Who has “blood on their hands”?

Written By: - Date published: 7:03 am, December 1st, 2010 - 21 comments
Categories: iraq, us politics - Tags: ,

Global reaction to the leaked US cables continues to unfold. The American response so far has been predictable:

Hillary Clinton attacks release of US embassy cables

Secretary of state leads Obama administration’s reaction to WikiLeaks release, saying it attacks fabric of responsible government

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, today gave the administration’s first public reaction to the leaking of thousands of confidential diplomatic documents, describing it as an attack not only on the US but the international community.

In a lengthy statement expressing US regret over the leaks that have thrown the diplomatic world into disarray and created widespread embarrassment for Washington, Clinton said they put at risk the lives of many people in oppressive societies who had spoken to American diplomats. …

While she said she would not comment directly on the cables or their substance, she said that the government would take “aggressive steps” to hold responsible those who “stole” them.

Other US politicians went much further with their rhetoric:

Congress Lashes Out at Wikileaks, Senators Say Leakers May Have “Blood on their Hands”

Congressmen on both sides of the aisle are condemning the massive leak of secret U.S. documents via the website Wikileaks as a reckless act that endangers American lives.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) called the release of more than 250,000 classified State Department documents a “reckless action which jeopardizes lives by exposing raw, contemporaneous intelligence.” …

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, called the leak “nothing less than an attack on the national security of the United States.”

“By disseminating these materials, Wikileaks is putting at risk the lives and the freedom of countless Americans and non-Americans around the world,” he said in a statement. “It is an outrageous, reckless, and despicable action that will undermine the ability of our government and our partners to keep our people safe and to work together to defend our vital interests. Let there be no doubt: the individuals responsible are going to have blood on their hands.”

Lurking amongst this angry and overblown tough talk an important issue has been raised. Does the leak put lives at risk? It’s an easy claim to make, and impossible to disprove, let’s assume for the sake of argument that it is true. But it is also fair to as the matching question. Does American foreign policy conducted in secret put lives at risk? Of course it does. Of recent note of course, is the illegal, failed, shameful war on Iraq, during which at least 100,000 Iraqis have been killed.

I’m no “anti-American” hater of the US. I’ve lived there, I’ve visited several times, I appreciate the strengths of America. But neither am I a blind supporter. I think that the world needs to have a very clear and objective view of the motivations and actions of the world’s most dangerous military superpower. And from that objective view I think it is both hypocritical and foolish of any American politician to accuse any other organisation of “blood on their hands”.

Perhaps the leaked cables will put lives at risk. But I believe that many more lives would be made safe if the actions and attitudes of our governments, and the “intelligence” that they work with, were more open to the people. That is what Wikileaks, and the whistle blowers who pass on information to them, are trying to achieve, and I support them.

21 comments on “Who has “blood on their hands”?”

  1. vto 1

    You are right r0b, the US politicians who cry “you have blood on your hands” have no credibility such is their hypocrisy.

    I mean, has any other organisation killed more people than the US government in recent decades?

    Serious question … I don’t imagine so but perhaps someone out there knows …

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    The Americans also seem insistent on putting their own citizens in harms way. Lots of deaths from that.

  3. Whiskey Tango Mike Foxtrot 3

    A better question might be “which country gains the most from said leaks?”

  4. ray 4

    You don’t think that it is a little ironic that an organisation that has a policy that it’s writers are anonymous should take delight in Wikileaks
    No surprises there
    But imagine if we got to read your e mails or the Labour parties or

    • r0b 4.1

      Say ray – do you think that all leaks are created equal?

      Compare cases like this leak of cables (or the leak of Nat emails to Nicky Hager, or Mordechai Vanunu). In these cases people inside an organisation leaked information because they were desperately concerned about the behaviour of that organisation and felt that there was significant and legitimate public interest in the material released. History proved (or will prove) them correct. For the sake of argument I’ll call those good leaks.

      On other hand there is the climategate situation, where an external agent hacks in to an organisation, steals stuff, and then misrepresents it to the world in an action that can only be immensely damaging to humanity. For the sake of argument I’ll call those bad leaks.

      I’m all for good leaks, and I’m all against bad leaks. That’s inconsistent on the topic of leaks, if you like, but it’s perfectly consistent on the topic of the greatest public good.

      And as to our own anonymity here, I don’t see that any public good at all is served by someone trying to hack The Standard (or using, like David Farrar, OIA requests) to put some real world identities to the writers. Believe me when I say that nothing of public interest would be learned, and it could just make life difficult for some of us (or our families).

      [Update: Oh, and just by the way – really no point in trying to hack The Standard. Everything on the back end is the same pseudonymous logins that we post under. No real world identities there. Sorry.]

