Spy vs. Spy: Wikileaks and the Authorities Agree It’s Important to Get Into Other People’s Business

For sworn adversaries, the world’s governments and Wikileaks’ Julian Assange have a lot in common ideologically. Hence the second-cutest element in the newest document-dump scandal, a “SECRET/ /NOFORN” order from 2009 that instructed diplomats to collect foreigners’

organizational titles; names, position titles and other information on business cards; numbers of telephones, cell phones, pagers and faxes; compendia of contact information, such as telephone directories (in compact disc or electronic format if available) and e-mail listings; internet and intranet “handles”, internet e-mail addresses, web site identification-URLs; credit card account numbers; frequent flyer account numbers; work schedules, and other relevant biographical information.

Which side is one supposed to be on? It is wrong for Wikileaks to have disclosed this, because the intelligence-gathering program was sensitive and secret government information. The Wikileaks disclosure is newsworthy because it is wrong for the government to have a program gathering people’s sensitive and secret information. Either way, somebody’s data gets mined, though, doesn’t it?

The struggle between surveillance and sousveillance—Total Information Awareness versus fearless universal disclosure—is like the war between remote-controlled drones and remote-controlled I.E.D.s. No one disagrees about the tactics. Secrets are there to be exposed. Information wants to be free, or to be freed. (

Here are the images

of the virtually naked security scans, so you can see how thoroughly the government has penetrated people’s privacy.) The outrage consists in who is doing it to whom.

(The cutest element is Silvio Berlusconi’s insistence that, contrary to the scurrilous rumors in the cables, the only parties he throws are “proper, dignified, and elegant” ones.)