James Jeffrey, the current US Ambassador to Iraq, angrily condemned WikiLeaks today, insisting that the upcoming release would do damage to his ability to have discussions in confidence. Other US officials have been covering the globe, apologizing in advance for what are said to be a large number of embarrassing revelations to come.
But easily the most incredible claim came from State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, who claimed that the WikiLeaks release would put lives at risk. The claim echoed similar claims over previous WikiLeaks releases, which of course never bore out.
But those previous leaks related to specific ongoing wars, and the concerns were related to specific information they feared those documents might contain about specific collaborators in those occupations. By all government accounts, the new documents are purely diplomatic cables, containing a lot of embarrassing information about a lot of friendly governments, but not specific battlefield information.
Thus, barring the possibility that someone in one of these governments actually dies of embarrassment, the risk that this upcoming release, assuming it is what government officials say it is, seems virtually non-existant. By contrast, the documents seem certain to uncover a number of crimes by both the US government and others, which is exactly the point of these whistleblower organizations.
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