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State's Secrets
November 28, 2010 10:56 AM   Subscribe

WikiLeaks has released 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables. Browse the database at the Guardian. Comprehensive coverage is also available at the New York Times, Der Spiegel, and El Pais.
posted by lullaby (671 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite

 
Finally.
posted by Chichibio at 10:57 AM on November 28, 2010


There are interesting differences in how this is being reported around the world : for instance,the New York times in their section on diplomats acting as spies only reports that diplomats were asked to obtain “biographic and biometric information on ranking North Korean diplomats.”" whereas the guardian reports that spying was requested on " key UN officials, to include undersecretaries, heads of specialised agencies and their chief advisers, top SYG [secretary general] aides, heads of peace operations and political field missions, including force commanders" and "biographic and biometric information on UN Security Council permanent representatives".
posted by silence at 10:57 AM on November 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


Well, as long as Julian Assange promises that releasing this latest round of information will prevent wars and terrorist attacks and more death, I guess everything is okay.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:00 AM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


OH BOY!

[makes popcorn]
posted by Jacqueline at 11:01 AM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Well, as long as Julian Assange promises that releasing this latest round of information will prevent wars and terrorist attacks and more death, I guess everything is okay.

Why do grown adults say things like this?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:02 AM on November 28, 2010 [119 favorites]


I note in the Guardian summary that we have spied on just about every ally we have. I had assumed that but got annoyed when my leftist pals would badmouth Israel for alleged spying on us. That is what we do. That is what all nations do. In fact, with the net etc do we really need embassies any longer except as a place to house our intel?
posted by Postroad at 11:04 AM on November 28, 2010 [6 favorites]




I kinda like wikileaks releasng documents, and then people reporting on it. I feel like a journalism teacher going " no thats wrong...f-...'please see me'.

I love the fact thwt original/primary sources are available to the public enmasse...and the media is trying their best to fit it all neatly in astory thwt supports their past views.

Yeah...no wonder newspapers are shutting down...most of them get c- or worse.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:05 AM on November 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


I, too, am skeptical regarding the unrestrained goodness of this.
posted by Artw at 11:06 AM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I like how every news agency seems to be bringing out the blurry typewriter typeface/spy movie imagery big guns on this. It's as if they're unconsciously acknowledging that the Hollywood take on these issues are realer than what is actually happening.
posted by griphus at 11:09 AM on November 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


Most things so far (except possibly Saudi Royals calling for the bombing of Iran) don't seem too damaging. I think, that it's possible that the impression that will be left by these documents will be that the US hasn't been up to anything too nasty after all, and that may actually help US opinion abroad.There may be a general assumption that now we've seen behind the veil, and the monster isn't as hideous as we might have thought it was.... but these aren't "Top Secret" documents - they were apparently available to 3 million US military personnel - so (I assume) most of the really seriously scary stuff won't be in these leaks. I wonder if when this all settles down the net result will be a win for the image of the US.
posted by silence at 11:09 AM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


be and do.
posted by clavdivs at 11:10 AM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Artw: "I, too, am skeptical regarding the unrestrained goodness of this."

Yes, it might be a bad thing if people found out their government were doing lots of bad things.
posted by mullingitover at 11:10 AM on November 28, 2010 [18 favorites]


In fact, with the net etc do we really need embassies any longer except as a place to house our intel?

Yes! Skype is SO much more effective for communicating with the officials of other nations.
posted by incessant at 11:11 AM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I note in the Guardian summary that we have spied on just about every ally we have. I had assumed that but got annoyed when my leftist pals would badmouth Israel for alleged spying on us. That is what we do. That is what all nations do.

Yeah, hate to sound all jaded but, for once, the "This Just In" cliche seems to apply. In this case: "Nations conspire with and against one another in secret, and oft-times horrible things end up happening to innocent people as a direct result. News at 11."

The world isn't anymore corrupt than it was 12 hours ago; it's just revealing some long occluded stenches. Go truth, go.
posted by philip-random at 11:11 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder if when this all settles down the net result will be a win for the image of the US.

If the NYT excerpts are anything to go by, I'd agree that this is a strong possibility, particularly where Iran is concerned.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:11 AM on November 28, 2010


Echoing Artw, but I'll step up to defend this.

What justifies secrecy in diplomacy? Is it really a necessary evil? How can we hold our representatives to account without knowing how they conduct themselves on our behalf?
posted by phrontist at 11:12 AM on November 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


I think it's fascinating to see the everyday machinery of diplomacy, spycraft, and international relations. The initial reviews are all looking for the big blockbuster revelation ("Saudi Arabia doesn't like the crazies in Iraq!"). But what's much more interesting is the more subtle story of how diplomatic work is actually done in the international community.
posted by Nelson at 11:12 AM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I, too, am skeptical regarding the unrestrained goodness of this.

"Unrestrained" is too strong, but it's hard not to feel like a lot of dirty laundry will get aired by this, and much of it, after the initial embarrassment fades, will be regarded as confirmation of suspicions about what was going on anyway.

Note that the one thing nobody has said is that the dump will reveal things we never knew about. It's like a large circle of friends had their superficially secret gossip channel aired to everyone. Sure, there'll be a lot of recriminations and "I can't believe you said that about me!", but in the end everyone knew it was going on and no one will be that surprised.
posted by fatbird at 11:13 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hillary Clinton woos prickly Egyptians

Good grief, are they ALL going to read like Mad Libs? This is going to be more fun than I thought.
posted by Gator at 11:13 AM on November 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


Yes, it might be a bad thing if people found out their government were doing lots of bad things.

Is it not at all possible that the government might be doing some good things, the effectiveness of which is undermined by the public disclosure of some of this information?

To be fair, I haven't dug too deeply into this info, but I think the knee-jerk "all secrets are bad" response is somewhat naive and unrealistic.
posted by Bummus at 11:14 AM on November 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


Available at Le Monde as well. Their article says it's an unprecedented collaboration of 120 journalists, most of them from the titles cited, to analyze the memos.
posted by fraula at 11:19 AM on November 28, 2010


What is it our government likes to say about poking into our privacy? If you've done nothing wrong, what do you have to hide? So why are they so worried about their own secrets being leaked?
posted by Jacqueline at 11:19 AM on November 28, 2010 [103 favorites]


I've heard that the Russian portion of the leak reveals that the US not only knew about Georgia's attack on South Ossetia in advance but has also attempted to create a number of other conflicts to undermine Russia's oil and gas connections in the region. If this turns out to be true, I think it would be a bombshell, though I'd be surprised if it was mentioned in the New York Times.
posted by nasreddin at 11:19 AM on November 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Is it not at all possible that the government might be doing some good things, the effectiveness of which is undermined by the public disclosure of some of this information?

I can think of some organizations that have earned that level of trust, but the US government sure isn't one of them.
posted by ripley_ at 11:19 AM on November 28, 2010 [17 favorites]


Clashes with Europe over human rights: American officials sharply warned Germany in 2007 not to enforce arrest warrants for Central Intelligence Agency officers involved in a bungled operation in which an innocent German citizen with the same name as a suspected militant was mistakenly kidnapped and held for months in Afghanistan. A senior American diplomat told a German official “that our intention was not to threaten Germany, but rather to urge that the German government weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations with the U.S.” (NYT)

Sounds like a threat to me. Kidnapping innocent people, detaining them for months, and then threatening authorities to ensure impunity from prosecution. Fearless fighters for freedom indeed.
posted by reynir at 11:22 AM on November 28, 2010 [32 favorites]


Here is the real deal. There is no secrecy. We are spending trillions of dollars to pretend there is. There is none. Open your mouth, step out of your house, spend a nickel, call a friend, fly to the next state, rent a car, sleep with someone, there is no secrecy. Everyone, everything, every resource, even the resource you haven't previously regarded as a resource, is compromised.

We have given unlimited latitude for the "Corporatocracy" to pick our pockets, minds, plans, creations, our childrens' minds, our trail of records. If you think this isn't so, then you have another unpleasant awakening to attend.

Even the most uninteresting, seemingly unimportant, one of us, has a dossier. New school record keeping systems, insure that we will each have a detailed dossier, that starts when we start school, this will summarily attach to our medical records, and birth records. We are all just marks, with targets all over. Every entity with sufficient intel resources, on earth, knows what they want to know about you.

Run away, and Google Street View, will catch you crawling under your rock, where ever that rock may be.

Come on, anyone walking up to an embassy is made, anyone making any call is made. Please, no matter how hard they try to take down the Wiki Leaks guy, his is handing out old news. It isn't that I have little sympathy for those who would like to covertly gather intelligence, but don't they all just work for the oil companies, and defense contractors anyway? Make them gather their own intelligence.

We have satellites gathering info on all underground resources, minerals, mother lodes world wide. It is no secret the strongest players in the region will get there first, regardless of what kind of turmoil we front for. We need a new game, entirely.

They are crying about leaks, when the levee broke a long time ago.
posted by Oyéah at 11:24 AM on November 28, 2010 [19 favorites]


I, too, am skeptical regarding the unrestrained goodness of this.

I don't think it's about getting any good out of this - I rather think it's a message to current and future governments:

make sure your future mission feasibility studies include a paragraph titled “What’s the possible blow-back when all the information leaks?”

And that alone is a thing good enough to make this worth it.
posted by DreamerFi at 11:25 AM on November 28, 2010 [63 favorites]


I can think of some organizations that have earned that level of trust, but the US government sure isn't one of them.


Perhaps "good things" was an overly rosy characterization. Maybe "not-bad things" might have been better. I share your skepticism about the U.S. government, but there is a lot of day-to-day diplomacy/intelligence gathering that hasn't sunk to the depths of waterboarding/extraordinary rendition/etc. My wonder is how much damage this latest release will do to legitimate diplomacy.
posted by Bummus at 11:25 AM on November 28, 2010


The only item that really leaps out are the US Embassy spying, that could have repercussions, then again any foreign intelligence service that didn't assume everyone connected with the local American embassy was a spy probably wasn't doing it's job right. Still, might make it difficult to be a diplomat if everyone you talk to is keeping one hand on their wallet and making sure they don't turn their back on you.

More generally the damage is going to be from the domestic fallout in the countries US diplomats have mentioned. It might be acute, in countries where the government is playing a double game saying one thing to the US and another to it's citizens, or just cause for grumbling over US insults.
posted by Grimgrin at 11:27 AM on November 28, 2010


From a UK point of view, this is interesting in the Guardian:

"There are some cables the Guardian will not be releasing or reporting owing to the nature of sourcing or subject matter. Our domestic libel laws impose a special burden on British publishers."

This obviously now becomes the cables that we are most interested in seeing. But if the UK papers won't publish, what can we do? If only there was some kind of world wide network of information that we will be able to read this on anyway.
posted by reynir at 11:28 AM on November 28, 2010 [31 favorites]


Postroad: I note in the Guardian summary that we have spied on just about every ally we have. I had assumed that but got annoyed when my leftist pals would badmouth Israel for alleged spying on us. That is what we do. That is what all nations do. In fact, with the net etc do we really need embassies any longer except as a place to house our intel?

We need embassies for citizens who are abroad. They can require help that a foreign nation cannot provide and which there is no good way to deal with remotely. How are you going to get a new passport if you are in Krakow and your current one gets lifted from your pocket? Without an office to go to and someone to talk to you could really be SOL.

The spying is the reason that the embassies are important, though, for sure.
posted by paisley henosis at 11:28 AM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nasreddin do you have a cite for that? While I might thing the NYT and The Guardian might be loathe to publicize something like that wouldn't someone go forward with that?
posted by JPD at 11:29 AM on November 28, 2010


My wonder is how much damage this latest release will do to legitimate diplomacy.

I suspect very little, because I believe that few diplomats had such a rosy view of their own profession as to believe that official pronouncements and denials had much meaning at all except as posturing. I think the diplomats themselves will be least surprised by any revelations.
posted by fatbird at 11:30 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, as long as Julian Assange promises that releasing this latest round of information will prevent wars and terrorist attacks and more death, I guess everything is okay.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:00 PM on November 28


Why on earth would he promise something that isn't the main reason for his actions and isn't within his power?

These leaks are about exposing the lies and evil-doings of our own governments. Isn't that enough for you? You want them to end terrorism too, and you think the lies and evil-doings of our governments should not be exposed unless that can be guaranteed? I do hope that isn't actually what you think, and it just sounds as if it is from what you wrote.
posted by Decani at 11:31 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


what's much more interesting is the more subtle story of how diplomatic work is actually done in the international community.

I agree. I loved the tone of the memo about the Saudi King's meeting with John Brennan, particularly the heading of section 5: "THAT WITHOUT WHICH NO SAUDI MEETING IS COMPLETE" in which King Abdullah presses the envoy about gaining greater visa access for Saudi nationals.
posted by BeerFilter at 11:32 AM on November 28, 2010 [15 favorites]


Looking forward to similar revelations of big businesses. That will be some dirty laundry.
posted by Cranberry at 11:36 AM on November 28, 2010 [14 favorites]


Why do grown adults say things like this?

"Secret" doesn't always mean "evil." The notion of "private" applies just as much to government internals as to yours. In any other context the people of MeFi would be decrying the notion that wanting privacy means you have something evil to hide.

I mean, if people in the state department want to discuss how to engage with Russia and want say to each other "for all his power, Putin seems hamstrung by the bureaucrats" should they shut up because secrecy is evil and it may anger him for the US to say anything unflattering?

Should a frank discussion of Chinese hacks against Google not be had? Must all the known details of it be made public for them to improve their methods?

Should the US not investigate the records and views of those we need to negotiate with? But is there any circumstance under which doing so is not somewhat embarrassing?


Any time there's a world conflict, the US (as does China and Russia, and a score of other countries) has to decide will we support side A, side B, stay neutral or what? Under what circumstances would the contents of that discussion not get someone angry, and not seem evil to someone?

Not all of this is by any means an evil. Some may be. But it's just getting all dumped out with the unseemly glee of a frat boy posting footage from a cam in a women's toilet. Laughing, not at the exposure of some evil, but at simple embarrassment.

So, the US and Pakistan have had had sharp discussions about nuclear proliferation? Good. Now do we think Julian Assange has carefully weighed out the repercussions of making those public and made a considered decision on it for the good of humanity?

People may or may not die as a result of this leak. Things that need to be aired may or may not be the things that get aired. But Assange doesn't seem to care really about the consequences.
posted by tyllwin at 11:38 AM on November 28, 2010 [51 favorites]


Aw, the Saudi King misses his horsies.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:38 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nasreddin do you have a cite for that? While I might thing the NYT and The Guardian might be loathe to publicize something like that wouldn't someone go forward with that?

I dunno, just Russian internet chatter. I'm still not sure if what's been publicized today is everything or just a small snippet to be continued over the course of the week. If it's the former, Wikileaks wins the medal for overselling its own stuff.
posted by nasreddin at 11:39 AM on November 28, 2010


"There are some cables the Guardian will not be releasing or reporting owing to the nature of sourcing or subject matter. Our domestic libel laws impose a special burden on British publishers."

I assume they are, in part, talking about "claims of inappropriate behaviour by a member of the British royal family," yet when was any of that a state secret?

I suspect that many of the suppressed cables will be riveting as Spycatcher: that is to say, rather dull. If much of this stuff was available to juniors, how much of it will truly be mindblowing? I can see editors across the globe thanking Assange in their prayers tonight, for verily, Wikileaks staggered release of information will certainly help sell some papers.
posted by Chichibio at 11:40 AM on November 28, 2010


As long as these governments have nothing to hide, I don't see what the big deal is that this stuff gets leaked.
posted by snofoam at 11:40 AM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I loved the tone of the memo about the Saudi King's meeting with John Brennan

From that same memo: "The King noted that Iranian FM Mottaki had been 'sitting in that same seat (as Brennan) a few moments ago.'"

Gee, your highness. It might have been useful for you to have Mottaki stick around for a few minutes and have a three-way conversation with Brennan. That might have been useful. Kingly, even. But I'm sure you had some money to count...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:41 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The notion of "private" applies just as much to government internals as to yours.

Only if it is the case that the government's privacy contributes to my own privacy and safety. It is not an extant creature which must be defended for its own life.

It is increasingly the case that the US government's privacy has been contributing to limiting that of its citizens. In this case, it must be limited and exposed.
posted by griphus at 11:44 AM on November 28, 2010 [14 favorites]


Hillary: Hey, Vlad, we're really sorry about all this...

Vlad: Is nothing! Don't worry in your pretty head.

Hillary: Who knew, huh?

Vlad: I am liking being alpha-dog!

Hillary: So.... the mafia ties thing, you're okay with that?

Vlad: Mafia? Ha! "What I am joker to you? I make you laugh?"

Hillary: Ha, ha, ha.

Vlad: Ha, ha, ha.

Hillary: Do svidaniya.

Vlad: Ciao My-ah sladkaya!
posted by valkane at 11:45 AM on November 28, 2010 [16 favorites]


Well, as long as Julian Assange promises that releasing this latest round of information will prevent wars and terrorist attacks and more death, I guess everything is okay.

Why do grown adults say things like this?


Because Assange has a history of putting lives in danger. Amnesty International loudly complained that his last leak put the people who work for them in danger of murder by the Taliban, who publically vowed to go through the documents and kill anyone collaborating with any Western group.

These docs include names of people such as a Chinese contact who informed American Embassy personnel that the Chinese government was hacking into Google in China. The result of that will be a bullet in the back of the head.

When Amnesty complained, Assange twittered that they should donate employee time and resources (which are for advancing human rights) to redacting the documents--even though he was the one releasing them.

Now he is releasing a quarter-million documents. Are you telling me that Assange and a few volunteers viewed and redacted that many docs since February, when the last cables came out? Hardly. Even if they did, they have no context, no idea of what extraneous info might lead to someone's death. Nor do they even know the information value of all the documents they are releasing. So they could be relasing things that tell us nothing new, but give out the names or clues to the identity of people who will now be under threat.

The problem with Assange is not the leaking--its been happening since time immemorial--its the total and complete disregard for doing the basic work needed to ensure that people are not killed. He is a lazy sham artist whose activities have put many people in danger. He is the farthest thing from a hero--a lazy man who does nothing to deal with the consequences of his intemperate actions.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:46 AM on November 28, 2010 [91 favorites]


This is only a portion of the cables I think.
posted by Lord_Pall at 11:46 AM on November 28, 2010


Interesting that this isn't the most important stuff:

"The leaked cables range up to the "SECRET NOFORN" level, which means they are meant never to be shown to non-US citizens.
....Although their contents are often startling and troubling, the cables are unlikely to gratify conspiracy theorists. They do not contain evidence of assassination plots, CIA bribery [etc]

One reason may be that America's most sensitive "top secret" and above foreign intelligence files cannot be accessed from Siprnet, the defence department network involved."
- The Guardian.

I haven't seen anything here that really surprises me, but will have to keep looking.
posted by Infinite Jest at 11:47 AM on November 28, 2010


They are crying about leaks, when the levee broke a long time ago.

You're talking about two different things here, the first being the government "leaking" your private information to themselves and others, and the second being people leaking the governments information to you. Considering the power dynamics of this situation, I'd say those two things are vastly different.
posted by seagull.apollo at 11:48 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is increasingly the case that the US government's privacy has been contributing to limiting that of its citizens. In this case, it must be limited and exposed.

Yes. And more power to that. Let's, for example, look at the question of renditions in detail.

But, please, do tell me if some diplomat makes an unflattering remark about a Saudi royal, to give his colleagues and boss an insight into the tone of the conversation and the Saudi agenda, how does it make anyone safer, or freer, to run back and tell the Saudis?
posted by tyllwin at 11:49 AM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


In late 2008 the Moscow embassy wired back about the relationship between Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev and the prime minister, Vladimir Putin, remarking that Medvedev, officially the senior partner, "plays Robin to Putin's Batman". - source

I have never been more pleased with government work.
posted by phrontist at 11:50 AM on November 28, 2010 [22 favorites]


If the government has done nothing wrong, it has nothing to fear.
posted by blue_beetle at 11:50 AM on November 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


I don't think it's about getting any good out of this - I rather think it's a message to current and future governments: make sure your future mission feasibility studies include a paragraph titled “What’s the possible blow-back when all the information leaks?”

And that alone is a thing good enough to make this worth it.


This, to me, is the smartest thing anyone has said in this thread. I would go further and strip all ethics out of it. Maybe it's a good thing that secrets are going to get leaked; maybe it's a bad thing. Whatever. It's GOING to happen. It's not definite in all cases, but it's much more likely than ever before, and you can't accurately predict if your particular secret is going to get leaked or not.

When something becomes a simple fact of nature, you're foolish to pretend it's not. So, yes, governments DO now need to assume this is going to happen.

Here's the problem: that's not human nature. Human nature is to assume that it's possible to keep secrets.

This reminds me of stuff that I've posted in countless AskMe threads about infidelity -- usually in those threads in which people are saying, "I love my spouse, but we haven't had sex in five years. Is it okay if I go outside the marriage?" Most responders make moral arguments: "No, you made a vow," etc.

It's not that I think those arguments are worthless (I believe in vows). It's just that I think they're unnecessary. To me, the pertinent argument is, "Are you willing to put up with the consequences, for yourself and your spouse, of getting caught, because you WILL get caught." Of course, you might not get caught. Some people do take secrets to their graves. But there's a good likelihood that you'll get caught, and you're foolish to not consider it.

Even if you have an affair with someone in another country, and only when you're traveling for business -- and even if you never tell anyone else about it -- you're STILL at risk. A much bigger risk than you probably think.

On any given day, there's a minuscule risk that you'll get drunk and blurt it out; that you'll talk in your sleep; that your spouse will pick up on some tiny bit of evidence you didn't think of; that the person you're sleeping with will blab to a friend, who, by an incredible coincidence, happened to go to school with your spouse... But if you stay married to your spouse for thirty years after the affair, you should multiply that minuscule daily risk by eleven-thousand days.

I find this really interesting, and so I've talked to many people about it, but the usual response I get is silence -- until someone changes the subject. People rarely argue with me or explain why I'm wrong. They just pause for a moment, look uncomfortable, and then move on. Maybe I'm misinterpreting things, but I can't help suspecting that there's a certain kind of risk assessment that, true or not, is just not a natural way for people to think. Which is a problem if that risk is a real risk.
posted by grumblebee at 11:51 AM on November 28, 2010 [37 favorites]


Hmm, that's weird. I just managed to get through to the Wikileaks site and there was no mention of any cables.
posted by nasreddin at 11:53 AM on November 28, 2010


Regarding redactions: NYT writes that they redacted their material themselves, shared the redactions, and vetted the redactions with the Administration. Which, at least, means that it's not Assange and his team alone responsible for vetting 11,000 documents.
posted by olya at 11:55 AM on November 28, 2010


"Are you telling me that Assange and a few volunteers viewed and redacted that many docs since February, when the last cables came out? Hardly."

Actually, they sort of crowd-sourced it. The editorial notes on the New York Times and Guardian web pages say that the editors at the newspapers and the US government sent their redaction suggestions to each other and to Wikileaks. The newspaper editors and Wikileaks could then each decide what to redact before releasing their versions of it. But it does sound like they made a good-faith effort to collaborate on mitigating the risk to individuals in the field this time.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:55 AM on November 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


For the people with blowback fears:

If you believe that our first- and second-world peers haven't already read all this information and more (which has been available to over 3 million servicemembers for several years now) via their intelligence networks, I have a bridge to sell you.
posted by mullingitover at 11:55 AM on November 28, 2010 [45 favorites]


Hmm, that's weird. I just managed to get through to the Wikileaks site and there was no mention of any cables.

Same here. The front page was still touting the original leaks, with nary a mention of today's mother lode.

Then it crashed again.
posted by Chichibio at 11:58 AM on November 28, 2010


Hmm, that's weird. I just managed to get through to the Wikileaks site and there was no mention of any cables.

The DDoS may have hit before they got a chance to update the site.
posted by griphus at 11:58 AM on November 28, 2010


But, please, do tell me if some diplomat makes an unflattering remark about a Saudi royal, to give his colleagues and boss an insight into the tone of the conversation and the Saudi agenda, how does it make anyone safer, or freer, to run back and tell the Saudis?

Because that guy may contribute to Al Qaeda or help them with the authorities. These are no-brainers.

Imagine your work emails about customers being leaked. Would that help or hurt your job? Seriously, what a no brainer.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:58 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


These docs include names of people such as a Chinese contact who informed American Embassy personnel that the Chinese government was hacking into Google in China. The result of that will be a bullet in the back of the head.

So I assume you're telling me that the US was offering this "contact" no protection at all, no reward for their help, just letting them go about their business while their name flew around in insecure documents. Yep, bad things happening are all Wikileaks' fault.
posted by Jimbob at 12:00 PM on November 28, 2010 [14 favorites]


He is a lazy sham artist

The way I have read it, he cares more about the long term (perceived) benefits of making this information public than he does the short term consequences of people getting killed. Deriding him as lazy is weak, he just doesn't do this the way you want him to. But what he does do he does with energy and commitment. Wikileaks isn't everything it would be in my perfect world neither, but saying he's lazy is fundamentally missing the point.
posted by seagull.apollo at 12:00 PM on November 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


"Are you telling me that Assange and a few volunteers viewed and redacted that many docs since February, when the last cables came out? Hardly."

Actually, they sort of crowd-sourced it.

There's an oxymoron somewhere in there. Crowd-sourcing to protect secrets???
posted by grumblebee at 12:00 PM on November 28, 2010


I just posted an Ask MetaFilter question about the cables, actually.

If anyone can shed any light on what exactly U.S. diplomatic "cables" are these days—that is, how they're transmitted, stored, and archived, what types of technology they use/have used, how they differ from email/text messages, etc.—please hop on over there to let me know!

The New York Times story, in particular, left me with a ton of questions about the technology behind the leak.
posted by limeonaire at 12:01 PM on November 28, 2010


am not happy without access to the raw files. i am also reading what was published in Europe and the narratives created by each newspaper around these documents are different --from the way they've indexed and/or keyworded the cables to the "insights" they're culling from them.

when these leaks happen we all should have access to the raw files, not just a few chosen news organizations. after all, *they* are part of the lack of governmental transparency.

it wasn't long ago that JUDITH MILLER was being cut a check by the New York Times.
posted by liza at 12:03 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Many more cables name diplomats’ confidential sources, from foreign legislators and military officers to human rights activists and journalists, often with a warning to Washington: “Please protect” or “Strictly protect.”

I really hope that Wikileaks is redacting the names of vulnerable people from these in some sort of systematic way. I'm not to worried about the secrets being released, but I cringe at the thought of what happens to the poor human rights activist whose name gets mentioned as a source.
posted by Forktine at 12:05 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Count me in as someone who is uneasy with such large scale releases of diplomatic documents. Certainly when there is grave injustice it is morally courageous to release those documents to let a people know what a government agency is doing in its name. But a lot or these documents just seem to be interesting communiqués, but nothing rising to the level of scandal. I wish wikileaks was more targeted and selective on that point.

Also, there seems to be a lot of needless "the government can't be trusted with secrets" reactionary stances in this thread. But you know, diplomacy sometimes requires discretion and it is totally reasonable that the state department be able to conduct it's business with a degree of confidentiality. I've been lucky enough to spend time at the national archives looking through diplomatic cables from the 1930s and 1940s and much of it is pretty routine, but a large part of an embassy/consul's job is to provide Washington with a take on the local scene. This isn't always a flattering take and can often include very candid opinions on key people. The government has good reason to keep those sorts of reports classified.

So, I guess I'm saying that we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water. Certainly leaks like the Pentagon Papers and such are a force for good, but Wikileaks seems to want to expose all secrets, regardless of content or merit, and that would seem to unnecessarily undermine the efforts of the diplomatic corps.
posted by boubelium at 12:06 PM on November 28, 2010 [13 favorites]




But, please, do tell me if some diplomat makes an unflattering remark about a Saudi royal, to give his colleagues and boss an insight into the tone of the conversation and the Saudi agenda, how does it make anyone safer, or freer, to run back and tell the Saudis?

If this kind of thing is consistently revealed, diplomats will think twice about this kind of mincing, insincere, manipulative approach?
posted by phrontist at 12:07 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


If the NYT excerpts are anything to go by, I'd agree that this is a strong possibility, particularly where Iran is concerned.

Maybe you should read some of the stuff in the guardian? In particular the stuff about spying on top UN people, and trying to get their DNA and stuff.

Honestly though, what I'm most curious about is:
• Claims of inappropriate behaviour by a member of the British royal family.
The Guardian doesn't actually specify what the behavior was or even which member of the royal family.
These docs include names of people such as a Chinese contact who informed American Embassy personnel that the Chinese government was hacking into Google in China. The result of that will be a bullet in the back of the head.
Cite?

Anyway, none of these lives would be in danger if the US wasn't overseas killing people in the first place. No one who makes the argument about "putting lives in danger" actually gives a crap about people being killed.
posted by delmoi at 12:08 PM on November 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


The cables are not searchable by keyword. Which is a shame because I wanted to search "rat fucker" and see what I came up with.
posted by LarryC at 12:09 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think you mistake my meaning, Ironmouth. Doubtless I was unclear. My point is that exposing those "work emails" will not, in fact, make US citizens safer or freer. I think no legitimate purpose was served by exposing that, even if there might be a greater good served in some select few cases by releasing some (other) documents.
posted by tyllwin at 12:09 PM on November 28, 2010


This one is kinda interesting: How to handle a defector - a how-to guide for embassy staff
posted by Jacqueline at 12:10 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


> I can see editors across the globe thanking Assange in their prayers tonight, for verily, Wikileaks staggered release of information will certainly help sell some papers.

Yes, and that is a good thing. This gives journalists worthwhile work to do that is not immediately subservient to the establishment. I love this. The content of these is not necessarily unpleasant to anyone. Yes, we all know that this kind of stuff goes on. But this is the high frequency detail in the picture. This provides the contrast and detail that allows us to see the overall structure more clearly. Journalists now have the job of researching this source material. Its just primary data, neither good nor bad. Hurrah.
posted by fcummins at 12:11 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


The way I have read it, he cares more about the long term (perceived) benefits of making this information public than he does the short term consequences of people getting killed. Deriding him as lazy is weak, he just doesn't do this the way you want him to. But what he does do he does with energy and commitment. Wikileaks isn't everything it would be in my perfect world neither, but saying he's lazy is fundamentally missing the point.

Please explain the long-terrm benefit of releasing the name of Amnesty International workers who have now openly been marked for death. Please explain how he's not being lazy human lives are at stake.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:12 PM on November 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Claims of inappropriate behaviour by a member of the British royal family.

Don't ask. Just ... don't.
posted by griphus at 12:14 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]




I think there's inarguably an element of sausage-making to diplomacy - any negotiation is going to involve haggling, threatening, things that really do inflame more than they ought to given the context. On the other hand, absolute secrecy is not any better of an idea than absolute transparency in this sort of context, because it goes farther than simple insults and tactics and into areas like trading dangerous information.

I think, in the balance of things, it's better that this information be public than that it all be forever buried. Yes, it means that guy in China is almost certainly gonna get killed, and he's not going to be the only person. But as when the Nazis march in Skokie, sometimes sticking to your ideals means doing so even when it's not comfortable.
posted by kafziel at 12:15 PM on November 28, 2010


To those decrying these leaks please ask yourself one question: If they are so damaging and dangerous how come that some of the planets leading news publications are making them public? In your viewpoint I take it that Le Monde, El Pais The Guardian and the New York Times are public enemies and should therefore be dealt with accordingly. I find myself therefore also asking what your favorite shirt color is.
posted by adamvasco at 12:15 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the information in these cables is so life and death, and the fate of individuals hangs in the balance as a result, as well as criticising wikileaks for its approach to redaction, maybe, just maybe, there ought to be some criticism for a system which allows a private in the army - along with tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of others - unfettered access to the whole fucking lot of them, to the point where he can merrily burn them all onto his Lady Gaga CD and waltz off with them.
posted by reynir at 12:15 PM on November 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


Anyway, none of these lives would be in danger if the US wasn't overseas killing people in the first place.

Oh, nonsense, Delmoi. Simplistic exaggeration and you know it is.

If vladimir Putin causes someone to be poisoned because that unfortunate soul leaked info to the US, an got named in these cables, the US being "overseas killing people in the first place." isn't the cause.

If a North Korean is shot for trying to undermine a vicious dictator through leaking information, the US is not to blame for it.
posted by tyllwin at 12:16 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


delmoi, My money's on Philip or Edward, if male. Fergie if not.
posted by quarsan at 12:17 PM on November 28, 2010


These docs include names of people such as a Chinese contact who informed American Embassy personnel that the Chinese government was hacking into Google in China. The result of that will be a bullet in the back of the head.

That individual was always at risk, and why should we assume that this individual hasn't already been caught by the Chinese or otherwise given up by the US in exchange for some other diplomatic favor? Blaming Assange for putting this individual at risk is childish.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:17 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Bullying people who disagree with you is childish.
posted by found missing at 12:19 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Ironmouth: Assange's loathsomeness as a person is irrelevant to the evaluating the praiseworthiness of Wikileaks' actions. Repeatedly bringing it up comes across as lazy rhetorical posturing.

Could you explain how these releases put specific persons' lives at risk? I'm completely ignorant here. How did human rights workers' lives come to depend on state secrecy?
posted by phrontist at 12:21 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yes, it means that guy in China is almost certainly gonna get killed, and he's not going to be the only person. But as when the Nazis march in Skokie, sometimes sticking to your ideals means doing so even when it's not comfortable.
Nobody actually died when the Nazis marched in Skokie. The Nazis in Skokie episode was indeed about sticking to your principles even when they make you uncomfortable. But dead is a very different thing from uncomfortable.
posted by craichead at 12:21 PM on November 28, 2010


Jullian Assange is a dead man and other key members of the wikileaks team shouldn't sleep well either. Also contributors will probably find their lives a bit more difficult. Prepare for blacklists, security lists and other tools to be used. Also Private Manning is now going to be facing capital charges. Perhaps in holding back some of the cables they are seeking to hold some leverage, they are mistaken.
posted by humanfont at 12:24 PM on November 28, 2010




These docs include names of people such as a Chinese contact who informed American Embassy personnel that the Chinese government was hacking into Google in China. The result of that will be a bullet in the back of the head.

Ah, well, if that's true it's extremely regrettable. Where did you hear it?
posted by phrontist at 12:25 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


found missing: "Bullying people who disagree with you is childish"

I agree.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:25 PM on November 28, 2010




That individual was always at risk, and why should we assume that this individual hasn't already been caught by the Chinese or otherwise given up by the US in exchange for some other diplomatic favor? Blaming Assange for putting this individual at risk is childish.

We don't know whether Assange is to blame or not, do we? Neither assumption is provable.

But the thing is, Blazecock, what good purpose is served by Assange and company publishing that?

To help the glorious freedom-loving government of China against the Evil that is the US, or the evil that is Google?

Unless that's your goal, what possible good does it do anyone? Except to embarrass the US because you simply hate the US?
posted by tyllwin at 12:28 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


If they are so damaging and dangerous how come that some of the planets leading news publications are making them public?

