I don't see any lack of clarity in it.
Good point. I got a little side-tracked in the capitalisation. Having finished reading the sentence, I agree.
They're not actually charging the PFC with treason or espionage.
I suspect that I just have a deep and abiding sense of skepticism after the WMDs, Guantanamo, dead hostages, and a War in Iraq based on politically-cooked intelligence. If my government were to tell me that the sky was blue, water was wet and fire was hot, I'd want to go and check.
Having read through more cables this morning, they're still all off the titilating / embarrasing nature. My favourite was this http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/cable/2009/12/09ASHGABAT1633.html
"Turkmen President Berdimuhammedov does not like people who are smarter than he is. Since he's not a very bright guy, our source offered, he is suspicious of a lot of people."
My main thought is: it's no use hand-wringing about "Oh, this will make diplomacy impossible" or "Oh, the rotten chap, he should be arrested or assassinated". Wikileaks is a symptom of what advanced communication, and Wikileaks (or something like it) can't be stopped. The world is turning into a place where your digital mistakes are archived and accessible to everyone. It's useful trying to work out how to live in a world like that, it's not worth trying to stop it.
Maybe these sorts of leaked cables will seem like nothing special to a generation of people whose drunken teenage angsty poseur Facebook pictures and posts are still up there thirty years later. Maybe that means we have a generation to wait before political life catches up with technology.
Do the leaked cables change anything? I wasn't aware of how anti-Iran the Arab leaders are, or of how ineffective Putin is at controlling the Russian government, or of what China really feels about North Korea. So I learnt something. The only way I can imagine the leaking having an actual impact is through people learning more and then applying slow gentle pressure to their governments, the sort of gentle pressure that allows politicians to take small steps because they sense the people are with them, or prevents them from taking small steps.
The US government is in an interesting predicament. It made all these documents float freely around a network as part of a deliberate attempt to "join the dots" after 9/11. I.e. it realized that an effective organization requires open communication. But open communication can't be contained. Assange is trying to provoke the US (and other organizations) to decide whether they will be ineffective with limited communication, or effective with open communication. It's exactly what the West has been preaching at China (the only way to a vibrant knowledge economy is through freedom of expression).
I'm thinking of a statement like this from Hilary Clinton:
"China has a lot of very positive results from economic growth, but I will predict to you, I don't know whether it's five years or 10 years or 15, there is an inherent conflict between economic freedom and the lack of political freedom," she said in a speech in Malaysia in early November.
"The political space for speaking out has not grown."
'Speaking out' means saying something and having it accessible to a wide audience. Clinton is saying that the state should not interfere with these communications.
The US SIPRNET, from where the leaks came, is a communications network designed to disseminate nuggets of information to a wide range of possible listeners, any of whom might be able to do something useful with it.
You might be able to achieve a bit of a reduction in inter-governmental partitioning just by getting the heads of departments to meet for coffee twice a week. But I think they came up with SIPRNET because they realized that "coffee morning for department heads" won't achieve anything, what you actually need is to get the nuggets of information to the people who can do something with them. The department heads don't know who needs what, only the individual experts know who needs what.
So I do think it is fair to say that what Hilary Clinton is preaching to China is very close to what the US embodied with SIPRNET.
This is just another phenomenon that the Westphalian state is unable to deal with. How did they deal with multi-nationals? Be bending over and taking it. With climate change? By burying their head. I am very keen to see what, if anything, will change.
Lastly, I think JFK had it right:
"The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it."
Does this mean that I think that all information should be free? No, rather that you should have to justify what you conceal rather than what you release. And national security has been used as a blanket to cover so very many sins. From Concentration Camps (Go Britain), torture, enforced sterilisation, assault, murder, rape, crimes against humanity, graves breaches of the laws and customs of war, and so on. These are all things done in the name of the state. Shouldn't they really be done in the name of the people?