The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > Great Debates

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 07-26-2010, 07:17 AM
Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
WikiLeaks and Guardian leak 92,000 secret documents on Afghan War

Here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guardian
A huge cache of secret US military files today provides a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and Nato commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fuelling the insurgency.

The disclosures come from more than 90,000 records of incidents and intelligence reports about the conflict obtained by the whistleblowers' website Wikileaks in one of the biggest leaks in US military history. The files, which were made available to the Guardian, the New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel, give a blow-by-blow account of the fighting over the last six years, which has so far cost the lives of more than 320 British and more than 1,000 US troops.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 07-26-2010, 07:22 AM
ivan astikov ivan astikov is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Manchestuh, UK.
Posts: 7,879
Hooray! Viva la whistleblowers. If they didn't have to fear losing their careers or even their lives, we could have their testimony from the human side, also.

Last edited by ivan astikov; 07-26-2010 at 07:23 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 07-26-2010, 10:07 AM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Beervania
Posts: 38,516
Quote:
Originally Posted by ivan astikov View Post
Hooray! Viva la whistleblowers. If they didn't have to fear losing their careers or even their lives, we could have their testimony from the human side, also.
It shows that it is damn near impossible to keep a secret that involves the deaths of thousands, doesn't it?
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07-26-2010, 10:16 AM
ivan astikov ivan astikov is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Manchestuh, UK.
Posts: 7,879
Quote:
Originally Posted by Czarcasm View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by ivan astikov View Post
Hooray! Viva la whistleblowers. If they didn't have to fear losing their careers or even their lives, we could have their testimony from the human side, also.
It shows that it is damn near impossible to keep a secret that involves the deaths of thousands, doesn't it?
Damn near impossible doesn't quite cut it. When you get to "absolutely impossible", give us a shout.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 07-26-2010, 10:24 AM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Beervania
Posts: 38,516
Quote:
Originally Posted by ivan astikov View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Czarcasm View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by ivan astikov View Post
Hooray! Viva la whistleblowers. If they didn't have to fear losing their careers or even their lives, we could have their testimony from the human side, also.
It shows that it is damn near impossible to keep a secret that involves the deaths of thousands, doesn't it?
Damn near impossible doesn't quite cut it. When you get to "absolutely impossible", give us a shout.
Maybe you are right.
Is it absolutely impossible that all those leaked documents were fakes designed by the Illuminati to discredit our government? Can you prove that it didn't happen?
I'm just asking questions.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 07-26-2010, 09:07 AM
ivan astikov ivan astikov is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Manchestuh, UK.
Posts: 7,879
Hmmm...this seems to have garnered less attention than it deserves!?
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 07-26-2010, 09:13 AM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
I Am the One Who Bans
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 76,753
Moderating

Quote:
Originally Posted by ivan astikov View Post
Hmmm...this seems to have garnered less attention than it deserves!?
It might get some more attention in Great Debates, so I've moved it there. I also corrected the number in the thread title - WikiLeaks published around 92,000 reports, not 19,000. And it was really them alone - they shared the documents ahead of time with the New York Times, the Guardian, and Der Spiegel. Each of the papers published some of the material and used it in articles.

