Wikileaks release begins; Updated with raw info

Barrett Brown

I am the founder of the distributed think-tank Project PM and a regular inactive to Vanity Fair and Skeptical Inquirer. My work has also appeared in The Onion, National Lampoon, New York Press, D Magazine, Skeptic, McSweeney's, American Atheist, and a couple of newspapers in the U.S. and Mexico as well as a few policy journals. I'm the author of two books and serve as a consultant to various political entities and private clients.

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31 Responses

  1. T. Greer says:

    Eh, I think Charlie Carpenter got this one right. Anyone who follows international affairs closely knows 98% of the things being peddled as “revelations”.Report

    • Barrett Brown in reply to T. Greer says:

      With all due respect to that guy, that’s been pointed out not only today but was actually quite widely predicted last week, and that post kind of misses the mark anyway by implying that there’s no use for this particular document dump simply because some of it merely confirms suspicions already held by the attentive (“Thank the stars for Wikileaks”). These cables involve particulars that actually name names and incidents.Report

      • Chris in reply to Barrett Brown says:

        Charli’s not a guy.

        And she’s got a history of anti-Wikileaks posts, including being furious, furious I tell you, that Wikileaks had endangered the lives of informants, because the U.S. government said that it did. Then, when it came to light that Wikileaks probably hadn’t endangered the lives of any informants, Charli’s response to facts rather than conjecture was to criticize Wikileaks for not taking precautions to prevent endangering informants in case informants had, counterfactually, been endangered. To put it mildly, she’s not a big whistleblower fan, which is strange coming from someone who’s scholarly work is (largely) on human rights.Report

  2. James Hanley says:

    Re: Diplomats. The statement is carefully phrased in a way that preserves a certain bland truthfulness. Yes, the actual diplomats are just that, diplomats. The intelligence officials posing as diplomats, but not actually diplomats themselves, are the ones who are engaging in clandestine intelligence gathering. But while the statement may be technically, facially, true, Barrett Brown’s observation that it’s not, in it’s real meaning, believable, is certainly true.

    As to Wikileaks itself, I’m somewhat conflicted. Since the “real” media has, as Jennifer Abel notes taken upon itself the task of sucking government cock, a Wikileaks is absolutely necessary, for the purpose of fulfilling the role of government watchdog. On the other hand, I favor clandestine intelligence gathering and would strenuously object to people compromising our efforts, and endangering people engaged in the task (both American intelligence officials, and their non-American sources). But on net, I think a Wikileaks is necessary. I just hope they practice some discretion.Report

  3. Mike Schilling says:

    The idea that U.S. intelligence does not make clandestine use of the diplomatic infrastructure is more ludicrous today that at any point in the past

    Why? That is, yes, it’s ludicrous today, but surely it was equally ludicrous during the Cold War.Report

  4. James Hanley says:

    The head of Mossad believes that the most recent Israeli war against Lebanon had the effect of emboldening Syria.

    What a leak. We now know that the head of Mossad knows what everyone else knows.Report

  5. tom van dyke says:

    I’m inclined to go right-wing knee-jerk on this, esp since I suspect the Assange/WikiLeak motives. [As Adam Smith points out in his estimable Moral Sentiments, we only admire motives.]

    And when his motives are pure—the “truth”—one is ennobled beyond banal morality of being responsible for the consequences of one’s actions, a position I abhor.

    So I admit I scoffed when James Hanley hoped WikiLeaks would “practice some discretion,” as if folks with “pure motives” are capable of ever practicing discretion. For the fundamentalist, discretion is a sellout.

    But hey, look—via Hot Air, praise for the NYT, one of my favorite whipping boys [and girls] in this respect:

    Update: The Times claims it’s taken precautions to protect sources, including agreeing to some — but not all — redactions proposed by the White House: “The Times has taken care to exclude, in its articles and in supplementary material, in print and online, information that would endanger confidential informants or compromise national security. The Times’s redactions were shared with other news organizations and communicated to WikiLeaks, in the hope that they would similarly edit the documents they planned to post online.”

    So. Good on the NYT, indeed in taking the initiative here with WikiLeaks for what is good for the country, imagine that! [More like a concern for “the world,” and for those certain individuals whose lives might be at stake, but I don’t want to quibble too much here.]

    As for the leaks themselves, I’m not sure this will be harmful: it appears that the news is that US has been keeping the sentiments of its feckless allies secret, not so much hiding our own. They want Iran’s nuclear ambitions stopped too. The US is a better friend than she gets back and ever will get back, and keeps more secrets than she has to keep.

