White House Condemns Wikileaks’ “reckless and dangerous action”

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    The White House unloads on Wikileaks for “put[ting] at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world…”

    We anticipate the release of what are claimed to be several hundred thousand classified State Department cables on Sunday night that detail private diplomatic discussions with foreign governments.

    By its very nature, field reporting to Washington is candid and often incomplete information. It is not an expression of policy, nor does it always shape final policy decisions.

    Nevertheless, these cables could compromise private discussions with foreign governments and opposition leaders, and when the substance of private conversations is printed on the front pages of newspapers across the world, it can deeply impact not only US foreign policy interests, but those of our allies and friends around the world.

    To be clear – such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals and people around the world who come to the United States for assistance in promoting democracy and open government. These documents also may include named individuals who in many cases live and work under oppressive regimes and who are trying to create more open and free societies.

    President Obama supports responsible, accountable, and open government at home and around the world, but this reckless and dangerous action runs counter to that goal. By releasing stolen and classified documents, Wikileaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights but also the lives and work of these individuals. We condemn in the strongest terms the unauthorized disclosure of classified documents and sensitive national security information.

    I tend to agree with the White House on this one, how about you?

    • I’m not claiming to be someone who thinks that state secrets are the be all and end all, but when reading Kevin Drum’s posts over at Mother Jones, I found myself quite concerned.  Drum (whom I respect a great deal) was quite blase about the whole thing.  But I actually think it is a really big deal that places like Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries have been asking the US (and by extension, Israel) to intervene in the Iran nuclear program.  Sure, here in the US, we are used to trading in information and thus the coin of the realm comes rather cheap (especially in the form of blogs, the “media” and Oliver Stone movies.)  But in most other countries, where information in rigorously controlled, it seemed that such black and white confrontation of actual people saying actual things could have grave and long-term repercussions.

      So while I leave open the possibility that I might change my mind, my initial reaction is this is not the wisest or best course of action.

    • libra

      NYTimes explaining why and what they’d done, some of it in collaboration with the WH, to minimise the risks. I expect that every government in the world has always objected to having any of its secrets revealed — truly dangerous or not — and has always used the “state secrets/national security” veil as the excuse.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11

    • AnonymousIsAWoman

      I favor transparency and openess in government. Indeed, I believe they are key to accountability. That said, there also are legitimate areas where national security requires discretion and even secrecy.

      In order to foster frank dialogue amongst nations it’s important not to compromise the confidentiality of the deliberative process. And it’s also important to protect the identities of those who provide us with vital intelligence.

      Generally, the mainstream media, for all my other criticism of them, understands this and does a good job of balancing the public’s right to know and the equally legitimate need of the government to maintain some secrets.

      I am very pleased to see this discussion here. It shows that responsible bloggers understand the gravity of this and are committed to respecting our nation’s security needs.

      Unfortunately, I don’t have the same confidence in Wikileaks or it’s founder.  

    • DanielK

      Julian Assange is a scumbag who is only worried and concerned about his own self centered interests and loves the attention he is getting. Luckily more people are seeing him for who he truly is and his support is dwindling. However, let remember who is ultimately responsible for this:  Bradley Manning.

      He is a traitor and should be treated as such.  He stole confidential information he was trusted with. He knew that by giving it to WikiLeaks it would be released and available to our enemies. Unlike the Pentagon Papers this has and will continue to put many American lives at risk.  As much as I hope he will face the death penalty for his actions I’m wouldn’t mind seeing him rot in Leavenworth for the remainder of his life. (I’ll also say that I doubt the military will charge him with treason but I believe it is called for)

    • Jim B

      So far I haven’t read much that couldn’t be learned by reading the news and books on foreign affairs. We need to get our military out of the middle east and let those people deal with their neighbors. Oh, I know there is the oil deal that corporations want us to back.

      The biggest fall out will be from republicans blaming Obama.

    • blue bronc

      In the rush to do something-anything following 9-11 attacks several long sought for goals were achieved by bush. First was to pretty much gut the Constitution, the second was to consolidate power in one department that would be controlled by the president – the result would be the horribly named “Homeland Security”.

      Due to long fought battles over intelligence gathering turf the consolidation of the State Department and everything else was a way of pacifying those who pointed out the CiC allowed important intelligence such as his briefing that Osama Bin Lauden was going to attack the U.S. to go unresponded to. The turf battles were going to end when everything was in one department; combine the State and War Departments and we will never again have intelligence failures (or that is one of the promises).

      Once everything was put in one stream, political and military, that meant more people looking over each others “stuff”.  If you want to keep a secret you don’t tell anyone else. The more people in on the secret the greater the risk of disclosure.  

      Well, one person, at least, went public with some of the “stuff”.  The reality is it was of low importance tactically or strategically, some embarrassment factor and a lot of old chatter. It was not equal to Cheney outting Plame and putting peoples lives at risk, but it is good enough to cause some regimes to start thinking before talking.

      The secondary importance of WikiLeaks is not what is out, it is what was held back.  There was some vetting process and the U.S. did nothing, apparently, with it’s copy of the current release therefore signaling there was not much of importance in it.

      The actual importance of what happened with the current release and the previous releases is this is what WikiLeaks has.  What else has been copied and given to people or organizations that are not WikiLeaks. Considering the hundreds of thousands of people with daily access to this “stuff” I would not be surprised if someone was less interested in showing to the world what is traffic on a low level channel than would be of value to that person without any concern of the misuse done.  

    • Jim B

      In a Q & A session the NYT answers readers questions by saying in the first sentence that the US is cursed with a free press. Damn, I would think the NYT would be pleased that we have a free press otherwise there would be no reporting on the Wiki leaks or any other leaks.

    • gene magruder

      Much of the leaks were known and should not have ben secret however it has pissed me off immensely at the leak about Bahrain and Saudi Arabia wanting us to take out Iran. We have given middle east countries especially Saudi Arabia plenty of weaponry inclding our jets in order to take out the enemy so if they want to take out Iran go ahead but I am tired of our soldiers having to do the carrying for the rest of the world.