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The plot thickens...
July 30, 2010 8:00 PM   Subscribe

The CIA is watching him. He's been addressed directly by powerful people all across the United States government. And earlier today on his website and across the internet, the same man has placed a 1.4 gigabyte encrypted file labeled "insurance."
posted by atypicalguy (308 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
I knew who this was about without even clicking the links.

OMG I AM CIA
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 8:05 PM on July 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


The problem, of course, is that once Transformer 3 screeners start getting passed around in about a year, this work print will be worthless.
posted by geoff. at 8:11 PM on July 30, 2010 [11 favorites]


I literally just saw a BBC interview with him...seriously like 10 minutes ago, and he gave a quote that made me call my son away from his computer game, sit him down, explain who the man was and what he did and how he did it, then I told him the quote.

"Courage is not the absence of fear, courage is the understanding of fear."

Godspeed Julian.
posted by timsteil at 8:11 PM on July 30, 2010 [81 favorites]


Thank god it's that Assange guy, because I didn't remember uploading a 1.4 gb file. They say your mind is the first or second thing to go (I forget which).

The White House issued a statement today saying they were asking wikilinks to stop publishing the recently leaked files because it was putting people in danger.

In related news: Wookie Links.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:12 PM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I want "Insurance" to be a screener of The Day The Clown Cried.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:13 PM on July 30, 2010 [14 favorites]


2 CDs? This movie had better be good, the pre time was ridic.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:13 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


My ability to decide how I feel about Wikileaks' activities is totally annihilated by my ongoing realization that it cannot possibly be real. It's a plot device in a near-future thriller novel. I mean, seriously, semi-stateless man with an unusual appearance uses an army of anonymous allies to expose governments' secrets, and posts an insurance file in public with some kind of deadman switch in case he's taken out by his enemies? That shit does not happen in real life. Julian Assange is a Neal Stephenson character who's escaped in to the real world.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:14 PM on July 30, 2010 [191 favorites]


Oh this is simply delicious. Once again, if you read about Assange's actions in a supermarket paperback you'd roll your eyes and groan audibly.

Don't get me started on the name WikiLeaks (and their logo!)
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:16 PM on July 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Mullen was even more direct and said that WikiLeaks “might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier” or an Afghan informant who aided the United States.

This is chickenshit, here. You want to blame Assange for deaths he hasn't caused? Because before we talk about who's to blame for potential soldier deaths, let's tally the actual civilian deaths for which the U.S. military is directly to blame. There wasn't any "maybe" about the death-from-above-with-a-fucking-sidegun video that leaked recently wherein U.S. soldiers mowed down innocent, unarmed people and made sure to destroy anyone who came to their rescue.

If we're keeping score of who's the biggest threat to human life, Assange isn't even playing the same sport.
posted by Mikey-San at 8:17 PM on July 30, 2010 [155 favorites]


Where can we obtain this file from? It would take years (if not centuries) to crack it...but this dude is smart. I'm sure he put it up so that there would be lots of copies all over the world, "just in case".

And everyday seems like we're getting closer and closer to someone happening to wikileaks.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:21 PM on July 30, 2010


"WikiLeaks boss may have 'blood on his hands'"

This coming from "America's top military commander"? Beyond irony.
posted by ts;dr at 8:22 PM on July 30, 2010 [24 favorites]


or what Mikey-San said.
posted by ts;dr at 8:23 PM on July 30, 2010


You know, I really don't like this Julian Assange guy. He's a fame seeker, and classified means don't tell anyone for a reason. I personally think that posts these US Army leaks just for the sake of posting them, with total lack of respect for other's safety and wellbeing.

I hope that didn't come off too strong.
posted by thebenman at 8:23 PM on July 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


Just found it...everyone should keep a copy in their homes. War is ugly, and we shouldn't forget it...or let others cover it up.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:23 PM on July 30, 2010


Heh. For a moment I thought or hoped this was about Howard Zinn.
posted by loquacious at 8:29 PM on July 30, 2010


Considering what we know about the thought processes of the U.S. Military and Intelligence Community, I doubt it'll be much Insurance. Maybe a better label would be Post-Mortem Payback.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:31 PM on July 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


For a moment I thought or hoped this was about Howard Zinn.

Ahhh.... isn't he already dead?
posted by dobbs at 8:33 PM on July 30, 2010


You know, I really don't like this Julian Assange guy. He's a fame seeker, and classified means don't tell anyone for a reason. I personally think that posts these US Army leaks just for the sake of posting them, with total lack of respect for other's safety and wellbeing.

No, I don't think that came off as too strong, although I do disagree with you.

Sometimed it seems as if the us military (although definitely not limited to just them) keep things secret because they don't want people to see the ugly things they do.

Not letting Nazis find out where the ships are going is one thing...not showing people how certain units have gunned down children because of horrible orders is totally different.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:33 PM on July 30, 2010 [33 favorites]


So, how many weeks until some group cracks the file making the insurance meaningless?
posted by TwelveTwo at 8:34 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a plot device in a near-future thriller novel. I mean, seriously, semi-stateless man with an unusual appearance uses an army of anonymous allies to expose governments' secrets, and posts an insurance file in public with some kind of deadman switch in case he's taken out by his enemies? That shit does not happen in real life. Julian Assange is a Neal Stephenson character who's escaped in to the real world.

Great minds think alike, my friend.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 8:34 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


White House Begs WikiLeaks: Don't Publish More Afghan Secrets
posted by homunculus at 8:35 PM on July 30, 2010


"It would make me look bad if this came out" is not a legitimate use of military secrecy, and damned to anyone who would defend it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:36 PM on July 30, 2010 [54 favorites]


WikiLeaks founder 'disappointed' by Gates' remarks
posted by homunculus at 8:36 PM on July 30, 2010


Time to redirect distributed.net at that file's encryption. I bet they'd see a spike in user involvement.
posted by LoudMusic at 8:37 PM on July 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


thebenman: I hope that didn't come off too strong.

No, not too strong at all. Now we know exactly where you are coming from.
posted by Chuckles at 8:37 PM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would respect Assange if he put together a trusted, international steering committee to review these secret documents before he leaks them. I'm sure Daniel Ellsberg would gladly volunteer, for one. I'm also sure Ellsberg would be wary of leaving Afhgan "friendlies" unprotected in these documents.

As it is, Assange is clearly on a power trip of massive proportions. Despite how closely my opinions align with his agenda, I can't support his methods. He is the same as Andrew Breitbart.
posted by danblaker at 8:44 PM on July 30, 2010 [14 favorites]


it would take years (if not centuries) to crack it

Just as an amusing aside, it's worth putting things into perspective here. Numbers are fun.

The "256" part is short for "256-bit key length". That means, in a brute-force search of the possible key space, 2256 operations are required to exhaust all possible solutions. This is outside the reach of computational power as we understand it.

Short of someone obtaining the password or the encryptor having chosen a poor password, this kind of key space is not brute-forceable. It doesn't matter how many computers you throw at the problem: humanity doesn't have enough computational power to pull it off before the Sun swallows the inner planets.

This doesn't take into account not any breakthrough in algorithmic attacks on AES itself, however. As they say, attacks never get worse. There are a couple of theoretical attacks on AES, but they're still either outside the limits of what we can compute or simply impractical for various reasons.

http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2009/07/new_attack_on_a.html
http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2009/07/another_new_aes.html

Unless the encryptor Did Something Dumb, I wouldn't expect anyone to crack it.
posted by Mikey-San at 8:45 PM on July 30, 2010 [21 favorites]


Time to redirect distributed.net at that file's encryption. I bet they'd see a spike in user involvement.

Even distributed.net doesn't have a chance at bruteforcing a reasonably long passphrase. That assumes, of course, that Julian Assange is not monumentally fucking stupid and actually used a reasonably long and complex passphrase.
posted by deadmessenger at 8:46 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Are we sure his name isn't Mikael Blomkvist?
posted by kbanas at 8:47 PM on July 30, 2010 [14 favorites]


Army Broadens Inquiry Into WikiLeaks Disclosure
posted by homunculus at 8:48 PM on July 30, 2010


What Mikey-san said, but I'll also add that those calculations assume that rubber-hose cryptanalysis will not be employed not employed here.
posted by deadmessenger at 8:49 PM on July 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Unless the encryptor Did Something Dumb, I wouldn't expect anyone to crack it.

Or unless he did something smart and encrypted it in a way that could be guessable if you had the right pieces to the puzzle.

Seriously, this is something out of a Neal Stephenson novel. Any moment now someone is going to start selling cheap diamondoid nanowire thread for pennies per foot and an entire generation of multinational otaku are going to simultaneously leave their bedrooms for the first time in 10 years and fuck shit up.
posted by loquacious at 8:51 PM on July 30, 2010 [12 favorites]


because it was putting people in danger.

Because civilians being carpet-bombed or raped aren't really people, since they don't come from THE LAND OF THE FREE!
posted by rodgerd at 8:52 PM on July 30, 2010 [20 favorites]


I mean, seriously, semi-stateless man with an unusual appearance uses an army of anonymous allies to expose governments' secrets, and posts an insurance file in public with some kind of deadman switch in case he's taken out by his enemies?

Along those lines: anyone whose life story requires that their age in articles be prefaced by "is believed to be" must be doing something right.

I think that Assange's media presence is strategic. His public image makes him a media darling, which in turn makes him a household name. He's guaranteed that if something were to happen to him the media would make huge news of it.
posted by invitapriore at 8:53 PM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Definitely one of those moments where you realize that you're living in the future. I'm not sure if this is better or worse than a flying car but if you'd tried to explain it all to me thirty years ago, I'd have said, "that sounds like a science fiction novel".
posted by octothorpe at 9:00 PM on July 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


Oh, and yea, you're not going to break AES256.
posted by octothorpe at 9:01 PM on July 30, 2010


It would be stupid to take some sort of step to shut down Wikileaks, at least with the idea of stopping this sort of stuff from getting out. At least now it's somewhat centralized and probably much easier to watch. If Wikileaks went, a hundred other sites would show up in its place unless one of the replacements became exceptionally successful for some reason.
posted by XMLicious at 9:01 PM on July 30, 2010


Can we seriously declare a motherfucking moratorium on the Assange/Breitbart equivalency? It is beyond false; it is downright insulting. —Yes, I know, flag and move on, it's a handy rhetorical marker to help weigh any further utterances from someone who pretends to take it seriously, but it grates the eye, like the trolling you'd see in a YouTube comments thread or a Poltico article.
posted by kipmanley at 9:01 PM on July 30, 2010 [35 favorites]


I think WikiLeaks is doing something important, but I think Assange is going to turn out to be more of a liability to the site/organization he created than an asset.

Like Jimbo Wales, he had a great idea and it's one that will have a life of its own if he can just leave it alone. But it's one that can and should eclipse him personally, and I'd imagine that might be hard for a lot of founders to take.

But if WikiLeaks turns out to be effectively Assange's personal website, subject to his editorializing, political views and decisions on what to release and what to sit on, it creates an obvious avenue for discrediting it. I.e., if Assange turns out to have made statements critical of the US, then the whole thing can simply be whitewashed as the actions of an anti-US radical, and the site as simple anti-US propaganda.

Like Wales' occasional meddling in Wikipedia, that would be sad in large part because it would keep an otherwise good and powerful idea from living up to its full potential.

I'm not sure if it's too late at this point to safely turn over control of the site to some sort of distributed team or committee (perhaps with official releases signed via a shared cryptographic method, like was just implemented for the DNS root), and if not, then I think WL is doomed. But it has certainly proved that there is a need in the world for something serving the function of a window into government secrets. If Assange turns out to be a single point of failure, hopefully someone or some group of people will figure out how to accomplish WL's goals without relying on a single person at any point in the process.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:03 PM on July 30, 2010 [18 favorites]


I would respect Assange if he put together a trusted, international steering committee to review these secret documents before he leaks them.

Lets say he did, and they decided not release a certain set of documents. Wouldn't the source just move on to a slightly less convenient, but in all likelihood equally effective distribution channel (torrents, email to a few dozen politically sympathetic groups, rapidshare)? They make things convenient for a source, but getting information out there without them isn't that much harder.

If Wikileaks started acting like a traditional news outfit and vetting sources there would be no reason to prefer them to one. An equivalent group would spring up to fill the void.
posted by phrontist at 9:03 PM on July 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


When democracy has failed and supposedly lawful organizations conspire to hide the truth of their misdeeds, who, might I ask, would trust a committee?
posted by adipocere at 9:06 PM on July 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


Also, MC Frontalot was never more relevant.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:07 PM on July 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


"No Secrets, Julian Assange’s mission for total transparency", by Raffi Khatchadourian in The New Yorker, June 7, 2010.
posted by ob1quixote at 9:07 PM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Time to redirect distributed.net at that file's encryption. I bet they'd see a spike in user involvement.

6 years into a 72-bit encryprion scheme and they've (we've -- I run the client) got 0.9% of 4,722,366,482,869,646,000,000 possible keys checked. At 256 bit -- I'm not a mathematician, but it'd be a while.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:08 PM on July 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


If Freenet were better known, Wikileaks would be irrelevant.
posted by phrontist at 9:09 PM on July 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm assuming not everyone praising wikileaks is a pacifist. I assume some people some people here like these leaks merely because they concern wars that they don't like (I'm not a fan either) or military tactics they don't like (I'm definitely not a fan). I understand the sentiment "military is doing x bad thing; we need to expose this."

I do wonder, though, why secrets being made public is considered an inherently Good Thing. I like that soldiers who kill civilians with a detached, uncaring attitude are being brought out into the light, and I hope that something changes and they are severely punished. But why does nobody seem to want to consider whether maybe the military is sometimes justified in having secrets? It doesn't seem all that big of a stretch to say that some day there will be a war that we are justified in fighting, and a part of that way effort will hinge on us having information that the enemy does not. Recklessly publicizing every military secret that comes your way just because you can might win you applause when you're publicizing scumbag civilian-killing soldiers, but if you're too lazy to think through all the ramification of what your doing, you could potentially bring a lot of harm to a lot of soldiers at the hands of the enemy.

And it's not like "hey, if I publicize this horrible thing these soldiers did, as well as these classified documents, maybe these soldiers will get ambushed and killed by the enemy and then karma will have done its work." It's more like "I publicize this horrible thing these soldiers did, as well as these classified documents, and these other, perfectly civil, upstanding soldiers just trying to finish their tours and get back to their wife and kids will be ambushed in the mountains somewhere."

It's possible to condemn some members of the American army without have a devil-may-care attitude about the lives of other soldiers who are just doing their duty as ethically as possible.
posted by resiny at 9:11 PM on July 30, 2010 [16 favorites]


His leak of the "Collateral Murder" video was nothing extraordinary (honestly, I think it should be called "just another day in an asymmetrical war"), but it was a "valid" leak. It was something that should be exposed, once in the hands of a journalist or a concerned citizen.

However, these documents recently leaked put people in danger. People who have decided to collaborate with NATO-ISAF forces and now will be tortured, executed and generally made examples of in a very barbaric way. Any decent news organization would have been careful to redact the names from these documents. But Julian Assange answers to no man!

While I generally approve the unveiling of things that are secret, I think this guy is full of shit. For additional background on him, I'd take a look at the short pieces Gawker has been publishing on him, especially this and this.
posted by falameufilho at 9:12 PM on July 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


If Freenet were better known not a wretched hive of scum and villainy, Wikileaks would be irrelevant.

Also, 2256 = 115,792,089,237,316,195,423,570,985,008,687,907,853,269,984,665,640,564,039,457,584,007,913,129,639,936. So, yeah, it'd be 'a while' in the same sense that the universe is 'large.'
posted by jedicus at 9:14 PM on July 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


If we're keeping score of who's the biggest threat to human life, Assange isn't even playing the same sport.

Agreed, but have you been bothered by reports that among the leaks were lists of Afghan civilians (and their locations) who were helping US forces? And that the Taliban is now seeking them out? Couldn't that have been redacted?

I'm also hoping that somebody in Al Qaeda / some other fundamentalist terrorist organization / Mexican drug cartel leaks their internal documents to Wikileaks.

And also, Climategate was total bullshit.
posted by one_bean at 9:15 PM on July 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


According to Wikipedia:
Assange co-invented "Rubberhose deniable encryption", a cryptographic concept made into a software package for Linux designed to provide plausible deniability against rubber-hose cryptanalysis, which he originally intended "as a tool for human rights workers who needed to protect sensitive data in the field".
In case your wondering..
rubber-hose cryptanalysis is the extraction of cryptographic secrets (e.g. the password to an encrypted file) from a person by coercion or torture, in contrast to a mathematical or technical cryptanalytic attack.
So I guess we can assume this is also "rubberhose deniable encryption".
posted by stbalbach at 9:21 PM on July 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


Julian Assange is a Neal Stephenson William Gibson character who's escaped in to always existed in the real world.

FTFY.

Serious, with Pattern Recognition, that cyberpunk shit just got real. Stephenson has wimped out and does science fantasy and historical fiction now. Gibson? He gets it. He always has.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:22 PM on July 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


But why does nobody seem to want to consider whether maybe the military is sometimes justified in having secrets?
What grounds do you have for thinking this hasn't been considered? All along the line from the source, apparently a serving member of the US military, it seems that it was the particular nature of this war and how it is being conducted that motivated the leak, not some nebulous desire to release military secrets regardless of context.
posted by Abiezer at 9:26 PM on July 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I, too, am a torn on the issue of putting innocent people into danger. On the other hand, we're faced with a military/government system that uses the legitimacy of 'protect the innocent' classification to cover the much broader 'protect our asses from public scrutiny' classification. Perhaps the best way to protect the innocents is to only classify documents that must be classified.

