Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

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dbcooper
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Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by dbcooper » 28 Nov 2010, 14:16

A couple that have caught my eye so far:

http://www.nytimes.
com/2010/11/29/world/29cables.html?_r=2
An intriguing alliance: American diplomats in Rome reported in 2009 on what their Italian contacts described as an extraordinarily close relationship between Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian prime minister, and Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister and business magnate, including “lavish gifts,” lucrative energy contracts and a “shadowy” Russian-speaking Italian go-between. They wrote that Mr. Berlusconi “appears increasingly to be the mouthpiece of Putin” in Europe. The diplomats also noted that while Mr. Putin enjoys supremacy over all other public figures in Russia, he is undermined by an unmanageable bureaucracy that often ignores his edicts.
http://www.guardian.
co.uk/world/2010/nov/28/us-embassy-cables-saudis-iran
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by thoreau » 28 Nov 2010, 14:42

So, I keep hearing that the next Wikileaks posting will result in the streets running red with the blood of informants....and then nothing happens. Now, I don't want anybodyy to be killed (in fact, my anti-killing stance makes me LESS favorably-inclined towards the war machine, not more favorably-inclined), but:

1) If you keep promising me a Tarantino flick and it never happens, eventually I'm going to be pissed that I bought an $8 popcorn.
2) More seriously, you can only cry wolf so many times.
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by Kolohe » 28 Nov 2010, 14:49

The 'Spies like us' pic (#4 in the photoshow) is worth the price of the link.

(A Ukranian 'nurse' being Khadafi's constant companion is the least surprising. It's been long known that the Colonel gets his leadership secrets from Leto II - to wit, his Fish Speakers)
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by Kolohe » 28 Nov 2010, 15:14

thoreau wrote:So, I keep hearing that the next Wikileaks posting will result in the streets running red with the blood of informants....and then nothing happens. Now, I don't want anybodyy to be killed (in fact, my anti-killing stance makes me LESS favorably-inclined towards the war machine, not more favorably-inclined), but:

1) If you keep promising me a Tarantino flick and it never happens, eventually I'm going to be pissed that I bought an $8 popcorn.
2) More seriously, you can only cry wolf so many times.
Well, for instance, the full damage and body count from Ames's and Hanson's work wasn't fully known until well after those guys were caught.

But regardless of whether or not govt officials have damaged their credibility through exageration or even outright lying*, regardless of all that, even the NFL understands the value of keeping deliberations and plans away from potential adversaries. Putting out there in public the frank reports and opinions of embassies is not a good thing - and especially since it's state dept and not DoD, yes, makes it that much harder for stuff to be resolved without resorting to, for instance, the flying killer robots.

*which is sort of an a priori moot point because how does a libertarian known a govt official is lying? because his lips are moving amirite?
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by J sub D » 28 Nov 2010, 15:26

The NY Times wrote:The possibility that a large number of diplomatic cables might become public has been discussed in government and media circles since May. That was when, in an online chat, an Army intelligence analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, described having downloaded from a military computer system many classified documents, including “260,000 State Department cables from embassies and consulates all over the world.” In an online discussion with Adrian Lamo, a computer hacker, Private Manning said he had delivered the cables and other documents to WikiLeaks.
How the fuck does a goddam pissy ass private get access to diplomatic cables? Once upon a time there was this need to know thingee that stopped people with clearances like me from getting access to Trident submarine patrol data and other stuff for which I had no legitimate need to perform my job. Maybe things have changed since I left the military.

IOW - Some heads other than Pfc. Manning's should be rolling over this crap.
Last edited by J sub D on 28 Nov 2010, 16:36, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by dhex » 28 Nov 2010, 15:31

kaddafi rolls with chicks dressed up like an all female version of public enemy?

that's great!
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by Hugh Akston » 28 Nov 2010, 15:35

My general principle is that anything good for the White House is bad for the country. Thus, anything this roundly denounced by the Executive branch is probably for the best.
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by thoreau » 28 Nov 2010, 15:41

Kolohe wrote:how does a libertarian known a govt official is lying? because his lips are moving amirite?
You've never worked for a public university, have you? Because, um, well, if the administrators were hooked up to lie detectors the machines would melt down and probably heat up enough to cause hydrogen nuclei to spontaneously fuse.

Also, have you ever read the work of a journalist named "Radley Balko"?

And I thought the Pentagon's motto was "We tell more lies before 8am than most people tell all day." Or, at least, that's what I was told by a friend who's a veteran.
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by Kolohe » 28 Nov 2010, 15:56

Which is what I'm saying. Don't pay attention to the gasbag self-serving pronouncements, but to the historical precendent (e.g. Enigma, Midway) and common sense that spraying around secrets willy nilly is as likely to be harmful as it is to shed sunshine on something (e.g. Pentagon Papers - btw, that did how much to stop the Vietnam war or future wars?)
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by thoreau » 28 Nov 2010, 15:59

Kolohe wrote:spraying around secrets willy nilly is as likely to be harmful
Harmful to whom? To what?

