Monday, December 06, 2010

Taking a Leak...

If there is one thing that the ongoing furore over Wikileaks has proven to me, it is that the kind of people currently holding positions of responsibility, (in the US, at least), now appear to be of the same mentality as the lunatics who post on web forums and comment on on-line news stories. Which is very, very scary. When I hear elected US representatives calling for Julian Assange to be executed, then I begin to think that one of the idiots who regularly post bile on my local newspaper website have somehow become a US Senator. And trust me, that really isn't a good thing - last week I made the mistake of reading the comments on a news story about how the local authorities had coped with the recent snowfall, apparently the reason there was no chaos this time was because, unlike in January, we now have a Tory government in power! Then we have Sarah Palin opining that Assange should be hunted down by US Special Forces - an 'opinion' I actually did see being expressed by some moron on their blog the other day. Really, it's like the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

I mean, let's just put this whole business in perspective. The fact is that nothing so far 'revealed' in this latest leak has, in any way, put anybody's security at risk. This is simply diplomatic traffic laid bare. Embarrassing, but not really that damaging. Most of the stuff 'revealed' falls into the category of 'No shit, Sherlock?' The most shocking 'revelation' as far as most people are concerned, is likely to be the degree to which policy decisions and diplomacy seems to be based upon little more than gossip and tittle-tattle. The sad reality is that much classified material held by governments is secret simply to conceal what they don't know. Generally speaking, the really classified stuff is kept secret for the opposite reason - the fact that the other side doesn't know that you know it confers an advantage on you, whether that be a diplomatic, economic or military advantage. Most importantly, of course, revealing that we know it could also endanger the sources from which the information was obtained. Believe me, all the stuff released by Wikileaks recently falls into the former category. Whether releasing it can be justified on grounds of 'public interest', I'm not so sure. Nevertheless, even if it can't, that still isn't grounds for demanding someone's assassination!

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