accused of stealing secrets: “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my planet.”

    Some things are definitely worth giving everything you’ve got for. The State Department is right to go after Asange; and Asange has his reasons, which I definitely respect. I don’t see it either/or.

  • Frank Ryan

    It seems poetic justice that the two administrations which have authorized the most reckless disregard for its own citizens’ personal liberties and privacy rights (e.g. Patriot Act), be subject to a collective petard hoisting by what? INFORMATION.

    Frank Ryan, member, WNED Buffalo, NY

  • Donald Moniak

    I have a few questions and comments:

    1. Now that they are public, were these documents properly classified?

    2. This appears to be huge bulk download of documents. What percentage of the government’s intranet library does it represent?

    3. How did such a bulk download go undetected in a secure network?

    About eight years ago the Department of Energy shut down public access to its “Occurrence Reports” (ORPS) website because of “bulk downloading” of documents.

    Donald Moniak. Aiken, SC

  • Margaret

    I am sorry but the idea of a dump of large amounts of information sounds like an individual who is in service either as military or w/in the government they have committed an act as a traitor. If the party was paid for information then it really is an act of greed/Treason.

    I do question if under Bush/Cheney Homeland Security and Iraq and Afghanistan wars they made information to accessible.Rumsfeld did not play nice with others.

  • Rob (in NY)

    First, I hope the On Point regular crowd had a nice Thanksgiving. Although I find some of the information released interesting, it is definitely harmful to our national security and international relationships. Foreign leaders, particularly in the Middle East among governments that are not directly hostile to the US, (such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, and others) will not be as willing to give candid private counsel to US officials.

  • Bob Saccamanno

    Another question, is there a sense the government will go after individuals trying to download this stuff? If you go onine to the torrent sites like Pirate Bay (which wikileaks uses) there’s a great deal of support for wikileaks as you might expect and discussion of the use of virtual private networks and proxy walls to hide one’s identity. The implicit concern is that the US government will attack the problem using a cyber attack that may impact the computer systems of people downloading these files. A lesser fear would be that the government might go after some individuals sharing the files using the court system. Do your guests find either of these responses likely?

  • pothole

    the government works for us. we have a right and a moral obligation to know what they are doing. Q.E.D.

  • Ayman Amer

    This is not some high schooler sex life. It is people’s life. Governments lie. Our government lie. They do terrible things in our name. Tell your guest thos is not about somebody’s personal or sex life. A lot more serious. It is our trust in our government that requires transparency. People deserve honesty. goreign leaders who betray their people deserve the consequences. Stop defending governments manupilation. everywhere.

  • Brandstad

    larry rocha,

    It is good that the “US government that is arrogant, self-serving and operates around the world with a myopic sense of entitlement” I hope they continue with this because once they intend to serve someone other than the US citizens the government is corrupt and must be changed.

    Would you be pleased if it was revealed that your government attempted to serve another country’s interests over its own citizens?

    IOWA

  • Ren Knopf

    American citizens don’t know what to do with exact knowledge of governmental goings on. I need only offer the recent mid-term elections as evidence. Much too prone to personal opinions, self-servancy and an affinity for facts they cannot support, they sabotage their own welfare. The critical thinking needed to sift even the big chunks is absent. Now imagine this, coupled with our unfettered love of weapons, applied to the international stage. My blood runs cold at the thought. Iraq would be viewed as a bar room brawl in comparison.
    Ren Knopf- Framingham, MA

  • TinFoil

    Ms Leslie Gelb, I’d like to know how you can assign an “intent” to the actions of any other human being.

  • Samantha

    We should ask whether these leaks are a consequence of governments increasing their surveillance on their citizens. Perhaps these leaks should be considered a backlash against warrantless wiretapping and legally dubious searches and seizures?

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Tom just said the leak went “to the New York Times and others,” but last night on Charlie Rose, David Sanger was setting forth that the New York Times had got access through the UK’s The Guardian, and described a chill that came about between the NY Times and Wikileaks. I think Sanger said that there were a larger number of newspapers provided the dump than the previous dump, but the Times was out of the loop this time. They had to finagle. That’s my best recall.

