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Why the US Govt Should Be Happy About Wikileaks

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the how-I-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-the-leaks dept.

Government 232

angry tapir writes "WikiLeaks' leaking of classified information should be considered a blessing for the US government, and other governments should take heed of the lessons when it comes to information sharing, according to Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) research associate, Professor Mike Nelson, who spent four years as Senator Al Gore's science adviser and served as the White House director for technology policy on IT, and was also a member of Barack Obama presidential campaign."

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232 comments

If You Are Right (1, Interesting)

TexVex (669445) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383320)

If you are right, then you have nothing to hide.

Re:If You Are Right (-1, Troll)

elPetak (2016752) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383384)

Well... sometimes they are right but decide to hide the information "for the common good" or "to prevent panic"...
because they know better, right? who are we to decide for ourselves?

Re:If You Are Right (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383434)

Yes, we should disclose where our nuclear subs are because we have nothing to hide. Oh wait. Some things are secret for a real good reason.

Re:If You Are Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383496)

Indeed, if everyone knows where your nuclear subs are, then Somali pirates might hijack them.

Re:If You Are Right (1)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#36385150)

Just so you know, downing a submarine is easy, but only if you know where it is. Their whole defense system is based, almost purely, on the enemy not knowing their location. It's so fucking easy that you're actually right, somali pirates might actually succeed in downing one of them.

Re:If You Are Right (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383574)

Maybe if you knew you couldn't hide where your nuclear subs are, you would be more cooperative with other countries because then you'd know you need to avoid placing yourself in a situation where you need those nuclear subs.

Naaaaaaahhhh that's just silly of me. Clearly the USA took the best course of action when they invaded Iraq. Clearly they always take the best course of action, particularly when it involves military action or threats.

Re:If You Are Right (0)

rally2xs (1093023) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383996)

Would almost be worth it to see a Saddam-supplied anthrax attack that took out about a million people on the east coast. No, he didn't have it, but could have, hated our guts, and probably would have made a deal with terrorists to do exactly that. Everyone has 20-20 hindsight, and can easily criticize what really was the safest course of action.

Re:If You Are Right (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36384568)

Any person who believes that "the safest course of action is starting a war" confuses what is easy with what is safe, and will hopefully, in time, come to admit to himself, that his own words are the words of an idiot.

Re:If You Are Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36384680)

we have minority report right here! lets kill him for the crimes he didn't do

Re:If You Are Right (1)

C0R1D4N (970153) | more than 2 years ago | (#36385140)

You can easily replace Saddam in your statement with a dozen different world leaders. How many wars should we start?

Re:If You Are Right (5, Informative)

metacell (523607) | more than 2 years ago | (#36385380)

If invading Iraq was the safest course of action, why did the Bush government have to mislead Congress with outrageous claims about an army of unmanned drones ready to strike against America?

From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

In October 2002, a few days before the US Senate vote on the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution, about 75 senators were told in closed session that the Iraqi government had the means of delivering biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction by unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) drones that could be launched from ships off the US' Atlantic coast to attack US eastern seaboard cities. Colin Powell suggested in his presentation to the United Nations that UAVs were transported out of Iraq and could be launched against the United States. In fact, Iraq had no offensive UAV fleet or any capability of putting UAVs on ships.[90] Iraq's UAV fleet consisted of less than a handful of outdated Czech training drones.[91] At the time, there was a vigorous dispute within the intelligence community whether the CIA's conclusions about Iraq's UAV fleet were accurate. The US Air Force agency denied outright that Iraq possessed any offensive UAV capability.[92]

It's not just in hindsight the government's course of action looks insane; even back then, a lot of people pointed out how they systematically picked and chose intelligence reports to support their pre-determined conclusion.

Re:If You Are Right (0)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#36385398)

Maybe if you knew you couldn't hide where your nuclear subs were but everybody else could hide where theirs were then you'd have to "cooperate" in the sense of letting them screw you over every which way they like.

Re:If You Are Right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383768)

Yes, we should disclose where our nuclear subs are because we have nothing to hide.

Well yes, unless you want to hide where your nuclear subs are. In which case you have something to hide and you shouldn't disclose where they are. You know it makes sense.

Re:If You Are Right (2)

FrankHS (835148) | more than 2 years ago | (#36384404)

It isn't the nuclear subs or troop positions that need to be revealed. It is all the other stuff that our government and the corporations hides from us to keep us from seeing how we, the people, are being ripped off by them.

Re:If You Are Right (1)

metacell (523607) | more than 2 years ago | (#36385222)

Nobody has leaked the positions of nuclear subs to the public, though. The leaks mostly pertain to things like incompetence, shady back-door dealings and civilian casualties. Many of the leaked documents contain strategic information too, but so far, the strategic importance seems to have been very minor. That damage has mostly consisted of embarrassment for the military and the politicians.

Re:If You Are Right (2)

bughunter (10093) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383808)

If you are right, then you have nothing to hide.