Will Al Qaeda kill me or my family (or anybody else who's in the US minding their own business) tomorrow if Julian Assange does what he does?
"They were basically like D&D min maxers, but instead of pissing off their DM, they destroyed the global economy. Also, instead of their DM making a level 7 paladin fight a beholder as punishment, he got a +3 sword of turning."
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by Hugh Akston » 28 Nov 2010, 16:08

Kolohe wrote:Which is what I'm saying. Don't pay attention to the gasbag self-serving pronouncements, but to the historical precendent (e.g. Enigma, Midway) and common sense that spraying around secrets willy nilly is as likely to be harmful as it is to shed sunshine on something (e.g. Pentagon Papers - btw, that did how much to stop the Vietnam war or future wars?)
So you're saying that we should trust the government's judgment about what needs to be classified, just in case releasing that information might not serve any direct social utility?

EDIT: Personally, I think that honesty, and indeed candor, in politics is a good thing, even if it has to be obtained at the cost of some public embarrassment to government officials.
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by Jennifer » 28 Nov 2010, 16:14

If this were a World War Two situation -- as in, we're in total warfare against an enemy who really does (or at least really might) have the ability to invade, conquer and subjugate the US, or use their new sciencey "rocket" invention to destroy US cities, I might be willing to err on the side of giving government the benefit of the doubt; certainly it's good that the Allies could keep Enigma a secret.

However, I have never been alive when the US government was embroiled in such a conflict. I have, however, seen my own government repeatedly invade nations that were never any threat to us -- there's a reason "The End of the Grenada War" is not celebrated as a national holiday here -- and the behavior of the government, especially after 9/11, shows they absolutely cannot be trusted with the benefit of the doubt, not at all.
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by thoreau » 28 Nov 2010, 16:17

Jennifer, be fair. It's only the rotten 99% of wars that give the good 1% a bad name.
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by Shem » 28 Nov 2010, 17:39

They're not even releasing the full text of the cables this time. The five news agencies that have access will be going through and deciding what we get to see, carefully editing it (ostensibly to protect the identities of private individuals) and then releasing that.
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by dbcooper » 28 Nov 2010, 18:04

I will be amused if these leaks end up advancing an attack on Iran.
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by Kolohe » 28 Nov 2010, 20:47

Re: how a PFC gets everything

It's all on a classifed internet that (most) everything up to a certain security level is on worldwide. In Afghanistan in particular, there's so much 'inter-disciplinary' points of action (like counter IED, anti-corruption, etc) that's it's not only is it worthwhile to be able to access nearly everything on a single network, it would be impossible to work without it. (putting aside the question of what we're doing over there is 'possible', and also noting that a good deal of stovepiping still happens and this whole thing didn't help shifting some of those attitudes).

Re: "So you're saying that we should trust the government's judgment about what needs to be classified, just in case releasing that information might not serve any direct social utility?"
& "Will Al Qaeda kill me or my family (or anybody else who's in the US minding their own business) tomorrow if Julian Assange does what he does?"

First what I wrote earlier was when I thought they (wikileaks) had just dumped the diplomatic cables wholesale on the net. If they didn't the following explanation isn't as strong:

I'm starting from the premise that as long as one accepts
1) That around ten score nation states is the way the world has been divided up into these days
2) That United States is superlative in many measures of ranking these nation states, and in the top tier in most others (and I'm talking objective, non-value laden measures like size, population, wealth, etc)
3) That #2 makes interactions with the rest of the crowd inevitable and unavoidable
4) That among the complete collection of nation states, they run the spectrum of BFF's to open hostility and everything in between for various historical and personal reasons
5) That this is the state play, and that it is likely the way it's going to be for a while, and that like the quip about democracy, the current system of international rational (and sometimes not) anarchy is probably the least worst system that could exist.
6) That even the most mini minarchist holds that the United States Government a) should exist and b) should have a 'foreign policy'
7) That although much patriotism is bunk, and for example, the patriotism rightly derided by Fogerty that is too often invoked by the Republican party (among others) is especially bunk, not all patriotism is bunk. Call it a 'fondness' if you will. Whatever you want to call it, an affinty toward the body politic that the United States government is consituted to look out for the collective interest of the same.

So the US Government is inevitably going to have communcations between its emmisaries around the world and its duly elected leaders, so that the latter can make decisions for the collective interest. And for the same reason that attorney-client communcations are normally privilleged, these communications can be sensitive, and the blanket revelation of them can damage the ability for the United States Government to conduct its affairs with other nation states. That's what I'm saying.

No, Al Qaeda isn't going to kill anyone due to the release of diplomatic cables. That's not what I'm talking about and that's never been what I've been talking about.

