You know, if you keep leaking any and all classified information you can, inevitably some informant or logistics route or defensive position is going to get routed or assassinated. It's just a matter of time - while the government does some bad stuff, I'd reckon the majority of classified documents are classified for decent reasons. It's not just a bunch of wild animals running the show.
And when an operative or informant or ally or supply team or soldier or law enforcement officer eventually gets killed as a result of a leak, I wonder what the government's response will be.
Edit: Knock off the downvoting and make a reply. There's an informant in the Chinese politburo who is risking his life to protect the dissidents that the Chinese government targeted with the Google attacks. His life is at risk now. If you have any credible argument for why releasing any information related to the man, let's hear your argument. Because I think his life is at risk, and that's a bad thing. If you disagree, let's hear your reasoning of why it's okay to do that.
It depends on who is doing the crediting, I suspect.
To ask the opposite loaded-question, [rhetoric]"what will happen the first time there's a credible link to someone's life being saved by a Wikileaks release?" (Perhaps someone being released from Guantanamo Bay when they wouldn't have otherwise been? What if Wikileaks catches child-molestors in high places?)[/rhetoric]
Back honest discussion... it's pretty hard to pin blame Wikileaks for any given event, though. If our supposedly democratic government has decided that secrecy will be standard operating procedure for law enforcement, that government still has the main job of protecting it's secret operatives. Wikileaks isn't a spy agency, they just take information that's there. Any good intelligence operation compartmentalizes information on a need-to-know basis. So if names of some operator are flying around, someone has screwed up long before Wikileaks appears on the scene. The good way of protecting the classified information is keeping it within an intelligence agency. Should free-speech be hobbled for those situations where the secret-keepers screw-up?
Further, it doesn't seem coincidental to me that the main justification for government secrecy is stopping victimless crimes and intervening in foreign conflicts. How many people have been killed as a result of this? (countless) What are people going to do about this?
This is where discretion comes into play. If they caught a child molestor, that'd absolutely be the kind of thing you should leak - a crime.
Leaking war videos to show people the real impact of a war - probably okay.
Leaking war plans and war logistics info - a heck of a lot more questionable.
Leaking anti-nuclear proliferation, leaking informants trying to protect dissidents - totally, straightup wrong.
Discretion. They just demonstrated they don't have very much. Why the hell would they release that Chinese informant info? That's crazy. That's nuts. That's against their own frigging goal of more openness in the world. They want publicity, and don't have a sense of judgment.
Leak crimes. Absolutely, yes! That's a public service. But don't frigging leak info that obstructs obviously good causes and accomplishes nothing.
> Should free-speech be hobbled for those situations where the secret-keepers screw-up?
Free speech has limits. Risking getting objectively good guys killed - like the Chinese politburo agent - is probably over that line.
Can you see any good reason to leak that info besides getting celebrity and attention? Let me ask you Joe - do you think leaking that was bad? I do. I don't see any good it accomplishes for the potential damage it does.
Saying that only items indicating crimes should be leaked is a very low bar. How many people using that standard would choose to release the cables about the German citizen who was abducted and possibly tortured? In the other thread about these leaks here on HN that is dismissed as a "mistake", something that's impossible for me to fathom. It's basically saying that collateral damage is OK if it furthers the US interest.
I'm not arguing the specific case of the politburo agent here since I haven't read that part yet, but your claims that it's easy to decide what's right and wrong are naive at best.
Edit: Downvoters, feel free to leave comments disagreeing with me.
You're sort-of talking to the air here. I am not Wikileaks and no one on this forum is wikileaks.
If we have a world-wide free flow of information, we'll have people releasing stuff. Wikileaks claims to release everything with the minimal redacting possible but necessary. If they did more redacting, the actual leaker could well go elsewhere.
Are they responsible enough? That's not really the question. The question is, should they be stopped?
Democratic society pretty much involves the assumption that while most people are responsible, a minority is irresponsible and that the cost of forcing everyone to be responsible ("benevolent" dictatorship) isn't worth the benefit. That's because any dictatorship gives the bad people who happen to get on top a much free-er run than democracy. And free speech is an important of the democratic equation. Lots of the speech is stupid and even irresponsible. But it keeps those on top honest. That is the democratic "equation": less efficiency in exchange for avoiding the "big bad" of despotism.
But if it makes you feel better ... I hereby urge everyone in the world to be more responsible and discreet and only do good things. Are you satisfied?