Hmm, let's see how accurate that statement is by using a little political gedankenexperiment.

  • Wife: "Does this dress make me look fat?"

    Husband: "I'm sorry... that information is classified."
    Wife: "If you are right, then you have nothing to hide."
    Husband: "OK, since you put it that way, that dress reveals exactly how overweight you are."

Do you think the outcome of this scenario will make the Husband happy that he was open and honest?

Re:If You Are Right (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#36385124)

If his wife is that stupid that she wants people to lie to her rather than just eating better, he shouldn't have married her..

Re:If You Are Right (4, Funny)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#36385432)

If you are right, then you have nothing to hide.

Hmm, let's see how accurate that statement is by using a little political gedankenexperiment.

  • Wife: "Does this dress make me look fat?"

    Husband: "I'm sorry... that information is classified." Wife: "If you are right, then you have nothing to hide." Husband: "OK, since you put it that way, that dress reveals exactly how overweight you are."

The husband can safely and honestly answer "no" to "Does this dress make me look fat." He might not choose to add "It's not the dress, it's all those burgers and fries."

A Witch! Burn It! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383324)

Tell me. What do you do with witches? Burn! Burn! Burn! Burn them up! Burn!...

Mike Nelson? (5, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383360)

Like I am going to take advice from a dude who spent years trapped on a satellite while being forced to watch bad movies.

Re:Mike Nelson? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383390)

I thought he was underwater?

Re:Mike Nelson? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383796)

I thought he was underwater?

Only when he was on some kind of a sea hunt.

Re:Mike Nelson? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383636)

It saddens me that I can't mod you even higher.

Re:Mike Nelson? (2, Interesting)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 2 years ago | (#36384548)

Lol, as soon as I read "Professor Mike Nelson, who spent four years as Senator Al Gore's science advise" all the credibility the article had vanished.

An Inconvenient Truth had so many anti-scientific mistakes with it (the Drowning Polar Bear Myth, the Global-warming-caused-Katrina Myth, and so forth), that even RealClimate.org's apologetic review of the movie had to admit them (http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/05/al-gores-movie/).

There's all sorts of good sources of information about AGW out there, but Al Gore is not one of them.

Yeah, so bad (4, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383392)

Yeah, be embarrassed is so much worse than having ~4,000 of your citizens killed and entering a trillion dollars worth of wars. Remember that one of the primary findings by the 9/11 commission was that a primary cause of us not catching the cell was lack of information sharing.

Re:Yeah, so bad (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383514)

Remember that one of the primary findings by the 9/11 commission was that a primary cause of us not catching the cell was lack of information sharing.

What did you expect an official commission to say? That privacy and freedom are more precious than safety and that the terrorists win if we turn into a police state because of their actions?

Duh. I tell you what else they won't say. They won't say that maybe we wouldn't have these problems if we didn't keep meddling in the Middle East's affairs, often brutally. Nah, there is no connection between repeatedly provoking them and finally getting attacked by them. Clearly information sharing now that they already want to attack us, yeah that's the real issue.

Government lies to you. It lies to you routinely, naturally, and without remorse. Why you fucks can't bring yourselves to accept it is the only mystery.

Re:Yeah, so bad (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383672)

You're a moron. (Not to say your point is wrong, just that you have severe deficiencies in reading comprehension and/or basic thinking.)

GP wasn't suggesting the government should snoop more or whatever -- he was saying greater transparency (y'know, the sort they inadvertently got from wikileaks) would help.

At first glance, it's entirely orthogonal to your point -- you can stop inciting terrorists by not meddling in others' affairs, or you can improve efficacy in stopping extant terrorists by sharing all the data you have with other agencies and the public, or you can do both. (Or neither, which is obviously the best strategy, else we wouldn't be doing it. /sarcasm)

On closer inspection, it's pretty obvious that greater transparency would have exposed (more of) the meddling we've done, and the real reasons (not the cover "democracy" or "freedom" reasons we always field for the public), and maybe people would get pissed off and stop the government from meddling?

Re:Yeah, so bad (5, Insightful)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383882)

What people call meddling I call normal international interaction. Every country in the middle east has bargained with Western governments by leveraging their oil reserves and playing countries against one another to gain favor. This behavior has been ongoing since before WW1. In return for good deals the western countries had to support the leaders of the country. During the cold war all the little countries in world played the US and Russia against one another to gain concessions. The US or any other western country might have "meddled" but it has always been the citizens and leaders of the country who allowed and participated in the meddling who bare the responsibility for their problems. It's become an all to common practice today for all the little failed states to blame all their troubles on someone else thus alleviating their own culpability in screwing up their own country.

Re:Yeah, so bad (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36384046)

It's also worth recalling that the "meddling" that Osama bin Laden was concerned about was Operation Desert Shield. Not Storm, when the U.S. invaded Iraq, but Shield when the U.S., at the Saudi government's request, led a multinational coalition of forces to defend Arabia. He was upset that non-Muslims and non-Arabs were allowed to set foot in the land of the two cities, even if they were 1,000 km away from Mecca. To call this a justification for terrorism, you would have to assume that OBL is the proper authority over Arabia and the House of Saud is not.

