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Who is Getting Played?

okanogen's picture

As a thought experiment, let's say you were a very determined and very unscrupulous right-wing NeoCon mole in the State Department. Further, let's say you determined that not everything was currently going your way, so the best course of action would be to throw carefully selected spanners into the carefully selected works. These spanners would be chosen to damage any entity that didn't support your own full-throated, "America, FUCK YEAH!", approach to "diplomacy". To continue, let's say you had many allies in this endeavor, and together you had spent years collecting these particular spanners. Rounding out the scenario, imagine you had an outlet that had no problem serving your interests by helping you throw these spanners into the works, even though that outlet purports to have the exact opposite goals as you (useful idiots are useful!). In fact, if your goal is to provoke war with Iran, you might want to particularly expose Arab leaders who urge American military strikes against Iran. Does anyone find it curious (surprising?) that out of those 250,000 pages, this particular news has been discovered and reported immediately? From the Jerusalem Post article above, entitled "Wikileaks Vindicate, Don't Damage, Israel":

Based on the trove of diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks on Sunday, the United States is clearly listening to and recording what Middle Eastern leaders have to say about Iran. The question left unanswered is what the US is willing to do about it.

For years now, top Israeli political and defense leaders have warned the world that a nuclear Iran is not just a threat to the Jewish state but is a threat to the entire region.

Wikileaks: 'Saudis on Iran: Cut off the head of the snake'
Leak: Iran used Red Crescent to smuggle weapons

“If only we could say publicly what we hear behind closed doors,” Israeli officials would comment, following off-record talks they held with Arab leaders throughout the Middle East.

Well, now they can. According to one cable published by WikiLeaks on Sunday, Saudi King Abdullah “frequently exhorted the US to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons program” and to cut off the head of the snake.

According to another cable, King Hamad of Bahrain, a country with a majority Shi’ite population, urged in a meeting with former CENTCOM commander Gen.

David Petraeus that action be taken to terminate Iran’s nuclear program.

“That program must be stopped,” Hamad said, according to the cable. “The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.”

Jordan, another country that voiced concern, is uncomfortable with the possibility that a nuclear Iran would provide an umbrella for opposition groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt is also challenged by Iran’s continued nuclear development, as shown by the conviction in April of 26 men who were spying for Hizbullah and plotting attacks in Egypt.

From an Israeli perspective, therefore, it would not be an exaggeration to say that WikiLeaks may have done the country a service on Sunday. By presenting the Arab leaders as more extreme in their remarks than Israeli leaders, the cables show the dissonance in the region and the danger involved in allowing Iran to continue with its nuclear program.

Yes, "if only we could somehow get this out", it may have done their war goals "a service"....

Sometimes the enemy of my enemy is an even worse enemy. Anyway, with all respect to Arthur on this*, count me instead with Anglachel as describing this as a giant rat-fucking operation, designed to promote more war. If someone can find any evidence whatsoever that this actually damages the expansion of American imperialism, rather than enhances it, please wake me.

*Who I love and support (and you should too) even when we disagree.

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Submitted by lambert on

.... and I mean that as a compliment!

I guess one way to assess the theory would be to take "back bearings." That is, the rat fuckers obviously don't want to fuck anybody on their own team (who isn't expendable, that is).

So can we reverse engineer the leaks to find out what we would expect to be leaked, but isn't? What's not there would have a good indication of the sourcing, probably even more than what is there.

NOTE I always did feel it weird that one "bad apple," some Sergeant or other, was supposed to be responsible for the first batch. And the whole thing also seems deeply ritualistic, not to say scripted, not to say kabuki: The papers have time to craft complex infographics, the Pentagon gets to review them, and so on and so forth. One side is lying, and the other is not telling the truth...

Submitted by jawbone on

would it take to download this huge number of documents? Would this soldier actually have access to all the State Dept. stuff?

I heard on some program over the weekend that Iraq had been opened in some way to be able to access areas others on the US kind of web within the Web could not. Also that it would have taken a long, long time for Manning to download all this stuff.

votermom's picture
Submitted by votermom on

that 23yo PFC Manning could have access to all this in the first place. Was he a network admin or something?

