covering mirrors

The 2nd installment of wikileaks, Cablegate, has been partially released, as in 1/000.

The story behind the whole data-spill seems to have been initiated by Bradley Manning, 22, one of those we like to cheer about in terms such as our brave men and women serving in harm's way. Until he was locked up in solitary confinement, Manning used to be an intelligence analyst with the Army, outside Baghdad. In his own words, the facts were: "I would come in with music on a CD-RW labeled with something like 'Lady Gaga' … erase the music … then write a compressed split file. No one suspected a thing ... [I] listened and lip-synched to Lady Gaga's Telephone while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in American history." He said that he "had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day 7 days a week for 8+ months." He even anticipated some reactions, "Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public ... Everywhere there's a US post, there's a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed. Worldwide anarchy in CSV format ... It's beautiful, and horrifying." Stated motivation: "Information should be free. It belongs in the public domain."

Now, how symptomatic is this for the state of our empire, er, nation? Did we need a 22-year old to come and show how ugly empire is? Below are what can be two answers:

Monsey, NY

This is what I call treason!
Recommended by NYTimes 237 Readers

New York

To Commenter #4, [Dovid] I'd say, No, compiling and releasing documents, 'none of which was marked top secret,' is not treason, it's democracy in action.

For a truly treasonous act, see the outing of an undercover CIA operative, Valerie Plame, who had worked for years setting up very successful false operation directed at uncovering 'weapons of mass destruction.' Her husband told the truth about the lies being that would justify getting into war, lies told by very powerful and deeply unpatriotic war profiteers, and she was 'outed' in revenge. She--and our country--continue to pay the price; the war profiteers continue to go free.
Recommended by 371 NYTimes Readers (highest number of recommendations)

I'd posit that running a large and complex system like the US, implies effective and efficient control mechanisms.  Effective as in get the job done, efficient as is make those controlled do the control themselves.  Efficiency comes wrapped in all the talk about our being a nation of laws, fighting for human rights and justice for all.  So, is it that a smart young man, driven by patriotism, enlists with the Army, yet his self-control breaks when he gets deployed and sees our relations with the world out there being so different from what we espouse at home?  

From a slightly different angle, let's review all the above from a 1992-perspective in Hollywood, a year after the official demise of the USSR due to our upholding higher values. You'll recognize Colonel Nathan R. Jessep, from 'A Few Good Man' in the You Can't Handle the Truth-moment.


To each his own, but considering the mounting problems we face, both internally and internationally, I'm afraid that not wanting to know the truth is akin to covering mirrors in the house after someone died.  It may be efficient but hardly effective.  

12/12/2010 Update
Whatever one may think of Bradley Manning, who took an oath when joined the Military, the situation with Julian Assange is a whole different matter.  Being on offensive will erode our standing, it's about principle not about any one individual.  We should accept OUR mistake(s), e.g. of not setting up proper systems, and leave Assange in peace. The earlier we do this, the less painful for all involved. This is neither the way to set an example, nor the type of example you want to set.


covering mirrors said...

... is part of a very old susperstition.

The Victorians had a lot superstitions associated with death. When there was a corpse in the house you had to cover all the mirrors," it was believed that mirrors reflected your soul and at death the soul of the loved one was near so many ominous things could happen:

• To see your reflection in a mirror is to see your own soul, (which is why a vampire, who is without a soul, have no reflection.)

• If a couple first catch sight of each other in a mirror, they will have a happy marriage.

• Any mirrors in a room where someone has recently died, must be covered so that the dead person's soul does not get trapped behind the glass. Superstition has it that the Devil invented mirrors for this very purpose.

• It is bad luck to see your face in a mirror when sitting by candlelight.

• Before mirrors, in ancient societies, if you caught sight of your reflection or dreamt of it, you would soon die.

• Someone seeing their reflection in a room where someone has recently died, will soon die themselves.

The origins of covering a mirror are rooted in the Jewish religion and their respect for the dead when sitting Shiva:

It is proper to cover the mirrors (with sheets, or fogged spray provided by the funeral home) in the shiva house for the following reasons:

• During shiva, a mourner is striving to ignore his/her own physicality and vanity in order to concentrate on the reality of being a soul.

• A mirror represents social acceptance through the enhancement of one's appearance. Jewish mourning is supposed to be lonely, silent; dwelling on one's personal loss. Covering the mirrors symbolizes this withdrawal from society's gaze.

• Prayer services, commonly held in the shiva house, cannot take place in front of a mirror. When we pray, we focus on God and not on ourselves.

• Physical relations between a husband and wife are suspended during the week of shiva, and thus the need for physical beauty is removed.

fCh said...

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini called the leaks "the 9/11 of world diplomacy."

Here are some British views:
They got the idea, once more, that there is no special relation between the US and the UK... said...

fCh said...

This whole Cablegate episode is also interesting from the perspective of our confidence in technology. One should only recall the early rhetoric on internet technology, which probably made its way also to/from the State Department.

Now, we are waiting again for technology to save us from oil.

In all these instances, I ask, where have the investments been? Not in people, it appears to me.

Secretary of State, Clinton said...

fCh said...

To date, all official statements read business as usual.

Just trying to move the conversation beyond the obvious, let's all think:

1) Is this symptomatic for something more than Manning himself?

2) What lessons can we all draw?

I'm sure that, say, the German Government, and many others, are going to take action, while assuring everybody that it's just business as usual. Then, can you imagine the reactions of all the little people installed as heads of state by fate/accident or else? They may not be as easy going as Berlusconi about our diplomats' characterizations.