  • M. Roman

    Bravo to WikiLeaks. These documents were not gratuitous nor mere maliciousness. The gatekeepers of information e.g., politicians and diplomats, would like to tell the public so but readers should be able to make up their own minds. Nor was it privileged information. Gathered together the information speaks to the (perhaps irrelevant) nature of modern diplomacy. Diplomats are not in the intelligence business and the revelation that they have been pressed into such service is important. The focus on Assange on his motivations seems to be part of an effort to distract from the revelations themselves and shows the strong resistance of the political establishment to being called to account by the public for whom they work. Diplomacy is surely subtle, but it was not supposed to be conducted without candour.

  • Jon Allen

    Gentlemen,
    Below is a core excerpt from the 1955 Quaker essay:

    Our title, Speak Truth to Power, taken from a charge given to Eighteenth Century Friends, suggests the effort that is made to speak from the deepest insight of the Quaker faith, as this faith is understood by those who prepared this study. We speak to power in three senses:

    To those who hold high places in our national life and bear the terrible responsibility of making decisions for war or peace.
    To the American people who are the final reservoir of power in this country and whose values and expectations set the limits for those who exercise authority.
    To the idea of Power itself, and its impact on Twentieth Century life.
    Our truth is an ancient one: that love endures and overcomes; that hatred destroys; that what is obtained by love is retained, but what is obtained by hatred proves a burden. This truth, fundamental to the position which rejects reliance on the method of war, is ultimately a religious perception, a belief that stands outside of history. Because of this we could not end this study without discussing the relationship between the politics of time with which men are daily concerned and the politics of eternity which they too easily ignore.

    But our main purpose is not to restate the many prophetic expositions of the pacifist position. Beginning with The Sermon on the Mount, the Christian tradition alone has produced a library of enduring religious statements, and the same can be said for the literature of other great faiths. The urgent need is not to preach religious truth, but to show how it is possible and why it is reasonable to give practical expression to it in the great conflict that now divides the world.

    In recent years, outside of theological circles, and infrequently there, there has been little able discussion of the pacifist point of view. Pacifism has been cataloged as the private witness of a small but useful minority, or as the irresponsible action of men who are so overwhelmed with the horror of war that they fail to see that greater evil sometimes exists and that the sacrifices of war may be necessary to turn it back. Whether condemned or in a sense valued, pacifism has been considered irrelevant to the concrete problems of international relations.

    This study attempts to show its relevance. It is focused on the current international crisis. It begins with a survey of the same concrete problems with which any discussion of world affairs must deal. It is concerned with problems of security, the growth of Russian and American power, the challenge to American interests presented by Soviet Communism. It recognizes the existence of evil and the need to resist it actively. It does not see peacemaking as the attempt to reconcile evil with good. It speaks to the problem of inevitable conflict.

  • Britany

    Personally, I would like to know about what my government is saying behind closed doors. I have a right to know about those who are “representing me.”

  • Pancake Rankin in NC

    I giggled until I almost peed about Yar thinking it is a crime to read Wikileaks. Yar is not paid like the Brandaddy and Winston tastes good. When a neutral citizen observer shares such a reaction as Yar’s it shows how chicken little many American citizens really are.

    Reading the foibles of US officials and foreign counterparts also serves as a leveling device. It shows they have no powers of expertise not possessed by your local hair stylist. The wealthy class knows nothing about finance that the single mother doesn’t: They simply have more. It will be like the Sunday funnies to me when Wikileaks turns the big American banks inside out. But we all know what to expect: the same expletives as come from pre-teen boys fighting over a game controller. People get more powerful with secrecy, and that is not productive for the majority. We need a Revolution; French styled or otherwise. It is the powerful who will not surrender ill-gotten gains and illegitimate perogatives without violence. Criminals are criminals despite net worth or forged credentials.

  • http://www.ewayne.org Wayne Abercrombie

    Tantrum? No Secrets?