OBL was also upset that there were still Jews living in Judea, Indians in India, and Christians in Spain. Not everything is the Americans' fault.

Re:Yeah, so bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383760)

"What did you expect an official commission to say? That privacy and freedom are more precious than safety and that the terrorists win if we turn into a police state because of their actions?

Duh. I tell you what else they won't say. They won't say that maybe we wouldn't have these problems if we didn't keep meddling in the Middle East's affairs, often brutally. Nah, there is no connection between repeatedly provoking them and finally getting attacked by them. Clearly information sharing now that they already want to attack us, yeah that's the real issue.

Government lies to you. It lies to you routinely, naturally, and without remorse. Why you fucks can't bring yourselves to accept it is the only mystery."

I agree with what you wrote 100%.

I will add : how much longer are the majority of Americans going to allow US policy toward Israel to continue before they have had ENOUGH ?

it is time for the US to cut ties with those fucking Jews, and let them live or die on their own, without support from the US.

Re:Yeah, so bad (0)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#36385166)

If they let Israel be wiped out, it would cause many fundamental Christians to become disillusioned, because the Israelites are still "God's special people" in some people's eyes (like those of my grandfather for example).

Re:Yeah, so (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383870)

What makes you think you deserve to be told the truth? That's a huge assumption in itself.

Re:Yeah, so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36384654)

Basic principles of democracy? If it's a totalitarian state, then he has no right to be told the truth, but if that's the case, they ought to stop pretending.

Hey, my captcha is "unionize" -- when did the slashdot AI become a syndicalist?

Re:Yeah, so (1)

metacell (523607) | more than 2 years ago | (#36385484)

What makes you think you deserve to be told the truth? That's a huge assumption in itself.

Because the government works for me, and is paid for by my money?

Re:Yeah, so (1)

metacell (523607) | more than 2 years ago | (#36385490)

What makes you think you deserve to be told the truth? That's a huge assumption in itself.

Because the government works for me, and is paid for by my money.

Re:Yeah, so bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36384438)

If you ask me, the real mystery is why you thought this response was relevant to the post you quoted or the line you chose from it.

Re:Yeah, so bad (0)

Mantrid42 (972953) | more than 2 years ago | (#36384592)

They won't say that maybe we wouldn't have these problems if we didn't keep meddling in the Middle East's affairs, often brutally.

"People don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don't run, don't walk. We're in their homes and in their heads and we haven't the right. We're meddlesome."

Re:Yeah, so bad (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 2 years ago | (#36384674)

Government lies to you. It lies to you routinely, naturally, and without remorse. Why you fucks can't bring yourselves to accept it is the only mystery.

Maybe because we shouldn't ?!?

Re:Yeah, so bad (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#36384250)

The lack of information sharing may very well have been a factor - though there surely at the time were plenty of ways for such agencies to share information. Why they didn't, or didn't do so successfully, that's a whole different matter. When you have the solution to the puzzle it's always much easier to put the pieces together. When you don't have that solution - some pieces may appear to be unrelated, while they belong to the same puzzle. On top of that, effective information sharing between thousands of people doing different things is not easy. How to you know what is interesting to share? And who to share it with? This meta-information is a serious problem. Especially when you do not know what you're actually looking for.

Secondly, - slipping into conspiracy theory mode - how do we know that the public report of the commission is really the complete report? Were there parts kept under wraps, that could have embarrassed certain people in powerful positions? That there was more to blame for the attacks?

Like another poster said already that the continuous meddling of the US in the Middle East may be a major factor. Of course the question is to be asked: why would someone plan such an act in the first place? Why were they so unhappy with the US that they got to such great lengths? That someone could find and organise twenty people that were willing to kill themselves - not in the spur of the moment but with possibly years of preparations?

There is so much more wrong than just "lack of sharing of information", which allowed Al Qaeda to succeed in their plans. The mere existence of Al Qaeda and related groups. The success that group had in recruiting people for their cause. The success they had in raising sufficient money for it. The unfettered determination of their followers, who for years managed to not leak enough information to have them busted.

These deeper questions, that's what we need answers for most badly. Of course it's great to know how a single incident took place, but that's not enough. We have to know how to prevent it from ever happening again - preferably not on how to catch would-be terrorists, but preventing them to become would-be terrorists to begin with. As has been stated here many times before: when someone with a bomb built into his underwear or in his shoes arrives at the airport intending to board a plane with the purpose of setting off that bomb in the air, then something is terribly wrong already. Even if he's caught by airport security during their routine screening.

Re:Yeah, so bad (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36384784)

Secondly, - slipping into conspiracy theory mode - how do we know that the public report of the commission is really the complete report? Were there parts kept under wraps, that could have embarrassed certain people in powerful positions? That there was more to blame for the attacks?

