Over the weekend, the Internet and mainstream press went berserk over the release of nearly 250,000 confidential state department cable and diplomatic directives by the infamous whistle-blowing website, WikiLeaks.
Many papers, including the New York Times, The Guardian UK and the German-paper Der Spiegel, have turned their online editions into interactive archives for the few hundred cables that have been released thus far. With over 250,000 cables to reviews, media outlets are saying that it may take days, if not weeks, before they are all published.
Needless to say, disposal of this information has made Julian Assange, WikiLeaks co-founder, public enemy number one. At least one member of Congress has declared the group a ‘foreign terrorist organization.’ Even presidential hopeful Sarah Palin has labeled Assange an “anti-American operative with blood on his hands.”
Fearing how this incident could damage the nation’s image, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been making the rounds to various world leaders to reaffirm the U.S.’ commitment to “diplomatic relations.”
Yesterday, Clinton went to the national airwaves to strongly condemn the release of the cables. She described it as not just an attack on America’s foreign policy interest, but also an attack on the international community.
So, with WikiLeak’s latest information release, are we as a country less safe than what we previously were?
According to Der Speigel, about half of the documents are unclassified, 40.5 percent are “confidential” and six percent (15,652 documents) are classified as “secret.” There are no “top secret” documents in the cache.
However, there is another unclassified category-gossip, which includes the salacious details of the budding “bromance” between Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Italian President Silvio Berlusconi. It also includes Libyan President Mumammar al-Qadhafi’s apparent fondness for a “voluptuous Ukrainian blonde.”
Though these exchanges are very unflattering chitchat, it is almost similar to getting caught talking about someone behind their backs—more embarrassing than dangerous. Clinton has said that our allies understand that backbiting is a part of the game, telling her, “well, don’t worry about it; you should see what we say about you.”
However, there is some good information that has come out of the gossip. For example, now we know that North Korea is selling Iran 12 long-range missiles with enough range to reach Russia and parts of Western Europe. We also know about countries such as Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, secretly urging the U.S. to bomb Iran.
Of course, none of this is actual “news” considering that the U.S. has been very vocal about concerns over Iran’s increased arms cache. However, the information is insightful because it reveals how other countries use the U.S. an international attack dog, while evading responsibility for any involvement.
Perhaps the cable leaks might allow America to gracefully bow out of a third costly war which we are in no position to afford and probably have no business being involved with anyways.