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Cablegate 
4th-Dec-2010 09:22 am
sophie, skype, weemee
So, I'm curious.

Not long ago, in an operation it calls "Cablegate", WikiLeaks started to publicly release a collection of diplomatic cables between the US State Department and various world embassies, about half of which carry a 'confidential' or 'secret' classification. (More information on Cablegate can be found on Wikipedia (SSL link), or via the #cablegate hashtag on Twitter.)

What's your take on this? I'm making the poll in this entry viewable by me only so that people can feel free to say how they feel without backlash.

Poll #1652913 WikiLeaks and Cablegate

How does the release of the diplomatic cables by Wikileaks make you feel? Tick as many as needed.

Amused
14(10.1%)
Angry
10(7.2%)
Apathetic
8(5.8%)
Blah
6(4.3%)
Confused
9(6.5%)
Curious
21(15.1%)
Disturbed
11(7.9%)
Happy
3(2.2%)
Nervous
8(5.8%)
Pleased
11(7.9%)
Sad
3(2.2%)
Scared
4(2.9%)
Surprised
3(2.2%)
Uncomfortable
11(7.9%)
Worried
13(9.4%)
Other (post in comments)
4(2.9%)

Tick the statements which are true for you:

I'm bored with politics of any kind.
12(5.8%)
I don't know anything about the situation, I just wanted to tick a box.
9(4.3%)
I don't think the release of these cables has endangered anybody's lives.
11(5.3%)
I don't trust the government.
25(12.1%)
I support information being free.
29(14.0%)
I think everybody's overreacting.
17(8.2%)
I think it takes guts to release something like this.
20(9.7%)
I think Julian Assange (editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks) is a traitor to the US.
3(1.4%)
I think more people need to know about this.
18(8.7%)
I think we need to trust the government.
0(0.0%)
I think WikiLeaks has endangered the lives of countless people.
9(4.3%)
I think WikiLeaks is being irresponsible.
14(6.8%)
I think WikiLeaks is doing a good job.
10(4.8%)
I think WikiLeaks is running scared.
1(0.5%)
I want to see WikiLeaks shut down.
4(1.9%)
I want to see WikiLeaks keep going.
20(9.7%)
Julian Assange is my hero.
1(0.5%)
Other (post in comments)
4(1.9%)
Comments 
4th-Dec-2010 09:48 am (UTC)
I'm not necessarily bored with politics, I'm just annoyed with them. It'd be nice if people could at least try to work together.
4th-Dec-2010 12:29 pm (UTC)
I agree.
4th-Dec-2010 12:47 pm (UTC)
I would like to see anyone who leaked this information taken out to the National Mall (somewhere between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument) and hung.
4th-Dec-2010 08:35 pm (UTC)
Wow, that's barbaric. I'm impressed but not in what you'd call a positive way.
4th-Dec-2010 01:02 pm (UTC)
I think that if the government didn't want something to get out, it wouldn't. I suspect there's some reason these things were "leaked".
4th-Dec-2010 05:47 pm (UTC)
Feelings... Proud that they stood up and did this, actually. I'm very glad they did have the guts to go ahead with it. Governments should not be operating things secretly from their own countries' citizens so much as many do.

(I won't be responding to any replies to this comment, because I don't have the spoons to debate in this weather and I'm not going to ruin what's left of my health trying.)
4th-Dec-2010 05:59 pm (UTC)
I totally forgot to put "Proud" in as a feeling, oops.

(And I completely understand not responding in a topic like this. It's basically for the same reason that I didn't want the detailed results to be open.)
4th-Dec-2010 06:27 pm (UTC)
Delighted to see zero votes for "I think we need to trust the government."

I haven't been following much (aside from what I've caught on Jezebel) but am finally in a place to lose a few hours going through the whole thing and am looking forward to it.
4th-Dec-2010 10:04 pm (UTC)
Delighted to see zero votes for "I think we need to trust the government."

IAWTC. Information can be dangerous. But blind trust is possibly one of the most dangerous forces in the world!
4th-Dec-2010 08:14 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure that someone can be a traitor to the US if they:

a)are not from the US
b)haven't pledged some loyalty to the US.


