Ex-CIA worker calls for Wikileaks watchdog

Ex-CIA worker calls for Wikileaks watchdog

Summary: The United States should establish an information ombudsman in response to whistleblower website Wikileaks, according to a former CIA veteran.


The United States should establish an information ombudsman in response to whistleblower website Wikileaks, according to a former CIA veteran.

Julian Assange

Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange (Image by Espen Moe, CC2.0)

Robert Baer, who spoke at the Security 2010 conference in Sydney today, supported Wikileaks as a valuable institution to hold government to account, but said a "single individual" — founder Julian Assange — should not have power to decide which state secrets are made public.

"They're diplomatic communication secrets [where] someone like me can't decide whether it should remain a secret," Baer said. "Who decides: inspector generals or independent citizens, maybe, but definitely not private citizens."

"Most secrets are bullshit."

Baer said the US could prevent Wikileaks disclosing data that jeopardises national security with an ombusman that disseminates broad information regarding challenges in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

"It could tell us that we are blind in Afghanistan without saying where we are blind."

He said he would not doubt the CIA would execute its legal rights to pursue Assange, although he could not confirm the agency was behind recent sexual assault and rape allegations issued against the Wikileaks founder.

The ex-CIA agent added Assange would be "crazy" to approach the US Government after the website published some of its 900,000 classified Pentagon documents and labelled much of the government's intelligence as "crap".

He told the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday that the Australian Government should question the US Government over the quality of its intelligence.

Robert Baer has published five books and is an intelligence columnist for Time, and remains under CIA non-disclosure agreements for sensitive intelligence. During his time in the CIA, he was assigned to the Middle East where he was part of a campaign to overthrow Saddam Hussein.

Topics: Government, Government AU, Privacy, Security

Darren Pauli

About Darren Pauli

Darren Pauli has been writing about technology for almost five years, he covers a gamut of news with a special focus on security, keeping readers informed about the world of cyber criminals and the safety measures needed to thwart them.

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  • Allowing governments to censor information regarding their own war crimes is probably going to allow them to continue such war crimes. The whole idea of wiki leaks is that the "evil doers" are not able to censor information on their own crimes and coverups.
  • Can we read “broad information” as “a summary of what the government wants you to know”? And doesn’t the office of an ombudsman whose job is to “disseminate broad information regarding challenges in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars” seem a little redundant? Surely the government should be doing that anyway?

    Oh that’s right, they already do! They already filter information and tell you what they want you to know to protect... who? How does another layer of bureaucracy tasked with this job change anything at all? It seems the only way to hear anything other than the sanitised government version is for someone to leak it!

    When the government doesn’t tell us anything it’s left to the citizens find out themselves.
    Dave Vane
  • LOL at the suggestion the government steps in to supervise the "leaked" content. What agency would over see this? Oh right, the CIA, good choice!

    But perhaps the office should be called NotTheCIA Office for Truth, Impartiality and Cuddly Baby Animals just in case anyone has doubts about the "independent" government officials and thinks of letting a grubby untrustworthy private citizen near the whole front, er, organisation.

    This guy doesn't get the whole leaks/offshore mirror/independent citizen journalism concept yet has apparently written five books. Which five Commando Comics were they again?
  • Given the uproar over the Conroy Censorship Filter that has occurred in this country, I would expect that most Australians would react in the same way as those above.

    I can't think of any governing entity that History has proven entirely devoted to the welfare of its people. We need leaks of any kind to keep these entities accountable.