Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Wikileaks Argentina

Is it just me, or is the quality of cables to and from Buenos Aires particularly erratic, which is ironic because some of the cables discuss the erratic nature of the Kirchners?  The State Department wants to know about Néstor Kirchner's gastrointestinal problems, and the embassy writes about how the government is going to fall (even before Kirchner's death).  The embassy also writes a gossipy note with a misspelled title.  Then we get a balanced, detailed discussion of Cristina Fernández's view of the economy.

What struck me about these cables as well is that they provide almost no context.  They cite people with very clear political agendas without making them explicit, which will only confuse those who are trying to make sense of them.  From an academic point of view, I also wish there was some--even just a tiny bit--of national context in terms of, say, polling data.  So a former ally of the Kirchners makes a prediction, but does that jibe with current polls?


Anonymous,  4:06 PM  

As a 20-year-old college student, I wrote many of the cables from the US Embassy in Quito concerning an important presidential election. While it is possible that I was a particularly well-prepared intern, I can assure you that I did not know what I was doing. Yet, there I was providing most (if not all) the information to DC that came through the Embassy in Quito. That was a good learning experience for me, but it certainly raises questions about the caliber of information coming out of US embassies abroad. Since that experience, I have been highly skeptical of US government "intelligence."

Anonymous,  12:25 AM  

cables are written for readers familiar with the context. they're already long enough. other countries' reporting is often shorter and includes even less background/context. They are much easier to read, and probably even more confusing to nosy professors. Also, not all reporting is created equal. Big embassies; lots of reporting officers covering diverse issues. Some more important than others. not so difficult to understand.

Re intern comment: i would assume that as an intern you enjoyed some level of supervision at the time, making sure your reporting was as accurate as possible. Glad to see you were so grateful for the experience that you would flippantly trash the important work of embassies worldwide.

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