I would question the need for a massive security state with a vast flow of secret information within it.
Further, if the such a state is threaten whenever a flow of secrets are exposed, it says more about the fragility of such a system than the power of those who might reveal its secrets.
So far I have seen very little in the released cables that can legitimately be said was in the public interest.
"Probably" ?!!? Who are you, people?
I agree completely with this sentiment. Anyone who argues with this statement might wonder to themselves whether it would be ok for someone to release documents implicating the person who leaked this trove to WikiLeaks - because it's the same thing - documents about an informant.
I'm really getting sick and tired of the "If it saves one life, it is worth it" argument. No it isn't. Life has risks. I prefer a world that is open and truthful.
This informant obviously knows that. What if he believes that risking his life in the name of freedom is more important? That is his prerogative. Just because you place safety and life as a priority over freedom, doesn't necessarily mean that other do.
Risky business is risky.
>It's not just a bunch of wild animals running the show.
They did unilaterally invade Iraq, killing, by their own records, tens of thousands of civilians in the process. They may not be animals, but their hands are far from clean.
What happens if friendly politicians in Yemen are bombed by al-Qaeda when their role in counter-terrorism comes out? What if their wives and children are beheaded on television, as has happened in the past?
Leaking war documents to show what's happening - questionable.
Leaking anything and everything possible, with no particular objective in mind - reckless and insane.
You don't think the Chinese knew that already?
>Leaking anything and everything they can, with no particular objective in mind - insanity.
They are not leaking everything they can. Wikileaks is not releasing all cables and if you actually read the cables, sensitive names are redacted. They also offered to talk to the US authorities, which could have allowed them some say in what got released, but US authorities refused.
Dude, cantelon, drop the partisan stuff and think for a second. A single offhand mention like, "Donated to informant's mother's pension fund" might be enough to identify an informant, round up him and his family, and torture them to death.
I get it. You're in favor of Wikileaks and don't like the U.S. government. But they're doing reckless crazy stupid shit here. Everyone regardless of politics should be able to see that, if you look at the summaries of what they released.
Looking at things objectively isn't "partisan stuff". I'm hearing the same hysteria that accompanied the Afghan War Diary release, yet noone was ever able to point out one life lost because of that leak. Wikileaks is doing even more this time to mitigate any fallout and their work is going to save many lives in the long term. For example: the next time the US decides it wants to invade another country they might find it harder to justify.
Anti-Wikileaks hysteria reminds me of the way child porn has been used to justify the creation of state censorship mechanisms: an attempt to use edge cases to justify protecting the interests of the status quo.
It's okay to dislike the U.S. government, be pro-Wikileaks, and think Wikileaks still did some stupid stuff here.
> For example: the next time the US decides it wants to invade another country they might find it harder to justify.
And the next time they try to negotiate nuclear disarmament with Pakistan, the Pakistani negotiator has to be worried about looking weak publicly. I can't believe I'm defending the U.S. government here, I'm quite a critic of it. But they actually do do lots of good stuff. Working to protect Google and internet infrastructure and working for nuclear disarmament are good things. Working to take out people who blow up buses of school children in Israel is a good thing.
You can be a critic of the U.S. government and think Wikileaks is being reckless here. The positions aren't incompatible.
I would say that if you're a critic of the US government you recognize the utility of exposing the attempts by the US to steal the credit card numbers and biometrics of UN leaders (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/28/us-embassy-cable...), attempts to steal the DNA of African leaders (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/us-embassy-cables-documents/...) etc. This kind of criminal activity shows a large disrespect for the rest of the world.
>I can't believe I'm defending the U.S. government here, I'm quite a critic of it. But they actually do do lots of good stuff.
The US, like any state, does what it needs to to protect its interests. For example, the US fights against corruption in some foreign countries. The reason they do this is because corruption makes it harder for US corporations to penetrate the corrupt state's market. The US is fine with corruption when it benefits them.
The US state's work for disarmament is similar. They wish to maintain the advantage of their own nuclear arsenal, so they work to prevent those not on their team from acquiring nuclear weapons. It's self interest.
A state is like a business. With guns. And each state has a brand that it promotes.
>You can be a critic of the U.S. government and think Wikileaks is being reckless here.
The real recklessness in this case is the laughably poor opsec of the US. If Wikileaks was able to get ahold of this info it's very likely that foreign intel has historically as well.
