Robert Baer, a former CIA officer and intelligence columnist for TIME.com, talks about the new batch of Wikileaks documents and some of their implications.
Wikileaks provides a necessary balance to the transmitted deceit that surrounds the public from every corner of the media. Why is it so much more palatable for the media to present the orchestrated pablum we see everyday instead? We see Heads of State pose in insincere photo ops, shaking hands, heaps of praise, calling each other partners, when in fact; many times, it’s a veneer to placate the public, and, willfully disseminated by a complicit media. Isn’t it the media’s duty to deliver beyond the charade? To not be culpable?
The threat to national security and diplomacy in this case is a canard. This is not the evasion of Normandy. The outrage we are seeing is at the exposure of the deception and its internal workings. Juxtapose some common news clips of the mentioned leaders in warm embraces extolling kind words to one another along side one of the diplomatic memorandum. If you don’t get an education, you’ll laugh yourself to death.
I think it is curious that wikileaks never occurred during any other administration, and that it is happening during a time of world wide financial instability, and during a time of nuclear proliferation. Are the individuals behind wikileaks trying to push towards a WWIII?
I find wikileaks to be infuriating and dangerous, and (especially because it is occurring during a time of war) that it should be considered treason! Who needs international spies, when we our own people are leaking confidential information and placing ourselves in peril. Good job, Benedict Arnolds!
@ Duke,MG.......cute and nice try.
Yes, we'll leave Israel's fate in Obama's hands....and yours.
"duke, nyc / Isn’t it obvious that the best way, the safest way for the USA, the crucial first step for us to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, would be for us to require Israel to hand over its covert nuclear arsenal to us..."
Some of the phone comments seem to border on the paranoid. "The gov't. doesn't let anything happen that it doesn't want to"? They don't have that much control. Even totalitarian gov'ts. don't. "All the hard drives are locked"? The people who use them are human & sometimes get careless. Every once in a while we hear about someone taking home a laptop w/classified information to work on it, or missing CD-ROMs or computers. Too many people make general statements as though they were absolute.
Love ya Baer but dude, lighten up, Iz awl goo!
Would you please stop trying to drum up support for an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities?
Even Secretary Gates has said in the cables that such an attack would at best delay Iran’s development of nuclear weapons by a year or two, and would create unending enmity in that nuclear-armed Iran against the perpetrators of the attack on them.
Stop putting America in harm’s way.
Isn’t it obvious that the best way, the safest way for the USA, the crucial first step for us to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, would be for us to require Israel to hand over its covert nuclear arsenal to us, which we can accomplish easily and safely, without any danger to anybody, by simply threatening to withhold all our economic, military, and political support from Israel, and to subject it to the same sanctions as Iran?
we are assuming this is 100% true info, right?
The Wikileaks incident is not a breach of secrecy, but a breach of privacy. The NY Times, Der Speigel, the Guardian, and yes, even the producers of the Brian Lehrer Show, need a measure of institutional privacy in order to craft their "products." An organization cannot act unless it has some confidential zone where the full spectrum of options can be discussed in order to find the best course of action.
Wikileaks has pretty much destroyed the ability of the US State Department to operate. Any discussion with a US diplomat can no longer be considered confidential, thus hindering any American diplomacy, for good or ill. Keep in mind that diplomacy is the first alternative to war, as well as the means by which we promote human rights and deliver humanitarian aid.
Critics may gloat that American duplicity has been exposed, showing the US to be an imperial power, just like any other. Congratulations, you just handed diplomatic advantage to those nations who oppress their peoples and offer no hope to the world.
The BBC broadcast an interview with Julian Assange yesterday (from an unknown location) where he as much as said that the reason he released this information was to end the US and NATO involvement in Afghanistan. It is obvious that this was a conspiracy of at least him and one person on the inside of the US State Dept. or military who gave him the files. The only question is how many and how highly placed were the co-conspirators. Is it too much to ask, who in the US government would benefit either materially or ideologically from destroying the Obama Administrations ability to have diplomatic successes before the next election?
wikileaks next target: the banks. that will be a more fun read!
could you have found a LESS objective guest to speak on this issue of wiki leaks.With mr. Baer having a lifetime of CIA indoctrination and work as well as a clandestine secretive approach to life and politics... really....