As it is, it seems as if the innocents involved are effectively hostages: "Don't air our dirty laundry: or these innocent people will suffer."
posted by verb at 9:27 PM on July 30, 2010 [18 favorites]


I question the wisdom and effectiveness of sharing a huge infodump of decontextualized, unfiltered information that can be spun any which way. Assange's approach is pretty chaotic, and, in the context of actually providing any sort of useful, accurate information, pretty unstrategic (although he is very strategic in his attempts to gain publicity for WikiLeaks). Assange and WikiLeaks are kind of hovering on the border of doing a good thing, versus doing a stupid thing.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:28 PM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


WikiLeaks founder vows more leaks -- "New whistleblowers said to provide 'significant' documents on BP spill, military abuses."
posted by ericb at 9:29 PM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Double post, it's the most -

Wkileaks explodes security theater. Yes, there is some shit you should not make public, ethically and strategically.

The issue is, the US Gov't has been over-classifying everything for petty political ends, and have been doing so since the 50's. It's ugly and bad news and needs to stop. The only shit that needs to be top-secret are actual top-secrets - network security documents, future strategic movements, etc. etc. etc.

Now, the US must de-classify everything not a real secret, or someone like Assanage will blow a great big whistle. Damage control is always easier now than later. This is a lesson the gov't must learn.

Hell, it's a lesson data assurance pros must learn. The only way to keep a mole from shredding your security is to beat him or her to the punch, and have management disclose unflattering or damaging information early and honestly. That way, you can keep the stuff that actually needs to be kept secret, secret.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:30 PM on July 30, 2010 [29 favorites]


Can we seriously declare a motherfucking moratorium on the Assange/Breitbart equivalency?

I'm very interested to hear why you think the comparison is beyond the pale, but please read these two motherfucking New Yorker profiles first: Assange vs. Breitbart
posted by danblaker at 9:31 PM on July 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Posting to alt.anonymous.messages via Mixmaster is just as good as Freenet, if the volume isn't huge. It would be a fine way to distribute keys for encrypted material that you were sending around some other way.

Also, if Freenet were not a wretched hive of scum and villainy, then it would be an obvious sign that it should not be trusted. Anything that can be used to distribute government/corporate secrets is certainly going to be used to distribute objectionable pornography. Conversely, if you were looking to distribute a lot of data anonymously, you'd probably do well to look at some of the sleazier corners of the Internet -- and probably also to disguise your traffic that way.

I look forward to the next Pentagon Papers being packaged up as "2girls1goat.rar" and distributed via RapidShare.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:34 PM on July 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


While I generally approve the unveiling of things that are secret, I think this guy is full of shit. For additional background on him, I'd take a look at the short pieces Gawker has been publishing on him, especially this and this.


The Mother Jones piece Gawker cites was complete nonsense. What does it matter if he's constantly worried about his own safety? They are casting doubt on personal stories about his life. Why?

The man is doing incredible work and they are concerned about dubious (unverified) anecdotes about his eccentric lifestyle. In addition, MJ cite Cryptome, and completely misrepresent their position (see Cryptome's blog). Maybe Gawker and MJ can stop being so superficial and do some serious critical analysis of journalism rather than writing about Assange's hair. After reading MJ's article on Assange I vowed never to read another article by them again.

A quote from Cryptome:
"Mother Jones with Kushner's article stooped to an admirable new low
in green-eyed journalism, worthy of the exemplary low standard set by
Mother Jones herself, queen of dirty smears."

posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 9:37 PM on July 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


After Assange is assassinated by a drone strike, the key is released on freenet by a deadman's script. The decrypted AVI file begins playing:

"Howdy, stranger! I'm Hauser. If things haven't gone wrong, I'm talking to myself and you don't have a wet towel around your head."
posted by benzenedream at 9:44 PM on July 30, 2010 [10 favorites]


Shockwave Rider

Noopolitik
posted by warbaby at 9:44 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm also hoping that somebody in Al Qaeda / some other fundamentalist terrorist organization / Mexican drug cartel leaks their internal documents to Wikileaks.

If Wikileaks ever becomes a place where those kinds of documents get released, I think it would be fabulous. But would you want to be the guy who was suspected of having released those documents? As it is, the US is going to figure out where this pile of leaks came from, and that person (or those people) are going to be sitting in a small cell for a very long time. Your garden-variety cartel has an even more robust policy for dealing with whistle-blowers.

Agreed, but have you been bothered by reports that among the leaks were lists of Afghan civilians (and their locations) who were helping US forces? And that the Taliban is now seeking them out? Couldn't that have been redacted?

This is what bothers me the most about the leaks. Did they just not care? Or were they too lazy to read through enough of them to see that local people were named?
posted by Forktine at 9:46 PM on July 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think this guy is full of shit. For additional background on him, I'd take a look at the short pieces Gawker has been publishing on him, especially this and this.
falameufilho:
Criticising the man for boasting that he's being followed is like telling a spy he's paranoid. As Curt Cobain once said, just because your paranoid, doesn't mean they're not after you.

And god knows they're after him now. If he has half a brain, which I think we can assume, he's couragious as hell.
posted by uni verse at 9:53 PM on July 30, 2010


I would respect Assange if he put together a trusted, international steering committee to review these secret documents before he leaks them.

He kinda sorta did. If you haven't read it yet, there's an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the process from Columbia Journalism Review: The Story Behind the Publication of WikiLeaks’s Afghanistan Logs:

Davies planned to tell Assange that The Guardian would allocate a team to identify stories in WikiLeaks’s unreleased documents that would benefit from careful research, some of which his paper would report out and some that could be parceled to other outlets. On June 22, during a six hour coffee-soaked meeting in a Brussels café, Davies says Assange suggested another idea—that The Guardian and The New York Times be given an advance look at some information the site had on the Afghanistan war, with each paper publishing their own takes on the documents. Within the next twenty-four hours, Davies says Assange told him Der Spiegel should be included as well...

Before leaving, reporters from the three outlets sat down and divvied up some tasks. Der Spiegel offered to check the logs against incident reports submitted by the German army to their parliament—partly as story research, partly to check their authenticity—and to share their findings. Davies, Goetz, Leigh, and Schmitt brainstormed about fifteen topic areas for which The New York Times’s computer assisted reporting team would try to find relevant logs to be shared with the group. Der Spiegel and The Guardian did their own searching, and also shared fruitful results, search terms, and methods...

Although Assange has since spoken in a way that could suggest WikiLeaks was a journalistic collaborator in the effort, the traditional journalists don’t agree with that description. At a press conference on Monday, Assange said that, along with The Guardian, “we had Der Spiegel and New York Times and us in a collaborative basement, if you like, working on this material.” The WikiLeaks website speaks of the three outlets as its “media partners.”

“I’ve seen Julian Assange in the last couple of days kind of flouncing around talking about this collaboration like the four of us were working all this together,” says Schmitt. ”But we were not in any kind of partnership or collaboration with him. This was a source relationship. He’s making it sound like this was some sort of journalistic enterprise between WikiLeaks, The New York Times, The Guardian, and Der Spiegel, and that’s not what it was.”


Slap*Happy: the US Gov't has been over-classifying everything for petty political ends

Yep. And it's constantly collecting and classifying enormous amounts of new data it will never have the time to analyze, just for the sake of collecting and classifying it. In that world, citizens in a democracy have a right to demand the uncovering of "secrets."

The informants' names element is truly awful, though; it seems like a mistake that could have been avoided with just a bit more care.
posted by mediareport at 9:54 PM on July 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


He is the same as Andrew Breitbart.

For the record, people who parrot this talking point are trolls or people on the payroll of the CIA, or both.

Seriously, if you're going to call Assange a liar on the payroll of Rupert Murdoch or equivalent, put up some facts.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:58 PM on July 30, 2010 [15 favorites]


I don't think a comparison between Breitbart and Assange is beyond the pale; it is all too depressingly within the pale, as it keeps getting made, over and over and over and over and over and over again. Hence the motherfucking. It's obviously squarely within the frame of today's Overton window, but I'm bored; I expected better. —What I do think: it's an appallingly ignorant comparison, a comparison almost deliberately ignorant, of the play of power relationships in either case. —To put it almost uselessly crudely: Breitbart serves the powers that be. Assange doesn't. That alone is difference enough to make the equivalence brassily false.

This ignorance is of a terribly privileged sort; the sort that can afford not to worry for now about the matters in play. An almost uselessly crude analogy: Karl Rove uses PowerPoint, and sometimes overstates his case; Al Gore uses PowerPoint, and sometimes overstates his case. As Karl Rove is clearly a mere political partisan, I therefore do not have to worry about all this global warming foofooraw. QED.

I mean, I could just say that Breitbart is a lying sack of shit, what the hell, but we'd be shading into ad hominem there, I think. Wouldn't we? So I won't.

New Yorker profiles? Seriously?
posted by kipmanley at 9:59 PM on July 30, 2010 [26 favorites]


Insurance????

What an incredibly dumb thing to have done.

Since it can be a problem only to the Western allies to have this stuff leaked, the Taliban, Iran, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, the PLO, the Islamic Courts, Hugo Chavez, etc., etc., etc. now have every incentive to kill him.
posted by jamjam at 10:09 PM on July 30, 2010 [13 favorites]


You know what bothers me about this story? That the insurance file is encrypted with AES256. Insurance only works if the people you are worried about know what you'll make public if they take you out.

So either the government knows what is in the insurance file because they already know who leaked it and where it came from, or the long-dispelled rumors of an NSA backdoor in AES256 are in fact true, and Assange knows that the feds can see inside the file.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:12 PM on July 30, 2010 [12 favorites]


Julian Assange is a Neal Stephenson William Gibson character

I think of him more as a Robert Anton Wilson send-up of a James Bond villain.
posted by luvcraft at 10:13 PM on July 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


You know who else is like Breitbart? Anybody else who releases information who we want to discredit. I had a cousin post a YouTube video of me at a party and obviously drunk. I'd rather he had not posted it.

He is exactly like Breitbart. Exactly.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:13 PM on July 30, 2010 [25 favorites]


Stephenson unlike Gibson appears to have used a computer at some point in his life.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:54 PM on July 30, 2010 [10 favorites]


The US government isn't going to kill Assange, that would make him into some kind of a hero. What they will do is continue to crack down on sources like Bradley Manning and anyone else who might wish to follow in his footsteps. This has opened up another new category for the counterintelligence people to watch for, and in future they'll screen new hires for any hint of "information wants to be free" inclinations in the same way they screen them for foreign sympathies or financial problems today.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:58 PM on July 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


Sorry, I'm not on the CIA payroll nor a troll. In my opinion, here are the valid comparisons between Assange and Breitbart: both men are absolutely sure that what they are doing is right; both men consider the ends to justify the means, editing the content they release for maximum explosive benefit. Both are self-aggrandizing and seemingly incapable of apologies. But that's the extent of the comparison I was trying to make: their tactics are similar. They are not exactly the same.

Apparently there's been an active Assange=Breitbart campaign that I've blissfully ignored, and it's gotten peoples' hackles up. My perspective is, it's too bad the guy "on our side" isn't more careful of innocent bystanders as he pushes our shared agenda.

Meanwhile, it's still bullshit to start ad hominem attacks because a comment on MetaFilter resembles one you heard somebody make in another thread or on another site. But hey Kip, maybe we'll run into each other at a PDX meetup and you can tell me about all the cool magazines you read.
posted by danblaker at 10:59 PM on July 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


So either the government knows what is in the insurance file because they already know who leaked it and where it came from, or the long-dispelled rumors of an NSA backdoor in AES256 are in fact true, and Assange knows that the feds can see inside the file.

Or they have things to hide (duh) and can't say for sure, but fear, which ones he has access to.

Could this file possibly be something other than classified state secrets? Could it be some sort of virus? Or personal blackmail?
posted by emilyd22222 at 11:01 PM on July 30, 2010


I think Assange is a jackass, and here's why.

The historical equivalent that comes to everyone's mind are The Pentagon Papers. Yet there's an important distinction between Assange and Daniel Ellsberg.

* The Pentagon Papers were essentially an internal report about the why of the Vietnam War.
* The WikiLeaks' Afghan War Diary is the what.

The why is useful, inasmuch as it speaks to the reasoning behind the decisions of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, the timing of those decisions, and the dissembling.

The what is just an avalanche of stuff. Some of it is useful. None of it is parsed. Some of it is irresponsible, as I'm sure some Afghan informants and American soldiers are finding out about right now.

I'm tempted to think of an analogy. Imagine a bunch of British soldiers executed some Nazi prisoners. A journalist discovers a record of this, along with the latest details about supply convoys crossing the Atlantic. The journalist releases all of this in the name of radical transparency, regardless of the fact that the malfeasance discovered doesn't have anything at to do with a bunch of merchant marines.

Think of another analogy -- the Pat Tillman case. It's desirable for the public to know about a likely cover-up. It's not useful for the public to know what Tillman's old unit did last week.

If Assange had spent one iota of effort in parsing the data, extracting the why, or acting like a journalist, we'd be fitting him for sainthood.

If the guy dressed in rags on the corner screaming and waving a sign reading The Asteroid is Coming to Kill Us All ... if that guy knew he was right, and had evidence he was right ... wouldn't you be mad at him ... for dressing in rags on the corner screaming and waving a sign? Isn't there a better way than this?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:02 PM on July 30, 2010 [20 favorites]


classified means don't tell anyone for a reason

Your classification scheme creates no obligations on me to respect it if I never agreed to respect it in the first place.

I would respect Assange if he put together a trusted, international steering committee to review these secret documents before he leaks them.

Any attempt to create their own panel judging whether or not something should be leaked essentially makes them complicit in covering something up, and makes their own policies subject to debate and a battle for control. I trust a blanket "leak it all" site more than one that pre-judges the leak.

I assume some people some people here like these leaks merely because they concern wars that they don't like (I'm not a fan either) or military tactics they don't like (I'm definitely not a fan).

I like the leaks just because they expose the dirty reality of war. I don't find as much troublesome in the material as others, but what I find offensive is the sanitizing of war where we don't understand the human cost because we only see footage from embedded reporters with a built-in sympathy for the guys around them with guns, and piles of dry numbers about how many civilians were killed.

Even if the leaks reveal no war crimes, they're worth making so we have some idea about the reality on the ground, and can hopefully make more informed choices as a body politic about going to war.
posted by fatbird at 11:07 PM on July 30, 2010 [8 favorites]


I know everyone and their grandma will think this is crass and what-have-you, but I'd much, much rather have a few hundred US soldiers and informants killed than many more thousands of Iraqi and Afghani civilians killed in my name. Anyone who voluntarily signs up to fight for a government has to live with the consequences and repercussions of that government's actions. And as for the question of whether maybe militaries have a right to keep certain secrets, I don't think militaries have a right to exist, so, yeah.
posted by cthuljew at 11:08 PM on July 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


Bruce Schneier writes in Applied Cryptography about the strength of 256-bit keys, namely, the basic requirement on energy necessary to iterate through a full 256-bit counter:
One of the consequences of the second law of thermodynamics is that a certain amount of energy is necessary to represent information. To record a single bit by changing the state of a system requires an amount of energy no less than kT, where T is the absolute temperature of the system and k is the Boltzman constant. (Stick with me; the physics lesson is almost over.)

Given that k = 1.38×10-16 erg/°Kelvin, and that the ambient temperature of the universe is 3.2°Kelvin, an ideal computer running at 3.2°K would consume 4.4×10-16 ergs every time it set or cleared a bit. To run a computer any colder than the cosmic background radiation would require extra energy to run a heat pump.

Now, the annual energy output of our sun is about 1.21×1041 ergs. This is enough to power about 2.7×1056 single bit changes on our ideal computer; enough state changes to put a 187-bit counter through all its values. If we built a Dyson sphere around the sun and captured all its energy for 32 years, without any loss, we could power a computer to count up to 2^192. Of course, it wouldn’t have the energy left over to perform any useful calculations with this counter.

But that’s just one star, and a measly one at that. A typical supernova releases something like 10^51 ergs. (About a hundred times as much energy would be released in the form of neutrinos, but let them go for now.) If all of this energy could be channeled into a single orgy of computation, a 219-bit counter could be cycled through all of its states.
These numbers have nothing to do with the technology of the devices; they are the maximums that thermodynamics will allow. And they strongly imply that brute-force attacks against 256-bit keys will be infeasible until computers are built from something other than matter and occupy something other than space.

so it seems unlikely that anyone will see the contents of that insurance file unless he tells us the password or otherwise used a easy-to-guess password.
posted by grandsham at 11:14 PM on July 30, 2010 [40 favorites]


"I trust a blanket "leak it all" site more than one that pre-judges the leak."

But what if the leaked information is false? Wikileaks hasn't been around long enough for anyone to start using it for propaganda purposes, but if they survive it's inevitable that someone will lie to them. (Imagine a deluge of emails like the climategate thing, except with some forged "smoking gun" stuff hidden in the real correspondence.)

