Still working my way through #cablegate, so for now am going to highlight several items posted by others that preliminarily stood out for yours truly (more below the fold):
Sean Paul Kelley notes that, despite repeated overstatements by hyperbolic US officials regarding the (not-so) lethal outcomes of previous doc-dumps (‘mostly embarrassing’ seems to sum up the latest release), ‘radical transparency’ can still lead to unintended consequences that could impact issues (and institutions) important to progressives concerned about US foreign policy:
It’s fine and well to sit on your high horse and talk *tsk* *tsk* about bribery and ethics and morals but the disclosure of these cables will harm your interests. Let me put it this way: do you want to see the US invade Yemen? How can the disclosure of President Saleh of Yemen lying to his own people (and laughing about it) do us any good? How will it do the cause of peace any good at all when it will more than likely destabilize Yemen further and subsequently add momentum to the “do something crowd” in the Beltway? Do you think a Yemen post-Saleh will be less inclined to radical Islam? Do you honestly think these disclosures are going to stop that?
According to Le Monde (in translation), a cable relayed to Washington a conversation between the emir of Qatar and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) last February: “Based on over 30 years of experience with the Iranians, the emir concluded the meeting by saying that we shouldn’t believe but one word in a hundred that the Iranians say.” The prime minister of Qatar told Kerry later that trip that Ahmadinejad told him: “we beat the Americans in Iraq, the final battle will be in Iran.”
The president of the Upper House of the Jordanian Parliament, Zeid Rifai, was said in a cable (translated) to have told the U.S. that “the dialogue with Iran will go ‘nowhere’, adding: ‘bomb Iran or live with a nuclear Iran: the sanctions, the carrots, the incentives, have no importance.'”
The Omanis were similarly concerned, according to cables relayed by the New York Times, as an Omani military official told officials that he could not decide which was worse: “a strike against Iran’s nuclear capability and the resulting turmoil it would cause in the Gulf, or inaction and having to live with a nuclear-capable Iran.”
The United Arab Emirates’ defense chief, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of Abu Dhabi, called Iranian Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “Hitler” to U.S. officials, also “stressed ‘that he wasn’t suggesting that the first option was ‘bombing’ Iran,’ but also warned, ‘They have to be dealt with before they do something tragic.'”
The Saudis, the Bahrainis and even Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak were all similarly inclined, as has been widely reported — El Pais reported that Mubarak’s hatred for Iran was called “visceral” and the New York Times reported the existence of cables referring to the Saudi king’s “frequent exhortations” to engage in military action against Iran. The Bahrainis, too, are said to be keen to see Iran’s nuclear program halted, and King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa is said to have blamed problems in Iraq and Afghanistan on the Iranian government — and both Kuwaiti and Yemeni officials reportedly told U.S. diplomats similar things about Iranian involvement in fomenting dissent in their own countries.
As Frum wryly noted, “Isn’t the real message of Wikileaks that King Abdullah is the ultimate Likudnik?”
Finally, via Joshua Foust, it appears that others share my concern re: the lack of transparency/accountability on the part of Wikileaks (in a nutshell: if you appoint yourself as a champion of the public interest — and arbitrarily determine what constitutes ‘public interest’ — you should be fully accountable to the public). With that said, the last outlet I expected to start watching the watchmen was…Gawker?
In many ways Wikileaks really has opened things up, breaking big stories and providing a much-needed check on excessive government secrecy. But championing transparency at all costs has lead to some controversial moves, too: For example, its leak of nearly 100,000 classified Afghanistan war documents may have put America’s Afghan informants’ lives at risk. And the organization has recently come under fire for releasing uncensored court documents from a lurid Belgian pedophile-serial killer case, one which contains dubious allegations against a notable politician and details about underage victims.
It’s time to give Wikileaks the Wikileaks treatment—expose it to the same sort of radical transparency it advocates and see what turns up. We’ve launchedWikileakileaks.org as a place for tipsters to share documents, secrets and rumors relating to any aspect of the organization. Your anonymity will be totally protected if you send in info. And we’ll vet whatever we get and post it with commentary. So head on over to Wikileakileaks.org, or firstname.lastname@example.org, and let’s open up Wikileaks.
Yep — betcha teh spooks at Langley are already spinning up a big heaping bowl of bullshit salad to bring to the (ironically anonymous) Gawker gossip potluck.
(Oh, and to my Canadian compatriots — try not to get too het up over that purported ‘inferiority complex’. Seriously, you aren’t exactly helping your case.)