Why do you think news organizations would be unwilling to leak information that is damaging or dangerous? If wikileaks offered them the intelligence dump, I can't imagine any of them would say no outright.
posted by lullaby at 12:28 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Neither assumption is provable.

So the question that follows is: Why make an unprovable assumption.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:30 PM on November 28, 2010


My point is that exposing those "work emails" will not, in fact, make US citizens safer or freer.

Leaving aside my strong disagreement with this statement, why should we only care about the safety and freedom of US citizens? There are six and a half billion other people in the world. WikiLeaks is an international organization - they aren't out to protect US citizen's interests any more than anyone else's interests.
posted by ssg at 12:32 PM on November 28, 2010 [25 favorites]


"The State Department created its own computer network for classified documents, one that 2.5 million US citizens had access to. The leaking of the diplomatic cables was an accident that was waiting to happen." - Der Spiegel

Seems like the Crazy Eddie of classified information. Who are these 2.5 million people? Can such a huge "secret" network be considered secure?
posted by mapinduzi at 12:36 PM on November 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Ironmouth, just choose a different word. Lazy has a bunch of connotations attached to it that are not applicable here. Implying he has poor work ethic, intentionally or not, is setting you up for a world of internet hurt because it's NOT TRUE.

And yes, I don't think that he cares. It's beside the point of what he's trying to do.

Still not lazy.
posted by seagull.apollo at 12:36 PM on November 28, 2010


Fascinating and well-written memo about Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe from 2007:
SUBJECT: The End is Nigh
posted by Jacqueline at 12:38 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


(unfortunately, the end was not nigh)
posted by Jacqueline at 12:38 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


why should we only care about the safety and freedom of US citizens?

I don't only care about US citizens. But how does it help the safety and freedom of anyone on earth to publicize the fact that some US diplomat compared a Russian official to Robin the Boy Wonder? Unless you hold that embarrassing the US, and making Russian leaders feel personally insulted is good in and of itself, what good does it do the world to expose that comment?

Why make an unprovable assumption.

I'm happy not to. It may not, in fact, get him shot. Assume that he would have been shot anyway. Assume he died by accident a week before it leaked. Even in that case, what interest is served by releasing the info?
posted by tyllwin at 12:39 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh and for all the peeps who'd like to blame any negative outcome on Wikileaks, recall that Manning could've just zipped up the documents and posted them to The Pirate Bay unredacted. Anything at all that Wikileaks has done to prevent innocent heads from rolling is to their credit.
posted by mullingitover at 12:40 PM on November 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


Oh, nonsense, Delmoi. Simplistic exaggeration and you know it is.

If vladimir Putin causes someone to be poisoned because that unfortunate soul leaked info to the US, an got named in these cables, the US being "overseas killing people in the first place." isn't the cause.
Well, no one has seen how well the names have been redacted in these latest releases. I thought we were talking about the old releases about information in Afghanistan. Some of the critics here are being lazy by conflating stuff that was released about countries we are at war in (Iraq and Afghanistan) with something that hasn't even happened yet.

The "Someone in china is going to get killed over the Google stuff" makes little sense, since I was under the impression Google just happened to notice the attack which appeared to be coming from China. As far as I can tell Ironmouth is just making stuff up here.

When the Afghan and Iraq docs were released a bunch of people complained that people would get killed; yet no one did. Now people are doing the same thing with respect to these documents.

So that's the first part. The second issue is the fact that lots of people are getting killed in Iraq and Afghanistan already, by the U.S. Obviously people who make the "this will get people killed" argument don't actually care whether or not people get killed. That's my point.
posted by delmoi at 12:43 PM on November 28, 2010 [13 favorites]


Here is the real deal. There is no secrecy. We are spending trillions of dollars to pretend there is. There is none. Open your mouth, step out of your house, spend a nickel, call a friend, fly to the next state, rent a car, sleep with someone, there is no secrecy. Everyone, everything, every resource, even the resource you haven't previously regarded as a resource, is compromised.

Seriously, if someone wanted to get at our secrets, rather than make a big show about it... a good portion of the courtesans in the dc/nova area would end up retiring rich on tropical islands...
posted by hal_c_on at 12:44 PM on November 28, 2010


Even in that case, what interest is served by releasing the info?

It not only confirms what was suspected (and, to date, unproven) about China's state-sponsored hacking activities, but that the US government knew and said nothing to the public. More to the point, nothing was said to business owners who are part of that public, some which compete with China's business interests.

Perhaps there is a greater good served by enforcing transparency and fair-handed dealing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:45 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


SETEC ASTRONOMY
posted by 3mendo at 12:47 PM on November 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


Oh and for all the peeps who'd like to blame any negative outcome on Wikileaks, recall that Manning could've just zipped up the documents and posted them to The Pirate Bay unredacted. Anything at all that Wikileaks has done to prevent innocent heads from rolling is to their credit.

If Manning had just dropped it all on Pirate Bay, how many people would have ever seen any of the documents?
posted by lullaby at 12:47 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Coming soon to a theater near you, Wag the Dog part II staring North Korea and Iran.
posted by humanfont at 12:49 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


But how does it help the safety and freedom of anyone on earth to publicize the fact that some US diplomat compared a Russian official to Robin the Boy Wonder? Unless you hold that embarrassing the US, and making Russian leaders feel personally insulted is good in and of itself, what good does it do the world to expose that comment?
I can't imagine that any Russian leader is naive enough to feel personally insulted by that comment. There may be some bombshells here, but that ain't one of them.
posted by craichead at 12:50 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ah, global village gossip. Now that so much is out in the open, I will be anxiously awaiting Endemol to come out with a show for all this...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 12:50 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not to mention, if Manning or anyone else with his access levels could have given this info to Wikileaks, anyone could have sold it to Russia or China too. I mean supposedly 2.5 million people have access too this stuff (or some of it)
posted by delmoi at 12:53 PM on November 28, 2010


I don't know, but I would guess that Wikileaks might argue that once they became a selector of what to publish, picking this cable but not that one, spying on the UN but not what was said about the Russian official, it completely changes what they do and what they are.

If they publish the lot, then they can't be accused of releasing only those that fit a selected agenda, whatever that selected agenda might be in the eye of the beholder.
posted by reynir at 12:54 PM on November 28, 2010


mapinduzi: Who are these 2.5 million people? Can such a huge "secret" network be considered secure?

You should check out the Washington Post's investigative series Top Secret America (previously).

My guess is that most of the attention will be focused on what the cables say about Iran. However, the interesting part to me was this bit regarding Yemen in the NYT:

For instance, it has been previously reported that the Yemeni government has sought to cover up the American role in missile strikes against the local branch of Al Qaeda. But a cable’s fly-on-the-wall account of a January meeting between the Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and Gen. David H. Petraeus, then the American commander in the Middle East, is nonetheless breathtaking.

“We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours,” Mr. Saleh said, according to the cable sent by the American ambassador, prompting Yemen’s deputy prime minister to “joke that he had just ‘lied’ by telling Parliament” that Yemeni forces had carried out the strikes.

posted by joedan at 12:54 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


WikiLeaks is an international organization - they aren't out to protect US citizen's interests any more than anyone else's interests.

C'mon. You can't possibly believe they don't have a special little hard-on for leaking U.S. intel. Have any of their high profile leaks been from someone else?
posted by Cyrano at 12:55 PM on November 28, 2010


@Cyrano: Is anyone else sending them high profile info? Wikileaks is dependent on what people send them. Perhaps people in other countries don't have the same level of access, technology, and motivation to be whistleblowers.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:57 PM on November 28, 2010


The eradication of the notions of privacy/secrecy may be the single greatest thing my generation accomplishes. It is a victory, not a loss.
posted by Peztopiary at 12:58 PM on November 28, 2010


I get that the different parts of the U.S. government are doing preliminary damage control by suggesting these leaks will deeply jeopardize diplomatic relations with our allies and the mere release of classified and/or plausibly deniable information endanger national security, but I'm only really disturbed (though not surprised, I guess) that these are the same two points being debated on TV and in the papers.

This echoes sentiments previously expressed in the thread, but I'd prefer to focus on what heinous shit we've been doing to "git r done" for the past 10 years rather than give a loving foot massage to the idea of how terrible it is that someone is leaking that shit to the rest of us.

Unfortunately, info-dumps like this, as in many Sci-Fi novels, tend to be so imbued with information that the delivery makes it all seem equally important and therefore, nothing is important. It all fades away without any particular event or statement standing out, so the only real effect is reinforcement of the notion "see? our government does lie to us and do terrible things."
posted by Angulimala at 12:58 PM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


tyllwi : Oh, nonsense, Delmoi. Simplistic exaggeration and you know it is. If vladimir Putin causes someone to be poisoned because that unfortunate soul leaked info to the US, an got named in these cables, the US being "overseas killing people in the first place." isn't the cause.

Absolutely right - As much as I hold the idiots in charge of my own country responsible, we need all the idiots in charge of all the countries to realize that they can't just go around playing a part in these high-level soap-operas.

We don't need the US to stop treating the world like a pet, we need Russia to do the same. And the UK. And China. And Germany and Japan and Brazil and all the rest, forever and ever amen.

I see (at least) one potential good outcome of this round of leaks - A large number of world leaders suddenly realizing that they have next to no ability to play their games in the modern world without someone noticing. And maybe, just maybe, a few of them will stop playing games (which in turn makes it ever so slightly harder for everyone else to keep playing).


humanfont : Perhaps in holding back some of the cables they are seeking to hold some leverage, they are mistaken.

I disagree... Why do you think Assange continues to draw breath on this planet, after the last batch of leaks?

The US government (if not others) has a pretty good idea of whatever Wikileaks held back, particularly since they know the former contents of Manning's HDD. Wikileaks has started playing a very dangerous game with more players than just the US involved. I, for one, don't think they'd have gone all-in on a 7/2 off.
posted by pla at 1:00 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Cyrano : C'mon. You can't possibly believe they don't have a special little hard-on for leaking U.S. intel.

It sounds like the current batch of leaks has the potential to embarrass other world leaders more than the US. Still US-centric, but you don't need to personally watch everybody, you just need to watch those who do watch everybody.
posted by pla at 1:03 PM on November 28, 2010


>Well, as long as Julian Assange promises that releasing this latest round of information will prevent wars and terrorist attacks and more death, I guess everything is okay.

Why do grown adults say things like this?


As a grown adult, I can say that what Assange is doing is completely irresponsible. Please note that I don't have to resort to ad hominem attacks or flinging shit at the wall like you do, BP.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:04 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


As a grown adult, I can say that what Assange is doing is completely irresponsible.

Irresponsible how? Obviously it hurts the diplomatic position of the U.S, but how is that his problem?
posted by delmoi at 1:06 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I mean do you think every human on earth has a responsibility to act in the interests of the US Government?
posted by delmoi at 1:07 PM on November 28, 2010 [13 favorites]


Please note that I don't have to resort to ad hominem attacks or flinging shit at the wall like you do, BP.

Given that Assange made no such promises, perhaps this thread should be about the content of the leaks, and not about your snide opinions of and assumptions about one of the public faces behind the WikiLeaks organization — which is a distraction, at best.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:10 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


There's something deeply contemptible about seeing politicians suddenly developing an over-powering concern for the sanctity of human life.
posted by reynir at 1:15 PM on November 28, 2010 [21 favorites]


fyi it seems only 219 of the 250k+ cables have been released in full so far; any media coverage we're seeing at this point deals only with those select few.
posted by jjoye at 1:17 PM on November 28, 2010


These leaks are about exposing the lies and evil-doings of our own governments.

No. If that was the case, then they would be a lot more selective. They would redact them and publish only important ones. This is a document dump of 250,000 documents. A quarter of a million. Its anything and everything.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:21 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Secret" doesn't always mean "evil."

You've not been following the details we already know about what the UK and US governments have done, I assume? I certainly hope that's the case, because if you have been following them then your choice to continue defending the right to secrecy of those governments is... well, let's be polite and choose a word like "troubling".
posted by Decani at 1:22 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


but you don't need to personally watch everybody, you just need to watch those who do watch everybody.

And when they start leaking FSB, Mossad, MI-5/6, or Chinese security service stuff, I'll look into believing that.
posted by Cyrano at 1:24 PM on November 28, 2010


More generally the damage is going to be from the domestic fallout in the countries US diplomats have mentioned.

Exactly.

Anyone whose saying that "gee diplomats will be fine with this, they know the score" need to reread this comment above.

Even world leaders are going to have to play mad despite knowing their diplomats do the same. The US took a huge hit from Bush's acts. This hurts us again by releasing a whole bunch of shit that will inflame public opinion in a lot of countries.

Where I worry the most is Pakistan. God help us if the Pakistani Taliban take over and hand the bomb over to terrorists. Its like everyone thinks there are no more threats in the world.

This is the worst part of Bush calling wolf.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:27 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


"fyi it seems only 219 of the 250k+ cables have been released in full so far; any media coverage we're seeing at this point deals only with those select few."

The Wikileaks site has been down for several hours as part of a denial-of-service attack.

You'd think that someone could just upload the whole dump to a torrents site, except the Department of Homeland Security just started shutting those down too.

Coincidence?
posted by Jacqueline at 1:27 PM on November 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


When they start leaking FSB, Mossad, MI-5/6, or Chinese security service stuff, I'll look into believing that.

Do you really think they have access to such material and they're withholding it?
posted by phrontist at 1:28 PM on November 28, 2010


No. If that was the case, then they would be a lot more selective. They would redact them and publish only important ones. This is a document dump of 250,000 documents. A quarter of a million. Its anything and everything.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:21 PM on November 28


And I'm cool with that.

Get it out there before they get silenced - and as we have seen, people are right now trying very hard to silence them. They don't have the time to redact this stuff. Also, as someone astutely observed upthread, isn't it our noble governments who defend assaults on our privacy with the assertion that if we've done nothing wrong we have nothing to fear? Obviously, not being evil lying hypocrites, they should be perfectly content to apply the same approach to the invasion of their own privacy. Right? That's fair, is it not?

Come on. They're shitting themselves because they're busted. GOOD.
posted by Decani at 1:28 PM on November 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


delmoi: "When the Afghan and Iraq docs were released a bunch of people complained that people would get killed; yet no one did. Now people are doing the same thing with respect to these documents."

I don't know how you can make this statement with any kind of certainty. Most western journalists can't report from Afghanistan unless they embed with military units because the risk of being kidnapped or killed is too high. And, as of April 2010, military units pulled out of the highly contested Korengal Valley. These areas are so remote and insular we're getting very little news out of them. I think it's a reasonable assumption that an informant could be taken from their home, shot in the head, and dumped in a ravine without the news reaching you or I. I'm not saying this a certainty either, but the idea shouldn't be brushed off like it's absurd.
posted by sharkfu at 1:29 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"And when they start leaking FSB, Mossad, MI-5/6, or Chinese security service stuff, I'll look into believing that."

OK, please get a hold of your contacts in the FSB, Mossad, MI-5/6, and Chinese security agencies and ask them to ship it.

Wikileaks can't publish what people don't send them.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:29 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is going to take more than a dozen stitches.
posted by andreaazure at 1:30 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]




HA!
posted by Decani at 1:34 PM on November 28, 2010 [21 favorites]


As long as these governments have nothing to hide, I don't see what the big deal is that this stuff gets leaked.

The government should hide some things. The names of guys telling us China is hacking Google to learn how to censor the Internet for a quarter of the world's population. The names of Afghani locals who are helping Amnesty International and the fact the US was negotiating with Pakistan to have them turn over highly enriched a-bomb materials because of instability in that country. You can laugh about the Saudi king all you want, but only a fool would ever want this information released. But this is all information Assange has releaased. To help whom, exactly.

The fact that some bad things were done in secret does not mean there should be no secrets.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:34 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


this guy claims to be responsible for the dos attack
posted by jjoye at 1:35 PM on November 28, 2010


The eradication of the notions of privacy/secrecy may be the single greatest thing my generation accomplishes. It is a victory, not a loss.
posted by Peztopiary at 3:58 PM on November 28

secrecy isnt the same thing as privacy.

privacy is the right of an individual to assert what they want to share about their lives with others. for there to be secrecy, two or more parties have to be involved in the suppression of information.

if anything, your generation is bound to destroy whatever civil notion ever existed about the right we have as autonomous individuals to not become "property" of others.

privacy is one of the "wins" to come out of the abolition of slavery. and it's one that many people in the US seems beholden to completely destroy and roll back. as if becoming property of others could only happen to black people.
posted by liza at 1:37 PM on November 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


No one who makes the argument about "putting lives in danger" actually gives a crap about people being killed.

Please don't tell me what I care about and what I don't care about, I argue respectfully and I don't try to tell you what you care about. This type of BS attacking the messenger personally has no place here.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:38 PM on November 28, 2010


I see (at least) one potential good outcome of this round of leaks - A large number of world leaders suddenly realizing that they have next to no ability to play their games in the modern world without someone noticing. And maybe, just maybe, a few of them will stop playing games (which in turn makes it ever so slightly harder for everyone else to keep playing).

First these states will do everything in their power, including disappearing and killing people to try to contain it. Maybe they will, maybe they won't, but if your lesson is to be learnt, it isn't going to be learned at this stage. Assange wasn't killed after the last leak because there is a certain tempo to these things, you don't just kill people, there is a process that has to happen. He's escalated, we've escalated, now we know how far he will go, and what his moves will be, he's a dead man.
posted by humanfont at 1:39 PM on November 28, 2010


So, yeah, lets get back to the actual content.

The US has particularly intimate dealings with Britain, and some of the dispatches from the London embassy in Grosvenor Square will make uncomfortable reading in Whitehall and Westminster. They range from political criticisms of David Cameron to requests for specific intelligence about individual MPs.

Think about that. The U.S. Government has it's fingers that deep in the UK's internal politics - we're engaged in conspiracies with current power holders to keep tabs on opposition. Our representatives to the U.N. are snooping around for credit card numbers.

How democratic.

I'm sure it will continue to be the government's policy not to comment on leaked documents.
posted by phrontist at 1:40 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


This type of BS attacking the messenger personally has no place here.

An interesting choice of analogy.
posted by phrontist at 1:41 PM on November 28, 2010 [16 favorites]


The government should hide some things.

posted by Ironmouth


The government should show the people it serves that it is worthy of being trusted to hide things. Then, and only then, might we consider tolerating their doing so.
The government serves us. Not the other way around. And we must hold them to account.


The US and UK governments have shown that when they are allowed to hide things, they hide torture, indiscriminate slaughter of innocent civilians, war crimes, wholesale abuse of prisoners and due legal process. So frankly, fuck their "right" to hide things. They have betrayed the trust that would make it acceptable, and they need to pay for that. They need to pay hard. Sometimes the shit needs to hit the fan, and the monstrous bloody disgrace of the post- 9/11 activities of the US/UK governments deserves to be paid for; in spades and then some.
posted by Decani at 1:42 PM on November 28, 2010 [40 favorites]


SETEC ASTRONOMY

Watching that movie right now!
posted by dry white toast at 1:42 PM on November 28, 2010


Hey, Wikileaks is back up! Here is their "Secret US Embassy Cables" subsite. In case Wikileaks goes down again, here is another site with copies of the memos. Via the WL Central blog.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:43 PM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ironmouth : The fact that some bad things were done in secret does not mean there should be no secrets.

The fact that some good things were done in secret does not mean we should allow the governments of the world to keep secrets from us.

We pay them to conduct our affairs on the world stage. When your boss comes to you and asks to see your progress on Project-X, do you generally respond with "sorry, can't tell you, wouldn't want to our our mole in Project-Y"?
posted by pla at 1:46 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Bargaining to empty the Guantánamo Bay prison: When American diplomats pressed other countries to resettle detainees, they became reluctant players in a State Department version of “Let’s Make a Deal.” Slovenia was told to take a prisoner if it wanted to meet with President Obama, while the island nation of Kiribati was offered incentives worth millions of dollars to take in Chinese Muslim detainees, cables from diplomats recounted. The Americans, meanwhile, suggested that accepting more prisoners would be “a low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence in Europe.” - NYT

OH NO YOU DIDN'T!

This is a pretty weird read as a citizen of both of the countries in question. Did some state department staffer come to think that Belgium had an inferiority complex? That somehow being a good helper for Uncle Sam would boost our popularity... to the end of, uh, winning Eurovision?
posted by phrontist at 1:47 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


wikileaks "cablegate" viewer is now online.

"The embassy cables will be released in stages over the next few months. The subject matter of these cables is of such importance, and the geographical spread so broad, that to do otherwise would not do this material justice."
posted by jjoye at 1:47 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


So far, by reading the headlines what one could tentatively conclude is that US Diplomats enjoy gossiping about world "leaders" and go on with usual routine paranoia. Among the most interesting so far is the one linked by Jacqueline above, The End is Nigh on Mugabe.

A short teaser extract:
Robert Mugabe has survived for so long because he is more
clever and more ruthless than any other politician in
Zimbabwe. To give the devil his due, he is a brilliant
tactitian and has long thrived on his ability to abruptly
change the rules of the game, radicalize the political
dynamic and force everyone else to react to his agenda.
Now isn't that a rather frank assessment of what politics is often about?
posted by elpapacito at 1:49 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


@elpapacito: My favorite part is the next bit: "his deep ignorance on economic issues (coupled with the belief that his 18 doctorates give him the authority to suspend the laws of economics, including supply and demand)"

OH SNAP!
posted by Jacqueline at 1:50 PM on November 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


(errr... both countries meaning the U.S. and Belgium)
posted by phrontist at 1:51 PM on November 28, 2010


The names of guys telling us China is hacking Google to learn how to censor the Internet for a quarter of the world's population.

This cable has not yet been released, so we don't actually know whether Wikileaks redacted the names of any informants that were in there. We do know that both the Guardian and the New York Times have been careful to both redact such names and to communicate their actions back to Wikileaks. We also know that Wikileaks has redacted at least some such information this time around.
posted by twirlip at 1:52 PM on November 28, 2010


I always thought Ian Fleming just made shit like this up:

"Gadzhi's Kaspiysk summer house is an enormous
structure on the shore of the Caspian, essentially a huge
circular reception room -- much like a large restaurant --
attached to a 40-meter high green airport tower on columns,
accessible only by elevator, with a couple of bedrooms, a
reception room, and a grotto whose glass floor was the roof
of a huge fish tank."
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 1:53 PM on November 28, 2010 [13 favorites]


Additionally, if my memory serves me, there was one whistleblower behind all this. How does one exactly collect and tarball 250k+ worth of "secret" content without raising an alarm bell in a country that spends billions of dollars in security?
posted by elpapacito at 1:55 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


No one who makes the argument about "putting lives in danger" actually gives a crap about people being killed.

You'll notice that those who most piously invoke the potential risk to civilian lives posed by actions disapproved of by the US government [i.e. publishing leaks, refusing airport pornoscans] are the quickest to shrug off the actual destruction of civilian lives caused by actions approved of by the US government.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:55 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


And, vice versa, of course.
posted by found missing at 1:59 PM on November 28, 2010


Did some state department staffer come to think that Belgium had an inferiority complex? That somehow being a good helper for Uncle Sam would boost our popularity... to the end of, uh, winning Eurovision?

More like, "If you do this, it'll signal to others that we owe you a favor. That unknown favor could be cashed in right now, in the form of a trade deal, or it could be a bargaining chip you use in a negotiation with someone else. As in, 'If you do X for Belgium, Belgium will get the Americans to do Y for you.'"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:59 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Given that Assange made no such promises, perhaps this thread should be about the content of the leaks, and not about your snide opinions of and assumptions about one of the public faces behind the WikiLeaks organization — which is a distraction, at best.

Is there some reason you couldn't have said this in your original comment, rather than immediately pull the douche card as you did?
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 2:00 PM on November 28, 2010


Incredibly interesting.
posted by flatluigi at 2:01 PM on November 28, 2010


"The embassy cables will be released in stages over the next few months. The subject matter of these cables is of such importance, and the geographical spread so broad, that to do otherwise would not do this material justice."

Now that's interesting. So for the next couple of months, Capitol Hill will be more focused on containing this sort of delayed-effect cluster bombing instead of doing anything else? Or, more sinisterly, the new Congress will be able to come in and do what they will largely unexamined because everyone's having a field day with the equivalent of a geopolitical slam book instead?
posted by quakerjono at 2:03 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't buy any of the diplomatic bullshit from the state department. The US got caught with it's pants down. If this were from any other government, like Iraq (remember Chalabi?), they would be hailed as defenders of democracy.

I have been reading the news long enough to realize that democracy is another word for American Interests. It hasn't meant anything else to American diplomats, or any of their pathetic mammon worshipping apparatchiks for a hundred and fifty years.
posted by notion at 2:04 PM on November 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell: Sounds like middle school.
posted by phrontist at 2:05 PM on November 28, 2010


Yeah, that first comment of BPs was messed up. I know that there was some silly-ish sarcasm he was responded to, but that wasn't attacking a member on the site. It seemed to be a clear example of shit-throwing that a) Isn't fair and b) Discourages discussion.

Apologies if I should have FIAMO, but it seemed like it was too late for mod-clean up.
posted by angrycat at 2:05 PM on November 28, 2010


Sounds like middle school.

With guns.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:07 PM on November 28, 2010


Or, more sinisterly, the new Congress will be able to come in and do what they will largely unexamined because everyone's having a field day with the equivalent of a geopolitical slam book instead?
Or people will pay attention to the first couple of days and then move on and totally ignore any subsequent revelations, because it's seen as old news. Didn't we already hear the wikilinks diplomatic story? That's so last week. I suspect that's what will happen, at least until the inappropriate behavior by the member of the British royal family is revealed, at which point Americans will pay attention again for a few minutes until they go back to acting like it's an old story.
posted by craichead at 2:08 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Additionally, if my memory serves me, there was one whistleblower behind all this. How does one exactly collect and tarball 250k+ worth of "secret" content without raising an alarm bell in a country that spends billions of dollars in security?"

He pretended that he was just listening to Lady Gaga CDs while he worked. Really.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:18 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


So Ironmouth, the Chinese informant. The one who will shortly be murdered,. You have his name right? Because it was leaked? I mean you didn't just make that up to bolster your argument, did you?
posted by danny the boy at 2:18 PM on November 28, 2010 [13 favorites]


Joe Beese: "You'll notice that those who most piously invoke the potential risk to civilian lives posed by actions disapproved of by the US government [i.e. publishing leaks, refusing airport pornoscans] are the quickest to shrug off the actual destruction of civilian lives caused by actions approved of by the US government"

Holy crap, those are some wild assumptions about people's motivations. I disapprove of the leaks of the names of informants and want us to end our military involvement in Afghanistan, as both endanger the lives of Afghan citizens.

I'm curious why you hold the seemingly cognitive dissonant view of approving of the unredacted leaks which endangered Afghan citizen lives and disapproving of the war because it endangered Afghan citizen lives. Do they deserve to be in danger because you disagree with them? Tell me again how much you care about civilian lives.
posted by sharkfu at 2:23 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Really - I can't believe two things
1) some people were so naive as to not realize this is what internal communications were going to sound like, and that diplomacy might just possibly mean sometimes dealing with people in a way that hides your true feelings towards those people
2) There are people who claim that today's releases contain any information of note, or that it is likely to meaningfully damage relationships with any allies or put any non-combatants at risk in any meaningful way.

I just spent a bunch of time reading much of what was released today on the wikileaks site - and unless this is some sort of warm up act and the next tranches have things that really are revelations, then this whole thing is just a gigantic cry for attention from the wikileaks people.
posted by JPD at 2:26 PM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


While pondering on the subject of Wikileaks, I wondered what the opinion of people like Noam Chomsky could be on this unprecedented information disclosure.

So I googled this comment by Chomsky on a previous Wikileak. While he does nor discount nor exalt Wikileaks, he point out that there are other piece of news that are poorly reported, like the alleged dramatic increase of the rate of Leukemia cases in the city of Fallujah (Iraq) , allegedly 38 times higher than Hiroshima. Report of children malformation affecting Iraq has also been broadcasted by Skynews ( warning: very graphic video malformed childrens).

One wonders if the weapons that were used during the attack to Fallujah are the primary cause of that.
posted by elpapacito at 2:29 PM on November 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


> a gigantic cry for attention from the wikileaks people.

Or maybe there is value in releasing information that is not normative, but informative.
posted by fcummins at 2:29 PM on November 28, 2010


I swear that I care about the loss of civilian life.
One of the reasons that I am torn about Afghanistan policy is the loss of civilian life v. the loss of civilian life if we pull out is a hard equation to solve. I haven't read, here, or anywhere else, a good solution to that equation.
One reason why I am not (yet) condemning Assange for this latest series of leaks or (yet) celebrating it is the issue of civilian death. I have a hard time believing that at this particular hour, anybody has (with any degree of reliability) figured this equation out.
Joe Beese and others who are attacking the secret hearts of other members here, isn't there a way to make your argument without doing that?
posted by angrycat at 2:31 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


the unredacted leaks which endangered Afghan citizen lives

Cognitive dissonance, you say?

... a senior NATO official in Kabul told CNN that there has not been a single case of Afghans needing protection or to be moved because of the leak.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:35 PM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


the stuff about other countries, such as saudi arabia, encouraging the u s to bomb iran, is going to have long lasting effects on the region - iran's paranoia will now increase and if there is a bombing of their sites, they will feel justified in striking against other countries in the region

also, the revelation that hillary clinton wanted diplomats to steal credit card numbers could well result in impeachment calls - that is illegal, isn't it? - although i have a feeling that the g o p will be quietly told that if they do that, then there are things that could be revealed about the previous administration that won't be good

and let's not forget that the context we see this in and the context the intelligence community sees this in are too different things - i suspect that a lot of this was already known by a lot of people - i also suspect that there are things we won't even notice that they may find significant
posted by pyramid termite at 2:39 PM on November 28, 2010


two different things - damn, i'm tired
posted by pyramid termite at 2:40 PM on November 28, 2010


From Joe's link:

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said there is still concern Afghans named in the published documents could be retaliated against by the Taliban, though a NATO official said there has been no indication that this has happened.

The NATO official is unnamed, and so while the article contains info as described in the post, there's contrary evidence (i.e. the analysis of, what the DoD, I guess, and I do realize that DoD has got agendas of its own).
posted by angrycat at 2:41 PM on November 28, 2010


What's going to happen to the original leaker, Pfc. Bradley Manning?
posted by dzaz at 2:54 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


> the stuff about other countries, such as saudi arabia, encouraging the u s to bomb iran, is going to have long lasting effects on the region - iran's paranoia will now increase and if there is a bombing of their sites, they will feel justified in striking against other countries in the region

I call shenanigans. The Iranians labour under no illusion about how the Saudis feel about them. This stuff just shines a new light on the transactions of everyday life done in the name of something called the US.
posted by fcummins at 2:54 PM on November 28, 2010


One of the reasons that I am torn about Afghanistan policy is the loss of civilian life v. the loss of civilian life if we pull out is a hard equation to solve.

Actually, it's quite simple. When the Taliban kill Afghan civilians, it's their fault. When we kill Afghan civilians, it's our fault.

Anything else is American Exceptionalism and Madeleine Albright saying the deaths of foreign children are "worth it". Fuck that.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:55 PM on November 28, 2010


Nobody's linked this yet, but it seems mandatory: Karl Marx, "Secret Diplomatic History of the Eighteenth Century"
posted by outlandishmarxist at 2:56 PM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Whose fault is it when we stand by and let people be killed?
posted by Jacqueline at 2:56 PM on November 28, 2010


The US and UK governments have shown that when they are allowed to hide things, they hide torture, indiscriminate slaughter of innocent civilians, war crimes, wholesale abuse of prisoners and due legal process. So frankly, fuck their "right" to hide things

The is just silly. Just because branches of the government can be total assholes doesn't invalidate the entire concept of government secrets. Let's just think up some things that should remain secret:
- nuclear launch codes
- all those contingency war plans the pentagon draws up
- people in witness protection programs
- technological secrets (like the stealth bomber or atomic bomb from years ago)
- names of overseas intelligence sources, particularly those living in harsh authoritarian regime
- personal tax returns

I want the government to keep these things to itself. The problem is not the government keeping secrets, it is that there seems to be little in the ways of checks on this power. Courts and congress, who can get access to some of these things, seem to instinctively genuflect at the first mention of national security. In a perfect and just Democracy someone would be reviewing classified goings on to ensure that things like torture weren't being covered up. But just dismissing the concept of government secrets out of hand is an undesirable extreme.
posted by boubelium at 2:57 PM on November 28, 2010 [18 favorites]


fcummins : The Iranians labour under no illusion about how the Saudis feel about them. This stuff just shines a new light on the transactions of everyday life done in the name of something called the US.

Actually, I'd say it causes an entirely different problem...

It turns out, Iran doesn't seem quite so paranoid about their neighbors, despite our PR campaign to paint them that way.

So, what does that say about the other targets of their paranoia?
posted by pla at 3:01 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, devil is in details indeed.

Get a look at this Guardian page. (Emphasis mine)
The current release is of leaked dispatches from more than 250 US embassies and consulates worldwide. The documents range from unclassified to "secret". The latter is two rungs below the most confidential ranking of information: more than three million US citizens are cleared to see "secret" material.
Wha? 3 million? That's 1 in 100 U.S. Citizen ? Now ok that leaves a few billions people out of this loop, but as noted above in some link, a piece of news knowable by 3M people is hardly a secret, it will be leaked out and it was. (Nonetheless, I wonder how and from who did The Guardian obtain that number.)

Anyhow, these cables are likely contain information that most people would never ever dream about; not necessarily details, but rather, points of view that were expressed in a style that wasn't sweetened by any P.R. firm for general public consumption.
posted by elpapacito at 3:11 PM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Whose fault is it when we stand by and let people be killed?

Leaving aside the fact that the protection on Afghan civilians only became our excuse for occupying the country after several previous ones had outlived their usefulness...

The United States is not granted police powers by any international organization or treaty. It has neither the duty nor the right to use deadly force in foreign countries that have not attacked us - regardless of what myths it invents to excuse its doing so.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:11 PM on November 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


@Joe: I agree, but whenever the US doesn't intervene in the slaughter of civilians in other countries, then we tend to get blamed for that too. How do we extract ourselves from our role as Team America: World Police?
posted by Jacqueline at 3:15 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Graceful retirement, meditation, yoga and contemplation of peace under the tree?
posted by The Lady is a designer at 3:16 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Assuming all this is real. What is the chance that other nation's intelligence communities didn't already have these memos. I'm sure Iran already knew what was up.

This is all too strange to contemplate. I'll just fall back on a dismissive comment and go back to watching tv.

"When are they going to leak an important secret, like the Colonel's 11 herbs and spices"
posted by Ad hominem at 3:20 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"The long-expected release of the documents — scheduled to be published simultaneously at around 4:30 p.m. EST by The New York Times, Germany's Der Spiegel, Spain’s El Pais, France’s Le Monde and Britain’s Guardian — was accelerated by a few hours after a German Twitter user obtained an early copy of Der Spiegel and began posting tidbits online."*
posted by ericb at 3:22 PM on November 28, 2010


Wow I've just read a few of these, particularly the "scenesetters" for Obama and Hillary Clinton, and my initial reaction is: Are you kidding me? I can't believe we spend as much as we do on diplomats and hundreds of staff in these countries to collect obvious information you can get reading newspapers and magazines and watching the Daily Show. The briefings and recommendations are so blunt. I'm pretty sure we have thousands of B-student Poli-Sci undergrads sitting around that could do this work from Milwaukee for $7/hr. Double 'em up on all those African nations and we could erase the deficit and pay for social security for years to come. Problem solved.
posted by pallen123 at 3:23 PM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Ben Smith | Politico:
"The three rounds of WikiLeaks releases pose an extraordinary, and novel, challenge for the American government.