Submitted by Hugh on

There is nothing new in the position of Arab Gulf leaders. The cables show that they want to see Persian Iran contained. The other side of this is that they are deathly afraid of war. This is something the cables, to my knowledge, don't show. The two views tend to be contradictory but that too isn't new. Further if there were a conflict, you have to understand the Saudi position is that they would fight to the last dead American.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

Wikileaks may have pure intentions, but those doing the leaking may not. Further, Arthur is predicating his entire premise on the supposition that these are real documents, and that these are actual "leaks". I appreciate (and have read, and am one of the 10-20 people who follow his links) his argument, but am maybe more paranoid than he is, especially when I read that the take away from these documents now is the following:

1. Everybody in the Mideast wants us to bomb Iran. Takeaway: see, we have been responsible, but what are we waiting for?
2. China is ready to dump North Korea. Takeaway: North Korea is fair game, we can bomb them too any time we want and China won't care.
3. Fatah and Egypt knew in advance that Israel was going to invade Gaza. Takeaway: They didn't care, so that killing was perfectly fine.

That is just day one.

Further, I don't see at all why viewing this as a giant rat-fucking operation, conducted by persons unknown who aim to push us in to more war, specifically with Iran and/or North Korea, isn't exactly taking the power to make my own judgement! I'm taking that judment away from the anonymous "authority" that was intent that these documents be published.

Also, I'm not saying that whatever is done regarding leaked documents needs to have some predetermined effect that I am pleased by. What I'm saying is we should view these documents now and try (to the best of our ability) to determine the effect! And part of influencing the effect is analyzing the intial intent. That means critically analyzing the entire event rather than accepting everyone's supposed motives at some uncritical face value.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

what Bradley Manning, the alleged leaker, perceived as scandalous. I'm reading through and I'm not seeing anything shocking yet. I find myself wondering if he is bi-polar and this was an action taken during a manic fit. I'm wondering if he's narcissistic and naturally over-inflates everything he does. I'm wondering if he's a conservative who wants to attack Iran and thinks our refusal to work at the behest of the Arab countries is scandalous.

I don't know and I doubt we ever will.

votermom's picture
Submitted by votermom on

wasn't somebody singing that in 2008?

I agree with you, okanogen. I am viewing the information leaked with an extremely cynical eye.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

I admire Bradley Manning and worry about him enormously. What those f*ckers do to messengers who dared expose truth to power. Look at how they went after Wilson and his wife when Wilson pointed out that the uranium from Africa to Iraq was a totally BOGUS story.

And Manning was a little "nothing" in the eyes of the army so he had enormous access I am sure. And look at the massive job he did distributing this under the nose of the massive evil military industrial security complex. And now he's locked up and vulnerable to their fury and their punishment. And the embarrassment keeps on coming, but hell, the American lemmings can be encouraged to turn on Manning and Wikileaks now. Cuz media is just so strong and Americans are just so malleable.

Take a lesson. Wilson was RIGHT about the yellow cake uranium. The aluminum tubes were not indications of wmd creation, that was ridiculous which the CIA knew but which the Bush cabal refused to heed because they wanted war.

And the opportunists -- do anything, say anything soul-less at the top -- will exploit what they can, having the media in their pocket. Cherry pick away. There is just so much to cherry pick from. Will the true left do its homework or let the neocons keep on exploiting everything?

And skewing stories pro-Israel to the max. Well that is SOP in America.

The Iran war drumbeat goes on. More and more are picking up the rhythm.

1 million Iraqis dead and 4 million displaced, but what the hey. The cherry-picking and lying goes on. War with Iran. Duh. Okay. Idiot country we are.

And Wikileaks and Bradley Manning are messengers to be killed or vilified if they can't actually kill, they will do their best to break the messengers.

Well, hope was the last temptation of Christ, as they say.