Last edited by Marley23; 07-26-2010 at 09:15 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 07-26-2010, 10:19 AM
Rune Rune is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by ivan astikov View Post
Hmmm...this seems to have garnered less attention than it deserves!?
What groundbreaking news are being unearthed? It seems to me the most important point being “revealed” in the documents, is Pakistan’s close involvement with the Taliban. That Pakistan has financed, armed, trained and shared intelligence with the Taliban – all the while receiving billions of US dollars in aid is however not really news. It only strengthen my belief that the West should cut all attempts to form any kind of meaningful cooperation with Pakistan and cut all aid to Pakistan and instead try to involve India in stabilising Afghanistan.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 07-26-2010, 10:32 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rune View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by ivan astikov View Post
Hmmm...this seems to have garnered less attention than it deserves!?
What groundbreaking news are being unearthed? It seems to me the most important point being “revealed” in the documents, is Pakistan’s close involvement with the Taliban. That Pakistan has financed, armed, trained and shared intelligence with the Taliban – all the while receiving billions of US dollars in aid is however not really news. It only strengthen my belief that the West should cut all attempts to form any kind of meaningful cooperation with Pakistan and cut all aid to Pakistan and instead try to involve India in stabilising Afghanistan.
While India has a good deal of influence in Pakistan, one thing it doesn't have is a(n accessible) shared border- and the people we were never really looking all that hard for aren't running to India.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 07-26-2010, 10:40 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
While India has a good deal of influence in Pakistan, one thing it doesn't have is a(n accessible) shared border- and the people we were never really looking all that hard for aren't running to India.
That should read, "...influence with Afghanistan...", not Pakistan.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 07-26-2010, 10:49 AM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
I Am the One Who Bans
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 76,753
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rune View Post
What groundbreaking news are being unearthed? It seems to me the most important point being “revealed” in the documents, is Pakistan’s close involvement with the Taliban. That Pakistan has financed, armed, trained and shared intelligence with the Taliban – all the while receiving billions of US dollars in aid is however not really news. It only strengthen my belief that the West should cut all attempts to form any kind of meaningful cooperation with Pakistan and cut all aid to Pakistan and instead try to involve India in stabilising Afghanistan.
None of that should be a surprise to anybody, since the links between the ISI and the Taliban go back to the beginning of the Taliban. This is getting a lot of coverage right now from what I can see, and WikiLeaks has been getting more attention since the Collateral Murder video. The difference between this and the Pentagon Papers appears to be that the most damning part of the Pentagon Papers was a strategic assessment that said the war was going a lot worse than the government had let on, and that it might not be possible to win. These documents don't seem to have anything like that. It's mostly a swath of individual reports, not an overall assessment. Some of it is very negative and a lot of it is interesting to have as first-hand information, but that's a different kind of viewpoint. And public opinion on Afghanistan is not nearly as divided now as public opinion on Vietnam was in 1971. It's also true that the WikiLeaks documents are from some time in 2004 to the end of last year. So the Obama administration gets two excuses: they weren't in power for most of that time, and for the year where they were, they hadn't done their super-important change in strategy (which maybe isn't working anyway).
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 07-26-2010, 09:10 AM
Ogre Ogre is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
I'm continually stunned these days by how little the American public seems to care about our foreign wars.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 07-26-2010, 09:11 AM
Tom Scud Tom Scud is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Well, we all support the troops, as long as we don't have to think about them.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 07-26-2010, 09:20 AM
ivan astikov ivan astikov is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Manchestuh, UK.
Posts: 7,879
And the prime movers behind the whole clusterfuck are moaning about Wikileaks releasing this info, as it could endanger US and coalition troops. No, sending your men and women thousands of miles to fight a war they cannot win, is what is endangering them. And besides, that is what they joined up to do; nobody forces these people into their uniforms.

White House condemns Wikileaks

Last edited by ivan astikov; 07-26-2010 at 09:22 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 07-26-2010, 09:25 AM
ralph124c ralph124c is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Being cynical, I think this is one of Obama's tactics to justify withdrawing from Afghanistan.
the leaked documents are devastating-they refute all of the propaganda being produced to justify this disaster. McCrystal's exit is also suspicious-I think we will see some image-enhancement of the Taliban, which will lead to "peace talks", and a face-saving exit.
I'm all for this, the longer the war goes on, the worse it will get.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 07-26-2010, 09:44 AM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: michigan
Posts: 26,307
Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
Being cynical, I think this is one of Obama's tactics to justify withdrawing from Afghanistan.
the leaked documents are devastating-they refute all of the propaganda being produced to justify this disaster. McCrystal's exit is also suspicious-I think we will see some image-enhancement of the Taliban, which will lead to "peace talks", and a face-saving exit.
I'm all for this, the longer the war goes on, the worse it will get.
Cynical? How about wrong. He made a point of saying the Afghan war is a good war and escalated it. He added 40 ,000 troops and funding. Doing that would not suggest he is trying to get out.
As far as the leaks are concerned . I am for them. The American people are supposed to vote for leaders. How do we make an intelligent decision based on administration propaganda? When the truth comes out, we are all better off.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 07-26-2010, 09:49 AM
XT XT is offline
Agnatheist
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The Great South West
Posts: 26,802
What's the debate? Though, I suppose this blows out of the water the truther (and other CT nutters) case about how good the US is at keeping secrets...

