Wiki-Espionage And A Salient Comparison, Except That The...

The New Republic

You have read:

0 / 8

free articles in the past 30 days.

Already a subscriber?

Log in here

sign up for unlimited access for just $34.97Sign me up

THE SPINE DECEMBER 4, 2010

Wiki-Espionage And A Salient Comparison, Except That The 1979 Documents From Iran Had Almost Zero Circulation

The more Hillary Clinton assures us that the deluge of WikiLeaks dossiers and minutes of conversations are no problem, the more we know she is lying. She does that well, of course, and also with a certain confidence. It's home territory to her.

Robert Gibbs has, more or less, confirmed this, although with a hokey statement that confirms the job of the president's spokesperson to be the work for someone confident in dishing out deceit. See Devonia Smith's comments at Examiner.com.

But here's what Gibbs himself said:

I don't think it will dominate the issues. But listen, this is one time I really like seeing what Gibbs did. I wish he would they would have forceful, in respect to policy, particularly America vs China in the currency issue, but he did the right thing

Edward Jay Epstein who knows a lot about secrecy and espionage (in Iran especially) has written a small memo, so to speak, to curious readers about the similarity and differences between the WikiLeaks extravaganza and one of its historical predecessors.

The heart of the espionage business is the theft of secret documents. Up until the computer age, this was usually done either by stealing the documents themselves or copying them,. One of the most massive thefts of top secrets of top secret documents occurred in November 1979 when Iranian students captured the US embassy in Tehran before security officers could destroy the tens of thousands of classified CIA and State Department documents stored there. Even many of those that had been shredded into thin strips were painstakingly pieced together by the Iranian intelligence service. These stolen documents covered a vast range of covert CIA activities over two decades in both friendly and hostile nations, including everything from spying operations in the Soviet Union to the secret CIA and Saudi financing of the Jihad in Afghanistan. They also revealed extremely sensitive US espionage operations against allies including Israel, Turkey, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait as well as juicy gossip about sex lives of politicians. In 1982, to embarrass the United States, the Iranians published a large number of these stolen documents in 54 volumes entitled "Documents From the U.S. Espionage Den." Despite the revelations they provided about the activities of American intelligence, and their ready availability, no major newspaper in the United States, including the New York Times, lent credibility to them by publishing a single document from them. Nor were there any front page news stories about them. Except for the few scholars who ordered the 54 volumes for $248, this huge archive of top secret documents attracted little public notice.

In 2010, another huge archive of secret documents was made available. These classified documents did not accidently leak onto the Internet through the work of some mischievous Internet hacker. Indeed, they were not even on the Internet. They were intentionally stolen from a private Defense Department network, the so-called “intranet.” The perp allegedly was a 23 year old US Army intelligence analyst named Bradley Manning, who had the clearances necessary to use this private network. If so, the operation was not conceptually different than that of Robert Hanssen, the KGB mole inside the FBI, who, among other things, broke into the private FBI computer network. Both were break-ins aimed at acquiring state secrets, which is, by any definition, espionage. The US Army intelligence analyst allegedly provided the fruits of his theft to an organization called Wiki-leaks, whose founder Julian Assange termed him a “hero.” Wiki-Leaks, in turn, made the fruits of this espionage available to the press, as had the Iranians with their stolen documents. The difference was that Julian Assange, unlike the Iranians, managed to negotiate arrangements with a number of leading news organizations, including the New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, and The Guardian in which they would get advance access to the stolen documents in return for not publishing them before a designated date. As a result the Wiki-leaks had simultaneous front page stories in many of the world’s most prestigious publication. Such stories may have had great value to media, and even helped enhance their circulation, but what they were publishing, and lending their credibility to, was not Wiki-leaks but Wiki- Espionage.

The behavior of Clinton and the absence of Obama are both scandals.

share this article on facebook or twitter

posted in: the spine, wikileaks, islamic republic of iran, hillary clinton, robert gibbs

print this article

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

Show all 168 comments

You must be a subscriber to post comments. Subscribe today.

Back to Top

SHARE HIGHLIGHT

0 CHARACTERS SELECTED

TWEET THIS

POST TO TUMBLR

SHARE ON FACEBOOK