Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Secrets of Diplomatic Channels

Germany's Der Spiegel created an interactive map to show the location, sensitivity (color), and quantity (circle size) of the diplomatic cables recently published on wikileaks.
The New York Times has written a good introduction to the recent WikiLeaks dump of US diplomatic communications. Their title asserts that Cables Uncloak U.S. Diplomacy; however, they also reveal the emperor's new clothes:
WASHINGTON — A cache of a quarter-million confidential American diplomatic cables, most of them from the past three years, provides an unprecedented look at backroom bargaining by embassies around the world, brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats.

...A statement from the White House on Sunday said: “We condemn in the strongest terms the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information.”

“President Obama supports responsible, accountable, and open government at home and around the world, but this reckless and dangerous action runs counter to that goal,” the statement said. “By releasing stolen and classified documents, WikiLeaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights but also the lives and work of these individuals.”
How does hiding diplomatic communications behind a veil of secrecy support responsible, accountable, and open government? It clearly does nothing of the sort, so the administration and its enablers scurry for cover behind the cause of human rights and the lives and work of [human rights advocates]. Reuters provides the full text of another letter from the State Department which was released Saturday:
As you know, if any of the materials you intend to publish were provided by any government officials, or any intermediary without proper authorization, they were provided in violation of U.S. law and without regard for the grave consequences of this action. As long as WikiLeaks holds such material, the violation of the law is ongoing.

It is our understanding from conversations with representatives from The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel, that WikiLeaks also has provided approximately 250,000 documents to each of them for publication, furthering the illegal dissemination of classified documents.
Maybe our betters at Foggy Bottom could orchestrate trilateral talks with The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel with particular emphasis on the pressing question: Why does the WikiLeaks founder (Julian Assange) hate us?

The Saturday letter then rehashes the same talking points noted above before devolving into preachy hypocritical sermonizing:
Publication of documents of this nature at a minimum would:

* Place at risk the lives of countless innocent individuals -- from journalists to human rights activists and bloggers to soldiers to individuals providing information to further peace and security;

* Place at risk on-going military operations, including operations to stop terrorists, traffickers in human beings and illicit arms, violent criminal enterprises and other actors that threaten global security; and,

* Place at risk on-going cooperation between countries - partners, allies and common stakeholders -- to confront common challenges from terrorism to pandemic diseases to nuclear proliferation that threaten global stability.

In your letter, you say you want -- consistent with your goal of "maximum disclosure" -- information regarding individuals who may be "at significant risk of harm" because of your actions.

Despite your stated desire to protect those lives, you have done the opposite and endangered the lives of countless individuals. You have undermined your stated objective by disseminating this material widely, without redaction, and without regard to the security and sanctity of the lives your actions endanger. We will not engage in a negotiation regarding the further release or dissemination of illegally obtained U.S. Government classified materials. If you are genuinely interested in seeking to stop the damage from your actions, you should: 1) ensure WikiLeaks ceases publishing any and all such materials; 2) ensure WikiLeaks returns any and all classified U.S. Government material in its possession; and 3) remove and destroy all records of this material from WikiLeaks' databases.
And, you, Mr. Preachy Self-Important State Department Hack, if you were genuinely interested in seeking to stop the damage from WikiLeaks, you would ask Congress to issue Letters of Marque and Reprisal so that enterprising American hackers could destroy You wont do that. You'll continue to negotiate. Therefore, you will continue to be embarrassed every few months.

Obviously a leak like this is damaging; however, it is also amusing. In addition to revealing the irony of our own government ("responsible, accountable, and open government") we learn via Der Spiegel (h/t Gateway Pundit), that physical abuse is not limited to the prison system in Iran: Ahmadinejad was smacked by one of his generals:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emissaries also learn of a special "Iran observer" in the Azerbaijan capital of Baku who reports on a dispute that played out during a meeting of Iran's Supreme National Security Council. An enraged Revolutionary Guard Chief of Staff Mohammed Ali Jafari allegedly got into a heated argument with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and slapped him in the face because the generally conservative president had, surprisingly, advocated freedom of the press.

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