Welcome to Streakfury.com

Wikileaks and #cablegate

Posted by | Posted in Politics | Posted on 29-11-2010

Been a while since I wrote a blog entry, but then again it’s been months (if not nearly a year) since I last recorded a new mix or had anything worth posting! But the whole “cablegate” thing (as it’s being labelled on Twitter) is causing quite a stir,  although I’m not sure if it should be.

For those that don’t know, yesterday marked the first release day of over 250,000 US Embassy cables, which are basically memos to and from the US embassy, that span from 1966 to February 2010. Their subject matter is hugely varied, and as such, is a major cause for concern (apparently) for governments and politicians the world over. Thanks to the Wikileaks website, these documents are slowly being released over the coming weeks and months, and are freely available to view on their website.

Wikileaks, as the name suggests,  is a rather notorious website when it comes to releasing classified government documents. Earlier on this year, it released around 40,000 documents relating to the US operations in the Afghan war, which caused uproar in the political world, much as the current leaks have done today. The chatter on Twitter and the various global news outlets is giving the leaks a lot more attention that they might otherwise receive, but that’s bound to happen given the nature of the leak.

As far as I know, they don’t know who’s responsible for the leak, but I’m sure they’ll manage to find someone to blame.

So what’s in them? Well you can see for yourself by looking on the Wikileaks website itself, or by visiting one of the many summary pages that have cropped up all over the net. The Guardian as a nice interactive map, which allows you to read the individual cables based on location, as well as newspaper articles relating to it.

After having read some of them, it’s clear that although they contain information proving that certain people feel a certain way about certain subjects, they don’t yet contain anything that comes of any surprise. There’s always a lot of talk about the Iranian nuclear program, for example, and one might imagine that there are various parties out there that would like nothing better than to see the whole program put to an end. So while it’s shocking to see a report that states that various Arab leaders tried to convince the US to put a stop to it, it’s not really surprising.

Despite the lack of a “shock factor”, the internet has still seen a flurry of activity regarding the leaks. Many people agree that Wikileaks had a duty to release the documents for the sake of transparency and to hold the US government to account for it’s actions, but just as many people disagree. I’m a bit of both, I suppose. On the one hand, I believe the world needs the constant reminder that there are people out there willing to expose the truth at almost any cost. It gives everyone concerned a little incentive to make sure they don’t do anything that they wouldn’t want others finding out about. But on the other hand, I’m sure there are some things that are best kept secret, and if exposing those secrets puts the lives of some people at risk, and stops the government from doing it’s job of protecting the people it governs, then secrets should remain just that: secret.

So which side of the coin does this particular leak fall on? Well only time will tell. If nobody gets hurt, and the general operations of the various governments around the world can continue pretty much as normal, then perhaps no harm will come from the leaks. If, on the other hand, relationships between nations start to break down because of the leaks, then we could have a serious problem.

As far as I understand it (by which I mean, according to the James Bond films) most countries with any political power will undoubtedly have spies or other intelligence-gatherers placed all over the world. Everybody knows it, but all allow it (or are unable to prevent it). The key point is that everyone is left to get on with it, and I don’t suppose that any one country has much of an idea about what the others know about them. So despite the knowledge that everyone is spying on everyone else, it’s never really caused massive diplomatic problems as everyone just denies it all anyway. So to have confirmation of the various activities going on abroad, as well as at home, could reveal just how far some countries go when it comes to infiltration and intelligence gathering. Like, for example, the revelation that Hilary Clinton gave orders for US diplomats to spy on, and collect “biographic and biometric” information about, key UN officials. Even allies of the US. It’s a case of “everybody does it”, but nobody knows to what extent. But now they will.

To be honest, I think that a lot of what gets released will have very little impact on most of what goes on in the world today. A lof of the documents will be old and the information in them will no doubt already be known, or be of no consequence. But that won’t stop people from causing a major fuss. I think that despite no real information of any surprise being released, there’ll be plenty of people out there who’ll use the general view of the public to their advantage. The people that agree with the leak and it’s cause will use it as a means to promote their own agenda, which could range from freedom of information rights, to anti-war campaigns, to a few conspiracy theorists using it to better “prove” whatever wild theory they happened to believe in. The nay-sayers, of course, will use the leak as a way to promote their own ideas. The people that agree with going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan will say that the leaks have put military and political lives at stake; politicians who’ll find their careers on the line will certainly oppose the leaks, and various other companies and other organisations with something to lose if the information gets out will all suddenly change their tune.

I can’t say who’s right and who’s wrong. I don’t even know if I agree with what’s happening right now. As I said before, only time will tell.

EDIT: Although I didn’t mention it in the main article, Wikileaks went offline for a few hours right before releasing the new documents. Apparently, a hacker has come forward and claimed responsibility for the attack. He claims to be working for the good of the country, and depending on the outcome of the leaks, he may or may not be right.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.