(If the debate is 'How do you feel about a site like WikiLeaks encouraging the disclosure of sensitive US military documents?', then I suppose I have mixed feeling about it, though they tend to be negative over all. I don't really see the need for sensitive information to be publicly available...after all, that's what our elected officials are for. Now, if it can be demonstrated that the folks in Congress or the President weren't aware of the gist of what was in these 90k documents, then that's a problem)

-XT
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 07-26-2010, 10:27 AM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
I Am the One Who Bans
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 76,753
Modding

Quote:
Originally Posted by xtisme View Post
What's the debate?
I was assuming there would either be a debate about the war, or a debate about the ethics or merits of leaking documents the government wants to keep secret for national security reasons. We'll see how it goes. As far as the leaks go, I'm always glad when this kind of stuff becomes public.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Czarcasm View Post
It shows that it is damn near impossible to keep a secret that involves the deaths of thousands, doesn't it?
Quote:
Originally Posted by ivan astikov View Post
Damn near impossible doesn't quite cut it. When you get to "absolutely impossible", give us a shout.
And let's keep the conspiracy theory arguments (at least as they pertain to September 11th) out of this thread and in the other one.

Last edited by Marley23; 07-26-2010 at 10:29 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 07-26-2010, 10:03 AM
Ravenman Ravenman is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 14,035
Quote:
Originally Posted by ralph124c View Post
the leaked documents are devastating-they refute all of the propaganda being produced to justify this disaster.
"Devastating?" I haven't reviewed the leaked articles, but nothing I have seen so far really changes anything. As the New York Times wrote, "Over all, the documents do not contradict official accounts of the war. But in some cases the documents show that the American military made misleading public statements — attributing the downing of a helicopter to conventional weapons instead of heat-seeking missiles or giving Afghans credit for missions carried out by Special Operations commandos."

We know that Afghan civilians are killed in this war. We know when we lose a helicopter. We know that Special Operations commandos are sneaky people. We know the Taliban has been gaining strength. Call me jaded, but I haven't read anything in the press about these leaks that have shocked or surprised me.

Honestly, ralph, I think you'd be inclined to call any news coming out of Afghanistan a devastating rebuke to the war which you oppose.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 07-26-2010, 09:58 AM
Mr. Excellent Mr. Excellent is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Neat! Our generation's very own Pentagon Papers scandal - complete, I'm sure, with soon-to-come criminal charges and litigation.

More seriously - I'm usually in favor of whistle-blowing, and it does seem that there was a lot of information in this data-dump that the public should know about. However, I do have some misgivings. As NPR's coverage pointed out this morning, much of this stuff is fairly low-level and unverified intelligence reports. In other words, while a lot of this information is going to be both important and accurate, a lot of it is going to be flat-out wrong - and most of the individuals and groups pouring through it won't have many good ways of sorting the wheat from the chaff.

The result *may* be that, instead of getting a better-informed American domestic political discourse on the Afghanistan war, we'll get a mess - in tens of thousands of pages, there are bound to be fragmentary or uncorroborated reports to support any number of bizarre theories or ideologies, on any end of the political spectrum. Raw intelligence is sort of like raw eggs - it can be used for interesting and tasty things, but it can also give you a nasty case of the (metaphorical) runs.

Or, I could be way off here - the Wikileaks dump may be all to the good. People are often fairly smart, and plenty of them still get their news from newspapers that *do* have the wit and resources to figure out which bits of information are probably worth reporting on, and which are the equivalent of "Pfc. Smith was approached by an anonymous informant who claimed that the Taliban would attack Kandahar with UFOs."

