3 Lessons from Wikileaks and Infoterrorism

On America’s signature holiday, WikiLeaks continued its signature assault on America.  First came the hand-wringing, then came the finger pointing, and next will come the crackdown; but missing from all the coverage are the lessons of Julian Assange’s attack on the US Government.

Wikileaks deals in what could be called “infoterrorism.”  While militant terrorists seek to slow the gears of government through fear of violence, Assange (who looks like he could be cast as Niles Crane in a Christopher Nolan adaptation of “Frasier”) works through extreme exposure of unflattering details.  And through all the criticism, the fact remains that he isn’t making stuff up – the words in those cables are as authentic as they are embarrassing.

1.  WikiLeaks’s victories are designed for the PR field of battle.

There will be no tribunal of world powers who condemn the United States.  The UN isn’t going to boot the US out.  The US will not be stripped of its Heisman trophy.

Because the document dumps are so large, it’s clear that WikiLeaks is less concerned about getting specific content out than demonstrating their ability to find and release large amounts of information.  Sure, the disclosure will slow down diplomacy, but this is more about creating an image of America as large, unwieldy, and incompetent.

2.  Our state and defense infrastructures are too big to be trustworthy.

The big question, of course, is how WikiLeaks got their wikihands on the US Government’s secret stuff?

As a media organization, WikiLeaks cannot – and should not – be prosecuted for their part in the exposure of the documents.  But someone has been giving them the materials that have been causing such a firestorm.  Either too many people have their hands on sensitive information, or the ones who do are simply untrustworthy with sensitive information – in which case, the US Government has problems far beyond a PR black eye.

3.  State Department officials should observe discretion and STOP WRITING $#!& DOWN!

Most people with half a brain who work in an office environment assume their emails will be read (or could be read) by the IT staff and don’t talk crap about co-workers via email.  That includes people who work in office environments that aren’t subject to international spies stretching the limits of ingenuity and technology to intercept transmissions… such as the State Department.  So one would think the folks in the State Department would be even more sensitive about their written communications, right?  The most embarrassing revelations in the Wikileaks dump probably should never have existed to begin with.

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