Submitted by libbyliberal on


Nonetheless, our government and political culture is so far toward the extreme pole of excessive, improper secrecy that that is clearly the far more significant threat. And few organizations besides WikiLeaks are doing anything to subvert that regime of secrecy, and none is close to its efficacy. It's staggering to watch anyone walk around acting as though the real threat is from excessive disclosures when the impenetrable, always-growing Wall of Secrecy is what has enabled virtually every abuse and transgression of the U.S. government over the last two decades at least.

In sum, I seriously question the judgment of anyone who -- in the face of the orgies of secrecy the U.S. Government enjoys and, more so, the abuses they have accomplished by operating behind it -- decides that the real threat is WikiLeaks for subverting that ability. That's why I said yesterday: one's reaction to WikiLeaks is largely shaped by whether or not one, on balance, supports what the U.S. has been covertly doing in the world by virtue of operating in the dark. I concur wholeheartedly with Digby's superb commentary on this point yesterday:

My personal feeling is that any allegedly democratic government that is so hubristic that it will lie blatantly to the entire world in order to invade a country it has long wanted to invade probably needs a self-correcting mechanism. There are times when it's necessary that the powerful be shown that there are checks on its behavior, particularly when the systems normally designed to do that are breaking down. Now is one of those times. . . . .As for the substance of the revelations, I don't know what the results will be. But in the world of diplomacy, embarrassment is meaningful and I'm not sure that it's a bad thing for all these people to be embarrassed right now. Puncturing a certain kind of self-importance --- especially national self-importance --- may be the most worthwhile thing they do. A little humility is long overdue.

The Economist's Democracy in America blog has an equally excellent analysis:

The careerists scattered about the world in America's intelligence agencies, military, and consular offices largely operate behind a veil of secrecy executing policy which is itself largely secret. American citizens mostly have no idea what they are doing, or whether what they are doing is working out well. The actually-existing structure and strategy of the American empire remains a near-total mystery to those who foot the bill and whose children fight its wars. And that is the way the elite of America's unelected permanent state, perhaps the most powerful class of people on Earth, like it.


The central goal of WikiLeaks is to prevent the world's most powerful factions -- including the sprawling, imperial U.S. Government -- from continuing to operate in the dark and without restraints. Most of the institutions which are supposed to perform that function -- beginning with the U.S. Congress and the American media -- not only fail to do so, but are active participants in maintaining the veil of secrecy. WikiLeaks, whatever its flaws, is one of the very few entities shining a vitally needed light on all of this. It's hardly surprising, then, that those factions -- and their hordes of spokespeople, followers and enablers -- see WikiLeaks as a force for evil. That's evidence of how much good they are doing.

okanogen's picture
Submitted by okanogen on

We should be critical of the documents Wikileaks prints? Perhaps there is where the disconnect lies here. What fact-checking does Wikileaks even provide? What evidence that this isn't just a bunch of bullshit? Now I am supposed to rely on WikiLeaks and their sources) as a pure, and unimpeachable (and undupeable) source?

If we could know that these are real documents, at least even as a starting point, then we could be on to something. With all things Obama, we take the effect as a guide to the desire. But with WikiLeaks sources we can't? Arthur writes the following today (which was my primary point):

With regard to this bit of "news" -- and with regard to every single document released by WikiLeaks -- we must evaluate it. Does this have anything to do with what the United States ought to do? Should it? Is it even true? I note that no U.S. official has offered anything approaching a serious case that these documents aren't what they purport to be: that is, that person A wrote to person B about subject C, and said X, Y and Z. But the more serious questions remain to be addressed.

What is the document's significance, if any? Is the content accurate, i.e., does it correspond to the facts as we can best ascertain them? (This is a different question from whether the document is what it seems to be.) In many cases, we'll never know whether the content is accurate. In any event, do we care? And so on.

Through its work, WikiLeaks seeks to place responsibility for answering all such questions not on "experts," or the media, or the State -- but on the only person who properly should be entrusted with these matters, you:

"We must evaluate it." Hell yes we should. That is exactly what I said! Now I'm a big fat idiot for doing just that? But maybe it's because I'm casting my jaundiced eye even further, and asking whether we can trust WikiLeaks sources (oopsy, maybe WikiLeaks itself?). If what WikiLeaks prints is carefully massaged disinformation, how do we avoid being influenced by it if we deliberately give WikiLeaks ultimate credibility?

