Well, I'm thinking Callie kind of set up a straw target. If Assange or whomever actually said no one would ever be harmed by release of some information, then that was rather silly. If I were to play super picky: I'm not clear on whether the original quote was, no one has
been harmed (to our knowledge?) or no one ever could
be. Anyway. Without hanging around at that level of pickiness to no obvious end.... Dogging on about a specific interpretation of a vague quote where it's difficult to prove the original context and actual intent is an endless game. One can thump all comers on the mechanical facts (at least on the presumption that Mugabe would not have found a different trick to pull), sure. Without some statement of broader goals to pursue, I believe the significance is real thin. How could that sort of rhetorical question reasonably lead to the subtitle? Depending on how people use the terms, anyone among us could easily be a terrorist and
a champion of truth.
The problem with this is that it screws up the diplomatic process a lot. Part of diplomancy is that diplomants CAN keep secrets. You never say what you might really think about some nation (you are a child raping nation, fuckers! Fix that otr we'll either cuts funds to you or have an assasin on your wog ass.), but have to use more polite terms (We think you're human rights record could be better. Let's discuss ways to make that happen).
Maybe, maybe not. When the political leadership feels like sanctions or gearing up to possible military conflict, we hear all sorts of public declarations about threats and "failure to live up to community standards" and dictators and perhaps "evil"... I don't think it's much of a stretch to say that diplomats sometimes do much the same thing quietly. Moreover, no matter how much game face you stick on the lounge language of diplomats to make it sound
all positive, insiders should be able to interpret nicely worded warnings as threats. They should also often be able to say "nicely" in private that which has already been said nastily in public -- and often they are called upon to do just that. Secrets are also frequently known to be compromised or to expire. Now some diplomats will do some reading, have conversations and put a new spin on things, tell a few tall tales and make a few disclaimers... And voila, a whole new array of fair-weather friends bearing secrets. This, too, is politics.
I do see the argument that this presents issues for Tsvangirai in particular or just maybe for US strategy in Africa. I'm not really convinced that it's an earth-shattering game changer. Whether or not we happen to regard Assange as heroic, I think Kate makes a good point that he's just the messenger. I'm not so clear on the evidence that he would know
beforehand that Tsvangirai would be charged with treason, etc. If so, then it isn't obvious why he allowed that particular cable to be released while redacting more from others, etc. How many news stories -- including stories with insider-authorized leaks -- may have led to someone being harmed? Does the government really know, so much better than a major paper journalist? I don't see Callie or Zak arguing that most
international news needs to be shut down for the sake of national security.
What Assange has done that is new, is I think not so much receiving classified information per se -- It's more that he released more, sooner than news organizations have previously let fly and without wholly consulting insiders. I'm actually intrigued that the major newspapers decided to publish summaries. It would seem that they should have been concerned about some retribution from the government for doing so. After all, all these financial organizations have turned around and cut off Wikileaks or even moved to freeze assets. I don't think many people apart from international relations types would have found or bothered to comb through much of the Wikileaks site by themselves. So to me, it looks like the newspapers said hmm: Not only is the cat out of the bag and a few news events just might
occur because of these releases, but there is fundamental knowledge here that an educated public has an interest in knowing this. On that note... How many of you knew this by reading Wikileaks
anyway? How do you explain blaming Wikileaks, as opposed to blaming the soldier who originally released it or the major newspapers who selected and summarized the story for the world?
It also hampers efforts to get information and learn about things in the region/nation since any informant would be exposed and likely killed. The 'benefits' in this case are outweighed by the risks. Since this leak, it has likely become much harder for the US to influence the region.
Well yeah, if your concern is can the US sneak some particular negotiation through or maintain a figure of the hour on the chessboard, then that is a real problem. However if you say that is the
paramount question in itself, with no broader goals for government to pursue... Then we are back to that straw target. Callie's mentioned several times in the forums I believe, that Valerie Plame got a raw deal for someone's political points. How can we reconcile that kind of concern with a strict view of government secrecy? If the political leadership (or whatever agency one picks as the final
authority on state secrets) may rightfully declare the source of any old leak "terrorist," then well... It can go after the journalist who finds out there were no nuclear components there in Africa -- and
hide the politicians who put Valerie Plame in danger to sell us all a story through the same media organizations before that -- any time it pleases. Because under that logic only the government, and not the journalists or the people can ever know what is "too dangerous" to be released.