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Making Wikileaks look weak - Epic Security Fail.

And it was also a failure of secure communications, though this time it was a combination of quasi- insider/ definite outsider threat.  Those cheeky Brits, playing both ends against their middle...  In January/February of 1917, World War One reached a tipping point.



German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmerman sent a note to his Ambassador in Mexico City. The Zimmerman Telegram, which made it easier for Wilson to get Congress to declare war on Germany, after Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare.  Interesting twist to the tale - as a part of his efforts to broker peace and prevent the US from being drawn into the war, President Wilson authorized German diplomats to use US cables to  send traffic to their embassies in the Western Hemisphere, as the British had cut the direct cables.  The Brits were happy with this arrangement, as one of the cables in question went through Great Britain, and the Brits tapped it without our knowledge.

One reason the Germans felt it was safe to use the cables was because if the Brits used anything from the cables to show the US government, they would have to admit they were monitoring our communications.  Sneaky Brits.  The Germans really didn't understand them very well.  One thing the Brits do, or at least did, extremely well was discern and protect their interests, and not let romantic notions get in the way.



The Brits took one look at this piece of information, however, and said, "Well worth telling the Americans we've been prying - because it's going to bring them into the war on our side."  Why?  Because the Germans were essentially trying to coax Mexico into declaring war on the US if the US went into the war on the British side, and in return, the Germans would assure they would get Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona back.  Of course the Germans were writing checks for tangible assistance that their meager ability to project power beyond the continent of Europe would have been totally unable to honor.  But the Germans were feeling the heat of the British blockade, and the German Navy's inability to fully blockade Great Britain - and the last thing the Germans needed was the US Navy taking a fully active role in the Atlantic, much less fresh, healthy troops from the US landing in France and making a mess of German plans.

This is the kind of revelation that Julian Assange dreams of being able to make.  In his mind, I guess, something like the Zimmerman telegram should have made the German people rise up and demand an end to the war, and the jailing of the leaders of Germany.

That all it did was, in the end, expand the war is something Assange doesn't quite seem to grasp.

Pictures of the Zimmerman Telegram courtesy the US National Archives.

 

1 Comments

I won't say "unintended", but rather Unforseen Consequences.