This is completely counter to some kind of desire to be "protected by authorities (MOTU) from damaging information" or "truths". It's actually taking the power in to my own hands to determine "what it means", and one of the criteria which has been shown effective time after time is using the metric of who it helps and who it hurts.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Sorry I got emotional and that "crap" word was out of line and not directed to one ... and not even to the thread ... just to the horrifying lack of responsiveness to the entire "jist" of the Wikileaks disclosures, well, to the whole jist of US evil perpetration.

When Wilson exposed the lie of the yellow cake uranium, or tried to, they went after his wife, Valerie Plame. And suddenly the national conversation was entirely about who had exposed her name, leaked it. The brouhaha which was deserved went onto that channel which became a convenient distraction. Worth concern, but a distraction.

MEANWHILE THE WAR WAS WAGED. PEOPLE WERE DYING. And the frame of the debate was taken away from the major horror. And the "gossip" and schadenfreude buzz was on Plame and her situation (not the horrifying revelation of her husband), as THE BULLDOZER OF WAR BULLDOZED ON. The global forest was on fire and everyone was running about one area of trees affording the arsonists to keep on burning.

I feel there is such a horrifying moral leadership vacuum in this country. And that is crazymaking. And there is something scarily and wrongly "normalizing" happening when one enters the perpetrators' of evil perspective and attempts to argue out cherry-picked issues of wrong-doing or intention, when the entire and colossal regime is built on profound illegality, immorality and amorality.

Soldiers are committing suicide and the military and admin. and many in the citizenry are indifferent, pathologically indifferent. Drones are killing innocent people in other countries, and the people are indifferent. Drones are being manufactured now at an alarming rate and people are indifferent. This stuff is not framed as important. People are losing/have lost their homes. People are losing/have lost their jobs. People are dying/have died from inadequate health care. I could go on and on and on. Get Hugh's lists.

Remember Deep Throat in All Prez Men said exasperated to Woodward, "YOU ARE NOT GETTING THE BIG PICTURE!" I guess that is what I feel. FEEL. I know. What can we do, but respond to all of these fresh hells. An assembly line of fresh hells coming faster than the one in Lucy and Ethel's chocolate factory.

THE BIG PICTURE IS HORRIFYING AND NEEDS TO BE CALLED OUT. And why can't so much of the citizenry get it? I know more get it than we all imagine thanks to the callous corporate friendly shallow media that minimizes public protests and omits so much reality. But so many are zombies. And so many are stuck analyzing the messenger and questioning his motives. And time is ticking as people are dying and more and more of us are getting targeted by the soulless ruling class. And once again a regime that goes into cover-up mode rather than exploring and righting wrongs. Obama could have turned the ship around, and instead he took his marching orders from the status quo of evil doers.

Yes, the Wikileaks info, the tonnage of it, deserves to be parsed through. And God knows what misleading bullshit and undecipherable stuff goes along with it. And it will take time and patience. And transparency is about dealing with the good, the bad, and the ugly and the confusing. It is messy, unlike the neat control of fascistic vetted information handed out by a pathologically damaged government. And God knows what surface area it will provide for the pathological neocons to manipulate with its disclosures since they use the media to "frame" every scenario.

But there is something scary imho about the lack of empathy of the citizenry and all of its leadership, the ones even who had we thought potential, to the big picture of what the US is, a war criminal nation.

Allegedly Bradley Manning churned over lots of info. My guess is he wanted and trusted that amidst all those disclosures an obviously hellish and evil massive sin could be stopped by those who would see and understand I am sure more than he could or felt he could. As I said above, sadly, "Hope was the last temptation of Christ." Is the citizenry behind him, or empathetic, or collectively OUTRAGED? Not so much. Not enough. And his act was courageous imho. And he is in a dire situation. Maybe it took someone with profound emotional problems to take such a courageous act. Maybe most of the heros in history did it from imbalance. God love them! And I thank them.

That is my humble and intuitive and feeler take on this.