In the end it all comes down to responsibility. Do those who wish to tell the truth have a responsibility to ensure that A: Their information is correct and B: It's release will not directly harm others? Or can they just pass on everything that comes in?
posted by Kevin Street at 11:15 PM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


classified means don't tell anyone for a reason

I realise this may be fucking stunning news to some people, but the entire word is not under some sort of rule bestowed by God Almighty where the opinions of the US government are an iron-clad law by which the rest of us are bound.
posted by rodgerd at 11:19 PM on July 30, 2010 [28 favorites]


For what it's worth, Dan, I didn't rag on your comparison because it was like some comment somewhere else; I ragged on it because, well, it pretty much precisely was that comparison. To focus on nothing but the surfacest of surface-level "tactics," to discount the context and ramifications until an equivalence can be made, is, well, I said "ignorant," and I stand by it. —Facile might have been a better term. Ah well.

But the only ad hominem I kicked around was aimed squarely at Breitbart. Let's be clear about that.

—And the New Yorker's a fine rag; it's published Seymour Hersh. It's also published Jeffrey Goldberg, though. And insofar as the strictly speaking accuracy of its much-vaunted profiles is concerned, it's hard to wash the taste of Masson v. New Yorker Magazine out of one's mouth—much as I might agree with the ruling, and the writerly techniques in question.

But they do paint a neat little picture, those two pieces, side-by-side like that, of a troublemaker out of power, and a troublemaker very much in the halls of power, don't they?
posted by kipmanley at 11:20 PM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


But what if the leaked information is false?

The leaked information might be false with a leak okayed by a steering committee, too. It's neither here nor there. But with the steering committee, you're also factoring in their agenda. And fundamentally, you can't really know what the steering committee isn't releasing according to their agenda because they're not releasing it. You don't even have the information necessary to evaluate whether or not they're abiding by their stated agenda.

Also, any cursory inspection of the politics of Wikipedia editors should quickly dissuade anyone of the notion that a bunch of users of a particular website can govern themselves effectively or implement an agenda coherently.
posted by fatbird at 11:31 PM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


If Assange is so pro-transparency, why is he secretive about his origin, his location, and his future travel itinerary? It's because he fears reprisals, right?

Didn't the Afghan informants in those leaked documents deserve the same consideration?
posted by sharkfu at 11:34 PM on July 30, 2010 [9 favorites]


Insurance, to be decoded if I am killed or disappear under mysterious circumstances:

Fbzrgvzrf fuerqqrq purqqne pbfgf gur fnzr nf erthyne aba-fuerqqrq purqqne, ohg V qba'g ohl vg rira vs V jnag fuerqqrq purqqne orpnhfr V qba'g jnag gur purpxre naq gur crbcyr va yvar gb guvax V'z fbzr fbeg bs grezvanyyl ynml nffubyr jub pna'g or obgurerq gb fuerq uvf qbja qnza purqqne. Gunaxf sbe yrggvat zr trg gung bss zl purfg.
posted by lore at 11:36 PM on July 30, 2010 [22 favorites]


Nobody in my lifetime has fucked with The Man so hardball as Assange. I am in awe of this dude; he is a godlike figure casted from amalgamated brass testicles. Every one of you mother fuckers who think the world is going to shit but get up every morning and go to a corporate job instead of doing something need to fuck off. Did you think seriously stepping to power and punching it square in the fucking mouth was going to be a neat, clean, friendly gesture? This is a massively important and desperately needed full frontal assault on everything that is working to destroy you. How anyone who thinks the war is wrong, that corporate power monopolies are wrong, that the stranglehold they have on humanity by working in cooperation with corrupt governments is wrong can knock what Assange is doing is totally beyond me.
posted by The Straightener at 11:38 PM on July 30, 2010 [110 favorites]


Assange and Breitbart are both horrible people who are engaged in pissing contest to see who can destroy America faster one from the far left and the other from the far right. The collateral murder was highly effective propaganda that was edited to show the incident in the worst possible light. We saw with climate gate that you can dump a load of shit, highlight a few key documents and create a total propoganda win. This latest leak is nothing more. Danger Room had an excellent report up on the problems with the raw kinds of reports that were leaked
posted by humanfont at 11:43 PM on July 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Now and then you hear some paranoid speculation that the US military can, indeed, crack AES-256.

So to square that paranoid circle, how cool would it be if this was all just a clever test?
posted by rokusan at 11:51 PM on July 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


The Straightener: "Nobody in my lifetime has fucked with The Man so hardball as Assange. I am in awe of this dude; he is a godlike figure casted from amalgamated brass testicles."

The Straightener, he may be your personal Tyler Durden to worship, but I fail to see how foreign-born Taliban thugs hunting down Afghan informants and cutting off their heads doesn't fit into the "making the world shittier" column. If you were an Afghan informant, I'm guessing you'd put Julian Assange into the "working to destroy me" category right about now.
posted by sharkfu at 12:04 AM on July 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


mediareport: The informants' names element is truly awful, though; it seems like a mistake that could have been avoided with just a bit more care.

Thanks for the CJR link. I'm not sure it makes Assange look any better, though. My suggestion of a "trusted committee" would be one trusted by Assange to keep him honest. I'm not sure he's interested in that type of self-reflection; it certainly isn't what happened in this case. He basically just leaked advanced copies to journalists who, in their own admission, were looking for newsworthy items.

Maybe it was a brilliant idea to keep the Afghan names in the docs; I hope the Taliban spend the next 10 years downloading these docs over a 14.4 modem, trying to learn English, and wandering across the country looking for the named informants instead of abusing girls and protecting Al Qaeda.
posted by danblaker at 12:20 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the guy dressed in rags on the corner screaming and waving a sign reading The Asteroid is Coming to Kill Us All ... if that guy knew he was right, and had evidence he was right ... wouldn't you be mad at him ... for dressing in rags on the corner screaming and waving a sign? Isn't there a better way than this?

Is there? What does the "better way" look like? You imply elsewhere in your comment that Assange et al. should act more like journalists, but these days "acting like a journalist" frequently means embedded reporting, regurgitating press releases and government talking points, and failing to release information like the Collateral Murder video (which was in a WaPo reporter's possession for over a year before Wikileaks released it). Wikileaks is useful precisely because it circumvents some of the serious problems with mainstream journalism today.

Also, people realize that Wikileaks isn't a one-man show, right? Assange doesn't decide what to release all by himself; there is a sort of "trusted committee" that vets the information that's leaked to them and decides how to handle it. And people remember that they released tons of information (much of it unrelated to US foreign policy) before the Collateral Murder video and the Afghan War Diary reports, right? It's interesting how much more narrow and hostile the discussions about Wikileaks have become since they started releasing stuff that seriously undermines the "We're the good guys" narrative about America's latest wars.
posted by twirlip at 12:40 AM on July 31, 2010 [9 favorites]


Also this is the dumbest insurance plan ever. Now anyone who thinks the secret file will help their cause will have a motive to kill him. Also there is no way to know if the file has been cracked. Sure AES is hard, but there must be some form of a deadmans switch. It may be possible to compromise the letter in a safety deposit box or trusted freind, etc and gain access to the contents. There are plenty of folks who will try. So now everyone who Assange could potentially have enlisted to aid in his insurance scheme is a potential target.
posted by humanfont at 12:40 AM on July 31, 2010


I know everyone and their grandma will think this is crass and what-have-you, but I'd much, much rather have a few hundred US soldiers and informants killed than many more thousands of Iraqi and Afghani civilians killed in my name.

Crass? Saying "I'd rather have X killed than Y" when the deaths of neither X nor Y directly affect you? Try immoral.

In other news, I am absolutely puzzled to how far the AES256 discussion has gone in this thread. Do you really believe this insurance policy thing anything other than a bluff? Puh-lease. You give this dude waaaay too much credit.
posted by falameufilho at 12:46 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


* The Pentagon Papers were essentially an internal report about the why of the Vietnam War.
* The WikiLeaks' Afghan War Diary is the what.


Not necessarily. It's too soon to know what is in the documents. They may reveal all kinds of why.
Going back to the William Gibson analogies, it seems a little like stumbling on the military worm in Burning Chrome - you can't sit on something that big for very long, the powers looking for it are bigger than you. You don't get to edit it at your leisure, connect the dots, find the narrative. It's too big. There just isn't the time or manpower. So you sit on it as long as you can, you do as much as you can (which is almost nothing) and then detonate it.

It will take months to synthesize these documents enough to find out if they reveal a broader story.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:50 AM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I've seen this episode before - I know what's in the insurance file download.

1.4 gigabytes of lesbians.

The NSA guy assigned to use the AES backdoor machine is going to have a long and happy night tonight.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:56 AM on July 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


These folks (and it's not just Assange, right?) are fucking heroes.
posted by serazin at 1:00 AM on July 31, 2010


A weird Adrain Lamo on medication?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/newsnight/ 23:10 in.
He's asked "why did you report Private Manning". It's the eyes - very disturbing.
posted by kingzog at 1:02 AM on July 31, 2010


danblaker said: In my opinion, here are the valid comparisons between Assange and Breitbart: both men are absolutely sure that what they are doing is right;...

Yeah, no. Breitbart knows what he is doing isn't "right" ("Right" maybe, but not "right"); he chooses "wrong" over "right" to achieve his nefarious ends.
posted by amyms at 1:03 AM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Let me get this straight. Assange leaks documents and now Americans are worried about the lives of Afghan civilians.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:08 AM on July 31, 2010 [79 favorites]


If you were an Afghan informant, I'm guessing you'd put Julian Assange into the "working to destroy me" category right about now.

That's bullshit for so many reasons:

1. Afghan informants are likely working to improve Afghanistan, and the cult of secrecy that has been in place the last decade has done nothing significant to make their situation any better.

2. Information that would compromise people was culled by the editorial staff of the NY Times, Guardian and Der Spiegel.

3. The information in the leaks is already old to begin with, and it was deliberately withheld so that the above excuse can't easily be used.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:12 AM on July 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


Fbzrgvzrf fuerqqrq purqqne pbfgf gur fnzr nf erthyne aba-fuerqqrq purqqne, ohg V qba'g ohl vg rira vs V jnag fuerqqrq purqqne orpnhfr V qba'g jnag gur purpxre naq gur crbcyr va yvar gb guvax V'z fbzr fbeg bs grezvanyyl ynml nffubyr jub pna'g or obgurerq gb fuerq uvf qbja qnza purqqne. Gunaxf sbe yrggvat zr trg gung bss zl purfg.

V'z zber bs n zbmneryyn sna zlfrys.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:19 AM on July 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's previously been reported that the use of drones, quite apart from the regular 'collateral damage', led to many killings of suspected informants (assumed to have provided target information to the coalition forces). Neither those deaths nor the occasional wedding party massacre seemed to have deterred military planners from that strategy; it's hard to see their new-found concern for the lives of informants as much more than post facto spin even if taken at face value and so ignoring the contention of the leakers (that on preview I see BP point out) that compromising information was redacted or long out of date.
posted by Abiezer at 1:20 AM on July 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ever since I saw the first Wikileaks story with a pic of Assange I could only remember the tall quiet dude with whom I spent a couple of hours shooting the breeze at a party in Melbourne a decade ago, chatting about all sorts of geeky stuff like his favourite programming language and how monads work. (I've been a fan of OCaml since then, for what it's worth.)

I often feel the urge to shake my middle-class Indian countrymen - WAKE THE FUCK UP from your cricket and bollywood and weddings and Star Plus soaps and new car and puja and look at what's going on around you, get a sense of perspective.

Assange is a computer geek like me and plenty of other people on Metafilter, except that he had the balls to act on that impulse the best way he knows how. I can take exception to various details - some things really do need to be secret for the sake of the safety of guys on your side - but I can only aspire to the courage and imagination to lay bare the lies and stir shit up the way he is. Transparency is key to proper functioning of any democracy. People deserve to know what the hell is going on in their name and with their money and lives. If the entrenched media is not capable or willing to do that, somebody else has to.
posted by vanar sena at 1:33 AM on July 31, 2010 [34 favorites]


It's interesting how much more narrow and hostile the discussions about Wikileaks have become since they started releasing stuff that seriously undermines the "We're the good guys" narrative about America's latest wars.

I really wonder if some users on Metafilter and other sites are fed talking points to criticize Wikileaks and Assange with, because in the last thread on this issue, I read someone using the "double game" talking point well before it was used elsewhere. It ended up in on NPR later in the afternoon in an interview with a military official who was criticizing Wikileaks and Pakistan. That same "double game" phrasing only ended up in the mainstream media two or three days later, so it wasn't some term that had been regurgitated elsewhere before it ended up here. I wouldn't be surprised at all to hear there was a low-level smear campaign in place, where people are compensated for planting misinformation and viral phrasing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:36 AM on July 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


You know what i had thought of a little while ago?

The ONLY people who this is being "leaked" to is us Americans.

EVERY single person in Afghanistan knows whats going on. People talk when the neighborhood next street over gets blown up. They have more cellphones, computers, and communications technology now than by any other country who was invaded at any other point in history.

THEY know, and they are angry; you would be too. The only people who are informed by these "secrets" being "leaked" are us Americans. That will cause us questioning the military, which in turn will severely decrease interest in the military which would effectively cause decline enlistment numbers and officer quality.

Once we get to the lower limits of the above...we will leave Afghanistan. So yeah...I want the war to end, and stop marking off names I have in my head when I hear bad news every 2 or so years since 2002.

So yeah...go wikileaks.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:49 AM on July 31, 2010 [13 favorites]


That same "double game" phrasing only ended up in the mainstream media two or three days later...

A google timeline:

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22double+game%22+afghan+war&hl=en&prmd=nv&source=lnt&tbs=tl:1&sa=X&ei=JOJTTIDJNoK78gaLyt2_BA&ved=0CBgQpwU4Cg

Maybe they're in on it, too?

And yeah, I realize not all entries are relevant. But my intent is to show the phrase is common enough that the CIA probably isn't seeding it to MeFi members in order to sway public opinion about Wikileaks.

And Assange? Agree with him or not, the guy isn't exactly humble.
posted by dave78981 at 1:53 AM on July 31, 2010


oops- forgot to linkify...

A google timeline
posted by dave78981 at 1:56 AM on July 31, 2010


The Insurance file better be the State Department cables.

Bradley Manning told Lamo that he gave them to Wikileaks, then WL turns around and says it doesn't have them (even though WL put up the initial Iceland cable that Manning said he gave to WL).

Manning believed that those cables and memorandums were worse than the war logs and showed political skulduggery in multiple places (including the nature of the foreign aid sent to Pakistan).
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 1:57 AM on July 31, 2010


"2. Information that would compromise people was culled by the editorial staff of the NY Times, Guardian and Der Spiegel.

3. The information in the leaks is already old to begin with, and it was deliberately withheld so that the above excuse can't easily be used.
"

I'm not trying to start an argument, but this isn't true. In regards to #2, Wikileaks released all of the information (without redactions) at the same time the newspapers went public with their stories. And in regard to #3, how can the names of informants and such be less relevant now than they were years ago? If these people are still living in Afghanistan, then they are in danger.

Wikileaks is something new and very powerful. It could be a badly needed force for good in the world, bringing attention to things that the media won't touch. But there are a lot of potential problems that I don't Assange or the people he's working with have acknowledged yet.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:59 AM on July 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


It is interesting how very concerned Gates and others are about "innocent" blood, all of a sudden, when that "innocent" blood is the blood of soldiers and military informants. One does wonder why they seemed less inclined to shriek outrage at the countless innocents whose blood has actually (as opposed to potentially) been shed at the hands of these other "innocents".

Assange nails it in today's Guardian piece:

He said in a statement: "Secretary Gates speaks about hypothetical blood, but the grounds of Iraq and Afghanistan are covered with real blood."

Thousands of children and adults had been killed and the US could have announced a broad inquiry into these killings, "but he decided to treat these issues with contempt''.

He said: "This behaviour is unacceptable. We will continue to expose abuses by this administration and others.""Secretary Gates speaks about hypothetical blood, but the grounds of Iraq and Afghanistan are covered with real blood."


You go, Julian.
posted by Decani at 2:02 AM on July 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


For those of you suggesting that the existence of this insurance file will motivate American enemies to come after Assange, that could be a calculated risk. After all, that might even put the US government and CIA in a position where they want to actively protect Assange from such people. It depends what's in that file. It almost seems like that would have to be part of Wikileaks' calculations.

Here's another interesting thing: Assange could have already given the key to the government, so they can clearly see what's at stake. No reason not to, and all the better to motivate them if the insurance is truly damaging. For that reason, the US government have to suspect it was a bluff if it doesn't receive a copy of the key.

Is this really a sustainable situation? It seems kind of desperate, actually.
posted by Edgewise at 2:03 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


The photos of Abu Ghraib also aided and abetted "the enemy" and served as a great recruitment tool.
posted by iamck at 2:07 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the military needs to review whatever policy that exists that grants access to such highly classified infromation to relatively untested 22 year old privates.

And those State Department memos, if they are what Manning says they are, are exactly the kind of thing that needs to stay secret. Ambassadors' impressions of other countries' leaders don't need to be publicized. If Assange does publish them, we'll know that the truth is not his primary concern here.