On one hand, they've produced a moment of remarkable impotence: The administration has proved unable to stop a band of hackers from the fever swamps from obtaining and posting thousands of its secrets.

But this is also a moment when President Barack Obama's work restoring relations with allies, and his relative international popularity, pay off: The leaks offer endless opportunities for foreign governments to gin up — or play down — diplomatic conflict, and they'll be less inclined to score points off Obama than they would have off his predecessor.

And of course, the specifics matter. In the area I've been covering most closely, the Times reports that the leaks put on the record something U.S. and Israeli officials have said privately for years: There's a real and rare shared interest in stopping the Iranian nuclear program between Israel and its Arab antagonists, led by the Saudis; that's a leak that will undoubtedly affect policy, even if it's not entirely clear how."
posted by ericb at 3:24 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Joe, do you think we should have intervened in the Rwanda genocide?
posted by angrycat at 3:27 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


angrycat: "Joe, do you think we should have intervened in the Rwanda genocide?"

The US actually did intervene in the Rwanda genocide. It intervened to prevent the UN from jamming the civilian radio broadcasts which were inciting and coordinating the genocide.
posted by mullingitover at 3:33 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


We suck. :(
posted by Jacqueline at 3:34 PM on November 28, 2010


I get so tired about all this talk about blow-back by the citizens of the United States. Truth is, I doubt there will ever be serious blow-back when it comes to the actions our government takes. For god's sake, the government invaded a country, killed or drove away millions of people, set up a puppet government, and it's now in Afghanistan funding an almost equally illegitimate war with no end in sight! You know what's on tv? Not the riots that should be occurring. Not the millions of people who are like "what the hell?!" when it comes to how America acts domestically and internationally. Nope. Family Guy.
posted by Philipschall at 3:47 PM on November 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


Joe, do you think we should have intervened in the Rwanda genocide?

No.

The causes of the Rwandan Genocide can be traced back to racial and ethnic hate. These vices can be traced back to the time of colonial rule of that country by the Germans and the Belgians. Before colonialism in this part of Africa, the two main ethnic groups, the Tutsis and the Hutus, had little conflict.

It is not the challenging question you imagine once you undstand that the US military has never been - and will never be - a humanitarian instrument.

We are not in Afghanistan to help the Afghans. We would not have gone to Rwanda to help the Rwandans.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:47 PM on November 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


Joe, I'm not talking about the causes, although I dispute your accounting of them (I am on board with Jared Diamond's fascinating take on it, which has to do with poverty and lack of resources (which I supposed can be tied to colonial rule -- many of Africa's problems can.)

I'm asking if the U.S. should have intervened to prevent the slaughter of the Tutsi, and if you think not, why not?

And as far as the U.S. military not being a humanitarian instrument, I understand your argument, but what about the U.S. intervention in Bosnia? Do you think that had no value? If so, why?
posted by angrycat at 3:52 PM on November 28, 2010


Wha? 3 million? That's 1 in 100 U.S. Citizen ? Now ok that leaves a few billions people out of this loop, but as noted above in some link, a piece of news knowable by 3M people is hardly a secret, it will be leaked out and it was.

That's not how it works. Within the "secret" classification, information is only distributed need-to-know. A cleared person is only given information (1) relevant to his needs and (2) compatible with his clearance. It's not a master key to get anything he wants that has been classified secret.
posted by mnemonic at 3:59 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Through a family friend my wife & I were able to stay with an American Ambassador for a few days while traveling. It was kind of hilarious- The two of us, unwashed, with huge traveling backpacks standing in the lobby of a Hilton hotel while men in suits sipped champagne. I've rarely felt more out of place.

A few days later we were at the Ambassador's home when he had a little party. His wife remarked that she had to order more shot glasses. They had the presidential seal on them and were forever being pocketed by souvenir seekers.

Anyway, we had the chance to talk to people up and down the ladder from the Embassy and I swear I've never met a group of more sly, happier people in my life. They all seemed in the midst of something and, more, were having a good time at it.

I guess my only reservation about these Wikileak Docs is that they lack context. This is the game of Diplomacy. You don't go in hoping that everyone is 100% honest, that's for sure. And I'm certain that every nation has a trove of cables every bit as embarrassing as these.

A last story: My sister's husband is rich. His parents are filthy rich. They recently purchased an apartment across the street from the Iranian Embassy in New York with a great view of the building. They did some major renovations to the apartment and when the electrician was ripping out the walls he was surprised to find all kinds of high-grade wiring in the walls, well above what was installed elsewhere. No inquiries were made, but I like to think they're living in a Super Secret Spy Apartment.
posted by GilloD at 4:01 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's not a master key to get anything he wants that has been classified secret.

But somehow that kid Banning did grab all this stuff by himself, so maybe such master keys do exist.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 4:03 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, what's the bingo card again? Mundane document drop that gives a slightly clarified view of the day to day mechanics of something everyone who pays attention already knew, check. Ironmouth grinding his "Julian Assange is The Devil" axe and ignoring the rest of the thread, check. Rwandan genocide crap? Not yet, but-- oh, wait. [preview] Check.

All that crap aside, I think the interesting thing is the public exposure of the casual duplicity that's the basis of modern diplomacy. For those who still take public statements by government as unvarnished presentations of fact, it might be shocking. And for citizens of countries whose governments like to play the USA issue both ways, it'll probably be a bit of a shocker. But even in the mideast it seems like a lot of extremism was already taking the cooperation of mideast governments with the US as a given.

At the end of the day this particular document drop seems like another in a series of volleys in a philosophical war. It revolves around the question of whether secrecy is justifiable. I don't think there's a binary answer to that question -- it's about context and circumstance more than anything else. WikiLeaks is the Weather Underground of digital protest, and some will consider its actions justifiable while others consider them reprehensible. They're pushing the overton window of secrecy and shifting the debate from "how should we declassify things" to "should classification be respected at all." What I'm most interested in is what things look like twenty years from now, when that debate has had time to play out.
posted by verb at 4:04 PM on November 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


"PERHAPS THE SINGLE DOMINANT ASPECT OF THE PERSIAN
PSYCHE IS AN OVERRIDING EGOISM."

oh no they didn't!
posted by liza at 4:11 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


> Leaving aside my strong disagreement with this statement, why should we only care about the safety and freedom of US citizens?

Two things:

1) You should not, but the U.S. government should and must.

2) You should not, but be aware those are dangerous waters you are treading and you should be mindful of the extent you put the interests of other nations above the interests of the U.S., because depending on what you do there's a name for that.
posted by falameufilho at 4:12 PM on November 28, 2010


If vladimir Putin causes someone to be poisoned because that unfortunate soul leaked info to the US, an got named in these cables, the US being "overseas killing people in the first place." isn't the cause.

I'm having a hard time seeing how anyone other than Vladimir Putin is the cause for the death of that individual.
posted by robertc at 4:14 PM on November 28, 2010


Quote from today's net:
Dear government: as you keep telling us, if you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to fear

Setec Astronomy!
posted by Twang at 4:17 PM on November 28, 2010


Joe Beese: Anything else is American Exceptionalism and Madeleine Albright saying the deaths of foreign children are "worth it".

Indeed she said it, but there's more to the story, isn't it?
posted by falameufilho at 4:18 PM on November 28, 2010


"...you should be mindful of the extent you put the interests of other nations above the interests of the U.S., because depending on what you do there's a name for that."

Or, you could value all people's safety, freedom, and interests as being equally worthwhile because we're all human beings and should have equal human rights regardless of what set of political boundaries we were born in or happen to reside in currently. There's a name for that too.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:19 PM on November 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


Can anyone point out the actual data set including message bodies? I'm seeing only 16 meg index files without the message bodies.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:26 PM on November 28, 2010


http://cablegate.wikileaks.org/
posted by Jacqueline at 4:36 PM on November 28, 2010


Joe Beese: The causes of the Rwandan Genocide can be traced back to racial and ethnic hate. These vices can be traced back to the time of colonial rule of that country by the Germans and the Belgians. Before colonialism in this part of Africa, the two main ethnic groups, the Tutsis and the Hutus, had little conflict.

Sorry, but that's not true. This is part of the "let's blame the West for everything horrible that happened on the world" playbook. Tutsis had a ruling monarchy on that region before the Belgians showed up. They had an established feudal system that wasn't much distinguishable from slavery, where Tutsi ruled a mostly Hutu mass. When the Belgians came they played on that divide to their advantage, but saying that the ethnic hatred can be "traced back to the time of colonial rule of that country" and that "before colonialism in this part of Africa, the two main ethnic groups, the Tutsis and the Hutus, had little conflict" is revisionism and rewriting history to serve an anti-western ideology. You can easily denounce the evils of colonialism without resorting to lies.
posted by falameufilho at 4:38 PM on November 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


Jacqueline: Or, you could value all people's safety, freedom, and interests as being equally worthwhile because we're all human beings and should have equal human rights regardless of what set of political boundaries we were born in or happen to reside in currently.

Oh, I'm all for that. But only while acknowledging that there are people who are heavily invested in our* destruction and the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

* By "our", do not read "the U.S.", but rather "western liberal democracies", and notice that acknowledging that is also an act of Cosmopolitanism.
posted by falameufilho at 4:44 PM on November 28, 2010


what about the U.S. intervention in Bosnia? Do you think that had no value?

... Chomsky condemns Nato's campaign in Kosovo as a reckless and self-interested adventure that had everything to do with Nato credibility and nothing to do with the doctrine of humanitarian intervention advanced in its justification. The failure of the West - that is the US - to conduct a comparable operation to liberate East Timor from Indonesian oppression, Chomsky claims, proves this beyond peradventure.

Given my limited knowledge of the conflict, I'll defer to Professor Chomsky's judgment.

The reason why we should not have sent US troops to Rwanda to "stop the killing" is because long history tells us repeatedly that all such high-flown justifications are lies. There was nothing for us to gain in Rwanda except saving lives and that is precisely why we didn't go.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:57 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


From The Telegraph:
American diplomats were also asked to compile a profile of Alan Duncan, the homosexual former oil trader who is now the international development minister.

The Americans particularly asked for information on the relationship between Mr Duncan and William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, with whom he used to share a flat, and also Mr Cameron.
In other words, "Please supply information that can be used to blackmail the British Prime Minister and his Foreign Secretary." Stay classy, USA.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:59 PM on November 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


falameufilho - at the very least that is not a settled issue and I think a lot of the historical record paints a different picture. What sources are you basing your assertion on?
posted by ChrisHartley at 5:00 PM on November 28, 2010


I don't know how you can make this [no casualties caused by wikileaks] statement with any kind of certainty. Most western journalists can't report from Afghanistan
There have been no reported casualties. On the other hand, the American forces have caused a lot of casualties, which I don't see any of the wikileaks haters complaining about. So the question is, why is a small number of speculative, hypothetical deaths (of which zero are known to have occurred) so much worse then the thousands and thousands of people who have actually died due to our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Especially since the US could easily just pull those informants if there was any real danger.

The main fallout from this latest batch of cables seems like it will mostly be diplomatic embarrassment for the U.S. and it's allies.
posted by delmoi at 5:06 PM on November 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


why is a small number of speculative, hypothetical deaths (of which zero are known to have occurred) so much worse then the thousands and thousands of people who have actually died due to our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan

That would be our old friend American Exceptionalism again.

See, when we unintentionally get thousands of people killed, it's "regrettable" but in the service of "freedom".

If Assange unintentionally gets one person killed, it will be "reckless" and in the service of "hating America".
posted by Joe Beese at 5:15 PM on November 28, 2010 [15 favorites]


ChrisHartley - This. And this.
posted by falameufilho at 5:16 PM on November 28, 2010


I mean do you think every human on earth has a responsibility to act in the interests of the US Government?

Well, it depends on whether or not you think that the United States is completely evil, or whether or not you think the US actually compares favourably to regimes such as Russia, any tinpot African dictatorship. I'm not American, but I like to think that there are more similarities in terms of shared values (democracy, freedom of expression, etc) between the US and my country (Canada) than with, say China.

It's hard to swallow in light of Iraq, but sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand and say the US are the Good Guys (the majority of MeFites are American for example), and Assange (he is Wikileaks - L'État, c'est moi)'s attempt at vandalism doesn't do anyone any good.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:17 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The failure of the West - that is the US - to conduct a comparable operation to liberate East Timor from Indonesian oppression, Chomsky claims, proves this beyond peradventure.

Well in this case Chomsky is speaking foolishly, so you might want to rethink your reliance on him for your opinions. The differences between the two situations are immense, as Chomsky no doubt knows, such as the fact that it wasn't the US that carried out the Bosnia mission but NATO, the US at the time had no multilateral military structure in place in Southeast Asia similar to NATO, and it didn't have and would never have been able to gain the blessings for such an adventure from Indonesia's neighbors as it did in Europe. This is just to get started; there are many more reasons why the U.S. didn't get involved there. Some of them good ones, too.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 5:20 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Given my limited knowledge of the conflict, I'll defer to Professor Chomsky's judgment.

Why? Has his judgement been proven especially sound.
posted by humanfont at 5:26 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Given my limited knowledge of the conflict, I'll defer to Professor Chomsky's judgment.

You'd do well to remember that Bosnia and Kosovo were two different (albeit related) conflicts, and the case for considering the latter as a stupid piece of post-Cold War adventurism is much stronger.
posted by nasreddin at 5:32 PM on November 28, 2010


So, what's the bingo card again? Mundane document drop that gives a slightly clarified view of the day to day mechanics of something everyone who pays attention already knew, check. Ironmouth grinding his "Julian Assange is The Devil" axe and ignoring the rest of the thread, check. Rwandan genocide crap? Not yet, but-- oh, wait. [preview] Check.

To defend Ironmouth, I do not see his contributions as any more or less 'ax-grindy' than the contributions of many others in the thread. "Ax-grindy' has an implication of not arguing in good faith. Why not respond to his arguments?

As for Rwanda genocide crap, what is the crap part of it? Not really getting it. The argument we should have intervened is crap? If so, why? It seems kind of awful to swat away a horrific historical episode like that. Perhaps you think that I am goodwinning the thread. I don't understand that either. Claims were made throughout the thread that US military intervention is always bad. Bosnia and Rwanda seem to be historical points that directly touch on that issue.

I see this thread turning into a beat down of those who aren't enthusiatically behind Assange, beginning with BP's comment at the start of the thread. I think metafilter can do better than this.

Maybe I should just remove this thread from my recent activity, because a) the level of discourse is distressingly pile-onish and b) I don't know that I'm making anything better, i.e., engaging people here in a way that is constructive, although I am really trying.
posted by angrycat at 5:37 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Damn. Flash is borked on my work computer, and there doesn't seem to be any other way to search, so can anyone tell me if any of the Tokyo embassy leaks have been posted yet? Considering the hooha over the base in Okinawa, I imagine they'd make for some good reading.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:40 PM on November 28, 2010


I am most troubled by the direction to collect peoples' DNA. What possible purpose can there be in maintaining a database of genetic material? Is this a framing-for-rape-or-murder kit, just in case?
posted by Scram at 5:40 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


delmoi -- I don't see that there is a "choice" between caring about the many victims of conflicts in which the U.S. was involved, and about informants or other persons who may be endangered or killed as a result of these leaks.

Undoubtedly, many have died needlessly as a result of U.S. policy. At the same time, should the death of at least one individual stem from this, I would think that Pvt. Manning, who swore to serve his country, deserves prison for a very long time, or forever. A felony (theft & distribution of classified materials) that provokes murder is deserving of punishment almost as severe. Causing death or harm to someone who risked life for your country is an awful thing, even if done indirectly, even if your country is not blameless, innocent or pure. What he did was both callous and disloyal.

In a wealth of material, someone will spot a loose end somewhere.

Nor can I see what positive change will necessarily come of this. The opaque and pragmatic nature of diplomacy, and the preeminence of realpolitik, are here to stay. Security of classified documents will hopefully be tightened, however.
posted by knoyers at 5:58 PM on November 28, 2010


To defend Ironmouth, I do not see his contributions as any more or less 'ax-grindy' than the contributions of many others in the thread. "Ax-grindy' has an implication of not arguing in good faith. Why not respond to his arguments?
Because I spent several days doing that in the last WikiLeaks thread, and the one before that, and I've just bowed out of subsequent threads rather than have an extended back-and-forth fight with him about whether Julian Assange is a bad, bad man who is nothing like the Good Leakers that Ironmouth defends. I understand what he's saying, and there is no new information to be found there: it's like asking, "What will Blazecock Pileon think of this new Microsoft product?" or "Will Joe Beese applaud, or condemn the latest attack on liberal bloggers by the White House press secretary?" Or, if I'm being self-deprecating, "Will verb work a self-indulgent observation about evangelical kitsch of the 90s into this conversation?"

There is not a real question component to any of those: the conclusions are givens. Ironmouth believes that Jilian Assange, and WikiLeaks by extension, are morally bankrupt, and that Assange in particular is a self-aggrandizing huckster who is nothing like the legitimate leakers and whistleblowers that he works with. This is based primarily on WikiLeaks' "document drop" approach and Assange's personal behavior.

This is what we learn, anew, every time anything about WikiLeaks comes up on MeFi. It is perfectly within Ironmouth's right to make his point every single time WikiLeaks is mentioned; God knows I beat dead horses recreationally. I'd rather see the underlying philosophical battle considered, though. Ironmouth's posts don't shed much light on that (though, to be fair, neither do many of the other "Hero!" "No, Villian!" "No, hero!" perspectives floating around.) They're just announcements of which side someone is on.
posted by verb at 5:58 PM on November 28, 2010 [15 favorites]


I know this was stated by others up above, but it boggles me that people are shocked, SHOCKED... that spycraft is going on in embassies. Quite frankly, duh. I'm sure we're (and for me, we means the US) spying on Canada, the UK, Israel, everyone. And they're spying on us. It's how it is played. It's why when we catch people we make a big show and then walk them across a bridge in an exchange later - because we know they're doing it, they know we're doing it, we know they know we're doing it, and they know we know they're doing it.

I hope we're spying on all these countries. And while as an American, I want us to catch those spying on us, I find it impossible to be angry when friendlyish nations like Israel are caught doing it. Oh, lads, good try, but we bested you this time. We'll get a bit tighter with security and act annoyed in our meetings, but really, we just don't want you looking too closely at that guy working for you in the ministry in Tel Aviv who just bought that car that it seems should have been too expensive for him.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 6:01 PM on November 28, 2010


Because I spent several days doing that in the last WikiLeaks thread

Perhaps you should consider your obligation satisfied.
posted by ryanrs at 6:03 PM on November 28, 2010


Yeah, if only I had been a UN diplomat, I could have a genetic scan run n me for free, instead of paying for it...!

Actually, a DNA database would make sense in ferreting out enemy agents in deep cover. For example, you could pick out a Mossad-Israeli-Jew-pretending-to-be-an-Al-Qaeda-Saudi-Muslim (or vice versa) pretty damn easily with a dollop of his spit, regardless of the fact they probably look physically similar and even share ancient ancestors. Hell, give me the spit sample, and a FamilyTreeDNA.com swab, and eight weeks, and I could probably do it. Furthermore, since so many networks in the Middle East are kinship-based or tribal-based, tracing family trees is probably standard operating procedure for diplomats drawing up dossiers over there. Having DNA samples would just make it that much easier -- oh, this guy seems to share a paternal bloodline with known guy so-and-so, I bet he's part of this group and not that group.

But demanding that US diplomats swipe DNA samples from mid-level UN workers, whose identity is presumably already known and vetted? Now that's just being greedy.
posted by Asparagirl at 6:04 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


The DNA samples thing is simple. Aliens. 2012 sheeple!
posted by Peztopiary at 6:06 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Because I spent several days doing that in the last WikiLeaks thread

Perhaps you should consider your obligation satisfied.
To the extent that I feel any obligation to answer a statement someone puts forward on the Internet, yeah, I do. I don't want to suggest that I feel Ironmouth is in some way deluded or "not listening to reason" or something along those lines. I and a number of others (though by no means everyone) disagree with him, but it's a complex subject: I don't think a statement of position really matters much when issues like this are being discussed.

Whether WikiLeaks, Assange, the US government, the US military, other nations, etc are trustworthy, dishonest, hucksters, monstrous, etc. is basically water cooler conversation at this point. What I find interesting is the fact that their actions are pushing the debate from "The government should release information about X" to "Is restriction of information-flow by a government morally acceptable?" That's the sort of "overton window" shift that many civil libertarians have been screaming about for a decade regarding torture, detentions, and the power of the government to restrict the flow of information. For better or worse WikiLeaks is the only organization I'm aware of that is really pushing the conversation the other direction.

WikiLeaks started out publishing random corporate crap that was interesting and novel but not particularly politically loaded. I see the new wave of WL material as following the same philosophical trajectory, but with subject matter that forces more of the public to pay attention. Anyone who mistakes WikiLeaks for an anti-war or an anti-government organization is, IMO at least, misreading them. That's what I find really interesting. Not laudable, not worthy of condemnation, just neutrally fascinating.
posted by verb at 6:13 PM on November 28, 2010 [14 favorites]


I am most troubled by the direction to collect peoples' DNA. What possible purpose can there be in maintaining a database of genetic material? Is this a framing-for-rape-or-murder kit, just in case?

Could be.

Or, scenarios like: this stack of cash and these weapons have Lt. Bad Guy's DNA on it.
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:18 PM on November 28, 2010


Tyllwin wrote: But, please, do tell me if some diplomat makes an unflattering remark about a Saudi royal, to give his colleagues and boss an insight into the tone of the conversation and the Saudi agenda, how does it make anyone safer, or freer, to run back and tell the Saudis?

Your country is presently extricating itself from its second occupation of Iraq. The first US-led invasion was notionally intended to restore the Emir of Kuwait to his throne, but your government frankly admitted that it had embarked on the invasion in order to protect Iraq's other neighbour on the Gulf: Saudi Arabia. In 2003 your country invaded Iraq again, allegedly because it was believed to own weapons of mass destruction. The prime beneficiaries of this invasion were its wealthy-but-weak neighbours, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Given all this I think it's really important that people know Saudi Arabia is pushing for an invasion of Iran. I happen to think that a change of regime there would be a good thing - but it would be your third Middle East adventure in two decades, primarily on behalf of the bloated monarchy of Saudi Arabia. Public knowledge of this might at the very least allow you to attract better terms from the Saudis.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:49 PM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Or, scenarios like: this stack of cash and these weapons have Lt. Bad Guy's DNA on it.

Or the DNA is used to establish whose hands have touched which paper document, envelope, phone, or dispatch.
posted by fake at 6:49 PM on November 28, 2010


I love to hear all about the opinions of people who feel strongly that Julian Assange has a dangerous hobby, or is a child and- if he does have a clue- is doing nothing that isn't already being taken care of by armchair warriors in their highly powered imaginations.

Julian Assange is a radical, which means he gets at the root of a problem instead of stroking his chin and pontificating about unintended consequences.

Jesus, I feel like an American flag has been like a fucking watermark in the corner of my vision for 42 years. I'm having a great time today.

Amen.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 6:52 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


AN ALERT AND ENGAGING HOST 15. (S) I MISS MY HORSES: The King appeared alert and at times animated, entertaining his guests with anecdotes about his encounters with Iranian leaders (septel), and throwing up his hands in complaint when asked if he spent time with his horses: "I see them on television when they race," he said. "I love horses," he exclaimed, "every couple of weeks I get to see them, and then I have a very calm and restful sleep."
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:12 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I find this interesting interesting: Guardian editor says they gave cables to the NY Times.
New York Times editors said Sunday that although the paper's reporters had been digging through WikiLeaks trove of 250,000 State Department cables for "several weeks," the online whistleblower wasn't the source of the documents.

But if WikiLeaks—which allegedly obtained the cables from a 22-year-old army private—wasn't the Times source, than who was? Apparently, The Guardian—one of the five newspapers that had an advanced look at the cables—supplied a copy of the cables to The Times.
posted by lullaby at 7:21 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, not double interesting.
posted by lullaby at 7:22 PM on November 28, 2010


verb, your latest defense of your objections to Ironmouth's position was nuanced -- although do you understand how accusing somebody of 'ax-grindy' can be seen as ad hom? Despite your protestations, it seems that accusing of somebody of having an ax to grind is rather equivalent to saying somebody is incapable of listening to reason.

And verb, you fail to articulate a similar defense to the "Rwanda crap" thing. Is this something that you don't have an answer to?
posted by angrycat at 7:24 PM on November 28, 2010


Given all this I think it's really important that people know Saudi Arabia is pushing for an invasion of Iran.

No Saudi arabia is pushing for a bombing of nuclear sites in Iran, as is Israel. They've both been pretty vocal. In fact its been known that the Saudis have given the Israelis the green light to fly over their territory when they are ready to strike.
posted by humanfont at 7:28 PM on November 28, 2010


In 2003 your country invaded Iraq again, allegedly because it was believed to own weapons of mass destruction. The prime beneficiaries of this invasion were its wealthy-but-weak neighbours, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Given all this I think it's really important that people know Saudi Arabia is pushing for an invasion of Iran. I happen to think that a change of regime there would be a good thing - but it would be your third Middle East adventure in two decades, primarily on behalf of the bloated monarchy of Saudi Arabia. Public knowledge of this might at the very least allow you to attract better terms from the Saudis.

Joe in Australia-- The invasion of Iraq in 2003 did the opposite of empowering Saudi Arabia in its region. The country that was empowered was, of course, Iran, whose sphere of influence was suddenly expanded to Iraq's millions of Shiites, divided from the Shiite eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia by only Kuwait. The Iraq war was a strategic catastrophe for our regional allies' security. No wonder the Saudi monarchy is anxious now.
posted by knoyers at 7:31 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


And verb, you fail to articulate a similar defense to the "Rwanda crap" thing. Is this something that you don't have an answer to?

Maybe it's because the "Rwanda crap" stuff is a gigantic derail and has nothing to do with the Wikileaks situation? Just a guess.
posted by pikachulolita at 7:36 PM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Julian Assange doubtless does not care if the United States is able to be effective diplomatically in the world, and receive confidential information from within countries like China and Russia. But I would think many Americans do care. And if the people who talk to the United States have to worry that their names are going to appear on the internet - and that they will as a consequence be tortured and killed - then they won't talk to the U.S.

Who profits from these leaks? The public? What do we learn that's of value to us? The people who profit are those who want to undermine U.S. foreign policy - Russia, China, Iran, North Korea. Keep fighting the good fight, Assange.
posted by Dasein at 7:41 PM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


You've not been following the details we already know about what the UK and US governments have done, I assume?

This requires the belief that the fact that every fact kept secret by both governments was wrong. And the answer is no. Some facts should be kept secret, others not. This situation doesn't involve the easy answers Assange claims to present.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:42 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The US actually did intervene in the Rwanda genocide. It intervened to prevent the UN from jamming the civilian radio broadcasts which were inciting and coordinating the genocide.
posted by mullingitover .


Look closer.
posted by clavdivs at 7:43 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


then look further. what you find.
posted by clavdivs at 7:45 PM on November 28, 2010


Maybe it's because the "Rwanda crap" stuff is a gigantic derail and has nothing to do with the Wikileaks situation? Just a guess.

I think your guess is incorrect, or at least, if there was a derail it was not started by me. Reading the thread would have clearly demonstrated this. The part I was responding to was this comment by Joe Beese:


Leaving aside the fact that the protection on Afghan civilians only became our excuse for occupying the country after several previous ones had outlived their usefulness...

The United States is not granted police powers by any international organization or treaty. It has neither the duty nor the right to use deadly force in foreign countries that have not attacked us - regardless of what myths it invents to excuse its doing so.


I am guilty of not always reading all the comments in the thread itself, so I'll trust that's what happened here. Otherwise it is dismissing an argument with a pejorative accusation of derail that does nothing to address the argument itself.
posted by angrycat at 7:45 PM on November 28, 2010


And although I disagree with Joe, I do think that his argument go to validity of Assange's agenda. If all U.S. interventions are bad, then it could follow that all exposures of every aspect of American interventions is good.

I do not think that all U.S. interventions are bad, and thus I am wary of celebrating an info dump that could endanger the efficacy of all interventions.
posted by angrycat at 7:55 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


For example, you could pick out a Mossad-Israeli-Jew-pretending-to-be-an-Al-Qaeda-Saudi-Muslim (or vice versa) pretty damn easily with a dollop of his spit, regardless of the fact they probably look physically similar and even share ancient ancestors. Hell, give me the spit sample, and a FamilyTreeDNA.com swab

I find that reaaaaaly unlikely.
posted by delmoi at 8:00 PM on November 28, 2010


In 2003 your country invaded Iraq again, allegedly because it was believed to own weapons of mass destruction. The prime beneficiaries of this invasion were its wealthy-but-weak neighbours, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

So, these leaks show that that was not supported by the evidence?

I find it funny that actually, they have nothing to do with that at all, yet this is the justification.

You are right to criticize my country on this--I have, and our current President explicitly opposed the invasion. But you have presented no evidence leaked in these cables to show that invasion was wrong. So, then, who is served by this disclosure?
posted by Ironmouth at 8:10 PM on November 28, 2010


If I used these wikileaks threads as my paradigm...

Every morning I open up the New York Times, turn to the international section, and read about US activities abroad. I spend about 30 minutes with the paper, 29 of which are spent wondering about who these investigative journalists have put in danger; whether they protected those identities carefully enough and how much longer they should have waited to publish; which US secrets they have revealed that should have stayed secret; whether investigative journalism should continue to exist; whether investigative journalism is consistent with advancing human or US interests (and how different are those two...?); whether the damage done by having a transparent government is worse than the damage done by having a secretive one; whether these secrets are like nuclear codes and should forever stay secret; whether I should stop reading right now and spend some serious time on careful examples that sharpen my philosophy of truth v. secrecy; whether I really learned anything I didn't fundamentally know already and thus this investigative journalism was pointless; whether the Times is in it for the fame or for the money; whether the journalists have committed crimes in their personal lives; and so on. I'd spend perhaps 30 seconds on the meagre content of those laboriously researched articles; and the remainder trying to remember how to operate the paper's origami-like navigation system.
posted by chortly at 8:12 PM on November 28, 2010 [14 favorites]


"Are you telling me that Assange and a few volunteers viewed and redacted that many docs since February, when the last cables came out? Hardly."

Actually, they sort of crowd-sourced it.


We are talking about a quarter million documents. Do the math. They didn't review shit.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:16 PM on November 28, 2010


These docs include names of people such as a Chinese contact who informed American Embassy personnel that the Chinese government was hacking into Google in China. The result of that will be a bullet in the back of the head.

That individual was always at risk, and why should we assume that this individual hasn't already been caught by the Chinese or otherwise given up by the US in exchange for some other diplomatic favor? Blaming Assange for putting this individual at risk is childish.


Why, yes, the person who released his or her name to the ENTIRE WORLD has nothing to do with it. Calling something "childish" relieves no one's 'hero' of personal resposibility for their actions. Please explain, in real life terms, how the facts of this disclosure do not help the People's Liberation Army kill this person. Because these are human lives.

Why China and the US are really the same! One allows people to say what they want, the other executes those who would freely allow for the flow of information.

You have no answer from the get-go.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:27 PM on November 28, 2010


We are talking about a quarter million documents. Do the math. They didn't review shit.

Okay, let's do the math. The vast majority of the documents were unclassified (75,792), unclassified/official use only (58,095), or confidential (97,070), which is a very low grade of classification. Only 15,652 were secret or secret/noforn. That's 6.2%. Presumably only the secret cables needed to be closely reviewed for potentially dangerous information.

Anyway, in addition to the Wikileaks staff there were about 120 reporters working on it. But even if only the reporters did the review that's only about 130 secret documents per reporter, which seems completely doable.
posted by jedicus at 8:33 PM on November 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


Julian Assange is a radical, which means he gets at the root of a problem instead of stroking his chin and pontificating about unintended consequences.

We talk of the unintended consequences of death, which, apparently, are not the care of alleged 'radicals' such as Assange,

Che worked harder to determine the consequences of his acts when he was in charge of actually executing members of the Batista government than this fool who plays at fame.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:34 PM on November 28, 2010


If I used these wikileaks threads as my paradigm...
That's silly.

I know this may come as a shock to you, but journalists do have professional ethics. It's not like journalists for the New York Times never think about the ethics of what the newspaper publishes and in what cases it should withhold information that might endanger someone. Journalists grapple with that stuff all the time, as do people who are critical consumers of journalism. It's an ongoing process. But the wikileaks situation is entirely new, and therefore we're all grappling with it right now. It's the beginning of an ongoing process, probably. But it's acute in a way that the ethical dilemmas of old-fashioned newspaper journalism usually aren't, because they've got a lot of years of deliberation and practice to fall back on when faced with old-fashioned ethical conundrums.
posted by craichead at 8:36 PM on November 28, 2010


These docs include names of people such as a Chinese contact.

So that name is out there now?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:37 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


The really terrifying thing is if Wikileaks can get one misguided PfC to hand them this much data. Imagine what a real intelligence service could do. Manning appears to be the rare ideological defector; but the more common are people who betray their country for money. They wouldn't have caught him except that he talked to the wrong person. What this tells me is that these state department cables are probably already known to most of the foreign governments who will be oh so shocked to read them. The full text versions are out there in our enemies and allies hands already. Someone needs to lose their job over this.
posted by humanfont at 8:41 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


And verb, you fail to articulate a similar defense to the "Rwanda crap" thing. Is this something that you don't have an answer to?

logistics

how soon could have the u s put an effective force on the ground to deal with this and how would have that force been supported?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:42 PM on November 28, 2010


This one is the most heavily redacted I've seen so far, talking about Iranian agents false-flagging as and/or infiltrating Iranian Red Crescent members going back to the 1980s to gain access to Iranian PoWs, and as recently as the Israel-Hezbollah war in summer 2006 to arrange weapons shipments disguised as medical supplies.
posted by BeerFilter at 8:44 PM on November 28, 2010


Well, Ironmouth, you keep insisting that the PRC can now kill that Chinese contact, because the name has been released. So I ask you: What is his name?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:48 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth: "We talk of the unintended consequences of death, which, apparently, are not the care of alleged 'radicals' such as Assange"

You have repeated this lie, here and in previous MetaFilter threads, that Assange is responsible for the death of informants, civilians and others who have shared sensitive information with the United States. This lie of yours is unsubstantiated — even Defense Secretary Robert Gates admits no such compromise, and he is paid to attack WikiLeaks.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:51 PM on November 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Two things. If the (hypothetical?) chinese leaker's position is this dangerous, and his name has been seen by 3 MILLION sets of eyes, shouldn't he already be safely hidden somewhere in America? Maybe the leak will speed this?