It'll be interesting to see what the Administration does with/to Wikileaks. I'm certain there are a number of DOJ attorneys drafting memos on possible criminal charges as we speak - must be fascinating stuff. (Note that I'm not saying the Administration *will* bring charges - just that the AG would be daft not to have someone laying the research groundwork in case that's how they choose to go.)
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 07-26-2010, 10:09 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
More like the Democrats he opposes.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 07-26-2010, 10:16 AM
Czarcasm Czarcasm is online now
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Beervania
Posts: 38,516
Deleted post-wrong thread.

Last edited by Czarcasm; 07-26-2010 at 10:17 AM.. Reason: wrong thread
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 07-26-2010, 10:29 AM
Wallenstein Wallenstein is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
So far there doesn't seem to be any major "WTF?!" revalations... just a confirmation that things are going pretty badly and that we've not quite had the whole story given to us by the military.

The fact there are e.g. covert teams trying to take out top Taliban commanders isn't exactly earth-shaking, nor is the fact that official reports don't mention them explicity.

One of The Guardian's splashes is a list of all the IEDs between 2004-2009, with a nice little graphic to show you them all. Apart from going "wow, what a lot of IEDs" that doesn't actually tell us much about the war as a whole.
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 07-26-2010, 01:00 PM
Ryan_Liam Ryan_Liam is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wallenstein View Post
So far there doesn't seem to be any major "WTF?!" revalations... just a confirmation that things are going pretty badly and that we've not quite had the whole story given to us by the military.

The fact there are e.g. covert teams trying to take out top Taliban commanders isn't exactly earth-shaking, nor is the fact that official reports don't mention them explicity.

One of The Guardian's splashes is a list of all the IEDs between 2004-2009, with a nice little graphic to show you them all. Apart from going "wow, what a lot of IEDs" that doesn't actually tell us much about the war as a whole.
Well, actually it does,

I just looked at the list, and it seems the epicentre of violence coalesces around Kandahar and Kabul areas. Which makes sense since Kandahar is the spiritual capital of Mullah Omars Taliban, and Kabul the centre of Government power and most of the population is centralised. The bomb attacks seem to be in those areas then start, slowly to branch out, coincidentally around the 'Ring road' which goes around the whole of Afghanistan. However again, most of the attacks are limited to those two areas.

The rest, such as the north and the west bordering Iran, seem to be, in relative calm. But this is stating the obvious. But it does tell you about the pattern of violence.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 07-26-2010, 10:37 AM
Indian Indian is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
With neighbours like these ...

Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 07-26-2010, 12:44 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Well, the Afghanistan files might say that the war is unwinnable, but nobody has gotten through all 92,000 pages yet.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 07-26-2010, 01:11 PM
MOIDALIZE MOIDALIZE is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Here is a great article by Jay Rosen that discusses the significance of Wikileaks and its tactics in releasing these papers.

Some observations:

-Choosing to release the papers to The Guardian, the NYT, and Der Spiegel, and making them agree to publish stories on the papers simultaneously, was not only a canny move on the part of Wikileaks but is also a pretty damning indictment of the mainstream media. The reason the papers were selectively released to these outlets, and not disseminated freely for anyone to read and comment on, is because if a big story is freely available, journalists will pass on it because they can't ensure their coverage will get enough attention. That says a lot, to me, about how the business side of the media overshadows their duty to report.

In addition, Wikileaks released all the papers on their website. Thus, they release the papers to respected news organizations to ensure the information is respected and noticed, while publishing the full papers on their website just in case the newspaper editors let their own bias or fear get in the way of reporting certain information.

-The White House is pretty clueless.

-Perhaps most importantly:

Quote:
In media history up to now, the press is free to report on what the powerful wish to keep secret because the laws of a given nation protect it. But Wikileaks is able to report on what the powerful wish to keep secret because the logic of the Internet permits it. This is new. Just as the Internet has no terrestrial address or central office, neither does Wikileaks.

I can think of no greater threat to the establishment right now than Wikileaks. Whether the revelations in these papers will lead to change is questionable. As Jay Rosen posits:

Quote:
The mental model on which most investigative journalism is based states that explosive revelations lead to public outcry; elites get the message and reform the system. But what if elites believe that reform is impossible because the problems are too big, the sacrifices too great, the public too distractible? What if cognitive dissonance has been insufficiently accounted for in our theories of how great journalism works… and often fails to work?
That's a depressing thought.
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 07-26-2010, 01:33 PM
John Mace John Mace is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Does this leak contain methods and sources? If so, then it's definitely not good.

