WikiLeaks a boon for US government: Former Obama campaign adviser

Clarity now exists in Middle Eastern foreign policy, says former Obama campaign member

Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) US research associate, Professor Mike Nelson.

Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) US research associate, Professor Mike Nelson.

WikiLeaks' leaking of classified information should be considered a blessing for the US government, and other governments should take heed of the lessons when it comes to information sharing, according to a former member of Barack Obama presidential campaign.

Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) research associate, Professor Mike Nelson -- who spent four years as Senator Al Gore's science advisor and served as the White House director for technology policy on IT — told the audience at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) that in a year and a half, the documents would mean a "net positive" for US foreign policy in the Middle East.

While Nelson conceded there were some embarrassing stories, most of those exposed "hypocritical foreign leaders" that American diplomats were talking to.

“The US diplomats actually came out looking pretty good because the same thing they were saying in private was the same thing they were saying in public," he said.

"The data that was divulged provided a lot of the justification for policies that the US government had been undertaking for years."

Nelson said that the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, held a press conference to denounce WikiLeaks as a fraud because of leaked cables describing meetings between US ambassadors and heads of state in Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

"Memo after memo said, 'The head of state reports that the guy across the [Persian] Gulf is crazy and they want the US government to do something about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad'," Nelson said.

"In public the heads of state would never say that, which was why Ahmadinejad concluded the memos were fake because he thought he was well-loved by his Arab brothers.

"Releasing this information is giving people a better understanding of the challenges that [US] foreign policy makers face."

When asked about what Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard — who WikiLeaks founder and Australian citizen, Julian Assange, reached out to for protection last year when he faced extradition charges to Sweden on alleged sex offences — should be doing in terms of information, Nelson advised the Gillard government to develop a "transparency policy".

“95 per cent of those leaked memos were incredibly well written and well reasoned, with one paragraph that might be sensitive," Nelson said.

"If they [officials] had thought about making the basic analysis available throughout the government and to the public in some form, they could have done it more sensitively rather than verbatim comments."

He also added that if Australian government officials better understood the implications of the information they had, they would not need to have strict rules on the release of information.

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6 Comments

Gordon Drennan

1

What better indication that this guy doesn't know what he's talking about, and that what he says isn't worth reading, than that he thinks the President of Iran is an Arab.

Chris

2

The writer does not say he is Arab. He says his "Arab brothers" ; those brothers that live on the Arabian peninsula. If I had a step brother who was Arab that would not make me one.

Dave

3

What better indication that Gordon Drennan doesn't know what he's talking about, and that what he says isn't worth reading, than that his written comprehension sucks...

John

4

Clearly, from what he says, Nelson doesn't know the difference between a Persian and an Arab, despite what Commenters 2 and 3 have written. Another baseless assumption that Nelson makes is that we should take Ahmadinejad's political pronouncements on the memos at face value, rather than as an effort to save face.

The first commenter is right, Nelson is way out of his depth.

Aston

5

Actually, given Iran's thirty plus years of sponsoring terrorism, especially in Europe and the Arab world, as well as its fanatical tactical and fnancial support of some of the most vicious regimes and militias on earth (think Syria, Hizbolla, Hamas and other Muslim extremists), Ahmadimejhad should be taken very, very seriously. It's not every day the Saudis and Israelis agree.

X

6

If intelligence personnel knew ahead of time that their reports would be publicly available, they would not write them the same way. They'd end up writing bs reports for the public and even more secret, real reports for their agency.

Intelligence is not usable without secrecy. The only parameter that we can reasonably think of tweaking is how long we must wait before archives become public. That parameter in itself has a lot of influence on how top government officials behave.

Personally I was impressed to see in the wikileaked cables that US intelligence people at the bottom of the pyramid are doing their job well, as the author points out. That's about it though.

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