Because it wasn't in Wikileaks.

Re:Yeah, so bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36385234)

The mere existence of Al Qaeda and related groups.

The US knew all about that because the CIA trained Al Qaeda to fight against the USSR in Afghanistan. The relevant answer here is "If you play with fire, you might get burnt", or "Live by the sword, die by the sword".

The success they had in raising sufficient money for it.

Osama bin Laden was extremely rich. His family are big in oil and construction. No mystery at all.

Too bad about Obama (5, Insightful)

identity0 (77976) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383424)

"was also a member of Barack Obama presidential campaign."

Too bad the Obama administration hasn't done anything to increase openness - in fact, they've done just the opposite.

If only this guy had actually been appointed to a position of power - or maybe this kind of opinion is why he wasn't.

Re:Too bad about Obama (1)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383776)

If only this guy had actually been appointed to a position of power ...

... then he too may have changed his tune.

ManBearPig's "science" advisor? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383438)

One wonders if he's the one who came up with the "carbon credits" scam that Al Gore's getting rich off of....

More to the point (5, Insightful)

Sparx139 (1460489) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383440)

The US Government should be relieved that Wikileaks 'cablegate' portrayed them in a relatively positive light, meaning that the backlash will be minimal from a domestic standpoint.

95 per cent of those leaked memos were incredibly well written and well reasoned, with one paragraph that might be sensitive

And the other 5% are the ones that cause a scandal. And while they may help garner domestic support (which is unlikely, because the media only covers that 5%), diplomacy could get a lot trickier when you have to explain your conversations with others.

Before I get modded into oblivion for this, all I'm not passing judgement on Wikileaks in either direction. Leaking can be argued as being necessary depending on the situation, but saying that the US government should be happy about it is just ridiculous.

Re:More to the point (2, Interesting)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383744)

diplomacy could get a lot trickier when you have to explain your conversations with others.

Perhaps. OTOH it might actually be easier in the long run if you deal with people openly and honestly. Too often when people start talking about Wikileaks effect on diplomacy people (though not specifically the person whose post I'm replying to) end up making diplomacy sound like some sort of game played be old men who get a kick out of pulling levers and trying mould the world to their will rather than the art of arriving at genuine understanding and agreement. No doubt there are often short term gains to such an approach but I can't help but think it is harmful in the long run.

Diplomacy and the White Lie. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383822)

Hmmm, if your wife ask you if she looks fat in that particular outfit, do you answer her "open and honestly"?

Re:Diplomacy and the White Lie. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36384430)

A good point, Americans are particularly fat. Better not be honest with us.

Re:More to the point (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36384406)

And the babel-fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different cultures and races, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation...

Re:More to the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36385374)

And the babel-fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different cultures and races, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation...

And the Babel tower [wikipedia.org] was progressing well until...

God came down to see what they did and said: "They are one people and have one language, and nothing will be withholden from them which they purpose to do." So God said, "Come, let us go down and confound their speech." And so God scattered them upon the face of the Earth, and confused their languages, and they left off building the city, which was called Babel "because God there confounded the language of all the Earth."

Re:More to the point (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383894)

The US Government should be relieved that Wikileaks 'cablegate' portrayed them in a relatively positive light, meaning that the backlash will be minimal from a domestic standpoint.

95 per cent of those leaked memos were incredibly well written and well reasoned, with one paragraph that might be sensitive

And the other 5% are the ones that cause a scandal. And while they may help garner domestic support (which is unlikely, because the media only covers that 5%), diplomacy could get a lot trickier when you have to explain your conversations with others.

More like 95% being written to be witty, ignoring facts if those make it harder. All the diplomatic cable leaks that I've read so far has tried to be clever to a point where they are factually incorrect. All of them incredibly juvenile.

There is a difference between clever satire, making fun at things, and stupid satire, making fun of things you make up. Having humour is fine, but if you are an information gatherer for a country's intelligence service, you shouldn't just report things you find amusing or can make up jokes about.

The diplomatic cable leaks is the modern equivalent of minstrel shows. Fun for the ignorant people that they are meant to enjoy, but the people they portray just wonder what the fuck is wrong with the US people and how thay can be so ignorant and biased. Useful information is objective and reasonably verified, not made up on the spot or unverified information collected purely on sensational and humorous value. Most of the diplomatic cables feels like they been written by Beavis and Butthead, it is scary to imagine that they could have been the basis of US foreign policy.

And one thing is clear from the diplomatic cable leaks, the US government is way more in the hands of commercial interests than 99% of the other governments in the world. Foreign policy of a country should not be about selling shitty products made by way to powerful, domestic companies to other countries at gunpoint. Many wikileaks show what many foreign companies competing with US companies on some markets have claimed for centuries, that US products, on those markets, is almost entirely sold by threats of military actions from the US government and not by fair competition.

Re:More to the point (2)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#36384648)

Ya, what bothers me more than anything else about the leaks is how much of it is stuff that is of no public benefit but that some of it is things that hurts diplomacy.

