December 2010 Archives


Refusing to discuss awkward documents because you'd rather nobody knew about them.

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There’s been a lot of talk about the latest Wikileaks document dump of “secret” (i.e. only shared with about 3 million Americans) diplomatic cables. Charlie Stross has a good round-up - be sure to read the linked article on why Julian Assange is doing this in the first place.

A lot of it is rather inconsequential, and, if anything, reflects well on US ambassadorial and consular staff - this description of an elaborate Dagestani wedding is informed, well-written, incisive and something any diplomat or journalist should be proud of.

Yet the response has been almost comically over the top. The Guardian talks to the US Government to make sure that nothing it was about to publish would accidentally imperial covert operatives? CNN’s Wolf Blitzer wants everyone, anyone, hung, drawn and quartered for this document leak to have been even possible. And then you get this Foreign Office response to a story about how the UK agreed to let the US have cluster bombs:

We reject any allegation that the Foreign Office deliberately misled parliament or failed in our obligation to inform parliament. We cannot go into specifics of any leaked documents because we condemn any unauthorised release of classified information.

Not “we didn’t let the US keep cluster bombs on Diego Garcia, and the leaked cables are wrong”. No, the much simpler “we don’t like there being leaked cables, therefore we’ll deny anything in them and won’t discuss them”.

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