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Compiling the WikiLeaks Fallout 833

Posted by Soulskill
from the diplomacy-is-like-making-sausages dept.
Now that the world has had some time to process the quarter million diplomatic documents published by WikiLeaks on Sunday, the media landscape is rife with reactions, threats, and warnings. Some US lawmakers have complained loudly and at length, saying that "WikiLeaks is putting at risk the lives and the freedom of countless Americans and non-Americans around the world." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the leak "not just an attack on America's foreign policy interests, it is an attack on the international community." The Guardian points out that it's not the media's job to protect diplomats from embarrassment, and other US officials seem to agree, focusing their wrath instead on the security practices surrounding sensitive information. The Pentagon and other agencies are looking at ways to tighten security, promising increased internal auditing and banning the ability of systems containing classified information to connect to thumb drives or other removable media. Meanwhile, few officials seem to be commenting publicly on the contents of the leak, which are sure to cause diplomatic problems around the globe.
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Compiling the WikiLeaks Fallout

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  • Had time? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 2.7182 (819680) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:14PM (#34378534)
    I don't really think one day is really enough time to process these documents.
    • Re:Had time? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TommydCat (791543) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:23PM (#34378680) Homepage
      The real question is after many other countries digest the content, will there be any retaliation/action/bad stuff by the documented actors? Somehow I don't think foreign interests will give the US State Department a pass on this if it involves said interest.

      I'm all for the "information wants to be free" mantra, but when it can come to a considerable cost to others, the disclosure can't wipe their hands completely of responsibility. Airing a politician's dirty laundry is one thing, but releasing documents that may have names of people that may be endangered unawares should be handled with some discretion.

      I really don't like being on this side of the argument.. :-(
      • Re:Had time? (Score:5, Informative)

        by unity100 (970058) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:33PM (#34378896) Homepage Journal

        I'm all for the "information wants to be free" mantra, but when it can come to a considerable cost to others, the disclosure can't wipe their hands completely of responsibility. Airing a politician's dirty laundry is one thing, but releasing documents that may have names of people that may be endangered unawares should be handled with some discretion.

        considerable cost. like the one below ?

        Clashes with Europe over human rights: American officials sharply warned Germany in 2007 not to enforce arrest warrants for Central Intelligence Agency officers involved in a bungled operation in which an innocent German citizen with the same name as a suspected militant was mistakenly kidnapped and held for months in Afghanistan. A senior American diplomat told a German official “that our intention was not to threaten Germany, but rather to urge that the German government weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations with the U.S.”

        http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/world/29cables.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&hp [nytimes.com]

        excuse me, but any country, anyone, engaging in shit like the above, already pre-deserved any cost they are going to pay. people reap, what they saw. the only thing preventing the people in administration from reaping what they sow was that these were being hidden behind secrecy with 'national security' excuses.

        and now, they came out, and they are saying that 'its irresponsible'. actually meaning 'inconvenient' of course, since they are those who are responsible for the filth exposed. they wouldnt like it to come out.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          excuse me, but any country, anyone, engaging in shit like the above, already pre-deserved any cost they are going to pay. people reap, what they saw. the only thing preventing the people in administration from reaping what they sow was that these were being hidden behind secrecy with 'national security' excuses.

          Yep - so they should have published that incident. And incidents like it. What about the other 99% of the documents?

          The country deserves what it gets? Even when "what it gets" may be setbacks in international relations that damage not only US and its citizens, but can also serve as the spark that sets of far worse than a diplomatic crisis between other nations? The people who supposedly "pre-deserve" are only one party among the many who will pay.

          Dumping this data on the world is like that phrase, "

          • Re:Had time? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by unity100 (970058) on Monday November 29, 2010 @04:35PM (#34380074) Homepage Journal

            Yep - so they should have published that incident. And incidents like it. What about the other 99% of the documents?

            99% of the other documents that are out, show varying levels of filth. there is filth still. and heaven knows how much filth there is going to be yet.

            The country deserves what it gets? Even when "what it gets" may be setbacks in international relations that damage not only US and its citizens, but can also serve as the spark that sets of far worse than a diplomatic crisis between other nations? The people who supposedly "pre-deserve" are only one party among the many who will pay.

            excuse me, but judging from the amount of filth perpetrated, us is currently the biggest creator of all incidents, causes and issues worldwide. strictest regimes pale in comparison.