As far a 'trust the government' - at a certain level, once you've bought into 'the state' as a neccesary entity, there's going to be secrets. So yeah, you're going to have to, and at something greater than some de minimus level. The only thing you can do is push for maximum disclosure - through legitmate channels (yeah question begging alert flare launched) - and to push for elected leaders that push for the same.
Yes, whistleblowing is a brave activity that, like civil disobedience, rarely comes out well for the whistblower but does in the long run promote and foster 'justice'. But you know what doesn't? Some jackass publishing senstive information that in no way reveals that some sort of malfeseance occured. In fact, it makes the work of worthwhile whistblowing that much harder, because this type of stuff increases presumptions against them.
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by Aresen » 28 Nov 2010, 21:07

I'm pretty much onside with Kolohe on this, with the addition that a certain amount of candor is necessary in internal communications in any organization. I think a diplomat should be perfectly free to express his opinion that Putin or Berlusconi is a corrupt S.O.B. in diplomatic cables and even cite supporting unconfirmed evidence that would be totally inappropriate to talk about publicly.

So I think the leaking of the diplomatic cables is not, by and large, in the public interest. Instead of encouraging staff members to talk in plain language to their bosses, it means that less information (and more CYA bullshit) will be flowing back up the chain of command.

Diplomatic leaks, unless they show that one government was conspiring to attack another country or commit other wrongdoing, are really not that helpful.
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by thoreau » 28 Nov 2010, 21:14

OK, I guess I can buy that candid internal discussions among diplomats should be kept secret for the sake not only of us, but also to avoid conflicts breaking out.

I still maintain that information on plans to kill people should be broadcast to the whole world.
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by Hugh Akston » 28 Nov 2010, 23:05

Yeah, Aresen's point about "there's candor and then there's candor" is well taken.
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by JasonL » 29 Nov 2010, 09:05

+1 Kolohe and Aresen. If you want to say the whole enterprise of diplomats is invalid, then this is serving a purpose. If there's anything legitimate even in theory to international diplomacy, this is foolish. It's the act of an attention starved child. Will it be the end of the world? No. The acts of children rarely have those kinds of results. They just scream and throw things and make messes that adults have to clean up.

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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by J sub D » 29 Nov 2010, 10:00

Kolohe wrote:Re: how a PFC gets everything

It's all on a classifed internet that (most) everything up to a certain security level is on worldwide. In Afghanistan in particular, there's so much 'inter-disciplinary' points of action (like counter IED, anti-corruption, etc) that's it's not only is it worthwhile to be able to access nearly everything on a single network, it would be impossible to work without it.
Sorry, I don't buy it. Classified data has been compartmentalized since the dawn of warfare. It has always been recognized that this ofttimes makes things difficult when fighting a war. That is one of the realitied of classifying data and one of the major reasons you should endeavor to not overclassify info.

Manning's account should never haver let him have access to diplomatic cables. I don't give give a crap if he had a TS clearance, there is no fucking way he had plausible need to know this (unsurprising to people livimng in the real world) diplomacy crap. Ergo, he should not have had access.

Security 101 FAIL.

ETA - I largely agree with the rest of that comment. It's an open secret that diplomats and world leaders badmouth each other behind closed doors, just like it's an open secret that family members do. It's not conducive to international or familial harmony to broadcast the specifics.
EDIT: Oh, and the civil rights and basic human dignity thing too. - JasonL

My guess is this is the love child of some Objectivists what got excommunicated. - Warren

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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by J sub D » 29 Nov 2010, 10:33

What woulde be more interesting to me is what foreign diplomats have to say about our own leaders in private. I would relish hearing what English and Russian diplomats think about Dick Cheney or Joe Biden.
EDIT: Oh, and the civil rights and basic human dignity thing too. - JasonL

My guess is this is the love child of some Objectivists what got excommunicated. - Warren

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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by Mo » 29 Nov 2010, 10:35

I agree with Aresen and Kolohe. One thing I find interesting is how credulous people are about these things. We're supposed to believe the Arab autocrats because of what they said behind closed doors to our diplomats. Don't you think that they'd lie, cheat and steal and tell our folks exactly what we wanted to hear behind closed doors. Let's say Saudi Arabia secretly wanted us to bomb the UK for poops and giggles. Does anyone think they would tell our diplomats that? The way to get a true view of what those countries' leaders think isn't through our diplomatic cables, but theirs.
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by Eric the .5b » 29 Nov 2010, 12:00

JasonL wrote:If there's anything legitimate even in theory to international diplomacy, this is foolish.
You could say if there's anything legitimate even in theory to government security, exposing secrets in general is foolish, no matter what the circumstances.

This is practice and has to be evaluated as such.
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Re: Wikileaks - Diplomatic Cables Edition

Post by JasonL » 29 Nov 2010, 12:10

Eric the .5b wrote:
JasonL wrote:If there's anything legitimate even in theory to international diplomacy, this is foolish.
You could say if there's anything legitimate even in theory to government security, exposing secrets in general is foolish, no matter what the circumstances.

This is practice and has to be evaluated as such.
My point in saying "even in theory" was to point out that it doesn't matter what practice of international diplomacy you happen to dislike, if you think there is ever any validity to it at all, broadcasting the details of every behind doors conversation you get your hands on is foolish.

Wikileaks didn't expose some specific set of damning evidence the world was trying to hide, they just stole a diary and published the whole thing. There was no point.

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