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"Would you like me to hold a trial and then hang them?"
December 29, 2010 10:43 PM   Subscribe

"Cablegate Comix" is a series of comics "recounting true stories that came to light on November 28, 2010 — when WikiLeaks published confidential documents of detailed correspondences between the US State Department and its diplomatic missions around the world." 1, 2, 3, 4

By Joe Alterio, based on Alexis Madrigal's "Cablegate Chronicles."
posted by brundlefly (17 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Shouldn't these comics be about Assange, Adrian Lamo, the editors of Wired, the USB drive used to copy the documents, and a janitor at Paypal? They are the real story here.
posted by benzenedream at 11:03 PM on December 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


Yeah, because absolutely nothing in the diplomatic cables is noteworthy at all...

(Fuck, I think I might actually need to explicitly state that that was sarcasm. This is what it's come to.)
posted by Dysk at 11:09 PM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Janitor At Paypal? Wasn't that an Amis story?
posted by mannequito at 11:24 PM on December 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am the janitor at Paypal. I am in your internet. I have taken all your pals, and your pay.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:43 PM on December 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I find the assumption that US State Dept cables contain "true stories" very weird. Sure, much of it may be reasonably true, but surely we expect that diplomats lie and bias their reports pretty often. A tangential point, certainly, but this seems to be an unchallenged assumption in many quarters.
posted by ssg at 12:00 AM on December 30, 2010


These are good. Thanks for the link.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:02 AM on December 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I find the assumption that US State Dept cables contain "true stories" very weird. Sure, much of it may be reasonably true, but surely we expect that diplomats lie and bias their reports pretty often. A tangential point, certainly, but this seems to be an unchallenged assumption in many quarters.

Most of this stuff was classified, which in my mind makes it more likely that the accounts in the cables are the unvarnished truth. I don't know whose interest it serves, besides maybe the individual diplomat in some cases, to be less than forthcoming and biased in diplomatic cables. If the U.S. State Department is routinely lying to itself, then the United States is in more trouble than it appears on even the surface.
posted by IvoShandor at 12:17 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


> If the U.S. State Department is routinely lying to itself, then the United States is in more trouble than it appears on even the surface.

Yeah, that's true. These cables are, at least in part, the main way in which the US government learns about what happens in the world If the cables are full of lies then we are *really* fucked.

Although one story about Cuba banning Moore's Sicko was actually totally false.
posted by delmoi at 12:54 AM on December 30, 2010


Cool, more marginalization of wikileaks. Next, Assange bath towels and hair crème.
posted by clavdivs at 1:33 AM on December 30, 2010


Shouldn't these comics be about Assange, Adrian Lamo, the editors of Wired, the USB drive used to copy the documents, and a janitor at Paypal? They are the real story here.

I completely see where you're coming from and yeah you can see this as a marginalization or a way to make the leaks seem 'cutesy'.

But I really really liked this because it's very human: it's not really about the bigger issues that wikileaks revealed, more about day to day diplomacy and I think this is the best medium to have a look at that. The wikileaks saga has a lot of different angles and this is about the small stuff and just gives a bit of an insight into what the hell it is that diplomats have to deal with on a regular basis. It doesn't take anything away from the other stories.
posted by litleozy at 3:49 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Most of this stuff was classified, which in my mind makes it more likely that the accounts in the cables are the unvarnished truth.

There once was an embassy cable that indicated Saddam Hussien was attempting to purchase Yellow Cake in Niger. There once was an Embassy cable about a high ranking Taliban official who wanted to talk peice, except he was actually just a ISI impersonator. Don't assume that classification makes these things any more credible. In fact secrecy may make them less so, since they are subject to less review, editorial oversight and inquiry. For a fictional exploration
of the problems with cables read The Taylor of Panama.
posted by humanfont at 8:36 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Would you like me to hold a trial and hang them?"

This guy sounds bad ass.
posted by stbalbach at 10:22 AM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I do not understand why, despite the serious revelations in these cables, people continue to obsess on tiny, amusing, inconsequential details that also make the US look good.

Or perhaps I answered my own question.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:30 AM on December 30, 2010


In case those of you checking this thread didn't see it, there was a great link posted earlier to an extended interview with Julian Assange, in which he talks all about WikiLeaks and some of the important revelations therein.
posted by brina at 8:58 PM on December 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't assume that classification makes these things any more credible.

You point out a few examples and obviously there have been instances where diplomatic cables are BS, certainly some in the Wikileaks dump are lies, certainly. But how do your few examples counter the point that many of these are likely to be true assessments? The Taliban example doesn't even show itself to be a lie, really, just that people who were supposed to know better did not. The Yellow Cake stuff was a lie upon myriad lies in the run up to the Iraq War (these were Italian documents anyway). While your examples prove that there are lies in the diplomatic world, they don't really disprove the legitmacy of the majority of the Wikileaks dump.

I simply said that the classification makes it more likely they are true as diplomats are going to feel free to offer their assessments, that lying to oneself is kind of self-defeating. I certainly don't assume that classified = true, that's absurd.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:07 AM on December 31, 2010


Most of this stuff was classified, which in my mind makes it more likely that the accounts in the cables are the unvarnished truth.

My impression -- and I hope to be corrected if I'm wrong -- is that it wasn't the content that made any of this classified; it's the nature of the communication and the offices involved.

That's why so much of it is inane (like so much of what we see become "declassified').

On preview, let me clarify: I'm not saying that anything here is a lie; I'm saying that the fact that it's classified is a pretty weak argument for it being truth.
posted by coolguymichael at 9:40 AM on December 31, 2010


Hey Guys –

Thanks for checking out the comix. I appreciate all the feedback, both good and ill, and I was happy when my friend sent me linking telling me that they had made their way onto MeFi.

A brief note for the nay-sayers, however. I see that some have taken my efforts as some kind of willing attempt to take light away from the rest of the more explosive stuff, as if I'm somehow an apologist for the more grim U.S. actions, which I'm not. My feeling is that I'm not journalist, and that unlike some corners of the internet, I'm not about to call myself an expert, and wax bombastically; maybe I'm not smart enough to be completely stark in my convictions, but I find that it's not a total black and white issue.

However, one of the least recognized aspects of these cables is that, willingly or not, they expose the rest of the world as more similar to us than different; jealousy, drunken fights, late night dance parties, petty arguments, and the rest of the human tapestry. I can't pull on years of diplomatic experience to tell anyone What It All Means. However, I can draw pretty well, and I have experience in telling stories. My hope is that the comix reveal that the small details are really where the humanity lies. In the end, borders are human-made – we are all united in our humanness, even if that humanness is sometimes found in weakness and failure, on every front.

Thanks for checking them out again. There's a new one up:

http://hilobrow.com/2011/01/03/cablegate-comix-5/

Joe
posted by joealterio at 3:59 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


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