Beyond Manning?

November 30, 2010 5:23 a.m.

I’m really not sure what to make of it. But I’m extremely intrigued by this series of comments by former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski on the NewsHour. I’m cutting out some cross-talk and comments by the other guest Stephen Hadley (who held the same position under President Bush) to focus on Brzezinski’s comments …

The real issue is, who is feeding Wikipedia on this issue — Wiki — Wiki — WikiLeaks on this issue? They’re getting a lot of information which seems trivial, inconsequential, but some of it seems surprisingly pointed.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, what are you referring to?

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: Well, for example, there are references to a report by our officials that some Chinese leaders favor a reunified Korea under South Korea.

This is clearly designed to embarrass the Chinese and our relationship with them. The very pointed references to Arab leaders could have as their objective undermining their political credibility at home, because this kind of public identification of their hostility towards Iran could actually play against them at home.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And what is it — what are you worried about with regard to the knowledge that…

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: It’s not a question of worry. It’s, rather, a question of whether WikiLeaks are being manipulated by interested parties that want to either complicate our relationship with other governments or want to undermine some governments, because some of these items that are being emphasized and have surfaced are very pointed.

And I wonder whether, in fact, there aren’t some operations internationally, intelligence services, that are feeding stuff to WikiLeaks, because it is a unique opportunity to embarrass us, to embarrass our position, but also to undermine our relations with particular governments.

For example, leaving aside the personal gossip about Sarkozy or Berlusconi or Putin, the business about the Turks is clearly calculated in terms of its potential impact on disrupting the American-Turkish relationship.

Hadley goes on to say that a simpler answer is that there’s just some very damaging stuff in a quarter of a million documents. And I suspect he’s right. But I’m also not ready to dismiss Brzezinski’s speculation. It’s one of the oldest trick in the intel book to seed bogus documents into a cache of authentic ones. And while the idea here would be that all are genuine, the same logic of concealment would apply.

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