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Are Wikileaks and its media mouthpieces being played?

I was not impressed with the earlier Wikileaks revelations (as I wrote about in spiked here), and the latest batch haven't led me to change my mind.

As before, this is a big dump. This time it mostly consists of mundane proceedings, embarrassing personal remarks and confirmations about things we already knew. As Frank Furedi argues in today's spiked, the news organizations with first access - the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Le Monde and Der Spiegel - are indulging in voyeurism rather than acting in the public interest. 

The coverage of the latest dump has also made me wonder why these assortments of fragments are being taken at face value as the "truth". For a start, most of the items have not been verified (diplomats and civil servants are unlikely to confirm them). Furthermore, assuming that they are accurate documents, they are by definition partial, because they represent the findings or views of particular representatives. Maybe a secret agent overheard a Saudi say that Iran should be bombed and we learn about it in Wikileaks; but maybe the majority of those in the diplomatic corps are hearing the opposite but that's not to be found in the Wikileaks pile. Why should we believe that the one reported in Wikileaks is the clear and whole picture?

More to the point, why is there so little critical challenging of the source of the documents? It seems to be highly possible that some of these documents were planted by certain factions of the foreign policy establishment to shape public perceptions and help their cause in their internal struggles, people with axes to grind. We have certainly seen such undisciplined leaks around the policy direction in Afghanistan, for one. Wikileaks and its media mouthpieces present themselves as brave, independent fighters digging up the dirt and waging the good battle against state secrecy, but it is possible they are being played for dupes by one section of the state against another. There has been a shocking breach of security, with hundreds of thousands of documents having landed in Wikileaks' possession. But are we to believe this is all the work of "Bradass87", otherwise known as PFC Bradley Manning? This soldier did not have that level of security clearance, especially to such a wide range of materials.

Indeed, when you read news of the latest revelations, you almost wonder if figures in the Obama administration were behind some of them. As Fred Kaplan writes, the Wikileaks documents for the most part cast the administration in a favorable light when it comes to Iran diplomacy and many other areas.

Such transparency. What a blow against the state.

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