And if those Afghani collaborators were put in such danger, doesn't Amnesty International bear some responsibility for it? Are we sure that what a freelance group like Amnesty International is doing is important enough to put people is such danger?
posted by Trochanter at 8:53 PM on November 28, 2010


I'd like to poke my head in and apologize, briefly, for the fighty characterization of Ironmouth and those talking about a number of topics as "ax-grindy." Although I don't share IronMouth's (apparent) profound distaste for Assange, I have a great deal of respect for the kind of work he does and the perspective he brings to discussions about leaks and whistleblowing. I wish he would bring more hard evidence of the perfidy that he points out (rather than appeals to statistics -- 'how could they be doing it responsibly with so many documents?').

My intent wasn't to suggest he (or those talking about Rwanda, etc) were not arguing in good faith, or even that they were incorrect. Rather I was reflecting on the fact that almost everyone seems to be mapping their personal topic of geopolitical interest to the latest document dump, and treating it as the interesting/worthwhile part when in actuality subject matter is essentially irrelevant to WikiLeaks' mission.
posted by verb at 8:55 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I know this may come as a shock to you, but journalists do have professional ethics.

I think my post touches on many of the ethical issues inherent in investigative journalism. As does this thread, which I have read all of (so far). Many of the issues we are tackling here in fact have direct analogues in traditional journalism. Indeed, my point is that the analogues are so direct that most of us have worked them out already within the domain of traditional journalism, and perhaps needn't spend so very much time -- as a percentage of all time spent -- on the ethical issues inherent in the publication of the wikileaks documents, as opposed to time spent on the substantive news items revealed. Particularly since we've not only gone through all of this presumably before in thinking about the merits of traditional investigative journalism, but we've also gone through the interesting ways in which wikileaks differs from investigative journalism in the last few large discussions of the Iraq and Afghanistan documents.

Again, I don't think these ethical issues don't deserve discussion, but time is the ultimate zero-sum game: we can spend these first few days discussing the ethics of wikileaks again, or we can spend it on the content of those leaks. Obviously it will be a mixture, but unlike the Iraq and Afghanistan dumps, this one has many immediate and important bits of newsworthy revelations that deserve at least as much attention as the ethics of wikileaks. I'd love to spend indefinite amounts of time on both the form and the content, but I merely wanted to nudge things back a bit more towards the content.

In the name of that, here's a list of a few of the revelations each of which would, alone, be worth a front-page article under most other circumstances:

• US anticipates collapse of North Korea, trying to ply China with business deals to keep it out of the eventual conflict
• US offered economic quid pro quo to small countries to take guantanamo prisoners off our hands
• Afhanistan Vice President caught with $52 million in surely corrupt cash
• Unnamed Chinese contact reveals China was indeed behind the Google hacking, and is systematically engaged in much more
• Saudis continuing to finance Al Qaeda, and US knows it
• Qatar not acting against known terrorists
• US diplomats directed to spy, including collecting credit card #s, passwords, DNA; especial focus on UN
• Alliance between Berlusconi and Putin
• Evidence of strong connections between Russian mafia and Putin's government
• Syria continuing to supply arms to Hezbollah, despite public promises not to
• US bullying Germany to prevent prosecution of CIA kidnappers
• Sharp criticism by US of UK's role in Afghanistan
• Yemeni president knowingly lied when he claimed to his parliament that US bombings were by his own
• Some sort of near distaster with transporting enriched uranium
• Lots and lots of "important person X called important person Y a poopy-head"

I know 95% of these are things that close followers of the news would not be surprised by. Still, evidence that these suspicions are true is newsworthy in itself, and a worthwhile occasion to return to a discussion of those issues.

(Sorry for the long post!)
posted by chortly at 8:59 PM on November 28, 2010 [39 favorites]


I do not think that all U.S. interventions are bad

What an added tragedy for the Afghan parents burying what pieces can be found of their children's bodies - to not even have the consolation of knowing that their bereavement is in the service of one of our "good" interventions.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:00 PM on November 28, 2010


After reading that list, I also have to carefully rethink my characterization of the document dump as "ho-hum."
posted by verb at 9:01 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


We are talking about a quarter million documents. Do the math. They didn't review shit.

Of those quarter million documents, they have released 219. Those documents have had names redacted to prevent informants from being targeted. Several media organizations have said they are working with Wikileaks to review the documents before their release.

Evidently they have learned from past criticism. Meanwhile, you are talking out of your ass.
posted by twirlip at 9:03 PM on November 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


Of those quarter million documents, they have released 219. Those documents have had names redacted to prevent informants from being targeted. Several media organizations have said they are working with Wikileaks to review the documents before their release.
Of course, that only opens them up to the accusation that they're cherry-picking documents to further an agenda. That's the problem with the current system we have in western nations: agressive classification of everything remotely embarrassing, with politically motivated leaks forming pores in the classification membrane.
posted by verb at 9:06 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Indeed, my point is that the analogues are so direct that most of us have worked them out already within the domain of traditional journalism, and perhaps needn't spend so very much time -- as a percentage of all time spent -- on the ethical issues inherent in the publication of the wikileaks documents, as opposed to time spent on the substantive news items revealed.
There's a traditional journalism analog to 250,000 secret diplomatic documents eventually being made available in full-text format to the general public? I'd be super curious to know what you think that traditional journalism analog is. That'd be a pretty expensive newspaper to publish! Not to mention that the delivery guys would have a hard time carrying it!
posted by craichead at 9:06 PM on November 28, 2010


There's a traditional journalism analog to 250,000 secret diplomatic documents eventually being made available in full-text format to the general public? I'd be super curious to know what you think that traditional journalism analog is.

Analog ≠ identical.

Obviously the Pentagon Papers most famously, but the Times and many other newspapers routinely publish the (redacted) entire texts of secret documents that they have obtained. Redacting 250,000 documents is a unique and difficult challenge, as many many people have discussed here already, but many of the ethical issues and even logistical challenges are similar to what we encounter in newspaper investigative journalism every day.
posted by chortly at 9:14 PM on November 28, 2010


Joe, I didn't support the invasion of Afghanistan. But the Bush administration mismanaged the war for eight years, and just because I opposed the initial act doesn't mean I'm not aware that there may be very bad ramifications for Afghans and Pakistanis if we pull out the wrong way -- whatever way that might be, I'm not qualified to know.

Joe, one of the interesting things this info dump has highlighted is American and British concerns over the security of Paki's nukes. Doesn't this seem to be an argument in favor of U.S. intervention?

At any rate, Afghanistan is so very problematic and tragic, which is the reason why I raised two other scenarios that seem to be less so: The intervention in Bosnia and the hypothetical intervention in Rwanda. Somebody commented that Rwanda would have been impossible to intervene in because of logistics; I have a hard time buying that, given that Clinton says that not intervening in Rwanda is his greatest regret related to his presidency.
posted by angrycat at 9:18 PM on November 28, 2010


Joe, one of the interesting things this info dump has highlighted is American and British concerns over the security of Paki's nukes. Doesn't this seem to be an argument in favor of U.S. intervention?

No.

As you point out, Bush's people were fuck-ups. They are not any less so now that they are working for Obama.

If you're afraid of Islamic extremists in Pakistan, stop manufacturing them by drone bombing their villages.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:42 PM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Arthur Silber:

Snce the overall purpose of U.S. foreign policy is American global hegemony, to be achieved by deadly sanctions, covert operations, overthrow, criminal wars of aggression, torture and the murder of huge numbers of innocent human beings, we can only fervently pray that this release will "negatively impact U.S. foreign relations."
posted by Joe Beese at 9:55 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hope they leak some pictures of the big board.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 10:08 PM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Somehow I find myself in the strange position of thinking that it's perfectly reasonable for the US Government to attempt to keep mundane things such as what I've read thus far secret and also perfectly reasonable for others to find a way to release it.
posted by wierdo at 10:09 PM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


'The Pentagon Papers and Historical Inevitabilitity?'
posted by clavdivs at 10:37 PM on November 28, 2010


"this fool who plays at fame."

See? Again a summing up of Julian Assange based on the worst possible reading of his motivations- and by the that I mean, you've clearly not read anything the man has said. But that's okay, I understand that people like human rights activists and whatnot are written off as being on some kind of holiday from reality.

The world wouldn't be the fucking joke it is today if we didn't ignore anyone who suggests shit is broken and can be fixed by people who aren't the government or big business.

Whatever, I'm having an awesome day.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 10:59 PM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hey, Ironmouth - you seem to be ducking a key point.

You're calling Assange an "alleged traitor" (but how can he be a traitor if he's not an American?) and a murderer, and claiming he's caused deaths.

Can you name one person who's been killed as a result of his leaks?

Can you name one person who's been endangered by this current leak?

If not, are we going to get a retraction from you?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:04 PM on November 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


The leaked cables range up to the "SECRET NOFORN" level, which means they are meant never to be shown to non-US citizens.

But.. but... Forn doesn't sound like an abbreviation for "foreigner". It's more like an abbreviation for "fornication". Or maybe "fornicator".

So these cables are either devoid of any juicy pornographic content, or they're calling me a fucker?

Curse you US State Department!
posted by Ahab at 11:11 PM on November 28, 2010


You're calling Assange an "alleged traitor" (but how can he be a traitor if he's not an American?) and a murderer, and claiming he's caused deaths.

[Citation needed]
posted by anigbrowl at 11:48 PM on November 28, 2010


Curse you US State Department!

There is an acronymn for that! CYUSSD.
posted by clavdivs at 12:05 AM on November 29, 2010


this stuff is pennies from heaven.
posted by clavdivs at 12:07 AM on November 29, 2010


Ahab: "But.. but... Forn doesn't sound like an abbreviation for "foreigner". It's more like an abbreviation for "fornication". Or maybe "fornicator"."

This is beyond "top-secret," so don't tell anybody: pronounce it how it looks. FOR-N. Foreign.
posted by autoclavicle at 12:11 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


chortly: "I know 95% of these are things that close followers of the news would not be surprised by. Still, evidence that these suspicions are true is newsworthy in itself, and a worthwhile occasion to return to a discussion of those issues."

I've been a bit disappointed because of this, but then I realized that now I'm able to say, "You don't believe me? It's on Wikileaks!" whenever someone tells me I'm crazy or making something up.
posted by autoclavicle at 12:17 AM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I wonder what it takes to become a volunteer for WikiLeaks? Maybe some of the people here who are very concerned about innocents being harmed by the leaks could volunteer to help review future batches and redact sensitive names.

Wikileaks does seem to genuinely be making a better effort to not be dicks this time. They're releasing the documents in small batches, giving their volunteers, the ~120 journalists at their newsprint mouthpieces, and the State Department time to go through the documents and suggest which bits should be redacted, and then comparing suggestions across organizations. With so many people working on the problem and sharing what they find, I think they've come up with a good solution on how to quickly process such documents. So, I'm optimistic there will be less and less concern of innocents being exposed to danger as the result of these leaks as Wikileaks gets the hang of how to do this well.
posted by Jacqueline at 12:34 AM on November 29, 2010


Chortly: 'to return to a discussion of those issues'.

• 'Syria continuing to supply arms to Hezbollah, despite public promises not to'

That is a starting point.
posted by clavdivs at 12:41 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can you name one person who's been killed as a result of his leaks?

Can you name one person who's been endangered by this current leak?


This is pretty much the tuffet that Wikileaks has been sitting on.

But the Law of Averages isn't on their side. It will happen eventually.
posted by Cyrano at 1:11 AM on November 29, 2010


I am guilty of not always reading all the comments in the thread itself, so I'll trust that's what happened here. Otherwise it is dismissing an argument with a pejorative accusation of derail that does nothing to address the argument itself.

Kind of like Iron's repeated personal attacks on Assange, sweeping claims unsupported by any actual evidence beyond "do the math" and other Palinesque bleatings?

Your desire for quality debate is admirable, but I'm wondering why the hell you're bothering to defend it's biggest opponent where WikiLeaks are concerned.
posted by rodgerd at 1:45 AM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Cyrano:
Can you name one person who's been endangered by this current leak?

This is pretty much the tuffet that Wikileaks has been sitting on.

But the Law of Averages isn't on their side. It will happen eventually.
There's a similar problem in trying to identify at least one person whose life may be saved as a result of Wikileaks activities: I trust that it will happen eventually, especially if these document dumps encourage people to be less willing to permit their leaders the latitude allowed up to now.
posted by fredludd at 2:32 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


We are talking about a quarter million documents. Do the math. They didn't review shit.

They have 1/4million docs, but they havn't released that many. That's what they gave to news orgs to review. Their website doesn't have anything like that. They plan to release more over time.
Why, yes, the person who released his or her name to the ENTIRE WORLD has nothing to do with it.
Again dude, cite? WTF are you talking about? I havn't seen that mentioned ANYWHERE, except in this thread, by you.

The only thing I see is this One set of documents, obtained by the New York Times, shows that the U.S. was told by a Chinese source that China’s Politburo was behind the intrusion into Google computer system.

In other words, someone confirmed that it was the Chinese. They didn't tip off the government. There's a big difference between "yeah, you caught us" and "hey dude, we're hacking google, lol" But anyway, the actual document has not been released and if it is there is plenty of time for the sources name to be redacted.

So stop lying, please. Seriously dude, you have a really weak grip on truth. Not just in this thread, but you routinely confuse truth and lies in political threads when lies serve your agenda. It's rather annoying.
posted by delmoi at 2:45 AM on November 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


:: The release includes approximately 100,000 documents labelled "confidential" on the classification scale and around 15,000 documents at the higher level "secret"

This sounds like terrorism against the U.S. to me. If terrorism is a form of stateless warfare, then this is terrorist espionage. Wikileaks needs to be treated like a kind of guerrilla KGB.
posted by dgaicun at 2:49 AM on November 29, 2010


An electronic secret is a contradiction in terms.
The job of the media is not to protect the powerful from embarrassment.
posted by adamvasco at 2:50 AM on November 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Julian Assange is a radical, which means he gets at the root of a problem instead of stroking his chin and pontificating about unintended consequences.

Julian Assange is a radical, which means that he acts on the basis of his simplistic ideology without regard for unintended consequences.
posted by klausness at 3:35 AM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


For the people with blowback fears: If you believe that our first- and second-world peers haven't already read all this information and more [...] via their intelligence networks, I have a bridge to sell you.

There's a big difference between having the information and seeing it in public. Much of diplomacy is about keeping up appearances that may be at odds with facts that all involved are aware of. Millions have died throughout history because of some regime's need to save face as a result of a public revelation, and there's no reason to expect that there won't be more of the same in the future.

For example, the Iranians may well have known that the Saudis wanted the US to bomb their nuclear facilities. But as long as this wasn't publicly acknowledged, they didn't need to do anything about it. Now that it's out in public, they may feel the need to respond somehow, and that could get ugly.
posted by klausness at 3:57 AM on November 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


But what about the third world peers? You know, like China and India ...
posted by The Lady is a designer at 4:30 AM on November 29, 2010


Obviously the Pentagon Papers most famously, but the Times and many other newspapers routinely publish the (redacted) entire texts of secret documents that they have obtained.
I don't think the Pentagon Papers are even the slightest bit analogous, actually. Ellsberg and the Times knew the contents of the Pentagon Papers, and they came to the conclusion that the specific contents of the documents were so important and revealed such vital information that they had an ethical obligation to publish them. Assange didn't read the 250,000 documents and decide that there was a compelling need for the world to know their specific contents. He couldn't have read all of the documents, he doesn't know what's in them, and his decision to leak them isn't based on the principle that they contain specific newsworthy information. It's based on whee! information wants to be free!, which is stupid, and on the idea that the US is a very bad government and that anything that hurts the American government is good. And there's a difference between the journalistic ethics of publishing things because they're newsworthy and the journalistic ethics of publishing things because you can and because you think they'll hurt a government that you think deserves hurting.

I wouldn't be surprised if there's newsworthy stuff in the wikileaks leak, and in that case journalists should cover it. But dumping the whole thing on the web isn't journalism, and it isn't the same as deciding that a specific document, which you have read, has genuine news value.
posted by craichead at 4:30 AM on November 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


I was a bit disappointed in reading what little I have regarding the Wikileaks documents previously. The reports appeared to be self-pre-filtered but I could not say for sure. Someone made me aware of a Channel 4 program Iraq's secret war . A couple of the incidents that were reported were investigated by a news team. The Iraqi people who were involved in the incidents provided starkly different renditions of what happened. Although I don't know whose version is more truthful, it is useful to have available the different versions of an incident.
posted by millardsarpy at 4:43 AM on November 29, 2010




craichead - nail on head.
posted by daveje at 4:53 AM on November 29, 2010


I wouldn't be surprised if there's newsworthy stuff in the wikileaks leak, and in that case journalists should cover it. But dumping the whole thing on the web isn't journalism

I know, right! They should have given advance copies to top international publications and the State Department to let them all collaborate on redactions and let the reporters decide what to publish or something!
posted by BeerFilter at 5:19 AM on November 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


The job of the media is not to protect the powerful from embarrassment.

This synthesis by The Guardian and brought to my attention by adamvasco was probably the most terrifying (in a beautiful kind of way) aspect of this whole thing. It is worth rereading. This is what journalism is all about.

What this saga must do is alter the basis of diplomatic reporting. If WikiLeaks can gain access to secret material, by whatever means, so presumably can a foreign power. Words on paper can be made secure, electronic archives not. The leaks have blown a hole in the framework by which states guard their secrets. The Guardian material must be a breach of the official secrets acts. But coupled with the penetration already allowed under freedom of information, the walls round policy formation and documentation are all but gone. All barriers are permeable. In future the only secrets will be spoken ones. Whether that is a good thing should be a topic for public debate.

posted by The Lady is a designer at 5:35 AM on November 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


Especially interesting is The Guardian's take on the "lives put at risk" claims:
Anything said or done in the name of a democracy is, prima facie, of public interest. When that democracy purports to be "world policeman" – an assumption that runs ghostlike through these cables – that interest is global. Nonetheless, the Guardian had to consider two things in abetting disclosure, irrespective of what is anyway published by WikiLeaks. It could not be party to putting the lives of individuals or sources at risk, nor reveal material that might compromise ongoing military operations or the location of special forces.

In this light, two backup checks were applied. The US government was told in advance the areas or themes covered, and "representations" were invited in return. These were considered. Details of "redactions" were then shared with the other four media recipients of the material and sent to WikiLeaks itself, to establish, albeit voluntarily, some common standard.

The state department knew of the leak several months ago and had ample time to alert staff in sensitive locations. Its pre-emptive scaremongering over the weekend stupidly contrived to hint at material not in fact being published.
posted by verb at 6:09 AM on November 29, 2010 [9 favorites]


Kind of like Iron's repeated personal attacks on Assange, sweeping claims unsupported by any actual evidence beyond "do the math" and other Palinesque bleatings?

Your desire for quality debate is admirable, but I'm wondering why the hell you're bothering to defend it's biggest opponent where WikiLeaks are concerned.


What I see in this thread, and I'm not just talking about Ironmouth here, is that those who are skeptical of Assange are being shouted down with statements such as yours above. How do you think "Palinesque bleatings" helps anything? The "do the math" comment was discussing the 1/4 million docs and the time frame of Feb to now. This is a Palinesque bleating?

What I am hearing in the news this morning (via NPR) that the stuff that is getting the most attention is the disclosure that the Saudis want us to bomb Iran. This is scary to me -- that Iran now has this motivation to get as many nukes as quickly as it can.

I don't understand why several of you are resorting to cheap shots when this is such serious shit, and I don't understand why it is that several of you are so oblivious to the potential dangers associated with Assange's actions.

I am actually ambivalent -- as much as it may seem that I"m an Assange critic, I do believe in transparency, I see serious problems with U.S. foreign policy -- but at the same time I recognize the need for a certain level of secrecy in diplomacy.

Several of you have really been obnoxious in this discussion and it is incredibly disappointing. Especially given my strong leftist leanings, I could be convinced to support Assange. But this discussion has been is a pretty noxious stew of unpleasant discourse.

I'm removing this thread from my recent activity, because I find it just too frustrating to continue in this discussion.
posted by angrycat at 6:17 AM on November 29, 2010


Because Assange has a history of putting lives in danger

Would that be because of broken condoms and he has HIV?

Or are you trying to claim this has something to do with 'leaks' about actions taken by Nation-State actors?

Cuz here is some radical thinking: If your actions are going to be a problem if they became widely known - perhaps you should consider these actions and not do them.

It is very well to say that those who deal with the Government should turn square corners.
There is no reason why the square corners should constitute a one-way street now is there?
posted by rough ashlar at 6:17 AM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


The job of the media is not to protect the powerful from embarrassment.

The following remarks were apparently made by John Swinton in 1880, then the preeminent New York journalist, probably one night in during that same year. Swinton was the guest of honour at a banquet given him by the leaders of his craft. Someone who knew neither the press nor Swinton offered a toast to the independent press. Swinton outraged his colleagues by replying:

"There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it.

"There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. If I allowed my honest opinions to appear in one issue of my paper, before twenty-four hours my occupation would be gone.

"The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press?

"We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes."

(Source: Labor's Untold Story, by Richard O. Boyer and Herbert M. Morais, published by United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America, NY, 1955/1979.)


This in the 1880's, Willie Munsberg in the 1930's, the claim about media's job VS the observed behavior - things are the same as there ever were.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:25 AM on November 29, 2010


If you believe that our first- and second-world peers haven't already read all this information and more (which has been available to over 3 million servicemembers for several years now) via their intelligence networks, I have a bridge to sell you.

Here's the thing. Yes, very little of what was revealed in these memos is going to be a surprise to other countries, even if they didn't have access to them already.

But if they did have access to them, before this they had to pretend they didn't. So for example, the Saudi's couldn't break of negotiations by saying something like, "We're not happy with the way we've been portrayed in confidential memos we managed to get our hands on."

However, now that these memos are leaked, pretty much every country can say, "I read this memo, and now in response I'm going to [do xyz]."

Every country with a reasonably-sized foreign affairs department is going to have people who spy, people who engage in shady dealings internationally, and people who write mean things about foreign people or governments. Part of the reason this system worked is the assumption that this information would be private.

Memos are meant to be frank, confidential summaries written for government officials telling them how to interact with other leaders, what decisions are available and recommended for a given situation, etc. It's useful for a diplomat to read something like "[Such-and-such leader] often behaves irrationally even in formal occasions; handle with kid gloves". What exactly are the people who write the memos supposed to do? Just write, "[Such-and-such leader] is an interesting person." and hope that the person reading the summary gets what that means?

I agree that our government should try to do the right thing when it comes to how it behaves on the international stage, but at the same time it's incredibly useful for people writing policy statements to have some idea that what they write will be read only by the people who need to read it.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:59 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I am hearing in the news this morning (via NPR) that the stuff that is getting the most attention is the disclosure that the Saudis want us to bomb Iran. This is scary to me -- that Iran now has this motivation to get as many nukes as quickly as it can.

NPR never saw a "Iran's Very Scary Nuclear Menace!" story that they didn't like.

But even assuming that the Saudi sentiments came as a complete surprise to Iran - which I think highly unlikely - those sentiments could hardly be more of a motivation for Iran to develop nuclear weapons than the 2008 US presidential contest, which had "Bomb Bomb Iran" on one side and a threat to "obliterate" on the other side.

Of course, that kind of casually murderous attitude towards the Muslim world is one of the "serious problems with U.S. foreign policy" you refer to.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:06 AM on November 29, 2010 [5 favorites]




The New York Times received its dump of diplomatic documents from the Guardian, not Wikileaks. This isn’t surprising given that the Times’ editor went out of his way to call Wikileaks irresponsible, ran an unflattering profile of Julian Assange alongside the last Wikileaks story, and wouldn’t even link from their Iraq Wikileaks story to the Wikileaks site. ... Having to rely on the charity of a British newspaper to get one of the most important stories of the year is a pretty low place for a paper that fancies itself the leading American newspaper.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:20 AM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


"this fool [Assange] who plays at fame."

BTW -- it's interesting to speculate about the motivation for the leaks by private Bradley Manning who remains the prime suspect in the Wikileaks data dump, which was allegedly transferred on CDs labeled "Lady Gaga":
"According to a computer chat log published in June by Wired News, soldier Bradley Manning bragged to Adrian Lamo, the hacker who turned him in, that he was going to unleash 'worldwide anarchy in CSV [comma separated value] format.' 'Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public,' Manning said. 'Everywhere there's a US post, there's a diplomatic scandal that will be revealed.' Manning, 22, has been in solitary confinement for the past seven months."
More on Manning's past:
"But it was around two years ago, when Pfc. Bradley Manning came here to visit a man he had fallen in love with, that he finally seemed to have found a place where he fit in, part of a social circle that included politically motivated computer hackers and his boyfriend, a self-described drag queen. So when his military career seemed headed nowhere good, Private Manning, 22, turned increasingly to those friends for moral support. And now some of those friends say they wonder whether his desperation for acceptance — or delusions of grandeur — may have led him to disclose the largest trove of government secrets since the Pentagon Papers.

... Former students at his school [in Haverfordwest, Wales], Tasker Milward, remembered Private Manning being teased for all sort of reasons. His American accent. His love of Dr Pepper. The amount of time he spent huddled before a computer. And then, students began to suspect he was gay. Sometimes, former classmates said, he reacted to the teasing by idly boasting about stealing other students’ girlfriends. At other times, he openly flirted with boys. Often, with only the slightest provocation, he would launch into fits of rage. 'It was probably the worst experience anybody could go through,' said Rowan John, a former classmate who was openly gay in high school. 'Being different like me, or Bradley, in the middle of nowhere is like going back in time to the Dark Ages.' But life ahead did not immediately brighten for Private Manning. After his troubled high school years, his mother sent him back to Oklahoma to live with his father and his older sister.

... Before being deployed to Iraq, Private Manning met Tyler Watkins, who described himself on his blog as a classical musician, singer and drag queen. A friend said the two had little in common, but Private Manning fell head over heels. Mr. Watkins, who did not respond to interview requests for this article, was a student at Brandeis University. On trips to visit him here in Cambridge, Private Manning got to know many in Mr. Watkins’ wide network of friends, including some who were part of this university town’s tight-knit hacker community. Friends said Private Manning found the atmosphere here to be everything the Army was not: openly accepting of his geeky side, his liberal political opinions, his relationship with Mr. Watkins and his ambition to do something that would get attention...And as he faces the possibility of a lifetime in prison, some of Private Manning’s remarks now seem somewhat prophetic. 'I wouldn’t mind going to prison for the rest of my life, or being executed so much,' he wrote, 'if it wasn’t for the possibility of having pictures of me plastered all over the world press.'”
posted by ericb at 7:21 AM on November 29, 2010 [5 favorites]




'Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public,' Manning said.

I figured the pro-Hillary bloggers would have amusing things to say about the news that their hero ordered US diplomats to collect the credit card numbers of key UN officials.

They didn't disappoint.

My guess is the remnants of Cheney's operation at State and in the military (potentially with help from the CIA and key news reporters) providing carefully selected stuff to an operation all too happy to tell the "truth", no matter how distorted, misleading, or lacking in context that alleged "truth" is.

You see, stealing people's credit card numbers has to be understood in context.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:39 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


rough ashlar: If your actions are going to be a problem if they became widely known - perhaps you should consider these actions and not do them.

Wow. Just. Wow.

Congratulations on selling everybody's right to privacy for thirty shekels just to apologize for a douchebag like Julian Assange.
posted by falameufilho at 7:39 AM on November 29, 2010


Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) wants WikiLeaks labeled as terrorist group.


oh now that's some rich fucking irony. This guy was Pro-IRA up until 9/11. Indeed it was one of his defining charatersitics as the last vestige of the miserable Nassau County Republican Machine.
posted by JPD at 7:42 AM on November 29, 2010 [9 favorites]


Congratulations on selling everybody's right to privacy for thirty shekels just to apologize for a douchebag like Julian Assange.
posted by falameufilho at 10:39 AM on November 29


am going to repeat myself the right privacy isnt the same thing as the privilege of secrecy. they are very different things not just philosophically but legally too.
posted by liza at 7:47 AM on November 29, 2010


anybody involved in NY politics knows Pete King is a class-A douche who'll say anything to get on TV.
posted by liza at 7:48 AM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


The more I read about these latest leaks (here, there, everywhere all over the web) the more I think their real purpose is to serve as a kind of Rorschach for all those would dare weigh in ...

a psychological test in which subjects' perceptions of inkblots are recorded and then analyzed using psychological interpretation, complex scientifically derived algorithms, or both. Some psychologists use this test to examine a person's personality characteristics and emotional functioning. It has been employed to detect an underlying thought disorder, especially in cases where patients are reluctant to describe their thinking processes openly.[3]

So what do I see exactly? Nothing that isn't there. I swear.
posted by philip-random at 7:51 AM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


chortly : Saudis continuing to finance Al Qaeda, and US knows it

That one point alone, if true, destroys any pretense of the legitimacy of US foreign policy for the past decade.

The overwhelming nationality of the 9/11 hijackers always bothered me, but even I didn't really think it much more than a coincidence, at worst a matter of the Sauds looking the other way like every other petty self-interested oil-money family in the Middle East.

Instead, that would mean that not only did we overthrow one of the only semi-democratic governments in the region (that we established in the first place by tossing the previous owners) with the resulting loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and a plunge back into a religious dark ages; But we did so while ignoring the real chain of evidence that points straight back to a theocratic monarchy as not just complicit, but actively supporting our attackers on 9/11.

And as usual, no one will really care. Lovely.
posted by pla at 7:55 AM on November 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


Ironmouth and others please note
Nancy Youssef for McClatchy Newspapers: -
Despite similar warnings ahead of the previous two massive releases of classified US intelligence reports by the website, US officials concede that they have no evidence to date that the documents led to anyone's death.
posted by adamvasco at 7:57 AM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


just to apologize for a douchebag like Julian Assange.

Agenda much?

If the actions as told in the released data are "embarrassing" should not consideration be given to not doing such actions?

Alas, such a position does not allow one to refer to Assange as a Douchebag tho.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:01 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


What's interesting to me is, despite all this back and forth about whether or not Assange is a scoundrel or whether it's problematic for leaks like this to reveal the US's "embarrassing secrets," etc., the real story (in terms of the content of the cables) doesn't really seem to concern US secrets at all (except to the extent that the content concerns what the US may have known about other countries). With the exception of the revelations about US diplomats' potentially illegal information gathering efforts under Clinton's state department, almost all of the really revelatory stuff seems to concern what other countries (Russia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia) have been up to, and they don't exactly come up smelling like roses.

We may have all secretly suspected at one time or another that Putin and Berlusconi are really just trumped up mobsters, but to find that such suspicions are also shared by those in a much better position to know puts the situation in a different light for me.

Also, the possibility that the Sauds are still actively supporting Al Qaeda and at the same time encouraging the US to initiate a military conflict with Iran--well, it makes for an interesting picture of the situation.

Couldn't it be that to some extent, the Sauds and others actively working against US interests in the region, recalling well how easily the USSR was brought to its knees by its entanglements in the region, would just love to see us take the bait (or to put it another way, would love to give us enough rope to hang ourselves)? The credibility of these so-called partners of ours in the region has been completely shattered by now.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:17 AM on November 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also, the possibility that the Sauds are still actively supporting Al Qaeda

States are filled with many people, people who take different actions then the "official" party line. No shocker that people within the Saudi state/House of Saud are 'actively supporting Al Qaeda'.

(See Iran Contra for an example of people acting in ways that were not following officially stated policy and who were 'rogue')
posted by rough ashlar at 8:26 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


But we did so while ignoring the real chain of evidence that points straight back to a theocratic monarchy as not just complicit, but actively supporting our attackers on 9/11.

Yeah, but we really need the oil.

Meanwhile:

One of the most interesting items in the trove of diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks confirms that the Obama Administration has secretly launched missile attacks on suspected terrorists in Yemen, strikes that have reportedly killed dozens of civilians.

Cue the theatrical yawns about "old news"...

"These are serious human rights violations," [deputy director of Amnesty International's Middle East & North Africa Programme Philip] Luther says. "The killing of criminal suspects -- who should be brought to justice -- in circumstances in which they aren't posing an immediate threat to life are, from a human rights perspective, extrajudicial killings."
posted by Joe Beese at 8:27 AM on November 29, 2010


The notion of "private" applies just as much to government internals as to yours.

No, it doesn't.

Your government comprises public servants, whose responsibility is to serve you, the public. If they do anything, you have not only a right to know about it, but a responsibility.

Secrecy means never having to be responsible for one's actions, and of course, since they're ostensibly doing these Top Secret things for your benefit, on your dime, in your name, then it's incredibly easy for them, should the ever be caught, to use you, the public, as a patsy. If they slip up, who will it hurt more: Them, or the nation they represent, i.e. you?

D'you know how it came to be known that the FBI and CIA were keeping tabs on people like Civil Rights and Antiwar activists via "extralegal" (read: not legal at all) means? Someone quite simply broke into an FBI office, stole a bunch of classified COINTELPRO files, and released them to the public. If that's all it takes to uncover wrongdoing, perhaps someone's doing their wrongdoing all wrong. Indeed, perhaps without the cloak of secrecy, such acts wouldn't be committed in the first place.

If your public servants don't operate with complete transparency, how can you be sure they're serving the public at all?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:31 AM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


should they ever be caught
posted by Sys Rq at 8:32 AM on November 29, 2010


I don't know, Ashlar. The Saudi Royals are a pretty tight little clutch of monarchs. And make no mistake: They are old-school monarchs. It's not like in the US. There's not even really much in the way of token gestures or pretense toward egalitarianism or concern for the rights of man, in the sense we understand them, among the ruling elite in Saudi Arabia.

The royals hold all the cards of power--the entire nation is essentially their personal property, and there's not really much opportunity for "rogue" elements in the government to make side deals since the authority of the ruling class is considered divinely sanctioned and absolute.

As a nation, we should never have allowed ourselves to come to rely so heavily on our relationship with an old-fashioned monarchy. Mark Twain would have thrown a fit when it first became clear in the 60s and 70s that US foreign policy was essentially going to center on gleefully hopping into bed with what he rightly viewed as history's most oppressive variation on governance.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:40 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Via reddit: Julian Assange's really pretentious old blog
posted by nasreddin at 9:04 AM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Although post from 2006 this is interesting:
You may want to read The Road to Hanoi or Conspiracy as Governance ; an obscure motivational document, almost useless in light of its decontextualization and perhaps even then. But if you read this latter document while thinking about how different structures of power are differentially affected by leaks (the defection of the inner to the outer) its motivations may become clearer.

The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. This must result in minimization of efficient internal communications mechanisms (an increase in cognitive "secrecy tax") and consequent system-wide cognitive decline resulting in decreased ability to hold onto power as the environment demands adaption.

Hence in a world where leaking is easy, secretive or unjust systems are nonlinearly hit relative to open, just systems. Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.

Only revealed injustice can be answered; for man to do anything intelligent he has to know what's actually going on.
posted by nasreddin at 9:06 AM on November 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


er, *this post*, of course.
posted by nasreddin at 9:07 AM on November 29, 2010


Julian Assange's really pretentious old blog

Sat 09 Jun 2007 : The United what of America?
It has been frequently noted that many corporations exceed nation states in GDP. It has been less frequently noted that some also exceed them in population (employees).