3) What world are we going to have to deal with in the aftermath of this event? At least until the subjects of the current leaks go out of office...

Anonymous said...

san francisco, usa

Secrets are the currency by which governments as institutions buy and sell power over people. Secrets are the manipulation and control of information, of facts, that ultimately work to persuade the opinion of citizens. The world functions on this divide.

I suggest that the release of information of this kind is an opportunity for individuals to ask the question of whether or not the method governments of world control and manipulate information, the way politics function, is something worthy of continuing.

In a way, the political problems of the world are products of how politics are practiced. Perhaps the problem is not the leak of these cables makes the practice difficult or causes problems for it, but rather that the practice itself is the problem.

Anonymous said...

Vic Sage
Center of the Universe
anyone with even just casual skills in reading body language and micro expressions can see that she is not being honest.

she is proclaiming the need for privacy and secrecy when these very cables reveal that she ordered people to find out other people's secrets and report them to her.

what she is really saying is that only her secrets and privacy are important.
anyone else's privacy is a threat to her and our government.

this truly is a sad state of affairs.

Anonymous said...

Pompano Beach FL

"Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."

"More matter with less art."

The public has repeatedly stated over the years that it demands disclosure... and that nothing that is said or done by anyone in the international political arena is sacrosanct.

The public wants to be "in the know". Well, now you know... and many in the public nevertheless want to shoot the messenger.

You just can't ever please some people.

Anonymous said...

Guy Walker
New York City

There was a time news sources employed foreign corespondents. Now news sources depend on Getty Images and The Associated Press for news. I believe that a strength has been lost. There were many more journalists and photographers on the ground during the Vietnam War enabling Americans more perspectives of what was going on. What would Washington do tomorrow say if Wikileaks reported the massacre in Mailai? Wikileaks is the result from a natural flow of information within a free society. Take your pick: a nation of newspapers with journalists embedded in foreign hot spots or leaked information. One way or the other, it's freedom of information that is at the root of this evil.

Anonymous said...


As someone who deals with political archival data and the sense that historians and political scientists try to make of it, I can say that yes, indeed, this is a treasure trove of information, which will enable historians/political scientists a much better grasp of what happened, how, and why.

That said, there is *no* value to this kind of data in the mass media, other than political calculation (and tabloid sensationalism). No one other than serious academics with the correct background and education can put all of the data in proper historical context. The public at large (via the media) will get a few choice soundbites out of it, but it won't make anything more "transparent" or help anything right now (or, even, in the immediate future). Having all these memos in 20-30 years would be great, but it's something that should have come through the National Archives to serious people looking for serious answers.

Frankly, from a historian's perspective, I'm going to suspect that pretty much everything "leaked" is junk. It's nothing really new, or relevant to history or policy. It's rather vanilla discussions. There's no Zimmerman Telegram here. So, if it's benefit in real terms is nil, why leak it?

I look at this as nothing more than the journalistic equivalent to a paparazzi screaming about the "public's right to know" when discussion some starlet's current up-the-skirt photograph.

The person(s) originally leaking this, WikiLeaks, and all the "mainstream" press can dress this up however they'd like, but it's a ratings-grab tabloidism. The Pentagon Papers, this isn't.

John Kornblum, former US ambassador in Berlin said...

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What does the publication of more than 250.000 secret US cables mean for US foreign policy?

John Kornblum: I assume that first there will be a great deal of drama. There is a good reason why stealing documents from official archives is a criminal act. Their release could damage important cooperation among governments or in some countries endanger dissidents who have put their trust in the United States. I hope that the publications who are printing them, including DER SPIEGEL, will think carefully about what they are doing. Randomly releasing "secrets" does not necessarily serve the goal of international understanding.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How can American diplomats restore confidence among allies? Will anyone ever talk openly to them again?

Kornblum: After the initial excitement has passed, things will slowly get back to normal. I doubt that there will be many lasting changes to the American role in the world. Other governments will at first be cautious about sharing too much information with the United States. But perhaps reading the released telegrams will also help us all better to understand how difficult and frustrating diplomacy can be, why secrecy is necessary. Diplomats, like politicians and journalists, are also human. They too love to exchange gossip.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Do you think the State Department will launch new security guidelines to prevent further leaks?

Kornblum: Such leaks have been part of diplomatic life for centuries and in the future they are likely to become more rather than less prevalent. This is a leak which was waiting to happen. And it could just as easily happen elsewhere, including in Germany.


Kornblum: The documents were apparently taken off an official American internet network, to which 2,5 million persons are said to have access. Ironically, this system was set up after 9/11 to improve international cooperation by ensuring that all relevant information on terrorism would be widely available. But no security system on earth can guarantee safety on a network which offers so many people access to such highly sensitive information. In the highly charged political atmosphere of today's United States, the temptation to make a political point by stealing sensitive information is great.

Interview conducted by Gregor Peter Schmitz

Anonymous said...


i learned more about the leaks from the guardian than nyt...

to me it is amazing how much taxpayer money is wasted on this so-called diplomacy and that is an important revelation. for example, paying millions of dollars to try and get countries to take guantanamo "detainees." also the vice-president of afghanistan was found to be carrying 52 million dollars into a middle eastern country--but our state department decided not to even try to find out where the money came from or where it was going. the chinese government hired hackers to take down google and other us government computers. and yet these are our allies? the state dept. is giving orders to its diplomatic personnel to spy on foreign and un personnel. all this is not news to some posters--i find it alarming and wrong.

Anonymous said...


