Monday, December 20, 2010

Bogus & Bravado

Alan Bock: Things we shouldn't have had to learn from WikiLeaks. December 17, 2010|By ALAN BOCK

"There have been expressions of alarm over the possibility that the release of diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks could endanger Americans and others, notably human-rights activists in other countries, leaving WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange "with blood on his hands." To date, however, the government has not described a single instance of a life being endangered, or even of a diplomatic initiative threatened, by the document dumps – which you know it would do if it had a credible example.

I'm not saying there aren't a number of things the government justifiably should keep secret, but I've come to believe it's a fraction of what is actually classified. When I worked in the nation's capital in the 1970s, including three years as a congressional aide with limited access to classified material, I got the distinct impression that a significant reason for classifying so much information was to give those with access a boost in self-esteem; yes, they were entrusted with facts about the nation's business that were so vital, only they could know. I can't tell you how many times at cocktail parties staff members, state department workers and others would explain that if we knew what they knew, but which, unfortunately, they couldn't tell us, we wouldn't be questioning policies or actions so vigorously. Out of curiosity I tracked down a few such boasts and found them to be bogus or bravado."

----- Ever notice when someone wants to sound knowledgeable on secret government stuff they always mention they worked X number of years in government, etc. etc.

Of course the amount of material that is classified is much larger than what should be, but not to boost the self-esteem of low level staffers and diplomats so they can feel important at cocktail parties. It's done our of sheer laziness. It's easier to stamp classified or confidential on most everything than to actually make an honest determination and accept responsibility.

If the Assange supporters are correct and the leaks endanger no one - then basically Assange is a dufus, boasting like a puffed up government employee at a D.C. cocktail party, but letting us know the secrets he knows.

According to WaPo Wikileaks "unveiling" of State Department cables exposes the inner workings of U.S. diplomacy. Oh my. Putin is described as an alpha-dog. Karzai is driven by paranoia. Angela Merkel allegedly "avoids risk and is rarely creative." Silvio Berlusconi is "Putin's mouthpiece" after receiving "lavish gifts."

Classified gossip, opinions, or assessments that should remain out of the public realm? Death to diplomacy? Would you want to have a sit down with someone who thinks you're a bit cowardly and uncreative, or a mouthpiece, or a paranoid.

Bock writes: "To date, however, the government has not described a single instance of a life being endangered, or even of a diplomatic initiative threatened, by the document dumps – which you know it would do if it had a credible example."

You know, wikileaks began redacting heavily after its initial leaking. (The military was in the process of notifying some 300 Iraqis whose names were in the documents. You think all 300 dodged that bullet?)

I can think of a couple of reasons the government has not given a single instance. One, the dumps are petty ... crappola ... making Assange yet another among many bogus heroes. Or two, the government, being slow and incompetent, will have a credible "instance" in the future but by that time it will matter only to the person it directly effected - as the crappolistas will be busy unveiling the newest peoples' hero to fill the chattering lives of on-line forum fighters who haven't a clue to what is going on under their nose.

Hopefully, Assange will wikileak those secrets from Russia and China that he claims access to. Although he may end up eating polonium if he does.


kf said...

A belated Merry Christmas and an early Happy New Year!

I surely miss your frequent editorials but I certainly understand, as you described in the previous post and have said on other occasions - how boring is this same nonsense day after day, year after year, and hardly anyone seems to care.

I'll continue to keep a watch at KAB and post 'em over at the old fart's WRH group at Yahoo.

Your writing salvaged my sanity back in '05 when Number One Son was stop-lossed for a second tour and Camp Casey turned out to be a fool's errand. You were an excellent guide through my rude awakening!

All the best to you and yours,

Kate-A said...

Merry Xmas and New Year to you too kf. I'm humbled if I guided anyone, as blogging has been an awakening for me too.

Thanks for being a reader.

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