      • graham 4.1.1

        So a good leak is one that suits your personal view of they world.But a bad leak is one that dosent
        The Word starts with a H

        • Draco T Bastard

          Ah, no. The National leaks to Hager were to spread information and help people make an informed decision. The Climategate hack was to spread disinformation and cause doubt where none exists. In other words, the former were for the public good while the latter where to prevent rational decision making that would have caused a few rich people to become poorer.

    • Bill 4.2

      Is ‘the Standard’ an organisation…I mean, is a group of people standing at the bus stop waiting for the same bus an organisation?
      Either way, is there a policy of anonymity? I post here, but nobody has ever said I must post anonymously and not use my real name or a pseudonym or whatever.
      How can ‘the Standard’ take delight in Wikileaks? The Standard is like the No89 bus stop. It has no intelligence or opinion, likes or dislikes.

      As I indicated here, I believe that no organisation that lays claim to hold legitimate authority over others can ever justify being secretive in relation to those it claims to hold authority over or impacts on.

      But ‘the Standard’ doesn’t lay claim to any authority that would impact on you or anyone else as a matter of course. And it’s a bus stop. And short of you having a thing for Poles, I wouldn’t expect you to try talking to a bus stop, so…

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    Perhaps the leaked cables will put lives at risk.

    Personally, I think it’s more likely to save lives as it will help hold the US to account. Something that hasn’t ever been achieved.

    • Vicky32 5.1

      “Personally, I think it’s more likely to save lives as it will help hold the US to account. Something that hasn’t ever been achieved.”
      I really hope you’re right DTB! Something needs to…

  6. Bill 6

    I guess there will much more of this type of stuff to come. Anyway.

    Remember the coup in Honduras? The one that ousted the president, Zelaya? Remember all the obfuscation that went on back then, that even some on the left peddled? And do you remember the dead, the victims of the ‘not really a coup but a move against unconstitutionality’ coup?

    By July 24, 2009, the U.S. government was totally clear about the basic facts of what took place in Honduras on June 28, 2009. The U.S. embassy in Tegucigalpa sent a cable to Washington with subject: “Open and Shut: The Case of the Honduran Coup,” asserting that “there is no doubt” that the events of June 28 “constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup.” The Embassy listed arguments being made by supporters of the coup to claim its legality, and dismissed them thus: “none … has any substantive validity under the Honduran constitution.” The Honduran military clearly had no legal authority to remove President Zelaya from office or from Honduras, the Embassy said, and their action – the Embassy described it as an “abduction” and “kidnapping” – was clearly unconstitutional.

  7. Jeremy Harris 7

    But I believe that many more lives would be made safe if the actions and attitudes of our governments, and the “intelligence” that they work with, were more open to the people.

    I don’t really think that there is much more that intelligence agancies can or should make open without making their agents irrelevent (likely putting them in danger) or breaching privacy… An interesting debate to have…

    There should definitely be greater transparency about the development of new weapons systems (paticularly in the US) as the amounts being spent are huge and a weapons system doesn’t have a right to privacy and other countries knowing about it doesn’t stop you from developing it… So called defense black budgets are anti-democratic…

    • Armchair Critic 7.1

      I’m re-reading John Ralston Saul on the arms industry at present, in “Voltaire’s Bastards”. He makes a compelling case for reducing expenditure of armaments. If you haven’t read it I recommend it.

    • Jeremy Harris 7.2

      I think US defense spending reached the realm of the unhinged a long time ago and I’m all for a strong military..!

      When you are spending the same as the next 13 largest national defence expenditures combined things are out of whack… The Pentagon now is so bloated billions are being wasted through mismanagement and inefficiency…

      • felix 7.2.1

        It only seems to have reached the realm of the unhinged if you’re trying to rationalise it as “Defense” spending.

        A more appropriate label might be “Empire Expansion” spending. And that shit gets ‘spensive.

  8. roger nome 8

    I hope there’s plenty of stuff to do with the CIA running opium and cannabis game in Afganistan in these wiki leaks. They get away with laundering billions in drug money through the US stock-market every year, without blushing. I’m surprised to see that this hasn’t been pointed out by a standard author. There’s plenty of compelling evidence for it. See any of the links at the following wiki page.


  9. freedom 9

    Sadly, with the nature of our world, it is a foregone conclusion that Julian Assange will be put into custody and eventually will face charges for the Wikileaks actions regarding the release of a sizable volume of sensitive documents.

    In 1973, in the Pentagon Papers trial, Judge William Byrne dismissed all charges against Anthony Russo and Daniel Ellsberg on the grounds of “improper government conduct shielded so long from public view”

    What’s the bet this relevant legal precedent is not applicable “in the interests of National Security!”

  10. Bill 10

    “…it is a foregone conclusion that Julian Assange will be put into custody and eventually will face charges…”

    Nope. Assange will wind up dead. An unfortunate accident.

  11. the sprout 11

    My hat off to Assange for continuing to expose the perfidy and facism of the United States’ foreign policy.

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