Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Collapse of the US Information System | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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It is only when regimes collapse that treasure troves of secrets and information are brought into the light. However today we are facing an exception and that is the American empire airing its dirty laundry in public, and nobody can understand how this superpower has failed to prevent this release of information, and on three separate occasions no less. This is what has caused many people to question whether the US government was truly unable to stop these leaks.

Don’t tell us that this phenomenon of secrets coming to light is part of a democratic system, or that this is the freedom of the press, or the result of globalizations. This is all acceptable except where national security is concerned. In the past, films and books and newspaper articles could be censored for reasons relating to national security. However all of the above cases were less dangerous and incomparable to the 4 million classified documents that were leaked in one go, with nobody lifting a muscle [to prevent this]. This is what caused some people to believe that this is just another US conspiracy. These people do not believe that this country which supervises all of the world’s internet servers, controls giant search engines such as Google, controls the majority of civilian and military satellites in the sky, and enjoys an overwhelming influence on the economies of ally countries such as Sweden and Australia failed to prevent a few individuals from undermining its strength.

What happened? I imagine that sometime ago US officials sat down and talked extensively about ways and means of facing this problem. The Washington Post newspaper claims that the US State Department sat up an emergency committee four weeks ago to handle any possible consequences of these leaks and contact governments that would be harmed by this. They discussed only one question: Is there a way to prevent this information being leaked? Of course, this could be settled in the courts. But those involved in the leaks do not care about courts. Publishing something on the internet is different than publishing something in print; the latter can be prevented by ordering the cessation of printing and distribution. Therefore any legal solution to this problem would be too late, and more akin to a penalty [than prevention]. What about the security solution? The government considers this an illegal seizure of ultra-sensitive official documents, akin to the seizure of a US nuclear reactor, which would call for the attack of those responsible whoever they are, wherever they are, and using whatever weapons are available. However here I imagine that the White House listened to its advisors, some of whom warned that attacking WikiLeaks would only stir up public anger and potentially not succeed in preventing the publication of the stolen documents. There are those who called for force to be used to prevent these classified documents being posted on the internet. Force has many meanings, and any country is entitled to protect its secrets to the best of its abilities. Here I imagine President Barack Obama merely shook his head and said “it is better to let the world read the secrets of the US State Department than for me to become personally involved in a battle to prevent America’s dirty laundry being aired in public.”

What happened later was indeed the collapse of the information system of a superpower, an unprecedented occurrence except in cases when regimes are toppled by military force. In contemporary history, this happened that after the Shah [of Iran] was ousted and Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic revolution took place; official documents were collected and published across the world with the aim of further humiliating the ousted regime. Similarly when East Germany collapsed, people looted official documents. Whilst in Iraq, specialized military teams attacked official military institutions and collected as many boxes of official documents as they could, sending them abroad to be sorted and analyzed. However despite this, not much was leaked about the Saddam Hussein regime following its collapse. Iraqi militias also attacked some Arab embassies during the war, looting their official archives however nobody knows what these militias did with this material.

It is both strange and ironic that WikiLeaks obtained secret documents from a standing regime a number of times, and the country remained helpless in preventing this. As a result of this, those visiting the US diplomatically will hold their tongues in private meetings. The age of frank talk is over, and the US State Department has suffered a knock-out!