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Thread: WikiLeaks

  1. #1
    Atypical is offline

    WikiLeaks

    Wikileaks: Antidote to Government Lies and Misinformation
    by Bill Koehnlein

    According to Julian Assange, the founder and director
    of Wikileaks, he was told by Australian intelligence
    services, prior to the release by Wikileaks several
    months ago of secret US government documents relating
    to the war against Iraq, that all manner of smears and
    personal attacks will be made against him, as
    punishment for the work he is doing. The charge of
    rape, for which Sweden has issued an arrest warrant for
    Assange, appears to be bogus, an attempt to discredit
    him and take attention away from the damning and
    incriminating content of the hundreds of thousands of
    documents made public by him and Wikileaks.

    As expected, virtually every member of the upper
    echelons of the US government is screaming for blood,
    along with yahoos both liberal and conservative. Two
    notable pimps, Peter King, the congressman from Nassau
    County, and Joseph Lieberman, the senator from Tel
    Aviv, have tried to outdo each other when it comes to
    rhetorical venom. King accused Assange and Wikileaks of
    "engag[ing] in terrorist activity" and said that
    Wikileaks is "enabling terrorists to kill Americans.
    Lieberman, concluding a hysterical rant said, "Let
    there be no doubt: the individuals responsible [for
    disseminating the leaks] are going to have blood on
    their hands.

    Most government hacks, elected and appointed, who have
    commented so far droned on in a similar vein, and the
    thrust of much media coverage as well is a variation on
    the same theme. Nonetheless, the US press *is*
    reporting on some juicy details contained in a few of
    the leaked documents, but compared to coverage by the
    European press (The Guardian's Simon Jenkins said
    "[t]he job of the media is not to protect the powerful
    from embarrassment")
    US media is giving the actual
    contents short shrift while focusing instead on
    national security lapses, potential "endangerment" of
    unspecified persons, and damage control in the realm of
    foreign diplomacy.

    Ironically, the documents leaked to the media do not
    contain much that is particularly revealing to anyone
    with an ounce of brains, common sense and an ability to
    think critically. This is quite reminiscent of the
    Pentagon Papers, made public by Daniel Ellsberg in 1971
    and published in The New York Times, which, for the
    most part, confirmed what everyone in the peace and
    antiwar movement already knew. Additionally, none of
    the documents released yesterday, or those which will
    be made public in the coming weeks, have been
    classified as "top secret"; indeed, though
    "classified", they were freely available to more than
    three million people who have access to something
    called Siprnet, a "miniature" internet--or, more
    accurately, an intranet--maintained by the United
    States government as a repository for classified
    documents, diplomatic correspondence, and internal
    governmental memoranda.

    Nonetheless, the US government has gone into deep
    frantic mode after getting caught with its pants down.
    The greatest damage, perhaps, has to do with political
    and diplomatic embarrassment, yet the official refrain
    accuses Assange and Wikileaks of nothing short of
    imperiling civilization itself. Demagogues like King,
    Lieberman, and all the other dutiful political hacks
    scream loudly, but with no proof or substantiation at
    all, that innocent people will be killed as a result of
    the leaks; Assange the terrorist has blood on his
    hands, they say. But Assange is not responsible for the
    murders of millions of innocent people in Iraq,
    Afghanistan, Pakistan and just about everywhere else in
    the world. The United States is. Assange didn't launch
    invasions, wars and occupations in the Middle East and
    Asia. The United States did. Assange has gained
    possession of documents, but he has never gained
    possession of depleted uranium, cluster bombs, deadly
    drones and all manner of weapons of mass destruction.
    It is the United States which possesses those, and it
    is the United States which has used them. Public
    embarrassment is small penance to pay for committing
    the worst crimes against humanity since the Nazis tore
    Europe asunder seven decades ago.

    What will become of Julian Assange? The only thing the
    United States government can do is to kill him, and I'm
    convinced this is what will happen. The US has no other
    recourse. The release of these documents is of
    historical importance, and that importance should not
    be underestimated; nor, can any remedial action by the
    US undo the shame that was made even more shameful by
    making it public (to quote the famous Situationist
    manifesto from the 1960s). His assassination will be
    retribution for daring to take on and challenge the
    most awesome, belligerent and aggressive superpower in
    recent history; beyond that, it will be a clear signal
    to other people who are inclined to defend
    truthfulness, openness and free societies to be
    considerably less adamant in their demands for freedom
    and justice. I think that on some level Assange must
    know that he is doomed. I wish him a long life but I
    fear this is not something he will have.
    Last edited by Atypical; 11-30-2010 at 04:43 PM.