However, the article read in the paper today indicated (in the last paragraph) that these leaks are incomplete (ie, does not tell the whole story) and is not up to date (does not include stuff from 2010).
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 07-26-2010, 01:33 PM
CoolHandCox CoolHandCox is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 889
Quote:
Originally Posted by MOIDALIZE View Post
Here is a great article by Jay Rosen that discusses the significance of Wikileaks and its tactics in releasing these papers.

Interesting article, it's a good read. I found this part somewhat, I don't know, amusing:

Quote:
If you don’t know much about Wikileaks or why it exists, the best way to catch up is this New Yorker profile of Julien Assange.

He is the operation’s prime mover, and it is fair to say that WikiLeaks exists wherever he does. At the same time, hundreds of volunteers from around the world help maintain the Web site’s complicated infrastructure; many participate in small ways, and between three and five people dedicate themselves to it full time. Key members are known only by initials—M, for instance—even deep within WikiLeaks, where communications are conducted by encrypted online chat services. The secretiveness stems from the belief that a populist intelligence operation with virtually no resources, designed to publicize information that powerful institutions do not want public, will have serious adversaries.
An organization that wants to keep things secret because of what they do. Fight fire with fire I suppose.
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 07-26-2010, 01:39 PM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: michigan
Posts: 26,307
We can't handle the truth.
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 07-26-2010, 01:40 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Meh. Wikileaks' raison d'etre is exposing government action, not private action (do they leak corporate documents too?)
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 07-26-2010, 01:47 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
I Am the One Who Bans
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 76,753
Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Meh. Wikileaks' raison d'etre is exposing government action, not private action (do they leak corporate documents too?)
Governments are their main focus, but yes, they do. The news isn't that they published some secret stuff, it's in what they published.
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 07-26-2010, 02:03 PM
Ravenman Ravenman is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 14,035
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marley23 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Meh. Wikileaks' raison d'etre is exposing government action, not private action (do they leak corporate documents too?)
Governments are their main focus, but yes, they do. The news isn't that they published some secret stuff, it's in what they published.
I think the point being made is that what is good for the goose is not good for the gander: Wikileaks seems to be opposed in principle to government and corporate secrecy, but the organization itself is deeply shrouded in secrecy.

Last edited by Ravenman; 07-26-2010 at 02:03 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 07-26-2010, 02:08 PM
ivan astikov ivan astikov is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Manchestuh, UK.
Posts: 7,879
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marley23 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Meh. Wikileaks' raison d'etre is exposing government action, not private action (do they leak corporate documents too?)
Governments are their main focus, but yes, they do. The news isn't that they published some secret stuff, it's in what they published.
I think the point being made is that what is good for the goose is not good for the gander: Wikileaks seems to be opposed in principle to government and corporate secrecy, but the organization itself is deeply shrouded in secrecy.
Yes, well when they start wanting to run the world, then I'll start worrying about that.
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 07-26-2010, 02:15 PM
CoolHandCox CoolHandCox is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 889
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marley23 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Meh. Wikileaks' raison d'etre is exposing government action, not private action (do they leak corporate documents too?)
Governments are their main focus, but yes, they do. The news isn't that they published some secret stuff, it's in what they published.
I think the point being made is that what is good for the goose is not good for the gander: Wikileaks seems to be opposed in principle to government and corporate secrecy, but the organization itself is deeply shrouded in secrecy.
So if someone on the inside decides to release documents showing explicitly how WikiLeaks operates...will they then take a leak on themselves? That's the question. I say no (well, only for security reasons, of course. It could have detrimental consequences to their mission of keeping the leak stream flowing).
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 07-26-2010, 02:28 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
I Am the One Who Bans
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 76,753
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marley23 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Meh. Wikileaks' raison d'etre is exposing government action, not private action (do they leak corporate documents too?)
Governments are their main focus, but yes, they do. The news isn't that they published some secret stuff, it's in what they published.
I think the point being made is that what is good for the goose is not good for the gander: Wikileaks seems to be opposed in principle to government and corporate secrecy, but the organization itself is deeply shrouded in secrecy.
I realize there's a lack of accountability there, but they're doing things that can get them thrown in jail. The people they go after generally aren't taking that risk.
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 07-26-2010, 02:47 PM
Ravenman Ravenman is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 14,035
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marley23 View Post
I realize there's a lack of accountability there, but they're doing things that can get them thrown in jail.
I understand that Wikileaks is trying to prevent people from being thrown in jail for violating secrecy laws by maintaining certain amounts of secrecy itself. However, one could also say that the governments are trying to prevent soldiers or spies from being killed, or stop relations with different countries from going down the tubes, by keeping some information secret.