Bradley Manning, hmmm... looks like a typical case of a young guy hitting a baseball through a window down the block. Many 20 year olds have extreme reactions to their first exposure to foreign policy and the way the world differs from what the community back home taught them. Most poli-sci majors seem to go into a depression or start drinking more heavily after their first year's exposure to a good foreign policy course. Bradley might of been a poli-sci virgin and simply had the typical reaction and the means to "make things right" at his disposal. This may help simplify the education of a whole new generation of people coming into the field. I recommend clemency.

Bad Wolf, New Hope, PA said...

Before Bush's invasion of Iraq, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and General Myers invited Saudi Prince Bandar to view the detailed invasion map, despite the fact that it was marked "Top Secret" and "NOFORN." I have yet to see anything in the Wikileaks releases as treasonous as that.

Bandar asked for a copy of the map, which was accurate down to the placement and invasion routes of secret special ops groups. Cheney said they couldn't give him a copy, but could give him plenty of time to examine the map and make detailed notes. Bandar did so and, as soon as he left the meeting, he bought a map of Iraq and, using his notes, reconstructed the battle plan on it.

Bandar queried Cheney about whether this was just a contingency plan, or if the U.S. was committed to the attack. He wanted an assurance from Bush himself. Cheney arranged it, and the next day, Bandar met with Bush and Bush dutifully assured Bandar that the invasion was a sure thing. Bandar then sent his faithful copy of the battle plan home to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

At the time Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, and Myers were violating U.S. secrecy and national security laws in acts amounting to treason, even Secretary of State Colin Powell hadn't been told that an invasion plan even existed.

An interesting consequence of the Bush administration's little game of treason was that, after the invasion, a duplicate of the map was found in Iraq. The Russians had given a copy to Saddam Hussein before the invasion, having apparently gotten a copy from our 'allies' the Saudi Royal Family.

That is just one of a number of cases where the Right stayed silent while their own leaders were committing treasonous acts against their own country for partisan political gain.

The exposure of Valerie Plame's covert CIA NOC (non-official cover) status not only destroyed her entire foreign network of spies and informants, the primary network looking for evidence of wmds in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf, but also exposed the fact that the Boston company she supposedly worked for was a CIA shell company that provided cover for not only Plame, but an unknown number of other CIA agents who were also publicly listed as working for the company. To this day, we have no idea how many other agents had to be withdrawn from covert work, how many networks critical to our national security were either dismantled or lost to foreign powers.

Bad Wolf, New Hope, PA said...

Then there was the case of the 2004 Democratic Convention. In an attempt to dampen any possible 'bounce' of rising approval for Kerry after the convention, Bush and Cheney raised the terror alert to Orange and leaked the fact that they had photographic evidence of al-Qaeda casing New York City for possible terror targets. In order to do that, they had to 'burn' the only mole that US and UK spy agencies had ever been able to infiltrate into the top al-Qaeda leadership. And, in the end, we lost that agent for what turned out to be photos and video taken at least a year before 9/11 and not an indication of any new attack, as the Bushies had tried to claim.

Lastly, how many on the Right know the name Lawrence "Larry" Franklin? Franklin was one of Rumsfeld's little clique of neoconservatives in the Pentagon, working in the Office of Special Plans (the group that worked with Ahmed Chalabi to turn out most of the phony 'defectors' and false intelligence on Saddam's WMDs and 9/11 involvement) under Douglas Feith, another Rumsfeld protege.

Franklin was caught passing top secret intelligence on Iran to an Israeli intelligence agent, Naor Gilon, through two top members of AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee). On January 20, 2006, Franklin was found guilty of espionage and sentenced to almost 13 years in federal prison. Charges were also filed against the two AIPAC members, Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman, for espionage.

After the story quieted down, the Bush Justice Department dropped all charges against Rosen and Weissman, dropped the charge of espionage against Franklin down to unauthorized disclosure of classified information, and reduced his 13 year sentence to probation with 10 months of house arrest.

So, if you want to go looking for a nauseating group of treasonous slime eels, you have no further to look than the Bush administration and the Republicans who either defended or stayed silent during these seditious outrages.

JimM, Rhinebeck, NY said...

With the security breaches from our State Department we now know that when the phone was ringing at 3AM, Hillary Clinton was not competent to pick it up either.

Andrew Tubbiolo, Tucson Az said...

After reading almost 100 emails restricted to Iran, this stands out to me. There is nothing, even in the Top Secret postings that someone who reads Jane's Defense Weekly and watches Face the Nation's on Sunday AM does not already know. For 50 billion a year in intel costs, I really expected more. I'm underwhelmed. If anything these emails will destroy the notion that our ruling elite are a ruling elite.They are only rulers, they are not an elite. They are also very helpful in showing how the community of rulers is just like your community where the grumpy old men for some reason keep getting the final word.

Don't take my word for it. Go read them yourself. This is raw data news, it's a whole new experience, give it a try.

No really, go read them for yourself.


Dennis Argall, Australia said...

As a former Australian foreign service officer, accustomed in the past to working closely with US foreign service officers, often sharing each other's cables, I have enjoyed reading cables you released on 28 November.

While my government has been doing the obligatory tut-tut, as a private citizen now I believe that the exposure of these texts in this way will redound to US benefit.

It will not hurt those mentioned to hear what is thought of them, especially when State is not guilty of saying it publicly. It will not hurt others to know your officials are hard to fool.

It will be to the general good for the public, including journalists and academics, to see the quality and insight of diplomatic traffic. There is a serious problem in academic as well as media discussion in that so much of it is divined and theorised from inadequate peripheral information. Now it is possible to see how officials build policy and strategy layer by layer, in dialogue with their own government and officials of others.

