Just like Santa, the NSA knows who’s been naughty and who’s been nice!
Do you remember when there was news before Trump, Hillary and Bernie started running for office? I know, it is very difficult to remember that far back. But it was a few short years ago that Julian Assange and Bradley Manning leaked tons of secret documents about the US to the entire world. Of course you know, Bradley is now a woman so he’s kinda making a news comeback. And Assange is still a pasty faced complainer in hiding.
Sometime back I wrote a little essay on comparing those giant security leaks to happenings in every office around our lovely country. I thought it was quite good. Last week a friend of mine brought it up and asked if i would consider updating it. Of course I said…….so here it i with updatess. Still very relevant.
Sometimes things said in private don’t turn out be so private…..
If you are an aficionado of politics and current world events, you cannot help but have an opinion on this topic. The intrigue and raw dynamics are completely intoxicating. To be an insider on world affairs and know the most private thoughts of world leaders is heady stuff indeed…and now we all have access to it. I was amazed when I read that the Prime Minister of Qatar said Ahmadinejad of Iran had told him, ‘We will beat the Americans in Iraq; the final battle will be in Iran”. That egotistical little twit! He should concentrate on getting a new barber and a new tailor.
Every politician and political pundit has an opinion on the subject and headlines are screaming about it around the world. The names of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and US embassy cable leaker Army PFC Bradley Manning will be cussed and discussed in history books from now until the end of mankind. There are individuals that say that transparency in government is necessary while others say state secrets should be secrets. Not sure who is right. The real questions are “How did this happen?” and “Why did it happen?”
This could very well affect American diplomacy for years to come. Manning leaked over 250,000 confidential embassy documents to Wikileaks and they began publishing a number of pages a day starting on November 28th of this year. The trust level (or lack of it) towards our diplomats and our country in general may have repercussions that last for years.
….and once a leak starts, you could have a dam mess on your hands!
Again, we asked “How?” and “Why?”…and now you’re going to get the answers. We all have played this game. It’s called Gossip, Secrets and Power. That’s not a Milton Bradley board game or an interactive Wii game for family and friends. It’s played at work and any number from two to thousands can play at once. It can be rated anywhere from PG-13 to XXX.
Next time your go to work or talk to your employees, really use your eyes and ears because it’s here, there and everywhere. Every company has to deal with it. But it’s not just the gossip that’s bad; it’s all the embarrassing crap that comes out about special deals, favoritism, secret alliances and hidden agendas that anger us. Management gets extra mad when it’s the truth. Management wants to keep those secrets secret. It happens in every single company and most of us play our role. That’s the “Why” part.
Now for the “How” part. Let’s look at how some lowly PFC could trigger all of this. As a result of 9/11, there was a huge movement for better communication and extensive sharing of intelligence among government agencies both at home and abroad. The reasoning was that the more our different governmental agencies shared, the better we could prevent, deter and react to acts of terrorism. This makes complete sense and sounds perfectly logical. So with all of this hot gossip floating around like snowflakes in a Wisconsin blizzard and all these people having access, it was only a matter of time stuff leaked out.
Even gossip from a tree is bad.
What our leaders forgot is to watch what they say because people like to gossip. They have their own agenda. They want to be needed. They want to be important. They don’t want to feel powerless. They want to right a wrong. They want to set the record straight. They want to be included. They want to feel powerful. They feel their ideas are noble. They have a cause. They are right. They are the majority. They are the persecuted minority. They have reasons. “They” are all of us and “They” can’t keep their mouth shut!
In every company, management hates gossip. It’s a pain for HR, because it’s sooooo subjective. Every HR person has the difficult job to keep the company secrets hush hush. Yet they have to be fair because somebody simply told the truth to somebody else and the boss found out (we just call it gossip because we don’t like it). Why we ask again? It’s because so many of the nasty little tidbits that embarrass management are true. Does this sound like the Wikileaks saga?
But we’re never like that. Yes, as pure as the driven snow. Right?
Now there may be a few of the “Do Gooder Companies” that claim to have policies where they have no secrets, they are open, they are fair, they are perfect and oh yeah that trendy word transparency goes here. Well, they are also full of it. Every company does exactly what our government does. They all want to appear on the up and up. They all want to appear fair. They all want to provide the right type of environment for subordinates to do their job the best they can. They all have good intentions and they all have things they would rather keep quiet.
