WikiLeaks and the desired counter-overreaction

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How do I feel about this whole WikiLeaks brouhaha? Well, first of all, it's not a wiki, is it? That aside, here's how I summed it up on Twitter:

While I'm ambivalent about some of what WikiLeaks is doing, the reaction by our supposedly democratic governments dismays me unequivocally.

A longer take with a similar conclusion is from Tim Bray, who says:

Thought leaders including Sarah Palin, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Silvio Berlusconi, and Vladimir Putin tsk-tsk in unison; those closer to the mainstream who are joining the chorus should be very fucking nervous about the company they're keeping.

I think it's worth looking at WikiLeaks' (or at least Julian Assange's) stated motivations for releasing all this sensitive material: to be "only the catalyst for the desired counter-overreaction" by its target states.

The overreaction is happening, in sometimes nasty ways. Mission accomplished?

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From Scott Adams:

Conspiracy two: The recent Wikileaks about the United States were intentionally leaked by our government. Have you noticed that nothing in the leaks is news? It's everything we already knew. Pakistan isn't a reliable ally in the war on terror? Shocking! Saudis hate Iranians? Shocking! Saudi Arabia funds Al Qaeda? Shocking!

Maybe it's the artist (sort of) in me, but I always think empty space in real life is just as intentional as it is in landscape compositions. The lack of bombshells in the Wikileak materials looks mighty suspicious to me. Some observers are going so far as to say that the report does little more than show that U.S. diplomats are doing a fine job. Compare these two theories and tell me which one sounds more likely:

1. U.S. Diplomats are the only group of people on Earth who are all doing a fine job. And they never write down anything that is worse than just baaarely embarrassing. And someone risked being executed as a traitor to release this non-news.

2. The U.S. government leaked the information itself, after taking out the good parts, because somewhere buried in the pile is an idea that they want "accidentally" released to the world.

I give this theory a 60% chance of being true because it would be easy for the government to pull it off, there's a good chance it would be useful, and it is well within the normal political bag of tricks. If you see a "leak" revelation in the next few days that seems to help the government's strategy more than it hurts, I might raise my estimate.

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