    It would actually have served US interests—and dealing the reality of the Iranian and Nork menaces—for the US to have leaked this stuff itself.

    It’s good for Iran to learn that like Saddam, “the world” probably won’t squawk too much if drastic action is taken against it. There was a recent move to impeach Ahmadinejad in the Iranian parliament, halted only by the mullah regime. These revelations could tip the scales there. We have been betting on the race going on in the Islamic Republic of Iran, that its regime will achieve sanity before it achieves nuclear capability. Should “the world”—read the US and any “coalition of the willing and tacit approval”—intervene against Iran’s nuclear program, the mullah regime, the Islamic Republic, will likely fall in its wake.

    They’re crazy, but they ain’t stupid. This is kind of cool.Report

  6. Scott says:

    It seems that Obama was content to let the leaks continue as long as the leaks served his purpose of smearing our efforts against the terrorists but now that they turned on him, he might finally take action. Sadly, I doubt Obama has the stones to order someone to kill Assange or any of the others associated with him.Report

    • Barrett Brown in reply to Scott says:

      I’m sure it seems that way to those who are unaware of the fact that Obama has been denouncing Wikileaks for quite a while now and that his administration has been at odds with the organization for just as long. Perhaps Obama is too busy targeting American citizens for assassination by Predator drones on suspicions of terrorist activity to kill Assange.Report

      • Scott in reply to Barrett Brown says:

        I’ve heard Obama’s tepid statements about wikileaks. Obama can denounce all he wants but the action to stop them seems to be lacking. I prefer actions over words.Report

        • Barrett Brown in reply to Scott says:

          No, you don’t. Obama has expanded the Predator drone program and sent 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan yet you have just now accused him of wanting Wikileaks to smear “our” efforts against terrorists despite the fact that “our” efforts are in part his own efforts. You will never be satisfied by any actions that Obama takes because it is Obama that is taking them.Report

          • Scott in reply to Barrett Brown says:


            Since you act like you know so much, maybe you can tell us what actions Obama has taken to stop Wikileaks from publishing US documents? He has the full might of the US gov’t behind him and he can’t stop them? I find that hard to believe. Those are the actions I’m talking about.Report

            • Barrett Brown in reply to Scott says:

              You mean aside from arresting Bradley Manning and seeking out other leakers by way of Project Vigilance? Based on my conversations with a friend of mine who’s former CIA, it would seem that American intel may have had a hand in framing him on rape charges. Otherwise, he hasn’t had any more success in capturing Assange than Bush had with bin Laden. At any rate, you and your friend Obama can worry over Wikileaks all you want; I don’t have as much affection for the state and its alleged right to do whatever it wants under a veil of secrecy as do you and Obama. Incidentally, if you do a little Googling, you’ll find that I was among the first people in the “respectable” media to promote Wikileaks and even did radio interviews on their behalf way back before all this commotion began – so I’m probably not the guy to “defend” the extent of Obama’s statist yearnings to silence them.Report

              • Scott in reply to Barrett Brown says:

                So you are an anarchist who trusts what someone from the CIA tells you? If that is the best you can do then please get back to us when you can prove what I said is demonstrably false.

                I’m not a statist but am someone that recognizes that leaks of sensitive info can and will hurt this country’s security and national interests. I’m not one of those that lives in a fairy tale world and thinks that all the gov’t business should be public knowledge.Report

              • Barrett Brown in reply to Scott says:

                He’s former CIA and has assisted me with getting a book published, so he has no reason to lie to me, and the opinion he provided was at my prompting.

                I have provided you with a number of solid and factual responses to the various challenges you have made regarding Obama and I would suggest you review this discussion and perhaps rethink your assumptions regarding whether or not the current president of the United States is in favor of Islamic terrorism.Report

            • Michael Drew in reply to Scott says:

              From an Information Operations perspective, it is possible that people in the government, and these would be people close to SecDef Gates and Mullen et al. as much as people in Obama’s inner circle, are calculating that the p.r. fallout of taking the actions that would be necessary to interdict Assange’s releases and arrest him or otherwise neutralize his program would actually be more damaging to U.S. interests than the releases themselves are proving to be. It is also possible that, yes, despite having the full power of the U.S government at their disposal, American officials find themselves unable to prevent Assange from making the disclosures, or to find and arrest him. There is also the matter of whether he has broken any U.S. laws; that is likely an extremely complex question that I doubt anyone here, commenter or contributor, will be able to illuminate much at all.Report

