By Gonzalo M. Jurado, PhD**
WikiLeaks has been occupying the front pages of newspapers and the primetime programs of television channels lately, revealing confidential US diplomatic cables that allege various forms of wrongdoings or misdemeanors by our national leaders -- loss of iconic stature by Corazon Aquino because of alliance with Joseph Estrada, receipt of campaign money from Khaddafy by Fidel Ramos, indifference of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to her husband’s illegal activities, diffidence and unassertiveness by Benigno Aquino III, intellectual or moral deficiency of one sort or another by Jose de Venecia, Hermogenes Abdane, etcetera. We’ve heard of these things before but their filtering through US intelligence channels seems to give them novelty and credibility.
Under this deluge of information, politicians are confirmed in their beliefs that their political adversaries are indeed as lowly as they have made them out to be. Newspaper editors and columnists and TV newscasters and commentators are edified in their convictions that their biases against their perceived opponents are well founded. The Senate is going to investigate. The rest of the public is simply overwhelmed, wondering what is going on.
What indeed is going on? Who or what is WikiLeaks? How can WikiLeaks gain access to 251,000 top secret documents from the files of the most efficient of the US Government’s intelligence agencies? Do these documents undermine US national security? Is the US Government too weak to stop WikiLeaks? Who is responsible for the leakage? Finally, how are we, Filipinos, to react to this large-scale information overload that is making us objects of international derision?
To answer these questions, we have to go back to facts of current events.
II. FACTS OF CURRENT EVENTS
For a beginning, we must remind ourselves that when matters of “national security” are involved, “intelligence” that is to say, espionage, is involved. This is saying that unless we place the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) at the center of the analysis we will never be able to unravel the drama unfolding before our eyes. As everybody knows, the CIA is the espionage agency of the United States Government, authorized by US Law to carry out any act outside the US mainland deemed necessary to the security of the United States. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is responsible for domestic security. Many Americans find the CIA repugnant but they are constrained to just ignore it since it is working in their strategic interest anyway.
Now, the purpose of intelligence is to gather information about the enemy, his strengths and weaknesses, to be able to design and implement appropriate measures for dealing with him. In the pursuit of this objective, no resource is spared, no course of action is taboo, no item is left out of the agenda. .
The United States is a Power on the wane. The decline is threatening to be precipitous. As experts are telling us, the US as an economy will be surpassed by China in 2015, four years from today. Right now, the US is in the midst of a recession. Some 9 percent of its work force is unemployed, the incomes of major segments of its population are down if not exhausted, factories are closing down, families are losing their homes, the Government is approaching financial bankruptcy. Only recently, the US was downgraded as an investment haven by a credit rating agency. Other indicators suggest that it is racing against itself to the bottom.
If it is not winning friends among its own people, the US Government is alienating many peoples in the rest of the world. Far from being a dedicated champion of democracy, it is seen as a duplicitous supporter of political dictatorships so long as those dictatorships are subservient to American wishes, a coddler of “sons of bitches” so long as those SOBs are its SOBs. Far from being an unselfish benefactor, the US Government is seen as an insatiable imperialist, never ceasing to machinate until it has taken possession of the enemy’s oil, minerals, and other resources.
Comes now the CIA. What better way to deflect attention away from the deteriorating American political economy than to focus it to the deficiencies or excesses of the rest of the world? Isn’t offense the best defense? Who is best suited to carry out this policy than the US Government’s own officials themselves? .
