Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wikileaks: State Secrets or Clever Tactics

Written by Claude Salhani

Is the US Government Machiavellian enough to orchestrate the recent brouhaha over the so-called website WikiLeaks, is this a real embarrassment, or will it indeed be damaging as some U.S. diplomats claim?

I am not one to support conspiracy theories but when you stop to analyze the content of the information that was leaked it seem that two things emerge: first, the content of the cables were not so earth shattering as to damage national security, or harm Washington’s relations with other countries.

Second, upon further analysis, it would appear that the information revealed instead sends a strong message to America’s foes.

Much of what has been released in those cables is hardly news in any real sense of the word. Take for example the report that the US has been spying on its friends as well as on its foes and that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton ordered diplomats to assemble information on their foreign counterparts. Let’s get real. Friends have been spying on friends ever since man has been involved in conflict.

Espionage between nations -- both friendly and less so -- can probably be traced back to the time when the first group of cavemen realized they could use clubs as weapons. All intelligence services will, as a matter of fact, gather information on whoever and whatever they can. This is what intelligent services do. The trick is not to get caught.

Did Israel not spy on the United States, its staunchest ally, and without whom Israel would have a hard time sustaining itself. The most infamous of Americans spying for Israel is a former US Navy civilian, Jonathan Pollard, who passed classified information to Israel. Pollard is now serving a life sentence for treason. While Pollard may have become the focus point of the US-Israeli espionage dossier, other incidents have gone largely unnoticed.

One report aired by Fox News states that “According to a U.S. intelligence agency, the government of A (Israel) conducts the most aggressive espionage operation against the US of any US ally.”

Indeed, since the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington more than 60 Israelis have been arrested or detained under the new Patriot Act or for immigration violations. Among them were active duty officers in the Israeli army.

All theatrics of embarrassment by the US Department of State aside, the release of such information accomplishes a dual purpose.

Many countries in the Middle East are more concerned about Iran’s nuclear program than they have publically admitted. The information contained in one cable states that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has asked the United States a number of times to “cut the head of the snake,” when talking about Iran and its nuclear program. Other Arab leaders from Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates had similar concerns.


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