    Lots of folks (including me) are angry at “the government” – especially with our dysfunctional legislature and the Cheny/Bush debacles, However, the “WikiLeaks” are tantamount to the screaming, kicking, food-throwing kid because they can’t get their way. Ellsburgs’s defense – that they aren’t as bad as Bush. et al, is not worthy of an adult response.
    But the tantrum is working: the WikiLeakers are certainly getting attention….
    And… do any of the writers supporting the leaks open all of their conversations (among friends, family, business associates) to everyone? I seriously doubt it.
    Expose the important stuff, not everything – know what you’re doing.

  • John

    culture of diplomacy is what was exposed, i feel it is disturbing that U.S. diplomats feel comfortable calling leaders that have the ability to cause harm names on one hand and act diplomatic on the other. The leaks represent how childish and irresponsible our ability to conduct foreign policy has become. I think we are at a greater risk by not knowing the actions of elected officials to appoint diplomats that have such little regard to a point they would expose themselves and our security to disengenious negotiations. If Clinton has no problem with double talk then the system is truly broken. Man up, tell the leaders how you feel instead of resulting to childish office gossip, you are negotiationg for peace and the security, act like it.

  • parsley keenan

    Barbara Bodine? come on, Tom, don’t tell me your staff was so lazy that they had to pick the left over in the bin? She’s the moron who did absolute moronic things and put the staff of the U.S. consolate/embassy and the FBI personnel through hell before and after the U.S.S. Cole bombing

  • Sophie

    The Wikileaks dump is not treason, it’s karma. U.S. foreign policy has led us into 2 illegal wars and torture. When soliders reveal what they know no one should be surprised that U.S. foreign policy machine is embarrassed. It’s so hard to manufacture consent when the truth is known.

    Soph

  • Pen

    How do we know that all these leaks are true and not just made up? There’s alot to sift through there.

  • Lenore

    Leaks? The truth? What’s wrong with the truth? If we know that a leader is shooting at the Taliban, that’s good – the’ll know it too (if they don’t already.) Keep it open.

  • David in Medford, Mass.

    First, we need whistle blowers within government to expose corruption, and the contents of this material illustrates a growing corruption within our State Department that must be addressed. We should be thankful someone within the State Department has a conscience.
    Second, this material suggests why our efforts at diplomatic solutions has so often fallen short in recent years. The posturing and power games of our diplomats seem merely petty and spiteful and belie the the public statements of candor and cooperation we fed in the media.

  • Bumstead

    I wholeheartedly agree with Brandstad. We live in a democracy and if our government thinks we need to know something, then it will tell us.

    And as for Mr. Assange trying to destroy our economy with his leaks, he needs to back off and let us do it ourselves. So far, we’re doing a great job without his help.

  • larry rocha

    to IOWA:
    you missed my point or maybe it wasn’t stated clearly enough.
    there is a big, moral difference between a gov’t that is serving itself vs. serving its people.
    the US gov’t is an out-of-control, rapacious machine that needs to take a long, hard, objective look at itself.
    these so-called cable leaks facilitate such.
    yes, karma in action.

  • Beverly

    WINSTON SMITH,

    Your information is inacurate, & very outdated, I’m afraid. Most Americans now know that homosexuality isn’t a lifestyle that ANYONE would choose, & that many gay individuals commit suicide when someone finds out that they’re gay.

    The majority of those in the Military welcome anyone who is openly gay, & will defend their right to fight along with the rest. Every American should be allowed to sacrifice life & limb for their Country, if that’s their choice.

    There are plenty of gays in our Military right now. What difference does it make if they’re “out of the closet” or not?

  • Richard Simone

    Usually Tom you do a good job but today’s show was a bust! Following the logic of your guests, we (the American people)should have never heard about the Tillman friendly-fire cover-up (and hero-making), Abu Grabe, the destroying of the CIA’s interrogation tapes, Black Prisons, etc., etc., With at least 150 overseas bases, undeclared wars in Yemen and Somalia, covert ops all over the place, spying (by so-called diplomats) on UN officers, including stool collecting, and so on,I, for one, think the American people have every right to as much information about what is done in our name as can be pried loose no matter how it is obtained.

  • peter nelson

    How are they making the world a safer place for anyone?

