from the they're-not-all-crazy! dept
While we’ve been highlighting the absolutely ridiculous responses by the US government to both the terrorism threat to airlines and the Wikileaks situation, it should be noted (thankfully!) that not everyone in the US government is overreacting, and there are some clear signs of sanity.
First up, we have Aaron Farnham pointing us to Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ response to the Wikileaks disclosure of diplomatic cables, that seems to take a much more rational view:
But let me — let me just offer some perspective as somebody who’s been at this a long time. Every other government in the world knows the United States government leaks like a sieve, and it has for a long time. And I dragged this up the other day when I was looking at some of these prospective releases. And this is a quote from John Adams: “How can a government go on, publishing all of their negotiations with foreign nations, I know not. To me, it appears as dangerous and pernicious as it is novel.” . . .
Now, I’ve heard the impact of these releases on our foreign policy described as a meltdown, as a game-changer, and so on. I think — I think those descriptions are fairly significantly overwrought. The fact is, governments deal with the United States because it’s in their interest, not because they like us, not because they trust us, and not because they believe we can keep secrets.
Many governments — some governments deal with us because they fear us, some because they respect us, most because they need us. We are still essentially, as has been said before, the indispensable nation. So other nations will continue to deal with us. They will continue to work with us. We will continue to share sensitive information with one another. Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.
The full statement has even more details, where he talks about better information sharing. Given some of the responses from others inside and outside the government, it’s nice to see someone like Secretary Gates (who has been quite critical of Wikileaks in the past), come out with a more reasoned response (though it has received almost no press coverage).
Similarly, Wired has an article highlighting how Michael Leiter, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, is speaking more reasonably about anti-terrorism efforts and security as well, noting (as we have in the past) that “perfect security” is an impossible goal that is, itself, damaging to security.
He points out that the US appears to be playing right into Al Qaeda’s hands by playing up each failed terrorist attempt and then overreacting to it, noting that (like internet trolls), a better response might be to just ignore them publicly, while continuing to do things quietly on the back end to protect the country.
I don’t agree with everything he had to say, but given how many frustrating responses we’ve seen from government officials on both of these issues over the last few weeks, it’s worth pointing out that not everyone is responding that way.