Flood of Leaks

November 29, 2010

Flood of Leaks

In "Day 1" of a multipart report by the New York Times on the latest trove of Wikileaks documents, correspondents Scott Shane and Andrew Lehren say diplomatic cables reveal "brutally candid views of foreign leaders and frank assessments of nuclear and terrorist threats," and that the revelations are "sending shudders through the diplomatic establishment." In addition to the basic overview, the Times is also running articles on Israeli and Arab concerns over Iran's nuclear program; a defense of the decision to publish the documents in the first place; and the "Blurring Line between Spy and Diplomat."

And it's not just the Times that is all over the story. In addition to the obligatory Wall Street Journal and Washington Post coverage, blogger chatter has reached fever pitch, with some dubbing it "Cablegate." Andrew Sullivan says the content was "actually reassuring," showing analysis that is "sharp, smart, candid and penetrating." Kevin Drum predicts the leaks won't cause "an epic amount of damage." And while Steve Benen doesn't see the leaked dispatches as a "devastating" blow, he finds some revelations "startling" and contemplates the motivations of the leakers, who are not revealing clearcut crimes or abuses that would "obviously" serve "a larger good." Instead, he says the culprits are just being reckless, "undermining American foreign policy" for its own sake. The Economist agrees and calls it "another step down for the Wikileaks concept," comparing it to "tattling."

Larry Johnson says the media hype over the published cables "is ridiculous." Dave Schuler points out differences in how the outlets that originally obtained the documents (the Times, the Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Monde, and El Pais) are reporting them, with the New York Times "by far the least useful." And Mark Lynch reports on how the Arab media is handling the news. (Answer: things are tense, but they are either ignoring it or only reporting "generalities.")

Max Boot thinks the whole thing is contemptible, and Alexander Konrad feels "troubled" by it. J. E. Dyer finds the media's cooperation with Wikileaks "sophmoric," but thinks the documents actually prove what "hawks and conservatives have been saying" about the dangers posed by China, Iran, Syria and the Obama administration. Daniel Drezner claims that the latest pile of documents is a blow to conspiracy theorists and utopianists, as it proves that, in fact, the U.S. government isn't up to much we don't already know about and the leaks will only lead to more compartmentalized information, in turn causing "less transparency and less effective policy coordination." Robert Farley agrees with Dyer and Drezner, noting that "neocons are quite literally cackling over" the revelations on Iran, Russia and Turkey and the State Department will likely "radically reduce access" to information as a result of the leakage.

And Bill Kristol urges the whole U.S. government to give a big "no comment" and ignore the entire fiasco. Massimo Calabresi says Washington's flawed classification system is at least partly to blame. Peter Beinart also weighs in, calling the reports "fun," and "voyeuristic" but "ultimately, more trouble than it is worth."