A working diplomatic process is a really important thing in the world if we want any kind of peace and stability. That is the reason for things like diplomatic immunity. Countries recognize that it is so important to have unhindered diplomacy.

Well another side of that is that diplomats and their staff and advisers need to be free to talk among themselves candidly. They need to speak freely outside of the negotiations so that the negotiations can be productive.

This kind of thing hurts that, and so really isn't useful.

In my mind, if you are going to leak something it needs to meet two tests:

1) It needs to be in the public's interest to have it leaked, they need to have some need to know. If it isn't relevant to the public then there is no cause to leak it. Now please note that means needs to know, not "Would find amusing in the tabloid sense." Some way the public was harmed or deceived or whatever.

2) The need to know needs to outweigh the harm the leak will cause. Just because the public may have a need to know, doesn't mean it is worth leaking if there is extreme harm. For example suppose you uncovered a small fraud, a few million against the public. However to leak the necessary information to prove it, you'd have to leak detailed nuclear secrets. Well then you shouldn't because the harm vastly outweighs the need to know.

To me, it seems much (perhaps all, I've look at little of it) of the Wikileaks material fails one or both these tests. It was leaked for the glee of leaking something secret, not with any real consideration of "Is this something that the public needs to know?" Frankly, I couldn't care less what the department of state thinks about Russian leadership, but they may care and thus the leak is harmful. We the public gain nothing and it can hurt diplomacy, so it shouldn't have been leaked.

Re:More to the point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36385352)

Oh, come on! No leak was a major surprise for anyone (especially governments in question), leaks just confirmed what was already suspected (what "everybody" "knew"), to I-have-been-telling-that-since-always satisfaction of "conspiracy theorists" worldwide and to delight of modern historians. Diplomacy, the way you imagine it, is just talking nice to each other, or pretending that you turned a blind eye sometimes to avoid unwanted conflict. All sides involved are very aware of that. It is mostly game of open cards for players involved, but out of sight for the public.

Re:More to the point (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 2 years ago | (#36385408)

Unfortunately the line between important shady stuff which the pubic should know and what would hurt them to know is very blurry.
You're also not only talking about one country.

For example: meetings with politicians in other states where they give US intelligence staff regular updates may be dull and uninteresting to US citizens.
Recently some cables hit the news: they were about politicians in my country meeting with US embassy staff and quite clearly show them saying one thing in private while at the same time they were outright lying to their voters.
and this wasn't military stuff.

Senior members of some of our political parties were giving better information to the US than to the people they were supposed to represent.

"the harm the leak will cause" is subjective.

if you're from the US you might not want the world to see this as the backlash might make it harder for american politicians. If you're not american then you might be interested in your own representatives putting american interests ahead of your own.

TL;DR (-1, Troll)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383474)

Government "secrets" shouldn't be -- red-tape makes it hard to get the info you need anyhow.

Re:TL;DR (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383804)

That's not what TFA implies at all.

o_O (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#36384838)

Did you read the 2nd page? The one where it says:

"If there is a corrupt official taking million dollar bribes from the Russians, maybe that should be public knowledge rather than hidden in a WikiLeaks cable?" he said.

...

"When I was at the White House, I would have loved to have the kind of information that was leaked. I had top secret clearance and I still couldn't get access to those kinds of memos without a lot of trouble."

...

The professor encouraged CEDA members and chief executive officers to follow the example of WikiLeaks, bypassing the public relations departments and being more open with their staff and customers.

Could you explain how these captions do not support my statement?

(::sigh:: You know... I try to be helpful, but what's the point if I get modded "troll" by other TL;DRers?)

It depends on the objective. (5, Interesting)

steelfood (895457) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383480)

He's right if the U.S. government's objective is to promote freedom and democracy. The cables certainly show the rampant corruption in the world, the injustices everywhere, and that the United States government recognizes and responds to them.

However, Obama is actually more interested in stability in the region, and will do everything to maintain that regardless of what it takes to achieve that stability. There's a reason one of the most repressive governments in the world is considered a close ally, while a democratically-elected president is constantly being vilified.

The leaked cables has actually caused the opposite effect. And because of the instability of the middle east region, oil and thus gas prices are higher than they otherwise should be. High gas prices are detrimental to an economy trying to dig itself out of a recessionary hole. Which the egg-on-his-face notwithstanding, is why Obama is generally against such whistleblowing.

Re:It depends on the objective. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383562)

However, Obama is actually more interested in stability in the region, and will do everything to maintain that regardless of what it takes to achieve that stability.

As Noam Chomsky points out, in US foreignpolicyspeak "stability" means "obedience to US corporate demands".

Re:It depends on the objective. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36384146)

You say that like it's a bad thing. Bad for US industry, energy supplies, etc., is bad for our unemployment rate, CPI, etc.

That doesn't mean that corporate greed should run the show, but Chomsky is so cynical about stuff like this he stumbles onto the truth like a blind squirrel finding a nut in a grove of trees that it can't see.