But it is odd that the comparison hasn't been taken further. Since so many live in the state of the corporation, let us take the comparison seriously and ask the following question. What kind of states are giant corporations? ...

- Suffrage (the right to vote) does not exist except for land holders ("share holders") and even there voting power is in proportion to land ownership.

- All executive power flows from a central committee. Female representation is almost unknown.

- There is no division of powers. There is no forth estate. There are no juries and innocence is not presumed.

- Failure to submit to any order can result in instant exile.

- There is no freedom of speech. There is no right of association. Love is forbidden without state approval.

- The economy is centrally planned.

- There is pervasive surveillance of movement and electronic communication.

- The society is heavily regulated and this regulation is enforced, to the degree many employees are told when, where and how many times a day they can goto the toilet.

- There is almost no transparency and something like the FOIA is unimaginable.

- The state has one party. Opposition groups (unions) are banned, surveilled or marginalized whenever and wherever possible.
Seems pretty on point to me.

How about saying that Assange has cooties?
posted by Joe Beese at 9:12 AM on November 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


More insights on the theme above about how the monarchists in Saudi Arabia view matters of human rights and legal process:
7. (S) HOW TO TRACK DETAINEES: "I've just thought of something," the King [Abdullah] added, and proposed implanting detainees with an electronic chip containing information about them and allowing their movements to be tracked with Bluetooth. This was done with horses and falcons, the King said. Brennan replied, "horses don't have good lawyers," and that such a proposal would face legal hurdles in the U.S., but agreed that keeping track of detainees was an extremely important issue that he would review with appropriate officials when he returned to the United States.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:13 AM on November 29, 2010


I'm not in the anti-Wikileaks or anti-Assange crowd. I love that stuff. I was just making an observation that his blog is really pretentious, which I think is obvious to anyone who reads it.
posted by nasreddin at 9:14 AM on November 29, 2010


I figured the pro-Hillary bloggers would have amusing things to say about the news that their hero ordered US diplomats to collect the credit card numbers of key UN officials.

Not collecting this kind of info would be diplomatic malpractice. Why should we have to defend this.
posted by humanfont at 9:27 AM on November 29, 2010


This sounds like terrorism against the U.S. to me. If terrorism is a form of stateless warfare, then this is terrorist espionage.

This is the new definition of terrorism in which terrorism = somebody doing something counter to the interests of the US, yes? Because it's not the definition of terrorism I grew up with, which involved, you know, terror.

Wikileaks needs to be treated like a kind of guerrilla KGB.

What, the US govt and Wikileaks will pass information back and forth when it suits them and occasionally they'll trade a prisoner or two?

If Wikileaks are terrorists and 'a kind of guerrilla KGB', what does that make the organisation that kidnaps an innocent man in a foreign country because they thought he was someone else of the same name, and then strongarms that country's government into not prosecuting the agents responsible? Oh, of course, they're the good guys.

Black hat, white hats, and the sheriff's always on the side of the law. Just like in the films.
posted by reynir at 9:31 AM on November 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


Well, that may be, humanfront, but it's also possibly illegal.
The UN has previously asserted that bugging the secretary general is illegal, citing the 1946 UN convention on privileges and immunities which states: "The premises of the United Nations shall be inviolable. The property and assets of the United Nations, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation and any other form of interference, whether by executive, administrative, judicial or legislative action".

The 1961 Vienna convention on diplomatic relations, which covers the UN, also states that "the official correspondence of the mission shall be inviolable".
And actually, I would disagree when it comes to specifically asking diplomats to attempt to collect foreign official's credit card numbers. That specific directive seems to go a little beyond the normal sorts of information gathering efforts one would expect to see as part of ordinary diplomacy. But regardless, it definitely undercuts the credibility of US diplomatic efforts, since the most frequent charge against the US state department is that diplomats are essentially just spies by another name.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:36 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not collecting this kind of info would be diplomatic malpractice.

Economic Times:

The cable... also sought biographical and biometric information on key NAM/G-77/OIC (Organisation of Islamic Countries) permanent representatives, particularly China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, Senegal and Syria; and information on their relationships with their capitals.

Specifically: fingerprints, DNA, and iris scans.

Can you explain what legitimate diplomatic purpose requires the covert collection of these people's DNA?
posted by Joe Beese at 9:57 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


fascinating, I thought I recognized the snippet from assange's blog from another recent post elsewhere but when I just went to find it, I note its been edited to be less critical of policy. if nothing else, the rorschach seems to be how the web itself is swaying and shifting in response to this event
posted by The Lady is a designer at 10:07 AM on November 29, 2010


Can you explain what legitimate diplomatic purpose requires the covert collection of these people's DNA?posted by Joe Beese

Why do you think this is done?
posted by clavdivs at 10:34 AM on November 29, 2010


It's hard to swallow in light of Iraq, but sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand and say the US are the Good Guys (the majority of MeFites are American for example)

American people != American government. No one ever asked me if we should invade Iraq.
posted by delmoi at 10:36 AM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's hard to swallow in light of Iraq, but sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand and say the US are the Good Guys

KokoRyu, binary thinking like that is part of the problem. Not that the US is the Great Satan, but the danger about the simplistic Good Guys Bad Guys thinking is that once you've established yourself as The Good Guys, you have carte blanche to pronounce that anything that you do is by definition good.

Extraordinary rendition and waterboarding? Normally bad, but if the Good Guys are doing it, it must be good. Supplying arms to terrorists? Ooooooh, that's bad. Unless the Good Guys do it of course, when it gets wrapped up in the narrative that We Are The Good Guys too, and magically becomes OK. Which brings us to the current situation, and any leaks against the US must be wrong, because hey, you're the Good Guys.

Dangerous thinking, because it frees the Chaneys at the top and the Lynndie Englands at the bottom to do the things they do. Because hey, they're the Good Guys.
posted by reynir at 10:39 AM on November 29, 2010 [10 favorites]


That individual was always at risk, and why should we assume that this individual hasn't already been caught by the Chinese or otherwise given up by the US in exchange for some other diplomatic favor? Blaming Assange for putting this individual at risk is childish.

I am rather interested in comparing some of the arguments made in this thread to arguments made in threads about Valerie Plame.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:40 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why do you think this is done?

Given that collecting people's DNA isn't the default in transactions between individuals, I would say that the onus of justifying the practice falls on those who instituted it.

If you're not able to do that, that's not my problem.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:53 AM on November 29, 2010


7. (S) HOW TO TRACK DETAINEES: "I've just thought of something," the King [Abdullah] added, and proposed implanting detainees with an electronic chip containing information about them and allowing their movements to be tracked with Bluetooth. This was done with horses and falcons, the King said. Brennan replied, "horses don't have good lawyers," and that such a proposal would face legal hurdles in the U.S., but agreed that keeping track of detainees was an extremely important issue that he would review with appropriate officials when he returned to the United States.
Note the Saudi King wanted to chip and release, while the US Government wanted to keep them in prison forever.
posted by delmoi at 10:54 AM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


With reference to reynir's comment

Being that the field of diplomacy as it exists today consists of a high level of complexity, establishing a concise definition can be problematic. Assuming the risk of a less than immaculate interpretation, diplomacy as relates to international relations could perhaps be succinctly termed as “the process of communication between international actors, used chiefly by the involved parties to represent and craft themselves, often in an effort to resolve or avoid conflict and ameliorate discord.” via

By virtue of the nature of the field it then implies that one then cannot therefore consider things in binary terms (good/bad; black/white; etc) but in fact one establishes each participant's constraints, conditions and criteria and then begins the process of "give and take" or negotiation, with the ultimate goal being to reach a point of common understanding or agreement or even, consensus.

Perhaps its the default tendency towards simple computer games style scenarios that leads to the challenges posed to the global diplomatic community? Didn't someone aptly quote Upton Sinclair recently upthread?
posted by The Lady is a designer at 10:57 AM on November 29, 2010


I am rather interested in comparing some of the arguments made in this thread to arguments made in threads about Valerie Plame.

The main distinctions, I think, are that the Plame case was 1) an orchestrated conspiracy 2) by the Bush Administration and right-wing journalists 3) intended as a smear 4) against her husband, 5) who had made the claim that the White House had falsified intelligence in order to invade Iraq.

So, yeah. It's definitely a compare more than a contrast, I think.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:00 AM on November 29, 2010




Yes, I'm aware of those distinctions; however, I do recall a certain amount of noise being made over the fact that the leak re: Plame's identity had lead to the deaths of several of her contacts. Certain posters in this thread have argued that that sort of thing isn't the fault of those who leak secrets, but rather that of those who hold secrets, and I wonder if such an argument would have been made in the prior instance.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:06 AM on November 29, 2010


If you're not able to do that, that's not my problem.
posted by Joe Beese


I am, and why should these methods not be used if they are used against 'us'?
This would require you to have the rudimentary skills of analysis.
I have about 145 examples of open source diplomatic espionage ranging from a wide variety of countries spanning two centuries and they involve things much worse the snaffling DNA.

Do you always trust a source before it is examined?
(Rhetorical)
posted by clavdivs at 11:23 AM on November 29, 2010


Specifically: fingerprints, DNA, and iris scans.

Is there a link to that specific information. Usually biometric info in this case would be height, weight, hair and eye color. How would they get an iris scan?

You are aware that for many nations, the spy apparatus in this country does work out of their UN delegations, right?

Diplomats spy. Its been part of their job since 3000 b.c. This whining I do not get.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:27 AM on November 29, 2010


Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) wants WikiLeaks labeled as terrorist group.

That they are not. Idiots, yes. Terrorists, no.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:30 AM on November 29, 2010




Valerie Plame's name was leaked to cover up a lie. Wikileaks leaks to to reveal the truth.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:34 AM on November 29, 2010


Document
posted by adamvasco at 11:35 AM on November 29, 2010


I don't think the Pentagon Papers are even the slightest bit analogous, actually.

Not even the slightest bit? That seems like a pretty sringent threshold for similarity. In both cases, the cache of secret documents was stolen from their owners. In both cases, those documents were found to be full of internationally important information. In one case, Ellsberg probably read the entirety of the papers before taking them, whereas Manning (or whoever) presumably had only read a small portion of the cables before determining that they were worth taking. Both documents are then delivered to larger organizations, and in both cases those organizations vetted them and redacted portions of them. In one case, the staff of the NYT was able to read the entire thing in short order and release it all at once; in the other case, the staff at wikileaks appears to be trying to bulldoze its way through the entire document dump, releasing it in pieces along the way. But even more similarly, the cables were also released to papers like the New York Times, which claims to have looked through the whole thing, and certainly claims to have redacted the dangerous parts of the documents it has released. Yes, 250,000 is big, but no one has (as far as I know) released the whole thing or even pieces of it without redaction, and no one as far as I know intends to. Furthermore, though large, 250,000 is not at all impossible for a small staff to read through, particularly when many documents are quite short. So while the logistical challenges are a few orders of magnitude higher, the personnel being dedicated to them -- four newspapers, and the staff of wikileaks -- is also much higher. And apart from the logistical challenges of protecting sources, etc, the ethical issues of truth v secrecy are very much the same, and those were the issues predominantly being debated here. And the motivations you impute to wikileaks are no more provable than the similar motivations imputed to the Times during the PP leaks, so that only strengthens the similarity.

So yes, I'd say the cases are more than the slightest bit analogous.
posted by chortly at 11:37 AM on November 29, 2010


For example, the Iranians may well have known that the Saudis wanted the US to bomb their nuclear facilities. But as long as this wasn't publicly acknowledged, they didn't need to do anything about it. Now that it's out in public, they may feel the need to respond somehow, and that could get ugly.

Iran won't feel the need to respond any more than it already is (after all, it's race to get nukes is driven by the knowledge that there's a lobby for "regime change" (mass-murder) in Iran in the US, irrespective of nukes). The House of Saud, on the other hand, is likely going to suffer considerable domestic unrest with proof that the royal family has been collaborating with the US against a fellow Islamic state.
posted by rodgerd at 11:45 AM on November 29, 2010


I, too, am skeptical regarding the unrestrained goodness of this.

Ummm, of what's documented in the papers or of Wikileaks releasing said papers?
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:49 AM on November 29, 2010


The Plame outing comparisons are interesting, and bringing up the divergent reactions to that leak and this document dump is instructive. I think that no matter what arguments were advanced at the time, a lot of the instinctive anger grew from the widespread conviction that the outing of an agent was the politically motivated goal of a deliberately, personally targeted leak designed to end someone's career.

This comes back to my earlier insistence that WikiLeaks is basically waging an insurgent campaign against the concept of secrecy. Many people keep searching for the kinds of partisan motivations we're used to seeing, but with each successive document drop, it gets harder to spin.

That, I think, is what scares the powers that be far more than tactical leaks.
posted by verb at 11:57 AM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ok, but correct me if I'm wrong, but Joe was extending the whole DNA and iris scan thing to UN diplomats in NY. This is in africa. And it sounds like it is voluntary. You have to take a scanner to someone's eye to do an iris scan. They aren't walking up to the North Korean delegation and shoving that iris contraption in their face. Joe was extending it out to UN diplomats. Could you link to that?
posted by Ironmouth at 12:01 PM on November 29, 2010


I'm perplexed by the notion that these leaks may "get someone killed" when they detail the ways in which the US has made sure 100Ks of people will get killed. It may be analogous to concern trolling.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:03 PM on November 29, 2010 [6 favorites]




I'm perplexed by the notion that these leaks may "get someone killed" when they detail the ways in which the US has made sure 100Ks of people will get killed. It may be analogous to concern trolling.

So Amnesty International's letters to Assange asking him to delete the names of their local staffers was "concern trolling." This is a real issue. You can throw it aside or not, but the NGO's were pissed.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:15 PM on November 29, 2010


Here's the other thing, the revelation that all of the arab countries aside from Iraq want us to bomb Iran may increase pressure on the US to do just that. Ironic if his leaks made a war more likely to occur, no?
posted by Ironmouth at 12:17 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


arab countries aside from Iraq want us to bomb Iran may increase pressure on the US to do just that
Uh, won't happen.
On the contrary, the backlash from the arab street will be felt, and many a regime will have to back-pedal on that.
posted by vivelame at 12:20 PM on November 29, 2010


BTW Ironmouth, you keep saying Assange/wikileaks have blood on their hands, even when presented with official testimony by NATO/US official that, well, no. I hope that you know that selectively ignoring information that doesn't fit your outrage/narrative is the hallmark of the troll, right?
posted by vivelame at 12:22 PM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


officials, feh.
posted by vivelame at 12:22 PM on November 29, 2010


Calling Ironmouth a troll for stating an opinion is out of line.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:29 PM on November 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


BTW Ironmouth, you keep saying Assange/wikileaks have blood on their hands, even when presented with official testimony by NATO/US official that, well, no. I hope that you know that selectively ignoring information that doesn't fit your outrage/narrative is the hallmark of the troll, right?

Please find where I stated that they have "blood on their hands." I never said that ever. I stated that there was a great risk that someone would get hurt. It is important that you get your facts right.

But let the facts speak for themselves:

A group of human-rights organizations is pressing WikiLeaks to do a better job of redacting names from thousands of war documents it is publishing, joining the list of critics that claim the Web site's actions could jeopardize the safety of Afghans who aided the U.S. military.

The letter from five human-rights groups sparked a tense exchange in which WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange issued a tart challenge for the organizations to help with the massive task of removing names from thousands of documents, according to several of the organizations that signed the letter. The exchange shows how WikiLeaks and Mr. Assange risk being isolated from some of their most natural allies in the wake of the documents' publication.


A direct quote from Amnesty International's letter:

"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."
Here's a key quote from the story:

CIVIC, OSI and ICG also confirmed that they signed the letter. Erica Gaston, program officer for OSI's Afghanistan-Pakistan regional policy initiative, said: "Our concern was that the Taliban had announced it was going through the data looking for names and that it would begin targeting that. It's a very real threat that they're making. They have demonstrated over and over that if they have the name of someone that has in any way been affiliated with the international community, they will find them, they will kill them in most cases."


That's right, the Taliban vowed to go through Wikileaks' dump and find the names of people who have been working with the international rights community and kill them.

You can ignore the concerns of these groups all you want. And you can ignore the vow of the Taliban to use Wikileaks' data to commit murder. But, without facts and misrepresenting my position, you cannot call me a troll.

The fact that we have not found any definitive link between the killing of a person working with a rights organization and Wikileaks' dumps does not mean (a) it hasn't happened; or (b) that it is a danger we can safely ignore. That would be foolish, I'm certain you'd agree.

Read that article. Read the terrible and childish response from Assange. Tell me he's the hero you want him to be. I'm all for properly controlled leaks that tell us stuff we need to know. Total document dumps without any proper review? That's just stupid.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:43 PM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


The fact that you don't know that you have a bug up your arse doesn't mean that you don't have a bug up your arse.
posted by adamvasco at 12:47 PM on November 29, 2010


Joe was extending it out to UN diplomats. Could you link to that?

All I did was quote the Economic Times saying:

The cable... also sought biographical and biometric information on key NAM/G-77/OIC (Organisation of Islamic Countries) permanent representatives

The cable - which adamvasco helpfully linked to - was addressed to African embassies and states:

Reporting officers should include as much of the following information as possible when they have information relating to persons linked to African Great Lakes...

I don't know if our diplomats at the UN are considered "reporting officers" for this purpose. But I'm sure that African diplomats at the UN are considered "persons linked to African Great Lakes".

But according to you, diplomats are simply spies with a different title. So what difference would it make whether the cable was addressed to our UN diplomats or not?
posted by Joe Beese at 1:00 PM on November 29, 2010


But according to you, diplomats are simply spies with a different title. So what difference would it make whether the cable was addressed to our UN diplomats or not?

no, no--OK I get it, it was Delmoi who claimed that:

If the NYT excerpts are anything to go by, I'd agree that this is a strong possibility, particularly where Iran is concerned.

Maybe you should read some of the stuff in the guardian? In particular the stuff about spying on top UN people, and trying to get their DNA and stuff.


I haven't seen a link saying we are trying to get Iranian diplomats DNA.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:38 PM on November 29, 2010


I don't think troll is the right word and I'd like to see it tossed around a lot less around here. But I am increasingly finding it difficult to believe that Ironmouth is arguing in good faith.

Ironmouth: "But let the facts speak for themselves:"
"Amnesty International spokesman Susanna Flood said that while other human rights groups had also sent a joint letter to WikiLeaks, Amnesty was not among its signatories.

Instead, she said that the London-based campaigners had communicated with Mr Assange's group over the issue of the disclosure of identities of Afghans who've worked alongside international forces." link
This was widely reported in response to the WSJ article that you seem to be relying on as your only source for your repeated accusations.

Ironmouth:"A direct quote from Amnesty International's letter:"

Not Amnesty International's letter, as a cursory google search makes plain. I even went to Amnesty Internationals site to get a reading on their position on wikileaks. Your use of their brand to bolster your argument is disingenuous.
When contacted by TIME, most of the groups refused to comment on the letter. But in a brief phone interview, Sarah Holewinski, the executive director of CIVIC, the Washington-based NGO that advocates for war victims, told TIME that the letter was sent last week and was meant to foster cooperation between aid agencies and WikiLeaks in an effort to protect Afghan sources.

"We are unsure who leaked [the letter], but it stalled the conversation," she says. "We are now back in conversation and discussing the best way to move forward. In the media it's been played up as a fight, but that wasn't our intent. [...] We simply want to caution — as we would our own people or journalists — about putting the names out there." link
Ironmouth: "Read that article. Read the terrible and childish response from Assange."

I read the article. I guess you are referring to this:
"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."
I've also seen Mr. Assange speak seriously and eloquently about his activities. I'll stick with my very different impression of his demeanor unless someone more credible than "people familiar with the exchange" comes forward.
posted by Manjusri at 1:51 PM on November 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


"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."

But don't you see his laziness. He published the mass of documents with very little review and then demanded Amnesty use donor money and employee resources to redact material he chose to release.

There's plenty of stuff that could be leaked in these troves and it would be fine. But he just dumps it. He's lazy. He doesn't care about the consequences.

I'll stick with my very different impression of his demeanor unless someone more credible than "people familiar with the exchange" comes forward.

Yeah, because you know more about it than a WSJ reporter who actually interviewed these people. Nice.

From your article

The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International and three other groups have sent a series of emails to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange calling for the names of Afghan civilians to be removed from the 77,000 classified military documents published by the online whistle-blower last month.
Nader Nadery, of the commission, said the groups want the names removed from files already released, and from any documents disclosed in the future.


So you continue to deny that Amnesty sent an E-mail to Assange regarding these issues? I did get the part about the letter wrong, in that Amnesty sent an E-mail message regarding the issues. In response, Assange acted like a pouty little baby.

The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, the Open Society Institute and the International Crisis Group have also been involved in exchanges about the released documents.

he always puts the responsibility on others, even though he is the one releasing the documents! Why? Are those responsible actions? I say no.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:06 PM on November 29, 2010




Ironmouth: "But don't you see his laziness. He published the mass of documents with very little review and then demanded Amnesty use donor money and employee resources to redact material he chose to release.

There's plenty of stuff that could be leaked in these troves and it would be fine. But he just dumps it. He's lazy. He doesn't care about the consequences.
"

People have already countered that point with the fact that he's taken many steps to review and redact the documents himself and with help from the international press, hence the staggered release of the documents. You should really read the threads you choose to argue in.
posted by flatluigi at 2:15 PM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


People have already countered that point with the fact that he's taken many steps to review and redact the documents himself and with help from the international press, hence the staggered release of the documents. You should really read the threads you choose to argue in.

No, he hasn't. No one has reviewed 250,000 documents in the short time he has had them. Sure, some documents were looked through, but 250,000? And how could he? He has no context, no files, no understanding of this. If they took 10 minutes to review all 250,000, it would require 4,160 man hours. He doesn't have the resources to do this.

More importantly, he's making it hard for the US to engage in diplomacy. Is that a good thing? I say no. Like it or not, the US is the most powerful country in the world and the Taliban and Iran are not good people. We need to limit the ability of those parties to hurt us and others. Perhaps you see it differently, and would like to see US diplomacy crippled. But I don't actually see who that serves?

why dump all of the documents? why not find the important stuff, leak it to a news paper and be done? Makes zero sense. It is petulant, angry and counter-productive.

I believe the result of this will be a turning of public opinion in the US and perhaps the world, against Wikileaks. As an American, I do not want to see US diplomacy damaged. What purpose does that serve?
posted by Ironmouth at 2:27 PM on November 29, 2010


If they took 10 minutes to review all 250,000, it would require 4,160 man hours. He doesn't have the resources to do this.

Over 120 reporters plus Wikileaks staff were involved in reviewing the documents. Assuming 10 Wikileaks staff (a number I pulled from nowhere in particular) that's 32 hours per person, or 4 working days. Since the most recent cables are from, I believe, February 2010, there's been plenty of time for the cables to be reviewed thoroughly.

And again, the vast majority of the cables were not secret and did not need significant review.
posted by jedicus at 2:33 PM on November 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


He has no context, no files, no understanding of this.

You keep putting this on Assange as though it were a one man show when 120 reporters at the world's major newspapers worked on this. And, frankly, as much leaked material as Assange and the other Wikileaks staff have read through by now I would expect them to have picked up a fair amount of context, files, and understanding.
posted by jedicus at 2:35 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's plenty of stuff that could be leaked in these troves and it would be fine. But he just dumps it. He's lazy. He doesn't care about the consequences.

That or he's--god forbid--being impartial. He's an intermediary between the source of these documents and their recipients. This sort of role is sometimes referred to as a "messenger." I suppose you'd prefer that your UPS guy go through all your packages and only give you the stuff he deems worthy of your attention. Personally, I think that might not be the greatest idea in the world.

"But I want this edited in accordance with my personal bias! Waaah!" Meh.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:35 PM on November 29, 2010


It is petulant, angry and counter-productive.

It sure is, Ironmouth. It sure is.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:38 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I already knew that Americans were culturally tone-deaf bumblers on the international scene. But I thank Assange for removing all doubt.

Assange lazy? The anti-Assange contingent can only wish that he was as lazy as them, sitting around criticizing Assange's proactivity, quite in vain to boot.

Assange can't make American "diplomacy" any more difficult than Americans have already made it. And the concern for endangering lives? Har. Ridiculous to the extreme. Even to say something so absurd means that one is an extremist USian, blind on purpose, living in a powder-puff fantasy world where "good guys" fight "bad guys". Now THAT's lazy. Shows a complete unwillingness to look one inch deep past the war propaganda. A lazier position cannot be expressed.
posted by telstar at 2:39 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth: "Yeah, because you know more about it than a WSJ reporter who actually interviewed these people. Nice."

No, because the citing of an unnamed source in an article already established to be counterfactual has little credibility.

Ironmouth: "So you continue to deny that Amnesty sent an E-mail to Assange regarding these issues?

See, it's this sort of thing that makes me think that you are not merely misinformed but deliberately obfuscating the conversation. Please tell me what you are mischaracterising as such a denial?

From my comment:
"Instead, she said that the London-based campaigners had communicated with Mr Assange's group over the issue of the disclosure of identities of Afghans who've worked alongside international forces."
posted by Manjusri at 2:40 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


A description of the reviewing process, from Der Spiegel:
With a team of more than 50 reporters and researchers, SPIEGEL has viewed, analyzed and vetted the mass of documents. In most cases, the magazine has sought to protect the identities of the Americans' informants, unless the person who served as the informant was senior enough to be politically relevant. In some cases, the US government expressed security concerns and SPIEGEL accepted a number of such objections. In other cases, however, SPIEGEL felt the public interest in reporting the news was greater than the threat to security. Throughout our research, SPIEGEL reporters and editors weighed the public interest against the justified interest of countries in security and confidentiality.
That's pretty damned thorough and careful, I think, especially since the work was duplicated by The New York Times, the Guardian, Le Monde, and El Pais. Note that they explicitly took into account US government concerns.
posted by jedicus at 2:44 PM on November 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


The variously repeated point that Assange and Wikileaks are not proven directly responsible for deaths, yet, while the U.S. is obviously responsible for many, strikes me as very fatuous, since Wikileaks and any nation state are obviously incomparable actors.

The U.S. must do its best to use its power to protect its own citizens and allies, inevitably at someone else's expense, which is not to say that it has recently succeeded in maintaining its interests and minimizing external damage. Duplicity is inherent and necessary in diplomacy and statecraft. No government can conduct its complex and sensitive international affairs with honesty and openness, or else there would probably be more wars.

Assange made the grand revelation that the U.S. government is not as innocent, law-abiding and well-meaning as it is supposed to be, but I think that in the end the potential destructiveness of this outweighs any good. Basically throwing a lit match into a flammable international arena is extremely callous and irresponsible, besides the threat to individual informants and such. While Wikileaks has filled some blanks, I have yet to hear of any genuinely surprising revelation from this.

Assange's black and white anti-Americanism is the expression of a deeply narcissistic character.

Regarding Saudi Arabia, the interests of the Saudi government and the activity of individuals there are not necessarily identical, any more than they would be in any country. It is not stunning news that terrorist groups have found financial backing in Saudi Arabia. This does not mean that the king, leading princes and financiers of the House of Saud support al-Qaeda. This story pales in comparison with America's highly fraught and questionable alliance with the known terrorist government of Pakistan -- also old hat -- anyway.
posted by knoyers at 2:58 PM on November 29, 2010






D'oh! Preview fail.
posted by kaspen at 3:07 PM on November 29, 2010


The U.S. must do its best to use its power to protect its own citizens and allies, inevitably at someone else's expense...

But anti-Americanism is an expression of someone's deeply narcissistic character. Got it.

Still, you can't have it both ways. If there's nothing new here, it has no potential destructiveness. Would like you to take some time choosing one and then get back to us?
posted by Joe Beese at 3:13 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the interview:

Yes, there will be some flagrant violations, unethical practices that will be revealed, but it will also be all the supporting decision-making structures and the internal executive ethos that cames out, and that’s tremendously valuable. Like the Iraq War Logs, yes there were mass casualty incidents that were very newsworthy, but the great value is seeing the full spectrum of the war.

You could call it the ecosystem of corruption. But it’s also all the regular decision making that turns a blind eye to and supports unethical practices: the oversight that’s notdone, the priorities of executives, how they think they’re fulfilling their own self-interest.


"How they think they're fulfilling their own self-interest" is all I can think to sum up Ironmouth's position here, as I generally have a lot of respect for his contributions to metafilter, but am thinking that in this case in this thread the subject is too close for him to be seeing clearly, and a bias in favour of faith in the governmental system is emerging which needs but cannot be more closely examined.
posted by kaspen at 3:20 PM on November 29, 2010


Would like you to take some time choosing one and then get back to us?

Then in the meantime we'd be able to focus on the FPP and its implications for the future of global diplomacy and evolving concepts of private vs public a la Facebook et al?
posted by The Lady is a designer at 3:21 PM on November 29, 2010


One of Ironmouth's earlier arguments against WikiLeaks was that we should use the existing FOIA process to get documents.

But the recent leaked DoJ report on nazi scientists in the US shows that the FOIA process is insufficient. The DoJ withheld information without legal justification. It is only through a leak that we found that.

When the government is corrupt, attempting to rely on the same government to give you truthful information is useless. I'll go even further and say it can be destructive, since the government can feed you only the information that they want you to see.

Is Assange a show-boating ego-maniacal asshole? Most likely, but sometimes those are the people who can get the most attention for a cause. John Young at cryptome has been doing this stuff for over a decade, but it took Assange to bring it to public consciousness.
posted by formless at 3:24 PM on November 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


An interesting, if somewhat muddled, anecdote on methodology from the Forbes interview with Assange:
One example: It began with something we released last year, quite an interesting case that wasn’t really picked up by anyone. There’s a Texas Canadian oil company whose name escapes me. And they had these wells in Albania that had been blowing. Quite serious. We got this report from a consultant engineer into what was happening, saying vans were turning up in the middle of the night doing something to them. They were being sabotaged. The Albanian government was involved with another company; There were two rival producers and one was government-owned and the other was privately owned.

So when we got this report; It didn’t have a header. It didn’t say the name of the firm, or even who the wells belonged to.

So it wasn’t picked up because it was missing key data.

At the time, yeah. So I said, what the hell do we do with this thing? It’s impossible to verify if we don’t even know who it came from. It could have been one company trying to frame the other one. So we did something very unusual, and published it and said “We’ve got this thing, looks like it could have been written by a rival company aiming to defame the other, but we can’t verify it. We want more information.” [Google's cache of the page in question; WikiLeaks, of course, is a bit flittery these days.] Whether it’s a fake document or real one, something was going on. Either one company is trying to frame the other, which is interesting, or it’s true, which is also very interesting.

That’s where the matter sat until we got a letter of inquiry from an engineering consulting company asking how to get rid of it. We demanded that they first prove that they were the owner.

It sounds like when Apple confirmed that the lost iPhone 4 was real, by demanding that Gizmodo return it.

Yes, like Apple and the iPhone. They sent us a screen capture with the missing header and other information.

What were they thinking?

I don’t know.
Confidential to kaspen: Hee hee. Sorry, but those precious moments to add a bit of personal context are sometimes telling...
posted by kipmanley at 3:30 PM on November 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Like it or not, the US is the most powerful country in the world and the Taliban and Iran are not good people.

Yes, they are. For the benefit of the doubt, I'll assume you mean Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but the relentless propaganda from hardline US conservatives against Iran has turned many Americans against the entire country.

I understand where you're coming from. I personally benefit from a strong US and from US diplomacy. But others in the world may not. And there are more people in the world than in the US.

Even ignoring the greater good, many of our current policies are more harmful than helpful to our own interests. Shining a light on them can help make the US stronger.

Shooting vanloads of children is not good diplomacy.
posted by formless at 3:55 PM on November 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


That "yes they are" referred to the second clause, Iranians in general, not the Taliban.
posted by formless at 3:56 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Joe Beese,

The U.S. is responsible to its own people and their best interests (and not the world's); this holds for all nation states. I doubt that any nation state has ever held the value of transparency above its own interests, nor should they.

Everyone's anti-Americanism isn't narcissistic, but Assange does seem to be a narcissist with a black-and-white worldview (and martyr complex) attempting to play God in international affairs without much regard for the consequences. See the major Times magazine story from a while back, for example.

That nothing seems very surprising hardly implies that this incident won't be destructive. Facts that were known or obvious to participants but not directly acknowledged are now out in the open, which could potentially lead to damaged international relations, confrontation and conflagration. Wikileaks will have altered the methods of diplomats and officials, which may be for ill. Moreover, lives of informants and others may now be at stake. If they are, Assange is probably not very concerned. You and I are really in no position to imagine or understand what the fallout may be; nor is Assange.
posted by knoyers at 3:59 PM on November 29, 2010


Next target, big business:
Early next year, Julian Assange says, a major American bank will suddenly find itself turned inside out. Tens of thousands of its internal documents will be exposed on Wikileaks.org with no polite requests for executives’ response or other forewarnings. The data dump will lay bare the finance firm’s secrets on the Web for every customer, every competitor, every regulator to examine and pass judgment on.
(From Forbes WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Wants To Spill Your Corporate Secrets)
posted by memebake at 4:02 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah, kipmanley quoted this further up too.
posted by memebake at 4:05 PM on November 29, 2010


There is the possibility (which I've speculated on previously) that the leaks are actually deliberate in nature. Not as disinformation - although some are claiming that's the case - but as semi-official confirmation of various assumptions and/or policies which it would be impolitic to state frankly or whose significance would otherwise be obscured by uninformed and/or uninformative commentary.

Look at it this way; little, if any, of what has been revealed so far is especially surprising to political observers in the US, nor would it be so to foreign intelligence analysts. Rather, it tends to confirm what many believe: that Iran is quite politically isolated in the Mideast, the Us is aggressively improving its HUMINT capability and remains vigilant, Washington would very much like China to stop enabling the dictatorship in North Korea, and also to stop conducting cyber-shakedowns of US businesses, and so on. You could consider this collection of data as a comprehensive guide to where the US stands at present on a variety of complex international issues; and you could, in turn, consider the manner of publication as a non-confrontational but nonetheless quite assertive public statement of those positions. Non-disputation of the substantial content amounts to an (indirect) admission of various past positions and behaviors, and reiteration or notification of various current ones...and while the immediate effect is rather awkward and embarrassing in many respects, it does make for a rather effective clearing of the air.

We're all familiar with the situation where the rumor mill starts with speculation on some plausible idea - about a celebrity, say - but in the absence of solid information the speculation becomes increasingly detached from reality. When the subject of the original rumor finally addresses the matter with a factual statement - 'Why yes, I am married/divorced/gay/straight/pregnant/dying/whatever' - then public discussion moves on what the actual significance (if any) of those facts are, and the person in question deals with the consensus emerging from that, rather than with the output of the rumor mill. The volume of speculative debate that's poorly grounded in fact often tends to eclipse the significance of the subject, leading to the well-known Streisand effect: relatively few people really care what Barbara Streisand's house looks like, but the fact that she wants to conceal it from the public gets everyone very interested - and also generates a far greater amount of media nonsense: from 'Barbra's kinky UFO conection!' in the funny papers to 'What 'Climategate' coverup really means!' in supposedly serious ones.