Do be conscious, in reading it all, though, of the observation of the late Sir Harlod Nicholson, doyen of the UK foreign service and writer on diplomacy, that in all the foreign ministry documents in all the world that he had seen, he had never seen a record of conversation in which the person taking the record did not win.

Be open at the Times to fresh perspectives on US power - you suggest the US has lined up Arab states on Iran but it is possible also to see a USA being played like a trout by very powerful and smart Arabs.

If this information elevates debate on the issues, if there is any increased respect for the business of diplomacy, that will be good, for the US and the rest of us. The role of the US in the world is not being 'challenged' so much as being changed and reduced, quite rapidly. More than ever before, it is not possible for the US to say 'this is my role' any more than it is possible to retreat to isolation and indignation. There are real jobs to be done, which cannot be done by people drunk on tea.

Jett, Somewhere in Brooklyn said...

There are many good points made by individuals in this blog. Which means that we are "engaged", which is far better than letting crucial events, pass by without contemplation or introspection. That would be really "the biggest" crime committed in sphere of what is currently swirling around us at this moment.

Right now as I sit here typing this, I am listening to the fallout from Washington as Press Secretary's, Secretary's of States, Elite Insiders and spin doctors who are already disseminating their strategic counter points calling these leaks, “a crime”, to lessen their impact and relevance.

Some of these people were products of the “Revolutionary Spirited” times of the 60’s who a mere 30 years ago would have applauded being candidly informed of state relations and their inner workings during the Vietnam War and the Nixion Administration.

As well other country's are all falling into line with condemnations of their own of the material. Most of which seems to reflect the interdependence of all these leaders to keep the narrative that is presented to the public consistent, quite possibly controlled and more often or not cryptic. It is all as Zbigniew Brzezinski called "The Grand Chess Board" which is being played here right before our eyes. Which is a great thing to see because we are able to be better informed and perhaps wiser in our decision making process when we go to the polls or pick up a protest sign.

We have no excuse to be a “uniformed” public. I like that. It makes me smile, because you have no excuses to rely on anymore. You either wish to know everything and participate in your government or live with your head in the sand. This perhaps creates real “checks and balances” that the public now has available to them like never before.

In this "Hyper Media Age" even television news programming has diluted itself to being a polarizing, mesmerizing electronic soapbox that has lost itself and has forgotten its newspaper roots to report objectively, the news. Now as the 1976 movie “Network” predicted, television news has become nothing more than another show to get ratings and make money. One “has” to find multiple sources to get at the truth of what is going on because so much of it is being kept away from public and off of T.V.

We are in the age of information. For better or worse. I am glad that the NYT is sticking to its pedigree, which is about objectivity. I am glad the WikiLeaks exists to provide us with a tool to be “engaged” as opposed to not having enough information. Presenting what is relevant and out there and leaving it up to “Us” to decide what happens. I’d rather be in the know than in the dark.

WikiLeaks is yet another tool to become a “better informed” citizen of this planet. Be thankful that someone cared that you should be entitled to such knowledge. If the politicians of the United States are so worried about lives being at risk, then they would stop this war, they would admit they know that Afghanistan is a hopeless situation, Pakistan is playing both sides of the coin, and leaking Valerie Plane’s identity was just as costly. But they never admit those things, so it is our hands folks. Which is a lot better than not having any clue into the grand scheme of things.

via Glenn Greenwald said...

The WikiLeaks disclosure has revealed not only numerous government secrets, but also the driving mentality of major factions in our political and media class. Simply put, there are few countries in the world with citizenries and especially media outlets more devoted to serving, protecting and venerating government authorities than the U.S. Indeed, I don't quite recall any entity producing as much bipartisan contempt across the American political spectrum as WikiLeaks has: as usual, for authoritarian minds, those who expose secrets are far more hated than those in power who commit heinous acts using secrecy as their principal weapon...

Anonymous said...

On 21 May this year, Bradley Manning initiated a series of online chats with former hacker Adrian Lamo. Below are edited excerpts that took place over several days, and which Lamo gave to (and to the FBI). Dates are approximate.

May 21

(1:41:12 pm) Bradley Manning: hi

(1:44:04 pm) Manning: how are you?

(1:47:01 pm) Manning: im an army intelligence analyst, deployed to eastern baghdad, pending discharge for "adjustment disorder" [. . .]

(1:56:24 pm) Manning: im sure you're pretty busy…

(1:58:31 pm) Manning: if you had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day 7 days a week for 8+ months, what would you do?

May 22

Manning apparently told Lamo that he had provided WikiLeaks with 260,000 classified diplomatic cables (as well videos of a 2007 airstrike in Iraq and a 2009 airstrike in Afghanistan).

(1:39:03 pm) Manning: i cant believe what im confessing to you :'(

(1:40:20 pm) Manning: ive been so isolated so long… i just wanted to be nice, and live a normal life… but events kept forcing me to figure out ways to survive… smart enough to know whats going on, but helpless to do anything… no-one took any notice of me

(1:43:59 pm) Manning: im self medicating like crazy when im not toiling in the supply office (my new location, since im being discharged, im not offically intel anymore)

Later, Manning discussed his role as a source for WikiLeaks and his links with its founder Julian Assange.

(2:04:29 pm) Manning: im a source, not quite a volunteer

(2:05:38 pm) Manning: i mean, im a high profile source… and i've developed a relationship with assange…

Manning went on to discuss his growing disillusionment with the army and the US.

(2:26:01 pm) Manning: i dont believe in good guys versus bad guys anymore… i only a plethora of states acting in self interest… with varying ethics and moral standards of course, but self-interest nonetheless

(2:29:04 pm) Manning: i guess im too idealistic

(2:38:45 pm) Lamo: What would you do if your role /w Wikileaks seemed in danger of being blown?

