carl guderian on Sun, 14 Nov 2010 22:39:44 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Steve Coll: Leaks (The New Yorker)

On 13-nov-2010, at 10:12, Patrice Riemens wrote:

> Waiting for Wikileaks to 'disclose and expose' war crimes to start
> this discussion appears to me to be singularly unhelpful, and
> that in many respects. Wikileaks simply bridges the gap between
> what we had every good reasons to believe - and has been quite
> well documented elsewhere, if not to such an (alas basically
> indigestible) extent - and what we now know for fact. I don't
> consider this a giant leap forward.

I'd say the leaks have been a very big help, though unfortunately not
in leading to official acknowledgment, let alone dealing with, the
activities cited therein. What it has done is further document how
our (meaning US) "best and brightest" news organizations and opinion
leaders abandoned their responsibiliities before, during and after the
Iraq war. As they continue to do, in that and in other matters.

Tellingly, one editorial response to the leaks, after flat-out denials
and hysterical worries about security, was that this wasn't news
because "everyone knew" about the events. That last was somewhat
true. Some of the stories, even backed with evidence, had leaked out
over the years. But if reported at all, they were most often buried
deep within a long story. And if a government spokesmen bellowed
"nonsense," there was no follow-up and it was back to horse-race
political reporting, murdered blonde college girls and wardrobe
malfunctions at the Super Bowl. So "everyone" did know about this
stuff, but just didn't think it important enough share it with the
rest of us. Those who did they damned as "unserious."

(George W. Bush's memoirs show a man who perfectly embodied this
emphasis on fluff over substance. Anguish not over federal bumbling
over Katrina, but over rapper Kanye West saying Bush didn't care about
black people. No regrets over attacking Iraq at all, but allowing that
the "Mission Accomplished" photo op may have been premature.)

Wikileaks is your friend who's sick of seeing those you thought were
your friends lying to you. So he grabs you by the shoulders and lays
it out for you. You're in all kinds of trouble but your "friends"
kept you distracting from seeing it and often covered up for those
responsible for some of it. And Wikileaks brings one piece of evidence
after another until you can no longer ignore the bullshit.

And it's necessary, because the lying continues. Three years after
the financial collapse, there's a lot in the news about foreclosures
and the op-ed pages are debating over whether or not it's shameful to
squat one's own repossessed house or just walk away. There's nothing
about bankers enjoying record bonuses while "losing" evidence of mis-
and malfeasance. Ten percent (really higher) unemployment, possibly
permanent, but only cutting the deficit matters, with "hard choices"
to be made. Pundits saying gravely that Americans must face Social
Security cuts to make America great again (though nothing about
bankers giving up bonuses). And Americans will suck it up rather than
demand justice or better health care because the 2010 elections US is
a "center-right" nation (not that voters are despairing).

But it sucks when you suspect you're being played, and it sucks
even harder when it's proved to you and you can no longer pretend
otherwise. It's the sort of enlightenment that doesn't bring comfort
but instead removes it. When a person yanks off the blinders, thanking
them isn't your first response and sometimes not even your second.

The sooner Wikileaks destroys what's left of the official media's
credibility, the better. But it's not something we'll thank them for,
and I'm sure they know it. I don't think anyone's laughing over there.


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