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92 Foreign Aff. 22 (2013)
The End of Hypocrisy: American Foreign Policy in the Age of Leaks

handle is hein.journals/fora92 and id is 1340 raw text is: The End of
American Foreign Policy in
the Age of Leaks
Henry Farrell and Martha
The U.S. government seems
outraged that people are leaking
classified materials about its less
attractive behavior. It certainly acts that
way: three years ago, after Chelsea
Manning, an army private then known as
Bradley Manning, turned over hundreds
of thousands of classified cables to the
anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, U.S.
authorities imprisoned the soldier under
conditions that the UN special rapporteur
on torture deemed cruel and inhumane.
The Senate's top Republican, Mitch
McConnell, appearing on Meet the Press
shortly thereafter, called WikiLeaks'
founder, Julian Assange, a high-tech
More recently, following the disclo-
sures about U.S. spying programs by
Edward Snowden, a former National
Security Agency analyst, U.S. officials
spent a great deal of diplomatic capital
trying to convince other countries to deny
Snowden refuge. And U.S. President
Barack Obama canceled a long-anticipated
HENRY FARRELL is Associate Professor of
Political Science and International Affairs at
George Washington University. Follow him on
Twitter @henryfarrell.
MARTHA FINNEMORE is University Professor
of Political Science and International Affairs at
George Washington University.

summit with Russian President Vladimir
Putin when he refused to comply.
Despite such efforts, however, the
U.S. establishment has often struggled
to explain exactly why these leakers pose
such an enormous threat. Indeed, noth-
ing in the Manning and Snowden leaks
should have shocked those who were
paying attention. Former Defense
Secretary Robert Gates, who dissented
from the WikiLeaks panic, suggested
as much when he told reporters in 2010
that the leaked information had had
only a fairly modest impact and had
not compromised intelligence sources
or methods. Snowden has most certainly
compromised sources and methods, but
he has revealed nothing that was really
unexpected. Before his disclosures, most
experts already assumed that the United
States conducted cyberattacks against
China, bugged European institutions, and
monitored global Internet communica-
tions. Even his most explosive revelation-
that the United States and the United
Kingdom have compromised key com-
munications software and encryption
systems designed to protect online
privacy and security-merely confirmed
what knowledgeable observers have
long suspected.
The deeper threat that leakers such
as Manning and Snowden pose is more
subtle than a direct assault on U.S.
national security: they undermine
Washington's ability to act hypocritically
and get away with it. Their danger lies
not in the new information that they
reveal but in the documented confirma-
tion they provide of what the United
States is actually doing and why. When
these deeds turn out to clash with the
government's public rhetoric, as they
so often do, it becomes harder for U.S.


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