            Dumping this data on the world is like that phrase, "Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out."

            there is no easy way to do this. if, you engage in any kind of filtering, eventually mechanisms that will filter out most of the information will be created by the countries or private interests. shit, should get out, as it is.

            it was a long time coming already. there should be no secrets. the time of 'secrets' in regard to military or national security matters, is long gone. now every country knows at precisely what our the sentries of an important watchtower is rotating, thanks to the military satellites. all countries know, who is cabling what to whom, secretly and diplomatically, thanks to the monitoring technologies developed since the electronics age.

            so, basically, your enemy knows you, you know your enemy and everyone knows what everyone else is doing.

            the ONLY party not knowing what's happening has been the citizens. us. the people.

            it was high time that we learned.

          • Re:Had time? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:53PM (#34381230)

            Yep - so they should have published that incident. And incidents like it. What about the other 99% of the documents?

            The country deserves what it gets? Even when "what it gets" may be setbacks in international relations that damage not only US and its citizens, but can also serve as the spark that sets of far worse than a diplomatic crisis between other nations? The people who supposedly "pre-deserve" are only one party among the many who will pay.

            Dumping this data on the world is like that phrase, "Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out." Elsewhere you said that "responsible reporting" can't be a concern when dealing with the evil juggernaut that is the US (paraphrased). I say that you've a very narrow view of "responsible reporting"; and an interesting set of double-standards in that it seems to be OK with you that the fallout from this may be far worse among other nations than anything the US did in the last few years.

            Had wikileaks provided only information such as what you saw above, that would go a long way towards justifying their actions. What they did, though, only further shows how their lack of accountability also ensures that they have no sense of responsibility.

            There's a lot of may be in the above condemnation of wikileaks, but no specifics, yet somehow that turns into a many who will pay. Show us specific documents which put someone in danger please, then we'll talk. The worst I've seen is embarrassing truths aired in public.

            Actually I think this release has done the US good, in that it mainly highlights US diplomats doing a competent job dealing with sometimes crazy situations and reporting back truthfully on the situation as they see it. There are some problematic releases, but then, it'll probably do the US good in the long term to be called out on unacceptable behaviour (trying to get the credit card details of UN officials for example, or trying to bully countries into accepting kidnap/assassinations as SOP). Those particular files are *exactly* the sort of releases the government least wants and would give spurious 'security' excuses for hiding, and yet they are the ones that most need to be brought to light, and the practices stopped, which would be in the long-term interests of the USA.

    • Re:Had time? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by grcumb (781340) on Monday November 29, 2010 @04:31PM (#34379996) Homepage Journal

      I don't really think one day is really enough time to process these documents.

      Indeed. Say what you like about wikileaks, but there is probably not a single researcher in International Relations, History or Political Science without a cum-stain in his pants today. Never in modern history has so much information been made available in such a readily accessible format about one point in history. This is, for researchers, a gift that will keep on giving for decades to come.

      The thing that impressed me most from my brief perusal of the 200-odd documents released on the first day was the quality of the analysis. The 'scene setter' papers were well-written and obviously well-researched. I suspect that there's more than one junior foreign officer out there with a quiet smile on their face today, because finally the world will see just how good they are.

      Yes, I'm ignoring completely the ethics and morality of the situation. That horse is out of the barn, but what a barn it is....

      These cables will provide more insight and understanding into American diplomacy than anything else ever has. Just as access to hitherto proprietary source code sometimes unearths dirty secrets, there is a lot of unpleasantness to be found in the cables. I think the longer term result, however, will be that much of what's good about the US diplomatic corps (and there's a lot of that) will assist countless others to improve their own work and that of others.

  • by jpmorgan (517966) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:22PM (#34378652) Homepage

    I'm certain more details will come out as people have more time to go through these documents. But so far what I've found most surprising is how unsurprising these documents are. So the US is spying. Big fucking deal, everybody spies. This isn't news. There's no smoking gun, no festering sore of corruption that this was presented to be.