Re:It depends on the objective. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36384846)

Maybe the Noam-Chomsky-quoting-AC has the radical idea that the people in those foreign countries should be allowed to make up their own minds and have their own government that does what is good for *them*, not necessarily good for the USA.

Re:It depends on the objective. (3, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 2 years ago | (#36384830)

As Noam Chomsky points out, in US foreignpolicyspeak "stability" means "obedience to US corporate demands".

Well, he who pays the piper calls the tune. The United States offers a host of pretty compelling benefits, not among the least of which is the protection of our vast military, to our allies and friends. It's only natural that we should ask for certain things in return for these benefits. That's the way the world works after all.

Re:It depends on the objective. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36384882)

Well yes...
The problem for the average Saudi is that the protection goes to his king and the thousands of royal family members. Mohammed-sixpack can pay the price in the form of a brutal and corrupt regime and has little hope of improving his own situation.

Re:It depends on the objective. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36384948)

I'll remember to call in the Marines next time I get mugged on Berlin's streets.

Re:It depends on the objective. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36385074)

The United States offers a host of pretty compelling benefits, not among the least of which is the protection of our vast military, to our allies and friends. It's only natural that we should ask for certain things in return for these benefits.

sounds feudal...

i agree with the prid-pro-quo approach but i wouldn't exactly say protection by the US military is one of the key benefits. at times, more "from the US military" if anything. after all it's not like any recent US (c)overt wars actually started with the US jumping in to stick up for an ally in dire straights or? somehow it felt a lot more like the nasty end of a Carrot/Stick deal.

i think that in eyes of many developing countries a bigger reason to submit to Western conditions and pressure say for joining the WTO for example (which i guess Chomsky sees as embodying demands of US corporations) is the hope that by adopting the same system as the West one day these countries will have their own powerful corporations too. i bet that's what Deng Xiao Ping was thinking.

Re:It depends on the objective. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36385330)

I'm not sure you've got the correct idiom there, CB. No one is paying the piper, the piper in this case is playing whatever tune he wants. What you are describing is more like a protection racket.

Will you feel that this system is so natural and just when China is the piper, I wonder?

Re:It depends on the objective. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36385400)

As Noam Chomsky points out, in US foreignpolicyspeak "stability" means "obedience to US corporate demands".

Well, he who pays the piper calls the tune. The United States offers a host of pretty compelling benefits, not among the least of which is the protection racket of our vast military, to our allies and friends. It's only natural that we should ask for certain things in return for these benefits. That's the way the world works after all.

There, corrected it for you.

"Prosperous little democracy you have there going. It would be such a shame if something happened to it."

Re:It depends on the objective. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383616)

To clarify:
'Stability' does not mean 'peace' or 'happiness of the local people' or whatever else in the context of the post above.
'Stability' means things are calm and thus, easy for politicians and governments to deal with. The local population could be forced into working like slaves for their nation's leaders, women could be raped daily, kids taken from their parents to be brainwashed into becoming soldiers, as long as the people don't rebel against their government it's considered 'stable'.

Re:It depends on the objective. (2)

Livius (318358) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383640)

Obama is interested in *short-term* stability.

Actual democracy would be the key to long-term stability.

Re:It depends on the objective. (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383764)

Oh, yes... let's turn all government functions directly over to the people, such as those currently running amok at 4chan. The point of TFA is that the leaked cables show that international policymaking is hard, and the US government should be "looking on the bright side" and pointing out the tough situations the diplomats work in on a daily basis. Do you really think that high-school dropout down the street will be better at diplomacy than the appointed diplomat we have now?

Short-term stability makes a much more conducive environment to work out long-term stability. I'd imagine that almost every oppressive dictator out there really thinks they're doing what's best for their people. If they can be convinced that peace and acceptance are best, that's what they'll do. It's just much harder to convince anyone of such an idea while their neighbor is arming for war. Once everyone in the area is on friendly terms, then you can talk reasonably about maintaining peace long-term. Of course, there hasn't been short-term stability in the Middle East for the past thousand years, so I don't expect it anytime soon.

Re:It depends on the objective. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36384742)

Bullshit. Check your facts: the Middle East is (as of a year ago, not sure how the Arab Spring [wikimedia.org] affects the numbers) the most stable region of the world measured by frequency of war, civil unrest, and revolutions/regime change (sorry, I don't have a citation, my source is a lecture from a professor teaching politics of the Middle East). It's ridiculously stable. Part of this is that it is ruled by a bunch of very effective dictatorships. With the Arab Spring there may finally be hope for that to change.

Re:It depends on the objective. (1)

siglercm (6059) | more than 2 years ago | (#36384086)

I note sadly that your idealistic view blatantly ignores a moral and political conundrum. Stated simply:

What do the US and her allies do when a couple of these newly minted democracies follow the path of Iran? Do we do nothing, save applauding them from the sidelines for their democratically free and fair election of a hard-line government which immediately threatens us and our allies in the region with extinction? Do we decry their militaristic threats while filing protests, motions for censure and import/export embargoes at the UN? Do we secretly begin planning a mid- to long-range military option to neutralize their stated threat to our country and her citizens, as best we can?

