Monday, November 29, 2010

Wikileaks - What's the point?

I've held off talking about the latest Wikleak extravaganza, waiting to see if anything of real import was leaked. I haven't seen it yet. So far, it feels like some jerk hacked into your private email account and broadcast all the mean stuff you said about your employer, co-workers and mother during a private bitchfest with your BFF.

I have to agree with Steve Benen:

I would, however, like to know more about the motivations of the leaker (or leakers). Revealing secrets about crimes, abuses, and corruption obviously serves a larger good -- it shines a light on wrongdoing, leading (hopefully) to accountability, while creating an incentive for officials to play by the rules. Leaking diplomatic cables, however, is harder to understand -- the point seems to be to undermine American foreign policy, just for the sake of undermining American foreign policy. The role of whistleblowers has real value; dumping raw, secret diplomatic correspondence appears to be an exercise in pettiness and spite.
I'm just not seeing the greater good in releasing these either. Obama's best success as President has been in repairing our international relations after Bush virtually destroyed them. Both the previous document dump and this one, particularly, when the START treaty is being hotly contested, feels more destructive, than constructive to our foreign policy to me.

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Anonymous Ruth said...

One predictable result is that it will not be easy for anyone to confide in U.S. diplomats, aware that their secrets are not protected. But I do enjoy watching the same folks who were okay with outing Valerie Plame say they're shocked, shocked, that anyone would release state secrets.

8:04:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Well there is the hypocrisy watch Ruth, but it's getting kind of old for me. And truthfully, having seen Julian in a couple of interviews, I find him somewhat creepy and really arrogant. Seems like it's more about him than exposing truths for a greater good. Maybe it's just me.

I also think it would have been much more useful if he had found someone to hack into the private archives of the Senate. THAT would have helped exposed a more useful truth, even if it was just the petty intrigues of the sausage making. At least in terms of changing the system for the better.

8:17:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

I agree that there is potential for interfering with things that ought not to be interfered with, but the rampant secrecy epidemic needs to be dealt with. Secrecy allows bad government to get worse and to flourish.

As you know, Bush the Lesser re-classified things that had long since been published and anyone that afraid of exposure can't be trusted with any secrets at all. Sure, there has to be a balance between real security needs and the tool of tyrants.

The Plame incident is worth talking about. Yes, they did get away with it unpunished, but they would have been able to destroy her along with anyone else telling the truth about profoundly important things if they'd been able to sweep it under the rug.

I'm not sure how a balance can be implemented, but I try to remember that Supreme Court Decision that read, in part: ""The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government."

9:18:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

That's just it for me Fogg. Striking a balance. I mean, everybody has secrets in their personal life. And foreign relations have always rested on some amount of espionage.

If these leaks had exposed some major corruption on the part of our govt, I would be cheering them. But so far all I see is minor embarassments that won't stop the secrecy. If anything it will just drive it further underground.

However, if you've seen my latest post, I did forget that Assange did some good work in exposing corporate malfeasance. HE does deserve credit for that.

10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

Greenwald has a lot to say about it, but the bigger issue is how quickly the Palin Patrol has called for his summary murder for "treason" even though the guy isn't an American.

Another case of rallying the public against their own best interests?

When the government ratchets down the secrecy orgy, maybe I'll feel less allied to Wikileaks. Without such people, Nixon might have had a full second - and third term and seeing as so many wars in my lifetime have been started under false pretenses or were entirely covert, my bias is toward taking the risk of knowing.

I don't trust government any more than the Libertarians do. Maybe I'm right, maybe not, but hey. . .

10:19:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Well I certainly don't trust our government either. But I see the trouble with these huge doc dumps that don't really do anything but cause some short term embarrassment is that the public gets inured and then when something really big breaks, no one will pay attention.

As I said before, if this dump exposed something on the Watergate level, I'd be cheering Julian on with a bullhorn. I'm certainly not against the concept of the leaks, just the methodology.

Admit though, I haven't looked at them. Have I missed some important revelation that's going to change everything?

11:17:00 AM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

No, but you missed the one where Obama may have saved Cheneybush from prosecution for war crimes in Spain.

I want to know this stuff. Inquiring minds and all that.

11:25:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Agreed. It's good to know but not that surprising considering his position right along about moving forward and not dwelling on the past. Hope I'm wrong, and something really great that I can't foresee is going to come of all this.

4:00:00 PM  

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