But more on topic, I support leaking information that does more good than harm. Within this leak there might have been some of that (ex: we should know that our diplomats have been encouraged to do intelligence work, because that shouldn't take place). These types of releases increase accountability and encourage the government to act the way that it should act -- if only motivated by fear. But I also think that the vast majority of this information is either neutral or has/will do more harm than good.

Like many things in life, I think that this issue is way more complicated than good/bad; harmful/helpful; brave/cowardly, etc. Unfortunately, both the media and the government would like us to boil it down as such.

I also don't think that here has been nearly enough focus on the guy who leaked the information to Wikileaks the first place. Unlike Assange, Wikileaks and other media outlets, who are at least trying to redact the information and are clearly at least reading before publishing; this guy let literally hundreds of thousands of documents out into the open without:

a) reading them to know the full extent of their contents (at least, I highly doubt he personally read all of those docs - god only knows how long it would have taken).
b) knowing how many people would see the docs in their "raw" (completely unedited) form, or what they would do with that info.

I think that makes the guy seriously reckless. A hero releases information that matters -- and those releases that show human rights violations, conspiracies, manipulation... all of this fits the bill. But you can really only call the guy a hero if he does it in a way that minimizes collateral damage. I don't think this guy did that at all...

Edited at 2010-12-04 08:19 pm (UTC)
4th-Dec-2010 08:30 pm (UTC)
I agree about the traitor thing, and was wondering how long it'd be before someone said that. (I hadn't realised at the time I made the post that they weren't a US citizen, but I did know that the claim was apparently very much false. Later, I understood why.)

And yes, obviously the person who leaked them (Manning, as far as I understand it) probably did so recklessly. This is, of course, the same person who leaked the war logs to WikiLeaks.

Edited at 2010-12-04 08:30 pm (UTC)
4th-Dec-2010 10:02 pm (UTC)
Yup... and we can be pretty sure he handed them all over at once, considering that he's been in Quantico for quite a while now. Which makes the idea that he did so with any type of caution whatsoever even less plausible.

And the various war logs also had things in them that the public *should* know, so that we can ensure that they don't happen again. But again, they were dumped along with so much other information that sent the DoD scrambling to protect people Iraqi and Afghani citizens that had helped us at great personal risk. So we go back to the harm vs. good question.

There's also a great question of perception around these "dumps". It's easy to get caught up in the sheer quantity of information, which amplifies the relative few that have information that is actually important. Anyone would be in awe of 250,000 classified documents, but when you really start fishing you realize that it's a truly small percentage that fits into the "good" category. Dumping the documents the way that WL has seems to be a way of turning the volume up on those that actually matter.

And it's probably better that I not get started on the way that Assange and WL are trying boost their own importance. Cablegate??? Seriously?
4th-Dec-2010 10:56 pm (UTC)
The thing that interests me is that WikiLeaks said of the rumour that Manning had given over these cables that "Allegations in Wired that we have been sent 260,000 classified US embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect." I wonder whether they were being coy with the truth; after all, not all the cables are classified, only about half of them...

As for the "-gate" suffix, I'll admit to not knowing where that started or anything other than it's typically used as a way of denoting a scandal. I don't know how scandalous these are, but then, very little of the collection is fully out there right now. (And you're right, they're deliberately not releasing them all at once to allow the attention to go to the ones that matter. They say as much in their FAQs.)

Edited at 2010-12-04 11:03 pm (UTC)
4th-Dec-2010 11:16 pm (UTC)
That's actually not what I meant though... I meant that they were releasing the important ones as part of a huge "dump" (though most are mundane) in order to make the whole thing seem larger than life.

I kinda doubt that anything larger than what has already come out will be released later. My understanding of the situation is that the 5 media outlets that were given advanced access each received the entire set of cables... each then fished through and decided which to publish. I don't think that any of them would "hold onto" an important cable to release it later, b/c they wouldn't want to be scooped by the other news outlets. I could be wrong though :P
4th-Dec-2010 10:07 pm (UTC)
lol The German side pretty much can laugh about caricatures of it in anywaym and it didnt really reveal any thing new did it ? We know they like to take out iran we know that merkel is a teflon bitch and we know that guido westerwelle is the worst forign minister ever etc.
(Deleted comment)
5th-Dec-2010 06:33 pm (UTC)
I don't think that it makes you a bad person at all!
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