I hope it's clear that sometimes "actual democracy" can lead to nearly insoluble problems. Democracy is the "only" way, but it's not the panacea which you believe it is.

Re:It depends on the objective. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36385394)

And brainwashed you are...
Iran is only threat to Gulf monarchies, who are proping up certain narrow version of islam and treating local shiite population as second-class citizens. Working democracy (as opposed to strict majority rule) in those countries should fix that problem.

Re:It depends on the objective. (2, Insightful)

XManticore (2128426) | more than 2 years ago | (#36385442)

This is the hypocrisy that the world hates the US for.

Your government plays the democracy tune when they wish a people to overthrow a tyranny that doesn't suit their agenda. And when a peaceful, fair election [wikipedia.org] such as the one in Palestine happens, and somebody who you don't like gets elected, the West get their panties in a twist and starts their pathetic economic bullying [nytimes.com].

Re:It depends on the objective. (4, Interesting)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#36384240)

Let us not forget that democracy gives the people the ability to choose things contrary to what other people choose. It is much easier (and cheaper) to sway a politician than to sway the masses. Germany and france didn't come around to their current borders until about 1956/57 when the french gave up on taking over the Saar. That is, after 900 years of stabbing, shooting and occupying each other, the recent total occupation of cosmopolitan france, and all of a (a newly defined) germany, the killing of millions of people - they were still squabbling over who gets to keep what for themselves for a decade.

People, as a whole, can, and will choose what benefits them, even if it as at the expense of someone else. If we give people democracy a hell of a lot of them aren't going to go the nelson mandella truth and reconciliation route, they are going to demand territories which cannot be given voluntarily. And who do you side with? How do you even define what is a legitimate democratic outcome or not, is a majority of people in the middle east a legitimate democratic outcome, or does it need to be done country by country? If the world votes against the US existing and decides to carve it up and redistrict it back to mexico, spain the UK and various native inhabitants, is that democracy we want to support?

Democracy is a dangerous, and deeply flawed idea. It is suitable in conjunction with other systems but by itself it is a path to a very dark place, albeit rarely, but those places are very dark. The challenge the world faces is building systems which both represent the best interests of the people, including taking their opinion into account, and resolving when those two things (best interests and desires) do not align. But if people will vote for less taxes, more spending, conquest at the expense of others and so on, then democracy is unsustainable, and must be balanced by control from people who actually have some sense. The people who are in control, are, in turn, hopefully balanced against being nuts and can be removed if they fail that test. But democracy has a tendency to form a feedback loop of corruption and incompetence. I'm sure there's ways to deal with that, but not in a /. post.

Re:It depends on the objective. (3, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#36384448)

What makes democracy so stable? One charismatic leader comes along and gets elected, and you've got World War Two to deal with.

Re:It depends on the objective. (3, Informative)

m50d (797211) | more than 2 years ago | (#36385086)

Democracy means he has to burn down parliament first, which puts a bit more of a barrier to entry in place.

Re:It depends on the objective. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383660)

However, Obama is actually more interested in stability in the region

As has every president since at least WW II. Can't have Pax Americana if the barbarians are running amok, can we?

And because of the instability of the middle east region, oil and thus gas prices are higher than they otherwise should be. High gas prices are detrimental to an economy trying to dig itself out of a recessionary hole. Which the egg-on-his-face notwithstanding, is why Obama is generally against such whistleblowing.

No, he's against it because he's a politician - and they absolutely fucking hate it when peasants like Assange get all fucking uppity.

Gas prices? The economy? Fuck me. For the cost of one of our wargasms in the Middle East, our government could subsidize gas to 1980's levels without adding anything more to the national debt.

Re:It depends on the objective. (1)

cheeks5965 (1682996) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383806)

There's a reason one of the most repressive governments in the world is considered a close ally, while a democratically-elected president is constantly being vilified.

who are these people?

They're not simple to dismiss. (4, Interesting)

RyanFenton (230700) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383628)

Leaks are almost inevitable in a relatively free society - as long as the information is in a usable state, and it is used by people, it pretty much will be leaked eventually if people care to leak it.

As far as distributors of sunshine (breaks in secrecy, disinfecting stagnant air) go, Wikileaks is rather benign - they exercise considerable restraint and editorial control considering their size and content they process.

The problem isn't their arguable responsibility though, it is the relative difficulty in getting rational people to dismiss their evidence, the difficulty in painting them as a poisoned source of valid information. Certainly it is tried - all the logical fallacies that exist are thrown against them at a fairly constant rate, but they are still viewed as a valid source of important information.

Since they don't delve purely in talking point - just releasing information from sources known as valid, their points are fairly solid - whatever you think of their practices.