(2:39:34 pm) Manning: try and figure out how i could get my side of the story out… before everything was twisted around to make me look like Nidal Hassan [the suspect in the fatal Fort Hood shootings]

Anonymous said...

(2:40:15 pm) Manning: i dont think its going to happen

(2:40:26 pm) Manning: i mean, i was never noticed

(2:41:10 pm) Manning: regularly ignored… except when i had something essential… then it was back to "bring me coffee, then sweep the floor"

Manning elaborated on how easy it was to siphon off data from classified networks.

(1:52:30 pm) Manning: funny thing is… we transfered so much data on unmarked CDs…

(1:52:42 pm) Manning: everyone did… videos… movies… music

(1:53:05 pm) Manning: all out in the open

(1:53:53 pm) Manning: bringing CDs too and from the networks was/is a common phenomeon

(1:54:14 pm) Lamo: is that how you got the cables out?

(1:54:28 pm) Manning: perhaps

(1:54:42 pm) Manning: i would come in with music on a CD-RW

(1:55:21 pm) Manning: labelled with something like "Lady Gaga"… erase the music… then write a compressed split file

(1:55:46 pm) Manning: no-one suspected a thing

(2:00:12 pm) Manning: everyone just sat at their workstations… watching music videos / car chases / buildings exploding… and writing more stuff to CD/DVD… the culture fed opportunities

(2:12:23 pm) Manning: so… it was a massive data spillage… facilitated by numerous factors… both physically, technically, and culturally

(2:13:02 pm) Manning: perfect example of how not to do INFOSEC

(2:14:21 pm) Manning: listened and lip-synced to Lady Gaga's Telephone while exfiltratrating [sic] possibly the largest data spillage in american history

(2:15:03 pm) Manning: pretty simple, and unglamorous

(2:17:56 pm) Manning: weak servers, weak logging, weak physical security, weak counter-intelligence, inattentive signal analysis… a perfect storm

Manning said security should be improved.

(2:21:32 pm) Manning: its sad

(2:22:47 pm) Manning: i mean what if i were someone more malicious

(2:23:25 pm) Manning: i could've sold to russia or china, and made bank?

(2:23:36 pm) Lamo: why didn't you?

(2:23:58 pm) Manning: because it's public data

(2:24:15 pm) Lamo: i mean, the cables

(2:24:46 pm) Manning: it belongs in the public domain

(2:25:15 pm) Manning: information should be free

(2:25:39 pm) Manning: it belongs in the public domain

(2:26:18 pm) Manning: because another state would just take advantage of the information… try and get some edge

In a later chat Manning tried to sum himself up.

(4:42:16 pm) Manning: im not sure whether i'd be considered a type of "hacker", "cracker", "hacktivist", "leaker" or what … (4:42:26 pm) Manning: im just me… really

Anonymous said...

Zbigniew Brzezinski: Who is Really Leaking to Wikileaks?
Interview excerpt:

JUDY WOODRUFF: And what is it -- what are you worried about with regard to the knowledge that...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: It's not a question of worry. It's, rather, a question of whether WikiLeaks are being manipulated by interested parties that want to either complicate our relationship with other governments or want to undermine some governments, because some of these items that are being emphasized and have surfaced are very pointed.

And I wonder whether, in fact, there aren't some operations internationally, intelligence services, that are feeding stuff to WikiLeaks, because it is a unique opportunity to embarrass us, to embarrass our position, but also to undermine our relations with particular governments.

For example, leaving aside the personal gossip about Sarkozy or Berlusconi or Putin, the business about the Turks is clearly calculated in terms of its potential impact on disrupting the American-Turkish relationship.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Just criticizing the people around...

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: And the top leaders, Erdogan and Davutoglu and so forth, are using some really, really, very sharp language.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But this is 250 -- it's a quarter-of-a-million documents.


JUDY WOODRUFF: How easy would it be to seed this to make sure that it was slanted a certain way?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Seeding -- seeding it is very easy.

I have no doubt that WikiLeaks is getting a lot of the stuff from sort of relatively unimportant sources, like the one that perhaps is identified on the air. But it may be getting stuff at the same time from interested intelligence parties who want to manipulate the process and achieve certain very specific objectives.
from the Pentagon, the current US foreign policy arm:

strategic communication (STRATCOM): Focused United States Government efforts to understand and engage key audiences to create, strengthen, or preserve conditions favorable for the advancement of United States Government interests, policies, and objectives through the use of coordinated programs, plans, themes, messages, and products synchronized with the actions of all instruments of national power.

Military deception (MILDEC): Causing ambiguity, confusion, or misunderstanding in adversary perceptions of friendly critical information, which may include: unit identities, locations, movements, dispositions, weaknesses, capabilities, strengths, supply status, and intentions.

Anonymous said...

So far, 243 cables have been released. All bar one, are from the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv.

131 mention the keyword “Israel”
57 mention the keyword “Palestinian”
157 mention either “Israel” or “Palestinian”.
from Ha'aretz:, Aug 15 10:

Arab nations urge U.S. to end support of Israel's nuclear secrecy -- Ignoring U.S. warning, Arab League pushes for international inspections of Israel's nuclear program.

from Zogby:

Polling conducted last month [July 2010] by Zogby and the University of Maryland in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates suggests that views in the region are shifting toward a positive perception of Iran's nuclear program.

