Writing intermittently on life, politics, and society

Classified: Properly classified

Over at Ta-Nehisi Coates’ place, Mark Kleiman has written a good post on the pitfalls of revealing classified information. One part in particular made me think of the flap around David Cameron’s remarks on Pakistan:

Today, it’s the policy of the Government of the United States to suck up to the House of Saud, because in a free election – if such a thing could be imagined – the Saudi voters would probably elect Osama bin Laden as President. And it’s our policy to suck up to the Pakistani security forces, including the ISI, in hopes to get them on our side against the Taliban. The information we have showing Saudi complicity in the 9/11 attack, and the palsiness of various ISI factions with Mullah Omar, would, if revealed, interfere with those two suck-up operations, and is therefore properly classified according to law.

There’s a story Khruschev used to tell, back when he was General Secretary of the CP-USSR (i.e., dictator). In the story, an Old Bolshevik goes crazy, and runs through the halls of the Kremlin shouting “Khruschev is a fool! Khruschev is a fool!” Naturally, he’s promptly arrested, charged, tried, convicted and sentenced, to twenty-three years’ corrective labor: three years for insulting the Party Secretary, and twenty for revealing a state secret.

An enormous amount of classified information consists of state secrets of the Khruschev-is-a-fool variety.

If you don’t already know, David Cameron acted an old bolshevik this on his recent trip to India where he said, “We cannot tolerate in any sense the idea that this country is allowed to look both ways and is able, in any way, to promote the export of terror, whether to India or whether to Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world.”

I’m wondering what it must be like to be British diplomat in Pakistan these days.


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