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mattbrowne's avatar

Which of the recent Wikileaks documents are (a) most embarassing and (b) potentially very dangerous?

Asked by mattbrowne (31648points) November 30th, 2010

The United States diplomatic cables leak began in late November 2010 when the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks and five major newspapers published a cache of confidential documents that detail correspondence between the U.S. State Department and U.S. embassies around the world.

The first 200 of the 251,287 documents were published on 28 November by WikiLeaks, El País (Spain), Le Monde (France), Der Spiegel (Germany), The Guardian (United Kingdom), and The New York Times (United States). Over 130,000 of the documents are unclassified and none of the documents are classified as “top secret”; some 100,000 are labeled “confidential” on the classification scale and some 15,000 documents are at the higher level “secret”.

Many of the 251,287 documents are relatively harmless, while others are not. Which ones are most embarrassing? Which ones have the potential to create real dangers with people getting hurt or even killed?

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15 Answers

ucme's avatar

Well, regarding the Prince Andrew “revelations” it comes as no suprise. I mean the man’s a complete twat, famous for putting his royal foot in it.

wundayatta's avatar

I haven’t read it all, but my question is: is any of this very surprising? Isn’t this a kind of “The Emperor Has No Clothes” situation?

Cruiser's avatar

They are all embarrassing to some degree and IMO not going to ruffle too many feathers as name calling and finger pointing is all part of the diplomatic game.

There may be a couple of “Ah HAH!!” moments where someone realizes that it was “HIM/HER” “that dirty sneaky no-good lying double crossing bastard/bitch” that took someone else to the White House Christmas Ball instead. But other than a few raised eyebrow moments….IMO not much to really see that those in the know aren’t quite well aware of.

Mamradpivo's avatar

My personal favorite is reading that the entire freakin’ world wants the US to attack Iran but they don’t want anything to do with the consequences. Thanks, guys.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Embarrassing, I don’t know. Dangerous – all of them. There’s nothing inherently wrong with having secrets, and diplomats need to be able to speak freely with each other. Since none of these are exposing a huge cover-up, it just seems like petty trouble-making to me.

Ron_C's avatar

I have had twelve years, in the military, dealing with secret material. The overwhelming reason for most documents classified secret or top secret is to protect the government from embarrassment. Conversely that is the primary that they should be leaked.

I was once told that I should conduct myself as if my mother was watching. I think that diplomats, military, and politicians should follow the same advice. If they don’t they need to be called out for their indiscretions.

One of my daughters was being recruited by the CIA. I told her that I would rather she joined a whorehouse than the CIA. I also promised to do anything to kill her security clearance. It is possible that secret government organizations provide necessary services but more likely that they are involved in dirty tricks and assassinations.

No documents except for weapon systems plans and specifications should have a security clearance for more than 6 months or a year at most. Anything classified for longer damages democracy and the ability of citizens to monitor their government.

ETpro's avatar

The revalations of names of individuals who have helped us in Afghanistan will likely get some people killed and make it far more difficult to recruit others in the future. This is a great gift Mr. Assange has given to Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. And the candid thoughts of Iran’s neighbors being out in the open will likely make a military strike to take out their nuclear capability necessary. If it had been handled quietly through diplomatic channels, we might have persuaded Iran’s leaders to quietly back down and provided them some face-saving gesture as cover. That possibility is gone, thanks to the irresponsibility of Wikileaks.

Most of what they have published has noting whatsoever to do with government malfeasance. It simply shows diplomats doing their assigned jobs, and NATO counterinsurgency forces working properly with Afghan villagers to root out the Taliban. I would grant Wikileaks more latitude if they were exposing governmental wrongdoing. But to put innocent lives at grave risk when no such higher purpose pertains is, in my opinion, criminal.

mattbrowne's avatar

Today I read in a newspaper that Hillary Clinton thought that the President of Argentina Cristina Elisabet Fernández de Kirchner suffers from a serious mental illness and has to take strong medications. I wonder whether this will be taken seriously.

The next leak has already been announced: corruption in the financial industry

Release date: early 2011

ETpro's avatar

@mattbrowne I can see where some actual good may come from leaking the financial industry misconduct. Too bad it was left up to them to expose it. That’s what Attorneys General are supposed to do..

Ron_C's avatar

@ETpro I noticed that the names of collaborators were redacted, at least from the small portions that I read. It seems like most of the “diplomats’ “frank discussions” were just catty depictions of people that they are paid to lie to.

There is a small chance that a real person may be damaged by some of the leaks. Otherwise, it is good that the state department is taken down a peg or two. I have always thought that the state department was our country’s biggest enemy. Every time I see one of the trade agreements cutting the legs out from American manufacturers and Farmers, the state department is working on the treaty. They are, to me, part of a pretentious international diplomatic community that works harder on their personal image than for the good of our country.

ETpro's avatar

@Ron_C I have to admit I have not read the leaks, and am just going from news reports. I understand that after criticism for publishing names in the first round of leaks, this time Wikileaks did some redacting. But names and references that make people recognizable are still in there.

I did not see anything in the leaks that pointed to the ambassadors doing anything but their jobs. Leaking their private, frank assessments of foreign leaders may do great harm to US foreign relations without accomplishing anything of value except bringing Wikileaks lots of fame and notoriety. How would you like our diplomats to communicate with one another? Would you have them just lie, or keep their candid assessment to themselves whenever it is unflattering of some foreign leader?

Ron_C's avatar

@ETpro I saw an interview with someone that deals in sensitive material but don’t remember his name. He said that he told his employees that email should be written with the assumption that it will be leaked to popular Internet sites. I always went by the proposition that my writings could be monitored by my mother.

The diplomatic corps is made up but a majority of people that are self aggrandizing, supercilious, and grasping ambitious. They need to temper their superiority complexes.

I think the leaks are good because it helps clear their perspectives and lets them know how the real world feels about their attitude. There are no documented deaths that resulted from previous leaks, I doubt that anyone will die from this one if you leave out the ones that die from embarrassment.

flutherother's avatar

I think they all had the potential to get Julian Assange seriously hurt or even killed.

ETpro's avatar

@Ron_C O strongly disagree. The ones I have read appear to be candid thoughts of diplomats telling their superiors back at the state department their true assessment of foreign leaders. Leaking such candid conversations does nothing to further international relations and great harm to our efforts to build strong alliances. Inthink Wikileaks should get a big check from Osama bin Laden. THey’ve done him enormous good.

Ron_C's avatar

@ETpro it seems that the only people that have free speech these days are part of the government. Anyone else either runs afoul of the “Patriot Act” or has cruise missiles dumped in their front yard.

I hate terrorists, right of left wing, Christian or Muslim, I also hate what things like “Homeland Security” and the Saudi tribute systematic support paid as bribes to extremist religious groups have caused.

It is ironic that we are paying for our own bondage (a little kinky). Any person or group that upsets the global security blanket is immediately vilified.

If we truly want to be safe we have to staunch the flow of money to those organizations. Of course, we are the source. Our country finances the Saudi tribute and most of the other support for religious bigots fighting to get everybody under their particular form of law. We finance drug cartels that poison and murder our citizens, we employ immigrants to do our labor because domestic help wants too much money.

Ironically, the laws made without or consent restrict our freedoms and opportunities more than any terrorist act. Frankly anything that disrupts that system is commendable. I think that Wiki leaks should expand into the “war on drugs”, and the war on democracy instituted by the neocons and propagated by front groups like the Tea Party.

The problem isn’t too many leaks, it’s too much secrecy.

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