Wikileaks is known for publishing or drawing attention to information that would often be public by default, such as court filings which one party attempts to suppress or material which ought to have been in a public filing but wasn't. It's general non-governmental and non-partisan bona fides are more or less established: most people are comfortable with the assumption that the information it releases is authentic, an assumption which used to be true of various media outlets in the past but is much less so today. Probably only the BBC retains a global majority presumption of credibility; it used to be that papers such as the NYT or WSJ were considered reliable recorders of fact, but partisan opposition from large numbers of people who consider the NYT a tool of the liberal establishment or the WSJ a tool of the conservative establishment (as well as a smaller number of fringe partisans who believe the same things, only in reverse) means that it's very difficult for an administration or even a faction within it to put out a position statement that's less than completely official but which can be relied on to be generally true for all practical purposes.

If 'sources close to the White House' gave a lengthy but anonymous (for diplomatic purposes) interview to a major paper on so many different topics, the news media would grind to a complete halt for a month and have a pointless debate over whether the paper made it up, whether the person is a traitor, or the paper's editor is a traitor, or whether there's a shadow government, or whether it was a warning to Obama to comply or be killed or...zzzz. Of course, major revelations or confirmations of foreign policy matters would be somewhat contentious at any time, but whereas in the past they might have served as a very broad hint to which way the political winds are blowing, the equalizing nature of internet publication and ubiquity of a 24 hour news cycle frequently amplifies the trivial to the obscurity of the significant. Can you imagine some historical events as they would be reported today? 'Glenn Beck: Kennedy missile threat is coded invite to Kruschev for invasion of US!?!' or 'Glenn Greenwald: Nazi death camps reports say more about us than the Germans?!?' or 'Glenn Miller disappearance: Cthulhu cultists sabotaged his plane!!! Eleven!'

Similarly, President Obama would probably love to conduct a 6-hour interview with Charlie Rose and engage in an in-depth analysis of geopolitical, social and economic trends, with a side discussion of whether Bayesian economic analysis or Kantian deontology provide better decision matrices in terms of actionability and long-term reliability. I noticed during his press conferences abroad he seems to quite enjoy having the opportunity to treat a complex subject in depth, knowing that foreign journalists are unlikely to waste rare access on a quest for mere soundbites. But if Obama came out and said a tenth of what's covered in the Wikileaks material, media coverage would range from incomprehension to calls for revolution - not so much for the substance of any Presidential remarks, but in horror at the painful imposition upon the nation's ever-shortening attention span. Say what you like about Sarah Palin, she's a woman who understands that your time is valuable and it's been a long day already, dammit.

OK, I jest a little, but my point is serious: the release of this information by Wikileaks, and the rather pro forma condemnation and conspicuous absence of denial by the US government provides more detailed and informative guidance to both domestic and international audiences of the administration's position than an entire month of press conferences or publications in the federal register or one-on-one interviews or what-all else. Instead of every public statement on a given topic being second guessed with questions like 'Does that mean the administration is admitting (widely rumored factoid)???' - confirmation of which rumor will completely obscure the new policy that the administration is attempting to present - upcoming statements of policy will more closely resemble 'Here's what we are going to do next (about this thing everyone suspected and the recent leaks confirmed),' and discussion may focus to a greater degree on the actual impact of the policy change than on 'Did he mean xxx? Oh no he didn't! Oh yes he did!'.

I find the precise selection and precise timing of the older communiques (1966, 1972, 1979) extremely interesting in this regard. Examination of the legal criteria employed in defining the extent of territorial waters as later codified in the 1982 Treaty of the Law of the Sea are of purely academic interest to most people (ie, none at all), but extremely relevant to those examining the increasingly topical (and contentious) subject of arctic sovereignty.

It's not the sort of way one would want to conduct business of a regular basis...but these leaks do bring a wide variety of long-running speculative debates to an end, do they not? And now that we're all aware of the sometimes awkward truth, perhaps we can turn our attention to more present considerations.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:09 PM on November 29, 2010 [14 favorites]


jedicus : Over 120 reporters plus Wikileaks staff were involved in reviewing the documents.

Redaction only really works to hide the details from you and me and Joe Sixpack. In order to effectively make these opaque even to their subjects, you'd need to turn them into nothing but black marker and "fluff" words.

"xxx met with xxx at xxx outside the xxx to xxx xxx, and xxx gave xxx a xxx" - Wow, the state department watched me last week when I picked up a friend broken down at the grocery store? Consider me flattered! ;)


And again, the vast majority of the cables were not secret and did not need significant review.

A document can have no requirement of secrecy in isolation, without certain key details also available - Public-key cryptography as the obvious example; but if Batman keeps busting baddies around the globe, it doesn't take a genius to compare that to Bruce Wayne's travel itinerary for the past two years and notice a 100% match.


kaspen : The banks are next, and the more I think about the potential consequences of a world with total institutional transparency, the more evident it is to me that those arguing against Wikileaks are on the wrong side of history.

This, this, this.

We can call it charitable, noble, patriotic, naive, what-have-you, to give the government the benefit of the doubt. Once you remove the doubt and see just how much they've screwed you, only a fool would keep saying "but golly gee, they might suddenly have a change of heart and use their powers of secrecy only to rescue drowning puppies!"
posted by pla at 4:14 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's a really good point, anigbrowl. Regular old leaks have been used for backdoor PR so much it's become cliché – so why not use Wikileaks the same way?
posted by furiousthought at 4:16 PM on November 29, 2010




Again, Arthur Silber:
WikiLeaks' primary purpose is to make information available to everyone. Each one of us can make our own judgments as to what should be done with that information, if anything, and what course of action might be indicated or not. But the kind of complaint conveyed by this Corrente post is precisely the issue I previously addressed: the complaint is that providing vast amounts of information freely to everyone isn't a good idea and might even be a very bad idea -- unless a particular outcome can be assured.

... this completely misses what is most fundamental about WikiLeaks and why its work challenges established authority so profoundly. This particular Corrente poster may want authority to prevent rather than enable further war -- but he still wants some authority to guarantee the result he prefers.

But the WikiLeaks revolution goes far beyond that, and much deeper. The precision of its aim is revealed by the great discomfort experienced even by many of those one might have expected to be sympathetic to WikiLeaks' efforts. A closely related aspect of our training to rely on authority and obey is that we are taught to value control.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:24 PM on November 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


chortly: "Some sort of near disaster with transporting enriched uranium"

That's probably the Libyan thing. From the Atlantic: A Nuclear Standoff With Libya
posted by Kevin Street at 4:26 PM on November 29, 2010


I apologize for being unclear about the term "concern trolling", but I was using it analogously, not accusing anyone of being a troll in the usual sense. My main point is that showing hyperconcern for a few people who hypothetically would be harmed by these leaks in the face of the massive deaths that have occurred due to activities like those documented in these and other Wikileaks seems to be misplaced emphasis intended to refocus concern from the enormous harm being documented to the potential collateral damage that, in the final analysis, is not because of leaks but because of the noxious behavior that is documented in the leaks. In other words, had the US acted honorably, those people would not be in jeopardy.

It should also be noted that there is a particularly large upside to the leaks in that they could act as corrective to the cavalier bullying that goes on routinely and forces violence on the rest of the world as well as on our soldiers.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:43 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wikileaks should put some random porn on their site.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:50 PM on November 29, 2010


Haven't seen this posted yet:

Bomb, Bomb Iran: The Top 5 Most Shocking Things About The Wikileaks

1. Nearly every country in the Middle East wants us to attack Iran.
2. State Department officials ordered U.S. diplomats to spy on their foreign and UN counterparts.
3. North Korea supplied Iran with long-range missiles.
4. Iran used the auspices of the Red Crescent to smuggle spies and weapons into war zones.
5. U.S. foreign policy relies heavily on blog-ready gossip items.

posted by thescientificmethhead at 4:51 PM on November 29, 2010


Sarah Palin: I Stopped My Book From Being Leaked, Why Can't Govt. Stop Wikileaks

Oh good god, that woman is an idiot.
posted by lullaby at 5:23 PM on November 29, 2010


Asparagirl : Yeah, if only I had been a UN diplomat, I could have a genetic scan run n me for free, instead of paying for it...!

Offhand, I'd say that your aside comes closest to the likely "real" primary reason - Establishing ancestry (or more immediately, m/paternity).

Most of the world doesn't have the "anyone can grow up to serve as president" attitude to which we at least pay lip service here in the US. Even Jolly Ol' still has a nominal monarchy, and a separate house of lords with a genetic requirement for membership.

Imagine the chaos it would cause to prove Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz as the bastard child of a Mossad plant... Or even just casting dispersions on the lineage of Helene Hayman.


thescientificmethhead : 5. U.S. foreign policy relies heavily on blog-ready gossip items.

So, like, ohmigawd, did you hear about Hillary and Barry having an affair? Like, all the "cool" dictators know about it. Shhh, don't tell anyone - We all know Bill still runs the US, and he might have to make Obama look bad to save face, dontchaknow! :D
posted by pla at 5:23 PM on November 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Calling Ironmouth a troll for stating an opinion is out of line. -- KokuRyu
He's not a troll, he's just a very dishonest person. Case in point:
no, no--OK I get it, it was Delmoi who claimed that:
Maybe you should read some of the stuff in the guardian? In particular the stuff about spying on top UN people, and trying to get their DNA and stuff.

I haven't seen a link saying we are trying to get Iranian diplomats DNA. -- Ironmouth
How did you manage to read "UN" as "Iran"? here is an article about the US spying on the UN leadership, including attempting to acquire DNA.

He also took part of someone else's comment I quoted and replied to and made it look like I said it.

Maybe things would be interesting if he wasn't so transparently dishonest, but as it is he's just wasting everyone's time.

No, he hasn't. No one has reviewed 250,000 documents in the short time he has had them. Sure, some documents were looked through, but 250,000? And how could he? He has no context, no files, no understanding of this. If they took 10 minutes to review all 250,000, it would require 4,160 man hours. He doesn't have the resources to do this.
Of course not. That is why 219 cables have been release, not 250 thousand. Less then 1/10th of one percent.

Sarah Palin: I Stopped My Book From Being Leaked, Why Can't Govt. Stop Wikileaks ?,
Oh my god, that woman is SO FUCKING STUPID. It isn't just that she can't understand why wikileaks couldn't be stopped but that she doesn't even seem to understand that she didn't stop her own book from being leaked. She got them to take the page down post-facto, but the leak had already happened.
posted by delmoi at 5:41 PM on November 29, 2010


My apologies, the uranium problem was probably with Pakistan. From the New York Times: Leaked Cables Offer Raw Look at U.S. Diplomacy
A dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel: Since 2007, the United States has mounted a highly secret effort, so far unsuccessful, to remove from a Pakistani research reactor highly enriched uranium that American officials fear could be diverted for use in an illicit nuclear device. In May 2009, Ambassador Anne W. Patterson reported that Pakistan was refusing to schedule a visit by American technical experts because, as a Pakistani official said, “if the local media got word of the fuel removal, ‘they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan’s nuclear weapons,’ he argued.”
I guess the local media knows about it now.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:41 PM on November 29, 2010


Joe Beese, etc. The UN is a den of spies from every nation. Are you seriously complaining about the gambling at Rick's Cafe? DNA could even have a useful diplomatic purpose if 20 years down the road you approached by some former UN diplomat who wants to broker a peace deal. It might help you be sure that they are who they say they are. Something which would be very useful down the road.
posted by humanfont at 9:15 PM on November 29, 2010


“if the local media got word of the fuel removal, ‘they certainly would portray it as the United States taking Pakistan’s nuclear weapons,’ he argued.”

And the local media would be correct.
posted by twirlip at 9:19 PM on November 29, 2010


Haven't seen this posted yet:
Bomb, Bomb Iran: The Top 5 Most Shocking Things About The Wikileaks
...
3. North Korea supplied Iran with long-range missiles.

Interesting piece at the FAIR blog:

NYT Oversells WikiLeaks/Iranian Missiles Story
"...it's possible that the North Koreans actually sold Iran missiles that they can use to strike Europe. Or they didn't do any such thing. Or that they sold them missiles that don't actually work. But the Times seems to be going with the first story, based on secret documents that, when you actually read them, suggest strongly that the other two possibilities might be correct. In light of this, the decision not to publish the cable makes a lot more sense: You can make strong allegations about an official enemy without letting your readers see the less than overwhelming evidence."

Caveat Lector
posted by fredludd at 11:00 PM on November 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I thought that these leaks would cause one of three scenerios in the first 24-72 hours.
The first : the diplomats closing ranks.
posted by clavdivs at 11:10 PM on November 29, 2010


WikiLeaks They're putting lives at risk.
Wikileaks is not an American orginization and see things from a different perspective ie the rest of us. The closing ranks and political frothing is theatre which is hilarious as the leaks themselves show how much diplomacy is theatre; and how often it is $ diplomacy or gunboat diplomacy. The electorate of any democracy has a right to know what is done in their name.
An awful lot is going to come out over the next weeks, most of it suspected but never publically acknowledged. It is interesting that Josh Marshall refers to informational anarchism.
Wikileaks is basically saying "here is the information, run with it and make of it what you will".
TPM goes on It seems more like an attack on the US government itself. Wrong. Wikileaks puts the info out there. The rest of the world will make of it what it wants. Many around the world thought Obama heralded change and were perhaps naive in expecting anything to move further than center or right of centre (Thats how right leaning the US has become in many eyes). So Afghanistan continues, drone escalation continues, Secret bombings continue, the banks get bailed out; foreclosures continue; surveillance deepens; personal information is collated; the chasm between have and have not widens; lobby and crony politics win; naked capitalism and corporate greed is great etc etc.. Bring it down.
posted by adamvasco at 1:37 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Heather Brooke
Too often what is normal and civilised in diplomacy means turning a blind eye to large-scale social injustices, corruption and abuse of power.
posted by adamvasco at 1:55 AM on November 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


There is the possibility (which I've speculated on previously) that the leaks are actually deliberate in nature. Not as disinformation - although some are claiming that's the case - but as semi-official confirmation of various assumptions and/or policies which it would be impolitic to state frankly or whose significance would otherwise be obscured by uninformed and/or uninformative commentary.

Not sure if I agree, but it's an interesting possibility. The stuff that wikileaks has posted is basically a bunch of diplomatic e-mails. It would have been incredibly easy for wikileaks (or the person who gave them the documents) to slip in some fake ones, since there are no physical documents to examine for authenticity. So the US could quite plausibly claim that some of them are fake. Given that, it's interesting that they've made no attempts to deny that the documents are authentic.
posted by klausness at 2:51 AM on November 30, 2010


An Interpol red notice (second link is a pdf) has been issued for Assange. Assange has lodged a second appeal against his arrest warrants, and Ecuador has offered him asylum.
posted by Ahab at 3:54 AM on November 30, 2010


This sums up my view.
posted by dickasso at 6:32 AM on November 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sarah Palin: I Stopped My Book From Being Leaked, Why Can't Govt. Stop Wikileaks?

That book was published in Crawfordsville Indiana. A town that lists a property with different types of trees you can take a self guided walking tour of as a major tourist attraction.

They close the town down at 10 PM. Tax cuts stopped 'em from rolling up the streets at night, otherwise they would to keep the out of towners away.

If you knew the right people in the plant (waves to 2nd shifter John) you could get a copy ahead of time. But people leak things that have some value or interest. Odds are she'd not stop to consider that the book wasn't worth a public leaking.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:42 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


it's interesting that they've made no attempts to deny that the documents are authentic.

Would you believe them if they did?

That said, what is the point of all this? I have yet to see or hear of anything here (and that includes the Top Five Most Shocking list) that a moderately attentive adult didn't already pretty much know. Will minds be changed either way?

I doubt it.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:56 AM on November 30, 2010


Wikileaks is not an American orginization and see things from a different perspective ie the rest of us.

They need to take care. There is a difference between a neutral information source vs. an organization that is focused on attacking the United States. It would be better for Assange to take non-political views about the information (as you suggest), or simply stop being the wikileaks spokesman. However instead he seems to be pushing an editorial line that is focused on advancing an anarchist agenda and destroying the government of the United States.

From where I sit Wikileaks has become an organization focused on inflicting damage to the diplomatic interests and objectives of the United States government. This makes me very uncomfortable and I suspect it will lead to their destruction.
posted by humanfont at 9:03 AM on November 30, 2010


Wikileaks is not an American orginization and see things from a different perspective ie the rest of us. The closing ranks and political frothing is theatre which is hilarious as the leaks themselves show how much diplomacy is theatre; and how often it is $ diplomacy or gunboat diplomacy.

Indeed it is high comedy. You see, wikileaks has taken it upon themselves to act as an intelligence agency. They garnered it now they are releasing. The thing is, other agencies might treat wikileaks as a threat to domestic peace and that is not what wikileaks wants. IMO dump it all. But they are doing it piece-meal and that smacks of an agenda dispite all the concern about 'redaction'

The electorate of any democracy has a right to know what is done in their name.

It is called the freedom of information act.
posted by clavdivs at 9:09 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Odds are she'd not stop to consider that the book wasn't worth a public leaking.

Or, at least, not the kind of "public leaking" she had in mind.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:10 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


A dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel: Since 2007, the United States has mounted a highly secret effort, so far unsuccessful, to remove steal from a Pakistani research reactor highly enriched uranium that American officials fear hope could be diverted for use in an illicit American nuclear device.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:15 AM on November 30, 2010


It is called the freedom of information act.

You mean the Freedom to Heavily Redacted Information Provided You Know It Exists in the First Place and are Approved to View It or Don't Mind Waiting 75 Years Act?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:21 AM on November 30, 2010 [7 favorites]


Good news, everyone! The administration is trying to get nail Assange with the Espionage Act!

Change we can believe in!
posted by Joe Beese at 9:30 AM on November 30, 2010


If you don't think these leaks contain new information, you're not paying attention. Just today the NYTimes has two fantastic articles analyzing the documents: China's relationship with North Korea, US efforts to relocate Guantanamo prisoners. The 5 second soundbite of each article won't surprise you, but the depth and detail of both stories are fantastic. And they're largely sourced from the leaked documents.
posted by Nelson at 9:31 AM on November 30, 2010


It is called the freedom of information act.


Which is just one more reason everything gets stamped "secret".
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:37 AM on November 30, 2010


Sys Rq: is there a reason why the US would be interested in Pakistani HEU for our own use? We have plenty of our own, in addition to a mountain of plutonium.
posted by wierdo at 9:46 AM on November 30, 2010


Sys Rq: is there a reason why the US would be interested in Pakistani HEU for our own use? We have plenty of our own, in addition to a mountain of plutonium.

When this material is "removed" from Pakistan, what do you suppose will happen to it?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:51 AM on November 30, 2010


US efforts to relocate Guantanamo prisoners

Nuh-uh! I call shenanigans. We all know by now that the administration never made any serious efforts to keep its promise to relocate the Guantanamo prisoners and close the base! That was just another one of Obama's wily, crypto-right-winger window dressing measures. The Cato Institute told me so! Only the Tea Party and the Republicans can be trusted to protect our freedoms (well, unless you happen to be Muslim, in which case your last will and testament might have to be thrown out in court, but that's just incidental). I mean, give me a break!
posted by saulgoodman at 10:00 AM on November 30, 2010


Sys Rq wrote: "When this material is "removed" from Pakistan, what do you suppose will happen to it?"

It would either sit in a warehouse somewhere or get mixed with depleted uranium and sold to commercial reactors. What were you thinking would happen to it?
posted by wierdo at 10:04 AM on November 30, 2010


A dangerous standoff with Pakistan over nuclear fuel: Since 2007, the United States has mounted a highly secret effort, so far unsuccessful, to remove steal from a Pakistani research reactor highly enriched uranium that American officials fear hope could be diverted for use in an illicit American nuclear device.

What!? The US supplied this fuel to Pakistan in the first place, to support the country in developing a nuclear power industry (which it turns out they seem to have zero interest in). So there's a good argument that it's ours to begin with and was only on loan under certain conditions. As you may have noticed, Pakistan has had a very poor record in nuclear proliferation matters.

But even if you don't agree with that, why would we need to steal fuel from Pakistan if we wanted to make a nuke? We have large numbers of the things already that we built ourselves, and 'losing' one of them would be about 1000x easier than trying to covertly move a cargo of nuclear fuel around Pakistan. Are you thinking that by using fuel from Pakistan, we could mount a false-flag operation, so that the resulting nuclear device couldn't be identified as having American origin? Because we can find easier pretexts for invading a country if that's what you have in mind, and if you imagine such a device is intended for actual detonation then I think your expectations of post-blast forensic science might need to be revised downwards.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:25 AM on November 30, 2010


It would either sit in a warehouse somewhere or get mixed with depleted uranium and sold to commercial reactors. What were you thinking would happen to it?

This is precisely the point.

Why is it perfectly reasonable for the US to be cynical and paranoid about what Pakistan might do with this material? Why does America's cynicism and paranoia justify the theft of a foreign nation's resources? Why should the US have anything to do with Pakistani internal affairs? Why should anyone be less cynical and less paranoid about America's intentions when a) they're already known for having far more nuclear firepower than they could ever possibly need, and b) they would be obtaining these materials covertly?
posted by Sys Rq at 10:36 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


So why didn't you just say that?
posted by wierdo at 11:02 AM on November 30, 2010


Nelson, I certainly didn't mean to suggest that it's all old hat or uninteresting - what I've read so far is is very interesting, overall. Much of what is discussed in these cables (such as China's views on North Korea) could only be speculated about or inferred up to now. Of course some of these cables are speculative in themselves, but I'm not trying to split hairs; the official nature of these evaluations, conducted by professional diplomats and intelligence gatherers, is significant.

When I alluded to the material not being terribly new, I meant that so far I haven't seen much that a reasonably well-informed and worldly wise person with a serious interest in world affairs couldn't have guessed at as a probability or at least a possibility, as opposed to some 'Holy shit no way' revelation - although one or several of those might come tomorrow. Of course, truly startling information would be classified much more restrictively in the first place.

This is more like the normal workings of the geopolitical sausage factory rather than a once-in-a-lifetime fireworks display. Actually, one of the best consequences of the whole affair might be the de-mystification of how nations bump along. We consume so much entertainment media these days that perhaps we need to wean ourselves off the expectation of everything having a satisfying dramatic arc or defining some new superlative.

This is precisely the point. Why is it perfectly reasonable for the US to be cynical and paranoid about what Pakistan might do with this material?
Sys Rq, you don't have a point. A few hours ago you were suggesting the US wanted to steal this nuclear fuel in hopes of building a nuclear device. Now you've backed off from that, and are questioning US motives for even having an interest in Pakistan - despite that country's long record of nuclear brinksmanship, involvement in illicit nuclear proliferation (in defiance of treaty obligations), chronic political instability, and numerous other relevant factors. Look at a map, for heaven's sake: Pakistan and India are right next to each other, have long-running territorial and existential disputes, are both armed with nuclear weapons, both have large, poor, and poorly-educated populations, both have febrile populist politics which frequently involve angry mobs and mini-massacres, and both have underdeveloped institutions which are beset by corruption.

Maybe I'm going about this the wrong way, and should just look at it from your non-involvement perspective...What possible interest could the US have in the area? It's only a quarter of humanity and some loose nukes, right? We should probably just ignore events there completely, like a sensible country. Those people who felt worried during the small shooting war back in 1999, a mere year after both countries had conducted multiple nuclear tests - well, some folk just can't keep their noses out of other people's business. Whatever India and Pakistan do with their quasi-legal nuclear weapons doesn't affect us, so we should just stay out of it.

No, sorry, can't do it. I think, deep down, you want the US to reject power and the troubling responsibilities and moral ambiguities that come with it, but you can't un-know a capacity to act.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:46 AM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


In October of 2009, Assange revealed that Wikileaks was sitting on 5GB of data from a Bank of America executive's hard drive, which might well answer the "which bank" question you've been asking yourself.
posted by kipmanley at 11:58 AM on November 30, 2010


Good news, everyone! The administration is trying to get nail Assange with the Espionage Act!

Change we can believe in!


That sounds awfully civilized. Other countries would have just used a bullet to the head or tainted his soup with poison.
posted by humanfont at 12:29 PM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


No, sorry, can't do it. I think, deep down, you want the US to reject power and the troubling responsibilities and moral ambiguities that come with it, but you can't un-know a capacity to act.

"Reject power"? How about "Respect sovereignty"? How about dealing with instability in other parts of the world by not causing it in the first place with your oh-so-helpful "interventions"?

Look at a map, for heaven's sake

Try it yourself. Hullo, what's this pile of rubble right nextdoor, with every weapon in the world pointed at it, all inching ever closer to the Pakistani border? What's this nuclear power to the south? To the east? And this country to the west, what have they got? And what are all those ships in the Arabian sea?

But no, the US has a "responsibility" to disarm those uppity little nations who dare to reject the sort of helping hand the US has lent to Afghanistan and Iraq--those know-it-all smart-alecks who think the thousands of American nuclear warheads somehow illegitimizes whatever moral authority the US might claim to possess on the matter?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:39 PM on November 30, 2010


WikiLeaks just made the world more repressive

the damage done to Washington is nothing compared to the pain that is about to be inflicted on the confidential sources in Russia, China and Sudan.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:48 PM on November 30, 2010


From An Interview With WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange:
I wanted to ask you about [Peiter Zatko, a legendary hacker and security researcher who also goes by] “Mudge.”

Yeah, I know Mudge. He’s a very sharp guy.

Mudge is now leading a project at the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to find a technology that can stop leaks, which seems pretty relative to your organization. Can you tell me about your past relationship with Mudge?

Well, I…no comment.

Were you part of the same scene of hackers? When you were a computer hacker, you must have known him well.

We were in the same milieu. I spoke with everyone in that milieu.

What do you think of his current work to prevent digital leaks inside of organizations, a project called Cyber Insider Threat or Cinder?

I know nothing about it.

But what do you of the potential of any technology designed to prevent leaks?

Marginal.

What do you mean?

New formats and new ways of communicating are constantly cropping up. Stopping leaks is a new form of censorship. And in the same manner that very significant resources spent on China’s firewall, the result is that anyone who’s motivated can work around it. Not just the small fraction of users, but anyone who really wants to can work around it.

Censorship circumvention tools [like the program Tor] also focus on leaks. They facilitate leaking.

Airgapped networks are different. Where there’s literally no connection between the network and the internet. You may need a human being to carry something. But they don’t have to intentionally carry it. It could be a virus on a USB stick, as the Stuxnet worm showed, though it went in the other direction. You could pass the information out via someone who doesn’t know they’re a mule.

Back to Mudge and Cinder: Do you think, knowing his intelligence personally, that he can solve the problem of leaks?

No, but that doesn’t mean that the difficulty can’t be increased. But I think it’s a very difficult case, and the reason I suggest it’s an impossible case to solve completely is that most people do not leak. And the various threats and penalties already mean they have to be highly motivated to deal with those threats and penalties. These are highly motivated people. Censoring might work for the average person, but not for highly motivated people. And our people are highly motivated.

Mudge is a clever guy, and he’s also highly ethical. I suspect he would have concerns about creating a system to conceal genuine abuses.

But his goal of preventing leaks doesn’t differentiate among different types of content. It would stop whistleblowers just as much as it stops exfiltration of data by foreign hackers.

I’m sure he’ll tell you China spies on the U.S., Russia, France. There are genuine concerns about those powers exfiltrating data. And it’s possibly ethical to combat that process. But spying is also stabilizing to relationships. Your fears about where a country is or is not are always worse than the reality. If you only have a black box, you can put all your fears into it, particularly opportunists in government or private industry who want to address a problem that may not exist. If you know what a government is doing, that can reduce tensions.
IRC #hack continues its plan of world domination.
posted by scalefree at 1:19 PM on November 30, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ecuador offers a home for founder of WikiLeaks

"Any country want to make me an offer? I'm sure I can dig up something just as interesting as Proff if I had immunity. :)" - Chris "Erik Bloodaxe" Goggans
posted by scalefree at 1:30 PM on November 30, 2010


To riff on Manning's claim that his infodump would be "Climategate with a global scope, and breathtaking depth. It's beautiful, and horrifying.", consider this former State Department worker's assessment of Why Wikileaks Is Bad for Progressive Foreign Policy:
And back here within the U.S., you can count upon the opponents of progressive policies to use the Wikileaks dumps to advance their agenda. They'll take items out of context and use them to justify ideas like bombing Iran, rejecting the START treaty, and god-knows-what to North Korea. The Wikileakers claim to promote the politics of peace and moderation. But this latest dump could very easily have the opposite effect, by giving the absolutists a chance to spread their stereotypes and illusions of a black and white world.
Meanwhile, one can easily imagine operatives in the Guoanbu or SVR or SNSC or EGID, etc., etc. watching the fallout from Wikileaks' increasingly unwieldy releases and contemplating how best to feed them decontextualized disinformation.
posted by Doktor Zed at 1:40 PM on November 30, 2010


You mean the Freedom to Heavily Redacted Information Provided You Know It Exists in the First Place and are Approved to View It or Don't Mind Waiting 75 Years Act?
posted by Sys Rq


I am not sure to as the exact meaning is but I will put on the cynic cap. The idea, however opaque was to allow the average citizen to at least get a chance to see what is in a certain file. It is imperfect but if I had to think why this was done is to put some people alive at ease or what ever. i.e. access to the governments collection of domestic intelligence in thier life span this could also help families seeking such information.

Example: A sociologist told about his professor and his days of being on the F.B.I. "watch list"(1950s)
In one of the reports, which the his prof did receive, stated that "Subject was observed handing out complete copies of 'Hegel - Phenomenology of Mind' on the corner of..."
the class just gasped, outrage esp. when he showed them a 'tangible proof'...SPYING!
The prof just laughed
do you know why?

He also told me the first people 'rounded up" in a totalitarian regime are usually sociologists then the comedians. (he and i only ones laughing in class that day)
posted by clavdivs at 1:49 PM on November 30, 2010





WikiLeaks just made the world more repressive


Only if you believe that what the US has done in Iraq and Afghanistan aren't the most repressive things going on in the world right not.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:28 PM on November 30, 2010


Er, *right now*.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:30 PM on November 30, 2010




fredludd: "Interesting piece at the FAIR blog:

NYT Oversells WikiLeaks/Iranian Missiles Story
"

That really is a fascinating article. Maybe I'm naive, but it's always a bit of a shock to see how the media will often slant certain news items to further the reporter or the news outlet's agenda. Thanks to Wikileaks publishing the actual cable you can see the process in action there.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:07 PM on November 30, 2010


An Interpol red notice has been issued for Assange.

How long has it been since somebody I knew was on the run? Seems like old times.
posted by scalefree at 3:36 PM on November 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


look for the ripples not the pebbles
posted by The Lady is a designer at 3:50 PM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


KokuRyu : WikiLeaks just made the world more repressive"

"I am an aid worker [...] I was posted to Jakarta. My job was to find out as much as I could about the human rights abuses being committed by the Indonesian military"

No, you worked as a spy, and calling yourself an "aid worker" lets you sleep at night. You probably even did a lot of good things - But those good things came secondary to your real job (whether you knew it or not), that of gathering ammunition the West could use if we ever really cared enough about that region (read: find a natural resource we want) that ending the bloodshed would make our presence more convenient (to us).


More importantly, WikiLeaks didn't "make" anything happen. They didn't make the Indonesian government into a bunch of petty tyrants; they won't kill Chinese dissidents; they didn't go to war against Iraq in the face of evidence pointing a bit more South; they didn't "render" suspects to Jordan for torture; they didn't make the world more repressive.

All of those things, including those that will occur subsequent to the WikiLeaks dump, merely add punctuation to why we need fewer government secrets in the world.

Most people, caught lying, at least have the decency to act ashamed; Instead, world leaders have denounced WikiLeaks as "criminal" - for outing them as criminals. The response so far would completely amaze me, if cynicism hadn't made me expect as much.
posted by pla at 4:03 PM on November 30, 2010 [6 favorites]


keneko's link wins:
"This is however, not where Assange’s reasoning leads him. He decides, instead, that the most effective way to attack this kind of organization would be to make “leaks” a fundamental part of the conspiracy’s information environment. Which is why the point is not that particular leaks are specifically effective. Wikileaks does not leak something like the “Collateral Murder” video as a way of putting an end to that particular military tactic; that would be to target a specific leg of the hydra even as it grows two more. Instead, the idea is that increasing the porousness of the conspiracy’s information system will impede its functioning, that the conspiracy will turn against itself in self-defense, clamping down on its own information flows in ways that will then impede its own cognitive function. You destroy the conspiracy, in other words, by making it so paranoid of itself that it can no longer conspire."
posted by verb at 4:05 PM on November 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


You destroy the conspiracy, in other words, by making it so paranoid of itself that it can no longer conspire."

and the truth shall drive you insane
posted by philip-random at 4:31 PM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


To be clear, I'm not saying that Assange's take on undermining totalitarianism is correct, or justifiable, or laudable. That's a separate debate. But in reading the essays and interviews in which he explains his motivations (which are distinct and separate from the targeted leaks Ironmouth considers "ethical") it's clear that he and the other members of WikiLeaks are pursuing a clear ideological goal. Simply saying that Assange is a "narcissist" who leaks stuff to get attention, or that he's "careless" or that he's hypocritical make the mistake of assuming he's trying to change specific policies.

WikiLeaks is playing chess, not checkers. You can argue that the result is monstrous in its acceptance of possible collateral damage, but that forward thinking approach to the issue of communication and conspiracy is precisely why most governments are angry.

Journalists and citizens who treat the content of specific leaks (or the scope of specific information-dumps) as the story are missing the point. People who ask Assange who's hurt or helped by the release of specific pieces of information aren't paying attention. Just as the US Government holds that collateral damage is an acceptable price for regime change, WikiLeaks appears to revolve around the idea that collateral damage is an acceptable price for a conspiracy-resistant environment.

Earlier comments in this thread suggested that those who see Assange as anything but an international tantrum-thrower are trying to make him a hero. I think that's unfair -- it's possible to see his actions (and those of WikiLeaks as a whole, since it's definitely and organization beyond Assange) as part of a deliberate, reasoned campaign with specific goals and purposes and priorities. You don't have to agree with them, but pretending they're not there is dishonest, I think.
posted by verb at 4:51 PM on November 30, 2010 [5 favorites]


You can argue that the result is monstrous in its acceptance of possible collateral damage

It's that word "possible" which really gets to me. For all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about the Afghanistan documents, no-one has ever been able to show a single person was killed as a result of those leaks. On the other hand we know that many tens of thousands if not hundred of thousands of innocents have died in the last 10 years because of the invasion of Iraq. Which make me want to punch anyone in government decrying the former while ignoring the latter.
posted by Justinian at 5:27 PM on November 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


No, you worked as a spy, and calling yourself an "aid worker" lets you sleep at night.

Wow, that's some nice selective reading you did there. What the writer said is that he's currently an aid worker and formerly a Canadian diplomat. It's in the first damn paragraph of his op-ed.
posted by lullaby at 6:10 PM on November 30, 2010


lullaby : Wow, that's some nice selective reading you did there. What the writer said is that he's currently an aid worker and formerly a Canadian diplomat. It's in the first damn paragraph of his op-ed.

