WikiLeaks' leaking of classified information should be considered a blessing for the US government, and other governments should take heed of the lessons when it comes to information sharing, according to a former member of Barack Obama presidential campaign.
Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) research associate, Professor Mike Nelson -- who spent four years as Senator Al Gore's science advisor and served as the White House director for technology policy on IT — told the audience at the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) that in a year and a half, the documents would mean a "net positive" for US foreign policy in the Middle East.
While Nelson conceded there were some embarrassing stories, most of those exposed "hypocritical foreign leaders" that American diplomats were talking to.
“The US diplomats actually came out looking pretty good because the same thing they were saying in private was the same thing they were saying in public," he said.
"The data that was divulged provided a lot of the justification for policies that the US government had been undertaking for years."
Nelson said that the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, held a press conference to denounce WikiLeaks as a fraud because of leaked cables describing meetings between US ambassadors and heads of state in Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
"Memo after memo said, 'The head of state reports that the guy across the [Persian] Gulf is crazy and they want the US government to do something about Mahmoud Ahmadinejad'," Nelson said.
"In public the heads of state would never say that, which was why Ahmadinejad concluded the memos were fake because he thought he was well-loved by his Arab brothers.
"Releasing this information is giving people a better understanding of the challenges that [US] foreign policy makers face."
When asked about what Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard — who WikiLeaks founder and Australian citizen, Julian Assange, reached out to for protection last year when he faced extradition charges to Sweden on alleged sex offences — should be doing in terms of information, Nelson advised the Gillard government to develop a "transparency policy".
“95 per cent of those leaked memos were incredibly well written and well reasoned, with one paragraph that might be sensitive," Nelson said.
"If they [officials] had thought about making the basic analysis available throughout the government and to the public in some form, they could have done it more sensitively rather than verbatim comments."
He also added that if Australian government officials better understood the implications of the information they had, they would not need to have strict rules on the release of information.