    Well, just to give you an example, the earlier Wikileaks uncovered all sorts of nasty stuff US and British military were doing in Iraq involving torture and killing. But we get into these wars because the government lies to us and too many people believe those lies. By exposing the lies and hypocrisy of the government it will make people more skeptical and so less likely to enter into such wars. You don’t think that enhances safety?

  • Donald Moniak

    Here is one cable that is still classified as SECRET:

    “SUBJECT: PANAMANIANS HOPE FOR A SUCCESSFUL COUP
    – NORIEGA PLANS FOR A NEW YEAR IN POWER

    ¶1. SECRET – ENTIRE TEXT. ”

    This is 21 years old. How can this cable in its entirety possibly cause harm for modern diplomats?

  • Aefman

    I applaud any disclosure of the actions of government servants . We live in a global community that wants the truth to be seen – we want to see a global candidness! Needing to be “confidential” bespeaks a lack of candidness – a failure of diplomacy. Any diplomacy that needs to be secret just perpetuates the cold war paradigm, a status quo of fear, and always masquerading as “we are good, they are evil” – of various nations trying to manipulate each other. Break this antiquated model that keeps billions separated by artificial boundaries kept standing by a handful of war-minded, brainwashed puppets. The best response for all, in lieu of these leaks should be more candidness, more honesty, more openness, not less.

  • PW in TX

    I have no idea what Julian Assange is like or what his real motives are. Leave him out of all this for a moment and consider many “ordinary” Americans’ and many citizens of other nations’ view of our increasingly autocratic government. America has the most powerful the military force and displays it frequently; our language dominates international discussions; we enforce laws but do not feel we have to obey them (torture, for example). The arrogance!

    I thought for a moment about Assange being just one more person in the world, no more nor less angry than a tea partyer or a destitute Iraqi or a frustrated Scandinavian environmentalist or a jobless factory worker in Michigan — all of whom have serious beefs with the American government and what has become its revolving, corporate-driven, self-serving political structure.

    All of those people would love to get our government’s attention, would love to persuade it to a) take a close look at how the rest of us see it, and b) behave more responsibly towards its constituents and towards those whose lives it touches in other countries.

    Until the people within our political system relearn their responsibility towards those whose lives they affect, they will be assailed from time to time with insulting jabs and revelations and hatred coming from every direction. When representatives of political power sound aggrieved and accusatory, as Leslie Gelb did (and he’s not alone), they just exacerbate the situation.

    There are plenty of explanations for Daniel Ellsberg and Julian Assange as there are for shoebombers and Oklahoma City and 9/11 and for the rage and dismay felt by many Americans of all kinds, but one thread connects them all: intense dislike and fear of people with so much power that they escape all accountability.

  • twenty-niner

    “But we get into these wars because the government lies to us and too many people believe those lies.”

    Yes, power corrupts. That’s why the founding fathers were weary of strong centralized government. And democracy is not the antidote, as electorates (and elections) are easily manipulated, especially by strong centralized governments.

  • PW in TX

    Quick addition: Don’t miss Steven Aftergood’s piece on secrecy and government classification of documents. He writes for Secrecy News at the Federation of American Scientists.

    http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/2010/11/race_to_fix.html

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    To PW in TX, who wrote, “America has the most powerful the military force and displays it frequently” –

    This summary from what I heard over the BBC while half awake this morning (an impression; I’m not an expert; I gleaned what I gleaned):

    Somalia/Mogadishu newly elected top dog, message to the US diplomatic front: “Send us money because we have many people who cannot provide their own basic necessities, and because of this, we will otherwise become a launching pad for terrorists if we don’t have American money.” (Note he didn’t ask for American troops; he will pay for their own troops; he SAYS he welcomes transparency and accountability.)
    Now, if the United States is sort of responsible for making sure no human being is struggling for basic necessities anywhere in the world for fear of terrorists building a nest, we can be “hit up” by pretty much anyone, and the threat is something like, “If you don’t pay us to fortify our own military and feed our people, your mighty military will have to take over our country the way you did in Iraq and Afghanistan, which you know didn’t work out too well.”
    So obviously (!!) we need a mighty military and huge coffers of $$ or the wider world will sic their terrorism on us. (By the way, did they look at our national debt, and the number here without health care, struggling to find food that isn’t plain empty government-subsidized calories?; would they care to consider the amount of drugs, legal and illegal, that keep afloat, ahem, the human engine powering this superpower that is apparently super-responsible for everything?) I’d like to see if our diplomats are grounded in that regard.