  2. #2
    Atypical is offline
    Obama weighing criminal action against WikiLeaks principals.

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/11/2...al-action.html

    Obama is quite the hypocrite.

    How about prosecutions against Bush et al for illegal torture; how about Rove and Cheney outing a CIA officer; how about Goldman Sachs and BP; how about all the Wall Street a-holes that almost brought down the world's financial system hurting millions of people.

    Instead he wants to go after a group that provides information.

    WikiLeaks should not be doing anything shown to be seriously deleterious to anyone. But this information was available to 2 1/2 million people via govt info systems. The info was then, at this point, not top secret.
    Last edited by Atypical; 12-01-2010 at 09:56 AM.

  3. #3
    Atypical is offline

    The Moral Standards of WikiLeaks Critics

    By Glenn Greenwald

    Time's Joe Klein writes this about the WikiLeaks disclosures:

    I am tremendously concernced [sic] about the puerile eruptions of Julian Assange. . . . If a single foreign national is rounded up and put in jail because of a leaked cable, this entire, anarchic exercise in "freedom" stands as a human disaster. Assange is a criminal. He's the one who should be in jail.

    Do you have that principle down? If "a single foreign national is rounded up and put in jail" because of the WikiLeaks disclosure -- even a "single one" -- then the entire WikiLeaks enterprise is proven to be a "disaster" and "Assange is a criminal" who "should be in jail." That's quite a rigorous moral standard. So let's apply it elsewhere:

    What about the most destructive "anarchic exercise in 'freedom'" the planet has known for at least a generation: the "human disaster" known as the attack on Iraq, which Klein supported? That didn't result in the imprisonment of "a single foreign national," but rather the deaths of more than 100,000 innocent human beings, the displacement of millions more, and the destruction of a country of 26 million people. Are those who supported that "anarchic exercise in 'freedom'" -- or at least those responsible for its execution -- also "criminals who should be in jail"?

    How about the multiple journalists and other human beings whom the U.S. Government imprisoned (and continues to imprison) for years without charges -- and tortured -- including many whom the Government knew were completely innocent, while Klein assured the world that wasn't happening? How about those responsible for the war in Afghanistan (which Klein supports) with its checkpoint shootings of an "amazing number" of innocent Afghans and civilian slaughtering air strikes, or the use of cluster bombs in Yemen, or the civilian killing drones in Pakistan? Are those responsible for the sky-high corpses of innocent people from these actions also "criminals who should be in jail"?

    I'm not singling out Klein here; his commentary is merely illustrative of what I'm finding truly stunning about the increasingly bloodthirsty two-minute hate session aimed at Julian Assange, also known as the new Osama bin Laden. The ringleaders of this hate ritual are advocates of -- and in some cases directly responsible for -- the world's deadliest and most lawless actions of the last decade. And they're demanding Assange's imprisonment, or his blood, in service of a Government that has perpetrated all of these abuses and, more so, to preserve a Wall of Secrecy which has enabled them. To accomplish that, they're actually advocating -- somehow with a straight face -- the theory that if a single innocent person is harmed by these disclosures, then it proves that Assange and WikiLeaks are evil monsters who deserve the worst fates one can conjure, all while they devote themselves to protecting and defending a secrecy regime that spawns at least as much human suffering and disaster as any single other force in the world. That is what the secrecy regime of the permanent National Security State has spawned.

    Meanwhile, in the real world (as opposed to the world of speculation, fantasy, and fear-mongering) there is no evidence -- zero -- that the WikiLeaks disclosures have harmed a single person. As McClatchy reported, they have exercised increasing levels of caution to protect innocent people. Even Robert Gates disdained hysterical warnings about the damage caused as "significantly overwrought." But look at what WikiLeaks has revealed to the world:

    We viscerally saw the grotesque realities of our war in Iraq with the Apache attack video on innocent civilians and journalists in Baghdad -- and their small children -- as they desperately scurried for cover. We recently learned that the U.S. government adopted a formal policy of refusing to investigate the systematic human rights abuses of our new Iraqi client state, all of which took place under our deliberately blind eye. We learned of 15,000 additional civilian deaths caused by the war in Iraq that we didn't know of before. We learned -- as documented by The Washington Post's former Baghdad Bureau Chief -- how clear, deliberate and extensive were the lies of top Bush officials about that war as it was unfolding: "Thanks to WikiLeaks, though, I now know the extent to which top American leaders lied, knowingly, to the American public," she wrote.