That's gotta be some kind of ego trip to give the most powerful country in the world a black eye with a few keystrokes...
posted by dave78981 at 2:10 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Assange's best insurance right now is that half the world is talking about him. If I were him, I'd be extremely disinterested in leaving the media spotlight.
posted by dave78981 at 2:16 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


dave78981, please, those memos NEED to be published, especially the ones that relate to Pakistan.

The war logs only show one half of the story. The tactical level of what is happening. Those memos show the high level policy. Those memos are the real equivalent of the Pentagon Papers.

So, on the one hand we have the war logs, which show us the military ground truth and what is happening inside Afghanistan. They showed us the relationship between the military, Afghanistan civilians, and the Taliban. All out in the open in raw data. It shows the military fucking the Afghan people, and it shows the military being fucked by the ISI-supported Taliban.

Those memos -- if they exist -- show us what is happening inside Pakistan. They show us the other side of the fence and the relationship between the CIA, State, and Pakistan (that's what Manning said: the real deal on what the foreign aid means).

In essence, we have a military (the US and its allies) that is fighting in a country where their enemy (the Taliban) is propped up economically by their own country (US support of Pakistan and the ISI).

Seriously, can you see the batshit insanity going on with that? Am I living in a Pynchon novel?

And you don't think that information needs to be published?
posted by ollyollyoxenfree at 2:23 AM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I find it amusing that we can't browse this wikileaks stuff from unclassified internet-connected computers at work. See, if any of that material is classified, then it can't be on an unclass computer, and the classified computer systems aren't connected to the internet. Oddly enough, surfing the general internet or reading an email someone sent me about it could cause me to exceed the classification rating of my system and require reporting as a security violation.

I'm not speculating about a hypothetical - we've been warned about it. User accounts have been disabled and machines quarantined for security sweeps over this already.
posted by ctmf at 2:27 AM on July 31, 2010 [12 favorites]


So, you could probably cause mass chaos by spamming something classified from wikileaks to everyone at your local government agency.
posted by ctmf at 2:31 AM on July 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


So that Pakistan- a NUCLEAR POWER- becomes destabilized and falls under Taliban control and then starts a regional nuclear war with India? Is that what you have in mind? Because Afghanistan doesn't mean shit in the scheme of things. It's a backward, godforsaken canker of a place and has been for centuries. But it is keeping Pakistan busy until we figure out what to do with them.

Stop all aid to Pakistan and it- and that region- will implode. And then whose fault will it be when the rest of the world gets sucked in? Will it be St. Julian's or St. Brad's?

You're right, it is insanity. But international relations have always been insanity. Much too complicated to be left to an unstable 22 year old shitbird Army private to decide what to do about it.
posted by dave78981 at 2:42 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Much too complicated to be left to an unstable 22 year old shitbird Army private to decide what to do about it.

Instead we left it to an unstable dry-drunk 55 year old shitbird and his evil henchmen. And it worked out so well for us.
posted by Justinian at 2:46 AM on July 31, 2010 [13 favorites]


Believe me, I'm definitely not defending the drydrunk shitbird- not at all.

But slamming on the brakes- or having the brakes slammed- will have dire consequences for the US and the world in many ways that would probably be much worse than what's going on now.
posted by dave78981 at 2:51 AM on July 31, 2010


Thousands of children and adults had been killed and the US could have announced a broad inquiry into these killings, "but he decided to treat these issues with contempt''.

Not with contempt, with genuine concern. ISAF has worked with the Afghan Government and local populations to attempt to refine rules of engagement and avoid incidents. Meanwhile those we are fighting want to increase their body count and find new creative ways to terrorize people.

Assange decided to release the names of people who had been working anonymously to stop these violent thugs. This isn't theoretical blood, it is real and will lead to more.
posted by humanfont at 2:58 AM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Gur cersreerq abzrapyngher bire urer va Byqr Ratynaq vf "tengrq purrfr" juvpu frrzf gb zber npphengryl pbairl gur fbzrjung naablvat cebprff bs erqhpvat purrfr gb fznyyvfu guernqf.

Ohg V ybir gur Nzrevpna cuenfr, orpnhfr "fuerqqrq purqqne" znxrf vg fbhaq yvxr gur zbgureshpxvat Uhyx pnzr va naq evccrq gung oybpx bs purrfr ncneg jvgu uvf oner shpxvat unaqf. Njrfbzr.

posted by the latin mouse at 3:12 AM on July 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


US tax dollars at work in Pakistan
posted by adamvasco at 3:12 AM on July 31, 2010


So that Pakistan- a NUCLEAR POWER- becomes destabilized and falls under Taliban control and then starts a regional nuclear war with India?

The Taliban are no fans of India, being full of kafirs and all that, but we're not really their concern in the scheme of things. OTOH, it concerns Pakistan's military establishment that a peaceful Afghanistan will quickly fill up with Indian contractors and that growing influence will provide India with strategic depth on the western border of Pakistan. Limiting Indian influence in Afghanistan is an important part of their greater strategy.

Now let's look at the decision-buffer aid you're talking about. Let's see how that aid has been spent. Does it look odd? It does to me - frigates, seaborne helicopters, F16s and anti-armour missiles don't seem like the kind of thing that would be strictly necessary in the GWOT. Rather than the aid being spent on fighting terrorists, what is happening is that US taxpayers are fronting Pakistan money to buy arms from US companies, mostly of the sort that are of limited use against terrorists but would be very good against a regular military (particularly navy) like India.

So yeah, I don't think the security of India should come up as a justification for the billions that Pakistan is getting from the US.
posted by vanar sena at 3:15 AM on July 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


classified means don't tell anyone for a reason

Sometimes that reason is 'we murdered a large number of civilians, and we'd really rather not tell anyone about it'.

Classification isn't just about protecting operational secrets. It's also routinely used to obscure mistakes, cover-up atrocities and war crimes, and manipulate public opinion, and I am very happy to see those stones lifted and some light shone on what squirms underneath.

I have mixed feelings on the naming of informants. There will be some brave people amongst those informants, who are now at risk, and I am very unhappy about that. There will be some people who used the coalition to settle scores by 'informing' on rivals, just like Guantanamo scooped up anyone who had a finger pointed at them. The public reaction from governments of 'oh no, civilians at risk' is so contemptibly hypocritical that it is laughable.

Assange and Breitbart are both horrible people who are engaged in pissing contest to see who can destroy America faster

Yes, sure, because this is all about America.
posted by reynir at 3:28 AM on July 31, 2010 [9 favorites]


An itemized list of arms sales that's somewhat easier to read.
posted by vanar sena at 3:29 AM on July 31, 2010


So yeah, I don't think the security of India should come up as a justification for the billions that Pakistan is getting from the US

I was using that as an example of what could happen, but it could be any of a number of other things as well. My main point is that the Taliban would love to get their hands on that nuclear arsenal that Pakistan has. And they've shown little to no regard for unremittant killing and evil-doing. So yeah, maybe they'd just launch a missle into Mumbai for the fuck of it. Or load one into a shipping container and blow it up somewhere else. They- THEY- are bat shit crazy insane. I'm much more worried about the carnage they might inflict if (or maybe now, it's when) they get control of Pakistan.
posted by dave78981 at 3:49 AM on July 31, 2010


They- THEY- are bat shit crazy insane
OK just like these people described in this article then.
posted by adamvasco at 4:32 AM on July 31, 2010


What disturbs me about so many of the comments here is the simple idea that what Wikileaks does is vital to our understanding of is "really" going on in our wars...most of this was already known or at least readily available, and though perhaps it is helpful or important to make it known in greater detail to a general public, now that we do know it...well, what is going to change?
posted by Postroad at 4:41 AM on July 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


Yes, exactly like those people.

Although, in the US, the military is subservient to elected officials. Not so much with the Taliban.

Also, we're not a failed state- yet.
posted by dave78981 at 4:42 AM on July 31, 2010


the Taliban would love to get their hands on that nuclear arsenal that Pakistan has.

If/when this takes place, it will be with the collusion of elements in the military that are sympathetic to them. The deliberate inculcation of this sympathy is part of a thirty-year-old strategy that involves the US at the highest level (support for Gen. Zia against Soviets in Afghanistan), but amazingly this rarely came up in the last decade of war until Wikileaks threw it into sharp focus last week.

Now it's everywhere of course, but only thanks to Wikileaks and no thanks to whatever media and military strategy was being pursued earlier. Why would you defend the status quo?
posted by vanar sena at 4:43 AM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Several media outlets have found the names of Afghan informants in the documents WikiLeaks published, as well as information identifying their location in some instances. A Taliban spokesman told Britain’s Channel 4 news that the group was sifting through the WikiLeaks documents to get the names of suspected informants and would punish anyone found to have collaborated with the United States and its allies."

Okay, wikileaks dude, not only have you put these people in danger, you have also made it thatmuchharder for us to do what we need to do to either win or get out of Afghanistan. My daughter's deployed boyfriend is probably really really thrilled with you right now. Only not.

You are no hero. You are a lazy sob who had lives in your hands and you chose to dump all this info instead of think about what you were doing. I have absolutely no respect for you whatsoever. Ends do not justify means, dude. You think the US has blood on its hands? Well, so do you. SO DO YOU.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:57 AM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why would you defend the status quo?

I'm not sure what status quo you're talking about, but a deviation from the status quo in the world- if that's what you mean- would be utterly devastating.

Shall we tear it all down then? And then what?

but amazingly this rarely came up in the last decade of war until Wikileaks threw it into sharp focus last week.

Well, the mainstream media is a poor tool for in depth coverage or deep background of current events- at least here in the US. I can't speak much to world media.

But still, I suspect there was some coverage of this connection. Again, a google keyword timeline suggests much discussion of Taliban Pakistan and nuclear weapons over the past ten years, especially when major things happened in Afghanistan. I haven't delved much into the articles themselves because, well, I'm at a work and I don't have the time to read that much information.

And yes, the US government probably had some hand in that. I doubt there was much going on inside many countries in the last thirty, even fifty years, that the US didn't have some part of. That's the way it goes when you're the big dog.
posted by dave78981 at 5:11 AM on July 31, 2010


And when I say that the US had a hand in it, I don't mean in some nefarious way, although doubtless that's the way it comes off. I think it has more to do with some complicated calculus the government came up with to serve the greater good. Which of course doesn't serve the greater good and more often than not achieves the opposite end.
posted by dave78981 at 5:29 AM on July 31, 2010


Any action like this is going to have both pros and cons. It's never a black and white. The very same things that put the lives of American soldiers and local collaborators at risk will possibly save the lives of some Afghanis on the other side. As far as I can see, that is pretty much a wash, I can see how those of you who have people you know over there fighting might see differently. The difference between ISAF forces and their local enemies is what they are fighting for. They're fighting for self-governance, theocracy and tribalism. ISAF is fighting for democracy, freedom and capitalism (And I don't think capitalism is necessarily a bad thing).

And the real question is then, will this leak help promote theocracy and tribalism or democracy and freedom. And when I put it like that, I just don't see the downside.
posted by Authorized User at 5:34 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


vanar sena: Transparency is key to proper functioning of any democracy. People deserve to know what the hell is going on in their name and with their money and lives. If the entrenched media is not capable or willing to do that, somebody else has to.

I can't favorite this hard enough.
posted by lordrunningclam at 5:36 AM on July 31, 2010


Complete transparency is not key to winning a war. And winning the war is what the military's aim should be.
posted by dave78981 at 5:38 AM on July 31, 2010


It is interesting how very concerned Gates and others are about "innocent" blood, all of a sudden, when that "innocent" blood is the blood of soldiers and military informants. One does wonder why they seemed less inclined to shriek outrage at the countless innocents whose blood has actually (as opposed to potentially) been shed at the hands of these other "innocents".
posted by Decani at 2:02 AM on July 31

Maybe it was a brilliant idea to keep the Afghan names in the docs; I hope the Taliban spend the next 10 years downloading these docs over a 14.4 modem, trying to learn English, and wandering across the country looking for the named informants instead of abusing girls and protecting Al Qaeda.
posted by danblaker at 12:20 AM on July 31

I know everyone and their grandma will think this is crass and what-have-you, but I'd much, much rather have a few hundred US soldiers and informants killed than many more thousands of Iraqi and Afghani civilians killed in my name. Anyone who voluntarily signs up to fight for a government has to live with the consequences and repercussions of that government's actions. And as for the question of whether maybe militaries have a right to keep certain secrets, I don't think militaries have a right to exist, so, yeah.
posted by cthuljew at 11:08 PM on July 30


Listen to yourselves. If there's one group of people in this war who deserve admiration, it's the locals who've had themselves and their families tyrannized for years by the Taliban butchers and who've placed themselves under tremendous risk of pain and death by deciding to fight back.

But Assange is a hero and these people are fucking inconvenient so you have to go and make some ridiculous excuses for dismissing or even attacking them.
posted by Anything at 5:43 AM on July 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


Oh yeah this leak is not good for the US military and it's allies. What's good for the US military and it's allies is not necessarily the same as what's good for the rest of us.
posted by Authorized User at 5:44 AM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


And when I say that the US had a hand in it, I don't mean in some nefarious way, although doubtless that's the way it comes off.

It's not really nefarious, more the lumbering short-sightedness of the big dog assuming that all the little brown dogs are dumbasses. That same short-sightedness has been at work for the last decade and even now; it's about time someone in the Big Dog media pointed it out loudly and clearly.
posted by vanar sena at 5:50 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


You think the US has blood on its hands? Well, so do you. SO DO YOU.

I find it really distressing that you hold the theoretical blood on Assanage's hand as so deplorable, but fail to even mention anything negative relating to the ACTUAL blood on the hands of those in some of these leaks.

Nobody has died (yet) at the hands of Assanage that we know of. Plenty of civilians, apparently at the hands of psychopathic nintendo troops, have ALREADY been killed and the documents classified as top secret to prevent the details from coming out. Where's your outrage at reality?
posted by Hiker at 5:56 AM on July 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


On June 21, Julian Assange told The Guardian that WikiLeaks had hired three US criminal lawyers to defend Manning but that they had been denied access to him.

Boing Boing asked Lieutenant Colonel Eric Bloom whether Manning was "represented by any civilian attorney" and Bloom responded, "I do not know of any rebuffing. I've been in the military for 26 years, and I've never heard of any party's attempt to secure legal representation being denied. We don't rebuff representation".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arrest_of_Bradley_Manning

What a gutless, sneaky non-answer, eh?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:58 AM on July 31, 2010


What a gutless, sneaky non-answer, eh?

You know, you can't just cut different parts out of the interview and put them together to make your point. I mean, you can, but when it's so easy to google it and GET THE FULL INTERVIEW, why even try to obsfuscate this way?

Here.

And if you're too lazy to click the link, I'll just paste the whole thing here:

Boing Boing/Xeni Jardin: What are the maximum penalties in Manning's case, based on the charges filed today? Do any of these charges carry the possibility of capital punishment?

U.S. Army/Ltc. Eric Bloom: No, I don't think we're talking about the death penalty. We have calculated the maximum possible number of years based on these charges to be 52 years.

Boing Boing: So, the organization he is said to have leaked all of this classified information to, Wikileaks—

Bloom: We have not said that he has leaked all of this material. We have not confirmed that. And that organization is not named in the charges.

Boing Boing: Okay, understood. So, the organization others have reported that Manning leaked videos and State Department cables to, Wikileaks, I'm reading that they've said they have attempted to connect Manning with a lawyer, with civilian legal representation, but that those attempts have been rebuffed. Is he represented by any civilian attorney?

Bloom: We have no knowledge of any civilian attorneys he has retained. He is free to do so at any time. I do not know of any rebuffing. I've been in the military for 26 years, and I've never heard of any party's attempt to secure legal representation being denied. We don't rebuff representation.

Boing Boing: What happens next?

Bloom: As part of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the next step in proceedings would be an Article 32 Hearing, which is similiar to a grand jury. An investigating officer will be appointed, and that officer looks into all facts of the matter, does an investigation, and upon conclusion, the findings will be presented to a convening court martial authority. The division commander will consider based on what is in that, what the next steps are. Either there is enough evidence or not enough evidence to proceed to a court-martial.

Boing Boing: Where is Manning currently detained?

Bloom: He is Kuwait at Camp Arifjan.

Boing Boing: When will the next step in the proceedings take place?

Bloom: A date has not yet been set. We haven't even identified the investigating officer. We're still in the early stages of this case.



See, that's not gutless, sneaky or a non-answer. That's being precise.
posted by dave78981 at 6:20 AM on July 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


If his encrypted insurance video turns out to be the most elaborate rick-roll of all time I will just start puking everywhere.
posted by pwally at 6:33 AM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Almost 150 comments in and nobody has mentioned The Pelican Brief?

1.4 gigabytes would amount to about an hour or so of DVD quality video. My guess is it's Assange talking to a camera, and starts with the sentence "If you're watching this, it means I'm dead." Followed by a detailed description of who is planning to kill him and why.
posted by localroger at 6:38 AM on July 31, 2010


JULIAN ASSANGE: Now we contacted the White House as a group before we released this material and asked them to help assist in going through it to make sure that no innocent names came out, and the White House did not accept that request.

TONY JONES: So you're saying that you offered the White House a chance to go through the documents, or officials from the White House a chance to go through the documents and single out names of people at risk. Is that correct?