How about the so-called terrorist who have been funded by USA government in the first place?
Securing internet infrastructure has less to do with the "good stuff" and more to do with self preservation. As for Nuclear disarmament, USA don't really have a moral high ground telling other countries to not produce nuclear weapons when they are sitting on the one of the largest nuclear stockpile (and actively developing new generations of nuclear weapons) and the only country in the world to have used nuclear weapons during a war.
You can cherry pick "good stuff" USA government did, but the end up day if were to draw a line and sum up the "good stuff" and the bad stuff the government did, the bad stuff overwhelms what you claim to be "good stuff".
So I take it you didn't actually read the articles or dispatches at all? This was the very first part of the New York Times summary:
> A dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel: Since 2007, the United States has mounted a highly secret effort, so far unsuccessful, to remove from a Pakistani research reactor highly enriched uranium that American officials fear could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device. In May 2009, Ambassador Anne W. Patterson reported that Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts because, as a Pakistani official said, “if the local media got word of the fuel removal, ‘they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan’s nuclear weapons,’ he argued.”
Anyway, I'm done here. I'm getting my morning started in Malaysia, and I need a little extra time to make sure there aren't any dispatches likely to cause a storm this morning in Kuala Lumpur.
That's because the Pakistani government is of shaky stability at best, and while Pakistan having nukes in the first place is bad, the Pakistani government toppling and those nukes falling into who only knows' hands is much, much worse.
Making sure that their weapons are secure is a good thing.
Objectively, any information revealed about an informant puts that informant at greater risk of exposure. You can argue the trade-off all you like, but to ignore what you're trading away is not being objective.
I love the US Government and am as a result extremely supportive of projects like Wikileaks.
Sidebar: funnily enough, the partisan breakdown on this issue leads to the same people who say that they don't trust "Government" to build a highway interchange or administer a school but they think it should operate without any oversight whatsoever regarding matters of life and death. I mean, Obama's president now, I can understand hating the guy so bad that you all of a sudden have a huge problem with "Government" but wouldn't that apply to the security state especially?
In such a case, I would blame the people who did the rounding up, torturing, and killing.
You're wholly naive if you don't think at least China and Russia don't already have access to this information... especially given that a Russian spyring was recently busted for acquiring nuclear secrets, foreign policy secrets, etc.
then shame on the united states government for not protecting his identity
But that was ok, because it was approved by Very Serious People with flag pins and sometimes with stars on their shoulders. Their decisions regarding hundreds of thousands of lives should be judged by an entirely different standard than disorganized hacker hippies who accidentally endanger a single individual.
I suspect both Wikileaks and most of those doing the leaking are of the opinion that a crippled US intelligence force, and corresponding limitation of the USA operating in the international sphere, is net net a good thing.
Please, you're tech savvy, actually fucking think. If Wikileaks did it, a government with thousands of trained operatives in espionage were doing this four fucking decades ago. Wikileaks just illustrates how easy this information is to get.
If we know our governments counter-espionage is this bad, at least we know our people are already in danger. Taking down wikileaks simply leaves everyone with a false sense of security.
I would put thousands of dollars on the fact the Chinese already know everything about the informant in the politburo that the US government does. At least now the general public and the US government believes he may be in danger.
You're moronic if you think a US spy in China is, in any form or bastardized definition of the word, safe. Hiding in a lions den is always dangerous... even if they're not eating you right this second.
I'd like to point you to the Pentagon Papers case , in which The New York Times published information that revealed the US government's true intentions in the Vietnam war. When Nixon asked the courts for an injunction preventing The New York Times from publishing the Pentagon Papers, here is what the Supreme Court said in its ruling  (in favor of The New York Times):
"In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell. In my view, far from deserving condemnation for their courageous reporting, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other newspapers should be commended for serving the purpose that the Founding Fathers saw so clearly. In revealing the workings of government that led to the Vietnam war, the newspapers nobly did precisely that which the Founders hoped and trusted they would do."