    In this latest WikiLeaks release -- probably the least informative of them all, at least so far -- we learned a great deal as well. Juan Cole today details the 10 most important revelations about the Middle East. Scott Horton examines the revelation that the State Department pressured and bullied Germany out of criminally investigating the CIA's kidnapping of one of their citizens who turned out to be completely innocent. The head of the Bank of England got caught interfering in British politics to induce harsher austerity measures in violation of his duty to remain apolitical and removed from the political process, a scandal resulting in calls for his resignation. British officials, while pretending to conduct a sweeping investigation into the Iraq War, were privately pledging to protect Bush officials from embarrassing disclosures. Hillary Clinton's State Department ordered U.N. diplomats to collect passwords, emails, and biometric data in order to spy on top U.N. officials and others, likely in violation of the Vienna Treaty of 1961 (see Articles 27 and 30; and, believe me, I know: it's just "law," nothing any Serious person believes should constrain our great leaders).

    Do WikiLeaks critics believe it'd be best if all that were kept secret, if we remained ignorant of it, if the world's most powerful factions could continue to hide things like that? Apparently. When Joe Klein and his media comrades calling for Assange's head start uncovering even a fraction of secret government conduct this important, then they'll have credibility to complain about WikiLeaks' "excessive commitment to disclosure." But that will never happen.

    One could respond that it's good that we know these specific things, but not other things WikiLeaks has released. That's all well and good; as I've said several times, there are reasonable concerns about some specific disclosures here. But in the real world, this ideal, perfectly calibrated subversion of the secrecy regime doesn't exist. WikiLeaks is it. We have occasional investigative probes of isolated government secrets coming from establishment media outlets (the illegal NSA program, the CIA black sites, the Pentagon propaganda program), along with transparency groups such as the ACLU, CCR, EPIC and EFF valiantly battling through protracted litigation to uncover secrets. But nothing comes close to the blows WikiLeaks has struck in undermining that regime.

    The real-world alternative to the current iteration of WikiLeaks is not The Perfect Wikileaks that makes perfect judgments about what should and should not be disclosed, but rather, the ongoing, essentially unchallenged hegemony of the permanent National Security State, for which secrecy is the first article of faith and prime weapon. I want again to really encourage everyone to read this great analysis by The Economist's Democracy in America, which includes this:

    I suspect that there is no scheme of government oversight that will not eventually come under the indirect control of the generals, spies, and foreign-service officers it is meant to oversee. Organisations such as WikiLeaks, which are philosophically opposed to state secrecy and which operate as much as is possible outside the global nation-state system, may be the best we can hope for in the way of promoting the climate of transparency and accountability necessary for authentically liberal democracy. Some folks ask, "Who elected Julian Assange?" The answer is nobody did, which is, ironically, why WikiLeaks is able to improve the quality of our democracy. Of course, those jealously protective of the privileges of unaccountable state power will tell us that people will die if we can read their email, but so what? Different people, maybe more people, will die if we can't.

    The last decade, by itself, leaves no doubt about the truth of that last sentence. And Matt Yglesias is right that while diplomacy can be hindered without secrecy, one must also consider "how the ability to keep secrets can hinder diplomacy" (incidentally: one of the more Orwellian aspects of this week's discussion has been the constant use of the word "diplomacy" to impugn what WikiLeaks did, creating some Wizard of Oz fantasy whereby the Pentagon is the Bad Witch of the U.S. Government [thus justifying leaks about war] while the State Department is the Good Witch [thus rendering these leaks awful]: that's absurd, as they are merely arms of the same entity, both devoted to the same ends, ones which are often nefarious, and State Department officials are just as susceptible as Pentagon officials to abusive conduct when operating in the dark).

    But Matt's other point merits even more attention. He's certainly right when he says that "for a third time in a row, a WikiLeaks document dump has conclusively demonstrated that an awful lot of US government confidentiality is basically about nothing," but I'd quibble with his next observation:

    There's no scandal here and there's no legitimate state secret. It's just routine for the work done by public servants and public expense in the name of the public to be kept semi-hidden from the public for decades.
    Last edited by Atypical; 12-02-2010 at 11:26 AM.

  4. #4
    Atypical is offline

    Conclusion

    It is a "scandal" when the Government conceals things it is doing without any legitimate basis for that secrecy. Each and every document that is revealed by WikiLeaks which has been improperly classified -- whether because it's innocuous or because it is designed to hide wrongdoing -- is itself an improper act, a serious abuse of government secrecy powers. Because we're supposed to have an open government -- a democracy -- everything the Government does is presumptively public, and can be legitimately concealed only with compelling justifications. That's not just some lofty, abstract theory; it's central to having anything resembling "consent of the governed."