    Is this really a case of 'holding the US to account for its crimes' or just malice, someone's personal agenda to get back at the big bad Americans? So far, it's looking more like the latter. I'm starting to question my former support for wikileaks.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Thelasko (1196535)
      Yes, most of the information is uninteresting. Such as:

      Comments such a description of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's head of state, as playing "Robin to (Prime Minister Vladimir) Putin's Batman,"

      However, there are a few juicy tidbits in there. Like the Saudi king asking the US to attack Iran.

    • by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:36PM (#34378954)

      Is this really a case of 'holding the US to account for its crimes' or just malice, someone's personal agenda to get back at the big bad Americans? So far, it's looking more like the latter. I'm starting to question my former support for wikileaks.

      You've been drinking the kool aid a bit heavily. Wikileaks has been careful not to release data that could pose an immediate threat to life or safety. They've been posting things that embarrass the government and affect its public image. And you want to stop supporting them because of this? Wikileaks didn't kill a bunch of brown people in an some country with an unpronounceable name and then pretend it didn't happen. Wikileaks didn't blow away several journalists who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They weren't making comments into the mic, laughing and acting excited that they were gunning down unarmed civilians.

      They just told you it happened. Which is something your government (and mine) wouldn't do, and would never do if it had the choice. And all of this has been hidden behind the cloak of "national security". National security only goes so far -- when it is used as an excuse to violate the basic social contract and principles which the government is supposed to be supporting, it is the duty of those who know about this to spread the word far and wide and bring the democratic process into play to fix such systemic problems.

      Wikileaks isn't on some quest to destroy the government: It is serving the purpose of saving it from itself, before it becomes completely unaccountable to its citizens and eventually becomes destructive of its own ends.

      • by fishbowl (7759) on Monday November 29, 2010 @04:18PM (#34379748)

        So far, Wikileaks has only released the same things with the same redactions as the New York Times has released with the informed consent of the State Department.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Fnkmaster (89084)

        They've been posting things that embarrass the government and affect its public image.

        Specifically, I think you mean the US government. One thing (not the only thing though) that bothers me about Wikileaks is that it seems to be exclusively, or at least principally, dedicated to embarrassing the US government.

        I have no problem with calling out lies told by world leaders - for example, George W. Bush was lying when he claimed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was working with terrorist

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by icebike (68054)

      The unsurprising facts that the Saudi's were funding most terrorism was as unsurprising as the fact that they fear Iran, and that China hacked Google.

      We all knew this, or suspected it. That our diplomats talk frankly among themselves is nothing more than I would suspect.

      That there are idiots here on /. that believe this should not be the case is the only surprise I've seen about this whole episode.

      What I want to know is how a buck private managed to get his hands on diplomatic traffic. If heads must roll s

  • by Dr. Spork (142693) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:24PM (#34378682)
    I don't know if this happened to many other people, but when I was reading through the leaks, I thought: It's good that my government knows all this stuff and keeps track of it. I think I've grown so used to thinking of the USA as being run by fools that it was actually a bit comforting to see that they actually do research and know stuff. Too bad that doesn't stop them acting foolishly!
  • But really... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by garyisabusyguy (732330) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:24PM (#34378690)

    FTA "promising increased internal auditing and banning the ability of systems containing classified information to connect to thumb drives or other removable media"

    Are the people running this network lost in the eighties, um, I mean sometime before Multix (say the early sixties)?

    Wouldn't you think that internal auditing and limiting the ability to copy classified files to removable media should have been addressed decades before this leak occured?

  • Hear that bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by unity100 (970058) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:25PM (#34378720) Homepage Journal

    "WikiLeaks is putting at risk the lives and the freedom of countless Americans and non-Americans around the world."

    COUNTLESS they say. countless as in, a few hundred, tops. compared to 66.000+ (official no, unofficial probably higher) dead in iraq, unknown number dead in afghanistan, unknown number lost in the hands of cia, nsa and ice. (even inside usa - http://www.thenation.com/article/americas-secret-ice-castles [thenation.com] )

    and they come up with long-repeated, surefire bullshit 'putting countless lives at risk' -> vague enough too, you can never calculate how many lives lost and compare it to those who got killed while chasing a wild goose under false pretenses in afghan mountains or iraq plains.

    but that's all fancy talk. what they are basically saying, bluntly and in streetspeak is :

    "Let us continue doing our filth behind the veil of secrecy by biting the bait of 'risk of freedom and lives'"

    .....

