November 30, 2010

"WikiLeaks Fallout: Should Hillary Clinton Resign?"

Asks David Corn.
Clinton... signed orders instructing U.S. foreign service officers to spy on the diplomats of other nations....

Diplomats are not spies (though spies do pose as diplomats)....

The administration's strategy -- as is to be expected -- is to focus on the easy-to-demonize messenger, not the hard-to-explain message. But Diplomatgate ought to be a top priority for the oversight committees of Congress....

... [O]ne can expect Clinton to dig in her heels, as the administration decries the leaker and ignores the leaks.

72 comments:

Lem said...

My understanding is that a great deal of a diplomats job is to asses and report back what is the mood of the host country.. whats happening on the ground.. that could hardly be called spying.

Knee jerk overreaction.

TMink said...

Agreed.

Diplomats look for an edge in negotions. International politics is a blood sport.

Trey

AllenS said...

From Slate,

How embarrassing are the WikiLeaks leaks? A secret cable from April 2009 that went out under Clinton's name instructed State Department officials to collect the "biometric data," including "fingerprints, facial images, DNA, and iris scans," of African leaders. Another secret cable directed American diplomats posted around the world, including the United Nations, to obtain passwords, personal encryption keys, credit card numbers, frequent flyer account numbers, and other data connected to diplomats. As the Guardian puts it, the cables "reveal how the US uses its embassies as part of a global espionage network."

This makes Hillary look like someone who could never be trusted. She needs to go. If she does leave now, she can start her presidential bid. Under the radar of course.

PatHMV said...

I've seen this reaction in several places, and I just have no idea what they're talking about. From all I've seen, the Secretary of State asks, in the cables, the diplomats to collect some fingerprints, keep an eye out for frequent flyer numbers, etc., not to break into foreign state departments and steal classified information. What in the world is wrong with that? I would assume that we train our own diplomats to act as if their host country gathers as much information as they possibly can about themselves.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Resign? Send her to prison! I'm surprised arrest warrents haven't been issued for her all over the world. In fact I'm suspicious about what sort of deals she and Obama may have made to keep that from happening.

Julius said...

Did Dick Cheney resign for ordering the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative? Quite a few of her covert contacts overseas were picked up and presumably killed because of that, and it's hard to see how that didn't adversely affect national security. Not to mention the moral effect of CIA personnel now knowing that they will be outed and put into danger if they or their spouses fall on the wrong political side of things.

So when I read this:

[O]ne can expect Clinton to dig in her heels, as the administration decries the leaker and ignores the leaks.

I think "Hey, that's just what Dick Cheney did... but he just praised the leaker and didn't decry shit."

cubanbob said...

I can't stand Hilary Clinton and would gladly donate money to any opponent of hers. That said she should not resign because of the disclosures. What was asked of and tasked to the diplomatic corp as far as I have seen is correct and proper.

What she should be held to account for is the shocking lapse of security that resulted in the leaks but on this she should not hang alone but ought to hang with the rest of the department and agency heads involved in this incredible laxness in security.

I do fervently hope this whole wiki leaks thing is a brilliant disinformation campaign by our government. That by releasing embarrassing but not particularly damaging information (so far) there is a purpose and goal on the part of the government that is reasonable and rational to advance the national interest (that the Palestinians and their supporters purposefully cover their atrocities, that others are worried sick by the Iranians and the North Koreans etc). However not having read all of the abstracts I may well be wrong in concluding that so far there is no real harm if agents and collaborators lives are put in jeopardy. If that is the case then she needs to go immediately along with all of the department and agency heads responsible for this security breach.

Scott M said...

Knee-jerk, Hillaryphobe answer: Fuck yeah, she should resign!

Reason, rational answer based on the facts so far: Of course she should resign!

Pitiful lament: just about everything that's happened in the last few years has made this nation look exceedingly weak in the eyes of the international community. We're plodding along like a sad parody of a strong United States. Our very name has become irony.

JAY said...

Resign?

