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Monday, November 29, 2010

What are you going to do about it?

The Washington Post published a letter from State Department Legal Adviser Harold Koh to Wikileaks and its lawyer urging them not to release the thousands of 'secret' diplomatic cables that were released on Sunday. The letter is a metaphor for the Obama administration: It's pathetic.
In your letter, you say you want – consistent with your goal of “maximum disclosure” – information regarding individuals who may be “at significant risk of harm” because of your actions.

Despite your stated desire to protect those lives, you have done the opposite and endangered the lives of countless individuals. You have undermined your stated objective by disseminating this material widely, without redaction, and without regard to the security and sanctity of the lives your actions endanger. We will not engage in a negotiation regarding the further release or dissemination of illegally obtained U.S. Government classified materials. If you are genuinely interested in seeking to stop the damage from your actions, you should: 1) ensure WikiLeaks ceases publishing any and all such materials; 2) ensure WikiLeaks returns any and all classified U.S. Government material in its possession; and 3) remove and destroy all records of this material from WikiLeaks’ databases.
I'm sure Julian Assange is just quaking in his boots from that threat.

Anyone else here old enough to remember Daniel Ellsberg? Ellsberg stole documents from the Penmtagon and gave them to several US newspapers to publish in 1971. While the government was unable to prevent their publication, they did take all the newspapers to court and the resulting legal expenses (it went to the Supreme Court) were enough to make the newspapers think twice about doing that sort of thing again. Until now. They also drove Ellsberg into psychiatric care.

What's missing from Koh's letter is something every lawyer puts into a letter like that: A threat. What are we going to do if you don't listen to us? We'll sue you. We'll go to court and try to freeze any assets you have in the United States.

Please don't get me wrong. As an Israeli, I'm thrilled that these documents were published because they have vindicated everything we have been saying for the last two years. If the documents had said something different, I would not have been so thrilled. But yes, I'm happy they were published.

However, a government cannot carry out its foreign policies if it cannot maintain confidentiality. What's in these documents would normally have come out in someone's memoirs 30 or 40 or 50 years from now. Instead it's come out in 'real time.' In a way that's a metaphor for our society today. Just like the Obama administration's weak efforts to stop it are a metaphor for American weakness.

What could go wrong?

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At 7:26 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Agreed. If the US government cannot even protect its secrets, what confidence can be placed in the reliability of its promises to its allies? In particular, Israel would be well advised to skip that mooted revanant freeze extension. No good will come of it.

At 7:32 AM, Blogger christine said...

but first you would have to come to the conclusion that the US didn't have a hand in releasing these docs.i cannot believe for a minute that this private could have obtained all this info.by himself.second why then aren't we trying him for treason......who is this assange who does he work for.......well we know his attorney works for osi open society institute.can you say george soros.second who is behind this private........will let see code pink osi and yes george soros.......something bigger is going on and we in america and israel will pay the price if this is not stopped......glenn beck laid it all out on his show......since we no longer have a free media getting the truth out will be tough..but we must prevail and get the truth out.........


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