Betraying Great Britain

A bombshell comes out of Wikileaks.  The Obama administration turned over secrets about England’s nuclear arsenal to the Russians:

Information about every Trident missile the US supplies to Britain will be given to Russia as part of an arms control deal signed by President Barack Obama next week.

Defence analysts claim the agreement risks undermining Britain’s policy of refusing to confirm the exact size of its nuclear arsenal.

The fact that the Americans used British nuclear secrets as a bargaining chip also sheds new light on the so-called “special relationship”, which is shown often to be a one-sided affair by US diplomatic communications obtained by the WikiLeaks website. . . .

A series of classified messages sent to Washington by US negotiators show how information on Britain’s nuclear capability was crucial to securing Russia’s support for the “New START” deal.

Although the treaty was not supposed to have any impact on Britain, the leaked cables show that Russia used the talks to demand more information about the UK’s Trident missiles, which are manufactured and maintained in the US.

Washington lobbied London in 2009 for permission to supply Moscow with detailed data about the performance of UK missiles. The UK refused, but the US agreed to hand over the serial numbers of Trident missiles it transfers to Britain.

via WikiLeaks cables: US agrees to tell Russia Britain’s nuclear secrets – Telegraph.

One might say, but these are our missiles we are giving to the Brits.  No, when we give them to the Brits, they belong to them.  And, at any rate, if our allies don’t want the Russians knowing something and have directly refused our request for permission to disclose it, sheer respect for the other nation would mean we should act accordingly.  How can this be anything but betrayal?

This is only the most serious example of a long list of diplomatic disrespect of Great Britain ever since the Obama administration took office.  Why are we doing such things to  our closest and strongest ally?

Connect these dots

Two unrelated news items that actually are related:

Some airports are planning on going back to private security screeners.  The private firms, which already operate in some airports, would still have to follow TSA procedures, including the use of scanners and pat-downs.  But they are said to be more effective because they can more easily get rid of incompetent employees than the TSA.

The reason Wikileaks was able to get access to all of those government secrets in one place was due to a program called Net-Centric Diplomacy.  It was designed to allow different agencies to have access to a common pool of intelligence data.  The problem is, it grew far beyond anyone’s ability to handle it.

What do these two stories have in common?

We have no cynicism

Kathleen Parker, writing about diplomatic  fallout from the Wikileak documents, includes a poignant reaction:

Writing for the center-right Le Figaro, French journalist Renaud Girard said: “What is most fascinating is that we see no cynicism in U.S. diplomacy. They really believe in human rights in Africa and China and Russia and Asia. They really believe in democracy and human rights.”

Yes, we really do.

If Americans are guilty of anything, he said, it is being a little naive. Let’s plead guilty as charged and get on with it.

via Kathleen Parker – Can we become an America WikiLeaks can’t assail?.

I guess the rest of the world doesn’t really believe in all that stuff about democracy and human rights like we do.  So in our idealism we naively try to help the world and just get beaten around for our trouble.  I know that critics of America ascribe sinister motives to our policies–they are just in Iraq for the oil, etc.–but I think our real problem has been our good intentions, which just don’t work out the way our optimistic national character expects them to.

And yet I think it’s good not to be cynical about democracy, freedom, human rights, etc.  Is there a way to keep our ideals without being naive?

Revolt of the children

A 16-year-old boy in the Netherlands was arrested for bringing down the MasterCard and Visa websites in retaliation for their refusing to process payments for Wikileaks. More young hackers are promising more attacks.

In the meantime, British university students have been rioting in protest of that country’s new austerity program, which includes raising tuition rates to a fraction of what American students pay. The British students, notorious for their political apathy previously, are breaking windows, smashing shops, burning cars, and assaulting police officers. They even attacked Prince Charles and his wife as they were driving by, smashing a window in their car. See TUITION FEES VOTE PROTEST: Charles and Camilla’s car attacked as thousands of students descend on Parliament | Mail Online.

So will young people–unused to any kind of austerity, indignant at established authority,and able to use the internet really well–rise up and overthrow the adult world?

Internet war

In support of Wikileaks, an army of hackers has declared war.  Their first battle is to attack Mastercard and Visa.

Hackers have declared an Internet war in support of WikiLeaks, with groups of anonymous attackers disabling major credit card websites in retaliation for denying service to the controversial website.

The group, going by the name “Anonymous,” rallied its supporters in a Twitter post Wednesday, calling for them to get their “weapons” ready to attack the Visa website for the next phase of “Operation Payback.”

The same group claimed responsiblity for crippling the MasterCard website for much of the day Wednesday using denial of service attacks, which overwhlem a website with data requests.

Both Visa and MasterCard have stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks as the online organization faces tremendous political pressure for publishing secret U.S. diplomatic cables.

Wikileaks released a cable Wednesday showing that in February 2010 U.S. officials lobbied Russia on behalf of MasterCard and Visa to ensure that a proposed Russian law did not adversely affect their businesses.

There are now more than 1,000 Internet “mirror sites” hosting WikiLeaks content, which is more than double the number of sites that existed days ago.

via VOA | Hackers Set Sights on Visa in Fight for WikiLeaks | News | English.

Sex by surprise

It is being reported that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been charged in Sweden with rape.  Actually, that most tolerant of nations is charging him with having sex without a condom.  Under certain conditions, apparently, that is a crime in that country.  So says this report:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is facing arrest for violating a Swedish law about sex without condoms, rather than a mainstream interpretation of “rape.” Yet that’s the charge reports often levy against him. Behold the smear campaign.

The New York Times wrote about the case on Thursday, noting that Swedish authorities were hunting Assange on charges of “rape, sexual molestation, and unlawful coercion.” It commented on the alleged offense, stating claims by two women that “each had consensual sexual encounters with Mr. Assange that became nonconsensual.”

The Swedish charges aren’t exactly new, though. Some of the media had reported “rape” allegations back in August, and the Daily Mail even asserted the first alleged illegal act occurred when a condom broke, and the woman concerned “whatever her views about the incident,” then “appeared relaxed and untroubled at the seminar the next day.” At this seminar, Assange met the second alleged victim and “a source close to the investigation said the woman had insisted he wear a condom, but the following morning he made love to her without one.”

Assange has questioned the “veracity” of the two women’s statements, as the Times report notes. Assange’s former lawyer yesterday “confirmed” the charges were to do with sexual misconduct concerning sex without condoms. Assange’s current lawyer then revealed Swedish prosectors had told him they were not seeking Assange for “rape” at all, instead the alleged crime is “sex by surprise,” which carries a penalty of a fine, although the details of the allegations haven’t been revealed yet.

Thanks to Webmonk for pointing this out. The cosmopolitan Australian is not being prosecuted for publishing classified documents or endangering American security, though the soldier who gave him the documents might be. At any rate, what intrigues me here is Swedish law. Does a country extradite someone for a misdemeanor? Or in Sweden’s legal system is this new crime of “sex by surprise” a felony, but a felony punishable only by a fine? This all seems exceedingly strange.


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