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The Second and Fourth Estates are in a tizzy over Wikileaks's recent release off 250,000 "sensitive" diplomatic cables, many of which were not very diplomatically worded at all. The old media/old government position is typified in this editorial from U.S. News & World Report (whose continued existence may come as a bigger surprise than anything in the released cables), emphases added:


But much of it also deteriorates into pure gossip and accomplishes nothing except to damage delicate negotiations and relationships. This balance is measured all the time by legitimate news organizations when they obtain previously unpublished documents or information. Does the public have a right to know the information?


More than anything, the Wikileaks releases --all of them --will be remembered for exemplifying an instant era in time when old-monied, established private commercial enterprises no longer got to unilaterally decided what truths the great unwashed masses wanted, and/or could handle. You can throw the old era on the heap that contains White Man's Burden.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and this is simply the reaction to the technology which enabled the omnipresent surveillance state. Transparency works both ways. It should anyhow, and that's why Julian Assange is a hero. I don't know if he would be more effective if he dyed his hair black or purple, but I think the white works well enough. That's about as serious a concern as anyone can have with the guy's judgment right now.



In a post-finance world where paper money is backed by nothing other than a vague promise about the character of the issuing state's judicial system, credibility becomes a nuclear-level asset. The wikileaks cables show who has it, and who doesn't, in what areas. The nation states that adjust to the new reality and conduct themselves with the assumption that every diplomatic action it takes is of public record --that is, behave diplomatically --will benefit enormously.

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A lot of my friends work for the foreign service and are FREAKING OUT - about sources blown, their work, etc. but I agree with you - I want to know what my government is doing and we can get away with far fewer shady little things (like starting an undeclared war in Yemen, for instance!) with greater transparency.

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