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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 15:33   #1
fanshawe
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Default Wikileaks

What do you think of the latest round of Wikileak-revelations? Is total transparency desirable as the world now operates, or do revelations such as these simply make diplomacy impossible? In whose interest is it to know a lot of what has emerged in the past week?

I've been underwhelmed by a lot of this week's coverage and it's made me question what should be a noble undertaking by Julian Assange and his people. My personal opinion is that if they leak any old crap that comes their way, they're eventually going to find it much harder to get hold of the really important stuff that needs to come out. It seems self-defeating, sensationalist and more about raising the profile of the leakers than about embarrassing the leakees.
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 16:10   #2
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Default Re: Wikileaks

I'd probably argue that the American embassies around the world who are authors of the cables have the least to be embarrassed about so far.

Of the few things we have learnt, we know that North Korea is viewed as a basket case by even China, its hitherto greatest advocate, that the Iranian regime is just as active in arming and training Taliban insurgents as it is in giving bags of money to President Karzai. Fresh detail has also been shed on Karzai's unsavoury connections with a broad variety of unpleasant sorts.

If anyone should be embarrassed so far it isn't the American diplomats who report this stuff back to Washington, it's appalling people like the Iranian, North Korean and Afghan governments, whose behaviour in certain arenas in now out in the open. What is stopping the US and its allies openly holding Iran to account now for this apparent weapon supply to the Taliban?

From my own scant experience (derived from a few months work placement in the Foreign Office in the early 2000s), diplomatic cables are basically official gossip and reflect the views of the author. They aren't based on covertly gained intelligence but on general observations. Material which is gained from more interesting sources would, I assume, be held extremely closely. When Sky News reports 'YET MORE TOP SECRET LEAKS, LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS AND BOARD UP THE WINDOWS,' they really don't know what they're on about. I've been on wikileaks and seen the originals. Not one document is marked up as top secret.

Diplomatic cables are full of conjecture, personal opinions and tentative suggestions; the media is treating their contents as fact.
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 16:20   #3
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Default Re: Wikileaks

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Originally Posted by chrisphillips View Post
Diplomatic cables are full of conjecture, personal opinions and tentative suggestions; the media is treating their contents as fact.
So have Wikileaks shot their bolt too early? By spreading diplomatic gossip and heralding it as something that will change the world, have they damaged their chances to do something truly meaningful in the future?

Assange thinks he's changing the world:
Quote:
If something happens to us, the key parts will be released automatically. Further, the Cable Gate archives is in the hands of multiple news organisations. History will win. The world will be elevated to a better place. Will we survive? That depends on you.
Meanwhile, the US and France are trying to shut them down.
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Old 3rd Dec 2010, 16:43   #4
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Default Re: Wikileaks

According to an American friend of mine, Assuage's view is that the American government and its allies are essentially a grand conspiracy. He believes that if leaks can stop the component parts of the conspiracy from feeling secure enough to talk to one another, the conspiracy will wither and die. If that's not sufficient to demonstrate his lack of understanding, his apparent belief that the release of cables are the way to bring down the conspiracy surely is.

I think this is a damaging episode in terms of the embarrassment to the US, but Assuage shouldn't kid himself that some secret cables are the pinnacle of governmental secrecy and their compromise will bring the house down. It's not like these 250,000 documents are top secret intelligence documents, no matter what the media says. It'll blow over soon and re-emerge next time there's a news shortage.
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Old 4th Dec 2010, 13:14   #5
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Default Re: Wikileaks

Assange's dark suggestion that the cables will be released even if "something happens" is laughable. My guess is that the most juicy stuff was leaked first, as in the MPs' expenses story. Frankly, most of that has been pretty unexciting tittle-tattle ('Sarkozy chased a rabbit around his office' has to be leading the field for me so far). The Guardian promises more revelations "over the coming months". Months! Like the Telegraph with MPs' expenses, they're in danger of being so obsessive with the story that everyone will (a) get bored with the boy who cried 'leak!', and (b) start to sympathise with the people they're exposing.
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Old 7th Dec 2010, 13:17   #6
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Default Re: Wikileaks

An article by Assange that's just gone up on The Australian:
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Old 7th Dec 2010, 16:55   #7
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Default Re: Wikileaks

I struggle to take anything seriously that has a 'wiki' prefix attached to it. I've been like that ever since the wiki-apocalypse.

At least Stewart's link gave me another Aussie website to read about the cricket.
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Old 10th Dec 2010, 15:20   #8
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Default Re: Wikileaks

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I struggle to take anything seriously that has a 'wiki' prefix attached to it.
Well, someone's taking it seriously. In less than two weeks from the first set of documents released, Assange is in police custody, his bank accounts have been frozen and some of the biggest financial institutions in the world (Visa, Mastercard) and other prominent ones( Amazon, Paypal), have refused to process transactions with Wikileaks. All this, without even a hint of a legal challenge to Wikileaks' actions. Sure, Assange is charged with sexual assault (which may or may not be trumped up), but since when have any banks or credit card companies cared about this? Has anyone shut down the Vatican's ability to charge for service? Or, have they refused to process a payment to (believe it or not) The Society Against Legal Injustice Inc. set up for O.J Simpson? No.

The contents of the releases may be filled with "unexciting tittle-tattle", or they may contain damning information about various governments and their diplomatic and foreign policies. That's not the point.

For me, the response by governments, and, more importantly, corporations, is the interesting aspect of this story.
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Old 10th Dec 2010, 16:01   #9
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Default Re: Wikileaks

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...some of the biggest financial institutions in the world (Visa, Mastercard) and other prominent ones( Amazon, Paypal), have refused to process transactions with Wikileaks. All this, without even a hint of a legal challenge to Wikileaks' actions. ....but since when have any banks or credit card companies cared about this?
There was also this from the Guardian's live blog on the cables:
Charles Arthur, the Guardian’s technology editor, points out that while MasterCard and Visa have cut WikiLeaks off you can still use those cards to donate to overtly racist organisations such as the Knights Party, which is supported by the Ku Klux Klan.

The Ku Klux Klan website directs users to a site called Christian Concepts. It takes Visa and MasterCard donations for users willing to state that they are “white and not of racially mixed descent. I am not married to a non-white. I do not date non-whites nor do I have non-white dependents. I believe in the ideals of western Christian civilisation and profess my belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God.”
I'm enjoying the cables as they come in as they are interesting to read about (not so much to read themselves...they can be quite boring, I think) and it will be interesting to see what other nuggets will be filling up the headlines for weeks to come. We all knew there was a shadowy underworld of international diplomacy, but it's interesting to see it confirmed, and how it works to an extent.

Apparently, on top of the cables, Wikileaks have loads of files from a big US bank, too, that highlight questions of ethical (mal)practice.
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Old 10th Dec 2010, 23:54   #10
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Default Re: Wikileaks

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Apparently, on top of the cables, Wikileaks have loads of files from a big US bank, too, that highlight questions of ethical (mal)practice.
Yup. Shock of shocks: Visa and Mastercard just happen to be privately held companies owned by...the banks!
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