According to our polling, a majority of Arabs do not believe Iran's claim that it is merely pursuing a peaceful nuclear program. But an overwhelming majority believe that Iran has the right to develop nuclear weapons and should not be pressured by the international community to curtail its program. Even more telling, a majority of those polled this year say that if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, the outcome would be positive for the Middle East.

Goodman-Chomsky said...

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to get your comment on Clinton, Netanyahu’s comment, and the fact that Abdullah of Saudi Arabia- the King who is now getting back surgery in the New York- called for the U.S. to attack Iran. Noam Chomsky?
NOAM CHOMSKY: That essentially reinforces what I said before, that the main significance of the cables that are being released so far is what they tell us about Western leadership. So Hillary Clinton and Benjamin Netanyahu surely know of the careful polls of Arab public opinion. The Brookings Institute just a few months ago released extensive polls of what Arabs think about Iran. The results are rather striking. They show the Arab opinion holds that the major threat in the region is Israel -- that’s 80. The second major threat is the United States -- that’s 77. Iran is listed as a threat by 10%.

With regard to nuclear weapons, rather remarkably, a majority -- in fact, 57 – say that the region would have a positive effect in the region if Iran had nuclear weapons. Now, these are not small numbers. 80, 77, say the U.S. and Israel are the major threat. 10 say Iran is the major threat. This may not be reported in the newspapers here -- it is in England -- but it’s certainly familiar to the Israeli and U.S. governments, and to the ambassadors. But there is not a word about it anywhere. What that reveals is the profound hatred for democracy on the part of our political leadership and the Israeli political leadership. These things aren’t even to be mentioned. This seeps its way all through the diplomatic service. The cables to not have any indication of that.

When they talk about Arabs, they mean the Arab dictators, not the population, which is overwhelmingly opposed to the conclusions that the analysts here -- Clinton and the media -- have drawn. There’s also a minor problem; that’s the major problem. The minor problem is that we don’t know from the cables what the Arab leaders think and say. We know what was selected from the range of what they say. So there is a filtering process. We don’t know how much it distorts the information. But there is no question that what is a radical distortion is -- or, not even a distortion, a reflection -- of the concern that the dictators are what matter. The population does not matter, even if it’s overwhelmingly opposed to U.S. policy.

Goodman-Chomsky said...

There are similar things elsewhere, such as keeping to this region. One of the most interesting cables was a cable from the U.S. ambassador in Israel to Hillary Clinton, which described the attack on Gaza -- which we should call the U.S./Israeli attack on Gaza -- December 2008. It states correctly there had been a truce. It does not add that during the truce -- which was really not observed by Israel -- but during the truce, Hamas scrupulously observed it according to the Israeli government, not a single rocket was fired. That’s an omission. But then comes a straight lie: it says that in December 2008, Hamas renewed rocket firing and therefore Israel had to attack in self-defense. Now, the ambassador surely is aware that there must be somebody in the American Embassy who reads the Israeli press -- the mainstream Israeli press -- in which case the embassy is surely aware that it is exactly the opposite: Hamas was calling for a renewal of the cease-fire. Israel considered the offer and rejected it, preferring to bomb rather than have security. Also omitted is that while Israel never observed the cease-fire -- it maintained the siege in violation of the truce agreement -- on November 4, the U.S. election 2008, the Israeli army invaded Gaza, killed half a dozen Hamas militants, which did lead to an exchange of fire in which all the casualties, as usual, were Palestinian. Then in December, Hamas -- when the truce officially ended -- Hamas called for renewing it. Israel refused, and the U.S. and Israel chose to launch the war. What the embassy reported is a gross falsification and a very significant one since- since it has to do the justification for the murderous attack- which means either the embassy hasn’t a clue to what is going on or else they’re lying outright.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone considered that this is a self (USA) created situation that can be used as a platform to regulate the Internet? Seems to be the same formula as H1N1 and Healthcare legislation ... Nothing like psy ops on our own people.

fCh said...

"to regulate the Internet?"

I would not go as far... The internet has quasi-officially been the US leverage in places like China.

chechazzo said...

I find it rather interesting that
- the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to a Chinese dissident, to which the Chinese government reacts to with unfettered rage
- a client state of China's (North Korea) wreaks havoc
- a new set of Wikileaks data appears that deeply embarrass the US

Given that:
- 3 million personnel had access to the Wikileaks information
- China and Russia have previously managed to infiltrate US computer security at much higher levels
- China sees the dissidents issue as existential, by it's all out efforts to shun the prize
- We don't know who gave Assange the data
- Its ultimate effect is to dilute American influence
- If you read US Defence reports about China, which one might on a grey day, you'll see that they put a great deal of emphasis on propaganda
- China is very lately seeing a much more unvarnished suspicion about its intentions from the US, and a real push back from the US in terms of building strategic alliances with China's neighbours
- Quantitative easing could be seen from one perspective as monetary policy designed to spur US growth and boost exports, and another level as a massive economic bomb designed to burn the Chinese holdings of over 1 trillion of US dollars and disincentivise them from pegging their currency, in addition to increasing the likelihood of high inflation in China and an asset bubble bursting there.

I would venture that this Wikileaks episode is a diversion with either Chinese or Russian involvement, orchestrated quite likely because China sees this as a crunch moment, when they either fight back on perception stakes, or risk losing the China containment 'war'.

If there had been no Assange, no North Korea attack, China would be standing alone and exposed right now, in a way that damages perceptions and most importantly, investment and economic growth. And losing face is unacceptable to them.

It's just a theory, obviously. But there seem to be many coincidences. There is a highly circumstantial case for suggesting that this could be the high water mark where the Cold War 2.0 begins...