  • Beverly

    PETER NELSON,

    I’m all in favor of exposing torturers, those who lie about “friendly fire”, reasons for invading Iraq, etc…important things we should all know about.

    What I object to is the gossip; personal opinions about people, etc. It’s petty, & knowing this sort of thing doesn’t do anyone any good. The gossip is unnecessary, & should have been left out. It isn’t helpful in any way, & isn’t making us safer.

    We do need to know about cover-ups, & dishonesty of any kind.

  • Sandra Thaxter

    The comments already posted regarding this discussion of the Wikileaks are weighing heavily for public access to information. The guests on this show weighed heavily on the side of “treason”, risk to our nation – and there was little representation of the other side. I agree that you did a poor job Tom of balancing the conversation. For those of us who have not read the entire content of the documents, we cannot say for sure that anyone’s life was endangered by these leaks, or that an international crisis resulted from some specific information. It is also not clear that there was any malicious intent, as one of the guests suggested. There certainly was malicious intent when the identity of Valerie Plame was exposed by an aide to Cheney. However no one seemed to want to throw the perpetrator in jail, and today he is free. If there are traitors, it is not from wikileaks. The derisive comments about other heads of state with whom our “diplomats” is mostly embarassing and reflects poorly on the State Department. If these diplomats are serious about negotiating, building bridges, this disdain reflects an arrogant attitude. I agree with the comments, that these diplomats are not well trained, or the kind of “diplomat” we should expect from our government. Unfortunately Hilary has to defend them. Whereas secrecy by agents of our government has caused enormous harm, (the Iraq war, the attack of Vietnam, Abu Graib), these leaks are unlikely to do any comparable damage. There is always a balance in freedom of information. It is one of the core values of democracy. This information appears to be a healthy wake up call rather than an imminent danger to our country.

  • Sam Wilson

    Not sure what has to be done with WikiLeaks or Assange, but whoever heads and runs the Information Security must be fired and if possible brought criminal charges against them.

    As a Information Security personnel its his/her job to make sure that information is not compromised.

  • Bridget , Boston, MA

    I’d like to know why everyone is accepting so readily the allegation that a 22 yr old private is the source of the leaks? Also I would love to know if a real investigation from an agency outside of the military would be possible? If not, then I’m not drinking the coolaid here. My gut tells me there is no way on earth that a leak this huge would only include data that leads to the US agenda of going to war with Iran. I’m not saying that these leaks aren’t true – just that it seems very convenient that a couple of days after two nuclear scientists in Iran are murdered, wikileaks releases all of this information. It scares me that people are just believing that the government didn’t have anything to do with it. Just sayin’.

  • peter nelson

    The derisive comments about other heads of state with whom our “diplomats” is mostly embarassing and reflects poorly on the State Department. If these diplomats are serious about negotiating, building bridges, this disdain reflects an arrogant attitude.

    I totally disagree. When you’re dealing with another human being, especially when you are negotiating with them to make some sort of deal, it’s essential that you get an honest appraisal of their character and characteristics. Are they smart or stupid? Are they vain, conceited, honest, lazy, well-informed, nervous, impatient? If the derisive assessments of another head of state are accurate, who cares how derisive they are?

  • peter nelson

    I’m not saying that these leaks aren’t true – just that it seems very convenient that a couple of days after two nuclear scientists in Iran are murdered, wikileaks releases all of this information. It scares me that people are just believing that the government didn’t have anything to do with it. Just sayin’.

    All good points. I find it remarkable that a Army Private would have access to this much information. And certainly there are lots of conspiracy theories out there suggesting that this whole thing is an elaborate ruse where 99% of the content is true and accurate (so that it may be verified by those with the means to do so) and 1% is deliberately planted for some purpose.

    On the other hand, alternate conspiracy theories suggest that the aforementioned conspiracy theories are themselves plants and false-flag ops designed to make it look like the government really knew what it was doing and that they’re not really as incompetent as this whole affair makes them look.

