November 29, 2010

THERE IS?:

US embassy cables: A banquet of secrets: A diplomat's nightmare is a historian's dream – a feast of data that deepens our understanding (Timothy Garton Ash, 11/28/10, guardian.co.uk)

There is a genuine public interest in knowing these things. The Guardian, like the New York Times and other responsible news media, has tried to ensure that nothing we publish puts anyone at risk. We should all demand of WikiLeaks that it does the same.

Yet one question remains. How can diplomacy be conducted under these conditions? A state department spokesman is surely right to say that the revelations are "going to create tension in relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world". The conduct of government is already hampered by fear of leaks. An academic friend of mine who worked in the state department under Condoleezza Rice told me that he had once suggested writing a memo posing fundamental questions about US policy in Iraq. "Don't even think of it," he was warned – because it would be sure to appear in the next day's New York Times.

There is a public interest in understanding how the world works and what is done in our name. There is a public interest in the confidential conduct of foreign policy. The two public interests conflict.


What is the public interest in having our employees lie to us about what other governments are doing?

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Posted by Orrin Judd at November 29, 2010 5:31 PM
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