How WikiLeaks is Wrecking Everything: Part of a Continuing Series

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 6 2010 2:43 PM

How WikiLeaks is Wrecking Everything: Part of a Continuing Series

Hillary Clinton is not resigning over WikILeaks, despite Jack Shafer's wishes . Barack Obama will not resign, despite Julian Assange's wishes. Philip Shenon reports that, not surprisingly, the hits are going to come at lower levels, on the people mentioned in cables, and "the State Department, the Pentagon, and the CIA assume that they will have to shake up staffing at a number of American embassies and consulates within the coming months."

The difference between these WikiLeaks and the Afghanistan and Iraq leaks -- which drew a much more supportive response from the American left -- is that the diplomats mentioned in the cables are not enabling wars. The WikiLeaks preamble to its endless leaks promised that some level of venality would be revealed, some grand statement about how America's ideals had been lost since the days of George Washington, and we haven't seen that. The problems coming out of the cables are almost entirely message problems, of diplomats revealed to read local news and harbor the same doubts about foreign governments that local reporters do.

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The way Charlie Gasparino reports on Bank of America's worries about WikiLeaks, the company sounds just like the State Department.

I have no evidence whether Countrywide's lending practices were so lax (and some would say corrupt) that loans were made to people who either lied about their finances or had mortgage brokers lie about that information. But it's the same educated guess made by many sophisticated traders last week when the WikiLeaks issue emerged, and BofA's share began to tank.Keep in mind, the reason Countrywide could make loans to anyone with a heartbeat and possibly no job is because those loans could be sold off its books and then packaged into mortgage-backed securities. But if those loans were fraudulent, they could be "put" or sold back to Bank of America. A group of large investors in mortgage bonds holding Countrywide loans are already threatening such action.

In every new case where an entity is fretting about WikiLeaks, it's because the organization is making it more difficult to carry on with what had been seen as acceptable, beneficent dishonesty.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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