I guess the value of disclosure of secrets all depends on whose ox is being gored.

To be clear, I recognize that it is rare that the front pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post don't have some story that exposes a government secret in some way. I also have pretty good faith that those two media outlets are run by reasonable people who understand that it may not be in the best interest of the public to expose everything that is secret -- one can easily find situations in which the media outlets have respected requests by the government to not go into detail on one point or another of a story because it could have serious consequences.

Wikileaks, on the other hand, seems to have the attitude (if not policy) that government is the enemy, and seem to take delight in exposing secrets that don't really seem to be important to the public debate, but could have serious consequences nonetheless.
Reply With Quote
  #38  
Old 07-26-2010, 02:30 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marley23 View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Meh. Wikileaks' raison d'etre is exposing government action, not private action (do they leak corporate documents too?)
Governments are their main focus, but yes, they do. The news isn't that they published some secret stuff, it's in what they published.
I think the point being made is that what is good for the goose is not good for the gander: Wikileaks seems to be opposed in principle to government and corporate secrecy, but the organization itself is deeply shrouded in secrecy.
Right. Which is to say, that is the point I was responding to, not the one I was making.

The problem with being a super-secret organization, of course, is that documents you supply lack foundation, and there's nobody around to ask, "hey, is this shit for real?"
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 07-26-2010, 02:32 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
I Am the One Who Bans
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 76,753
Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
The problem with being a super-secret organization, of course, is that documents you supply lack foundation, and there's nobody around to ask, "hey, is this shit for real?"
Which is one of the benefits of letting these three papers see the documents before they were released.
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 07-26-2010, 02:32 PM
Sam Stone Sam Stone is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Posts: 25,508
Just out of curiousity, how would you feel if the equivalent of WikiLeaks was around in WWII, and leaked that the Americans were lying about their bombing capacity towards Japan, that Patton's army in Calais was a ruse, and that the allied forces were actually planning to land at Normandy?

How about leaking that Americans had broken the Enigma codes, or cracked Japanese communications in the lead up to Midway?

Disinformation and secrets are part of warfare. You lie to the enemy every chance you get. For example, the U.S. lied about the effectiveness of Israeli Patriot missiles in downing SCUD attacks during the first Gulf war. Is that wrong? What if the lie caused Saddam to give up the attacks and it saved lives?

In the dump above, it seems to me that publishing the location of all the mines in minefields renders them immediately useless and makes life more dangerous for American, British, and Canadian soldiers. Saying that an aircraft was shot down by lucky small arms fire and not a missile could prevent a morale boost for the enemy. Giving credit to Afghan soldiers for something Americans did could boost the Afghan army's self-esteem and credibility with the population.

These kinds of tactics have been a constant feature of war and diplomacy since about the time Og hit Thad on the head with a rock. The other side certainly uses it as much as possible.