Ha!

Democrats don't do accountability.

They aren't adults.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

I'm not exactly a fan of Secretary Clinton; but if she's asking for situation briefings or similar information, I'm with her on that. If she's not asking anyone to break into offices or commit other illegal acts to get the information, then she's just doing her job.

This part is more than a little creepy, though:

Cables went out under her name telling State Department officials overseas to collect the fingerprints, facial images, DNA, and iris scans of African leaders, to obtain passwords, credit card numbers, and frequent flyer accounts used by foreign diplomats, and to gather private information on United Nations officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

I haven't seen those original cables yet. I can even -- maybe -- accept the DNA and iris scans and such, because we may need to positively identify people who are going to meet with our officials. But passwords and credit cards?

MadisonMan said...

Is she still effectively doing her job?

Whether or not she should resign depends on the answer to that question.

Bryan C said...

Reportedly, diplomats were asked to collect personal information about their foreign counterparts. Which seems pretty dumb, if it's true. Could our stock of real spies be so depleted that we have to rely on bureaucrats and political appointees to gather this kind of information?

Or this might be nothing at all. Just Hillary exposed for doing something everyone else has always done.

JAY said...

Did Dick Cheney resign for ordering the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative?

Dick Cheney did no such thing.

Quite a few of her covert contacts overseas were picked up and presumably killed because of that

Laugh out loud funny.

JAY said...

I think "Hey, that's just what Dick Cheney did

Except he didn't do that.

Again, accountability is something ignorant people like you shout at elected Republicans.

Scott M said...

Is she still effectively doing her job?

Whether or not she should resign depends on the answer to that question.


Non sequitur. Apparently you can be a very effective clown for hire at childrens' party, while having killed a shitload of people and buried them in your crawlspace.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

No, Julius, you're right: Dick Cheney did not resign for something that never happened except in your fever dreams.

JAY said...

Not to mention the moral effect of CIA personnel now knowing that they will be outed and put into danger if they or their spouses fall on the wrong political side of things.


Note that you can't do anything but try and obfuscate and change the subject.

Why do you think that is?

Almost Ali said...

Pejman Yousefzadeh (via Insta) found nothing in the Wikileaks that [we] didn't already know. And I agree, absolutely nothing material.

Hillary, spying? Pant suits are a better reason to send her packing.

JAY said...

Clinton's name instructed State Department officials to collect the "biometric data," including "fingerprints, facial images, DNA, and iris scans," of African leaders.

Racist.

AJ Lynch said...

It does make us sound like a Soviet or Communist country when the SOS is giving orders to spy on foreign diplomats. Is that even the job of the State Dept?

JAL said...

@ Julius Did Dick Cheney resign for ordering the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative?

hahhhahahahah ahhaa aa a a ha

Did you write the script for that new loser fantasy coming out with Sean [I am an abusive idiot] Penn and some blonde chicklet?

Do facts enter into any of your thought process or memory base?

Scott M said...

Is that even the job of the State Dept?

I would sincerely hope so. There are no real rules, regardless of what might have been "agreed to" by international treaty or some such, between nations at this level of the game.

cubanbob said...

Julius said...
Did Dick Cheney resign for ordering the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative? Quite a few of her covert contacts overseas were picked up and presumably killed because of that, and it's hard to see how that didn't adversely affect national security. Not to mention the moral effect of CIA personnel now knowing that they will be outed and put into danger if they or their spouses fall on the wrong political side of things.

So when I read this:

[O]ne can expect Clinton to dig in her heels, as the administration decries the leaker and ignores the leaks.

I think "Hey, that's just what Dick Cheney did... but he just praised the leaker and didn't decry shit."

11/30/10 11:32 AM"

You are entitled to your opinions but not your facts. She was outed by her husband and by Richard Armitage but the facts do not suit your narrative. Incidentally where is the evidence Plame was a covert intelligence operative? That her operatives were picked up and presumably killed? Please provide this or otherwise refrain from making such slanderous assertions. Cheney had nothing to do with Joe Wilson all but putting a bullseye on her or Richard Armitage shooting his mouth off.