Ask Newt Gingrich - claiming a problem exists because you were quoted accurately and directly doesn't get you very far.

Ryan Fenton

Re:They're not simple to dismiss. (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#36384248)

Ask Newt Gingrich - claiming a problem exists because you were quoted accurately and directly doesn't get you very far.

I think you understimate the ability for partisans to accept doublethink and cognitive dissonance when it suits their purposes.

WikiLeaks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383644)

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My ss# is 555-55-5555 (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383730)

I guess we should be happy when our personal banking info gets leaked for the same reasons

Re:My ss# is 555-55-5555 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383900)

I guess we should be happy when our personal banking info gets leaked for the same reasons

You guess right, if and only if your personal banking info is a necessary for the maintenance of transparent and democratic govt. and its supervision by the people.

In the real world, OTOH, personal and state privacy are inversely proportional.

Wikileaks is a CIA front. (0)

jrhawk42 (1028964) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383862)

That's just my crazy conspiracy. If you look at a lot of the information provided by wikileaks it doesn't make the US look bad, but countries in which the US can't openly attack look bad. Also if you look at the stance the US government has taken on wikileaks it's been more barking than biting. Had they leaked any information the US didn't want leaked there would of been many more people in trouble with the US besides Bradley Manning, and Julian Assange. Back in reality I don't really have much evidence to Wikileaks being a CIA front, or at least none I feel like presenting. It's really more of a hunch more than anything else, but my hunches tend to be really good, and I tend not to come up w/ something as crazy as this unless I'm pretty close to being right.

Obviously not (3, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 2 years ago | (#36384068)

It fails the obviousness test:

Does it actually manage to do something in a reasonable timescale without completely stuffing it up?
Yes?
Well in that case the CIA are not running it.

Remember that the only reason Homeland Security exists is because the CIA was unable to be a centre to co-ordinate all of those other intelligence agencies - you know, the job the CIA was set up to do in the first place.

Re:Obviously not (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#36384642)

Remember that the only reason Homeland Security exists is because the CIA was unable to be a centre to co-ordinate all of those other intelligence agencies - you know, the job the CIA was set up to do in the first place.

CIA didn't cause the DHS... it was NSA.

Must see Nova - The Spy Factory:
part 1 [youtube.com]
part 2 [youtube.com]
part 3 [youtube.com]
part 4 [youtube.com]
part 5 [youtube.com]
part 6 [youtube.com]
part 7 [youtube.com]

Re:Obviously not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36385482)

It fails the obviousness test:

Does it actually manage to do something in a reasonable timescale without completely stuffing it up?
Yes?

Yes! "Arab spring" - change of rogue regimes in Libya, Syria, Yemen underway, as well as favorable stabilization of dissenting Egypt and Tunisia that could otherwise produce more "Irans".

Re:Wikileaks is a CIA front. (3, Interesting)

reasterling (1942300) | more than 2 years ago | (#36384460)

If you look at a lot of the information provided by wikileaks it doesn't make the US look bad

The US is not all that bad. Sure we have our problems (who doesn't), but even in poverty I am able to live resonably well. The kings of old did not have it as good as I do. There may be lots that I can complain about (I wont - it does no good), but their is a reason that illegal imigration is a problem here. That is we have a very high standard of living even for most people who are considered poor.

I do not understand why people expect the US to be bad or evil.

What does Private Mean????? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36383922)

If there was an assumption that All private conversations would be made public. The All those conversations would be what the talker assumed the listener wanted to hear. Making them all not worth having or recording.

Did the leaks benift the U.S. maybe. Will Other diplomats speak openly with U.S.in the future? maybe not. A short term gain and a long term loss.

Re:What does Private Mean????? (3, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 2 years ago | (#36384462)

If there was an assumption that all private conversations would be made public, diplomacy would take the form of hushed conversations in a broom cupboard with no written account being made. Politicians would play diplomacy like actors, putting on a show for the people, while the real work was done informally and secretively.

Arab Brothers? (3, Insightful)

larsl (30423) | more than 2 years ago | (#36383970)

Iranians are not Arabs.

Re:Arab Brothers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36384118)

Correct. "Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) research associate, Professor Mike Nelson" proves himself clueless about Mideast culture, take the rest of what he says with a grain of salt with respect to diplomacy and disclosure.

Re:Arab Brothers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36384224)

whatever.. they stereotype and generalize western culture, so we can do the same.

Re:Arab Brothers? (2)

Sun (104778) | more than 2 years ago | (#36384368)

Yes. He probably meant "Muslim". It's a common mistake.

To be fair, his exact words are not contradictory to knowing all of that:

... because he thought he was well-loved by his Arab brothers.

The statement is that his brothers (in Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia) are Arab (which they are), not that he, himself, is. I'm for giving him the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Shachar

Re:Arab Brothers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36384796)

Iranians are not Arabs.

Hey, bro... if I'd have a step-brother of Caucasian race, would this make me a white man?

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