You mean, the first two paragraphs from which I quoted?

Yeah, read it. "Diplomat" tries to spin his job history as good deeds, and oh look, his new job title sounds vaguely humanitarian, film at 11.

Like I said, whatever lies he has to tell himself to sleep at night. Just don't expect the rest of the world to play along, Mr. Humanitarian.

BTW, what he describes as the result of his communiques going public? They actually count as a plausible reality, ie, Miss Teacher played him for a chump by showing him exactly what both he and the Timorese wanted him to see - Pictures of dug-up graves don't prove who put the bodies in them. Funny thing about secrecy, it cuts both ways. Note that I don't consider this likely, but "the good guys" throughout history have done worse to promote their cause.
posted by pla at 6:44 PM on November 30, 2010


Is this a framing-for-rape-or-murder kit, just in case?

Interpol has alerted member states to arrest the 39-year-old Australian on suspicion of rape on the basis of a Swedish warrant.

I thought the rape thing was done and dusted? That it was all BS?

No, you worked as a spy, and calling yourself an "aid worker" lets you sleep at night.

I reckon Care Australia [run by a former Prime Minister, who himself is part of a theory that the CIA installed him into power] is full of spies.

One fella, ex army, got caught red handed. His lamest of lame excuses was that he was accidentally writing down troop movements because he used to be in the army and he was kinda, um, like, doodling and not really thinking.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:26 PM on November 30, 2010


Just as the US Government holds that collateral damage is an acceptable price for regime change, WikiLeaks appears to revolve around the idea that collateral damage is an acceptable price for a conspiracy-resistant environment.

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:47 PM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


More importantly, WikiLeaks didn't "make" anything happen. They didn't make the Indonesian government into a bunch of petty tyrants; they won't kill Chinese dissidents

I didn't execute the dissident, I merely provided his name to the secret police! What do you mean I have blood on my hands?
posted by Dasein at 7:57 PM on November 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


no-one has ever been able to show a single person was killed as a result of those leaks

You see that gets me. 'no-one', as in a journalist, an independent source such an aid worker?
would the CIA tell us, The Taliban? How do you know? I would venture they have not. Iraq invaded 2003.

most of it is chaff IMO and it will just wiggle diplomatic chains, make new 'rabbit holes' and the international diplomatic community will band together. Then what? BOA? We would all love to see that. Then what... Canada... Russia...China.
what about context. VENONA. Ellsberg. Room 40. Central Trunk.

Verb: WikiLeaks appears to revolve around the idea that collateral damage is an acceptable price for a conspiracy-resistant environment.

Hence they are acting De-Facto as an Intelligence agency or...?

Example of were this might led.
"FBI's Alan Belmont considered that, although decryption might corroborate the testimony of Elizabeth Bentley and enable successful prosecution...
As stated earlier, the Belmont's memo offered a number of reasons why it was uncertain whether or not the Venona project information should be revealed and admitted into evidence.
A major hurdle was a question of law."

Much different case and the espionage was done by a nation-state not to mention the question of VENONAs' validity. If a design is intended for these leaks, it is to have those who are "guilty" not be able to defend themselves if prosecuted because you need to call in the cryptographers and that wont do.
quite ingenious really.
posted by clavdivs at 8:17 PM on November 30, 2010


'and if Prosecuted'
posted by clavdivs at 8:18 PM on November 30, 2010


Brief History of the 'Bug'. (topic related!)
posted by clavdivs at 9:14 PM on November 30, 2010


look for the ripples not the pebbles
posted by The Lady is a designer

Bingo!

Literary analysis:
'Deduction and it's Fallacy'

"An old soldier, I perceive," said Sherlock.
"And very recently discharged," remarked the brother.
"Served in India, I see."
"And a non-commissioned officer."
"Royal Artillery, I fancy," said Sherlock.
"And a widower."
"But with a child."
"Children, my dear boy, children."
"Come," said I, laughing, this is a little too much."

(As The men go back to discussion, The Professor hands off basket then ambles down the street the Diogenes club erupts from something or Moran takes a shot with his big mean gun.)

yes, way off track or off his lines.

Diplomacy is not fiction though it reads like it.
posted by clavdivs at 9:32 PM on November 30, 2010


Given the exponentially growing pile of data that everyone is generating (government, business, etc) and the ease of moving huge piles of data around these days, something like Wikileaks was bound to happen at some point, right? Even without Assange. They don't have any particularly special tech, they just have an idea that wouldn't have been practical before this decade.

It seems like this is a phase we're going through when governments and business have to come to terms with what it means to have tons of data and no really reliable way of securing it.

The ultimate solution is either to accept the risk of huge leaks (and hence grudgingly accept more transparency) or just stop writing things down altogether (not really possible, these days). What else can possibly come out of this?

(Sure, the really important stuff can be encrypted and access very carefully monitored, but thats expensive to do on a wide scale with widely distributed data, and will remain so).
posted by memebake at 5:38 AM on December 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


The ultimate solution is either to accept the risk of huge leaks (and hence grudgingly accept more transparency) or just stop writing things down altogether (not really possible, these days). What else can possibly come out of this?

Mentats.
posted by scalefree at 5:54 AM on December 1, 2010 [5 favorites]


A group of former members of WikiLeaks is planning to launch its own whistleblowing platform in mid-December, according to a German newspaper. The activists criticize WikiLeaks for concentrating too much on the US and want to take a broader approach
posted by adamvasco at 6:19 AM on December 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Good news. I've long wondered whether Wikileaks focuses on the US because they have an unhealthy obsession or if we're just more prone to leaks. I guess that answers the question, or at least hints at an answer..
posted by wierdo at 6:24 AM on December 1, 2010


I dunno; there are secrets everywhere to be outed. —But considering the shift to a multivalent balance of world power has a ways yet to go, complaints about WikiLeaks' seeming obsession with the US make me think of Sutton's law:
"Why do you rob banks, Willie?"

"Because that's where the money is."
posted by kipmanley at 6:34 AM on December 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I didn't execute the dissident, I merely provided his name to the secret police! What do you mean I have blood on my hands?

Right, right. What was his name again?
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 7:15 AM on December 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Mike Huckabee or Tom Flanagan ?
posted by adamvasco at 7:25 AM on December 1, 2010


"Why do you rob banks, Willie?"

"Because that's where the money is."
posted by kipmanley at.

Sutton did not directly say this.
posted by clavdivs at 7:59 AM on December 1, 2010


(not) I, Willie Sutton
posted by clavdivs at 8:04 AM on December 1, 2010


Yeah, and Ransom Stoddard never shot Liberty Valance neither, clavdivs.

Actually, it's Sutton's law itself that I think is more to the point, especially given the explication of the WikiLeaks philosophy linked above:
When diagnosing, one should first consider the obvious.
When focussed on attacking hegemonic power, one should, y'know, attack the hegemony. —I quoted the Sutton legend because witty.
posted by kipmanley at 9:09 AM on December 1, 2010


You see that gets me. 'no-one', as in a journalist, an independent source such an aid worker? would the CIA tell us, The Taliban? How do you know?

I mean anyone, anyone. If it could be shown that anyone was killed as a result of Wikileaks' actions, you can be your bottom dollar that the US government would have been trumpeting it from the rooftops. It would have become the greatest tragedy in the history of mankind. Wikileaks would be portrayed as the most murderous murdering murderers who ever murdered anyone. That we have not heard such a thing is good evidence that there is nothing to hear.
posted by Justinian at 11:02 AM on December 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


kipmaley:
which might well answer the "which bank" question you've been asking yourself.
at 2:58 PM on November 30 in response to:

'In October of 2009, Assange revealed that Wikileaks was sitting on 5GB of data from a Bank of America executive's hard drive'

'A similar idea is contained in the physician's adage, "When you hear hoofbeats behind you, think horses, not zebras."'

read that in a qoute in a thread somewere. I understood you witty and think it is applicable to wikileaks "sitting on the gold" as i alluded to earlier.

When focussed on attacking hegemonic power, one should, y'know, attack the hegemony.

It is a tactic and strategy.

'to meet your point A more thorough analysis will consider the false positive rate of the test and the possibility that a less likely diagnosis might have more serious consequences.'
Ibid.

I believe your refering to this by 'hegmony'. not looking to use suttons law en masse but it is apt IMO. I apoligize if i have offended.

(my point: there is more of a back story to suttons quoate, there 2 sources who heard willie say this in real life but he decided to say..."never said it. My source 'I, Willy Stutton' which is even contested in historical circles but the premise holds IMO and 'Where the Money Was')
posted by clavdivs at 11:21 AM on December 1, 2010


Wikileaks would be portrayed as the most murderous murdering murderers who ever murdered anyone. That we have not heard such a thing is good evidence that there is nothing to hear.

Justinian. I agree. It seems self evident at this point. but i just have the news to rely upon, not diplomatic cables...well...

no offense.




posted by clavdivs at 11:27 AM on December 1, 2010


This is the transcript of TIME managing editor Richard Stengel's interview with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange via Skype on Nov. 30, 2010.
posted by adamvasco at 12:06 PM on December 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


Can someone explain to me why Interpol put Assange on the red list right now? Hasn't he had the warrant since just after the Afghanistan documents were released? I'm wondering if there is at least a fig leaf of justification for the timing or if it's just a blatant campaign to discredit Wikileaks and Assange. Note: I'm asking about the timing which has nothing to do with the truth or falsity of any charges against Assange.
posted by Justinian at 12:17 PM on December 1, 2010


Justinian, that would depend on knowing Assanges' plans to protect himself by legal means with regards to stated time reference, the variables to that question fall to assumption or deduction. 'Discredit' would be a continued operation, any knew avenues to discredit him would not come from open source and would only compound what the "discreditation" IMO.
posted by clavdivs at 1:14 PM on December 1, 2010


Instead, the idea is that increasing the porousness of the conspiracy’s information system will impede its functioning, that the conspiracy will turn against itself in self-defense, clamping down on its own information flows in ways that will then impede its own cognitive function. You destroy the conspiracy, in other words, by making it so paranoid of itself that it can no longer conspire.

Either that or they turn on you & take you out instead. It's risky because there's a significant danger of creating a martyr & popularizing the movement. But if it's done by|attributed to someone with a hardass reputation like Russia, that could divert the reactionary wave that might otherwise arise after his fall.
posted by scalefree at 1:18 PM on December 1, 2010


Can someone explain to me why Interpol put Assange on the red list right now?

A borderline sexual assault where the main claim is that he didn't wear a condom clearly doesn't merit this level of attention, there's no question this is purely political. Which gives his lawyers an opening to argue against extradition. He may be slippery but he's not bin Laden, they should've waited for somebody to make a substantial charge on the substance of the leaks.
posted by scalefree at 1:25 PM on December 1, 2010


If he is extradited to Sweden maybe he is easier to be disposed of, especially as the Russian stuff has just been released. State Department, Pentagon etc does not want Justice only Revenge.
posted by adamvasco at 1:58 PM on December 1, 2010


If he is extradited to Sweden maybe he is easier to be disposed of, especially as the Russian stuff has just been released. State Department, Pentagon etc does not want Justice only Revenge.

Assange is gone. Vanished from the face of the earth. He won't be picked up, he will exist as phantom on skype and irc, but he'll never be seen again except in rumor. This is how it's done.
posted by humanfont at 2:30 PM on December 1, 2010


Assange is Keyser Soze.
posted by Justinian at 2:50 PM on December 1, 2010


To be clear, I'm not saying that Assange's take on undermining totalitarianism is correct, or justifiable, or laudable. That's a separate debate. But in reading the essays and interviews in which he explains his motivations (which are distinct and separate from the targeted leaks Ironmouth considers "ethical") it's clear that he and the other members of WikiLeaks are pursuing a clear ideological goal. Simply saying that Assange is a "narcissist" who leaks stuff to get attention, or that he's "careless" or that he's hypocritical make the mistake of assuming he's trying to change specific policies.

WikiLeaks is playing chess, not checkers.


Dude called for the resignation of Hillary Clinton today for "spying at the UN". That's checkers. That's trying to change a specific policy. So, no, not so.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:49 PM on December 1, 2010


How did you manage to read "UN" as "Iran"? here is an article about the US spying on the UN leadership, including attempting to acquire DNA.


Let's break down your claim, shall we?

It called for detailed biometric information "on key UN officials, to include undersecretaries, heads of specialised agencies and their chief advisers, top SYG [secretary general] aides, heads of peace operations and political field missions, including force commanders" as well as intelligence on Ban's "management and decision-making style and his influence on the secretariat". A parallel intelligence directive sent to diplomats in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi said biometric data included DNA, fingerprints and iris scans.


Nowhere is it said that they were attempting to get UN diplomats DNA. NOWHERE. It says that they were told to get "biometric" information. In no place does it say DNA. Instead, it says a "parallel" program in DRC, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi asked for DNA and iris scans and all of that.

Indeed, that's the only possible interpretation of the facts. The data collected in Africa would have to be collected voluntarily. It is US policy in Afghanistan and Iraq too, for people who give walk-in information. Ever see an Iris Scanner? You can't exactly sneak up on people and get it. Nor can you just grab DNA from anyone. You have to actually contact the target to get it. You can't grab it off a desk because you cannot be sure you are actually taking DNA from the person. Nor would a diplomat in the UN be executing a covert operation to snatch DNA from anyone. What's the guy gonna do, say "oh, your hair is out of place Mr. Iranian Diplomat, let me fix that" and then reach over and pull a hair out of his head. The premise is simply ridiculous. A premise that isn't even backed up by facts.

I'm not saying these programs are wrong or right, I leave that up to the reader. But telling people facts that simply are not true is not the right way to do this. I don't ask that you agree with me. I ask that you not be sloppy.

As for my mistake regarding who said what, I got confused, and agreed I had misquoted the other poster when it was you who had continued, again and again to insist that DNA was taken from diplomats. There's no evidence for that. I ask simply that you retract that claim, as the facts you cite do not even cite the proposition you advance.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:01 PM on December 1, 2010


Wikileaks is not an American orginization and see things from a different perspective ie the rest of us

America is an American organization. The idea that it is wrong for the US to work to stem these leaks is ludicrous. I don't care what its point of view is. I want it stopped.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:06 PM on December 1, 2010


why is a small number of speculative, hypothetical deaths (of which zero are known to have occurred) so much worse then the thousands and thousands of people who have actually died due to our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan

That would be our old friend American Exceptionalism again.

See, when we unintentionally get thousands of people killed, it's "regrettable" but in the service of "freedom".

If Assange unintentionally gets one person killed, it will be "reckless" and in the service of "hating America".


This is such a false equivalence, I don't even know where to start. Your argument is that it is wrong to say that Assange is risking people's lives and that's bad because the US is killing people in its wars all of the time.

But the problem is this. Is there any evidence that somehow, Assange leaking this info will stop even one person from getting killed ever? He's not. Any link would be so attenuated as to make it unmeasurable at best and non-existent at worst. You can't even get close to proving such a thing. Since he is not going to save a single life, why is it right for him to risk the lives of others to go off on his crusade?

There is simply no excuse.

Indeed, you guys are killing someone so its OK that I risk killing someone is pure illogic.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:12 PM on December 1, 2010


scalefree wrote: A borderline sexual assault where the main claim is that he didn't wear a condom clearly doesn't merit this level of attention

I understood that the allegationS (plural) were that intercourse began with a condom but that he continued having sex on each occasion after the condom broke. But neither you nor I know the details, so perhaps we should wait before jumping to his defense.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:31 PM on December 1, 2010


From The Economist:
The basic question is not whether we think Julian Assange is a terrorist or a hero. The basic question certainly is not whether we think exposing the chatter of the diplomatic corps helps or hinders their efforts, and whether this is a good or bad thing. To continue to focus on these questions is to miss the forest for the texture of the bark on a single elm. If we take the inevitability of future large leaks for granted, then I think the debate must eventually centre on the things that will determine the supply of leakers and leaks. Some of us wish to encourage in individuals the sense of justice which would embolden them to challenge the institutions that control our fate by bringing their secrets to light. Some of us wish to encourage in individuals ever greater fealty and submission to corporations and the state in order to protect the privileges and prerogatives of the powerful, lest their erosion threaten what David Brooks calls "the fragile community"—our current, comfortable dispensation.
posted by verb at 4:33 PM on December 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would actually have a lot more sympathy with Ironmouth's position if he weren't pro-whistleblower in other situations. He alternates between saying that Assange's approach to disseminating leaked data is what makes him a bad man, then makes arguments that only hold together if the reason for disseminating the leaked data is the point of contention.
Is there any evidence that somehow, Assange leaking this info will stop even one person from getting killed ever?
There is no evidence that it will cause anyone to get killed, either. You've boldly asserted that it will, while others boldly assert that it will save lives in the long run. Both statements appear to be based on nothing more than a strong opinion about the goodness and/or badness of Assange's goals. Repetition of your assertions does not make them any more factual.

If you believe that the potential risk of as-of-yet-unleaked-data getting people killed outweighs the potential benefit of leaked data preventing actions that would result in deaths, then make the case for it. It's all hypotheticals, but you're trying to pretend that only the upside is hypothetical.
posted by verb at 4:50 PM on December 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


But the problem is this. Is there any evidence that somehow, Assange leaking this info will stop even one person from getting killed ever? He's not. Any link would be so attenuated as to make it unmeasurable at best and non-existent at worst. You can't even get close to proving such a thing. Since he is not going to save a single life, why is it right for him to risk the lives of others to go off on his crusade?

Um, I'm pretty sure one effect the "crusade" will have is to inform citizens of certain democracies of what their governments are doing. Perhaps those citizens will be alarmed by the governmental behaviour in question and be moved enough to want to put an end to it. You know, like an informed electorate might do.

Just a thought.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:38 PM on December 1, 2010


Indeed, you guys are killing someone so its OK that I risk killing someone is pure illogic.

World War II: pure illogic.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:45 PM on December 1, 2010


I understood that the allegationS (plural) were that intercourse began with a condom but that he continued having sex on each occasion after the condom broke. But neither you nor I know the details, so perhaps we should wait before jumping to his defense.

Either way it's not something that warrants an Interpol Red Notice. He's not a notorious condom-breaker or anything, it's purely retaliation for WikiLeaks. From Interpol's fact sheet (PDF):
In accordance with INTERPOL’s rules, the General Secretariat can only publish a notice if it is satisfied that all the conditions for processing the information have been fulfilled. For example, a notice will not be published if it violates Article 3 of the Constitution, which forbids the Organization from undertaking any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character. In addition, the General Secretariat retains the right to refuse to publish a notice that it considers unadvisable, or a risk to international police co-operation, the Organization, its staff, or its member countries.
posted by scalefree at 5:46 PM on December 1, 2010


(Indeed, the justification for the war in Iraq makes that "pure illogic" look like the Golden Rule by comparison.)
posted by Sys Rq at 5:47 PM on December 1, 2010


Everyone knows everyone else does it. It's just this time it went public. It will be business as usual before you know it. Everyone will become fake friends again.

This is like walking in on someone when they're having a wank. Or opening the toilet cubicle at work to find a colleague mid-shit who had forgotten to lock the door. It's not going to affect your relationship, coz you're thinking: that could be me sitting there with my pants around my ankles, parking one out the back.

I walking in on a really senior manager taking a crap one day. Dopey bugger didn't lock the door. Great big fat fella, he was.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 6:58 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Or, to put it in a fancy-Nancy Latin way, pinched from the Steve Tucker thread. Fits perfectly here:

honi soit qui mal y pense

Thanks, labberdasher. My new favorite motto now.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:03 PM on December 1, 2010


Scalefree, Julian Assange is apparently alleged to have had sex on two occasions with unwilling women. Surely people get arrested for this sort of thing where you come from?
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:16 PM on December 1, 2010


fancy-Nancy Latin

Old French, actually.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:32 PM on December 1, 2010


So it looks like the rumor I heard about the Americans in Georgia was wrong: they seem to have been sincerely confused about what was happening, and in fact Saakashvili seems to have bamboozled them completely. I would like to see that (apparently) top-secret SITREP 1, though.

This is also an interesting cable, which suggests to me that the embassy folks in Tbilisi have either developed a profound and sincere sympathy for Saakashvili or have been the target of a well-organized agitprop campaign by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. (Which, obviously, doesn't mean they're wrong about the facts.)
posted by nasreddin at 8:35 PM on December 1, 2010


Thanks, Sys Rq. I stupidly assumed motto = Latin.

Veritas vincit!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:44 PM on December 1, 2010


Scalefree, Julian Assange is apparently alleged to have had sex on two occasions with unwilling women. Surely people get arrested for this sort of thing where you come from?

Sure they do. But they don't get put on international extradition lists for it. It'd be a difficult case to try under the best of circumstances; the initially willing women became unwilling while having sex with him. I'm no lawyer but that's not a foundation you want to build a case on. If it was anyone else but Proff, it's unlikely there would've been charges brought in the first place & certainly no international extradition warrant sworn out. This was a political act, which is against Interpol's charter.
posted by scalefree at 9:14 PM on December 1, 2010


Veritas liberabit vos, uh.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:15 PM on December 1, 2010


Article 3 of the Constitution, which forbids the Organization from undertaking any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character

The Charge, does it match that criteria? Not The mans 'political, military, religious or racial character' but the charge itself.

The motto of the CIA, engraved on the floor of the lobby at Langley, is John 8:32: "...Ye shall know the truth and it shall set you free."
posted by clavdivs at 10:43 PM on December 1, 2010


Scalefree wrote: It'd be a difficult case to try under the best of circumstances; the initially willing women became unwilling while having sex with him.

What? No. It's like any other rape case that consists largely of one person's word against another person's. In this case, allegedly, against two others. I don't know anything about Swedish law but in Australia it doesn't make any difference whether consent was withdrawn while on the way home, walking into a bedroom, or in the middle of intercourse.

As for the matter of proof, two complainants with similar stories are a lot more convincing than one. But until someone leaks some more information - or until Mr Assange is committed for trial - we won't actually know the salacious details.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:04 PM on December 1, 2010


I don't care what its point of view is. I want it stopped

So, again, we get back to the truth: like KokuRyu, you're rooting for your empire, which you've decided are the good guys, and all the bullshit about "people might die" is just concern trolling.
posted by rodgerd at 12:21 AM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


^ I don't care what its point of view is. I want it stopped
Please assure us that you are are not taking the line of the intended Presidential candidate Huckabee calling for the execution of Assange.
This says more about the the way your Politicians view Freedom than any leaked cable.
The reactions are proving to be as interesting if not more so than the actual infodump.
From todays Guardian
But in any case the United States is the centre of a global empire, a state with a military presence in most countries which arrogates to itself the role of world leader and policeman.
When genuine checks on how it exercises that entirely undemocratic power are so weak at home, let alone in the rest of the world it still dominates, it's both inevitable and right that people everywhere will try to find ways to challenge and hold it to account.
posted by adamvasco at 1:08 AM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth : The idea that it is wrong for the US to work to stem these leaks is ludicrous.

No. "Ludicrous" describes our leaders attacking the messenger.

The correct response has them grovelling in public for the forgiveness of the American (and other) people, and begging us not to string them all up for violating what little trust we had in them.

To see these worthless pieces of shit talk about possible charges against WikiLeaks for making them look bad... Y'know, with every new year, I think I just can't get any more cynical about government. And every new year proves me wrong.
posted by pla at 3:26 AM on December 2, 2010




James Fallows says that the COmmerce Department has warned its employees that Executive Order 13526 (issued December 2009) means that the WikiLeaks cables are still classified. He goes on to quote an assistant dean from BU law school who warned his students that quoting or commenting on these documents may make it harder for them to get security clearances - which are necessary for many government jobs.

Incidentally, my reading of the Executive Order is that it is illegal for any federal worker (defined very broadly) to not only publish, not only talk about, but even read any of the WikiLeaked cables.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:29 AM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]




Obama and GOPers Worked Together to Kill Bush Torture Probe

from the link:

The Americans, according to this cable, "underscored that the prosecutions would not be understood or accepted in the US and would have an enormous impact on the bilateral relationship" between Spain and the United States. Here was a former head of the GOP and a representative of a new Democratic administration (headed by a president who had decried the Bush-Cheney administration's use of torture) jointly applying pressure on Spain to kill the investigation of the former Bush officials.

Has everyone got that?

It is no longer merely that Obama has passively failed to prosecute Bush-era torturers - despite his legal obligation to do so under the terms of the Geneva Convention.

He has actively bullied an ally out of their own prosecution.

And you know what that means?

A person who learns of the crime after it is committed and helps the criminal to conceal it, or aids the criminal in escaping, or simply fails to report the crime, is known as an "accessory after the fact".

I hope Obama's apologists enjoy their health care bill.

---

Scott Horton:

Diplomats routinely monitor and report on legal cases that affect national interests. These cables show that the U.S. embassy in Madrid had far exceeded this mandate, however, and was actually successfully steering the course of criminal investigations, the selection of judges, and the conduct of prosecutors. Their disclosure has created deep concern about the independence of judges in Spain and the manipulation of the entire criminal justice system by a foreign power.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:36 AM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]






598 cables released out of 251,287 and this story keeps getting bigger and bigger.
posted by memebake at 9:56 AM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


The day that Barack Obama lied to me

Presidents lie all the time, unfortunately, but in this case candidate Barack Obama lied to my face in April 2008, when he came to 400 North Broad Street here in Philadelphia and I had a chance to ask him directly how he would handle allegations of torture and related crimes by the Bush administration.

Here's part of how he responded:
What I would want to do is to have my Justice Department and my Attorney General immediately review the information that's already there and to find out are there inquiries that need to be pursued.

posted by Joe Beese at 10:22 AM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


I would actually have a lot more sympathy with Ironmouth's position if he weren't pro-whistleblower in other situations.

Why, so that he can fit your idea of what the only two possible positions are? Ironmouth's position, as I understand it, is perfectly clear and consistent: Whistleblowing, where you have specific information about wrongdoing that's being kept secret and you're going public with it because it needs to be known, is a good thing. But releasing a random collection of unreviewed secret documents that might or might not contain evidence of wrongdoing is not whistleblowing.

Wikileaks aren't releasing these documents because they've reviewed them and found that they contain information about govenment wrongdoing. There's no way that they've actually seriously reveiwed a quarter of a million documents and found that they all contain information that should be made public. Leaks are only good when the specific documents being leaked have been carefully reviewed (by people who are familiar with the underlying issues), and leaking them has been found to be in the public interest.
posted by klausness at 11:51 AM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


klausness wrote: "Wikileaks aren't releasing these documents because they've reviewed them and found that they contain information about govenment wrongdoing. There's no way that they've actually seriously reveiwed a quarter of a million documents and found that they all contain information that should be made public."

Where is this canard coming from? Where can I get this collection of a quarter million documents? Oh, right, they haven't all been released. Go figure.
posted by wierdo at 12:54 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wikileaks aren't releasing these documents because they've reviewed them and found that they contain information about govenment wrongdoing.

The Secretary of State ordered spying on UN diplomats, in violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

High-level US representatives - almost certainly acting at the direction of the President - threatened an ally into stopping prosecution of torture, in violation of the Geneva Convention.

Neither of these strike you as "government wrongdoing"?
posted by Joe Beese at 1:00 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


But releasing a random collection of unreviewed secret documents that might or might not contain evidence of wrongdoing is not whistleblowing.

So you feel that they just selected a random subset of documents and published them without ever looking at them? Do you have some sort of evidence of that?

The increasing drumbeat out of Washington and echoed by some on this thread for treating Wikileaks as some sort of enemy of the state means that I'm pretty sure we're going to see some of the newly assumed and awarded state powers used to oppress people for whom it was never intended. I would bet it won't be long before Wikileaks is judged to be a terrorist organization and anyone contributing money to them will be held criminally liable under the PATRIOT Act. Unfortunately, this will not convince the believers of the insidiousness of the current climate and legal situation. I fear the thinking will be Wikileaks evil => contributors evil, so why should I be concerned about prosecution of contributors. I am very afraid for our republic that Franklin was so skeptical we could keep.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:15 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


we're going to see some of the newly assumed and awarded state powers used to oppress people for whom it was never intended

Glennzilla:
That Joe Lieberman is abusing his position as Homeland Security Chairman to thuggishly dictate to private companies which websites they should and should not host -- and, more important, what you can and cannot read on the Internet -- is one of the most pernicious acts by a U.S. Senator in quite some time. ...

Note that Lieberman here is desperate to prevent American citizens -- not The Terrorists -- from reading the WikiLeaks documents which shed light on what the U.S. Government is doing. His concern is domestic consumption. By his own account, he did this to "send a message to other companies that might host WikiLeaks" not to do so. No matter what you think of WikiLeaks, they have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime; Lieberman literally wants to dictate -- unilaterally -- what you can and cannot read on the Internet, to prevent Americans from accessing documents that much of the rest of the world is freely reading.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:27 PM on December 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


High-level US representatives - almost certainly acting at the direction of the President - threatened an ally into stopping prosecution of torture, in violation of the Geneva Convention.
Yeah, but you can't prove that leaking that information directly prevented any deaths.
posted by verb at 2:30 PM on December 2, 2010


joe beese: almost certainly acting at the direction of the President

Prove it.

The Secretary of State ordered spying on UN diplomats, in violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

Then all nations should release recorded violations and charge them. Then you will see a problem arising from the empirical fact of space.
posted by clavdivs at 2:49 PM on December 2, 2010


Prove it.

Yeah, you're probably right. The US embassy's charge d'affaires was probably acting unilaterally when he threatened an ally. That's not the kind of thing anyone would contact the White House for guidance about.

Besides, for the President to have wanted this would be contrary to the zealous pursuit of justice for Bush-era torturers that has marked the rest of his administration.

At any rate, we'll know for sure when the President - having belatedly learned of this shocking "off the reservation" behavior - publicly apologizes to Spain for our interference in their criminal justice system.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:13 PM on December 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


Prove it.

Well officials from his administration were involved...usually presidents are supposed to be responsible for the actions of people under their administration. So while he may not have personally called the embassy officials in Madrid and commanded them to lean on the Spaniards he certainly bears responsibility for the actions of his administration. Are you going to also argue that Regan wasn't responsible for the clusterfuck in Nicaragua because we can't prove he directly ordered Oliver North to bypass the Boland Amendment?

Then all nations should release recorded violations and charge them. Then you will see a problem arising from the empirical fact of space.

I wasn't aware that the rule of law worked in such a way that before you can prosecute a crime you have to first make sure everybody else committing the same crime is also indicted before proceeding. I think your logic is a little flawed there. I suppose, Returning to the Regan analogy, we shouldn't have investigated or prosecuted anyone for the Iran Contra affair because all of the other black operations going on in the world at the time weren't common knowledge.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 3:34 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Joe Beese : At any rate, we'll know for sure when the President - having belatedly learned of this shocking "off the reservation" behavior - publicly apologizes to Spain for our interference in their criminal justice system.

Aww, c'mon, man, I wanted to drink that beer, not spray it all over my keyboard from laughing too hard!
posted by pla at 3:38 PM on December 2, 2010


Joe Beese wrote: The US embassy's charge d'affaires was probably acting unilaterally when he threatened an ally. That's not the kind of thing anyone would contact the White House for guidance about.


Yes, and we now know that this is a regular pattern of behavior: Spain, Germany, and Italy - Italy actually was punished for its independence. And then there's your Secretary of State who wants her underlings to steal credit card numbers, and the apparent desire to blackmail the British Prime Minister for having once shared a flat with a gay man. I don't think people are really coming to grips with the awful, awful stench that's coming from these exposed US operations.

Just picture this: Hillary Clinton is meeting with Ecuador's Foreign Minister to lecture him about something or other. At the start of the talk he silently removes his wallet and slides a credit card across the table. I can't imagine any way she could restore her moral authority.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:50 PM on December 2, 2010 [5 favorites]


Oh, here's a good one: the US Army charged a 15% "handling fee" on money its allies donated to build up the Afghan army. Oh yes - and Germany would like to find out why the US Army seems to have pocketed the other 85% as well.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:10 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


And the laughs just keep on coming:

The sarcasm drips off the page in this April 2009 WikiLeaks cable that was pre-approved by the Office of the Vice President:
"Vice President Biden described the complex nature of the security problem in Afghanistan, commenting that besides the demography, geography and history of the region, we have a lot going for us."

posted by Joe Beese at 4:33 PM on December 2, 2010


The article you linked to regarding the Army indicates that this was not charging 15% fee, it was a misunderstanding regarding a reserve account.

Regarding the Spanish, our ambassador and officials told them the truth, there would serious political and diplomatic repercussions in our relationship if Spain brought charges against American officials. The headlines of Spanish prosecutors indict former US officials would create yet another domstic political shit storm for Obama.

I don't see why a Spanish Prosecutor should be the one to start indicting American officials. I mean have they settled their problems with the Basques, the Catalans and solved their debt crisis that is destroying the Euro? Perhaps they should focus on the big enouirnous problems, give us an ETA for resolution then we can talk about Cheney.
posted by humanfont at 4:46 PM on December 2, 2010


Humanfont wrote: The article you linked to regarding the Army indicates that this was not charging 15% fee, it was a misunderstanding regarding a reserve account.

My citation was absolutely accurate. Here's the sub-headline of the article I linked to: Berlin claims that €50m contribution disappeared into US treasury coffers with 15% 'administrative fee' taken by army. If you read the article, that's just what it says, and if you read the cable, that's exactly what the Germans said.

Can you tell me who fed you the talking point you just recited?
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:02 PM on December 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


The US embassy's charge d'affaires was probably acting

prove it.
(that was for Joe Beese)
posted by clavdivs at 5:44 PM on December 2, 2010


Joe Beese:
the burden of prove is on you to prove these things you relize that. I only need to ask the question.
posted by clavdivs at 5:49 PM on December 2, 2010


prove it.

Ummmm...the leak kinda proves the DCM was acting. Was he acting on direct orders from the president? I don't know and neither do you. Either way the DCM to which the cable refers is only 3 levels removed from the president; as the DCM answers to the U.S. Ambassador, who answers to the Secretary of State, who answers to the President. Therefore we do know that he was acting on orders from the Ambassador, who was acting on orders from the Secretary of State who was acting on orders from the POTUS. However you cut it Obama is responsible for the actions of the people under him either through giving a direct order to lean on the Spanish or through sheer incompetence for letting a DCM act of his own volition with no directive from the State Department.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:04 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't see why a Spanish Prosecutor should be the one to start indicting American officials.

I guess they were upset that their citizens were tortured in our prison.

You know how excitable Spaniards are.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:55 PM on December 2, 2010 [8 favorites]


Clavdivs, it is hardly conceivable that a charge d'affaires would threaten the representative of an allied government without explicit instructions to do so. But if that's what happened, it happened three times in three countries, and the consequences for Italy when it disobeyed the warning were so well known that the Deputy Chief of Mission in Germany expressly mentioned them when threatening that country's representative.