As per Daniel Ellsberg et al said...

I’m disgusted by Amazon’s cowardice and servility in abruptly terminating its hosting of the Wikileaks website, in the face of threats from Senator Joe Lieberman and other Congressional right-wingers. I want no further association with any company that encourages legislative and executive officials to aspire to China’s control of information and deterrence of whistle-blowing.

For the last several years, I’ve been spending over $100 a month on new and used books from Amazon. That’s over. I have contacted Customer Service to ask Amazon to terminate immediately my membership in Amazon Prime and my Amazon credit card and account, to delete my contact and credit information from their files and to send me no more notices.

I understand that many other regular customers feel as I do and are responding the same way. Good: the broader and more immediate the boycott, the better.I hope that these others encourage their contact lists to do likewise and to let Amazon know exactly why they’re shifting their business. I’ve asked friends today to suggest alternatives. I’ve removed all links to Amazon from my site, and I’ll be exploring service from Powell’s Books, IndieBound, Biblio and others.

So far Amazon has spared itself the further embarrassment of trying to explain its action openly. This would be a good time for Amazon insiders who know and perhaps can document the political pressures that were brought to bear—and the details of the hasty kowtowing by their bosses—to leak that information. They can send it to Wikileaks (now on servers outside the US), to mainstream journalists or bloggers, or perhaps to a site like, which has now appropriately ended its book-purchasing association with Amazon and called a boycott.

If you’d like to read further analysis of your cowardice, I suggest you see this excellent article by Glenn Greenwald.

Yours (no longer),

Daniel Ellsberg

fCh said...

chechazzo, if whatever we know of Manning's chat with Lamo is made up, you may have a point...

However, I doubt the US would lock Manning up just to expose the Russians/Chinese.

Transcript of Ron Paul's Position said...

Wikileaks Reveals America’s Delusional Foreign Policy

We may never know the whole story behind the recent publication of sensitive U.S. government documents by the Wikileaks organization, but we certainly can draw some important conclusions from the reaction of so many in government and media. At its core, the Wikileaks controversy serves as a diversion from the real issue of what our foreign policy should be. But the mainstream media, along with neoconservatives from both parties, insists on asking the wrong questions. When presented with embarrassing disclosures about U.S. spying and meddling, the policy that requires so much spying and meddling is not questioned. Instead the media focuses on how authorities might prosecute the publishers of such information.

Unfortunately no one questions the status quo or suggests a wholesale rethinking of our foreign policy. No one suggests that the White House or the State Department should be embarrassed that the U.S. engages in spying and meddling. The only embarrassment is that it was made public! This allows ordinary people to actually know and talk about what the government does.

State secrecy is anathema to a free society. Why exactly should Americans be prevented from knowing what their government is doing in their name? In a free society we are supposed to know the truth. In a society where truth becomes treason, however, we are in big trouble. The truth is that our foreign spying, meddling and outright military intervention in the post-World War 2 era has made us less secure, not more, and we have lost countless lives and spent trillions of dollars for our trouble. Too often it’s the official government lies that have given us endless and illegal wars resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths and casualties.

Take the recent hostilities in Korea as only one example. More than 50 years after the end of the Korean war American taxpayers continue to spend billions of U.S. military dollars to defend a modern and wealthy South Korea. The continued presence of the U.S. military places American lives between these two factions. The U.S. presence only serves to prolong the conflict, further draining our empty treasury and placing our military at risk.

The neoconservative ethos, steeped in the teachings of Leo Strauss, cannot abide an America where individuals simply pursue their happy, peaceful, prosperous lives. It cannot abide an America where society centers around family, religion or civic and social institutions rather than an all-powerful central state. There is always an enemy to slay, whether communist or terrorist. In the neoconservative vision, a constant state of alarm must be fostered among the people to keep them focused on something greater than themselves, namely their great protector – the state.

This is why the neoconservative reaction to Wikileaks revelations is so predictable. They say, “See, we told you, the world is a dangerous place”, so goes their claim. “We must prosecute or even assassinate those responsible for publishing the leaks. Then we must redouble our efforts to police the world by spying and meddling better with no more leaks”, so they say.

We should view the Wikileaks controversy in the larger context of American foreign policy. Rather than worry about the disclosure of embarrassing secrets we should focus on our delusional foreign policy. We are kidding ourselves when we believe spying, intrigue and outright military intervention can maintain our international status as a superpower while our domestic economy crumbles in an orgy of debt and monetary debasement.

Wit held by request, Arcata, CA said...

Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. They exist, as Hope in Pandora's Box, to remind us that our fundamental principles are built upon truth and knowledge, not upon growing vicious ignorance as we are morally eclipsed in the world.

Silence Dogood, Sydney Australia said...

It is the human condition that makes the powerful do anything to hold onto power. This instinct to gain or hold onto power is responsible for more killing and torturing than any other thing in history. It turns nobles into war criminals over time. Leaders change and its never for the better. Assange has a lot of very powerful people very nervous and willing to do - anything- to prevent their crimes or incompetence getting out into the hands of the taxpayers - the people who pay for it all. The US taxpayer pays the CIA about 80 billion a year so they do not co operate with the FBI before September 11, and they still don't co operate fully in 2010, turf wars continue. The Pentagon is payed trillions and it gives a very junior and unstable soldier access to huge amounts of sensitive material. Assange has not released anything that has caused more than embarrassment to those responsible for it all, Wikileaks is not the real problem its a symptom and a wake up call. The US taxpayer should thank Assange that he is bringing to their attention that which the government wants to hide from them. The US military has spent over a trillion dollars and counting on the Iraq War after lying to US taxpayers about the reason it went to war. If I was a US taxpayer (or their children and grandchildren who will have to pay it all off) I would be wanting heads to roll in the US government and agencies. US Banks get a massive bailout for being incompetent at best / criminal at worst and they continue to pay themselves bonuses in the tens of millions only months after the bailout.! Some Government managers need a pay cut to tackle the dangerous US debt levels like the rest of America is getting. US taxpayers deserve better than a political scapegoat in Assange.

