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WikiLeaks – much ado about nothing

December 9, 2010

“O, what men dare do!  what men may do!  what men daily do, not knowing what they do!” – W. Shakespeare

There are times when I cringe at knee-jerk reactions from fellow conservatives, and this is one of them. Eleven days ago WikiLeaks posted a quarter-million U.S. State Department cables on the Internet and not one of them provides earth-shattering news. Yet people are acting like it’s the fall of the Roman Empire.

“Sabotage and espionage!” shouts Charles Krauthammer. “Devastating!” whines Michelle Malkin. “Scandalous!” huffs Newt Gingrich (who happens to be knowledgeable on the subject of scandal).

Predictably, conservative pundits are eager to accuse Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton of being derelict, but let’s be real: most of the cables were sent during the Obama presidency, but not all of them, and some are from as far back as 1966 so clearly the current administration doesn’t deserve a monopoly on the blame.

Equally clearly, no great harm has been done to anybody except the nincompoops in government who are suffering a mighty embarrassment… because while nothing in the way of news has been exposed, the amateurism and stupidity of government officials are on full display.

Who isn’t in favor of that? Go WikiLeaks!

Here are the eight big U.S. “secrets” revealed by the New York Times’ original WikiLeaks story (try not to yawn):

1. We are worried about some enriched nuclear fuel in Pakistan.
2. We discussed with South Korea what happens if North Korea collapses.
3. We asked other countries to take Guantanamo Bay prisoners off our hands.
4. We suspect there is corruption in the Afghan government.
5. China hacked into Google’s China-based computers.
6. Saudi donors are the chief source of funds for Al Qaeda.
7. Syria is supplying arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
8. Libya's Qaddafi was upset that he couldn't set up a tent in Manhattan.

Are you kidding me? There isn’t one story in that list you haven’t read elsewhere long before now. If a journalist walked into the Times chief editor’s office with any of those stories, they’d get a kick in the butt and told to go find some actual news.

"Hey, chief, I got a source who says the president of Afghanistan is corrupt. Ouch!"

One truly newsworthy issue is the New York Times’ hypocrisy. Last year, in eerily similar circumstances, they were given emails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia which suggested that scientists who supported the theory of Anthropogenic Global Warming were suppressing skeptics and fudging data. Because those emails challenged a position which the liberal Times supports, they refused to print them, saying by way of excuse that they were “stolen.”

What? Emails from a public college in the U.K. are stolen, but U.S. diplomatic cables marked “secret” are not?

The Times has been caught lying and manufacturing stories so often over the last few years that they have little credibility remaining… and now they’ve lost a chunk of that remainder.

Meanwhile, almost everybody is ignoring the awkward and politically incorrect fact that America’s diplomatic cables were stolen by a homosexual Army private who was bitter about the Army’s policy toward gays, and who apparently stole the documents as a direct consequence of that bitterness. On C-SPAN last week you could watch senators questioning generals and admirals about the ramifications of repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, thereby allowing gays to serve openly, and nobody mentioned that at that very moment the United States was watching its diplomatic secrets spill into the world’s newspapers because of a gay soldier.

It’s not just that a gay man stole State Department cables. It’s that he stole them because he was gay. Seems like somebody in the senate hearing room should’ve found that relevant, ya know?

Duh.

Beginning to end, the WikiLeaks scandal has been, not about national secrets exposed, but rather about the incredible, pervasive, mind-boggling incompetence of the state. Based on the leaked cables, it appears that people who go to work for the government take a stupid pill on their first day. If it’s not Secretary Clinton telling her United Nations staff to collect the DNA of foreign diplomats (watch for a new CBS spinoff, “CSI: Hillary”) and worrying about how Argentina’s president is “managing her nerves and anxiety,” then it’s Barack Obama getting shouted at by the king of Saudi Arabia because the president naively assumes that the king cares more about Palestinians having a homeland than Iranians having nuclear bombs.

“Cut off the head of the snake!” is the frequent message to the Obama administration from the king, referring to his desire for a U.S. military strike on Iran. This isn’t a surprise to anybody who keeps up with current events. It’s only a surprise to the people in our government. Think about it: if you ruled a country that bordered Iran, wouldn’t you be more concerned about crazy-Iranians-building-nuclear-bombs than crazy-Palestinians-throwing-rocks? Is this stuff really that hard to figure?

Bradley Manning, the gay Army private who’s been arrested for this document thievery, worked on an Internet which is separate from the Internet the rest of us know. It’s called the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, or SIPRNET, and is owned and operated by the U.S. Government for the purpose of communicating information the government wants to keep secret. SIPRNET doesn’t connect to the regular Internet, so Bradley couldn’t simply email stuff to WikiLeaks – instead he brought a blank CD to work with him in a Lady Gaga case, copied the State Department’s secret documents to the CD, and then walked out with his CD-in-a-Lady-Gaga-case information time-bomb.

That’s how simple it was. Only the government is stupid enough to have security this lax and think it can keep a secret.

Remember the old saying, “Once more than one person knows a secret, it’s no longer a secret?” There are somewhere between three million and six million people with the necessary clearance to use SIPRNET. With that many people having access to our “secrets,” if you think the Chinese and Russians and Iranians and North Koreans didn’t already have in their possession everything Bradley gave to WikiLeaks, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

But wait, the government stupidity continues! More than a week after WikiLeaks posted this stuff online, the federal government informed its two-plus million employees (and God-knows-how-many contractors) that accessing the WikiLeaks website is a federal crime because the documents are still considered classified information… even though they’re publicly available on the Internet now:
Date: 12/07/2010 11:18 AM
To: All DOI Employees and Contractors
From: Solicitor
Subject: Safeguarding of Classified Information and Use of Government Information Technology Systems

The recent disclosure of U.S. Government documents by WikiLeaks has resulted in damage to our national security. Each federal employee and contractor is obligated to protect classified information pursuant to all applicable laws, and to use government information technology systems in accordance with agency procedures so that the integrity of such systems is not compromised.
Unauthorized disclosures of classified documents (whether in print, on a blog, or on websites) do not alter the documents' classified status or automatically result in declassification of the documents. To the contrary, classified information, whether or not already posted on public websites or disclosed to the media, remains classified, and must be treated as such by federal employees and contractors, until it is declassified by an appropriate U.S. Government authority. Executive Order 13526, Classified National Security Information (December 29, 2009), Section 1.1.(c) states, "Classified Information shall not be declassified automatically as a result of any unauthorized disclosure of identical or similar information." Although the Department has blocked access to the WikiLeaks web site from Departmental computers, it is important to understand our continuing duties and responsibilities in this regard...
So that's how it stands: everybody can look at WikiLeaks except government employees. Which means everybody will be better informed than the people in our government. Good thinking, whoever thought of that.

Here’s the ominous message Interior Department employees see if they try to visit the WikiLeaks website:

 

Apparently, somebody never learned about the futility of locking the barn door after the horse is gone.



From Reno, Nevada, USA

December 9, 2010 - People keep complaining that WikiLeaks has endangered our troops and our foreign sources, but so far nobody has provided a specific example of something in the WikiLeaks documents that would endanger anybody. I'm with you, much ado about nothing. - B. Howcroft, Indiana



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