Saturday, December 11, 2010

WikiLeaks Realities?

Version 0.3

Though I have been following the general topic for a while now, I haven't seen anything like the following obvious analysis.

First, the minor conclusion is that the terrorist win again. Okay, so this line of analysis probably isn't "intuitively obvious to the most casual observer", but follow along. What we know suggests that most or perhaps all of this large document dump originated with a single private in the American military. How is that possible? How could one amateur spy acting alone possibly gather so much sensitive material?

It actually goes back to 9/11. Though the so-called investigations were highly fractured and mostly focused on protecting the incompetent, one of the main conclusions was that our intelligence services failed to connect the dots. In response, we created a system that enabled a lowly private to harvest 250,000 jumbo dots. We already know that a partial response has been to isolate some of the major databases--but that is flopping back towards the situation that allowed the 9/11 attack to succeed. America's so-called homeland security apparatus continues to respond with wild spasms targeted against the LAST perceived threat--and the terrorists win. (At least the last counter-terror spasm required them to buy a couple of cheap printers, but we are handling this one all by ourselves.)

Second is actually more serious. Remember that this rather massive information leak was the action of one low-ranked minor clerk. It's hard to even regard him as a spy. Now if this amateur could harvest so much information working on his own, imagine what must have been going on with the professional spies with the backing of their respective national governments. The two differences are that they probably harvested much more information and that they didn't send any copies to WikiLeaks. I have no evidence--but I bet the damage is vastly more serious, and it would certainly explain a lot of what has been going on recently, including some of the Chinese government maneuvers that had seemed somewhat mysterious.

Third, we get to the minor topic, but the main aspect if you look at the actual mainstream news. That's the aggressive, vindictive, and personal attacks on WikiLeaks, especially on the person of Julian Assange, who I predict is about to become a non-person. Actually, there is a significant aspect here, though you wouldn't notice it from the mainstream media news coverage. That's the determination to attack journalism and freedom of speech. Little late there, since they're both already essentially dead spirits, especially in America.

One more compound prediction. When they finally get around to analyzing it, almost all of the information that WikiLeaks has exposed will be judged harmless and mindlessly overclassified, with a small fraction that had legitimate grounds for secrecy and a much tinier fraction that was legitimately dangerous if revealed. My guess would be something like 99% to 1% to 0.1% based on the discussions so far. They've been desperately fishing for that tiny fraction of really dangerous stuff. I would be utterly astounded if the first category was less than 90%.

Maybe there's a solution down the road. Maybe the entire notion of secrecy is collapsing. There is some technical evidence that it's becoming more and more difficult to control information. However, an alternative outcome will be privacy as the ultimate privilege of the rich and powerful. The rest of us peasants may spend our entire lives under the microscope...


shanen said...

Though I disagree strongly with the Libertarians, Ron Paul is the first person I've heard of to ask some similar questions about this situation. This is the list I obtained from (but two levels from Google)]

Number 1: Do the America People deserve know the truth regarding the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen?

Number 2: Could a larger question be how can an army private access so much secret information?

Number 3: Why is the hostility directed at Assange, the publisher, and not at our government's failure to protect classified information?

Number 4: Are we getting our money's worth of the 80 billion dollars per year spent on intelligence gathering?

Number 5: Which has resulted in the greatest number of deaths: lying us into war or WikiLeaks revelations or the release of the Pentagon Papers?

Number 6: If Assange can be convicted of a crime for publishing information that he did not steal, what does this say about the future of the First Amendment and the independence of the Internet?

Number 7: Could it be that the real reason for the near universal attacks on WikiLeaks is more about secretly maintaining a seriously flawed foreign policy of empire than it is about national security?

Number 8: Is there not a huge difference between releasing secret information to help the enemy in a time of declared war, which is treason, and the releasing of information to expose our government lies that promote secret wars, death, and corruption?

Number 9: Was it not once considered patriotic to stand up to our government when it is wrong?

shanen said...

One more quick thought on the topic:

Bad: China censoring the Internet regarding news of a Nobel Peace Prize for a dissident. What a shame that he's in jail!

Good: The US censoring the Internet regarding news of lies and deception by governments and corporations. Sure is great he's in jail!

That stink is the odor of raging hypocrisy.


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As a blogger from before there were blogs, I've concluded what I write is of little interest to the reading public. My current approach is to treat these blogs as notes, with the maturity indicated by the version number. If reader comments show interest, I will probably add some flesh to the skeletons...