The cable frames the FDP's support for citizens' privacy rights and individual liberties as a hindrance to US security strategy, and states that, if it were to join a ruling coalition in Germany, the party would scrutinize any proposals that would require sharing or accessing of information concerning private individuals. The cable faults the party's "limited government viewpoint" for its opposition to data-sharing measures that would infringe on the privacy rights of individuals.The author of the cable dismisses the parliamentarian's concerns that the United States lacks sufficient data protection measures, and implies that German officials simply do not understand how effective US data protection policy really is. Needless to say, the fact that this confidential cable is now in the public domain along with hundreds of thousands of documents just like it demonstrates how ineffective US data protection policy really is. And Democrats and Republicans want us to believe that they can be trusted to collect and safeguard reams of data on us?
In a most ironic turn, the leaked cable scoffs at FDP Parliamentarian Gisela Piltz, who cautioned against data-sharing operations with the US government on the grounds that the US government as a whole lacks effective data protection measures even as it accumulates massive amounts of data on innocent citizens.
The greater irony, however, is that this massive breach of information security was likely facilitated by efforts to increase information sharing between federal, state, and local government agencies and competing bureaucracies in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks. In other words, Democratic-Republican party policy consensus is ultimately responsible for this leak and data dump. An article at the Guardian provides a fascinating look at SIPRNET, the supposedly secure network from which the hundreds of thousands of leaked diplomatic cables were likely accessed and relayed to the public domain:
Siprnet is itself an acronym, for Secret Internet Protocol Router Network. Siprnet was designed to solve the chronic problem of big bureaucracies – how to share information easily and confidentially among large numbers of people spread around the world. Siprnet is a worldwide US military internet system, kept separate from the ordinary civilian internet and run by the defence department in Washington. Since the terrorist attacks of September 2001, there has been a move in the US to link up separate archives of government information, in the hope that key intelligence no longer gets trapped in information silos . . .Siprnet does not appear especially secure, given that millions of individuals worldwide may well have access to it. In 1993 over 3 million people had clearances that would theoretically have allowed them to view its contents:
An increasing number of US embassies were plugged into Siprnet in the last decade, so that military and diplomatic information can be shared. In 2002, 125 embassies were on Siprnet; by 2005, there were 180. . . . From there it can be accessed not only by anyone in the state department, but also by anyone in the US military who has a computer connected to Siprnet. Millions of US soldiers and officials have "secret" security clearance. The US general accounting office identified 3,067,000 people cleared to "secret" and above in a 1993 study.According to a CBS News report on Siprnet and information sharing from this past summer, "hundreds of thousands of people" have access to Siprnet. (A columnist at Town Hall relates his own experience with the network, which he terms "the secret internet.") Despite concerns about potential leaks, demands for access to Siprnet have only grown. Last May, Next Gov reported that language buried in the 2011 Defense Authorization bill would require that every single committee in the US Congress have access to Siprnet.
Given the fact that one of the core functions of the Department of Homeland Security is to "foster information sharing," we should not be surprised if this non-transparent, sprawling and unaccountable bureaucracy is at least partially to blame for the massive holes in US data security measures. We will wait in vain for any form of intellectually honest self-criticism from Democrats and Republicans on this issue. However, on the other side of the coin, the hysterical reaction to the most recent Wikileaks data dump on the part of Rep. Peter King, incoming chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, demonstrates the extent to which the DHS bureaucracy represents a threat to fundamental liberties. King wants Wikileaks to be labeled a "terrorist organization." From CBS News:
Long Island Rep. Peter King told 1010 WINS the release of the information put “American lives at risk all over the world.”Since Wikileaks does nothing more than publish information that is supplied to it by others, as I understand it, what King wants is the criminalization of liberties guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Constitution, namely, the freedom of speech and of the press. Perhaps this is only to be expected from a "warmongering fascist," as David Kramer describes King at Lew Rockwell. But King is not alone among Republicans and Democrats in his contempt for rights, liberties and the rule of law. We can save ourselves over $50 billion dollars a year by dissolving the Department of Homeland Security, depriving petty totalitarians in the Congress of yet another pedestal from which they can terrorize the people of the United States, and safeguard liberty in the process. It would be a bargain.
“This is worse even than a physical attack on Americans, it’s worse than a military attack,” King said. King has written letters to both U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asking for swift action to be taken against WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.
King wants Holder to prosecute Assange under the Espionage Act and has also called on Clinton to determine whether WikiLeaks could be designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.