All shady - All corrupt! case closed.
@ Josh..Dude. Religion is not to blame, people are the the culprits. Perhaps they don't follow their own moral compasses.
@ Mr ex CIA person...Bob The fact that the security services don't have good electronic documents authorization is whose fault ??? ! There are solutions to this but it may not be more legislation against the internet or wikileaks. I think in the long run this will work to our benefit and right now we have bigger problems.
You guest is right, secrets are part of the way our politics work......and that's exactly the problem and exactly why someone leeked the information....to CHANGE the way things work..... your guest as well as his colleges should get used to it because that's the way things are NOW.
Baer says that “Americans don’t like secret diplomacy, but secret diplomacy is the way the world works”.
He may be really happy with the way the world has been working--the wars, proliferation of nuclear weaponry, terrorism, etc--but the American people are not.
Baer is wrong to say that no one benefits from the release of this information.
The American people are the beneficiaries of the release of this information. It will help us to make the world work differently.
Why do I get the impression that Brian Lehrer considers it a great idea and an inevitability that someone, preferably U.S., bomb Iran? And why is conflict between Palestinians and Israelis always spoken about, not only on this show, s in terms of Palestinians. Lebanese, etc. provoking Israel, not the other way around, in what is an endless circle of violence? Why is there no longer a Palestinian Op Ed columnist at the NY Times, like the late Edward Said? Many young Jews agree more with J St. than AIPAC, but that doesn't get covered either, except in the New York Review of Books.
why would clinton be blamed? didn't this happen in 2007?
I'm very conflicted about the whole issue of the leaks, but the bottom line for me is this: while I understand the need for private channels for diplomacy to work, I cannot be upset that I now know more about the world than I did before.
"It occurred to me that if Bob Woodward, who really gives us a lot of information in his new book, based on classified documents that he was shown in the administration—I would urge him to put those documents into WikiLeaks anonymously. Put them on the line. Let us all read the documents and form our own opinion. Then we’d have something like the Pentagon Papers of Afghanistan, which these documents will not be: it remains, really, to come out, the higher-level documents....WikiLeaks has not yet released [all of the documents]. They’re working over them to redact....And moreover, they let the Pentagon know what they were releasing. They gave them the files in code to them and asked them actually to identify people that they hoped to be redacted from those. Now, the Pentagon refused, meaning they prefer to bring charges into—both in court and in the press, of—endanger, rather than actually to protect these people, showing the usual amount of concern they have over other humans....[Gov't. officials] have every ability [to redact people's names] if people are endangered—which actually is in question to this point. The fact that there’s been no damage up ’til now really strongly questions the claims that were made earlier and, as I say, passed on by most of the mainstream press, very uncritically, that there was danger....I give credit to the Times, as I understand it, and Der Spiegel and The Guardian, who are resisting, as did the Times forty years ago, the demand or the request that they desist and that they return and that they stop serving their function: to protect the public....I’ve waited forty years for a release on this scale. I think there should have been something on the scale of the Pentagon Papers every year. How often do we need this kind of thing? We haven’t seen it. So I’m very glad that someone is taking the risk and the initiative to inform us better now...."
"I spent years keeping my mouth shut as presidents lied to us and kept these secrets. I shouldn’t have done that. And that’s why I admire someone even who’s accused, like Bradley Manning, if he is the source, or whoever the source was, of actually risking their own personal freedom in order to tell the truth. I think they’re being better citizens and showing their patriotism in a better way than when they keep their mouths shut....Britain...has an Official Secrets Act, which we don’t. We had a revolution and a war of independence and a First Amendment, which they don’t. But if these prosecutions proceed and if they’re successful, if they’re carried—if they’re held up, if they’re supported by this Supreme Court, which might well not have been the case forty years ago, then we’ll have an Official Secrets Act, and the effect of—in effect....And the effect of that will be that they won’t have to conduct investigations of leakers, after all, or who did it; they’ll just have to pull in the person whose byline is on that story, the journalist, and say, "Who committed the crime? We’re not after you. We’re just after the person who violated this law." And if the reporter doesn’t give the name up, they’ll go to jail, like Judith Miller for ninety days, before she did in fact cooperate. Some will go to jail, and many will not. And I think the sources, from then on, will have no basis, other than WikiLeaks, to—which protects their anonymity, to get this information out that we need. So I think WikiLeaks is actually becoming more indispensable even than it was in the past." (CONT'D.)