JAY said...

Could our stock of real spies be so depleted that we have to rely on bureaucrats and political appointees to gather this kind of information?


Well, that fat former bouncer managed to get his hands on 700 FBI files in the White House.

A talented bunch, these Clintons...

JAL said...

How does an embassy employee / diplomat get an iris scan?

That slowed me down.

But if she does resign (pushed by her fans) I look at this as the Ticket to the Primaries for Hillary.

edutcher said...

I have a theory that these particular leaks are from people who can't stand this Administration. Remember how the Pentagon leaks only made Dubya look good with the WMD thing? Everything else from that one and this makes the entire Obama Administration look stupid.

Should the Hildabeast resign? I think it's kinda moot. She looks like a fool and any theory that some of this material is her prepping the battlespace for the '12 primaries is so much wishful thinking on the part of the Clinton crowd. She's hardly covered herself with glory the last two years and this is the last nail in that coffin.

Agree with Lem that a lot of the work of diplomacy is "assess and report back what is the mood of the host country", that's not the problem. The idea that she was collecting blackmail material, considering her conduct during the impeachment, is another story. AllenS' point that it "makes (her) look like someone who could never be trusted" is on the money. No one is going to confide in her as long as she's with State.

If she had any integrity or self-respect, she'd resign, but her last name is Clinton, after all.

hombre said...

Ridiculous! It is becoming more apparent with each passing day that journalists are just clowns stirring up controversy.

The administration is right to focus on the leaker. One hopes that it will also focus on the source of the leak.

The issue isn't that the staff of the State Dept. says and does these things. Of course they do! The issue is that they can't keep them confidential.

JAL said...

The people most hyped up need to go back and read some Tonm Clancy.

He didn't fabricate all his stuff from thin air.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

JAL said...

But if she does resign (pushed by her fans) I look at this as the Ticket to the Primaries for Hillary.

Heh. And here people were recently speculating these leaks were too extensive for a PFC, and had to have some insider source at State or CIA.

Hillary: the real leaker?

Lem said...

In the war on terror.. short of breaking the host country's laws our diplomats should also help in the fight.. Information leads to "connecting dots" and all that 9/11 stuff.

Diplomats should not expect to be just a political payoff, do nothing jobs.. put them to work.

I'm with Hillary on this.

wv - lofnsu - undiplomatic under Hillary

Brian Hancock said...

What did President Obama know and when did he know it?

Or was Hillary just "going rogue"?

traditionalguy said...

In the Big Leagues all Embassy personnel are open espionage workers. That is permitted, and their movements are tracked and restricted. When the recruit locals for cash to turn over secrets, then they cross the line. Hillary needs to keep her job and be more careful in her "Cables". I wonder how this sort of traffic got out unless it was an inside job for our own purposes. Hmmm.

Kensington said...

Spying on foreigners is a good thing, and if it keeps Hillary from spying on our own citizens for political purposes, all the better.

traditionalguy said...

Does anyone remember that the Dems tried to sink Reagan and later Bush I with the accusation that they kept diplomatic actions secret from our enemies...who also happened top be the Dems friends at the time. Dems and their media buddies called that Iran/Contra. So is this also an impeachable offense?

Big Mike said...

So David Corn compared notes with Jack Shafer and they're in full agreement that Hillary Clinton ought to go. There you have it, folks. The Left is out to purify their party and this administration, lest someone deliberately or inadvertantly do some small thing to advance the overall cause of the United States of America in the world.

I dislike Hillary Clinton almost as much as HD, Alpha, and the rest of the trolls on this blog hate Sarah Palin, but let's demonstrate some intelligence here.

