Raise A Glass to Wikileaks 125


The Guardian CIF has radically shortened and buried in a panel a piece I wrote for them – at their request – on Wikileaks.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/nov/29/us-embassy-cables-middle-east

Here is the original:

The well paid securitocracy have been out in force in the media, attacking wikileaks and repeating their well worn mantras.

These leaks will claim innocent lives, and will damage national security. They will encourage Islamic terrorism. Government secrecy is essential to keep us all safe. In fact, this action by Wikileaks is so cataclysmic, I shall be astonished if we are not all killed in our beds tonight.

Except that we heard exactly the same things months ago when Wikileaks released the Iraq war documents and then the Afghan war documents, and nobody has been able to point to a concrete example of any of these bloodurdling consequences.

As these are diplomatic telegrams, we have also had a number of pro-secrecy arguments being trotted out. These are arguments with which I was wearily familiar in over twenty years as a British diplomat, six of them in the Senior Management Structure of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

It is seriously argued that Ambassadors will not in future give candid advice, if that advice might become public. In the last twelve hours I have heard this remarkable proposition put forward on five different television networks, without anybody challenging it.

Put it another way. The best advice is advice you would not be prepared to defend in public. Really? Why? In today’s globalised world, the Embassy is not a unique source of expertise. Often expatriate, academic and commercial organisations are a lot better informed. The best policy advice is not advice which is shielded from peer review.

What of course the establishment mean is that Ambassadors should be free to recommend things which the general public would view with deep opprobrium, without any danger of being found out. But should they really be allowed to do that, in a democracy?

I have never understood why it is felt that behaviours which would be considered reprehensible in private or even commercial life ?” like lying, or saying one thing to one person and the opposite to another person ?” should be considered acceptable, or even praiseworthy, in diplomacy.

When Ambassador to Uzbekistan, I was rebuked by the then head of the Diplomatic Service for reporting to London by unclassified email the details of dreadful human rights abuses by the Uzbek government. The FCO were concerned that the Uzbeks, who were intercepting our communications, would discover that I disapproved of their human rights violations. This might endanger the Uzbek alliance with British forces in neighbouring Afghanistan. For the FCO, diplomacy is synonymous with duplicity.

Among British diplomats. this belief that their profession exempts them from the normal constraints of decent behaviour amounts to a cult of Machiavellianism, a pride in their own amorality. It is reinforced by their narrow social origins ?” still in 2010, 80% of British ambassadors went to private schools. As a group, they view themselves as ultra-intelligent Nietzschean supermen, above normal morality. In Tony Blair (Fettes and Oxford), they had both leader and soulmate.

Those who argue that wikileaks are wrong, believe that we should entrust the government with sole control of what the people can and cannot know of what is done in their name. That attitude led to the “Dodgy dossier” of lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. Those who posit the potential loss of life from wikileaks’ activities need to set against any such risk the hundreds of thousands of actual dead from the foreign policies of the US and its co-conspirators in the past decade.

Web commenters have noted that the diplomatic cables now released reflect the USA’s political agenda, and there is even a substantial wedge of the blogosphere which suggests that Wikileaks are therefore a CIA front. This is nonsense. Of course the documents reflect the US view ?” they are official US government communications. What they show is something I witnessed personally, that diplomats as a class very seldom tell unpalatable truths to politicians, but rather report and reinforce what their masters want to hear, in the hope of receiving preferment.

There is therefore a huge amount about Iran’s putative nuclear arsenal and an exaggeration of Iran’s warhead delivery capability. But there is nothing about Israel’s massive nuclear arsenal. That is not because wikileaks have censored criticism of Israel. It is because any US diplomat who made an honest and open assessment of Israeli crimes would very quickly be an unemployed ex-diplomat. I don’t want to bang on about my own case, but I wouldn’t wish the things they do to whistleblowers on anybody. .

It is is no surprise that US diplomats are complicit in spying on senior UN staff. The British do it too, and a very brave woman, Katherine Gunn, was sacked for trying to stop it. While the cables released so far contain nothing that will shock informed observers, one real impact will be the information available to the arab peoples on how far they are betrayed by their US puppet leaders.