Consider US President Barack Obama. President Obama stands accused of being a CIA creation. It is said that his Kenyan father was supported in his education by the CIA in order to co-opt him away from the African nationalist movement, his mother was a certified CIA operative who managed CIA funded activities in Indonesia under protection of the US Embassy in Jakarta, his maternal grandfather was the original dyed-in-the-wool intelligence agent stationed in Nairobi, Kenya. Despite tremendous pressure he has refused to reveal his transcript of records and is said to have ordered destroyed every shred of material pertaining to him soon after assuming the Presidency. . What is known of his academic record is intriguing. After admission to Occidental College in Los Angeles, he transferred to Columbia in New York from where he graduated with a degree in Political Science, without honors, meaning that his Grade Point Average (GPA) was less than 3.3. Years later, at Harvard Law School, he became one of 85-90 students who were named editors of the Harvard Law Review. He graduated magna cum laude,
There is profound skepticism. How can a student with average intelligence be admitted into a high standard prestigious institution like Harvard unless there has been pressure from higher authority? How can a student who had never written a word of legal opinion ever become an editor of the Harvard Law Review unless academic standards have been suspended as in an act of political accommodation?
Despite the seriousness of these doubts, no word has been heard from President Obama, nor from the US Federal Government for that matter.. In a recent effort to respond to queries about his childhood, the White House produced a birth certificate that only confounded matters, giving rise to questions as to his nationality, among others..
In the meanwhile, President Obama continues to beguile his American audiences with promises of “change (they) can believe in.” and the rest of the world with visions of free and democratic development.
Coming closer to home, think of former US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney. By acknowledgment of the US Embassy itself, this lady was a former CIA agent. One of her first acts on arrival in the Philippines was to travel up and down the country and distribute goodies to folk here and there and give small talks on democratic governance to audiences that bothered to listen. Our media described her as a fairy godmother exuding grace and generosity to all and sundry. In fact, she was a hard-working little mole quietly carrying out acts of political interference and destabilization. Now WikiLeaks is presenting us with secret cables emanating from Ms Kenney where she mocks just about every Philippine public official she came in contact with. Even boxing icon Manny Pacquiao could not escape her attention. Rumors linking him to a movie actress have been dutifully reported to headquarters.. .
In another front, as it is now turning out, while gossip-mongering was occurring in Manila, taking place in Mindanao was brazen US political intervention, to dismember our country through the creation of a so-called ancestral domain (Bangsamoro Juridical Entity) or sub-state for separatist rebels, just to be able to gain a foothold in our country.
Consider now WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks first came to our attention in 2010 when it was identified as an international whistleblower responsible for leaking to the whole world the contents of US secret documents. WikiLeaks was established in 2006 by Julian Assange, an Australian national, publisher, journalist, computer programmer, residing in the United Kingdom.. Soon after establishing WikiLeaks, he was accused by two women in Sweden of sexual molestation as a result of which the Swedish Government .sought his extradition from UK. He is currently on trial in London’s High Court, but on temporary liberty on a bail of L241,000. At the same time, he is reported to be under threat of capture and arrest by agents of the US Government. .
But now again additional information is surfacing. Independent political analysts are telling us that WikiLeaks is a CIA front organization, receiving financial support from the Israeli Mossad and George Soros. That explains why Mr Assange is unfazed by all accusations, and is at the moment unobstrusively enjoying his little pleasures and delights.
In the meanwhile, the US Government has identified the leaker. It is none other than Bradley Manning, age 23, a foot soldier, an intelligence analyst assigned to the 10th Mountain Division of the US Armed Forces in Iraq. As analyst it is said that he had access to hundreds of thousands of classified documents.
So who or what is WikiLeaks? Is the US Government too weak to stop it? Of course not. The US Government is not stopping WikiLeaks not because of an unswerving commitment to freedom of information, transparency, etc. but simply because WikiLeaks is its own baby, its officially authorized institutionally designated promotional outlet.
Is US national security under threat by all this leakage?. After a .careful review of newspaper accounts and TV broadcasts, we find that these documents contain nothing but cheap gossip, innuendoes, unsubstantiated hearsay, all portraying our leaders as intellectually mediocre, morally bankrupt, hypocrites ready to betray their peoples if the price is right. Far from being undermined by this leakage US national security is strengthened, with US leaders, ambassadors and their staffs, coming out of the leaked material as paragons of high intelligence and impeccable morality, patiently listening but never consenting to the perfidies, actual and imagined, offered by little locals
What about Bradley Manning? Even the CIA understands that attributing the leakage of thousands of secret documents at the highest level to a foot soldier sitting at the bottom of the military pyramid has to make the world laugh. As Manning himself will say, tell that to the marines. In the meanwhile, let’s follow-up what the CIA – of course representing the US Government – will do to this poor little patsy.
