EXTRACT: It’s notable that the latest leaks came out the same week President Obama went to Afghanistan for his surprise visit to the troops — and made a speech about how we are “succeeding” and “making important progress” and bound to “prevail.”
The WikiLeaks cables present quite a different picture. What emerges is one reality (the real one) colliding with another (the official one). We see smart, good-faith diplomats and foreign service personnel trying to make the truth on the ground match up to the one the administration has proclaimed to the public. The cables show the widening disconnect. It’s like a foreign policy Ponzi scheme — this one fueled not by the public’s money, but the public’s acquiescence.
The cables show that the administration has been cooking the books.
EXTRACT: For the Obama administration, it appears that accountability is a one-way street. When he had the chance to bring the principle of accountability to our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and investigate how we got into them, the president passed. As John Perry Barlow tweeted, “We have reached a point in our history where lies are protected speech and the truth is criminal.”
Any process of real accountability, would, of course, also include the key role the press played in bringing us the war in Iraq. Jay Rosen, one of the participants in the symposium, wrote a brilliant essay entitled “From Judith Miller to Julian Assange.” He writes:
For the portion of the American press that still looks to Watergate and the Pentagon Papers for inspiration, and that considers itself a check on state power, the hour of its greatest humiliation can, I think, be located with some precision: it happened on Sunday, September 8, 2002.
That was when the New York Times published Judith Miller and Michael Gordon’s breathless, spoon-fed — and ultimately inaccurate — account of Iraqi attempts to buy aluminum tubes to produce fuel for a nuclear bomb.
EXTRACT: But the government’s legitimate need for secrecy is very different from the government’s desire to get away with hiding the truth. Conflating the two is dangerously unhealthy for a democracy.
Phi Beta Iota: Ms. Huffington has produced a WORLD-CLASS overview of the heart of the matter with respect to government secrecy as an abusive form of tyranny that rejects the truth, transparency, and accountability. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (RIP) is assuredly smiling down from heaven.