JULIAN ASSANGE: Yeah that's right. Not, of course we did not offer them a chance to veto any material, but rather we told them that we were going through a harm minimisation process and offered them the chance to point out names of informers or other innocents who might be harmed and they did not respond to that request which was mediated through the New York Times who was our, acting as the contact for the four media groups involved in this.


Via (emphasis mine)
posted by a non e mouse at 6:38 AM on July 31, 2010 [24 favorites]


Listen to yourselves. If there's one group of people in this war who deserve admiration, it's the locals who've had themselves and their families tyrannized for years by the Taliban butchers and who've placed themselves under tremendous risk of pain and death by deciding to fight back.

But Assange is a hero and these people are fucking inconvenient so you have to go and make some ridiculous excuses for dismissing or even attacking them.
posted by Anything at 8:43 AM on July 31


Well, you can choose to spin it that way, certainly. Based on what I've read about what was leaked, who is now "endangered" and whose blood has actually been spilt, and in what quantity, and by whom, and by what methods... I choose not to. I assure you that my relative lack of concern for "these people" has absolutely nothing to do with their being "inconvenient".
posted by Decani at 6:41 AM on July 31, 2010


And winning the war is what the military's aim should be.
I believe that first they need to know what they are supposed to be winning.
Nation building is not a military objective
Please explain.
posted by adamvasco at 6:42 AM on July 31, 2010


Nation building is not a military objective

No, but quelling the insurgency so that nation building can occur is a military objective. Pounding the Taliban into the ground so that locals aren't afraid to particpate in government is a military objective. Insuring that the Taliban doesn't emerge stronger and more popular after we leave is a military objective.

Right now, we are at the point where none of those three objectives have been met. We must stay until they are. It is vital to US interests and to the region. No matter how many civilians die, no matter how many troops die. It will be far far worse if we fail.

I believe that first they need to know what they are supposed to be winning.

Keeping operational secrecy is a completely seperate issue from knowing what the mission is.
posted by dave78981 at 6:59 AM on July 31, 2010


I don't get it: I'm totally impatient to see the material in question and totally unwilling to pay for it. Where's dvdjon when I need him?
posted by yerfatma at 6:59 AM on July 31, 2010


No Secrets, a New Yorker profile.
posted by timsteil at 7:01 AM on July 31, 2010


You know, you can't just cut different parts out of the interview and put them together to make your point. I mean, you can, but when it's so easy to google it and GET THE FULL INTERVIEW, why even try to obsfuscate this way?

[...]

See, that's not gutless, sneaky or a non-answer. That's being precise.


Keep ya shirt on!

What makes you think I "cut parts out" and "obsfuscated" the answer? Were you too lazy to click my link? ;)

I did, however, paste an exact quote from a Wikipedia link in good faith. My bad. And I obviously don't fully understand Julian Assange's or the CIA's side of the story, let alone Bradley Manning's when I begin scratching the surface. So yeah, again, my bad, you've given me a not-too-unfair kick in the strides that I shouldn't quote Wikipedia without fully researching the source of its quotes.

But the Bad Goran Bad Uncanny says "Are you kidding? I haven't got time for that sort of researching carry-on. We're here on Metafilter, chillin', chewin' the fat. It's not the Supreme Court."

ps: I'm going to say this again: I did not have sexual relations with that woman...
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:03 AM on July 31, 2010


The sheer disgusting filth coming out of the mouths of war supporters- people who support the war, who support the mass murder, and don't fucking tell me you're for one and not the other, because every fucking war is the same in this regard- talking about Assange having blood on his hands is simply gob-smacking.

If you support this war there is blood on your hands. End of story, full stop. You are why it is possible for this to continue. Your efforts to expiate your guilt by pointing at Assange are nauseating filth. You have far more blood on your hands than Assange could ever manage.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:04 AM on July 31, 2010 [14 favorites]


To put it in context, I thought Wikileak's related "Collateral Murder" video wasn't much chop at all. I'm on record here saying it. I'm also on record here v.recently questioning whether the latest Wikileaks info was being taken out of context.

I'm certainly not all "Julian Assange yaaay!" or anything. No dog in this race.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:10 AM on July 31, 2010


Sincere question, Pope Guilty: By saying that, do you mean, essentially, to condemn people for not being pacifists?
posted by Anything at 7:12 AM on July 31, 2010


The sheer disgusting filth coming out of the mouths of war supporters- people who support the war, who support the mass murder, and don't fucking tell me you're for one and not the other...

Shades of "either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists."
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:13 AM on July 31, 2010


"DONT...FORGET...TO...DRINK...YOUR...OVALTINE"
posted by jquinby at 7:17 AM on July 31, 2010 [7 favorites]


We must stay until they are. ^ So when are you buying your ticket?
The Taliban are not a military threat to either America or the Western World. They are involved in an ongoing civil war within the region fighting for a Pastun identity. That doesn't mean I like them or their ideals but then I'm not very fond of yours either. What the fuck do the Taliban have to do with Bridgeport, Conneticut and why do you sleep better at night knowing the US military is blowing civilians to bits half way across the globe.

Keeping operational secrecy is a completely seperate issue from knowing what the mission is. What is the mission?
posted by adamvasco at 7:25 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sorry, uncanny. This is what happens when I work 22 hours straight and at the same time attempt to make reasoned arguments on heated topics.

I do apologize, sincerely. I think that we may have gotten off on the wrong foot. And my comments may make it seem that I want something I don't- for the war to continue indefinitely. What I want is for the war to end without some greater conflageration erupting immediately after we leave. There is great potential for suffering in that region- greater than we can imagine probably. I don't want it to end that way.

Pope- yours seems like a completely unrealistic view of the world. There will always be wars and there will always be armies. You should come to terms with that now and change what you can about the world.

Hint: that ain't it.
posted by dave78981 at 7:25 AM on July 31, 2010


I do apologize, sincerely.

Jeez dave78981, right back at ya! Thanks.

Not upset at all. I wrote that whole reply with a grin on my face.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:28 AM on July 31, 2010


Julian Assange is an attention honey trap. Wikilinks is run by 100s of people, he wasn't even the founder of it (maybe co-founder but one of many).
posted by stbalbach at 7:33 AM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sigh. I don't really need to explain how the world is interconnected, do I?

Bridgeport is 55 miles from NYC. The morning the Towers were attacked I spent in the kitchen of a client glued to the TV because her husband had an appointment on the 54th floor that day.

I'm too old to go there this time around, but I was in the Army after the first Gulf War. I'll admit up front that I joined for the college money, but I was prepared to be deployed if I was called to do so. I wasn't hiding in some rear detachment- I was on an M1A1.

Also, not a neo-con, or a Republican. A lifelong democrat and a liberal, just a realist and not a pacifist.

The Taliban may be involved in a regional civil war, but given half a chance they would love to players on the world stage. You don't believe in that kind of fundamentalism and not harbor fantasies of ruling the world.

Also, you focus on the civilian casualties, but how many civilians do you think the Taliban when they resume power? If they get a nuke and detonate it? If they get a nuke and give it some fundy suicide bomber to smuggle into New York Harbor?
posted by dave78981 at 7:36 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'll just paste the whole thing here:

See? You've just demonstrated that full disclosure is a better idea because partially disclosure that doesn't give the public the full story leads is misleading and leads to the wrong conclusions. Thanks for leaking the whole interview and clearing that up. If that interview had been classified and you felt you couldn't leak it, all of us would be completely unaware of the reality of that interview and we'd have continued on unaware of how things had really gone down.

Shining light on things is good. Shining light on ugly things is great. I am truly, truly sorry for the people on the ground there, but this is how those oligarchical scumbags work: they create a horrible situation, hurl your children into it, and hold them as hostages; pretending anything you want to try and do to bring them home is treasonous, un-American, and puts the blame for their deaths in your hands and in the hands of the people who want to get them out. Defending America is one thing. Defending some rich bastard's bad idea is something else entirely.
posted by umberto at 7:37 AM on July 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


Well umberto, why don't you post your full address, scan your keys and post the jpegs, and just to insure FULL disclosure, post your bank account numbers and PIN codes. Truly sorry if this adversely affects you or your family...
posted by dave78981 at 7:44 AM on July 31, 2010


Shining light on things is good.
posted by dave78981 at 7:45 AM on July 31, 2010


No, what I've demonstrated is that information can be twisted to support what you already believe or what you want to prove. Assange is doing this as much as the US is, what with his trenchcoat shennanigans and whatnot.
posted by dave78981 at 7:51 AM on July 31, 2010


The Taliban may be involved in a regional civil war, but given half a chance they would love to players on the world stage. You don't believe in that kind of fundamentalism and not harbor fantasies of ruling the world.
Not what Jere Van Dyk who spent 45 days as a captive of the Taliban thinks:
... in an interview with AFP in New York, Van Dyk said the Taliban, unlike al-Qaeda, doesn't choose to be at war with the United States. "They're not the enemy here (on U.S. soil). They're our enemy because we're there," Van Dyk said in his apartment decorated with arrows, an Afghan saddlebag and other souvenirs of an adventurous career.

The Taliban, he said, are "isolated" and "hardened" by years of war, but still fundamentally remain a local movement, separate to al-Qaeda's global jihad. "People think they're the same, but I believe they're distinctly different."
posted by Abiezer at 7:57 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sometimes the blood is worth it. Sometimes war and violence are necessary. But people standing in an ocean of blood don't get to point at a man with a few drops on his hands and scream, "murderer!"
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:00 AM on July 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


Abiezer, do you think that in addition to pulling out of Afghanistan, the US should immediately retreat into their shells as well? I mean, the US will butt heads with them at some point down the road.

Remember that we didn't go looking for a fight with them- they did with us, by supporting Bin Laden and then grandstanding immediately after 9/11.

Taliban maintains refusal to turn over bin Laden

They brought this on themselves. Fuck 'em.
posted by dave78981 at 8:16 AM on July 31, 2010


In all the threads about WikiLeaks and the recently released Afghan materials, there's a lot of people holding Julian Assange up as a hero... and I mostly agree. But lost in all of this is that none of these leaks would have been possible without the original whistleblower, Bradley Manning. Maybe it's just because he's the same age as me, so I tend to imagine myself in his shoes rather than Assange's, but, to me, he's just as much of a hero, or an example of courage, as Assange. I mean, how many military men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan must have evidence of horrible wrongdoing on the part of their superiors and their country? Probably thousands... but the penalties for treason are severe (can even be death), and I don't fault them one bit for keeping that information to themselves, and thinking of their families, or, if they're 22-23 years old like me, the life that they want to lead once they get home--dreams, aspirations, loves, etc. Manning leaked these documents knowing there was a huge risk that he'd be caught, because he found that he just couldn't sit there and obey unjust orders from superiors to cover things up, or pretend like they didn't exist. Now, he's 22 and facing 52 years in prison--that's his whole life. In all likelihood, he'll never be free to marry, have kids, start a rock band, build a business, take up gardening, motorcycle racing, shit, whatever you might dream of doing at 22.

I know if I were in his shoes, I wouldn't have leaked the information. That doesn't mean I'm a coward--that's a reasonable thing to (not) do, and thousands of others have not done it. But it does mean that Manning is a national hero for placing truth and justice so far above his own well-being.
posted by notswedish at 8:18 AM on July 31, 2010 [32 favorites]


dave78981:
No, but quelling the insurgency so that nation building can occur is a military objective. Pounding the Taliban into the ground so that locals aren't afraid to particpate in government is a military objective. Insuring that the Taliban doesn't emerge stronger and more popular after we leave is a military objective.


And here I thought that protecting people from criminals was a police objective. Silly me. No wonder they have a fucking SWAT tank in a township of 5thousand people.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:20 AM on July 31, 2010


TAbiezer, do you think that in addition to pulling out of Afghanistan, the US should immediately retreat into their shells as well? I mean, the US will butt heads with them at some point down the road.

Remember that we didn't go looking for a fight with them- they did with us, by supporting Bin Laden and then grandstanding immediately after 9/11.

...

They brought this on themselves. Fuck 'em.

I don't expect the US war machine to cease interfering all around the globe because that's the nature of being the global hegemon, but I see no reason to pretend it's something other than what it is. Certainly, if you think the US involvement in Afghanistan was merely something that began post-9/11 then I think you have a serious misunderstanding of history. Also, even ignoring the evidence that they would have turned over Bin Laden, a foreign policy that creates a decade-long quagmire with thousands dead fighting his former hosts (doing that largely out of traditions of hospitality rather than any evil intentions towards to the US of their own) after a failed attempt to capture a criminal is utterly moronic as well as criminal. You can say fuck 'em, but it's your troops that are looking pretty fucked too - worst month for US casualties of the entire war just.
posted by Abiezer at 8:26 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can't have total transparency during a war, and you can't have total transparency about the military. You just can't. Imagine if the Americans had given the British a 100,000 paper report on all of their tactics, all of their past actions and their future plans, how they fought, what weapons and how many, etc.?

I'd probably be having tea in the afternoons right now, hailing the Queen.
posted by Malice at 8:26 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


THERE ARE NO POLICE.

Don't you get it? There is no government. It is a FAILED STATE. Failed states don't just recover on their own- they're like open, festering wounds. They must first be cleaned out and only after that will they begin to heal.

We got derailed from that original mission because of our disastrous misadventures in Iraq. Now we must finish cleaning that wound.
posted by dave78981 at 8:27 AM on July 31, 2010


I don't think US involvement started post 9.11.

I simply tire of providing full background and historical context in every post I make.

What evidence are you talking about? Please, post a link- and to something other than a comment on Democratic Underground would be nice.

I'm willing to have my views challenged.
posted by dave78981 at 8:34 AM on July 31, 2010


The Bradley Manning Defense Fund.
posted by kipmanley at 8:38 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


This was the story and you can find more detail elsewhere if you dig around.
A further thing to consider is that what we refer to as the Taliban appears in fact cover a diverse set of insurgents, but one of the main shared features of the various movements is they gain what recruits and legitimacy they get due to the presence of foreign troops.
posted by Abiezer at 8:39 AM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Malice, I smiled in agreement at your comment, but then I immediately thought: ". . . and slavery would have been abolished in 1833, and we'd have national health care. Um."
posted by Countess Elena at 8:42 AM on July 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


It strikes me that WikiLeaks has something in common with the Taliban: both are globalised insurgencies opposing the Allies in Afghanistan. Both are engaged in assymetric warfare. It is ironic that Julian Assange and his compadres are engaged in The Next Big Thing: cyberwarfare. We hear a lot these days about what is supposed to be done to combat international hackers of secrets. Well, here it is, right in The Blue.

Since the abolition of the monarchy in Afghanistan, it has been a land of endless multiple insurgencies. Assange's War Without Actual Bullets ("AWWAB") is only the newest of the internationally-sponsored conflicts currently at play in the graveyard of empires. It would appear that the AWWAB intends no harm to the innocent. Who the innocent might be is, in conflict situations, typically a murky question. In Ukraine in 43-44, there were numerous partisan groups fighting the Nazis--and each other. Pro-Soviet groups killed both Ukrainian independence partisans and the peasants that were believed to support them. Likewise did the independence partisans. And, of course, so did the Nazis.

Is the AWWAB an anti-American insurgency? An anti-war insurgency? An Afghan independence insurgency? A pro-Taliban insurgency? Is it allowed to have collateral damage? Is it allowed to terminate with extreme prejudice, fi only by indirection? These are all difficult questions, as the previous posts on this topic clearly show.

History shows that any combatant force that employs informers risks their lives: both of the forces and of the informers. Afghans who inform--for any side--are taking a calculated risk. Nathan Hales? Vidkun Quislings? Only in it for the money? Are their lives intrinsically more valuable than those of the wedding party wasted by Apache gunships or the passengers on the bus riddled by trigger-happy Polish troops?

Any way one tries to slice the quagmire with Occam's razor, there are deeply ambiguous moral questions about what is happening in Afghanistan. It is sardonic for American military leaders to proclaim that the AWWAB "has blood on its hands"--even if it might be true. By risking the lives of its own informers--and those of the Allies-- AWWAB has become that which it deplores. War is hell, and always has been.
posted by rdone at 8:49 AM on July 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


They brought this on themselves.

they did, but because of a combination of incompetence and being distracted by another war, we've failed in our original mission of getting bin laden and are now mired in a situation where there is no clear way through

we're making the same mistake we did in vietnam - we're trying to fight a civil war for a people, who, in spite of many exceptions, aren't really willing to do the heavy lifting themselves - and this was a people who absolutely trounced the russians when they invaded - (we should consider ourselves fortunate that they don't seem to hate us as much)

i find their reluctance to fight understandable, though - they've been at war in one form or another for the last 40 years and many would probably just prefer to make whatever accomodations they can with the taliban rather than have the war continue - furthermore, for us to attempt the possibly futile task of eliminating the taliban would mean that we would have to carry the war into pakistan, which would be a terrible idea

the best we can accomplish is continued stalemate and the price isn't worth it
posted by pyramid termite at 9:18 AM on July 31, 2010


none of these leaks would have been possible without the original whistleblower, Bradley Manning. Maybe it's just because he's the same age as me, so I tend to imagine myself in his shoes rather than Assange's, but, to me, he's just as much of a hero, or an example of courage, as Assange. 

I couldn't agree more. Just Googling back then and clicking a few random links, and from what I've read, Bradley Manning is just warming the pines when it comes to being a player in this. I don't get it. I think there's a bit too much Julian Assange love happening with the MSM at the moment.