Are we so certain that Hillary "signed orders instructing U.S. foreign service officers to spy on the diplomats of other nations." In the very next sentence he writes that "cables went out under her name telling State Department officials overseas" to collect biometric and personally Identifiable Information (PII), on foreign leaders. First of all, this is a bad thing only insofar as they should have been instructed to cooperate with the CIA, whose field officers have had training, instead of trying to have untrained FSOs do it. More importantly, the fact that the cables went out "under her name" doesn't mean that she ever saw the actual cables until they showed up on Wikileaks. My take is that Corn (and Shafer) are still not "at one" with the digital age. My VP has routine Emails go out that use his name but are actually composed and sent by his admin. And no matter how much the Left may have fainting spells over the cables, there is no indication that they are anything other than routine instructions. (Indeed, Corn owns up that Clinton's direct predecessor, Condi Rice, issued similar instructions.)

"Diplomats are not spies." I don't think I'll be the only person calling bullshit on that bald lie. And spies do not pose as diplomats; they are covered as diplomats. There's a difference.

"One can expect Clinton to dig in her heels." Of course!!! She's not particularly guilty of anything besides being a Secretary of State in an administration that is particularly inept at foreign policy.

The Crack Emcee said...

I just got serious about my Twitter account, and my comment on Hillary was this:

The idea of Hillary - who talked to the dead with psychics - investigating anyone's mental state is hilarious: http://tinyurl.com/2bjlhhs

What do you think:

Was that tweet-worthy?

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

Crack, "tweet-worthy" is a self-contradictory concept.

Lem said...

There is a natural risk aversion that goes along with the bureaucracy of a state department like job.

Hillary was doing her job by asking these people to be more aggressive.

People out there want to do us harm.

David said...

The administration's strategy -- as is to be expected -- is to focus on the easy-to-demonize messenger, not the hard-to-explain message.

-----
The administration should be focusing on the violation of US sovereignty (the US has as much right to keep secrets as any "non-Imperialist" country). To allow ourselves to get backed into having to defend our normal actions, instead of attacking what this person has done, is to give him what he wants.

Synova said...

Ha!

Isn't this the perfect opportunity for Clinton to shed Obama without being seen to be turning on him?

Christopher said...

For God's sake, Dead Julius -

"Did Dick Cheney resign for ordering the leaking of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative?"

Why didn't you just post "I can beclown myself in 20 words or less?" It would take up less bandwith and have the additional novelty of being true.

HDHouse said...

I think I saw a website where it was suggested that because of the "revelations" that she be executed but that seemed extreme.

iris scans? ohmygod. i think that they met retinal scans and it is very unlikely that anyone would have that opportunity. are these people nuts?

why are you referencing this kinda bullshit site? god help us.

Kirk Parker said...

MadMan,

"Is she still effectively doing her job?"

I see what you did there!

Lyle said...

No, Clinton should not resign. She's done her job. Good for her.

jerryofva said...

Contrary to some opinions here it is not the job of the State Department to covertly collect biometric data or engage in what is commonly known as spying. FSO's job is to observe and report on events that they encounter in their daily work.

Diplomats who engage in covert espionage undermine their ability to do their primary job.

Synova said...

"to covertly collect "

I suppose now I need to go to the link to find out if any of that was supposed to be "covert".

I don't know how it could even be done covertly. Openly as a *request* on the other hand, I can imagine several scenarios. The two most obvious are... We don't want you accidentally on a no-fly list, and... We need to be certain that no one impersonates you when you travel to the US.

holdfast said...

This is symptomatic of a larger problem: The CIA want to be the State Department an the State Department want to be the CIA.

It seems like 98% of CIA employees want to sit around in cubicles, wearing medium-quality suits and simply endlessly refine or analyze data, much of which is collected by "technical" means (NSA electronic stuff) or is gathered from "open sources" (newspapers), and very few want to go out into the messy world to collect first-hand data from traitors, villains and other shift characters. And then you end up with the CIA Director going to the middle east to play diplomat. Basically they've decided that spying is too hard, messy and dangerous, so they want to be striped-pants diplomats. A fine ambition, but they're in the wrong damned agency.