    Napoleon famously said “Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence”

    And Heinlein’s version is “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don’t rule out malice.”

  • Bridget, Boston, MA

    Well then our choices are that the US Military’s IT people are really *that* ignorant enough to allow a private to not only access this info but also to burn it onto a CD (who doesn’t use flash drives these days….I don’t know anyone who burns info onto CD’s anymore!), or that some other source, who does indeed have access to this sensitive information, maliciously released it in order to further the Iran objective and to embarass the US gov’t. Nice.

  • Carter

    Eventually transparency is going to win out over secrecy, truth over concealment. It may take ten years, it may take a thousand, but eventually transparency will win because it represents truth and is inherently and self-evidently good. Those who are fighting against this just represent the old world, fighting to stay alive and relevant. And just as the Church wasted years of progress trying to hold back science, so too do people of the old world fight at every turn to prevent the modern information age from full expression.

    It shames me, deeply, that so many of our people — from the society that is supposed to be the champion of freedom and openness — our laws, and the administration that was supposed to reflect something new, consider these heroes . . . “criminals”.

    History will show Julian Assange is a true hero.

  • Jo Nol

    This leak seems to represent the inevitable outcome of our dependence on computers and the internet. It’s like trying to get the genie back into the bottle. We are trying to deal with 21st century electronic issues with 18th century thinking. In fact this could eventually lead us to have few if any secrets, which would probably be a better way to go.

  • peter nelson

    This leak seems to represent the inevitable outcome of our dependence on computers and the internet. It’s like trying to get the genie back into the bottle. We are trying to deal with 21st century electronic issues with 18th century thinking.>/i>

    It’s hard to say at this point whether it’s technology or culture. There are lots of other high-tech-savvy nations and so far none of them have had leaks on this scale.

  • Rob L

    We wouldn’t need these leaks if the Press was doing their job.

    Bully for wikileaks. I get so sick of these former staff people inflating their importance. There’s tens of thousands of them flying around on the taxpayer expense account. What do we get out of it? Middle East peace? No. Ending dependence on foreign oil? No. End of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? No. Nuclear-free Russia? No. Fair trade with China? No. What do all these “diplomats” do to earn their keep besides gossiping about European leaders?

  • William

    Sometimes leaks are a good thing. When those emails were released about “climate-gate” it finally exposed the big lie that Global Warming is all about.

  • http://www.forloveofyurts.blogspot.com Bruce Wm Sargent

    There is a fairly simple solution to the Wikileaks release of reports of the US Army and US State department: And that is to take on the criminality in the army and government that motivated a young Bradley Manning from the Bible Belt, Oklahoma, to blow the whistle. He was trained that torture is a crime under US and international law and that he is to report any incident of torture. He reported the torturing of 15 Iraqi dissidents and was told to ignore his training and arrest more people, which was an unlawful order. So he released the information of US complicity in torture in case after case after case. This is like a family in which the father is raping the daughter on a nightly basis and the brother is required to keep the secret. Who could blame a brother for turning in his father. Until the US prosecutes the CIA operatives who murdered detainees during torture, prosecutes the officers who ignored torture and gave unlawful orders, until the the US prosecutes the ranking generals and the CIA equivalents this country is going to experience “security leaks”. I suggest that military trials for the ranks and ranking generals follow the pattern of torture trials of Japanese war criminals at the end of WWII: 15 years hard labor for the ranks found guilty; death for ranking generals found guilty. Enforcing the US laws against torture will go along way to restoring security in this country by removing the motivation to blow the whistle on it.

  • Erin

    I’m from Delray Beach, FL.

    I’m an integration specialist for a radiology software company that provides EHR/RIS + PACS(Electronic Health Record/Radiology Information System and Picture Archive and Communication System) and when I train users I always make them mindful to not put anything in writing they don’t want the patient or an attorney to ever read! It’s fine to have opinions, but perhaps we all need to be mindful of what we document and even more importantly where document the information.

  • david

    There is something bigger going on here than just leaked documents. There are some bigger players somewhere in the shadows with an agenda. Maybe the demise of the USA???