    But we have completely abandoned that principle; we've reversed it. Now, everything the Government does is presumptively secret; only the most ceremonial and empty gestures are made public. That abuse of secrecy powers is vast, deliberate, pervasive, dangerous and destructive. That's the abuse that WikiLeaks is devoted to destroying, and which its harshest critics -- whether intended or not -- are helping to preserve. There are people who eagerly want that secrecy regime to continue: namely, (a) Washington politicians, Permanent State functionaries, and media figures whose status, power and sense of self-importance are established by their access and devotion to that world of secrecy, and (b) those who actually believe that -- despite (or because of) all the above acts -- the U.S. Government somehow uses this extreme secrecy for the Good. Having surveyed the vast suffering and violence they have wreaked behind that wall, those are exactly the people whom WikiLeaks is devoted to undermining.

    On the issue of the Interpol arrest warrant issued yesterday for Assange's arrest: I think it's deeply irresponsible either to assume his guilt or to assume his innocence until the case plays out. I genuinely have no opinion of the validity of those allegations, but what I do know -- as John Cole notes -- is this: as soon as Scott Ritter began telling the truth about Iraqi WMDs, he was publicly smeared with allegations of sexual improprieties. As soon as Eliot Spitzer began posing a real threat to Wall Street criminals, a massive and strange federal investigation was launched over nothing more than routine acts of consensual adult prostitution, ending his career (and the threat he posed to oligarchs). And now, the day after Julian Assange is responsible for one of the largest leaks in history, an arrest warrant issues that sharply curtails his movement and makes his detention highly likely. It's unreasonable to view that pattern as evidence that the allegations are part of some conspiracy -- I genuinely do not believe or disbelieve that -- but, particularly in light of that pattern, it's most definitely unreasonable to assume that he's guilty of anything without having those allegations tested and then proven in court.

    UPDATE: The notion that one crime doesn't excuse another has absolutely nothing to do with anything I wrote; it's a complete nonsequitur, merely the standard claim of those who want to propound moral standards for others that they not only refuse to apply to themselves, but violate with far greater frequency and severity than those they're condemning.
    Last edited by Atypical; 12-02-2010 at 11:27 AM.

  5. #5
    Atypical is offline

    Wikileaks founder Julian Assange refused bail

    The founder of whistle-blowing website Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has been refused bail by a court in London but vowed to fight extradition to Sweden.

    Mr Assange denies sexually assaulting two women in Sweden. He was remanded in custody pending a hearing next week.

    A judge at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court refused bail because of the risk of the 39-year-old fleeing.

    A Wikileaks spokesman said the arrest was an attack on media freedom and pledged to continue publishing.

    Mr Assange's lawyer Mark Stephens said after the court appearance he would be applying again for bail.

    He also claimed the charges were "politically motivated" and he pointed out the judge had said he was keen to see the evidence against Mr Assange.

    Julian Assange surrendered himself to police in London
    Mr Stephens also said Wikileaks would continue to publish material and added: "We are on cable 301 and there are 250,000 secret cables."

    A Downing Street spokesman said Mr Assange's arrest was "a matter for the police" and there had been no ministerial involvement in the case.

    Wikileaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said it would not stop the release of more secret files and told Reuters on Tuesday: "Wikileaks is operational. We are continuing on the same track as laid out before.

    "Any development with regards to Julian Assange will not change the plans we have with regards to the releases today and in the coming days."

    Secret locations -

    He said Wikileaks was being operated by a group in London and other secret locations.

    Five people, including journalist John Pilger, film director Ken Loach and Jemima Khan, the sister of Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, stood up in court offering to put up sureties.

    But District Judge Howard Riddle refused bail for Australian Mr Assange and he was remanded in custody until 14 December.

    Judge Riddle said he believed Mr Assange might flee the jurisdiction and he also said he feared he "may be at risk from unstable persons".

    Gemma Lindfield, for the Swedish authorities, gave details of the allegations against Mr Assange.
    One of the charges is that he had unprotected sex with a woman, identified only as Miss A, when she insisted he use a condom.

    Another is that he had unprotected sex with another woman, Miss W, while she was asleep.
    Mr Assange, who was accompanied by Australian consular officials, initially refused to say where he lived but eventually gave an address in Australia.

    Afterwards Ms Khan said she had never met Mr Assange but explained why she was willing to put up a surety: "I offered my support, as I believe that this is about the universal right of freedom of information and our right to be told the truth."

    US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said it was possible the US would make an extradition request for Mr Assange but he said it was premature as the criminal investigation into Wikileaks was still ongoing.

    Mr Assange was arrested by appointment at a London police station at 0930 GMT.

    Police contacted his lawyer, Mark Stephens, on Monday night after receiving a European arrest warrant from the Swedish authorities.

    An earlier warrant, issued last month, had not been filled in correctly.

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