I'm not saying all leaks are bad. But we also shouldn't assume that all leaks are good. And a shotgun blast of 92,000 pages of information sure sounds like someone leaked a lot of information without knowing how much damage it might do to the war effort or how many coalition forces it might get killed.
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 07-26-2010, 02:41 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
I Am the One Who Bans
Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 76,753
And what if they'd exposed that there was no attack in the Gulf of Tonkin on August 4, 1964? Wouldn't those have prevented a war that killed millions? (I won't bother saying anything about WMDs in Iraq- nobody should've fallen for that one.) We could throw analogies at each other all day but I don't see the point. Keeping secrets from an opponent on the battlefield is one thing. If the public doesn't know what's going on, democracy is useless. The truth is that governments are always going to keep as many secrets as they can. At this stage, and perhaps at every stage, it's way more than they need. I realize there are consequences that could affect people's lives here, although in point of fact I don't know if any names or potentially identifying information is being disclosed here. Someone does need to push the boundaries there.
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 07-26-2010, 03:19 PM
Lantern Lantern is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Stone View Post
Just out of curiousity, how would you feel if the equivalent of WikiLeaks was around in WWII, and leaked that the Americans were lying about their bombing capacity towards Japan, that Patton's army in Calais was a ruse, and that the allied forces were actually planning to land at Normandy?

How about leaking that Americans had broken the Enigma codes, or cracked Japanese communications in the lead up to Midway?
I don't find this line of argument persuasive. During the war the Allies were facing adversaries who were trying to dig out their secrets with vastly more resources than a hypothetical Wikileaks . If security was so poor that vital secrets were leaking to a small NGO, it's a fair bet that they were available much earlier to Axis intelligence services.

The same goes for today. If there is a serious danger of really important secrets being leaked to Wikileaks, the US might as well get out of the superpower game because it implies that their security is so bad that any second-rate power could infiltrate their military and intelligence services at will ; of course this isn't true.

The fact is that governments keep a lot of material secret for bad reasons; because secrecy is a source of power and because disclosure can lead to informed criticism. If an organization like Wikileaks pushes the balance a little towards disclosure, that is not a necessarily a bad thing.
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 07-26-2010, 03:23 PM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Stone View Post
Just out of curiousity, how would you feel if the equivalent of WikiLeaks was around in WWII, and leaked that the Americans were lying about their bombing capacity towards Japan, that Patton's army in Calais was a ruse, and that the allied forces were actually planning to land at Normandy?

How about leaking that Americans had broken the Enigma codes, or cracked Japanese communications in the lead up to Midway?

Disinformation and secrets are part of warfare. You lie to the enemy every chance you get. For example, the U.S. lied about the effectiveness of Israeli Patriot missiles in downing SCUD attacks during the first Gulf war. Is that wrong? What if the lie caused Saddam to give up the attacks and it saved lives?
Nitpick: the Enigma codes were broken by the British, not by Americans, the movie U-571 notwithstanding.

Anyway, leakage is a two-way street. If the US government (or the Pentagon, specifically) want to keep things quiet, all they have to do is start propagating disinformation via Wikileaks.

Hell, for all we know, that might exactly what happened in this case.
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 07-26-2010, 02:45 PM
Sam Stone Sam Stone is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Posts: 25,508
So you WOULD have been okay with leaking the existence of the enigma code in WWII? You'd be alright with Patton's Calais force being exposed as a lie?
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 07-26-2010, 05:44 PM
An Arky An Arky is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 8,325
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Stone View Post
So you WOULD have been okay with leaking the existence of the enigma code in WWII? You'd be alright with Patton's Calais force being exposed as a lie?
That's an easy mother's skirt strawman to hide behind, The fact of the matter is that if our government's activities are that easily exposed, then they should be, because that's what our enemies can do. In WWII, there was no internet, but there were segregated water fountains, so bleah.

We're fucking around in places we shouldn't be fucking around in, at a tremendous cost of lives and capital. I'm not willing to just give a nudge and a wink and trust the spooks, because they're comitting equivalent atrocities to our supposed enemies.

Last edited by An Arky; 07-26-2010 at 05:45 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 07-26-2010, 06:21 PM
MOIDALIZE MOIDALIZE is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Stone View Post
So you WOULD have been okay with leaking the existence of the enigma code in WWII? You'd be alright with Patton's Calais force being exposed as a lie?

This is a bad analogy. A better analogy would be if the Allies had told the people that they had successfully broken out from Normandy when in reality they had been repulsed, pushed off the beachhead, and sent scurrying back to England.

