Why Some on the Internet Are Starting to Wonder—Is WikiLeaks for Real?

Why Some on the Internet Are Starting to Wonder—Is WikiLeaks for Real?

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The quarter of a million American diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks reveal that American diplomats have a low opinion of the thuggish Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. They call him "feckless." Equally underwhelming are the revelations that Nikolas Sarkozy is "temperamental" and Muammar al-Gaddafi likes flamenco and blondes. What is more, some of Iran's Arab neighbors look to Tehran with fear and loathing, Afghan politicians are corrupt, and American corporations lobby the Congress.

The global media is in a tizzy, repeating the same mundane, stale information from 251,287 cables released by WikiLeaks, a media organization that claims a loosely organized network of international contributors. Curiously, such publications as The New York Times, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, Le Monde and Spain's El País have carried the leaks dutifully, even though their well-policed pages are otherwise governed by highly divergent philosophies, policies and practices. Even more curiously, all news organizations repeat the same cherry-picked factoids that their ace reporters apparently culled from the documents.

No wonder that some on the Internet believe WikiLeaks to be a “false flag” operation—part of a Big Lie mounted by the American intelligence community.

Julian Assange, the curious-looking founder of WikiLeaks—a cross between Casper the Friendly Ghost and Illya Kuryakin of the 1960s TV spy series The Man from U.N.C.L.E.—has the kind of checkered, globe-trotting past that makes him a prime recruit for intelligence services.

At the same time, most Americans quickly dismiss these charges, asking why their government would covertly conspire to release information that is potentially damaging to itself.

A closer look shows the many ways that these revelations bolster the status quo in Washington. They mainly deflect public attention from far more urgent issues—including a broken economy, dysfunctional governmental services, Obama's chimera of hope and change, and a general hollowing out of America at its core, commensurate with its imperial reach.

More than that, the leaks characterize an increasingly unaccountable United States as the "victim," equate investigative journalism with treason, and communicate without repercussion Washington's frank opinion of world leaders with whom it is less than pleased. (It doesn't hurt the Obama administration a bit for the world to know that certain Arab capitals are just as opposed to the Ahmadinejad regime as Tel Aviv is.)

Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of spy craft and the long history of similar false-flag operations would never question the benefits of such ruses to preserving many vested interests. This history includes the Gulf of Tonkin report, the counterproductive "war on drugs," and "detection" of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, to name just a few.

Yet the majority of Americans would be hard pressed to name even one or two agencies in the vast, well-funded intelligence apparatus that sucks up their taxes while remaining virtually unanswerable to them and their elected representatives.

In reality, the system is composed of 16 agencies whose existence is verifiable and another six that are thought to act in total secrecy. Most Americans know about the Central Intelligence Agency, but it iis among the smallest, least well-funded of the group, which is mostly under the Pentagon command with a total annual budget of nearly $50 billion. The fact that the State, Treasury and Energy departments also have covert operations will come as a surprise to many Americans. Asking people on Main Street to define the functions of the National Security Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office or the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is sure to invite blank stares.

America's covert machinery, easily the largest in world history, reaches every corner of the globe, gathering, hiding, publishing or distorting information to suit its own purposes. On its payroll are politicians and artists, scions of noble families and common gangsters, visionaries, crackpots, assassins and healers the world over.

It would not be surprising at all if WikiLeaks were being used by this intelligence network to do its bidding, knowingly or otherwise. Surely this would explain the almost comical spectacle of WikiLeaks "releasing" tons of potentially damaging information while America's entire intelligence community merely whimpers like a whipped dog— as if the U.S. were not capable of moving the website out of civilian reach and erasing it from existence as easily as it introduced the Stuxnet virus to the computers of an Iranian nuclear plant. (Overshadowed by the WikiLeaks's non-news was the Monday morning bombing in Tehran that killed one Iranian nuclear scientist and injured another.)

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton must be trying hard to keep a straight face as she "apologizes" for or otherwise "explains" the words of the bad boys and girls of American diplomacy. Equally constrained must be Attorney General Eric Holder, who speaks of an "active and ongoing criminal investigation" of WikiLeaks. Sorely missing is a voice sufficiently powerful within the government or major media to question this global spectacle, which doesn't pass the smell test on many levels.