It reminds me of the last few pages of Stephen King's Firestarter. [SPOILER ALERT] Our young protagonist has some dyno-mite info regarding a big government cover up. She wants to get the information out there, but she's rightfully concerned about what channels to use. Scared, no less. Scared her information will lead to her demise, but courageous enough to want to say it anyhow. She knows she has to tell the right people, to make it count.

Who is the "hero" there?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:26 AM on July 31, 2010


Abiezer, prior to 9-11 the Taliban had made similar offers to hand over Bin Laden to third parties, then pulled out at the last minute. Keep in mind he was already sought because of attacks on US embassies in Africa and the attack on the USS Cole. The United Nations Security Council issued resolution 1267 in October of 1999 calling for Bin Laden to be handed over to proper authorities and for the Taliban to close terrorist training camps. They did not comply with this UN order. Their apparent refusal to monitor Bin Laden, or take action to prevent him from staging further attacks makes them complicit in the acts of Al Qaeda.

Furthermore the number of your own soldiers being killed is not an indicator of defeat when fighting an insurgency. Unfortunately to provide security to civilians you have to leave the barracks and be out in harms way. You have to establish lots of small patrol bases rather than big secure ones. This leads to increased contact with the enemy and increased casualties on your side. Hopefully though it also leads to fewer mistakes because you are right there on the ground rather trying to do things through a grainy camera on a UAV.

Finally since there was a question as to the mission of ISAF in Afghanistan here is the Mission charter:

ISAF, in support of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, conducts operations in Afghanistan to reduce the capability and will of the insurgency, support the growth in capacity and capability of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), and facilitate improvements in governance and socio-economic development, in order to provide a secure environment for sustainable stability that is observable to the population.
posted by humanfont at 9:29 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


rdone, Assange has made it pretty clear that the "AWWAB" is an anti-asshole insurgency, and sometimes the only way to make an asshole act right is to act like one yourself.
posted by localroger at 9:29 AM on July 31, 2010


dave78981: THERE ARE NO POLICE.

Don't you get it? There is no government. It is a FAILED STATE. Failed states don't just recover on their own- they're like open, festering wounds. They must first be cleaned out and only after that will they begin to heal.


Except that the fact that they don't have a police force doesn't mean that it is, somehow, transformed into a military objective. Security for the citizens from criminals is a police problem, and if they can't or won't handle it, the only way to actually fix things is to help police, not to "hammer down" and "clean out" and all your other ugly euphemism for killing tons of people in the name of peace.

Frankly, you are acting like a huge asshole, and until your tone is civil, I don't see how anyone can treat you as more than a troll.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:34 AM on July 31, 2010 [6 favorites]


[SPOILER ALERT CONTINUED] In case you're interested, she chose Rolling Stone magazine.

Did I ever mention that Julian Assange reminds me of this fella from this movie?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:36 AM on July 31, 2010


Also I'd just like to point out that today the ISAF forces saved over 2000 Afghans today from drowning in floods ravaging the country by flying helicopter sorties into militant controlled territory, putting their own lives at incredible risk.
posted by humanfont at 9:40 AM on July 31, 2010


none of these leaks would have been possible without the original whistleblower, Bradley Manning

It's only just occurred that my response to that quote assumes he is indeed that hero... which seems to be in dispute at the moment.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 9:44 AM on July 31, 2010


Also I'd just like to point out that today the ISAF forces saved over 2000 Afghans today from drowning in floods ravaging the country by flying helicopter sorties into militant controlled territory, putting their own lives at incredible risk.

Well that sure makes the mass murder of civilians okay, then, doesn't it?

If I ever kill somebody, I'm gonna go save somebody else from drowning so I'll get off the hook!
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:45 AM on July 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


OK, here's the problem I have with this.

If said Insurance really is as good as Mr. Assange is hoping (and I imagine it must be, since he's basically betting his life on it), then shouldn't it be released?

Well, apparently not. Apparently Mr. Assange's own personal life is more important than everyone knowing whatever the secrets the Insurance file contains. That is the height of arrogant selfishness. If Mr. Assange gave a shit about doing the right fucking thing he would release whatever is so important in that file.

So either Assange is a liar and this is all a bluff intended to keep his ass alive, or he's a selfish prick that doesn't really care about freeing the truth. Neither one of those possibilities is very encouraging.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:52 AM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


General Sir David Richards, new British Chief of the Defence Staff and former commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan is strongly in favour of opening negotiations with the Taliban as soon as possible and does not believe a military victory is possible.
It is possible to fight and talk at the same time and negotiations should start soon
The Brits probably know a bit more about the region than the US.
Also please do not confuse the Taliban with AQ.
The Washington Post thinks it was a US diplomatic and communication failure which was the problem in getting OBL handed over.
posted by adamvasco at 9:56 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, fuck him and his not wanting to die! Clearly any good that he could do with a longer life is outweighed by the good that could be done by releasing those files.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:56 AM on July 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Well, apparently not. Apparently Mr. Assange's own personal life is more important than everyone knowing whatever the secrets the Insurance file contains. That is the height of arrogant selfishness. If Mr. Assange gave a shit about doing the right fucking thing he would release whatever is so important in that file.

I think he's going to release at some point; probably when he doesn't fear for his safety/freedom. I mean, are we really going to criticize someone who's risked imprisonment/surveillance for the foreseeable future as thinking solely about his personal life? The dude's currently worried about disappearing off the grid (and has more right than say, you or I, to think so), it seems, so it's understandable if he wants to make sure that doesn't happen.

I think a little self-preservation, especially when turning on the biggest military power in the world, is probably a good idea. Not everyone wants to be a martyr; some people would like to expose lies and then go back to living their lives. It shouldn't be that you have to give everything up to be a whistle blower, but that seems to be the corner you want to back him into.
posted by Hiker at 10:08 AM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


. Security for the citizens from criminals is a police problem, and if they can't or won't handle it, the only way to actually fix things is to help police, not to "hammer down" and "clean out" and all your other ugly euphemism for killing tons of people in the name of peace.

Do you have any idea how current hold and clear operations are conducted? It is basically armed police work. Soldiers come in, establish small bases throughout a town that operate much like police preceints. They setup patrols and try to address local issues. It could be done by police, except for the IED's, snipers, militants trying to overrun the base at night bit.
posted by humanfont at 10:10 AM on July 31, 2010


Abiezer, prior to 9-11 the Taliban had made similar offers to hand over Bin Laden to third parties, then pulled out at the last minute...
Which strikes me as as just the kind of behaviour you might expect from a largely pre-modern regime; the seriousness of the offers doubtless increased as the genuine prospect then reality of war approached. Considering the abject failure of the invasion strategy, I see no reason to think that the abandonment of other means made or makes any sense. The final outcome of the whole enterprise looks almost certainly to be still going to be ultimately a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and Bin Laden at liberty.
I realise the high death tolls are a function of increased activity on the part of coalition forces; but that in turn is due to increased and far more wide spread activity by the insurgents, because the various strategies attempted have so far all proved counter-productive and that in itself is a function of the dishonest nature of the entire project.
posted by Abiezer at 10:12 AM on July 31, 2010


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V'z zber bs n zbmneryyn sna zlfrys.


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posted by limeonaire at 10:13 AM on July 31, 2010


Frankly, you are acting like a huge asshole, and until your tone is civil, I don't see how anyone can treat you as more than a troll.

I frankly don't care what you think of me. I fail to see how defending my position in a debate is acting like an asshole, but whatever.

As I said somewhere upthread, what I want is what I think most practical realistic people want- an end to the war, but not immediate withdrawl.

But I have no sympathy whatsoever for the Taliban or their collaborators. And conflating AQ and the Taliban- well excuse me, but y'know the Taliban was very willing to give aid and comfort to them, and although I consider myself diametrically opposed to GWB, I agree with him on the no distinction rule he imposed. Stand with our enemies or stand with us. There is no middle ground.

I do agree that fighting and talking can happen simultaneously. I just don't see how we can allow the Taliban to resume control. They are not just a bunch of criminals- they are the government we deposed when we invaded. They are hideous and completely opposed to every ideal you and I- yes, paisley- you and I- share. They need to be eradicated. I don't think it can be argued that we don't show much more mercy than they do. There are no Taliban ROI.

War is ugly and people die horrible deaths- every time. In fifty years or a hundred years, no one will care that 100 innocent people were killed in a raid. They will care if a nuke is detonated though. That, I would think, should be something to avoid. Even if people have to die to achieve that end.

Btw, I don't remember resorting to name calling in refuting your argument. I'd appreciate the same in return.
posted by dave78981 at 10:24 AM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]



I'd probably be having tea in the afternoons right now, hailing the Queen.
posted by Malice at 11:26 AM on July 31


You say that like you think it's a bad thing!
posted by Decani at 10:25 AM on July 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


The photos of Abu Ghraib also aided and abetted "the enemy" and served as a great recruitment tool.

Americans are not facing one "enemy" - the domestic elites that started the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are a primary cause of our being threatened by foreign terrorists, and a much greater long-term danger to the country.

I understand that leaks like the Abu Ghraib photos have real, and brutal, consequences, but the venal, sociopathic motives of those using the military for personal gain put service members in even greater danger every single day.

Anything that stymies the occupations, exposes the administration's lies and indifference human life, exposes the cruelty, stupidity, and greed motivating the wars, and helps to END them is in the best interest of citizens and soldiers.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:35 AM on July 31, 2010


Boing Boing: Where is Manning currently detained?

Bloom: He is Kuwait at Camp Arifjan.


He's now back in the US, in solitary confinement at Quantico.
posted by homunculus at 10:46 AM on July 31, 2010


rdone, Assange has made it pretty clear that the "AWWAB" is an anti-asshole insurgency, and sometimes the only way to make an asshole act right is to act like one yourself.

We're dicks! We're reckless, arrogant, stupid dicks. And the Film Actors Guild are pussies. And Kim Jong Il is an asshole. Pussies don't like dicks, because pussies get fucked by dicks. But dicks also fuck assholes: assholes that just want to shit on everything. Pussies may think they can deal with assholes their way. But the only thing that can fuck an asshole is a dick, with some balls. The problem with dicks is: they fuck too much or fuck when it isn't appropriate - and it takes a pussy to show them that. But sometimes, pussies can be so full of shit that they become assholes themselves... because pussies are an inch and half away from ass holes. I don't know much about this crazy, crazy world, but I do know this: If you don't let us fuck this asshole, we're going to have our dicks and pussies all covered in shit!


[dave78981], frankly, you are acting like a huge asshole...

paisley henosis, WTF?
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:46 AM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I mean, are we really going to criticize someone who's risked imprisonment/surveillance for the foreseeable future as thinking solely about his personal life?

Yes. Because his actual, personal involvement doesn't need to be anything greater than zero.

Oh, except for all the fame and what-not.

If he's got info that is so damning that governments and multinational conglomerates are willing to not kill him rather than risk exposure, don't you think that might be some pretty important fucking information that the rest of humanity might benefit from knowing?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:56 AM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


don't you think that might be some pretty important fucking information that the rest of humanity might benefit from knowing?

Not really. There's a wide spectrum between innocuous information and damning secrets. Look at how much grief Wikileaks is getting for releasing a bunch of battle reports that aren't particularly revealing. And look at how far on the wrong side of the line we are with respect to revealing normal, everyday conduct during wartime. The U.S. media won't even show pictures of bodies coming home because it would sap civilian morale.
posted by fatbird at 11:07 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Stand with our enemies or stand with us. There is no middle ground.

"No middle ground" is not a practical realist position. Invading a foreign country because it refused to hand over a criminal is not a practical realist position. ISAF's mission is arguably a realist one in the language of international politics. But "They attacked us" or "They gave aid and comfort to bin Laden" are not practical, realistic justifications for the war in Afghanistan, and you do a disservice to the rest of your argument by falling back on them.
posted by twirlip at 11:07 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay guys, I'm back. What did I miss?
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:08 AM on July 31, 2010


adamvasco, your claim that a British General knows more about the region that a US one is simply ridiculous. Everyone has read the same histories, and talked to the same policy advisers. Furthermore you seem to think that David Richards is advocating some change in strategy, yet Ambassador Holbrooke and President Karzai are in fact actively working for negotiations with members of the Taliban and other militants. So far the Taliban havn't been interested.
posted by humanfont at 11:14 AM on July 31, 2010


Stand with our enemies or stand with us. There is no middle ground.

Wouldn't this put us at war with Pakistan?
posted by MegoSteve at 11:16 AM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Report: WikiLeaks suspect raged on Facebook
"Bradley Manning, the prime suspect in the leaking of the Afghan war files, raged against his Army employers and 'society at large' on his Facebook page in the days before he allegedly downloaded thousands of secret memos, a U.K. newspaper reported Saturday.

The U.S. Army intelligence analyst, who is half British and went to school in Wales, U.K., appeared to sink into depression after a relationship break-up, the Daily Telegraph said. It quoted Manning as posting he didn't 'have anything left' and was 'beyond frustrated.'"
posted by ericb at 11:22 AM on July 31, 2010


War is ugly and people die horrible deaths- every time. In fifty years or a hundred years, no one will care that 100 innocent people were killed in a raid. They will care if a nuke is detonated though.That, I would think, should be something to avoid. Even if people have to die to achieve that end.

No-one will care about a hundred innocent people? I know people who still mourn relatives who died fighting in the Second World War. I imagine the families of those innocent people will mourn their own just the same, even if it's fifty years on. Your argument seems to be straying very close to sounding: pffft, handfuls of Afghan peasants, not like they're real people, collateral damage blah blah blah.

Not sure I share your confidence that our countries' foreign policy adventures of the last decade have necessarily made your nightmare scenario less likely, either.
posted by reynir at 11:24 AM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


You can't draw a moral equivalence between war and marital infidelity. You just can't.

But I'll try anyway. ;-)

For those of you that think Manning and Assange are heroes ... how did you feel about Linda Tripp? How do you feel about John F. Kennedy's dalliances that were covered up by journalists at the time?

Better to know about all of this, or not? Probably not, you'll say -- Tripp and Ken Starr were excoriated for releasing it and doggedly following it. And we look back on the media during JFK's time with a collective shame and vows to be better.

Many of you might say, it's just sex. It doesn't matter.

But Seymour Hersh claimed that JFK's behavior went beyond "personal indulgences." Bill Clinton lied to a grand jury.

Now, it is just sex. It doesn't matter and it didn't matter. There's no moral equivalence. It's absurd for me to even bring it up.

But it should make you think about sliding scales and the role of a responsible journalist. What does responsible mean?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:31 AM on July 31, 2010


The U.S. media won't even show pictures of bodies coming home because it would sap civilian morale.

This is the thing that strikes me as the most evil about the whole business, the fact that the U.S. military is metagaming. Instead of presenting the facts to us, the people they serve, honestly, they are trying to preserve morale. This, playing the "Washington game" in regard with continuing the war as that general did a couple weeks back, and what amounts to propaganda efforts against the U.S. people--all these things seem to be symptoms of a greater problem, the fact that the military is, subtly, slipping the leash.
posted by JHarris at 11:34 AM on July 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Martial infidelity?
posted by XMLicious at 11:34 AM on July 31, 2010


the same man has placed a 1.4 gigabyte encrypted file

Is it Ghostbusters 2?
posted by inigo2 at 11:39 AM on July 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Maybe the reason Assange posted "Insurance" is because he wants to make sure the information gets out _even if he and the core of Wkileaks dies_. We know that Wikileaks held back the video until the could fact check it. We also know that Wikileaks held back the war logs until it could collaborate with a couple of newspapers.

If we assume that Wikileaks has the diplomatic cables, then they're probably just holding the cables while performing some kind of analysis. The risk is that before they can finish the analysis, Assange and his collaborators will all be killed. By posting "Insurance," Assange and co. make sure that the information will get out no matter what.

And yes, this really does feel like a William Gibson novel. Life imitates art.
posted by wuwei at 11:40 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what would be brilliant, would be for Al Qaeda to kill Assange but not claim responsibility for it.
posted by XMLicious at 11:46 AM on July 31, 2010


Oops, jamjam said that already way up there.
posted by XMLicious at 11:48 AM on July 31, 2010


symptoms of a greater problem, the fact that the military is, subtly, slipping the leash.
This is the point Assange makes I think at the start of his visit on the Colbert report
"...that the rights of the press are superior to the law because in fact they create the law...".
It's when the government starts masking things to manipulate popular opinion that a dangerous loopback that escapes the self-regulating effects of popular opinion occurs.
On the other hand, no war has been fought without home propaganda to rally support.
On the other hand, approx. 10 years of propaganda about one war is a long time.
posted by joost de vries at 11:52 AM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Stephenson unlike Gibson appears to have used a computer at some point in his life.

Gibson, unlike Stephenson, did not write the worst sex scene in all of English literature (in Cryptonomicon). Pneumatic pumping? shudder
posted by msalt at 11:57 AM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


dave78981: Shall we tear it all down then? And then what?

Oh, I don't know, but the American revolutions is generally considered to have been a good thing.
posted by klanawa at 12:13 PM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


If said Insurance really is as good as Mr. Assange is hoping (and I imagine it must be, since he's basically betting his life on it), then shouldn't it be released?

Maybe, or maybe not. Good is relative. I'm going to go on with the Stephenson-character analogy and point to one of his most famous: Raven.