Where we stand strategically is always of importance to the populace. That's why the Pentagon Papers were such a bombshell. It wasn't the specifics that were so damning, it was the lack of progress towards some sort of winning path in Vietnam (which was never clearly defined). We were told that the light was at the end of the tunnel. The reality was we had not defined the conditions of victory in a strategic sense (which is why progress was being defined by body counts and other meaningless metrics), we had expanded the war into Laos and Cambodia without informing the public, and we seemed to be mostly motivated by a desire to not lose than a desire to actually achieve anything.

We face a similar dilemma in Afghanistan. What are we fighting for? Are we achieving it? When can we expect to be done?
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old 07-26-2010, 06:25 PM
XT XT is offline
Agnatheist
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The Great South West
Posts: 26,802
Quote:
Originally Posted by MOIDALIZE
This is a bad analogy. A better analogy would be if the Allies had told the people that they had successfully broken out from Normandy when in reality they had been repulsed, pushed off the beachhead, and sent scurrying back to England.
Your analogy is worse, since it implies that the military/government has been saying that we are winning the war in Afghanistan when in fact we are actually being driven out. The military/government hasn't been saying we are winning, and we aren't being driven out...the conflict has been portrayed pretty much as what it is. Some of the DETAILS have been left out, some events slightly altered, but it isn't at all like your analogy. Honestly, Sam's was closer to the reality of the situation.

-XT
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old 07-26-2010, 06:31 PM
MOIDALIZE MOIDALIZE is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by xtisme View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by MOIDALIZE
This is a bad analogy. A better analogy would be if the Allies had told the people that they had successfully broken out from Normandy when in reality they had been repulsed, pushed off the beachhead, and sent scurrying back to England.
Your analogy is worse, since it implies that the military/government has been saying that we are winning the war in Afghanistan when in fact we are actually being driven out. The military/government hasn't been saying we are winning, and we aren't being driven out...the conflict has been portrayed pretty much as what it is. Some of the DETAILS have been left out, some events slightly altered, but it isn't at all like your analogy. Honestly, Sam's was closer to the reality of the situation.

-XT
I didn't mean to imply we were being driven out of Afghanistan, Captain Literal.

But we are not succeeding in a strategic sense. If the Allies had been pushed out of Normandy, they would not have been succeeding in a strategic sense.
Reply With Quote
  #49  
Old 07-26-2010, 07:20 PM
Sam Stone Sam Stone is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 1999
Posts: 25,508
Quote:
Originally Posted by An Arky View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sam Stone View Post
So you WOULD have been okay with leaking the existence of the enigma code in WWII? You'd be alright with Patton's Calais force being exposed as a lie?
That's an easy mother's skirt strawman to hide behind, The fact of the matter is that if our government's activities are that easily exposed, then they should be, because that's what our enemies can do.
So the fact that it was exposed is justification for exposing it? It seems that's what you're saying.

Quote:
In WWII, there was no internet, but there were segregated water fountains, so bleah.
You completely lost me there. What does that have to do with anything at all?

Quote:
We're fucking around in places we shouldn't be fucking around in, at a tremendous cost of lives and capital. I'm not willing to just give a nudge and a wink and trust the spooks, because they're comitting equivalent atrocities to our supposed enemies.
I think this is what it comes down to - you guys approve of these leaks because you don't like the war.

It's interesting to contrast the difference in reaction between this and the leaking of Valerie Plame's name, isn't it? 92,000 pages of specific military information that could harm the war effort and get soldiers killed? Nothing to see here. But leaking the name of a CIA agent who was barely under cover and not even operating in a foreign country? TREASON!

I think for some of you, any leak with furthers your goals is righteous and good. Any leak that benefits the other side of the partisan divide? Treasonous.
Reply With Quote
  #50  
Old 07-26-2010, 07:34 PM
XT XT is offline
Agnatheist
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The Great South West
Posts: 26,802
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo
And you know this how? Can you provide cites to back up this assertion?
You seriously want me to prove a negative? You have 92000 documents...why don't you show me a few that show that the wool has been pulled over our collective eyes??

Quote:
Which details have been changed or left out? How did you find out about them? Why were they changed or left out?
Um...the one's already mentioned in this thread?

-XT
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:00 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.