The government of Yemen has been actively colluding with the US in lying – including to its own parliament ?” that US drone attacks that have killed many civilians, were the work of the Yemeni air force. The King of Saudi Arabia shows no concern over the behaviour of Israel or the fate of the Palestinians, but strongly urges the bombing of Iran. It is not only, or primarily, in the Western world that we need to know more about what is done in our name. Wikileaks have struck a great blow against the USA’s informal empire.

The people discomfited by these leaks are people who deserve to be discomfited. Truth helps the people against rapacious elites ?” everywhere.


125 thoughts on “Raise A Glass to Wikileaks

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  • Suhayl Saadi

    Alan, many thanks for these links, they are meaty and well worth a read. But if you don’t mind me saying, please do think about Vronsky’s suggestion of just posting the link and maybe lifting a poignant quote or paraphrasing or something. Otherwise, it just gets like gazing close-up at moving trains and the temptation is to not read it, or to skim it to meaninglessness, if you see what I mean.

    On another note, it is absolutely no surprise that the allies of the US, the Gulf Sheiks, are keen to limit Iran’s power and influence. That’s nothing new.

    Assange is not Chinese or North Korean – he is Australian, politically, he is a part of the ‘West’. He is therefore a Western Dissident (if you regard him and Wikleaks as bone fide, that is) and his critique must be primarily focussed on Western power. Of course, if someone in China or North Korea did what Assange/ Wikileaks appears to be doing, i.e. overtly ‘leaking’ info., they wouldn’t last very long. So they have to do it covertly, in association with Western intelligence agencies. But there have been many other whistleblowers, eg. in India (eg. Tehelka). They are Indian, so they focussed their criticism on India.

    The central point is, dissidence often is a sign that the person/ organisation actually cares deeply about the particular country/ society which they are critiquing. Think of Ellsberg (Pentagon papers), think of the Civil Rights Movement.

  • javed

    shame on the media wikileaks is doing what the media is supposed to be doing exposing the truth not covering it up well done wikileaks…

  • javed

    I hate all this terroist business. I used to love the days when you could look at an unattended bag on the train and think, ‘I’m having that’

  • Suhayl Saadi

    In the ‘old days’, the Gulf sheikhs and Saudi princes were known simply in vernacular as ‘imperial lackeys’. But even in those days of the Shah of Iran, that great, white-uniformed, Persepolising friend of the USA, the Gulf States (and of course, Saudi Arabia) were wary of Iranian power. It’s just a geopolitical fact. But it does exemplify that Middle Eastern politics is, firstly, extremely complex and secondly, that it is multipolar in nature. Black and white does not exist. So, in these respects, it’s not unlike most other parts of the world. Of course, divide-and-rule plays a role. But oil wealth – it has zilch to do with ‘Sunni/Shia’ blah-blah-blah, though that too has been instrumentalised by all parties – of course is the key.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Craig, one point (and forgive my cynicism here): Wrt insincerity and not speaking truth to power, have diplomats – as a political class – not ever been thus? Do they, like silver-flies, not exist and derive their raison d’etre, from germinating along the interface b/w the deep, dark, hard state and the eternal parade of wondrous imperial couture? Is this not the manner in which states have always interacted? Or has the mendacity just become more normative in recent times? I mean, obviously, I have enormous respect for your moral stance on torture and much else since – that of course is what sets you apart from the class to which you once belonged; it’s a sort of ‘Logan’s Run’ situation.

    Of course, if one is arguing from an anti-imperialist point-of-view, that’s a different matter.

    Please tell us your view. Thank you.

  • technicolour

    hold on, i don’t see that this proves that US diplomats are liars, or insincere, or only telling politicians what they want to hear. Surely it shows them being robustly frank, to the point of embarrassment, in fact. And we should thank liberty for that. What would happen if all the telegraphs home sang praises of the glorious leader Putin? Where would we be then?

  • Anonymous

    “So what is the real purpose of Assange’s little charade? Propaganda.