For those not familiar, Raven is a guy in Snow Crash. He is explicitly described as the ultimate badass, the capstone of his resume in this regard being that he travels with a nuke at all times. Kill him, and it goes off.

Now, he doesn't want anyone it to go off. But neither does anyone else. Hence, nobody fucks with him.

The "insurance" could easily be information like this. Maybe it's the details of the war plan. Maybe it's the launch codes to the US nuke arsenal. Maybe it's HD footage of Dick Cheney giving oral sex to Trent Lott.

Point is, it could easily be something that nobody wants out in the wild. It doesn't have to be the kind of thing that Assange might want to release under normal circumstances. It might be, though - my point is that we have no clue what's in this package, and no way of knowing if it's more of the same, or something more like Raven's nuke.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:23 PM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Point is, it could easily be something that nobody wants out in the wild. It doesn't have to be the kind of thing that Assange might want to release under normal circumstances. It might be, though - my point is that we have no clue what's in this package, and no way of knowing if it's more of the same, or something more like Raven's nuke.

If it's something like Raven's nuke, I assume the people he's worried about have been told exactly what it is. As the good doctor put it, “What is the purpose of a deterrent if you don't tell anybody?"
posted by kafziel at 12:37 PM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


AElfwine Evenstar: "Let me get this straight. Assange leaks documents and now Americans are worried about the lives of Afghan civilians."

I know a lot of people have people have favorited your comment, but I'm here to tell you I cared about Afghan civilians before the documents leaked, and I believe many other Americans cared as well. I guess it was easier to make a pithy comment by ignoring the truth.
posted by sharkfu at 12:45 PM on July 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


grandsham: "Bruce Schneier writes... "4.4×10-16 ergs"

Nice calculation, but ergs?!? Really? Is it 1950 all over again? You might as well calculate in horsepower-hours. Give me newton-metres or give me death.
posted by meehawl at 12:51 PM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's HD footage of Dick Cheney giving oral sex to Trent Lott.

Point is, it could easily be something that nobody wants out in the wild.


Speak for yourself. Though in terms of actually having to watch it...shudder.
posted by emjaybee at 12:51 PM on July 31, 2010


On balance, this is a very good thing-- but it was, i think, both wrong and stupid to not censor the names of the collaborators.

The latter are dead meat now, and good luck finding more of them.
posted by darth_tedious at 1:02 PM on July 31, 2010


dave78981, if you really want to keep a civil discourse then maybe you shouldn't use comments like "Afghanistan is a backward, godforsaken canker of a place and has been for centuries".

You also seem to fail to acknowledge that while the Taliban, influenced by outsiders, whether it is Al Quaeda and their money and Wahhabism, or the ISI, are still Afghans.

The situation in Afghanistan is complex and chaotic. There are ethnic and territorial disputes, there is a predilection towards distrust of foreigners, with good reason, since most have been part of an invading force. There is a century-old border dispute with what is now Pakistan over the tribal lands. The support in Pakistan comes partly from these points but also with the brutal treatment of the ethnic Pashtuns by various Pakistani governments, partly over long-term control of mineral resources, and partly over constant suppression of any separatist inclinations.

You seem to think that the Taliban are some evil ninja horde bent on world domination rather than a bunch of illiterate young men born and raised in a constant atmosphere of violence and brainwashed by Saudis. They are persistent and armed but not all that smart.

There will be no long term peace in Afghanistan without acknowledgment of the elements that created the Taliban in the first place. The US has been wrong-footed about dealing with them since the Russian invasion. Wiping them out or "eradicating" them will do no good in the long term if you know anything about tribal culture, where petty squabbles between family members can last generations.
posted by nikitabot at 1:48 PM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal and his chief of intelligence, Gen. Michael Flynn, have admitted the profound ignorance of the U.S. military about Afghan society, while avoiding the implications of that ignorance for the issue of false intelligence on the Taliban....
And in an unusual paper published by the Centre for a New American Security last October, Flynn was even more frank, saying, “I don’t want to say we’re clueless, but we are. We’re no more than fingernail deep in our understanding the environment.

Yes I think the Brits who have been actively engaged in warfare in Afghanistan since 1839 understand the locals a bit better than the recent US invaders.
The Karzai government is already talking with the Taliban.
How US Ignorance Helped Doom the Afghan War.
I hope Mr. Assange's leaked documents help to speed the withdrawal of the invading forces by forcing into the spotlight the already known but generally ignored facts of the Empire running wild.
posted by adamvasco at 1:51 PM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I am continuously flabbergasted by the amount of people (mostly US citizens) who utterly divorce themselves from the idea that this war preserves the order that makes their lifestyle, no matter how un-mainstream, possible. Realizing that no war, is
ever just or nobly carried out.
posted by Student of Man at 1:58 PM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


St. Alia: Okay, wikileaks dude, not only have you put these people in danger, you have also made it thatmuchharder for us to do what we need to do to either win or get out of Afghanistan. [...]

Ends do not justify means, dude. [...]


Oh my god, how can you even write these two sentences in the same post and not see the irony?

You say you have zero respect for him -- which includes not respecting him for revealing the videos of US soldiers mowing down unarmed civilians and reporters and the people trying to drag their bodies away -- because it makes it harder to do what we need to do to WIN? How is that not the ends justifying the means?

The cognitive dissonance leaves me flabbergasted.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:25 PM on July 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm too close to the problem. Too many people I know affected by deployments, again, especially my daughter's (serious) boyfriend. His battalion has lost at least, oh, eight people in the past month.

I'm not a politician or a diplomat or a specialist in foreign affairs. I just live in a community that is heavily affected personally by what goes on over there and this individual just leaks all this crap WITHOUT VETTING IT AND WITHOUT TAKING CARE to at least protect the local Afghans, whether or not he gives a flying flip about American soldiers. Sorry, I have no respect for him because he's a hypocrite. Whether or not you think I am one is irrelevant.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:36 PM on July 31, 2010


I know a lot of people have people have favorited your comment, but I'm here to tell you I cared about Afghan civilians before the documents leaked, and I believe many other Americans cared as well. I guess it was easier to make a pithy comment by ignoring the truth.

Well if the American people care so much for Afghani civilians then why did they vote for Obama who said in his campaign that he was going to escalate the war in Afghanistan? The fact that some Americans care or don't care is really irrelevant. What is relevant is that American citizens keep electing war criminals to the office of the Presidency.

dave78981 your understanding of the geopolitical situation in Central Asia reads like a bad Tom Clancy novel. For all intents and purposes the Afghani Taliban is an arm of Pakistan's ISI. This fact was already widely know by anyone remotely interested in the history of the U.S. - Pakistan relationship. In fact that is what one of the important "revelations" of the latest wikileak was. The fact that the MSM is pushing this as the main thing to take away from the leaks makes me think that there is a lot more juicy stuff to be gleaned from these documents. Unfortunately I haven't been able to make time to go over them myself. The Pakistani "Taliban" is in no way connected to the ones we are fighting in Afghanistan. It is just a convenient trope used by the MSM to further the narrative of the GWOT. The U.S. military involvement in the region is a destabilizing force not a stabilizing one. A cursory survey of the last two decades of Central Asian history will illustrate this fact very clearly.

As far as Assange is concerned I think analyzing his actions and personality are kind of a cop out. It lets people focus on him instead of themselves and their own role in all this.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:38 PM on July 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


this war preserves the order that makes their lifestyle, no matter how un-mainstream, possible.

Hahahahaha, oh man, the "our troops protect our freedom!" nonsense never gets old. It was funny when I was fifteen, it was funny when I was twenty, it was funny when I was 25, and it's funny now.

It's a dark, tragicomic sort of funny, but it's still a good laugh.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:40 PM on July 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also the whole "hey guys the British failed at the height of their power and the USSR failed at the height of their power but we're going to succeed while past our peak" thing is also funny and sad.

Anybody who thinks we're somehow going to win is living in fantasies and dreams.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:42 PM on July 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


Right now, my honest opinion?

No matter WHAT we do, it's wrong. I cannot conceive of one honorable way out of this mess. I cannot even think what the lesser of two evils would be.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:50 PM on July 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Has anyone read all the content of the leaked material? I ask because I'm wondering if the names of Afghan informers were actually released, or whether someone is blowing smoke up our collective asses. My understanding was that information that identified any individuals would not be released to the public. Somebody is lying. I'd feel much better if I knew who it was.
posted by DemeterMaid at 2:52 PM on July 31, 2010


Why sure, DemeterMaid, I blew through all 70,000 pages yesterday morning while driving to work. Unfortunately, I was so traumatized for being given a ticket for driving with my laptop on the dashboard that I don't remember all the details.
posted by localroger at 2:55 PM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Somebody is lying.

I don't think, at least I hope, that anyone here is intentionally lying; they have just been misinformed.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:55 PM on July 31, 2010


No matter WHAT we do, it's wrong. I cannot conceive of one honorable way out of this mess. I cannot even think what the lesser of two evils would be.

You're not alone in this feeling.
posted by fatbird at 2:57 PM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


This isn't about conquest it's about creating a stable government that is able to control the violent extremists within the country and bring about lasting progress on human development initiatives cleaner water, access to electricity, public health, etc. The Brits and Russians tried to colonize the place, which is not what we are trying to do. Furthermore the Russians would have been fine if they hadn't had to face off against Stinger missiles and Pakistani safe havens. Even then Najibullah held on for 5 years after the Russians left and might still be in power if he hadn't fucked over the northern alliance. Furthermore who do you think put the old Kings of Afghanistan on the throne? The British that's who. They came in and put a relatively stable government in place and left. The only failure was that they couldn't color in their little squares on the map and claim it as 100% imperial territory. Our narrow goals can be accomplished especially since there is no major state opposing the Karzai government.
posted by humanfont at 3:10 PM on July 31, 2010


I don't think, at least I hope, that anyone here is intentionally lying

I did not mean to imply that someone here was lying. I was just wondering if all the arguments are based on truth or fabrication. Did Wikileaks goof and unintentionally reveal the names of informants, or is someone attempting to smear Wikileaks by saying they released names of informants.

Either of those scenarios could be true.

Sorry. I seem to be stuck in "trust no one" mode. Carry on.
posted by DemeterMaid at 3:11 PM on July 31, 2010


it's about creating a stable government that is able to control the violent extremists within the country and bring about lasting progress on human development initiatives cleaner water, access to electricity, public health, etc.

You can't give any of those things to people who don't want it, or don't want it from YOU.

Maybe if we stop meddling with other countries governments, they would accept help from us.
posted by DemeterMaid at 3:18 PM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]



Malice, I smiled in agreement at your comment, but then I immediately thought: ". . . and slavery would have been abolished in 1833, and we'd have national health care. Um."


Maybe, maybe not. I never said it was a good thing, just that it was a fact.

I love tea... but I also love having nice teeth.
posted by Malice at 3:41 PM on July 31, 2010


I am continuously flabbergasted by the amount of people (mostly US citizens) who utterly divorce themselves from the idea that this war preserves the order that makes their lifestyle, no matter how un-mainstream, possible.

Huh? As far as I can tell our military adventurism is one of the biggest threats to my future lifestyle.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:43 PM on July 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Brits and Russians tried to colonize the place
Neither did and you go on to say so yourself - they backed or installed local regimes after finding occupation too costly and counter-productive. That failed sometimes and worked others, the difference being who was backed, which brings us to:
Our narrow goals can be accomplished especially since there is no major state opposing the Karzai government.
But a preponderance of domestic forces do and it will fall not long after the coalition withdraws, which will be in the next few years. Then an invigorated Taliban, replete with the recruits we made for them and newly linked into the very global forces we sought to sever them from where they formerly had only domestic ambitions, will take over.
posted by Abiezer at 3:44 PM on July 31, 2010


Ok well I just downloaded the dump directly from the wikileaks site. It appears that they have indeed redacted names to protect the innocent. I obviously havn't read the whole thing yet.

Here are some interesting selections from the introduction:

The material shows that cover-ups start on the ground. When reporting their own activities US Units are inclined to classify civilian kills as insurgent kills, downplay the number of people killed or otherwise make excuses for themselves. The reports, when made about other US Military units are more likely to be truthful, but still down play criticism. Conversely, when reporting on the actions of non-US ISAF forces the reports tend to be frank or critical and when reporting on the Taliban or other rebel groups, bad behavior is described in comprehensive detail. The behavior of the Afghan Army and Afghan authorities are also frequently described.

This archive shows the vast range of small tragedies that are almost never reported by the press but which account for the overwhelming majority of deaths and injuries.

We have delayed the release of some 15,000 reports from total archive as part of a harm minimization process demanded by our source. After further review, these reports will be released, with occasional redactions, and eventually, in full, as the security situation in Afghanistan permits.


This is straight from the horse's mouth. So Wikileaks are claiming that they have engaged in a redaction to prevent innocent people from getting killed. I haven't verified this personally but I have no reason to doubt Wikileaks. I have lots of reasons not to trust the MSM and the U.S. Government.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 3:45 PM on July 31, 2010 [8 favorites]


You don't need to trust the "MSM", you just need to think critically about the news. Or turn it off.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:22 PM on July 31, 2010


I think the Brits who have been actively engaged in warfare in Afghanistan since 1839 understand the locals a bit better than the recent US invaders.
When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,
And go to your God like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier.
Soldier of the Queen.
                                         — Kipling, The Young British Soldier
posted by XMLicious at 4:33 PM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


You don't need to trust the "MSM", you just need to think critically about the news.

I do think critically about the MSM which leads me to believe that they aren't the most reliable source of information. Especially when said news pertains to wars that parent companies are making billions off of.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:38 PM on July 31, 2010


Also the whole "hey guys the British failed at the height of their power and the USSR failed at the height of their power but we're going to succeed while past our peak" thing is also funny and sad.

I'm pretty sure the USSR was well past the height of their power in many of the same ways that the USA is, only worse. Both had massive militaries which they couldn't afford. Except the USSR's inability to afford their military was far more severe than ours.
posted by Justinian at 4:46 PM on July 31, 2010


Our narrow goals can be accomplished

I do not think "let's fly in from across the world to a country with a thoroughly foreign language and culture, violently depose the local leaders, and install a government that is both approved by the locals and friendly to our interests" is a narrow goal at all. Because providing political liberty to the common people in Afghanistan and making them like us are, let us say, goals that are in tension with each other.

If we "free" a country, they are free not to support us. This is not something the US governmental apparatus is willing to accept. This is the problem with "installing democracy."

Though it might have helped if it were approached competently with a prior working plan instead of dicking around for eight or so years playing camp-the-soldier. Whoops, too late.

Installing a local satrap is actually a much narrower sort of plan than all that.

I am not a pacifist and I think deposing the Taliban was actually necessary, but the current situation is probably not salvageable.
posted by furiousthought at 4:51 PM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


humanfont: "there is no major state opposing the Karzai government."

Your analysis is flawed because there is no "Karzai government" that extends in any meaningful fashion beyond certain heavily reinforced areas of Kabul and select other urban areas, linked by transitorily occupied roadways and narrow swathes of land, and utterly dependent on foreign military and mercenary forces. The rest of the country formerly known as "Afghanistan" is an utterly corrupt and dysfunctional patchwork of ethnic, religious, and narco gangster fiefdoms, some of whom occasionally lend allegiance to the Karzai pseudo-Government, when induced by money, pressure, or blood. They are as quick to take it away again. They certainly do not do it out of any sense of legitimacy for the current regime in Kabul.

Surely you must be aware that Karzai's re-election was by default, after the first election was effectively disqualified due to massive fraud by the incumbent administration. Had the US and the NATO countries not backed down from forcing Karzai to run against his major opponent in a run-off election, we might now be pouring scorn upon the Abdullah "government". Or maybe not. In any case, going with the political version of a sunk cost and doubling down on Karzai effectively robbed the Afghanistan "mission" of any prospect of establishing political legitimacy and consent of the governed. Without that, it's just another tedious quagmire with no good exit strategy.
posted by meehawl at 5:42 PM on July 31, 2010


and good luck finding more of them.

That is a good thing. An inability to recruit collaborators would make the occupation harder to sustain, thus getting our soldiers out of their country faster.
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:13 PM on July 31, 2010


Huh. I just realised that the enigmatic young man who bought me beer and told me maths jokes one night in 2002 was probably Julian Assange. Weird.
posted by hot soup girl at 6:51 PM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just want to throw the delayed comment out that being against war and being a pacifist are very, very different things. I'm all for popular, if-needs-be-violent revolution. I'm not for imperialist adventuring.
posted by cthuljew at 7:07 PM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


dave78981:
Bridgeport is 55 miles from NYC.
And that's a reason for you to support slaughtering civilians thousands of miles away? I live far closer to a WTC, stop shitting your pants.
The Taliban may be involved in a regional civil war, but given half a chance they would love to [be] players on the world stage.
Stop projecting.

The amount of effort necessary to sustain the cognitive dissonance between on the one hand claiming that freedom and liberty are the highest values but on the other hand believing that everybody else cannot wait to interfere with you seems dizzying to me.

I hope Mr Assange distributes his secret key far and wide in a redundant fashion. Perhaps by storing a few copies on a server in Iceland, a country that—after having been severely burnt by lack of disclosure—has adopted one of the most liberal laws for freedom of expression and disclosure in the modern world.