Reality is, that along with power can come questionable decisions, unfair practices even abuse. That’s why Manning did what he did and Assange did what he did. They wanted to expose the questionable decisions, unfair practices and abuse. That’s what happened here and that’s what happens in companies everywhere.
In the Wikileaks case, aside from the embarrassment to our country and the multiple world leaders, the real damage is the potential for lost lives. I don’t take that as lightly as the rest of this blog. That’s serious business. In the business world, people get fired and sometimes people go to jail or they just get mad. But the parallels are uncanny.
To be truthful…..we are all guilty to some degree.
The following is directly quoted from the Wikileaks site. It shows how noble they believe their cause to be.
The cables show the extent of US spying on its allies and the UN; turning a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuse in “client states”; backroom deals with supposedly neutral countries; lobbying for US corporations; and the measures US diplomats take to advance those who have access to them.
This document release reveals the contradictions between the US’s public persona and what it says behind closed doors – and shows that if citizens in a democracy want their governments to reflect their wishes, they should ask to see what’s going on behind the scenes.
Every American schoolchild is taught that George Washington – the country’s first President – could not tell a lie. If the administrations of his successors lived up to the same principle, today’s document flood would be a mere embarrassment. Instead, the US Government has been warning governments — even the most corrupt — around the world about the coming leaks and is bracing itself for the exposures.
Even a smooth talking frog cannot cover that which has been uncovered.
I can understand where they are coming from. I don’t buy into all of it, but their reasoning does have a sense of righteousness and logic to it. Assange has called Manning an unparalleled hero. Manning is in custody and his future is not too bright. Assange is wanted for this and other crimes. He is in hiding with Interpol looking for him. People are calling for his life. Wikileaks has been booted from American site hosts and their site is under continual cyber assault…all because they believed their cause was noble. They just didn’t think of the repercussions. Maybe they did. I’m really not sure.
Think on these noble causes:
We all know that this list could go on forever. The only problem with it is that we are all guilty of this to one degree or another. All of us can recall dozens of things we witnessed, instigated, reported or simply passed along. We are all participants. All, all, all.
Even top secret projects got exposed.
Every boss knows that it is an accepted thing in many businesses that power has perks and those in power have a right (even an expectation) to take advantage of it. Your employees know it too. Conversely, every employee that feels like they have been wronged believes they have a right to complain about it to their coworkers or even take it to the courts. Sounds like Wikileaks to me…..
So what are the lessons learned? What pearls of wisdom should we glean from all of this? I was hoping that somebody would walk in my office when I got to this part and say something that would trigger a really brilliant summary. Nothing happened. Dead silence. So I must strike out on my own.
Yes…..I played football with a turkey because I had no friends. So what?
First of all, you must know that I am not writing this from an ivory tower, I have been on both sides of the fence. I have fallen off the fence on each side and landed squarely in the middle too. That was certainly the most painful. I have received the perks gratefully from those above me and have been embarrassed and pissed off when word got out about perks I secretly gave out. I have been loved and hated by coworkers and bosses alike for my involvement in these types of situations. The most important ones I somehow managed to keep secret. Dumb luck. And now it’s time for the advice.
Bosses – know that many of the things you do for certain employees or for yourself are well known and discussed by your personnel. It will likely get out and usually does from the most unlikely source. Often those that benefit can’t help bragging about their special status. Don’t be surprised or vindictive when it does leak. Deal with the fact that the truth sometimes is just plain painful. If you don’t want something to get out, don’t do it.
Worker Bees – Gossip is just plain hard to resist. It can bite you in the ass. The wonderful person you’re telling now may be mad at you next week and your little secret can blow up in your face. Remember life is unfair. Unless you are willing to pay the consequences, don’t try to be Joan of Arc. The Crusades ended a long time ago. It was before cell phones. Shut up.
So if you pick a crusade, pick a good one!
In our own little worlds, every day we cope with people who believe their cause is noble. Sometimes we are the ones with the noble cause. Sometime it is management with the noble cause. I hope in the end we all feel the tiniest twinge of guilt and smile. Because just like the Wikileaks saga it is about gossip, dirty little secrets and power…only we don’t get the headlines. Phooey.
And if you think any of this is about you, keep it a secret. That works well. Just kidding.
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