Now it appears that the State Dept, has decided (like the military already has) that the CIA is pretty much useless, and so they will go out and gather their own intelligence (again, like the military). Of course, they that's not supposed to be their job.

The

Sixty Grit said...

Yes.

pm317 said...

Ann, how about linking to substantive articles like this one instead of what you have there..

http://nationaljournal.com/whitehouse/what-hillary-clinton-didn-t-do-20101130

Check out the comments on that Slate article -- they are laughing at the guy who wrote it.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I'm still trying to wrap my head around a PFC having access to classified State Department documents.

I mean seriously.

AllenS said...

Hoosier,

They didn't ask, and he didn't tell. It's not much more than that.

Freeman Hunt said...

Should she resign? No.

What does Corn think we're playing at here? Gin rummy?

It's international politics, and it's always for keeps.

I see sissies.

And this:

Diplomats are awarded immunity and can gain certain access overseas because they are not spies.

Is Corn aware that CIA officers have diplomatic immunity?

Hoosier Daddy said...

Should she resign? No.

I'm wondering if she goes home at night wondering why she gave up a lifetime Senate seat for this.

Freeman Hunt said...

The fallout from WikiLeaks should be less reliance on written communication. More face to face. Much harder to leak.

ErnieG said...

I'm not surprised a bit by these "revelations." For all their fine manners and elegant diction, the striped-pants crowd of all nationalities are a rough crowd and play a rough game. Still, it's embarrassing to be caught with our (striped) pants down.

AllenS said...

I remember way back when, that once a diplomat read the note, they had to eat it.

Jason (the commenter) said...

Wikileaks released secret information that was given to it. Hillary ordered people to help her hack into the data networks of governments around the world. Anything Wikileaks is guilty of Hillary is even moreso. If Wikileaks commited an act of terrorism then so did Hillary and so did America.

Freeman Hunt said...

I remember way back when, that once a diplomat read the note, they had to eat it.

That could have First Lady approval. Fiber.

Jerry said...

Resign? Thhpptt! I've never seen her looking better.

Now that I've watched public and foreign anticipation then reaction to the drop, and seen nothing impressive revealed, I'm very positively impressed with the outcome. Here's My Half-Baked Reaction to the Recent Wikileaks Event.

Upsides and good news:
Broadly, it seems classification of material was wisely applied. We know the vile rat had broad access but not at a particularly high level. Well, the material he gathered wasn't at a high level either - it was appropriately classified. I like that.

Better, it seems that some of our diplomatic apparatchiks are humans like me. They talk openly about things that, in their sphere, are widely known. They do so not reluctantly, or sorrowfully, or some-other-form-of-stupidly. They just get on with their work in good humor, like all of us who are fortunate enough to have complex tasks to perform. I knew, of course, that webs of such people had to exist in the foreign service and other bureaucracies, else they'd not provide even acceptably dismal function. But it's a nice present Julian and the rat gave me, this visible artifact I can recognize as one trace of competence.

The fracture between reality and public discourse is more dispersed than I had realized; a greater concentration of dissonance lies just below the surface. The shape of the lefty mind view begins to resolve.

Of course, the nature of the leak and reactions to it illuminate two places we need to pay some attention.

Trivially, the physical access point was not secured. Permitting users to bring or take devices or media was obviously not consistent with the classification of the accessible material. If such devices are routinely allowed at these sites, then there is a systemic problem. Failure to actively exclude recording devices from access points effectively permits public access, and is not in keeping with the responsibility of classified material custody. Duh.

Ok, physical controls are great but can never provide real security alone. They're just a tool by which people provide security. The real breakdown here was that a questionable individual was not removed from a sensitive, if low-level, position. The CD-RW is occasionally mightier than the M4, and the little rat's Sergeant had already disabled his weapon.

