Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Confidential US governmental information: Putin "cheats" in elections

I have previously looked at a few stories that highlight the trend that the US government is simply too fond of stamping information confidential. Another striking example of this emerged yesterday, and did not even concern the US the slightest bit. No, it in fact concerned Russia and the tendency that Russian governments cheat. This is hardly unknown to anyone,

The document, titled 07MOSCOW5598, concerns the 2007 Duma election in Russia. In the cable, the US Ambassador to the country argues that "three-fourths of the national television coverage and over half of the national print media coverage has gone to United Russia and Putin," and that this is caused by "Kremlin influence and media self-censorship."

Everything else the cable contains is simply references to research done by Russian polling agencies and references to comments on the situation made by other Russians. These names remain uncensored in the leaked WikiLeaks cable, which should indicate that whatever media station redacted it, did not view it as particularly threatening to that individual.

Since the information in this cable is so trivial, the only reason it was classified must have been that the US was afraid that publishing it would lead to increased difficulties in cooperating with the Russians. Looking at the wording of the cable, however, it is quite apparent that the cable hardly would be interpreted as anything serious, since the Russians unquestionably would have known that the US knew everything in the cable, and since the two countries do occasionally use strong words to describe the other.

This is not the only example of the absurd practice of stamping cables that contain what amount to reasonably trivial information.

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