The Obama administration is blustering and bloviating about the on-going leak of hundreds of thousands of classified documents, apparently leaked initially by a soldier using a thumb drive.
The White House and Pentagon describe the Wikileaks disclosures as a major blow to national security, and to the country’s diplomatic efforts around the world.
In the waning days of the Soviet Union, we learned that the Russians had very easily penetrated the most heavily guarded vaults of America’s classified world, using moles and other techniques to plumb our secrets.
Put bluntly, the communists knew far more about how our country’s shadow government operated than we citizens did.
I’m guessing the same is true today.
If it was this easy for one soldier to smuggle out so much information about the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan — not so mention our most closely-guarded diplomatic agenda — my guess is that other foreign powers have done a handy job of accomplishing the same.
The Chinese, the Saudis, the Israelis, the Russians — I’m guessing there was very little in these documents that came as a surprise to their leaders.
But for we Americans — who in theory own and operate this government — the Wikileaks disclosures offer a rare window into how the vast secret Federal bureaucracy operates.
In the years since 9/11, the US has developed a new architecture of secret agencies, prisons, and black ops operations.
We have done some very shady things, occasionally targeting private citizens in other parts of the world who turned out to be completely innocent.
Our secret services and diplomats have often been remarkably incompetent in their efforts to promote and protect American interests.
It’s probably unrealistic to hope that small-government, tea-party libertarians would take notice and turn some of their zeal to this troubling reality.
These disclosures show that our behavior has at times infuriated and disgusted the democratically elected governments of our allies, from Germany to Italy.
Ultimately, all the shock — shock! — being expressed by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton should be taken with a grain of salt.
The truth is that very few other leaders in the world had illusions about America’s objectives or methods.
Americans looking through these documents should be prepared to give up some of their illusions as well.