And that takes us right up to the tough one, doesn't it? Picture a Large Gorilla on the 50-yard line in a great big cage, floodlit. Also in the cage, huddled near one corner, is a knot of pajama-clad pundits and power-suited briefcase-adorned mandarins, all with arms crossed and facing resolutely away from the Gorilla. Some of them are repeating mantras or shopping lists. Some have gone the full Wiki, and stand in tripods, elbows interlocked and hands over ears, eyes, mouth ...

Comrade X said...

seeing as America's most secret agent ever, Double 0 Plame, was married to an ambassador, I don't think the line is as bright as David Corn, who knows the Wilsons, thinks it is.

Diplomats are not spies (though spies do pose as diplomats)....

maybe the "posing diplomats" were who Hillary was addressing

jr565 said...

First Obama wanted to show the dumb republicans and Bush how to really deal with foreign diplomacy (because Bush and his cowboy ways alienated all our enemies) . Then he wanted to show the dumb republicans and BUsh how to really handle the economy (because they drove the economy into a ditch) . THen he wanted to show the dumb republicans and Bush how to really handle an environmental crisis (Because BUsh was incompetent and racist in his Katrina handling) . Now he wants to show them how to really deal with state secrets.

He's already hit the trifecta of incompetency. What is he going to show us next week?

jr565 said...

I remember way back when, that once a diplomat read the note, they had to eat it.


Whenever Ethan Hunt reads a message it self destructs in ten seconds. Can't we get something like that for our diplomats?

Scott M said...

Resign? Thhpptt! I've never seen her looking better.

"How can a photograph go 'thhpptt'?"

Opus was pretty much the only liberal that ever made sense to me.

DaveW said...

I'm wondering if she goes home at night wondering why she gave up a lifetime Senate seat for this.

I don't think she like being in the Senate at all. She always looked incredibly bored.

This is a tempest in a teapot. The only reason she should resign is if she wants to resign anyway and this shows up to her as a good way to make a graceful exit.

I'd love to see her do it just to set up an implied threat to run in 2012. Anything that will jerk O-Loser up by the short hairs is fine with me.

jerryofva said...

Dear Comrade:

If there were case officers posing as diplomats they would be taking orders from the station chief not the State Department.

The reason that real FSOs don't do spying is because they become easy marks for deception ops

Alex said...

This is not a minor scandal. Can you imagine if John Bolton had done the same thing? the left would be screaming for public executions!

Revenant said...

I don't see any particular reason for Clinton to resign.

The geniuses who let this information get out, on the other hand...

Sun Tzu said...

Why would the SecState have to TELL diplomats to collect intel?

That, I think, is the true, damning condition: That Hillabitch and the zero selected such moronic twits that they have to be told the basic tenants of their jobs

Revenant said...

Sun Tzu,

The career diplomats in the State Department are, indeed, twits. But for the most part they weren't appointed by Clinton or Obama; they've been there for decades, and have a long-standing habit of trying to conduct their own foreign policy irrespective of what the President wants.

Kirk Parker said...

"Can you imagine if John Bolton had done the same thing?"

Why yes, yes I can: can you imagine TEOTWAWKI?

Jerry said...

Wow, no takers at all. Let me be more explicit: the leaked material seems to have caused little obvious damage or embarrassment. Obama, his administration, Clinton, the Department of State - none of these have been negatively implicated in this affair, as far as I'm concerned. (And I'm Exceptionally anti-Obama and vigorously pro-American, with an instinctive distrust of all government, especially the Department of State. Et c. I'm way less liberal than Opus, for instance.)

What did happen here was a simple human security breach. Let's focus on what really went wrong and why. Anyone want to speak to the likelihood that young Nancy, uh, Brandy, uh, Bradley, yeah, Bradley, recent of a broken heart and judged less than reliable, stayed in his post thanks largely to [what word? diversity? PC? inappropriate? unsavory? yuck?] considerations?

BJM said...

Perhaps David Corn should resign for being a naif?

This leak was weak tea. It doesn't even reach the level of a third rate political potboiler.

The low comedy of it makes Obama look bad, which is the only reason the left is doing a bad impression of Capt Renault.