  • Nick

    I applaud these recent Wikileaks diplomatic cables.

    Diplomacy is political + politics is generally dirty, hypocritical, + self-serving.

    More transparency is required from the top-down in political circles (national + international).

  • Mark Greene

    Listening to the show tonight I was struck by the unified opinion among the shows guest diplomats that secrecy in diplomacy was needed in order to do the necessary work of government. I take issue with the idea that what the government has been doing has been necessary. It has, in fact, been an ongoing disaster through both the Bush and Obama administrations.

    You would think all our diplomats are making their thoughtful and frank recommendations based on what is most helpful to Bin Laden.

  • Maria

    Why is no one even disputing the fact that diplomats are conducting spy activities? Isn’t that what the CIA and other covert operations are about? Instead the focus is on the leaks–

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Secretary of Defense Gates (all over the news tonight): Nations do not deal with us because we can keep secrets.
    He says sometimes they deal with us out of fear, but mostly because we are unavoidable. I forget his exact word. He didn’t say we are a necessary evil. But he didn’t say we are the best and the greatest either. What he suggested to my understanding was more along the lines of: “What would be the alternative; the USA is in many respects the ‘only game in town’ — or on the planet, so far.”
    It begs the question: Is the United Nations able to play this role; where is the better great coordinator, the alternative super magnet around which much spins.
    Anyway, he took about six sentences, excerpted in video all over the networks, to point out that he is unfazed by the diplomatic leaks. Wow.

  • http://www.npr.org Nathan Johnson

    All this talk about the act of leaking secret information – really? Is this really worth the breath?
    It’s just a distraction from the hog tied and hooded, elephant in the room.
    Skeletons in your closet? Of course you’re going to throw a fit when someone opens the door.
    If some government is behaving and speaking justly then there is no need such secrecy. Is your country having diplomatic communications with other countries about its war crimes?
    Well you better believe the world has a right to know.
    Awww – I’m sorry you can’t speak “candidly” about your criminal activity, dirty laundry and God knows what else but times are changing and sunlight is a good remedy.

  • Richard in Newton, MA

    “I’d like to know why everyone is accepting so readily the allegation that a 22 yr old private is the source of the leaks?”

    PFC Manning is a person of interest in this latest dumping but that’s all he is. I suspect that to people like Sarah Palin, Manning is a good scapegoat to pin the “treason” charge on but even as hyperbole, the treason card is just too dumb and ridiculous. Frontline featured an hour long piece more than five years ago n cyber wars and insecurity to our infrastructure that really raised my hair. Richard Clarke has since added more on the subject – some of it really cool sounding and some of it really disturbing – and Financial Times ran a series of pieces a couple years back on China’s hack of Pentagon computers that incapacitated Sec. Gates’ computer for a week when two wars were still being fully waged. Not that there could be any consolation over the breech, but Angela Merkel’s system had also been compromised and most experts agreed that what we suffered, we most likely had already inflicted two-fold on some other party or state. IOW, computer systems, even one’s involving national security, have been and will continue to be hacked.

    As I said, Manning is a person of interest in this dumping but I don’t believe he acted alone if he were even involved here. It could just as easily been some basement hacking outfit out of Cambridge, which according to Assange, has already been raided by the FBI.

  • Victoria

    As for “discrediting the U.S. gov’t”: well, if there’s credit there to dis, do it! If the U.S. gov’t was acting in a way it could be proud of, this wouldn’t have hurt it at all.

    Next:
    Someone unbelievably wrote:
    “if our government thinks we need to know something, then it will tell us.”
    What??? Nixon anyone??? Stalin? Bush&Cheney????

    As for Hillary saying “every country must be able to have candid conversations” – candid only between themselves. Not candid to the rest of us.
    Maybe if everyone was candid we wouldn’t be suffering under the rule of ego maniacs!

    And lastly: The difference between my diary or med. records being published and national diplomatic doings is: my diary and my medical records are not effecting millions of humans lives. There is no comparison.
    And also, as one caller said: if it’s something you need to keep secret, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it!