Baer "likes the leakes"! Here's Ellsberg: "And if Bradley Manning is shown by Army, beyond a reasonable doubt, to have been the source, he’ll have my admiration and thanks for doing that. I’ve faced that kind of risk myself forty years ago, and it always seemed worthwhile to me to be willing to risk one’s life in prison, even, to help shorten a war, like Afghanistan or Iraq. That’s what we were suffering then in Vietnam. And it was really a secrecy—it’s the secrecy, the wrongful secrecy, of information like this that got us into Vietnam and Afghanistan and Iraq, or has kept the war going in Afghanistan. So if there’s any chance of shortening that, it’s certainly worth a person’s life....[The gov't's.] crying alarm over this, as they always do in the case of every case of a leak. Certainly they did with the Pentagon Papers. In fact, in that case, they said that the damage to national security was so great that they had to stop the presses for the first time in our history, that the Supreme Court ruled otherwise, having heard testimony on that. And the seventeen—in fact, nineteen newspapers, altogether, decided otherwise and did print the papers, in what amounted to civil disobedience against the warnings of the attorney general. In no case was there any harm discovered in that case. And as for the releases in July, with all the warnings we heard passed on by the media, quite uncritically, no damage has been reported. So I think that one should take their warnings now with a lot of salt." INTERVIEWER: "And yet, the Associated Press obtained this Pentagon letter reporting no US intelligence sources or practices were compromised by the leaks. Dan Ellsberg?" ELLSBERG: "You know, for all that the admiral, Mullen, or for that matter Presidents Bush or Barack Obama, tell us of the good that they hoped to accomplish, we haven’t seen any evidence of that, I would say. And in terms of blood on their hands, I’m sorry to say, a lot of actual blood has been spilled, as opposed to this hypothetical possible blood, of which none has been reported, from the WikiLeaks....Barack Obama has already brought as many prosecutions for leaks to the American public as all previous presidents put together. It’s a small number: it’s three. But since he didn’t have a really law intended to do that, no other president has brought one....this administration is moving toward really aggressively using the Espionage Act as an Official Secrets Act, in which case we’ll know even less than we do about the lies that prolong wars and get us into wrongful wars....I worked for the Pentagon and the State Department."(CONT'D.)
WOW, Baer is totally making stuff up, overflight permission ... LOL, that's automatic and he knows it. These leaks make it harder for Netanyahu? Are you kidding - just at the moment when he has zero credibility with Palestine as a negotiating partner since the resumption of building ?!?! Baer is still CIA, I would bet my left arm. These leaks are as fake as Baer's concern.
Why would anyone believe that Netanyahu was telling the truth to Washington instead of playing them as Israeli leaders have perpetually done?
The credibility the US lost by lying our way into Iraq, torturing, and refusing to prosecute the liars and torturers, is far greater than the Wikileaks dump, and with far less concern shown by Washington talking heads.
I agree!!!The Israelis should never trust the Obama administration again. Obama pushes for an Israeli bottom line before negotiations even begin.(Not that many Israelis trusted Obama after last April anyway.)
why was some low level guy given access to all this infomation?
If you’re not going to publish information that the government wants to keep secret, there would be no reason for the 1st Amendment.
What part of the 1st Amendment don’t the people--from HRC on down--condemning the release and publication of these documents understand?
Isn’t it obvious, that the only reason for our Founding Fathers to have built our country on the principle that our America government “shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech or the press” was to make sure specifically that information that the government did not want published and wanted to keep secret could instead be published and communicated to the American people?
