Wikileaks did it again. The website exists solely for the purpose of making secret information public, and some of its greatest hits -- or worst disasters, depending on your point of view -- have consisted of tens of thousands of leaked military documents relating to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
This time around, Wikileaks tattled on the U.S. State Department. It put up for public view 250,000 private cables, or messages, exchanged between the State Department and 274 worldwide embassies. Some are from as recently as this year, others date back as far as 1966, and 15,000 of them are classified as "Secret."
Reading through the documents is like flipping through an extremely long and mostly very boring diary. It goes blah blah blah for page after page, and every once in a while you find a juicy part, but there aren't any revelations that really turn the world inside out. No Reptilians, no proof that Stanley Kubrick faked the moon landing, nothing like that.
What you will find is a whole lot of catty diplomat name-calling. For example, some guy called North Korea's Kim Jong Il a "pudgy chap" -- the nerve!
Other documents reveal the specifics of all the shady, underhanded, back-stabby maneuvers most of us kind of expect from international relations but were never actually privy to. Discussions about Iran using ambulances to smuggle arms to Hezbollah, Saudi Arabia buttering up both the U.S. and Al Qaeda simultaneously, and the paranoia of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.
Then comes the stuff like how China is growing more and more frustrated with North Korea's behavior, and that's the kind of revelation that could have a bearing on a situation that's growing very tense right now.
In fact, anyone with the time and will to comb through everything that Wikileaks dumped into public view could easily pick out dozens of incidents or even hundreds of tidbits that could be drummed up into international scandals, if you gave them the right spin. It's just that with all this stuff coming into public view simultaneously, it's almost too much to process. Our capacity for outrage is already working double shifts.
Still, this stuff is supposed to be secret, and airing it out in public like this could potentially erode a lot of trusting relationships. And even though Wikileaks didn't exactly spill the launch codes for the nukes or anything, some have stated its action amounts to a terrorist attack.
The damage is done -- many personal relationships will be affected, and even attitudes between entire governments could be altered. What also might need changing is the way the U.S. government goes about keeping its documents and communications systems secure. In this case, a whole mess of intelligence was scooped up by an organization intent on showing the whole world what it managed to find. At least we're all on the same page -- everyone knows that everyone knows. It could be much more dangerous if a group used the same method to spy on State Department cables and then just pocketed the info for its own personal advantage, whatever that might be.