- As a matter of operational security, this is an extreme humiliation for the United States. Having candid communications of its diplomats released will ruffle feathers in just about every relationship the US has. The picture appears to be that a single US private had access to all this material, presumably meaning that millions of others do also. From a computer security perspective, it is absolutely crazy for a single low-level individual to have that kind of access, and I'm amazed that it wasn't obviously crazy to US leaders ahead of a time. The US needs an absolutely major root-to-branch rethink about how it secures its information in order to be able to guarantee to its allies and its people that it can operate with a minimal level of competence. One wonders how many more venal Private Mannings have sold out similar caches of information to foreign governments.
- Anyone who thought that the United States government and military are competent to deal with computer security threats has now learnt otherwise. If foreign governments weren't already spending heavily to penetrate US networks, they're obviously missing out. Also, they better learn to wear gloves and contact lenses when meeting with US diplomats.
- This obviously adds a lot of color, detail, and proof to suspicions about the relationship between Iran and the Gulf states. Clearly, the Gulf leaders all hate Iran, and think the Iranians are trying to undermine them with their own people, and are actively urging US military strikes. It also adds new details on Iranian capabilities (eg long range missiles).
- It seems to me that the best case scenario to be hoped for in the Middle East is a gradual evolution into a cold war with a nuclear armed Iran in a mutually-assured-destruction standoff with nuclear armed Israel and similarly armed Gulf States. The worst case is a hot war (with the attendant massive global energy shock). The possibility of a surgical strike removal of Iranian nuclear capability that makes a permanent difference without major collateral damage seems like a pretty long shot. It also seems that the current campaign of sanctions and diplomacy has pretty poor chances of success - the Iranians are just stalling for time, while continuing to work on their armaments program.
Monday, November 29, 2010
I spent the early morning hours catching up on the fascinating revelations resulting from the latest efforts of Wikileaks, which involved publishing a quarter of a million US diplomatic cables. (See NYT coverage here, and Guardian here). Obviously, the fallout from this incident will be going on for quite some time. A few quick reactions:
Posted by Stuart Staniford at 7:42 AM