    Propaganda is like rat poison. 95% of it is tasty, healthy food. But the purpose is to get you to swallow the poison. The same is true of the WikiLeaks document dump. The bait are all these old stories which we already knew about, used to convince us that the entire pile is “tasty, healthy food,” except that it isn’t. Buried in the pile of delicious, albeit past the expiration date morsels are the bits of poison which the US Government knows you will no longer accept at face value from the controlled media, but hope you will eat if handed to you by a con artist posing as hostile to the government. …”

    from: THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO WIKILEAKS LATEST DOCUMENT DUMP, by Michael Rivero

    http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/comidwiki.php

  • Apostate

    It is naive in the extreme to imagine that wikileaks is anything other than a Zionist COINTELPRO outfit.

    When confronted with evidence like this one needs to consult the “absentometer”.

    What is not present in the so-called “leaks” is far more important than anything they purport to tell us.

    Perhaps Mr Murray would enlighten us as to the clandestine Israeli business operations set up to take control of Caspian gas and oil in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan?

    Magal and Merhav are two Israeli firms active in the first two Central Asian republics. Along with the US and Turkey Israel is engaged in a high stakes geopolitical strategy which is conspicuous by its omission in anything which will ever come out of wikileaks!

    http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/?p=15318

    Check out Chris Bollyn’s The Great Game for some real info.

    and Magal

  • alan campbell

    I’m loving the “Wikileaks is a Mossad conspiracy” stuff. Talk about the biter bit.

  • Rhisiart Gwilym

    USuk policy has killed ‘hundreds of thousands’ in South West Eurasia, Craig. Shome mishtake,shurely. Millions! It’s a genocide already. Let’s call it by its right name.

  • technicolour

    and go, Daily Mash:

    WIKILEAKS was last night accused of putting lives at risk after destroying an Afghan village with an unmanned drone.

    The slaughter came just hours after the website, popular with paedophiles and smokers, published 250,000 secret documents that revealed, for only the 78 millionth time in human history, that governments are run by the sort of utter tosspots you wouldn’t have in your house.

    Julian Cook, professor of international news stories at Reading University, explained: “Everyone that America has been spying on would have already assumed that America was spying on them and if they didn’t then they are even more cretinous than these leaks confirm them to be.”

    He added: “Nevertheless, the point about Wikileaks undermining the safety of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan would have some validity, if only it wasn’t such a humongous vat of liquidised monkey-shit from start to finish.

    “Because – and you might want to write this down and keep it somewhere safe – the key thing that has undermined the safety of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan is them firing their big fucking guns at Iraqis and Afghans.

    “And of course that is usually on the orders of weasely little inadequates with penis issues who like to keep everything secret in a bid to make their imaginary cocks even bigger.”

    But sources at the Ministry of Defence confirmed that Professor Cook’s comments had already put lives at risk in Belgium and Ecuador, adding: “And of course, he’s also a rapist.”

  • Anonymous

    so this apparent ‘taking legal action against wikileaks’

    is that after the USA submits itself to the legal authorities (UN) for illgal spying of its diplomats, emails et al?

    or maybe warcrimes for use of depleted uranium in the iraq war?

  • Byron

    Funny I can’t get on Wikileaks through google chrome but I can through Firefox.

    Are the inmates in charge?

  • wendy

    “Everybody knows that the Obama administration is worried about loose nukes in Pakistan, but not everyone knew that a U.S. technical team was trying to remove highly enriched uranium from one particular research reactor. Until now. A WikiLeaks cable quotes the U.S. ambassador as warning that “if the local media got word of the fuel removal,” it would scuttle the operation. Consider it scuttled. ”

    seymour hersh has already reported on this almost 12 months ago … also reported how the usa had sent its special ops teams to abu dhabi in preparation of taking control of pak nukes.

    uk and usa have been actrively responsible for the expansion of the war into pak. in effect we are at war with pak, just not overtly .

    what the usa-uk are looking for is that 9/11 moment to provide the pretext – be it in pak (islammabad via usa-indian backed pak taliban)) or european/usa attack.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    @Alfred

    ‘ little dated, but a fascinating take on the strange Mr. Assange and his influential Neocon and intelligence connected backers from Webster Tarpley.’