    • by Xest (935314) on Monday November 29, 2010 @05:23PM (#34380832)

      Wikileaks isn't putting anyone at risk, when the US government put this charge forward to Wikileaks, Assange responded asking for an example name of someone who would be put in trouble so they could negotiate over further redacting the documents to protect such people, the US responded stating they wont negotiate over it and to hand it all back.

      If anyone is at risk over this the blame falls entirely on the US government, they had the option to ensure the leaks damaged only reputation but not put people in danger and they refused to accept it.

  • Data portability (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:26PM (#34378724)

    Having worked for several businesses that have attempted to ban the use of portable media -- it's a pointless endeavor. Anything that connects to a USB port can emulate anything else that can connect to a USB port. I have seen USB flash drives that emulate rewritable CDROMs, etc. And with just a little bit of work, you can use standard HUD devices like mice and keyboards to stream data out at very high speeds to other devices. And nevermind Firewire and it's built-in ability to directly manipulate system memory -- if the port has power, all your memory are belong to us. -_-

    There is only one security measure that works in this situation: Air gap. Everything else is window dressing.

  • by painandgreed (692585) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:28PM (#34378776)
    What I really have to wonder is that if essentially one guy with a website can get this much info, how much do the other nations with active espionage units manage to get?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      What makes you think that another country wasn't behind leaking the info to wikileaks? Do you think wikileaks has a staff that actively acquires the documents?

  • Doh (Score:3, Interesting)

    by unity100 (970058) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:29PM (#34378798) Homepage Journal

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the leak "not just an attack on America's foreign policy interests, it is an attack on the international community."

    somehow it suddenly became an attack on 'international community'.

    says the secretary of the country that grabbed german citizens in germany and tortured them abroad.

    Clashes with Europe over human rights: American officials sharply warned Germany in 2007 not to enforce arrest warrants for Central Intelligence Agency officers involved in a bungled operation in which an innocent German citizen with the same name as a suspected militant was mistakenly kidnapped and held for months in Afghanistan. A senior American diplomat told a German official "that our intention was not to threaten Germany, but rather to urge that the German government weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations with the U.S."

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/world/29cables.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&hp [nytimes.com]

    if, exposing the above filth was an 'attack on international community' what the fuck was going and grabbing german citizens in germany and torturing them abroad ?

    filth. nothing but filth. and if ANYone listens to their bullshit about 'risking countless lives and freedom', they will be able to perpetuate that shit. notice - freedom. freedom of grabbing people abroad and torturing, she means, probably.

    • Re:Doh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rockoon (1252108) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:46PM (#34379126)

      if, exposing the above filth was an 'attack on international community' what the fuck was going and grabbing german citizens in germany and torturing them abroad ?

      Nowhere in the page you linked to is torture mentioned. Not even once.

      That you somehow jumped to this conclusion is evidence that you currently are not thinking straight and need to self-evaluate. Something is wrong with your thinking process and you need to figure out why you completely imagined pretty much the most damning information possible within the link, and how long you have been doing this to your perspective.

  • by santax (1541065) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:32PM (#34378874)
    They only released 243 cables at this point. http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/ [wikileaks.org]
  • Something to hide? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Teufelsmuhle (849105) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:39PM (#34379000)
    "You shouldn't care unless you've got something to hide."

    Isn't that line we always hear from these government agencies when it comes to privacy invasions? I can only assume from the outcry that they must have something to hide.
  • by blind biker (1066130) on Monday November 29, 2010 @03:50PM (#34379202) Journal

    I have been saying for a long time, that Israel is far less worried about the Iranian enrichment program, than the Arab countries - and this diplomatic cable leak has proven me right. Arab states have urged the US to destroy the Iranian nuclear enrichment program. Yes, the Muslim brothers. Turns out, there's more animosity between Sunni (Arab countries) and Shia (Iran) than they like to admit. Not surprising, violence between Sunni and Shia kills orders of magnitude more Muslims than West-East conflict.

