With over 250,000 pieces of government documents reported being released through wikileaks.org – including information on the way the United States deals with other countries – media-wide discussions are raging.
Ilana Freedman has spent 25 years in intelligence analysis, working on counterterrorism strategies, and has a broad understanding of American foreign policy regarding numerous countries. We caught up with Ms. Freedman so she could give us a breakdown on how the leaks might affect the U.S. and what our concerns should be for the future.
Ilana Freedman is CEO and senior analyst of Gerard Group International.
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Many different perspectives have come to the forefront in recent days about whether the releasing of these government documents in various cables on Wikileaks.org is a good thing or bad thing. Ms. Freedman shares my perspective that it’s good and bad at the same time. What might be the most telling point of this entire WikiLeaks round is only 15,000 of the 250,000 documents are classified documents.
“That’s exactly what I would say. You know, in principle, I’m against the idea of releasing classified documents to the public. They’re classified for a reason or should be, but when we take a look at some of these documents, it isn’t clear – first of all, they’re not all classified. Only a small percentage of them are actually secret documents. Others are either proprietary or frankly not protected and that accounts for most of them. But some of them, particularly the cables from the state department, those were classified as secret classification. So I have questions about that. But when we take a look at this and we think about our history where whistleblowers were really key to keeping us on a, kept us taking the high road in our policies in both domestic and foreign. I think that there is a role to play for this kind of whistleblowing… Of the 250,000, only 15,000 were classified secret. So it’s a very small percentage. It’s not surprising. The Internet has really opened up the world of information and has made accessible to everybody the kind of things that used to be only available to people who had special privileges.”
With 25 years in the business of intelligence analysis, Ms. Freedman shares what she’s been able to gather so far from the WikiLeaks and cables that have come out.
“I think one of the main things is that some of the ways in which we take foreign policy for example. Some of the things we do in foreign policy needs to be reexamined because we are treating our allies with disdain and we are and this is coming out in some of these cables that have been released. We also found out about the issues like Pakistan’s nuclear capability. We found out that America’s been trying so far unsuccessfully to stabilize the reactors by removing the highly enriched uranium from them, but without much success. We are, we play a lot of foreign policy games with other countries in order to try to, the term I guess is game them into certain kinds of behavior. We play one against the other. It’s not straightforward. It’s not honest and I’m not sure that in some cases it’s even legal.”
What some of the cables on WikiLeaks have shown is the United States gathering information and keeping tabs on people who run governments in various countries. Ilana says this just isn’t surprising and it is somewhat hypocritical for the United States to call out other countries on doing the same thing.
“No. It’s not surprising at all. Everybody is doing it. It’s a little bit hypocritical because when other countries do it in our country, even our best allies, we take great umbrage and we throw the full weight of our laws against them, but it’s perfectly ok it seems for us to do it to them. That doesn’t sit right somehow.”
The biggest concern for many Americans is the possibility of people’s lives being at risk from all the information that will come out whether it’s classified or not. She explains further what people can expect on the front.
“If names are involved of operatives on the ground, then the danger is real. These people either have to be removed from service or from their locations or they have to be protected in some way. In most cases however, I think that the information is more general and that’s in most cases and therefore I think the damage is probably going to be more at the diplomatic level than at the level of personal risk to operatives in the field.”
With the connections between North Korea and Iran that have now been reported from this event, Ms. Freedman says we should be very worried about both of those countries for many reasons. North Korea has been providing Iran with serious weapons that include 19 long range missiles that can reach all the way into Western Europe. Iran and North Korea have also been arming HezBollah with rockets and missiles besides tunnel building equipment. Ms. Freedman says the motive of HezBollah is digging a tunnel under the blue line that separates Lebanon from Israel into one of their major cities. All of this she says is very worrisome and could lead to the start of World War 3.
“We’ve been following this for some time so I think we should be very concerned because the connections are very strong. North Korea has been providing Iran with serious weaponry and with nuclear technology as they gear up on their own nuclear capabilities. What is happening in Iran is that Iran is now, first of all has 19 long range missiles with a range, which they got from North Korea, with a range of about 2400 miles at which will take them all the way into Western Europe. They are a great danger to the Western World. They are also seriously arming HezBollah in Lebanon. HezBollah now has over 80,000 rockets and missiles, which it got from Iran and they have heavy duty tunnel building equipment, which they got from North Korea, which according to our sources are digging large tunnels underground under the blue line which separates Lebanon from Israel and into Israel where they expect it to open up inside one of Israel’s major cities. This is huge. This could be the start of World War 3. We should be worried.”
With all the information on the WikiLeaks coming out, Ms. Freedman sums up this whole world event of information leaking as a time for Americans to have a conversation about what’s going on in the United States of America and that people need to reengage themselves and be informed.
“America has to reengage. I think we’ve gone through a period of deep sleep. We’ve let a lot of things happen that now need to be reexamined. We need to wake up and see what’s going on in the world, see how it affects us, see how it’s changing our lives and if something needs to be done about it, we can only do something about it if we’re informed.”
You can find more information about Ilana Freedman and the Gerard Group International at http://gerardgroup.com/