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James Hoff

I'm sorry Michael, who exactly has an "interest in protecting the most secret information from coming to light so that future foreign policy can be conducted not just ethically, but effectively"? As a member of the "press," and I use that word lightly, I certainly do not have any interest in US foreign policy being effective, nor do I have any vested interest in supporting a regime of secrets. I think you make a big and a very dangerous leap here conflating the interests of the state with those of the press or the people. If these diplomatic correspondences are embarrassing then diplomats should be more discreet, or "diplomatic," when they put their ideas in writing. The press has no responsibility whatever to any state or government.


I think by making the blanket statement of "the press has no responsibility whatever to any state or government" with regards to sensitive material, the above commenter is making a leap that fails to address the balance that is always in question with issues of press, secrecy, and government. Releasing information will always require some cost-benefit analysis, no? States and government are not entirely composed of evil villains without souls. Information can often be dangerous to government actors and people requiring some protection of anonymity (Valerie Plame, for recent similar scandal/ethical debate. There's some "vested interest" for you). I think the issue of "responsibility" is knowing how powerful the press is, and therefore the issue of vetting information is key. Yes, I do believe releasing information can be a powerful check to the irresponsible actions of some governments, and an eye-opener to the public. But I also believe confidentiality serves an important purpose in international relations. For example, there will be personality profiles that help shape diplomatic conduct but those are written with a specific audience in mind. My point is, secrets do sometimes serve a purpose, and that purpose is not always inherently evil. So my question is: What purpose does wholesale disclosure serve?

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