Can you ask Baer whether he thinks this might be a US counterintelligence op? I don't believe Wikileaks is complicit, i.e. an asset but wouldn't they be the perfect front group to funnel disinformation through? Assange has such a big ego and coupled with his total misreading of the world political scene (i.e. thinking that exposing US "war crimes"in Iraq would create some sort of backlash in the US or Worldwide against US military intervention present and future) he's the perfect dupe, front man and fall guy once he becomes discredited. None of these "releases" have damaged any US military or diplomatic endeavors, the media firestorm is essentially the media's own creation, I think they're just picking up the trail laid down for them. Our tolerance in the US for official duplicity is at an all time high, my opinion is that these gossipy news items which our government affirms as true by not denying them serve both to mock world figures that are US enemies as well as failing diplomatic relations between US antagonists (i.e. China & North Korea). They also add to the credibility of further Wikileaks releases (plants) because they are supposedly unflattering US diplomats.
the responsible party for this last batch of leaks should be tried for treason. yes, i said treason!
i can see the reasoning behind leaking information that is in the name of pursuing justice or exposing a crime/criminal. such leaks in those cases should be protected.
blanket leaks of diplomatic notes serves no one, besides the enemies of our nation, and certainly not justice.
privacy should be respected of diplomatic discussions, so that frank conversations can occur behind closed doors. if such exchanges cannot occur behind closed doors in confidence, it is doubtful that diplomacy will ever reap any rewards at all.
diplomacy's failure means a much greater likelihood of armed conflict. we all have some small idea of the cost in associated casualties of war.
serving justice is one thing, undermining diplomacy is treasonous.
hang 'em high!
Just a further thought . . .
No, Wikileaks isn't as thoughtful or targeted as the Pentagon Papers. But that was a job for journalists, and they have not been doing their job for a very long time. They were sheeps during the WMD crisis, completely intimidated by the Bush administration. They didn't thoroughly report on the Iraq war, afraid to leave their embedded troops or report items that might make the public angry. They are used to being fed stories and have forgotten how to investigate and report on their own. Government officials "cross-over" and become jouranlists, news anchors and columnists--and then go the other way--with such regularity, that is it any wonder that the "watchdog" function has been bleed out of modern jouranlism? All the news organizations scrambling to cover the latest Wikileaks dump will hopefully experience some muscle memory and remember what it was like to do investigative pieces in the first place.
One result of these leaks may be that Obama may seek to roll back some of the 911 commission reforms. Those reforms lead to more people in the executive branch having access to classified material. One estimate was that tens of thousands of staffers in the obama admin had access to that which was leaked by wikileaks.
Your quote from HRC was perfect: the diplomatic community is not surprised or upset by the leaks.
Apparently, the real audience that our government doesn’t want to know this information is the American people.
Of course, our government should release all information not completely destructive to our security. This is crucial for a real democracy.
Do we forget Jefferson pointing out that “Sunshine is the best disinfectant”?
Wikileaks is doing what journalism in the US used to do. Investigative jouranlism in the US has been dead for a good long while. I can't say for sure whether Wikileaks is good or bad, only that it is necessary.
1. Obama sent Pentagon and State Dept officials one after another to the Hill to testify under oath before congress that there must be a mideast peace plan to gain arab support to punish Iran for nukes.
FACTs from Wiki: Behind the scenes, arab states in the mideast are BEGGING Obama to attack iran's nukes.
2. Obama sent Pentagon and State Dept officials one after another to the Hill to testify under oath before congress that the new START treaty is efficacious because we can trust Russia.
FACTs from Wiki: Our diplomats don't believe Russia can be trusted and their "democracy" is a sham that could topple. Oops, did i say 'democracy'? I meant "Kleptocracy"
Meanwhile, no documents were found that proves Bush lied about Iraq.
Who sez i'm wrong? Who? Who? Who? Who? Who? Who? Who?
Assange may be a hero to the juvenile slackers here on the Left, but he is no hero by any adult's definition. He is simply a destructive whiny nihilist and a hater of Western Democracy....the very institution, by the way, that allows him to be a cranky wannabe. Where are his revelations about China, Iran and other countries that really don't have a free and open press...or a free and open society. These guys never have the courage to "speak truth to power" when that power may actually jail or assasinate them.
GIVE ME A BREAK.
Religion seems to have practically shaped geopolitics in recent years in the US and Arab countries.
Do the documents back up this sense that sometimes religion trumps reason among decision makers as well?
What else might we glean from these documents regarding how decisions are really made, and "the human condition?"
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