    I find it particularly telling that Saudi Arabia, which has itself a formidable weapon hardware, would be begging the US to do the dirty deed for them. I find it telling, not surprising: Muslim countries would not want to be seen in disagreement, and an air raid on another country's research facilities could definitely be interpreted as a "disagreement".

    None of the things I have learned from these leaks surprised me at all. The candid opinion of US diplomats and politicians about some "allies" such as Turkey, is refreshing. Oh, I would love that kind of candor from politicians in every day life!

  • Net Loss to Public (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bkmoore (1910118) on Monday November 29, 2010 @04:07PM (#34379546)

    I wrote some of the classified documents on Wikilieaks during my time with the military. I am a civilian now. Much of what I have written is already available to researchers and journalists from the Marine Corps Historical archive in Quantico, Virginia. The Iraq dump contained many significant events from my battalion, but lacked the commanders' comments or the command chronology narrative to tie the events together and put them into perspective. This information is actually available through official sources. What is on Wikileaks has is actually quite limited.

    I have two concerns about the fallout to the leak. The first concern is the U.S. may retroactively classify documents currently available to the public, or be less likely to release documents in the future. This will result in a net loss of access to information to the general public. My second concern is the military may become more compartmentalized and soldiers at the small-unit level may no longer have access to the same amount of intelligence information as they previously had. This would be unfortunate because a lot of the young Marines or Soldiers bring a fresh perspective to looking at the raw information and can often connect the dots and find things missed by back-office analysts.

    The public has a right to know what the government is doing as long as it doesn't compromise operational security. Within the government there are people pushing to declassify information and make it available. There are others who would like to make everything a secret until the end of time. This latest leak will push the pendulum towards the secret squirrels. I doubt too many service members will want to follow in Pvt. Manning's footsteps, so Mr. Assange probably won't be getting too much new information. Without people sending him leaks, Mr. Assange wouldn't have much of a web site. If the U.S. were smart, they would put up an alternate web site to Wikileaks which would provide declassified versions of government documents and explain why it is important to balance the public's right to know with the need for operational security.

  • by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Monday November 29, 2010 @04:08PM (#34379562) Homepage

    The Pentagon and other agencies are looking at ways to tighten security, promising increased internal auditing and banning the ability of systems containing classified information to connect to thumb drives or other removable media.

    The more you tighten your grip, Gates and Clinton, the more memos will slip through your fingers...

  • Redefining terrorism (Score:5, Informative)

    by qmaqdk (522323) on Monday November 29, 2010 @04:15PM (#34379692)

    Apparently disclosing the following counts as an act of terrorism according to a certain republican [nydailynews.com]:

    * US diplomats spying on UN [guardian.co.uk]

    * Canadian diplomats asking ExxonMobil and BP to help "kill" U.S. global-warming policies to ensure that "the oil keeps a-flowing" into the U.S. [edmontonjournal.com]

    * Yemen goverment lying to its people on US bombings [salon.com]

    * US pressing Germany to not pursue arrest warrants for 13 agents CIA agents. [bloomberg.com] (arrest warrents that the cables describe as "From a judicial standpoint, the facts are clear, and the Munich prosecutor has acted correctly.")

    This is stuff that people need to know.

  • Transparency (Score:5, Insightful)

    by euxneks (516538) on Monday November 29, 2010 @04:20PM (#34379788)
    Really, this is fucking awesome. They complain when we the public have secrets, but they claim they need to have their own secrets, look, if you're going to rub my crotch when I go visit my brother or grandma, don't fucking expect any sympathy when you're plotting shit with radical governments and that crap gets out. If you want privacy, give me back mine.
  • by littlewink (996298) on Tuesday November 30, 2010 @01:27AM (#34385264)
    managed by U.S. intelligence. Nothing truly significant has been released with the exception of information boosting the U.S. viewpoint and some interesting perspective on Chinese-N. Korean diplomacy.

    One of the strongest indicators that it's a false flag operation is that Assange and WikiLeaks are still alive and kicking. Had he crossed U.S. intelligence, he'd have disappeared by now.

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