Comment According to a story that's popular in Washington, after Bill Clinton held his first meeting with his intelligence chiefs as President, he pulled them aside. "Look, guys," he said. "There's really two things I want to know: Who killed the Kennedys? And have aliens landed?"
The story is told with a kind of "Look who's just rolled in from Arkansas" relish - but admit it, they're not a bad start, and if you were in Bubba's shoes, you might have wanted to ask these yourself.
Clinton's apparent curiosity contrasts with this pitiful selection of "secrets" divulged by Wikileaks, trumpeted so loudly you'd think the End Times were upon us.
Previously, I've compared Wikileaks to Kabuki theatre, in which everyone has a part to play. This latest drop, hyped for weeks, merely seems to confirm it. You can boo or hiss accordingly. Assange is saving the world, or destroying international relations. Get a grip, people.
We were never going to learn very much of substance from diplomatic cables, as diplomats are merely ornaments, the eunuchs in the room. If you want secrets that show something about power, you want to hear from the people who arrange the hit squads - not the people who arrange the cocktail parties.
We only have second-hand reports to go on, but apparently the world of diplomacy has been shaken to its foundations by revelations that … Gadaffi has a hot blonde nurse; a Labour politician is apparently lecherous; security around the Pakistan nuclear program is not very good; a member of the Royal family was rude on a foreign visit.
(This is standard operating procedure for Royals, by the way. As is diplomatic spookery.)
No wait, there's more. Kim Jong-il is "a flabby old chap". Well - would you have guessed any of this?
Not only is this material utterly trivial and inconsequential, but it looks as if it's already been heavily filleted. There really isn't anything to embarrass US-Russian relations, and revelations about Israel and Syria are conspicuous by their absence.
Cryptome operator John Young has a much better list, including:
- Files on North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and perhaps most significantly, Israel - its weaponry, war plans, assassination squads, foreign sources of funds, Mossad and its collaborators
- Files on weapons of mass destruction, nuclear, biological, chemical, radiological. Top secret files of the IAEA on nuclear non-proliferation contributed and deceptively withheld by a bevy of nations, ie, the CIA's Valerie Plame and related front companies
- Files of global WMD research laboratories and the status of reserve stocks of offensive and defensive weapons
- War plans of all nations, for and against one another
- Files of billionaire political meddlers
- Files of the major world banks and their attorneys
- Files of national tax agencies.
Now isn't that much more like it?
The longer that Wikileaks continues to pump out trivia, and governments issue their theatrical, orchestrated cries that the sky is falling, the longer we're left in the dark. Wikileaks and the establishment do now seem to depend on each other to quite an unhealthy degree.
Perhaps you've got a list, too. ®