    Let’s open up the whole world and expose everyone – maybe that will keep people honest for awhile.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Charlie Rose, 11/30/10, last night, interviewed Time Magazine’s Richard Stengel (editor), who had within the previous few hours interviewed Julian Assange. (When I switched on the TV, I thought the interviewee had recently interviewed bin Laden, because Stengel was talking about how he talked through Skype, and the location was unknown, and he wasn’t at first talking directly to the individual, who is said to have altered his appearance in the past few months, and the decision was made No Video.) The interview, he said, was about 35 minutes. According to that program, the interview would be on the web at Time’s website, but this morning that “WikiLeaks Julian Assange on Secret…” is not responding. Thursday Time Magazine will release its edition covering this.
    What I gleaned from Stengel was that next in Assange’s sights are Russia (who is prosecuting Assange for some exploits vis-a-vis female encounters -??) and China. Stengel thinks that the USA may fuss and fling the Constitution, but Russia and China won’t mess around. (It seems to me, it might be worth the price of the latest dump to have any more secretive evildoers exposed, but Assange may not get the chance.) (But how would Assange “feel” if actual deaths due to the Iraq/Afghanistan dump were held to his account; actually if he were held to account, how about all the news organizations…)
    Assange has a forked morality: total secrecy as to his sources. Total transparency as to “organizations.”
    Therefore he won’t affirm or deny Manning’s role in the diplomacy dump.
    This he learned from his anarchist mother — that is, the idea that organizations (governments) are by nature bad.
    Then Charlie Rose broadcast a new interview with Dennis Blair, former intelligence chief with the current administration. He was able to describe the progress with digital security measures. He said that after the Congress began to be able to subpoena everything printed from the administration and after the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), he and others just stopped taking notes, keeping any written records, which he says is a drag, because no one’s memory is totally comprehensive. (I suppose that’s why we are note-taking creatures.) So.

  • peter nelson

    Listening to the show tonight I was struck by the unified opinion among the shows guest diplomats that secrecy in diplomacy was needed in order to do the necessary work of government.

    I’m an engineer so I like to see a working prototype first.

    We’ve had discussions here where people say we should get rid of current economic systems like corporate capitalism in favor of theoretical alternatives like libertarianism or syndico-anarchism. And I always point out that lots of things look good on paper but no modern industrial or postindustrial society has ever successfully tried them. Maybe it would be a good idea to demonstrate their viability in some small state, province, principality or medium-sized city first before scaling up to a nation as big and complex as the US. Why do we have to be the guinea pigs?

    Ditto with non-secret diplomacy. Secrecy and confidential conversations have been part of diplomacy for all of history. Of course there have been lots of failures and abuse of power. But there have also been lots of successes, and most countries in the world have friendly relations with their neighbors and are not at war with anyone.

    So if you think that non-secret diplomatic relations are feasible, demonstrate it with some small prototype first, say, Norway or New Zealand. As far as I know it’s never been successfully tried.

  • http://salon.com john true

    The stealing that the elites are doing now is clearly told in the Bible….11 Peter chapter 2: 3. The chapter is plain to understand, but verse 3 tell exactly what is being done in banks, the tv evangelist, the stock market and all the money sucking people out there. Our government hides what it does, going on and on about abortion and gay rights. Who really gives a happy hoot about somebodys sex life that does not concern themselves????? Abortion has always been with us. It always will be. What about the theiving, stealing, cheating, and lying that goes on all the time in Wall Street? Oh yes, occasionally a news journalist reporter will skim over something so fast one can hardly pick up on it, but on and on and on about gay rights, abortion, blab, blab, blab. Meanwhile, the government proceed to spend our Social Security on other things, without a by your leave. The banks and health insurance first priorty are to their stockholders. They will tell us that. Steal from the elderly to fortify their life style. Wikileaks….LET ‘ER RIP!!!!!

ONPOINT
TODAY
Sep 18, 2014
Flickr/Steve Rhodes

After a summer of deadly clashes between Gaza and Israel, we talk to Jews on the left and right about the future of liberal Zionism. Some say it’s over.

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Billionaires. We’ll look at the super super rich, and their global shaping of our world.

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