Steve Clemons draws attention to Zbigniew Brzezinski’s speculation that the latest WikiLeaks dump might have been selected to further a foreign agenda. I haven’t seen any evidence that would lead me to think that, but it’s a possibility that has to be considered. The possibility that a domestic interest or intelligence agency could engineer a leak should also be entertained. Manufacturing paper trails is one of the things that “community” does best, after all.
Sometimes that extends to the outright manufacturing of documents. Obviously, the Niger-uranium forgeries were useful in fomenting war with Iraq. And though no major news outlet pursued the story, it’s well known that forged papers linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda were put into circulation in postwar Iraq and wound up in the hands of a sympathetically interventionist Daily Telegraph journalist. Is there any reason to think the perpetrators of that hoax have given up their trade? That materials are being forged right now to incriminate Iran and other targets should be taken for granted. WikiLeaks would be a good distribution medium for such goods. Much like the press itself, what may start out as a check on power can easily be turned into a vessel for interests.
Selective disclosure and cherry-picking intelligence can be even more useful than simply fabricating evidence. The authenticity of the diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks hasn’t been challenged. But one might wonder whether there’s a particular spin that the disclosures are meant to convey.
For my part, I don’t think these WikiLeaks materials are part of a specific agenda. But I try to keep a half-closed mind — you can’t let just anyone pour “facts” into your brain.
Addendum: Jacob Heilbrunn has also mused about whether Uncle Sam might have a hand in the leaks.