Later in their decision, another justice wrote:
"In the absence of the governmental checks and balances present in other areas of our national life, the only effective restraint upon executive policy and power in the areas of national defense and international affairs may lie in an enlightened citizenry - in an informed and critical public opinion which alone can here protect the values of democratic government. For this reason, it is perhaps here that a press that is alert, aware, and free most vitally serves the basic purpose of the First Amendment. For without an informed and free press there cannot be an enlightened people."
and in that case most people behind the leak got away scott free
The massive leak is certainly likely to be damaging, but the Plame citation seems unwarranted: A quick Google search revealed zero corroborating evidence for this assertion, which seems to have been a bald, unsupported assertion by Roger Ebert in reviewing a film on the Plame affair. See http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/11/i_bet_youre_wron...
1) Stick with business as usual. Go along to get along.
2) Quietly retire to "spend more time with your family" or for "health reasons."
3) Use your position to betray your country as a spy, working for what is arguably a greater good.
Option 3) is what this Politburo member went with. Just like delivering pizzas, installing roof shingles, or maintaining power lines, espionage and treason comes with certain risks. This is true whether you're working for the good guys or the bad guys. This is one of those risks. He knew, or could reasonably have been expected to know, what he was doing.
I agree with the comment from the other thread: Wikileaks is putting the whole US government through a full-body scanner. Frankly, I'm tired of governments having all the illegal search-and-seizure fun. Now we get to play, too.
In other words, Wikileaks is making it riskier for dissidents to work as US informants. Gee, thanks, Julian.
Sure, that could be because of the DDOS attack but it looks as though this leak is taking place via a new server at cablegate.wikileaks.org which presumably anyone DDOS'ing wouldn't have had prior knowledge about to route attacks against.
It has meant that the newspapers (who were given pre-public access to the dumps) have effectively "leaked" the information as NYTimes and Guardian have started publishing the details before Wikileaks actually does the leaking.
I'm wondering if there was an agreed embargo when Wikileaks was supposed to actually "press the button". I further wonder if this will negatively effect the relationship between Wikileaks and the media going forward. Interestingly, Guardian which always prides itself on having data driven processes on stuff like this, has only released the metadata so far  -- I guess so that they are not the ones to do a complete leak before Wikileaks.
<a href='/classification/1_0.html' title='unclassified'>CONFIDENTIAL</a>
<a href='/classification/2_0.html' title='secret'>CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN</a>
<a href='/classification/3_0.html' title='confidential'>SECRET</a>
<a href='/classification/4_0.html' title='secret//noforn'>SECRET//NOFORN</a>
The classification levels are "Top Secret", "Secret", and "Confidential". "Classified" just means that it's been assigned to one of those levels.
North Korea secretly gave Iran 19 powerful missiles with a range of 2,000 miles. The missiles, known as the BM-25, are modified from Russian R-27s, which were submarine-based missiles carrying nuclear weapons
How insanely scary is that?
Don't let all this leaked stuff cause us to forget about the TSA and their (and the government at large's) ridiculousness.
Why do you fear Iran so much? US, Russia, China seem much more dangerous from the point of view of the weapons.
Iran is being bullied by the US for no real reason. Even if they were building nuclear weapons, it's their right. A bunch of countries have them.
1) How should communication with foreign embassies be done? Publicly via twitter?
2) Do you think that absolutely all information that gov has and exchange should be public? If not who should decide which info can be published?
3) What if somebody from Google get all you gmail conversations and publish it? If you dont like this idea, please explain why you support somebody publishing gov conversations then?
We need oversight and transparency concerning policy, prevention of the violation of constitutional and human rights, and any actions that violate the sovereignty of our allies and friends.
Not transparency of every communique between our embassies.
I sometimes joke that we're second-class citizens, much like in Rome (1) - we're affected by what the U.S. decides (as a kind of "world government"), but we cannot vote on it.
I'm not advocating US unilateralism. Your comment was apropos of nothing in what I said. Your rhetoric is misplaced.
What I wanted to convey is that Wikileaks is interesting for people outside the U.S. that are not necessarily enemies of the U.S.
I don't know which organization should provide some oversight, I guess the United Nations would be the closest (despite it being a bloated bureaucracy, it does manage some useful activities sometimes)
Interesting is a pretty shallow rationale for what's being done. They have an agenda and I'm not going to pretend Wikileaks is some kind of openness nerd savior. I had hoped they were the counter-balance I was seeking, but it's clear from the manipulation of releases and footage that Wikileaks is hellbent on attacking the US and its allies.
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There's irony for you.
Is it email? analog audio via oceanic cables?
the wikipedia page is blank now. but it's history show that someone described it simply as "oceanic cable" sometime.