              • This. The only way to completely “stop” Assange, who does not reside in the US, is not a US citizen, and apparently is not himself violating any laws to which he is actually subject, is to basically do something illegal, primarily assassination. I rather doubt that any American administration would find the tremendous PR fallout from that to be an acceptable cost (and let’s be very clear – were Assange to die under mysterious circumstances, there’s no doubt as to who’d be blamed). This PR fallout would be far more damaging than simply making the US even less popular abroad, as well – its effect would be to assure less cooperation in the GWOT from foreign governments as well.Report

            • James Hanley in reply to Scott says:


              Are you seriously suggesting that Obama should get medieval on Wikileak’s ass? So much for “no law abridging freedom of speech, or of the press,” “let freedom ring,” and all that other ridiculous stuff that would actually allow the populace to engage in some real control over their popular government, eh?

              Why bother criticizing Obama when you obviously don’t want the public to know enough to make informed choices at the polls anyway? Just kowtow and keep your head down, your ears filled with cotton, and hope our dictators will be benevolent.Report

              • Meh. While I agree with the normative sentiments here entirely, let’s not pretend that any modern President actually has an interest in such quaint relics as the First Amendment or Constitutional government. It’s PR alone that’s keeping Assange alive right now. Of course, that fact is precisely why it’s important for people to stand up for Assange.Report

              • James Hanley in reply to Mark Thompson says:


                I don’t disagree with you at all. But for a *citizen* to encourage abandoning those things…that’s still worthy of rebuttal.Report

              • Scott in reply to James Hanley says:

                Calling the wikileaks, “the press” is giving them far too much credit and respectability. The only purpose of the group is to serve as a means to leak documents and information gov’ts and companies want to keep confidential regardless of the damage they do b/c of the leaks. They aren’t interested in highlighting something wrong the American government has done but instead seem very interested in embarrassing the American government. Why else would they release all the diplomatic cables, such as the ones where diplomats give their honest opinions of other world leaders?Report

          • Drones vs. WikiLeaks. I’m down with that. Let the thunder roll, Pres. Obama.

            Grand Theft State Secrets VI. Spare the hooker, shoot the spy. Hillary Clinton, using the UN to spy on Goofanistan. Drag her to the Hague, but silence her before she arrives.

            Your mission, Barrett, is to attack Barack Obama from the left but defend him from his attackers on the right. You are doing excellently so far. We have backups in place for when your head explodes, so no worries, mate.

            If and when you choose to self-destruct, we shall regenerate you. You will be happy to learn that no one is irreplaceable. In fact, some are more replaceable than others, and it should be liberating to learn that we consider you to be solidly in that category.

            Rock on.

            [Eat this message after reading.]Report

            • Barrett Brown in reply to tom van dyke says:

              I’ll go ahead and forward this to the producers of The 1/2 Hour News Hour in case Fox ever takes it off hiatus.Report

              • The 1/2 Hour News Hour was superfluous. You cannot satirize the patently ridiculous.

                You do attack Barack Obama from the left but defend him from his attackers on the right. I do not envy you your position. Nor his.Report

              • Barrett Brown in reply to tom van dyke says:

                I attack Obama from the standpoint of an anarchist and defend him against any attacks that are demonstrably false. I have the exact same policy towards everyone else.Report

              • I don’t know how an anarchist goes about defending other people’s rights, but I take you at your word here, Barrett.

                So too, there is not one of us who is not attacked with demonstrably false accusations. I look forward to being surprised by some of your future defenses of unlikely figures; again I take you at your word.Report

              • Chris in reply to tom van dyke says:

                I’m pretty sure Scott’s were demonstrably false, and Barrett did a good job of demonstrating them false. Except, of course, to the extent that Scott’s were just vague anti-Obama paranoia, in which case, they’re not demonstrably false, or true, or falsifiable/verifiable. They’re just the result of a vague sense that Obama is anti-American.

                It’s clear that Obama, and the U.S. government generally, have gone after Assange in ways that, should the charges prove to be suprious (and they appear to be), no conservative or liberal should support, but for Scott, and it appears for you as well, this is only unacceptable because it’s not enough.Report

  7. Scott says:

    Not satisfied with posting info about our middle east conflicts and diplomatic cables, they now are releasing a list of sites vital to the US. When will people start treating them like the terrorists they are? Oh wait, AG Holder promises “significant” action on this. More useless talk from Holder and Obama. How much damage to the US are he and Obama willing to tolerate?Report