Jeffrey Lewis has a great post over at Arms Control Wonk about the new cache of documents publicized by WikiLeaks. He highlights one of the ironies in this whole affair: that unless you’re a left-wing loony or a right-wing crony, the US State Department actually comes out pretty well.
I can’t imagine another government that could suffer 250,000 prejudicially chosen cables being posted on the internet and come off looking more sober, professional and pragmatic. Really, the State Department can hold its head up high.
More importantly, Lewis points to an essay by Steven Aftergood (from the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy), titled “The Race to Fix the Classification System.” Aftergood cuts straight to the heart of the misconception on which the WikiLeaks project is based:
The Wikileaks project seems to be, more than anything else, an assault on secrecy. If Wikileaks were most concerned about whistleblowing, it would focus on revealing corruption. If it were concerned with historical truth, it would emphasize the discovery of verifiably true facts. If it were anti-war, it would safeguard, not disrupt, the conduct of diplomatic communications. But instead, what Wikileaks has done is to publish a vast potpourri of records — dazzling, revelatory, true, questionable, embarrassing, or routine — whose only common feature is that they are classified or otherwise restricted
That’s both a very clear diagnosis and a very damning indictment. The goal seems to be to undermine US power by taking down the institution of secrecy.