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Monday, November 29, 2010

Shouted from the rooftops

'Never before in history has a superpower lost control of such vast amounts of such sensitive information,' writes der Spiegel.

Other assessments of the publication of 250,000 sensitive State Dept. cables by Wikileaks include "foreign policy meltdown" and "foreign policy equivalent to 9/11."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is frantic. The White House is livid. Rep. Peter King calls Wikileaks a "clear and present danger," implying that a presidential move to use force against the site organizers is warranted. My take is: gee whiz does this national security establishment ever deserve having its skirts lifted. Consider all the unethical uses of the state secrets privilege to cover up CIA sadism, the protection of AT&T from lawsuit over its disobediance of wiretap law and contempt for the Fourth Amendment, the pressure to prevent a former CIA captive from suing in England based on a "special relationship" between the CIA and MI6, and much more of that kind of thing.

Then there are the abuse of national security powers to enforce a coverup of the circumstances of 9/11.

So if the U.S. diplomatic (aka CIA) system is having a bad hair day, I couldn't care less.

That said, I would point out that some of the leaked information greatly benefits Israeli foreign policy.  For example, we learn that Iran has evidently obtained  missiles capable of striking Europe, a development that had been held close to the vest by the Obama administration. Plus, the fact that Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Muslim regimes were anxious to to KO Iran's nuclear program also serves the interests of the Israelies, who have reportedly  been trying to get Obama to take action before yearend.

The remaining disclosures, as summarized in the New York Times, the Guardian and der Spiegel, are interesting and possibly very annoying to the United States but do the Israelis no harm. A lot of the material is diplomatic trivia (though that doesn't mean the political impact will be slight).

Governments around the world will be wondering whether this latest leak resulted from an operation by Israeli agents who were hoping to obscure the trail with a smokescreen of trivial data. I hasten to add that such a suspicion might unjustly cast a cloud over Wikilieaks, when really the operation would have been within the Pentagon. Interestingly, previous Wikileak data dumps appear to have helped certain Pentagon forces more than hurting them.

Nevertheless, one can hope that the era of black-budget, black-operation government is on the wane.

Everything that is secret will be brought out into the open. Everything that is hidden will be uncovered. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight. What you have whispered to someone behind closed doors will be shouted from the rooftops.

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