    Yeah, but Webster Tarpley doesn’t trust anyone. If Jesus Christ returned to earth Tarpley would say he was a Manchurian Candidate.

  • tris

    A government that blanket bombs Baghdad, knowing full well that its target has fled, and kills thousands of people, including children, maiming thousands more, tens, maybe even hundreds of thousands, has some damned nerve to talk about risk to human lives does it not?

  • Steelback

    Only on gate-keeper sites like this one are controlled opposition like wikileaks given one shred of credibility.

    http://thejewishtribe.blogspot.com/

    The latest batch of disinfo fingers Iran again which we learn is the favoured target of all the Gulf puppet states. We learn also that N.Korea sold long-range missiles to Iran.

    Strangely wikileaks fails to mention that Israel was the source for the S.African nuke later detonated by N.Korea. The fact that Israel has the form,means and motive for nuclear proliferation is also omitted from discussion in the US diplomatic bags too!

    Gordon Duff is on the case:

    http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/11/25/gordon-duff-iran-korea-nuclear-lies-orders-from-tel-aviv/

    Wake up saps!

  • Alfred

    @KingofWelshNoir

    “Yeah, but Webster Tarpley doesn’t trust anyone. If Jesus Christ returned to earth Tarpley would say he was a Manchurian Candidate.”

    And if Jesus came with tidings of great fear concerning Iran’s nukes, I’d believe Tarpley.

  • ingo

    lets think logical. cameron and his sidekick have said that a new adwn and angenda is at play. Now after this release, should the media not be utterly interested in somebody like Craig, now completely vindicated?

    Who is scaring them off? Why has this new Coalition not offered Craig a leg up, a way back in?

    What do they know that Craig does not know yet, have they got any information about his ingested ‘illness’?

    Now should be Craigs time, they (the media) should also accept him as a mediator between Julian and a panicking world of scoundrels.

    To add to this, as somebody who has expertise in sea boundaries and disputes, Craigs expertise should also be sought to give a bearing on the North Korea issue

    Who is pulling the media’s strings?

    Why is there no Honduras exposee? Is it because it was a solelY US sponsored event? It sure looks like it, otherwisde we would have got to know about it by now.

    I also would like Julian to finish the job, he must need some rest and a holiday, should he ever be able to sit still for more than a day.

    Well said Craig and

  • Parky

    …reading about the character Bradley Manning who was supposed to have smuggled the data out on disks with songs from Lady Gaga, it just seems to be too good to be true. Apparently he was “openly homosexual” (what in the US military?) “a hot headed computer nerd who was bullied” he dropped out of school, product of a broken family etc etc And now he is in solitary confinement, and will be tried by a military court and can expect 52 years in jail. So we won’t be giving his side of events any day soon. Does the word patsy come to mind ? ….

  • ingo

    lets think logical. cameron and his sidekick have said that a new dawn and agenda is at play. Why are the Lib Dems not asking For Craig to be reinstated after all this?

    Will Gibson bring real change and vindication?

    After this release, the media should be all over Craig, be utterly interested in somebody who has had an insight, and who is vindicated, completely!

    Who is scaring them off? Why has this new Coalition not offered Craig a leg up, a way back in?

    What do they know that Craig does not know? yet, have they got any information about his ingested ‘illness’? that they do not want to become friendly?

    Now should be Craigs time, they (the media) should also accept him as a mediator between Julian and a panicking world of scoundrels.

    To add to this, as somebody who has expertise in sea boundaries and disputes, Craigs expertise should also be sought to give a bearing on the North Korea issue.

    Who is pulling the media’s strings?

    Why is there no Honduras exposee in the tarnsfers?

    Could it be its because it was a solely US sponsored event? It sure looks like it, otherwise we would have got to know about it by now.

    I also would like Julian to finish the job, he must need some rest and a holiday, should he ever be able to sit still for more than a day.

    Well said Craig and good luck with Burns.

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