Gibbs to WikiLeaks: We Ain't Scared of You
Robert Gibbs may go down in history as the worst communications guy any White House has ever employed. This morning the by turns arrogant, abrasive, and annoying Gibbs took questions about WikiLeaks and, well, just watch his reaction to a question about the White House's take on the docu-dump:
We should never be afraid of one guy who popped down $35 and bought a web address. ... Our foreign policy is stronger than that. ... We're not scared of one guy, with one keyboard, and a laptop.
Ok, Bobby. Ask the Iranians how scared they have become of one guy with a flash drive. That one guy, probably with one keyboard and a flash drive, has managed to do a great deal of damage to Iran's nuclear program.
Gibbs' line here, no doubt authorized by President Obama and the administration's brain trust, is either strategically risky, or just plain insane. It's certainly clueless.
The fact is, the WikiLeaks drop gravely hurts the U.S., not so much in what's in the documents but in the disclosure itself. Imagine the U.S., China, Iran, Russia, North Korea etc etc all around a high-stakes poker table. WikiLeaks just took America's cards out of her hands and plopped one of them on the table, while keeping the rest of them for its own use. WikiLeaks has not done the same to the other players. This asymmetrical disclosure helps the other powers and hurts us, just by the fact that we don't control our cards anymore, and they still control theirs. We should be afraid of the unforeseeable and unintended consequences that this disclosure is bound to have. To not fear this is to not be prudent in the job of statecraft.
Also in the soundbite above, Gibbs is taunting Julian Assange. That would be fine if the U.S. was in a position of power here, but we're not. WikiLeaks holds the power cards right now. They have a quarter million documents that they're dribbling out over the course of several days, and thanks to Amazon WikLleaks is robust enough to handle whatever cyber attacks come their way. And they've already dripped out some of the documents to the media anyway, so in the very unlikely event that Amazon itself gets taken out, at least some of the documents will get leaked anyway. This is all strategically clever on Julian Assange's part. He has set up a sort of "can't stop the signal" system, centered on himself, his keyboard, his URL, but more importantly, the documents that Pfc. Manning allegedly handed over to him.