I don't think I've ever favorited as many comments in a MetaFilter thread as I have in this one. Keep up the good work, those of you who argue on the right side of tyranny, murder, intimidation and oppression.
posted by LanTao at 7:38 PM on July 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


This thread makes me glad that MeFi does not run the US.
posted by shivohum at 8:20 PM on July 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's the schematic diagram for Dick Cheney.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:36 PM on July 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


I found Assange's interview on Off the Hook earlier this year interesting, it was the first long-form exposure I had to him (a while before the NYer profile came out).

As far as I can tell no one has mentioned that (mefi's own) Jacob Appelbaum was detained at EWR earlier this week. Probably not the guy whose hard drive you're going to get much information from.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 9:08 PM on July 31, 2010


I'm not for imperialist adventuring.

If it were actually imperialist adventuring somebody might get something physical out of it which would be an improvement! What we're doing (our political class – nobody else seems to have a say in the matter) is hanging out in Iraq and Afghanistan and being their abusive boyfriend. "We'll make you love us! Why do you have to hurt us like that?" And paying a ton of resources for the chance to do so.
posted by furiousthought at 9:15 PM on July 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


This thread makes me glad that MeFi does not run the US.

This thread makes me wish they did.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:36 PM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Only losers talk about 'egos'.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 9:44 PM on July 31, 2010


WikiLeaks founder accuses US army of failing to protect Afghan informers:
"This material was available to every soldier and contractor in Afghanistan."
posted by finite at 9:44 PM on July 31, 2010


That article in the Columbia Journalism Review linked to by Mediareport has an interesting comment form John Young (I assume this is Cryptome's John Young) thickening the plot even further:
The raw logs have not been publlished by anyone yet, only four doctored versions. It is not clear what the raw logs looked like. Nor have the raw logs been authenticated by anyone. Instead the three newspapers have issued disclaimers to protect against dupery. NYT rewrote every sample file it published. The Guardian published a mere .33 per cent of the dump. There has been no credible explanation made public about how the files were vetted, by whom and by what method. This is not a question about what journalists thought of the files, but what technical means were used to assure easily manipulated digital files had not been tampered with, deployed as a deliberate plant, recovered from a digital dumpster, cooked into a stew of odds and ends from several collections and sources. Deception operations by intelligence agencies and information crooks have become quite common and commercially high-profit. Forgeries abound, far more than in the paper era, due to the ease of confecting fictions in digital format and because there so few persons who have the technical capabiliity to detect digital fraud (the best work in secret for scroundrels, umm, like Wikeleaks).

It should have been expected that Julian Assange (and his unidentified technical, legal and narrative team in evidence to expert eyes) knows more about digital subterfuge, his lifetime passion and expertise, than the entire kaboodle of seasoned journalists and their backstopping legal and editorial team -- all ripe in paper and ink world, conceited about their success and prowess, determined to not be put to pasture by upstart digital euthanasists.

Assange is a master manipulator of such egomaniacal titanic fools. Nick Davies leading the pack. Hi Nick, you been had, but far from alone.

Posted by John Young on Thu 29 Jul 2010 at 06:01 PM
posted by moody cow at 10:35 PM on July 31, 2010


I assume this is Cryptome's John Young

It's an anonymous comment allowing one to enter any name they wish. I wouldn't make that assumption, especially since I doubt that John Young would simply call them scoundrels--John Young always struck me as the kind of guy who, if he wanted to crap all over you, would do it in a fairly detailed and well reasoned way.
posted by fatbird at 10:46 PM on July 31, 2010


I'm very much aware of the incredible problems in the Last round of voting. I'm also aware of the limited influence of the central government outside of Kabul. That being said there are signs of real hope. The afghan airforce is flying it's own missions. Major economic projects in backed by China are starting to create a real economy for Afghanistan that goes beyond opium. The army and police are slowly developing more and more operational units.
Victory is that Afghanistan becomes a poor country instead of a hopeless one run by maniacs.
posted by humanfont at 11:04 PM on July 31, 2010


There has been no credible explanation made public about how the files were vetted, by whom and by what method.

The NY Times went over this issue at the start.

This is not a question about what journalists thought of the files, but what technical means were used to assure easily manipulated digital files had not been tampered with, deployed as a deliberate plant, recovered from a digital dumpster, cooked into a stew of odds and ends from several collections and sources.

That compromise could have happened well before Wikileak's source(s) provided whatever information they had. If the NY Times had run this information past their field journalists they would have caught problems at that stage.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:31 PM on July 31, 2010


Of course, killing him or arresting him would never really solve anything, discrediting wikileaks, making it seem like the whole site is about Assange's personal paranoid vendetta would be a lot more productive.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 11:47 PM on July 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm very interested to hear why you think the comparison is beyond the pale, but please read these two motherfucking New Yorker profiles first: Assange vs. Breitbart

Breitbart and Assange are both ethically dubious showmen. But there's a pretty important difference. Breitbart is a liar. He makes shit up. So far there's not been anything indicating any of Wikileaks major, Assange promoted leaks, have been been fictional.

On the other hand, none of Breitbart's releases have put anyone in danger of anything more then having their reputations ruined, while Assange's critics claim his will

I mean, there are going to be some similarities between any two people. I mean Elizabeth Warren and Simon Johnson are both "populists" in some sense, along with Micheal Moore and Glenn Beck.
Assange and Breitbart are both horrible people who are engaged in pissing contest to see who can destroy America faster one from the far left and the other from the far right. The collateral murder was highly effective propaganda that was edited to show the incident in the worst possible light.
Well, Assange did release the whole tape. I think if it had been more seriously altered it would have been pointed out by more people then random liveleak posters. I mean, the right-wing blogsphere went crazy trying to prove that photos from the recent war in Lebanon were all faked, etc.
I really wonder if some users on Metafilter and other sites are fed talking points to criticize Wikileaks and Assange with, because in the last thread on this issue, I read someone using the "double game" talking point well before it was used elsewhere.
People tend to pick up "talking points" without realizing it, the fact that lots of people use the same arguments to make the same points doesn't mean anything nefarious is going on.

---

The potential deaths of informants is an interesting moral question, I guess. Suppose Assange could stop the war for sure by blowing up a hotel full of critical Afghan informants. Obviously, if he did that he'd be a terrorist.

But there is a certain amount of "stop hitting my fist with your face" going on here. The military is killing a lot of people, a lot of innocent people. So for them to start complaining is strange. But if you point that out yourself, then are you any better then them? Once you start attacking the things you hate (secrecy and violence) using those same things (secrecy and violence) then where does that leave you?

But if Assange gets taken out then something else will come up to replace him, and the government could really start to crack down on 'hacker culture' and internet freedom.

Also, it seems likely that WL might be using Assange as a front man, to soke up the vitriol and threats. Who knows how large the organization actually is now.
posted by delmoi at 12:08 AM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


The military is killing a lot of people, a lot of innocent people. So for them to start complaining is strange.

If the Taliban were to start executing the named Afghan informants, it would remove those particular informants as sources as well as further discourage other Afghans from working with ISAF. I don't think it's all strange that the military would have a vested interest in keeping those identities secret for purely practical reasons. Nor do I think it's strange that they would express this as a concern for those particular Afghan lives.
posted by lullaby at 1:06 AM on August 1, 2010


Frank Rich on today's New York Times op-ed.

"How do you ask a man to be the last person to die for a mistake?"
posted by bukvich at 4:19 AM on August 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


"How do you ask a man to be the last person to die for a mistake?"

Tell him he hates America if he doesn't want to die.
posted by ryoshu at 6:54 AM on August 1, 2010


Boston Globe: MIT graduate admits link in leak case.
posted by ericb at 8:10 AM on August 1, 2010


WikiLeaks founder says he did right thing.
Named man is already dead.


There's a photo of Assange below a headline that reads "'Taliban hitlist' row: WikiLeaks founder says he did right thing". And next to the photo, another headline reading "Named man is already dead." The imputation is quite clearly that Assange's actions have resulted in the man's death, although in the story itself it makes it clear that he actually died two years ago.

"Is it clear?" says Assange. "Let's see how much we have to read before we reach that information. It's not in the first paragraph, second, third, fourth, it's not in the fifth. It's not until the sixth paragraph you learn that."
Emphasis mine.
posted by kipmanley at 10:36 AM on August 1, 2010 [14 favorites]


Campaigners try to force MoD to court over Afghan killings: The prospect of a judicial review into previously covered-up civilian shootings in Afghanistan has opened up after human rights campaigners launched an attempt to take the Ministry of Defence to court.
posted by homunculus at 2:14 PM on August 1, 2010


Researcher detained at U.S. border, questioned about Wikileaks.
posted by Justinian at 3:01 PM on August 1, 2010


Daniel Ellsberg's WikiLeaks wish list
posted by homunculus at 4:35 PM on August 1, 2010


I met Jacob Appelbaum at How Weird in SF back in... oh, 2005ish? He's a really nice guy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:48 PM on August 1, 2010


Don't forget Poland...
Another revelation contained in the incident reports is the name and rank of the Polish counter-intelligence officer involved in the investigation of Nangar Khel. The publication of this information is a crime in Poland, carrying a sentence of five to eight years in prison.
posted by lullaby at 8:06 PM on August 1, 2010


WikiLeaks founder says he did right thing.
Named man is already dead.

If the Times was at all interested in removing ambiguity, the second headline would have read "Named man was already dead." Or, you know, something else entirely. But the Times is not at all interested in removing ambiguity or being clear here.

Our newspapers shouldn't be made of word puzzles with clues to truths buried deep in the latter paragraphs.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:28 AM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Washington Post—
The first step is for the Justice Department to indict Assange. Such an indictment could be sealed to prevent him from knowing that the United States is seeking his arrest. The United States should then work with its international law enforcement partners to apprehend and extradite him.

Assange seems to believe, incorrectly, that he is immune to arrest so long as he stays outside the United States. He leads a nomadic existence, operating in countries such as Sweden, Belgium and Iceland, where he believes he enjoys the protection of "beneficial laws." (He recently worked with the Icelandic parliament to pass legislation effectively making the country a haven for WikiLeaks). The United States should make clear that it will not tolerate any country -- and particularly NATO allies such as Belgium and Iceland -- providing safe haven for criminals who put the lives of NATO forces at risk.

With appropriate diplomatic pressure, these governments may cooperate in bringing Assange to justice. But if they refuse, the United States can arrest Assange on their territory without their knowledge or approval. In 1989, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel issued a memorandum entitled "Authority of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to Override International Law in Extraterritorial Law Enforcement Activities."

This memorandum declares that "the FBI may use its statutory authority to investigate and arrest individuals for violating United States law, even if the FBI's actions contravene customary international law" and that an "arrest that is inconsistent with international or foreign law does not violate the Fourth Amendment." In other words, we do not need permission to apprehend Assange or his co-conspirators anywhere in the world.
posted by kipmanley at 11:31 AM on August 2, 2010


That's an op-ed by Marc Thiessen, a former speechwriter for GWB and general Republican political operative. I'm not sure it is fair to attribute it to "The Washington Post".
posted by Justinian at 12:01 PM on August 2, 2010


I think it's a disgrace that a major reputable US newspaper, The Washington Post, openly advocates the breaking of the law. International or European law.
That memorandum is just as shameful as the 'The Hague Invasion Act'.
The definition of morals is that they don't only benefit yourself. That's called evil, for a want of a better word.
Something in my image of the USA cracked just now.
posted by joost de vries at 12:02 PM on August 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wait, so they're going to kidnap him like they did Noriega?
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:03 PM on August 2, 2010


I love this one from the WaPo comments:Mr. Thiessen, I have a warrant for your arrest for incitement to murder. Please be sensible and don't resist.
posted by XMLicious at 12:13 PM on August 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


RAP NEWS: Wikileaks vs The Pentagon - INTERNET WARS
posted by finite at 2:46 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just thought of something: at some point isn't someone probably going to start trying to trick Wikileaks into publishing provably fake documents, damaging their credibility?
posted by XMLicious at 3:07 PM on August 2, 2010


Worked for destroying Dan Rather's career.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:53 PM on August 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Stealthy Government Contractor Monitors U.S. Internet Providers, Worked With Wikileaks Informant

Project Vigilant and the government/corporate destruction of privacy
posted by homunculus at 8:52 PM on August 2, 2010


Indeed, a wide array of government agencies have created countless programs to encourage and formally train various private workers (such as cable installers, utilities workers and others who enter people's homes) to act as government informants and report any "suspicious" activity

Keep in mind that East Germany had it Stasi apparatus set up in much the same manner, where civilians were paid to spy on other civilians. It wouldn't be too surprising to find people in online communities who have been compensated by the US government for the same shady kinds of work.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:54 AM on August 3, 2010


This is crazy stuff, Blazecock Pileon. How far down does this rabbit hole go?
posted by LanTao at 5:05 AM on August 3, 2010


Perhaps we should establish some sort of investigative body to determine that, maybe call it the Warren Commission?
posted by Abiezer at 5:20 AM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Making the debate about Julian Assange is ridiculous. If it wasn't him, it'd be someone else. He's just a force of nature.

Arresting Assange would be a major blow to his organization. But taking him off the streets is not enough; we must also recover the documents he unlawfully possesses and disable the system he has built to illegally disseminate classified information.

The idea of 'recovering' is laughable, see: Insurance.zip (or whatever it was called).

Assange recently boasted that he has created "an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking." I am sure this elicited guffaws at the National Security Agency. The United States has the capability and the authority to monitor his communications and disrupt his operations.

I won't comment on their capabilities, but (typical for a Republican talking head) that's an amazing expansion of 'authority'.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 8:44 AM on August 3, 2010


Wikileaks editor detained by US customs
A senior volunteer for Wikileaks in the US has been detained, questioned and had his phones seized when he returned to the country from Europe, as the FBI steps up its investigation into the leak of thousands of Afghanistan war secrets to the whistleblower website.

Jacob Appelbaum, who has stood in for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange since he was advised not to travel to the US, spent three hours at a New York airport while customs officers photocopied receipts and searched his laptop, and he was again approached and questioned by FBI officers at a computer hackers conference in Las Vegas.
posted by lullaby at 9:05 AM on August 3, 2010


WikiLeaks in Baghdad: Soldiers involved in the "Collateral Murder" video have come forward to tell their story.
posted by homunculus at 9:14 AM on August 3, 2010


U.S. Congressman Calls For Execution Of Wikileaks Whistleblower
posted by homunculus at 1:11 PM on August 3, 2010


In other news: No Afghan Embed for Rolling Stone Reporter
posted by homunculus at 8:34 AM on August 4, 2010


Is Project Vigilant a Hoax?
posted by XMLicious at 7:16 AM on August 5, 2010


Re-visiting Project Vigilant
posted by homunculus at 9:03 AM on August 5, 2010


Pentagon increases pressure on WikiLeaks to return military files
posted by homunculus at 5:57 PM on August 5, 2010


Why the Pentagon's War on Wikileaks Is Like the Music Industry's War on Napster
posted by homunculus at 12:46 PM on August 6, 2010


Early Struggles of Soldier Charged in Leak Case
posted by homunculus at 7:57 PM on August 8, 2010


That last NYT link that homunculus posted is a really interesting read. I know, no one is still watching this thread, but seriously, check it out.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 3:33 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Open Source Tools Turn WikiLeaks Into Illustrated Afghan Meltdown
posted by homunculus at 8:44 AM on August 10, 2010


U.S. Urges Allies to Crack Down on WikiLeaks: The Obama administration has asked Britain, Germany, Australia, and other allies to consider criminal charges against Julian Assange for his Afghan war leaks.
posted by homunculus at 9:37 PM on August 10, 2010


Rights Groups Join Criticism of WikiLeaks
"We have seen the negative, sometimes deadly ramifications for those Afghans identified as working for or sympathizing with international forces," the human-rights groups wrote in their letter, according to a person familiar with it. "We strongly urge your volunteers and staff to analyze all documents to ensure that those containing identifying information are taken down or redacted."

In his response to the letter signed by the human-rights organizations, Mr. Assange asked what the groups were doing to analyze the documents already published, and asked whether Amnesty in particular would provide staff to help redact the names of Afghan civilians, according to people familiar with the letter.

An Amnesty official replied to say that while the group has limited resources, it wouldn't rule out the idea of helping, according to people familiar with the reply. The official suggested that Mr. Assange and the human-rights groups hold a conference call to discuss the matter.

Mr. Assange then replied: "I'm very busy and have no time to deal with people who prefer to do nothing but cover their asses. If Amnesty does nothing I shall issue a press release highlighting its refusal," according to people familiar with the exchange.
posted by Anything at 7:58 PM on August 11, 2010


Soldiers Try To Trade Tech Support For Afghan Intel
posted by homunculus at 8:10 PM on August 13, 2010


Cyberwar Against Wikileaks? Good Luck With That
posted by homunculus at 8:58 PM on August 13, 2010


Bradley Manning's guilt — and ours: The accused leaker to WikiLeaks appears to have acted out of idealism. Now that we've seen the results of our wars, can we say the same?
posted by homunculus at 12:17 PM on August 15, 2010


Wikileaks encryption use offers 'legal challenge'
posted by homunculus at 10:53 AM on August 19, 2010


Why won't the Pentagon help WikiLeaks redact documents?
posted by homunculus at 8:44 PM on August 20, 2010


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