Daily Archives: December 1, 2010

Wikileaks and ‘cablegate’

First…can we please STOP putting ‘gate’ on the end of everything?

Ok, If I can come up with an interesting plan I intend on going through some of the numerous cables that Wikileaks is releasing into the world .  At this point however, I don’t have anything to say of the substance of the materials.  I do have some thoughts however:

  • Is it established that Bradley Manning is the source of these leaks (and the Afghan ones AND the original Iraq ones)?
  • We’re well into the information age.  Perhaps we shouldn’t be asking how is this happening but why isn’t it happening more often.  It also seems like we should expect things like this to happen in the future and plan accordingly.
  • I have to admit I find the issue fascinating.  We’ve been talking about non-state actors for years now but now we have a new sub-category.  Despite outrage from the U.S., Julian Assange isn’t a terrorist and having the CIA send out a hit team (which they’d probably screw up in any case) just isn’t appropriate.  Still, I think you could argue that he’s causing an amazing amount of disruption (at least in the short term).
  • Wikileaks is in desperate need of someone with web development skills.  Their search options, quite frankly, suck.  And now that they’ve been the victims of some DOS attacks, it’d be nice if they’d throw the stuff out on a torrent somewhere for download.

I agree with J that I don’t really see this as shaking the foundations of international relations.  Yes it’ll cause some embarrassment but, quite frankly, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.  Elected leaders lying to an elected representative body with the approval of the United States (beacon of democracy)?  Yeah, forgive me for not crying over that.  Continuing to give cover to Saudi Arabia who privately asks us to attack Iran yet continues to fund radical Islamism around the world?  No sympathy for the boys in State for that.

MSNBC has done a really crap job covering this issue.  Yesterday, while waiting to go to the airport I was watching Morning Joe (mea culpa!) as they were remarking (in astonishment) how such a low level soldier could access such information.

Their answer?

We need to restrict access to information!  Yeah…remember the 9/11 commission and their description of information stovepipes and agencies refusing to share with each other.  Absolutely…let’s go back to that!

And then this nonsense story about how much of a boon the information dump is to terrorists.  Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce Red Herring:

For example, a cable from Abu Dhabi describes a dinner hosted by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.He was having the dinner party for the former American CENTCOM Cmdr. John Abizaid. The cables listed a half-dozen senior UAE military officials who attended the dinner.

This is not just a guest list. WikiLeaks exposed the inner circle of the UAE’s military and intelligence command. The guest list identified the power players, information that could be useful to someone who wants to harm the UAE, or change the nation’s policy.

While the names and titles of the security officials are known (they can be looked up on Google), revealing who gathers for a top-level meeting shows who is really important. There are many security officials in the UAE.  The dinner list identifies which ones are critical.

Yes, because terrorists looking for targets will use google, look at the top result (hopefully it’s not an ad!) and stop right there.  They’d never even think about doing a good, thorough open source search or (gasp) a covert information gathering operation.