28.11.10

Next batch of Wikileaks. Death and destruction.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-11856122

Full disclosure: I do not currently work for the US gov't. But I have in the past and hope to again in the future. Why? Because a stable security situation in the vast majority of the world is good for international trade and commerce, in fact it's the very bedrock on which progress and understanding and political liberalization rest. And me working for the US military or gov't seems a very good way to contribute to that - while most of the rest of the world stands on the sidelines, spends their money on other things (freeloading on US security spending, minus Iraq imho) and has a generally good time being upset and self-satisfied with their anger at US efforts TO ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING. Yeah, just keep paying ransoms and being professionally aghast at this or that without actually committing troops anywhere. Or when you do - nice job hamstringing your UN troops so they can't actually do anything and end up sitting in their compounds while people are being systematically raped and ethnically cleansed a few miles down the road.

That said I believe in a Free Press. Big important concept, checks and balances and Freedom of Speech and all that. Fundamentally, the issue of leaks rests with stopping the leakage, not punishing those who publish gov't papers that come into their hands. BUT. Big but here. Publishing said papers doesn't absolve you of responsibility for the consequences thereof just because they're gov't papers and the controls on them weren't enough to stop them from coming out.

Secret and classified information is that way because it HAS to be that way. Communications between different parts of the gov't and the military and foreign embassies HAS to be classified or the whole thing breaks apart and now here you go with that whole international stability and economic progress through commerce and the GRADUAL spreading of liberal ideas like - hey, let's get some elementary education for women and let's not run around and kill each other and die from diseases and starvation and bad governance QUITE SO MUCH in that little big hell-hole called Africa.

Mr Assange has said the US authorities are afraid of being held to account.
Sure, that makes sense. It also makes sense that the vast majority of US civil and military servants are NOT evil ***holes bent on taking over the world and torturing people. Most of us just want to do good and protect people. To do that we have to communicate. Privately and securely, so we can advance the cause of individual freedoms and Self-Determination and all that good stuff in the world.

Ok, Iraq war. Sure, that was wrong. But that was Bush's and the neocons' deal and the extreme right-wing of the GOP. I had nothing to do with starting that war. I didn't like it. It turned out better than I thought it would but it is what it is and now we have to make the best of it. I'll be working on the repercussions of those decisions long past Mr. G. W. gets his first royalty check for his memoirs. Not my fault - I'm just trying to deal with the situation as is. Plus now we have a nascent democracy in Iraq - can't be a bad thing. At least people are allowed to leave the country now. Tiny little issue of the fact that the Iraqis themselves seem hellbent on driving their country into the ground, but Hell - that's on them.

So Wikileaks is about to throw a big wrench in this whole thing. 250 000 new classified documents. Good luck checking every single one of those for something that could conceivably have a VERY BAD IMPACT on things like education for women, operations against terrorists, liberalization in oppressive regimes etc. With luck there won't be any serious immediate killings of informants and helpful nice people who just want to do good for their societies. But that might happen.

And for sure the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will now last longer. Emboldened insurgents and Taleban. Hampered allied forces. Less allies and more isolated US forces.

1. Immediate withdrawal. Wikileaks and Mr. Assange cheer. The badly elected governments fall. Total chaos and a return to some very evil ways of doing business. Tribal councils and tribal law and sharia and there go your liberal openings.
2. We stay on and it continues to go sort of good, but made harder by the fact that now we have to take into account that anything we write that should be classified can one day very well end up on a website.

No good. Allies leave the operations because they can't trust communicating with us since they know we're a target for Wikileaks - in fact THE ONLY BIG TARGET, apparently. I would have zero problems with Wikileaks if they went after the Taliban and Pakistan and Russia as much as they go after the US. But they don't. They have an agenda and they're prosecuting that agenda full tilt.

...a response to correspondence from Mr Assange, who had written to the US ambassador to Britain, Louis Susman.
Mr Assange had asked which individuals would be put at risk by the leak, the state department said.
A senior American official told the BBC that Mr Assange was offering to negotiate over limited redactions.
In response, Mr Koh demanded that Wikileaks return official documents to the US government.
"We will not engage in a negotiation regarding the further release or dissemination of illegally obtained US government classified materials," Mr Koh stated in the letter.

Basically they want the names of anyone that could possibly get hurt by these documents. They then plug the names into a search function in their database and redact all mention of them, publish and proclaim themselves the good guys.

Bull****. You do not negotiate with terrorists or hostage-takers because it encourages more such operations. And likewise you do not negotiate with people who have illegally obtained documents which should stay classified FOR THE GOOD OF US ALL - because if we do, then we make it easier for them to do so again in the future. To put it simply - don't ask for help in making yourself look better from the very people you are hurting and making look bad.

When you publish, the onus of all the death and destruction you unleash over the next few years IS ON YOU. You are now the bad guy for making conflicts last longer and making conflicts harder to solve. Sure, maybe G.W. Bush needed to be taken down a notch.

Hey - NEWSFLASH - he ain't in power no more, bonehead.

Ok, maybe the neocons needed it too. But they're not looking all that great either atm. And punishing them should take a secondary place compared to helping us END THE WARS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN. You ain't helping. In fact, you're hurting.

F*** you, Mr. Assange. F*** you and your kind.

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