Anonymous said...

Umberto Eco
The WikiLeaks affair has twofold value. On the one hand, it turns out to be a bogus scandal, a scandal that only appears to be a scandal against the backdrop of the hypocrisy governing relations between the state, the citizenry and the press. On the other hand, it heralds a sea change in international communication – and prefigures a regressive future of “crabwise” progress.

But let’s take it one step at a time. First off, the WikiLeaks confirm the fact that every file put together by a secret service (of any nation you like) is exclusively made up of press clippings. The “extraordinary” American revelations about Berlusconi’s sex habits merely relay what could already be read for months in any newspaper (except those owned by Berlusconi himself, needless to say), and the sinister caricature of Gaddafi has long been the stuff of cabaret farce.

Embassies have morphed into espionage centres
The rule that says secret files must only contain news that is already common knowledge is essential to the dynamic of secret services, and not only in the present century. Go to an esoteric book shop and you’ll find that every book on the shelf (on the Holy Grail, the “mystery” of Rennes-le-Château [a hoax theory concocted to draw tourists to a French town], on the Templars or the Rosicrucians) is a point-by-point rehash of what is already written in older books. And it’s not just because occult authors are averse to doing original research (or don’t know where to look for news about the non-existent), but because those given to the occult only believe what they already know and what corroborates what they’ve already heard. That happens to be Dan Brown’s success formula.

The same goes for secret files. The informant is lazy. So is the head of the secret service (or at least he’s limited – otherwise he could be, what do I know, an editor at LibĂ©ration): he only regards as true what he recognises. The top-secret dope on Berlusconi that the US embassy in Rome beamed to the Department of State was the same story that had come out in Newsweek the week before.

So why so much ado about these leaks? For one thing, they say what any savvy observer already knows: that the embassies, at least since the end of World War II, and since heads of state can call each other up or fly over to meet for dinner, have lost their diplomatic function and, but for the occasional ceremonial function, have morphed into espionage centres. Anyone who watches investigative documentaries knows that full well, and it is only out of hypocrisy that we feign ignorance. Still, repeating that in public constitutes a breach of the duty of hypocrisy, and puts American diplomacy in a lousy light.

Anonymous said...

A real secret is an empty secret
Secondly, the very notion that any old hacker can delve into the most secret secrets of the most powerful country in the world has dealt a hefty blow to the State Department’s prestige. So the scandal actually hurts the “perpetrators” more than the “victims”.

But let’s turn to the more profound significance of what has occurred. Formerly, back in the days of Orwell, every power could be conceived of as a Big Brother watching over its subjects’ every move. The Orwellian prophecy came completely true once the powers that be could monitor every phone call made by the citizen, every hotel he stayed in, every toll road he took and so on and so forth. The citizen became the total victim of the watchful eye of the state. But when it transpires, as it has now, that even the crypts of state secrets are not beyond the hacker’s grasp, the surveillance ceases to work only one-way and becomes circular. The state has its eye on every citizen, but every citizen, or at least every hacker – the citizens’ self-appointed avenger – can pry into the state’s every secret.

How can a power hold up if it can’t even keep its own secrets anymore? It is true, as Georg Simmel once remarked, that a real secret is an empty secret (which can never be unearthed); it is also true that anything known about Berlusconi or Merkel’s character is essentially an empty secret, a secret without a secret, because it’s public domain. But to actually reveal, as WikiLeaks has done, that Hillary Clinton’s secrets were empty secrets amounts to taking away all her power. WikiLeaks didn’t do any harm to Sarkozy or Merkel, but did irreparable damage to Clinton and Obama.

Technology now advances crabwise
What will be the consequences of this wound inflicted on a very mighty power? It’s obvious that in future, states won’t be able to put any restricted information on line anymore: that would be tantamount to posting it on a street corner. But it is equally clear that, given today’s technologies, it is pointless to hope to have confidential dealings over the phone. Nothing is easier than finding out whether a head of state flew in or out or contacted one of his counterparts. So how can privy matters be conducted in future? Now I know that for the time being, my forecast is still science fiction and therefore fantastic, but I can’t help imagining state agents riding discreetly in stagecoaches along untrackable routes, bearing only memorised messages or, at most, the occasional document concealed in the heel of a shoe. Only a single copy thereof will be kept – in locked drawers. Ultimately, the attempted Watergate break-in was less successful than WikiLeaks.

I once had occasion to observe that technology now advances crabwise, i.e. backwards. A century after the wireless telegraph revolutionised communications, the Internet has re-established a telegraph that runs on (telephone) wires. (Analog) video cassettes enabled film buffs to peruse a movie frame by frame, by fast-forwarding and rewinding to lay bare all the secrets of the editing process, but (digital) CDs now only allow us quantum leaps from one chapter to another. High-speed trains take us from Rome to Milan in three hours, but flying there, if you include transfers to and from the airports, takes three and a half hours. So it wouldn’t be extraordinary if politics and communications technologies were to revert to the horse-drawn carriage.

One last observation: In days of yore, the press would try to figure out what was hatching sub rosa inside the embassies. Nowadays, it’s the embassies that are asking the press for the inside story.

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