back to article Gates: Nothing really new in Wikileaks Bradley Manning leak storm

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has issued a stinging poohpooh to the idea that the ongoing, long-drawn out release by Wikileaks of data allegedly supplied to it by a low-ranking American soldier will have any significant effect on the operations of the US government. During a briefing earlier this week, Mr Gates offered the …


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  1. Richard 81


    Well, OK other diplomats probably know all this stuff, but it's rare that we get to see it.

    Also, the black and white confirmation that Arab leaders were urging the US to attack Iran is going to make them pretty uncomfortable. They generally rule over people who are pretty sympathetic to Iran.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I read the transcript / whatever of the meeting between the Saudi King (Abdullah) and Obama's counter-terrorism advisor...the king referred to the Iranians as 'Persians' and not 'Arabs' and made a point of telling the American delegation that he had told the Iranian Foreign Minister (FM) just minutes before to stop meddling in 'Arab' matters (lebanon, Gaza etcetera.)

      Whilst they share the Muslim faith (interpretations aside) they are not bedfellows, let alone happy ones. This would not have been news to the Iranians IMHO.

  2. Mike Street
    Thumb Down

    Yea, but

    It's not mainly been Wikileaks which has been inflating the importance of these documents, but his own colleagues in government, including Secretary of State Clinton.

    It's either vital stuff, according to her, or of no importance, according to him. No-one says they aren't genuine - so let the poor soldier go and leave Wikileaks alone. If the US (or UK) Government has nothing to hide, it has nothing to fear, as they are so fond of telling us plebs.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      If it's nothing new, why are they making such a fuss over "nothing"?

    2. Gaz3447

      Let him go?

      "Let the poor soldier go"??

      I think not.

      As a soldier, (a desk jockey at that), he is duty bound to take reasonable steps to protect the integrity of the system he used day to day as an end user in line with the policies in place, much like any business would have in place. Not to mention the breach of whatever the US's version of the OSA is. That is of course, if he's guilty.

      He allegedly broke the law, so give him a fair trail and see what the results are. Soldiers have the law of the land, LOAC, local law and military law to deal with, not just one set as civilians need to abide by.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        What would you do as a soldier

        if you discover the armed forces you're a part of are doing things that are morally wrong, like killing innocent civilians on purpose ? Do you still protect the integrity of that system ?

        If I remember correctly, this was an important issue raised at the Nuremberg Trial.

  3. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Are You One of Them ..... a Weak Link? Or do you Create Strong Bonds?

    Lewis, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates is floundering out of his depth, for the virtual damage is irreparable. The Exercise now is to manage the New Reality with ITs Beta Tools.

    And the Abiding Difficulty is, ... No Matter how Fabulously SMART the Machinery and Technology, ... the Weakest Link, which sits at ITs Consoles and Uses its Global Operating Devices.

    Thus is an Advanced Artificial Intelligence for Virtual Machine Lead and SCADA Network Control Operating.

    "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.”" ...... Well, a corrupt one can't , which is why secrets are so dangerous, for they are surely indicative of skullduggery in false shadows.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bugger Me!

      I actually understood a Manfrommars post!

    2. Anonymous Coward

      amanfromMars makes sense!

      The real news of the day is that the comment from amanfromMars makes sense!

      Did he adapt to the humans? Is his integration on earth the news that NASA is going to tell us today?

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        I didn't get it

        Still trying to parse what SCADA has to do with it.

        But over 90% parsed isn't bad.

    3. thecakeis(not)alie

      Hey G,

      You're slipping buddy. (The last paragraph was a non-subtlety-laden analysis!) You do make some good points though. Things to think on, good sir.

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    "US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has issued a stinging poohpooh"

    That coming from the bureaucratic hillbilly who transformed the US intelligence community into another propaganda pump for sexed-up justification papers.


    1. Anonymous Coward

      you don't ever

      PoohPooh a PoohPooh! You never know where it might lead

  5. Danny 2

    Democracy defiled

    I posted Gates comment yesterday under the John Oates article "DDoS attack, sex warrant won't stop Assange's leaky discharge".

    However I also pointed out Gates comment is most noteworthy as a juxtaposition to the hysterical hyperbole of Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin et al. The most obvious explanation is that Gates is a cross-administration appointed official as opposed to a rabble-rousing elected politician desperate for every right-wing vote.

    The John Oates article singled out Palin for being an obvious nutter but I find the fact that Secretary of State Clinton also mislabels people terrorists currently more worrying. If the next US presidential election is between Clinton and Palin then I hope Gates considers leading a military coup.

    1. Daniel 1

      Maybe you should try and get "Condascending Rice" to stand?

      If you're going to have a Scary Republican running things, at least have the courage to choose one who's so scary, her existence barely makes any sense to other Republicans.

      Bush offended every major government in the Midde East, by accident, whereas Rice appeared to be operating to some sort of plan. Since then, everything those others have been tried to wiggle their way out of taking responsibility for - waterboarding prisoners, extraordinary rendition, faking evidence, bombing civilian targets, sending National Guards militiamen into a war zone... well, there seems to be a signed document, on every single one of those things, with the words "My name is Condaleeza Rice, and I approve this message" written on the front cover. The woman deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, or something!

      Sarah Palin, on the other hand only approves of waterboarding prisoners because she thinks it has something to do with making convicts work for the public utility companies!

  6. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

    A stinging poohpooh?

    Are Merkin curries that hot?


    (Grabs coat and runs for the door.)

  7. Geoff Spick

    You have an opinion?

    I suppose since no one else is allowed to say what they think (outside the privacy of their own four walls) its only fair that government officials are now dropped in the same boat.

