Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

New Wikileaks release

with 4 comments

The new documents are out and seem mostly just to be embarrassing, though Peter King of NY is, of course, calling for a military strike on Wikileaks, more or less. But Greenwald makes a good point:

. . . McClatchy‘s Nancy A. Youssef documents how prior claims by the U.S. government that WikiLeaks disclosures would endanger lives turned out to be pure fiction:

American officials in recent days have warned repeatedly that the release of documents by WikiLeaks could put people’s lives in danger.

But despite similar warnings ahead of the previous two massive releases of classified U.S. intelligence reports by the website, U.S. officials concede that they have no evidence to date that the documents led to anyone’s death. . . .

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell has said previously that there was no evidence that anyone had been killed because of the leaks. Sunday, another Pentagon official told McClatchy that the military still has no evidence that the leaks have led to any deaths.

Will that prevent media figures and many other people from running around this week mindlessly parroting the Government’s claim — without pointing to any specifics or other evidence — that WikiLeaks has endangered lives with this latest release?  No, it will not.   Beyond specific disclosures, WikiLeaks’ true crime here is to strike a major blow against the U.S. Government’s authority generally and secrecy powers in particular; how one views the American Government’s behavior in the world is likely to determine one’s reaction to WikiLeaks (i.e., is it a good thing or a bad thing when America’s attempted power projection in the world is subverted and its ability to act in the dark undermined?).  Ultimately, WikiLeaks’ real goal appears to me to be anti-authoritarian at its core:  to prevent the world’s most powerful factions from operating in the dark.  There may be reasonable objections to this latest release — such as the fact that war becomes more likely if diplomacy is undermined — but I’d argue that one’s views in general of WikiLeaks is shaped primarily by one’s views of the legitimacy and justness of those authorities.

John Cole notes an added irony of the furor over this latest disclosure:  "I have a hard time getting worked up about it – a government that views none of my personal correspondence as confidential really can’t bitch when this sort of thing happens."  Note how quickly the "if-you’ve-done-nothing-wrong-then-you-have-nothing-to-hide" mentality disappears when it’s their privacy and communications being invaded rather than yours.

I’d note an added irony:  many of the same people who supported the invasion of Iraq and/or who support the war in Afghanistan, drone strikes and assassination programs — on the ground that the massive civilians deaths which result are justifiable "collateral damage" — are those objecting most vehemently to WikiLeaks’ disclosure on the ground that it may lead to the death of innocent people.  For them, the moral framework suddenly becomes that if an act causes the deaths of any innocent person, that is proof that it is not only unjustifiable but morally repellent regardless of what it achieves.  How glaringly selective is their alleged belief in that moral framework. 

Either way, McClatchy describes how WikiLeaks took great pains to redact information harmful to innocents.  Claims that WikiLeaks has endangered lives should be accompanied by specific disclosures and evidence of that harm before being considered credible. . .

Written by LeisureGuy

29 November 2010 at 7:53 am

4 Responses

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  1. I don’t know enough to make a statement about endangering lives, however, it would seem to me that it makes diplomacy a lot harder when foreign dignitaries can’t trust making comments to their US counterparts, and that in turn hurts everyone.

    Zach

    29 November 2010 at 2:09 pm

  2. On the whole, I agree. This isn’t exposing wrong-doing.

    LeisureGuy

    29 November 2010 at 3:57 pm

  3. And, of course, the government tells us, as they read our email and listen in on our phone calls, that if you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. I guess we can now say that back to the government.

    LeisureGuy

    29 November 2010 at 3:59 pm

  4. I’m sure that we would not be surprised to hear what the world is saying about us, and yet I’m certain that they would not want us to know.

    I’m on board with Hillary Clinton’s recent statements:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/29/clinton-reacts-us-embassy-cables

    Zach

    29 November 2010 at 4:21 pm


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