As you may have also heard, the wikileaks website has come out with the disclosure of secret US cables from they’re embassies around the world. It seems the US (under orders from Condi Rice and Hilary) are spying on the UN members, even the brits (the special relationship counts for naught it seems!), Gadaffi is afraid of sleeping up stairs or flying over water (probably because of the US trying to bomb him!) and he maybe shagging his Ukrainian Nurse. Also while the Gulf states are publicly criticising America for its sabre rattling against Iran it’s clear that they’ve been urging the US to go to war with Iran behind everyones back (and its been more a case of the US calming things down that looking for a fight). Interestingly enough China now regards North Korea as acting like a spoilt child and seems prepared to abandon Kim if he keeps waving his Dong (missiles) about and the US & South Koreas conspire to make him Il (very ill indeed)**
Also what the US gov really things of world leaders comes out. Ankel Merkel is “risk averse and rarely creative”, Berlusconi is “feckless, vain and ineffective as a world leader”, Mugabe “a crazy old man” and Medvedev “plays Robin to Putin’s Batman” (Holy toasted Chechens!). They also don’t trust Dave Cameron (lightweight), nor any of his Tory ministers.
Of course the US gov has been going on about how it “threatens national security”, I think that all it shows is that 90% of the time stuff is classified National Security has nothing to do with it, the spooks and politicians just want to spare themselves alot of embarrassment. While one can argue that Wikileaks and the newspapers involved should have applied some degree of self censorship to this matter, thats sort of like expecting the fox to be responsible for the Health & Safety of the chickens. Its the governments job to keep classified information secure and the attacks on wikileaks amounts to shooting the messenger.
Severe pressure is being put on Wikileaks in that regard, theyve managed to get its DNS serviced cut off, now Paypal & its bank are cutting ties, the charges against its founder. I actually suspect this will simply produce a Streisand effect (i.e. draw more attention to the cables). The previous leaks by wikileaks were not heavily publicised, largely because the policy of governments was to merely go tut tut, so the stories died a quick death in the media. By contrast the current efforts of governments is simply keeping it in the news and all but guarantees this is a story that wont go away for sometime.
If the US government is to be believed, i.e that the release of this info will genuinely endanger lives, then how the hell did it wind up on the internet? If a bunch of wiki-freaks and geeks can get access to such sensitive information then any state with a credible intelligence service (the Russians, Chinese, Syrians or Irans for example) has most likely gotten access to these cables (and more!) sometime ago. I was under the impression that all those billions that intelligence agencies get each year, with few questions asked, was so that they can keep such data accessible to a small list of need to know people, stored on computers in underground vaults, which you have to go through 20 doors to get to & sit in the cone of silence while reading it(I may have watched way too much Maxwell Smart when I was a kid!). However it seems instead (according to several newspapers) that the information was stored on an open network accessible to 2.6 million people! Thats just asking for trouble, because inevitably some among that number are going to prove not to be loyal Americans/Brits, or have a fundamental disagreement with US/UK foreign policy, or will get into financial difficulty and sell secrets to the Russians (as was the case for John Walker, the most damaging spy in US history). The chief suspect it seems just walked in with a CD-R, downloaded it all and copied the lot onto the disk while pretending to listen to lady Gaga! Sounds more Johnny English than James Bond! Clearly we know now where a few budget cuts can be made.
Bottom line is, several people in the corridors of powers have screwed up royal. Blaming wiki-leaks or some lowly intern isnt the answer, some people in very high places should now be fired and a full review of the system of information classification must be instituted, both to ensure the right information is being classified (sparing politicians or Supergrades blushes isnt a good reason) and that the information that genuinely should be kept secret is kept secret. Obviously the Obama adm. Will point the finger at the Bush adm., and indeed it seems it was the latters cavalier policies are largely to blame (not that that gets Hilary and Obama completely off the hook, why didnt they find and closing this loophole in the 2.5 years theyve been in office?)
We have a contract with the security services which amounts to saying we accept theyre right to keep some info secret, tap our phones, read our e-mails/credit card bills and indeed more recently even peer at us naked as we go through airport security. In return however, they must keep us safe, spend the funds we allocate wisely, and treat sensitive information with the level of professionalism and discretion it deserves (remind me, how many laptops and pen drives have the MoD lost this year?). If they cannot be trusted to keep their side of the bargain, then the deals off – we can justifiably demand a roll back of theyre powers plus a dramatic cut in both funding and head count. This to me is the real point to be learnt from the Wikileaks saga.
**Ok, I know its not fair of me to be making light of this. Its not Kim(not-so)Jung(and-very)ils fault that his Dong(missiles) are very small, take ages to get upright and ready then tend to explode seconds after takeoff and well short of the target. No this isnt the North Koreans fault and one should not jest about it.