    Soon having an opinion of any consequence will be criminal and, as our leaders race to the lowest common denominator, the human cesspool will drown in its own filth.

    Now, here's Hank with the sport.

  8. Milkfloat

    Guilty already?

    Nice to see that Manning has been found guilty already by Gates. I was not aware that the trial had even taken place.

  9. Daniel 1

    The surprise is not the leakiness

    The surprise is the way in which they discussed things, prior to the leaks, in tones that assumed their words would never see daylight. The fact that Clinton is now on the brink of calling for executions - as if she had the God-given right to instruct underlings, with no background in intelligence-gathering, to gather intelligence on the diplomats of friendly states.

    The fact, in short, that she and all the others thought that they were above al of this, and didn't need to be as careful as they all seem to believe the rest of us should be. It seems they want to right to read our emails, but take umbridge at the thought of us reading theirs. If you've nothing to hide..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The surprise is not the leakiness

      "It seems they want to right to read our emails, but take umbridge at the thought of us reading theirs."

      Bingo! Widespread pooh-poohing of these leaks (eh, Mr Orlowski) as being inconsequential ("You can check which underpants Kim Jong-Il is wearing today on other sites!") misses the point: that diplomacy is a bunch of people representing one set of bigwigs chatting to another set of people representing some other set of bigwigs and it's seen as being in everyone's best interests not to let the nature of various discussions get out, perhaps because rival powers might benefit from it (for example, Iran finds out that everyone is out to get them), but frequently because it would be embarrassing to some people ("Russia's new dynamic duo outed at last!").

      Yet the pooh-poohing goes a long way in showing who the diplomatic secrecy really protects from embarrassment. The pooh-poohers will tell you that "everyone knows" that Medvedev is Robin and Putin is Batman, for example, but what they really mean is that "everyone in media circles" or "everyone in diplomatic circles" or even "everyone in a Western nation" knows and can talk about it. Meanwhile, it might be highly embarrassing for "Batman and Robin" if Russians openly referred to their leaders in such a way. So diplomacy is frequently there to protect people running not-exactly-democratic places from popular criticism or derision.

      There's another source of embarrassment, too: that people in democracies suddenly discover that the people appointed to represent everyone are actually cooking up deals for their own benefit (noting the criticism of things like ACTA) - that they aren't actually doing what their job description says. Ultimately, things like peace are about the people on this planet all getting along and not fighting over stuff, and when the media talks about hostility between nations, it's often the case that a state has decided to do something about another state, not that the actual people in, say, the US want to punish the actual people in, say, Iran.

      And that's where imbeciles like Sarah Palin come in. They don't want stuff like transparency: it'd undermine all the side-deals and general lack of scrutiny upon which such people thrive. For them, it's far better to manipulate the populace (get them wound up about Iran and Iranians) and profit from the consequences, all under the name of "patriotism" - a term which should, in a country like the US, describe the preservation of a decent and free way of life, not the slavish adherence to a hidden agenda that profits some governing clique.

    2. Arri

      it's not the size of the leaks...

      Rather it's hopefully the beginning of a more transparent society.

      "Julian Assange and the Computer Conspiracy; 'To destroy this invisible government ' ” by zunguzungu gives lots of insight into the purpose of the leaks.

      Only good can come from the erosion of state secrecy.

      /End Optimism

  10. Graham Marsden

    "a very junior soldier indeed who holds the lowest rank in the US Army's enlisted structure...

    "...shouldn't have been able to trawl as much classified information as he allegedly did."

    No shit, Sherlock!

  11. Peter 39

    need more charges

    Charging Manning is one thing, but far from enough.

    When does his CO face charges for dereliction of duty for ineffective oversight? It's one thing for Manning (if the allegations are in fact true) to look through lots of stuff going on in the war around him. It is quite another for him to browse through hundreds of thousands of classified documents that belonged to a different Government department.

    It is not unreasonable for him to have access to Dept of State docs - he was an intelligence analyst. But the number is not reasonable and shows that there was no audit, no oversight of his activity.

    A Court Martial is in order here.

  12. JaitcH

    So why is Hilary's knickers in such a twist over "Nothing really new"

    Either Gates is getting senile or Hilary, and Obama, has misjudged the whole thing.

    Of course Gates is spinning, the U.S. is very embarrassed - neither can it keep it's own secrets under wraps, it can't even be trusted to keep others secrets secure, either.

  13. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Manning is the BOFH?

    Because that is the *only* way someone that junior can not just get his mitts on so *much* stuff but also *dump* it out of the system without apparently *anyone* noticing a big data chunk has been copied and sent to removable storage.


    He's just the the courier for someone (or possibly a group) of people who extracted the data and passed it to him

    or lastly

    More than 1/2 a decade after Gary McKinnon performed his pentagon outrage US military data security remains so lazy, slipshod and completely ineffective manner that a slightly more informed other rank can defeat it on a *massive* scale.

    But of course that's absurd. No organization would set themselves up to be humiliated like that a *second* time.

  14. Zargof

    Times have definitely changed...

    This whole Wikileaks thing has definitely changed everything. Gone are the days when we had to wait for someone to leave a laptop on a train to find out all this exciting and secret information.

    Oh, and can someone let me know when they start releasing the good stuff about aliens and what really happened to Elvis, as the current stuff is a little dull frankly...

  15. mhenriday
    Thumb Down

    The sad - but hardly surprising - thing is

    that there has been nothing «really new» regarding Robert Michael Gates' attitudes towards how governments - or at least the US government - should be run since his salad days during the Iran-Contra scandal....


  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    letters, digits

    Compare and contrast with Lieberman's 'it's the end of the world, people's lives are in danger' schtick, reported elsewhere on this site.

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