But does the CIA have a choice? Pinning the responsibility to the high and mighty—to Secretary Looney, General Pesky, or Admiral Toadie -- to make the whole sorry exercise more credible, can be risky. The high and mighty have the capacity to fight back and they can tell the whole world what the drama is all about.
Coming now to the mother of all questions -- why is this leakage happening? Answer: what leakage? There is no leakage at all. This is a calculated, deliberate, and controlled release of information – for the purpose of diverting attention away from the travails of a Super Power on the decline. Much like the lashing out to all directions of a doomed creature hysterically trying to save itself from the cataclysm of fire or water.
How are we to react to all of this? First of all let us put things in perspective. The United States is our friend – the source of many benefits to us at the material and non-material planes – official development assistance (ODA), rice and other commodities under PL 480, military hardware, scholarships to the most gifted amongst us.. The least we can do is to acknowledge these benefits with appreciation.
Further, the US, in doing what it is doing, is merely trying to promote and protect its interests at home and abroad. Just like any other nation on planet Earth it is entitled to do so. We should not begrudge the US in the pursuit of this entitlement.
However, and this is the main point, let us make it clear to one and all that we have our own national interest to promote and protect. In our efforts toward that end we brook no interference from any external source.
It is true that these so-called leaks are nothing but cheap gossip and ill-informed opinion which, as Senator Honasan is quoted as saying, we should not read too much from. Still, they are there and they are riling us.
Already, some politicians and media people are using them as jumping boards to vilify their opponents. Even the Senate, whose reputation for independent judgment remains intact despite attempts of partisan interests to undermine it, is going to investigate. Ladies and gentlemen, let us not provide confirmation of the worst things our so-called friends think of us.
The morality of some of our leaders is not as white as driven snow and we know it. Let us pursue our cases against them in our courts of law with sincerity and determination. In this we need no prodding. We act on our own initiative.
Responding now to this adverse US propaganda, let us first of all set up and strengthen an Intelligence Gathering Apparatus of our own and aim it specifically at the United States Government and its representatives. For our first effort, let us establish the identity of President Obama -- is he or is he not an intelligence agent? We need this information to better enable us to decipher US statements, decisions, and actions – for their truth or falsity, as the case may be. In the same spirit, let us put the US Embassy and its personnel under surveillance.. Let us monitor the incomings and outgoings of people in that embassy. Let us vet Ambassador Harry Thomas and his staff so that we will know how to put them in their proper places. With respect to US Ambassador Kristie Kenney, let us expose her hypocritical efforts at damage control. (She is now in Thailand, the ambassador of her country, but the Thais will be much too smart to be taken in by posturings of perpetual friendship and boundless benevolence.)
Let us at the same time re-orient our Foreign Affairs Department, give it an ability to be skeptical of US pronouncements and, more than that, to be ready to give any hidden enemy a dose of its own medicine.
Let us anticipate that many more “leakages” of this type will take place in the future and that these leakages will be more vicious if we respond in the manner as outlined above.
Unsolicited advice to media: If you must print or broadcast future leaks please do so not on page one or on primetime but in the comics section or at entertainment period. .
It is a fact that some of us love the United States more than they do the Philippines and they will brand this idea as anti-American if not outright communist. So be it. Let these fellow citizens shed tears of joy when they hear Stars and Stripes Forever, but let us all know where our first loyalty lies.
Let us not play the fool of American propaganda.
To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
* Most of the facts used in this review come from the Wikipedia of the several topics discussed.
**Currently professor of economics and vice-president for finance and development, Kalayaan College. Formerly professor of economics, University of the Philippines: lecturer, United Nations Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific in Tokyo; and consultant, Asian Development Bank in Manila.
12 September 2011