I suppose it's possible that these three events (that we know of) happened without Presidential authority, but I hardly think anyone would find the idea of a rogue diplomatic service to be in any way reassuring.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:30 PM on December 2, 2010 [3 favorites]




"Official ire may be aimed at WikiLeaks and its founder, but there's a real current of anger at the media for providing a printed and organized outlet for these documents...

Without the printed media, however, the information would be presented in such a helter-skelter fashion, it would be difficult to analyze or even know what is true and which documents are bogus. Since the earlier two massive releases by WikiLeaks of low-level Defense Department documents relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, I have yet to find a person who has actually read more than a tiny sampling of the actual leaked documents....
...I know there is risk in having these illegally obtained insights into government discussions and calculations, but we should not allow others to use this to attack a free media or to create more government secrecy....
And that would be a real crime."

I don't know and neither do you.

Is that your opening argument?

I guess they were upset that their citizens were tortured in our prison.

hmmm. i might file charges too.

"Officials noted, however, that their own government had not explicitly denied the allegations. "Our ability to beat down this story is constrained by the fact that we do not ourselves know, factually, what might have transpired five or six years ago as the battles in Afghanistan and Iraq began yielding large numbers of potentially dangerous terrorist detainees and unlawful combatants," they observed...

"Baring (sic) a categorical statement from the US government that no detainees passed through Spain – and we understand that might be undesirable from a policy standpoint even if factually correct – nothing but time is going to make this go away."

it is hardly conceivable that a charge d'affaires would threaten the representative of an allied government without explicit instructions to do so

That is not evidence.

but I hardly think anyone would find the idea of a rogue diplomatic service to be in any way reassuring.

then present your case.

you have used chains of command and cables that not have been authenicated and contextualized for any legal action with-in the united states. i.e. The Spanish court could very well uphold this charge. there is the question of trial. extradition...oh, the presentation of all the facts.

Welcome to the world-wide version of Joe McCarthy and his boozy lunch with redacted factbook
posted by clavdivs at 1:40 AM on December 3, 2010


The Secretary of State ordered spying on UN diplomats, in violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
High-level US representatives - almost certainly acting at the direction of the President - threatened an ally into stopping prosecution of torture, in violation of the Geneva Convention.
Neither of these strike you as "government wrongdoing"?


My point was not that there might not be evidence of government wrongdoing hiding somewhere in the mass of leaked documents. My point was that a real whistleblower would be leaking just those documents that proved some wrongdoing, rather than leaking a huge mass of documents in the hope that some evidence of wrongdoing would be found in them somewhere. And they're supposed to balance the possible benefit of the leaked information against the possible harm. In the case of the wikileaks dump, there's lots of possible harm in the release of a mass of unreviewed secret documents (almost all of which show no wrongdoing) that needs to be balanced against the benefit of the release of those few documents that do show wrongdoing. (Also, whistleblowing is supposed to tell us things that we don't already know, which your first example certainly wouldn't.)

So you feel that they just selected a random subset of documents and published them without ever looking at them? Do you have some sort of evidence of that?

I don't think they selected documents at random, because I don't think they selected them at all. They're just dumping everything they could get their hands on. I called it a random collection because the documents they got their hands on are, in effect, a random selection of diplomatic cables. As for releasing them without looking at them, there's no way, given the number of documents involved, that they've had time to do more than a quick review for the redaction that they've been talking about. There simply isn't enough time for people who have real insight into the underlying issues to have carefully reviewed them all.
posted by klausness at 2:40 AM on December 3, 2010


Live q+a with Assange in the comment section of this page of the Guardian:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2010/dec/03/wikileaks-julian-assange-online
He's going to be answering questions shortly, from 13:00 GMT
posted by memebake at 4:48 AM on December 3, 2010


Although so far, the guardian's comment system seems to have buckled under the strain so I think the whole thing has stopped working.

There's a few good questions though:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/8632488
Dear Mr Assange

Isn't it time you looked into the treatment Celtic Football Club have been receiving at the hands of their bigoted oppressors in Scotland?

For too long Celtic Football Club have been held back by these dark forces, only winning around a hundred league titles, (including nine of them in a row), one European Cup, over thirty Scottish cups, and several Glasgow Cups. This clearly points to a masonic conspiracy against us, I'm sure you'd agree.

Also, would you be available to referee the old firm new year's day game? (If you think you're getting stick now, this would be an eye-opener).

With your help I'm sure we could do better. Change is coming!
http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/8632453
Say hello to Osama and Elvis for me!!
http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/8632371
We're here in the UK; the majority of our class think that what you are doing is right.

Nial wants to know when you are releasing documents about the aliens (Roswell).

We will be looking for you on FB.

Regards and good luck,

Mrs Neale and the annoying students.
There's lots and lots of serious questions too. But I'm heartened to see that when major world events are centred around the internet, the internet still keeps its unique and relentless focus on the search for lulz.
posted by memebake at 5:31 AM on December 3, 2010


Answers are going up now from Assange
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2010/dec/03/julian-assange-wikileaks

Including info on how the redactions are done:
The cables we have release correspond to stories released by our main stream media partners and ourselves. They have been redacted by the journalists working on the stories, as these people must know the material well in order to write about it. The redactions are then reviewed by at least one other journalist or editor, and we review samples supplied by the other organisations to make sure the process is working.
On free speech:
The west has fiscalised its basic power relationships through a web of contracts, loans, shareholdings, bank holdings and so on. In such an environment it is easy for speech to be "free" because a change in political will rarely leads to any change in these basic instruments. Western speech, as something that rarely has any effect on power, is, like badgers and birds, free. In states like China, there is pervasive censorship, because speech still has power and power is scared of it. We should always look at censorship as an economic signal that reveals the potential power of speech in that jurisdiction. The attacks against us by the US point to a great hope, speech powerful enough to break the fiscal blockade.
Also, UFOs, death threats and an explanation of why Wikileaks went from being faceless to having people, faces and names,
posted by memebake at 7:06 AM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


And he's just described a bit more info about the Insurance torrent:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2010/dec/03/julian-assange-wikileaks
The Cable Gate archive has been spread, along with significant material from the US and other countries to over 100,000 people in encrypted form. If something happens to us, the key parts will be released automatically.
posted by memebake at 7:11 AM on December 3, 2010


Annoying as it may be, the DDoS seems to be good publicity (if anything, it adds to your credibility). So is getting kicked out of AWS. Do you agree with this statement? Were you planning for it?
Thank you for doing what you are doing.
Julian Assange:
Since 2007 we have been deliberately placing some of our servers in jurisdictions that we suspected suffered a free speech deficit inorder to separate rhetoric from reality. Amazon was one of these cases.


Wow.
posted by dhruva at 9:03 AM on December 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I prefer a glass of Glenfiddich 18 year three fingers straight up. Two of these after a hard day works wonders. If anyone wants to try a good introductory scotch I recommend The Glen Livet 12 year. It's a good solid scotch and it's not to rough on the wallet.

Some other good Scotches I have sampled and highly recommend in no particular order: The Dalmore 15 year, Balvenie 15 Year, Glenmorangie Lasanta 12 year, Laphroaig 18 year, Craggenmore 12 year, Tullamore Dew 10 year old, Highland Park 18 year, The Macallan 15 year, and Talisker 18 year(hard to find).
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:48 AM on December 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


whoops wrong thread....DOH!!!
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:51 AM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


The case against wikileaks from a USians point of view seems to be based on a few specific perceived ethical dilemas
1- Response to public disclosure of private and embarrassing information. This leak is like having the most embarrassing moments of your diary read aloud to everyone you know or just posted to your wall along with some naked photos. It feels like an unjustified invasion of our privacy and those who shared their confidences with us.
2- Real danger to peoples lives- even sanitized dates, events and topics of conversation cam make life super dangerous to those working against the Taliban or Al Qaeda. It is impossible to quantify the danger because there are too many people go track and these peope are already at risk.
3- Crossing a line from critic to enemy/traitor - this is always a problem in times of war. At what point does wikileaks go from neutral informer/critic to an organization focused on destroying the US. Intent matters here. It seems that for Leberman and others they have crossed that line. Is Assange seeking to destroy the US?
posted by humanfont at 9:52 AM on December 3, 2010


Crossing a line from critic to enemy/traitor - this is always a problem in times of war. At what point does wikileaks go from neutral informer/critic to an organization focused on destroying the US. Intent matters here. It seems that for Leberman and others they have crossed that line. Is Assange seeking to destroy the US?

How could Assange "destroy the U.S."? The only entities capable of doing that are countries with nuclear tipped ICBMs and of course the banking cartels which currently seem to be doing their best to destroy the U.S. economically. That being said I can see how the U.S. Government is justified in considering Assange as an enemy. But to be clear he is an enemy of the U.S. government no the people. I don't think it is possible for him to be a traitor as he is not a U.S. citizen. He may have betrayed Australia given that they won't allow him back into the country but I don't know what he has done to deserve this treatment from his home country.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:02 AM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]










Aelfwine, did you mean to post in the Wiski-leak thread?
posted by Ahab at 10:58 AM on December 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't see why a Spanish Prosecutor should be the one to start indicting American officials. I mean have they settled their problems with the Basques, the Catalans and solved their debt crisis that is destroying the Euro? Perhaps they should focus on the big enouirnous problems, give us an ETA for resolution then we can talk about Cheney.

No pun intended...?

posted by gimonca at 10:58 AM on December 3, 2010


The main question I'd like to ask our elected leadership:

What is the distinguishing feature between the most respected free press organizations (the ones that our President praised when handing out the Daniel Pearl award) and an individual that has helped to provide those organizations with information?

For the sake of our country, I think I'd expect a more comprehensive response than "he didn't have an editor."
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:01 AM on December 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Aelfwine, did you mean to post in the Wiski-leak thread?

Damn that Julian Assange and his quest to destroy my favorite scotches by leaking their recipes online!!!
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:05 AM on December 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


US behind airstrike that killed 21 Yemeni children

How shall we explain to their parents - if their bodies were not also exploded by our bomb - that, on the other hand, he did sign the Lilly Ledbetter Act?
posted by Joe Beese at 11:11 AM on December 3, 2010


Cortex suggested I post these links here rather than make a new FPP
As politicians freak out about wikileaks some people are begining to publicly voice their reservations about the backlash which is in full flow.
Glenn Greenwald: - The moral standards of WikiLeaks critics
The Atlantic: Dave Samuels - The Shameful Attacks on Julian Assange
Freedom of Speech is also queried by Christian Science Monitor : -
WikiLeaks and Amazon: A free speech issue?
Valleywag asks Amazon.com Evicts Wikileaks. Who's Next?
and Hal Roberts at The Berkman Center for Internet & Society writes
...as a society, we have reached a place where the only way to protect some sorts of speech on the Internet is through one of only a couple dozen core Internet organizations. Totally ceding decisions about control of politically sensitive speech to that handful of actors, without any legal process or oversight, is a bad idea (worse even than ceding decision to grandstanding politicians). The problem is that an even worse option is to cede these decisions about what content gets to stay up to the owners of the botnets capable of executing large ddos attacks.
posted by adamvasco at 11:17 AM on December 3, 2010 [7 favorites]


I've been calling this round of Wikileaks "TMZ For International Studies Majors." There's just not a whole lot of there there with these cables. The US thinks other countries suck! The US has spied on the UN! The US butts into other people's business!

This isn't anything more than diplomatic porn. Embarrassing more than indicting. Maybe it's being a cynical type whose appraisal of the US government has gone down every year I've been alive, but I read a lot of this and think, "So?"

So this really isn't much of an indictment of the US government.

But it is a huge indictment of the Fourth Estate in the US.

Investigative journalism in the US barely exists except in some very biased corners of the Internet. The seeking of truth has been subsumed by seeking of power. It used to be about profitability, but I do think now the press and government, on every level, are so intertwined that the press is dependent on being in the good graces of the people with power. And it's left the press docile and unable to do any investigating of anyone with real power.

As a result, the void they've left is getting filled by Breitbart and Wikileaks -- biased sting/setup operations to hammer home a political agenda, and giant infodumps of dirty laundry into the public square as if our government were just another celebrity.

I'm starting to believe the American Experiment is about to end. At some point, faced with the flood of information and a fear of what's around them, the US will elect leaders that will serve some new fascism, one that will bring order to this chaos. And the US will cease to exist in its current form, flipping from Republic to Empire much as Rome did.

No one in Washington can lead, no one in the newsrooms can muckrake, and everyone just wants to know when their Social Security check is going to show up and when we're going to get rid of all that socialism.

Obama isn't naive. We are. We're the ones that thought anyone could come in with a velvet glove and change Washington. Only power can crush power.
posted by dw at 11:20 AM on December 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


wow. joe, aelfy, you really don't know how to examine one document. My bias is of no concern. Convince me. Take one document and break it down, using media is fine but don't just post headlines with cheeky glee. Use History. context, perspective, meaning in terms of legality-International and domestic. a model of what i am asking for is the Zimmerman telegram....not that subject matter but the methadology sic sp used to understand one document. so pick one. through me a link so i can see it and frame an argument.

alefy,your taste in scotch is ok
posted by clavdivs at 11:30 AM on December 3, 2010


Only power can crush power.

"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother..."

- New American Standard Bible (NASB).

thought i would never type a passage from the bible in spy thread.
gimme a scotch Aelf. neat.
posted by clavdivs at 11:36 AM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


From Wikileak's Twitter feed:

The first serious infowar is now engaged. The field of battle is WikiLeaks. You are the troops.

It sounds melodramatic, but taken in the context of these whack-a-mole website shutdowns and other efforts by authorities to prevent "free" citizens from accessing these documents, how is it not accurate? Can you say that an infowar wouldn't look like this? Then what would it look like? If the shoe fits...

Also from the feed:

Utterly surreal: Pravda justifiably criticising US for trying to stifle a free press bit.ly/hD2zst How times change.

Surreal indeed. And enraging, and disturbing.
posted by Marla Singer at 11:43 AM on December 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


The Library of Congress blocks access to wikileaks.

The first amendment is not a suicide pact!
posted by Bonzai at 12:05 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


The cables we've seen are not the cables they are afraid of. That they are trying so hard right now to hammer down the gopher that is wikileaks.org tells me several things: 1) there are far worse things yet unrevealed, 2) they still believe they can dictate truth, 3) we are perhaps a year at most away from an black-ops electronic internet "nuke" that will be able to take out an entire website and all of its content (if they had it now they'd use it, but they sure see the need), 4) Tor, or something like it, is going to become known far and wide as first all-digital "country" that is beholden to no flatland government and will host this stuff, and 5) holy shit it is the future already and I'm alive to see it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 12:09 PM on December 3, 2010 [7 favorites]


there are far worse things yet unrevealed

Maybe something that might start a stampede that takes down Bank of America.

I haven't listened to an Obama address for a long time. But I think I might tune in to hear the one where he explains to the American people why "the mistakes of past administrations" one again make it necessary to write the banksters a twelve-figure check.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:17 PM on December 3, 2010


If your constitution isn't a suicide pact, you're doing it wrong.
posted by kipmanley at 12:25 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


The cables we've seen are not the cables they are afraid of.

I think you're very right about that. Rumor (or HuffPo anyway) has it that some Bank of America documents will be released soon, and there are of course many more Cablegate files yet to be released (only a fraction of them have been released so far). Whatever is in the Insurance file must be more damaging than anything we've seen, otherwise how would it be insurance?

As for points 2-5, well, I dunno. You look forward to Tor, I fear a plunge backward to sneakernet. (Now with extra sneak!)
posted by Marla Singer at 12:31 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


The insurance file is most likely the unredacted cables.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:38 PM on December 3, 2010


[re ETA]...No pun intended...?

Of course the pun is intended. Why wouldn't we intend a bit of a pun.

How could Assange "destroy the U.S."?

By using classified information to undermine the United States' international standing and give information to those countries such as Iran, Cuba and non-state actors such as terrorists information about sources methods and information he is going beyond mere criticism an critique to launching a specific attack on the US. Is he seeking to be part of a constructive political opposition, or be an enemy of the state. His release of information also is aimed at undermining the efforts of his own country (Australia). He may also be viewed by folks within the community of human rights activists as betraying their trust by exposing secrets that empower dictators and terrorists.

What is the distinguishing feature between the most respected free press organizations (the ones that our President praised when handing out the Daniel Pearl award) and an individual that has helped to provide those organizations with information?

I think this is answered by looking at the public interest as defined by the constitutional system. Does the disclosure by Wikileaks serve the public's competing interests for information, accountability, freedom, security, etc? I suspect that how one answers the question of "Was this in the public interest" probably determines a lot about your worldview and your view of this incident.
posted by humanfont at 12:45 PM on December 3, 2010


The insurance file is most likely the unredacted cables.

In the interview today he more or less said what was in the insurance file:
The Cable Gate archive has been spread, along with significant material from the US and other countries to over 100,000 people in encrypted form. If something happens to us, the key parts will be released automatically.
From this I suspect that the insurance file is probably everything exciting that they had at the time, so it probably includes the Bank of America stuff too. Its interesting that he said the keys will be released automatically - I'm guessing they have some sort of dead-mans-server set up that will release the codes if they feed it the appropriate input at regular intervals.
posted by memebake at 12:59 PM on December 3, 2010


(if they _dont_ feed it the appropriate input, I mean)
posted by memebake at 1:00 PM on December 3, 2010


By using classified information to undermine the United States' international standing

A far cry from destroying. What is the mechanism by which the leaked material destroys the U.S.A.? It certainly destroys credibility...
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:05 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Library of Congress blocks access to wikileaks

TPM:
I don't like to be shrill, but this is a nonsensical argument and exceeds any plausible let alone reasonable understanding of what it means to protect classified information.

By the LOC's logic, it should have blocked the Washington Post when Dana Priest blew the lid off the CIA's secret prison system and the New York Times when James Risen exposed warrantless wiretapping.

We've now taken the protection of classified information -- a legitimate goal in many instances -- and stretched it to impose on the government an obligation to close normally open public channels of communication because they might contain classified information that's already in the public domain. We're unnecessarily starting down a very slippery slope.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:22 PM on December 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


If your constitution isn't a suicide pact, you're doing it wrong.

Hell yeah.

Chaotic Good for life.
posted by Bonzai at 1:25 PM on December 3, 2010


Meet the people who want Julian Assange "whacked" (Ars Technica)
posted by Bonzai at 1:30 PM on December 3, 2010


whoops wrong thread....DOH!!!

Maybe not. I just made my way throught the whole thing, and a finger or four sounds very nice indeed.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 1:41 PM on December 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


"Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother..."

I'm pretty sure that isn't in the Bible, because my favorite mama grizzly told me that it's the Muzzlims what are violent.
posted by Mental Wimp at 1:44 PM on December 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't see why a Spanish Prosecutor should be the one to start indicting American officials.

Quite. We should wait for American prosecutors to do it.

(fx: tumbleweed)
posted by reynir at 1:45 PM on December 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why Not Just Stamp "Secret" Across the Front Page of the NY Times? asks James Fallows of The Atlantic. Originally about a memo from the Commerce Department instructing employees and contractors not to view Wikileak's documents, it has now been updated with a note issued to students at Boston University law school by an assistant dean. That's right, law students are being told by their deans not to read Wikileaks documents (or at least not to mention having done so on social media websites) because they could endanger their future employment prospects should they ever need a security clearance, ever.

Puts a whole new spin on this AskMe question from last August.
posted by Marla Singer at 1:52 PM on December 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oops, looks like Joe in Australia already posted that Atlantic link upthread. Sorry, Joe.
posted by Marla Singer at 2:07 PM on December 3, 2010


I'm pretty sure that isn't in the Bible

- New American Standard Bible (NASB).
posted by clavdivs at 2:52 PM on December 3, 2010


I'm pretty sure that isn't in the Bible

- New American Standard Bible (NASB).


Sorry, forgot the sarcasm flag.
posted by Mental Wimp at 3:46 PM on December 3, 2010


Interesting Salon column by Dan Gillmor: Online, the censors are scoring big wins. The most intriguing part (imo) is where he links the current controversy to the US government's extremely disturbing "Operation In Our Sites" from a while back.

Between the increasing American pressure to gag Wikileaks and the neverending ddos attacks, it really is starting to look like a war. But if Wikileaks goes down, what does that say about our actual ability to exercise freedom of speech on the Internet?
posted by Kevin Street at 3:57 PM on December 3, 2010


Since America demands action on this matter, I now propose some solutions:
1- global emp pulse
2- crash the internet
3- multiple hardware level exploits and packet injection at core routers to use a jpeg to install a computer worms that corrupt every copy if the insurance file.
posted by humanfont at 4:13 PM on December 3, 2010


But if Wikileaks goes down, what does that say about our actual ability to exercise freedom of speech on the Internet?

The files are distributed so widely, I don't think they can be fully suppressed. As for Wikileaks itself or Julian Assange, I don't know.

I knew there was something creepily relevant to all of this that I read a little over a week ago, and it took me a while to track it down, but here it is: (Fox news link, sorry) Bill Could Give Homeland Security Power Over Tech Giants.
If the bill becomes law, even firms like Apple, Microsoft and Google could come under DHS's thumb, says Michael Gregg, chief operating officer of the cybersecurity firm Superior Solutions. "They are stepping forward to regulate a potentially huge amount of the Internet," Gregg told FoxNews.com.
This bill this refers to is HR 6423. Ostensibly this is about terrorism (of course), but it's worth noting first, that:
The power to regulate private networks comes from Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7, which was established in 2003 to identify and prioritize critical infrastructure and to protect it from terrorist attacks.
And second, the text of that Directive 7 contains some disturbing wording (emphasis mine):
Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7

Purpose

1.This directive establishes a national policy for Federal departments and agencies to identify and prioritize United States critical infrastructure and key resources and to protect them from terrorist attacks.

Background

2.Terrorists seek to destroy, incapacitate, or exploit critical infrastructure and key resources across the United States to threaten national security, cause mass casualties, weaken our economy, and damage public morale and confidence.

[...]

Policy

7. It is the policy of the United States to enhance the protection of our Nation's critical infrastructure and key resources against terrorist acts that could:

[...]

f. undermine the public's morale and confidence in our national economic and political institutions.
Link to Directive 7 at DHS site not provided - I don't want to be responsible for sending anyone there - but if you really want it, you can find it in the Fox news article linked above.

Funny, I didn't know my morale or confidence in our national economic and political institutions was a matter of national security, one that needed to be protected from "terrorists" who might seek to damage it with nasty things like the ugly truth, did you? Jesus. Pour me a scotch too, please, Aelfwine?
posted by Marla Singer at 4:36 PM on December 3, 2010 [4 favorites]




undermine the public's morale and confidence in our national economic and political institutions.

That's an offense against Turkishness, for which you can be jailed, citizen.
posted by Malor at 10:10 PM on December 3, 2010


I don't want to be responsible for sending anyone there - but if you really want it.

Directive 7.

...5. 'While it is not possible to protect or eliminate the vulnerability of all critical infrastructure and key resources throughout the country, strategic improvements in security can make it more difficult for attacks to succeed and can lessen the impact of attacks that may occur. In addition to strategic security enhancements, tactical security improvements can be rapidly implemented to deter, mitigate, or neutralize potential attacks.

....

h. The terms "protect" and "secure" mean reducing the vulnerability of critical infrastructure or key resources in order to deter, mitigate, or neutralize terrorist attacks.'
posted by clavdivs at 10:36 PM on December 3, 2010


there are far worse things yet unrevealed

Given we've had the fourth in line to the throne trying to pressure the police out of investigating his corrupt business dealings, a German government official being sacked for spying for the US government, confirmation that the House of Saud is funding anti-American terrorism while the US government sells it weapons, confirmation that Airstrip One is Orwell's most spot-on prediction,
that the Yemeni Government is fronting for US strikes in their country, and the details of to what degree the old KGB and Russian criminal gangs run the modern Russian state (thanks, IMF!); I can only imagine what more might come out.
posted by rodgerd at 11:52 PM on December 3, 2010


I'm pretty sure that isn't in the Bible

- New American Standard Bible (NASB).


[sullen] I think it may be somewhere towards the back.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 1:22 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Moe wears his bartender garb to church?
"heyah Omer Dat Duff Ties I gaves ya, not fa chuerch"
posted by clavdivs at 9:40 AM on December 4, 2010


A Lebanese newspaper has published diplomatic cables not found on Wikileaks, prompting speculation that Wikileaks has lost control of its gradual release process.

And, Julian Assange posts on Barack Obama's Facebook page!
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:23 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ok, that's funny right there.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:37 PM on December 4, 2010


As the update on the Atlantic suggests, the fact that the source asked to remain anonymous is an indication it's not Wikileaks. It also may be an indication that none of the stuff Wikileaks is releasing comes as a surprise to the intelligence services of the Middle East.
posted by robertc at 3:24 AM on December 5, 2010


Newsweek: Leaked cables show how strong U.S. diplomacy is.
posted by ericb at 7:20 AM on December 5, 2010


Wikileaks’ China/Google bombshell
posted by homunculus at 9:10 AM on December 5, 2010


Anonymous is in the house.
posted by kipmanley at 2:31 PM on December 5, 2010


So is Umberto Eco.
The rule that says secret files must only contain news that is already common knowledge is essential to the dynamic of secret services, and not only in the present century. Go to an esoteric book shop and you’ll find that every book on the shelf (on the Holy Grail, the “mystery” of Rennes-le-Château [a hoax theory concocted to draw tourists to a French town], on the Templars or the Rosicrucians) is a point-by-point rehash of what is already written in older books. And it’s not just because occult authors are averse to doing original research (or don’t know where to look for news about the non-existent), but because those given to the occult only believe what they already know and what corroborates what they’ve already heard. That happens to be Dan Brown’s success formula.

The same goes for secret files. The informant is lazy. So is the head of the secret service (or at least he’s limited – otherwise he could be, what do I know, an editor at Libération): he only regards as true what he recognises. The top-secret dope on Berlusconi that the US embassy in Rome beamed to the Department of State was the same story that had come out in Newsweek the week before.
posted by kipmanley at 3:01 PM on December 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is why Franklin started the U.S. mail
posted by clavdivs at 11:47 PM on December 5, 2010


WLCentral has some quotes from Assange's lawyer which are interesting.

They claim that the original charges were dropped, and the current 'arrest warrant' is about Assange leaving Sweden, even though he was given permission to do so. In addition, his lawyers requests to see the warrant or meet the prosecutor have been denied.

Mark Stephens:
"Mr. Assange has repeatedly sought meetings with the Prosecutrix - both in Sweden and subsequently - in order to answer her questions and clear his name. It is relevant that Mr. Assange sought permission from the Prosecutrix to leave Sweden and she gave him her permission. Since leaving Sweden Mr. Assange has continued to seek meetings with the Prosecutrix, but his requests have either been ignored or met with a refusal."

"Bizarrely, the Prosecutrix - having ignored or rejected those offers of voluntary cooperation - instead sought an arrest warrant to have Mr. Assange held incommunicado without giving his Swedish lawyer sufficient notice, access to evidence or information to take proper instructions from Mr. Assange. This action is all the more peculiar as she has not even issued a formal summons for his interrogation or brought charges against Mr. Assange," the statement added.

"Since the rape charge has been dropped, the current allegation he faces does not - as a matter of Swedish law - justify an arrest warrant for Mr. Assange. The sole ground for the warrant is the Prosecutor's blatantly false allegation that he is on the run from justice: he left Sweden lawfully and has offered himself for questioning," Stephens said
.
Obviously Assange's lawyer is going to paint this in the best way he can. But if he's right about the original charges being dropped, and the warrant not being seen by anyone, then it looks increasingly like the whole arrest warrant thing is FUD. Its interesting that Assange is consistently reported as facing assault charges in Sweden, while his lawyer claims that the charges were dropped.
posted by memebake at 5:22 AM on December 6, 2010


memebake wrote: "Its interesting that Assange is consistently reported as facing assault charges in Sweden, while his lawyer claims that the charges were dropped."

I believe that present understanding is that the original charges were dropped and then later reinstated. That's just my impression, though.
posted by wierdo at 7:25 AM on December 6, 2010


Wierdo: yes, that what I remember hearing at the time too, but with all the confusion at the time that could well have been a misinterpretation. Assange's lawyers seem to be saying the second charges were different and a lot less serious. e.g. see this quote by mediareport in the other massive wikileaks thread.
posted by memebake at 7:44 AM on December 6, 2010


nb: Wikileaks twitter has been a lot more active over the last 24 hours. And a lot more ... jaunty? .. sounding than its tone on Saturday.
posted by memebake at 7:49 AM on December 6, 2010


Wow, the money side of things is getting ridiculous.

I'm actually becoming a little disturbed here.
posted by wierdo at 8:12 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I speak for all the voices in my head when I say, "this is absolutely nuts." I wonder if the govs realize the harder they swing their mallets to squash this, the bigger the splat will be. But then again the govs have shown a continuing obliviousness to simple human nature as well as all of the lessons of history. It's entirely as if they are thinking with their dicks alone.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:29 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


(From wierdo's link)
WikiLeaks and Julian have lost 100Keur in assets this week.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Cablegate exposure is how it is throwing into relief the power dynamics between supposedly independent states like Switzerland, Sweden and Australia.
Even now, still sounding a bit jaunty rather than hassled.
posted by memebake at 8:31 AM on December 6, 2010


seanmpuckett: I think they're coming down hard on this because they can see that this is how its going to be all the time from now on unless they scare the shit out of everyone. Their only hope of stopping 100 sites like wikileaks from springing up over the next decade is to make a huge example of Assange and Bradley. (Because stopping leaks is never really an option, and leaks are going to get bigger and bigger like this in the data-age). Well, thats my reading of it anyway. It is nuts though. Is this the biggest internet story ever, yet?
posted by memebake at 8:34 AM on December 6, 2010


"Prosecutrix", heh, heh.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:45 AM on December 6, 2010


Paypal or other private companies cutting off accounts is one thing; there is no requirement that they serve any particular person or organization. That isn't to say it's not troubling, of course, but it isn't fundamentally antithetical to liberty.

But freezing his legal defense fund? That's an entirely different matter and should be considered unacceptable by everyone, even opponents of Wikileaks. It's so beyond the pale that now even I wish I had a server to mirror wikileaks.
posted by Justinian at 11:26 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


In a Swiss bank no less.
posted by BeerFilter at 1:36 PM on December 6, 2010


And now Mastercard has stopped taking donations to WikiLeaks. That leaves Visa.
"the only easy way to donate electronically would be with a Visa credit card through a Web page hosted by Iceland-based DataCell.com. Representatives of Visa did not respond to requests for comment from CNET today. (WikiLeaks also solicits payments sent through the U.S. mail.)"
The way this thing's been rolling I expect Visa is meeting right now, and on Tuesday WikiLeaks will be cut off from internet moneys altogether.
posted by BeerFilter at 8:01 PM on December 6, 2010


In a Swiss bank no less.

Yeah. But whatever, it's not like it was Nazi gold stolen from dead people. You can bet the Swiss would have been all over protecting that shit.
posted by Justinian at 8:02 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Looks like we're rapidly getting to the point where my prediction will come true.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:18 AM on December 7, 2010


Assange arrested by British police on rape charges; seeking supporters to post bail.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:50 AM on December 7, 2010


I think we should reflect on the prescient words of Hillary Rodham Clinton earlier this year:
[T]he new iconic infrastructure of our age is the internet.

Instead of division, it stands for connection. But even as networks spread to nations around the globe, virtual walls are cropping up in place of visible walls.

Some countries have erected electronic barriers that prevent their people from accessing portions of the world's networks. They have expunged words, names and phrases from search engine results. They have violated the privacy of citizens who engage in non-violent political speech. These actions contravene the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which tells us that all people have the right "to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." With the spread of these restrictive practices, a new information curtain is descending across much of the world. Beyond this partition, viral videos and blog posts are becoming the samizdat of our day.
[...]
I'm proud that the State Department is already working in more than 40 countries to help individuals silenced by oppressive governments. We are making this issue a priority in at the United Nations as well, and included internet freedom as a component in the first resolution we introduced after returning to the UN Human Rights Council.

Yay, State Department!
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:45 AM on December 7, 2010


Geoffrey Robertson QC apparently flying to UK from Australia to represent Assange
posted by memebake at 5:32 AM on December 7, 2010


ITV's Keir Simmons is tweeting from the Magistrates court, Assange due to appear in about 15 minutes.
posted by memebake at 5:46 AM on December 7, 2010


Jemima Khan to act as surity for Assange. This is getting really interesting.
posted by memebake at 6:11 AM on December 7, 2010


Good show in cutting off WikiLeaks finances. Why, just yesterday we learned from WikiLeaks Cash Flow to Terrorists Evades U.S. Efforts. Turns out the last 9 years of financial regulation to stop Al Qaeda funding has amounted to nothing, mostly because our friends in Saudi Arabia and Yemen keep funneling money to the bad guys. But hey, that PayPal donation link to WikiLeaks got shut down!

And today they've arrested Assange. Waiting for the WikiLeaks release about how they still haven't managed to capture bin Laden or Mullah Omar after 9 years of trying. But they got the scrawny Aussie hanging out near London.
posted by Nelson at 6:40 AM on December 7, 2010


Assange held without bail. Visa pulls plug.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:16 AM on December 7, 2010


This makes me sick to my stomach. I noticed the same thing, that the US is apparently more successful at cutting off funding of someone posting factual information than of someone committing terrorism. I guess we know now which one they fear more.
posted by Mental Wimp at 7:19 AM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is darkly comedic. The warrant is for having consensual sex without a condom. Not to mention all of the corporate rats jumping ship. If anything Assange has succeeded in demonstrating to everyone just exactly how the world works. Of course most people will probably just continue with their heads in the sand.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:53 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


So I wonder if this means the insurance file is going to be released?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:54 AM on December 7, 2010


A classified memo sent by Mrs. Clinton last December made it clear that residents of Saudi Arabia and its neighbors, all allies of the United States, are the chief financial supporters of many extremist activities. “It has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority,” the cable said, concluding that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.” (NYT)
Here's a wacky idea: Stop sending stuff to the Middle East. That's not to suggest, mind you, that the material support the US gives to the region is directly converted into the same "financial support" that goes to those unspecified "extremist activities," but it does give purpose to those extremist activities.

Sure, doing exactly what the terrorists have been demanding all along might, to the short-sighted and small-minded, seem a bit like letting the terrorists win. But really, if your goal is to stop terrorism (let alone the funding of it), simply cutting off your contribution to the reasons for terrorism seems to me like a good first step.

But, hey, I guess that shiny new $60.5 billion arms deal with the Saudis couldn't hurt, right? Really, America? Really?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:39 AM on December 7, 2010


Anyone in Sweden? Anyone who can translate Swedish?

I have a friend online saying that Swedish blogs are buzzing. Some of the items going around: descriptions of the "crime" with

-- names and identities of the women: Anna Ardin and Sofia Walen ... Anna is spokesperson for something called the Christian Brotherhood, which was the organisation that invited Julian to Sweden.
-- background information: ... reported in August and immediately dismissed by the highest prosecutor in Sweden. Then a politician intervenes and reports the case not in Stockholm, but Göteborg ...
-- and discussions of extradition: ... CAN be extradited to USA from Sweden, as long as they can guarantee that he will not get the death penalty, which is probably why he wants to stay in UK, Swedish laws must seem unfathomable for him.

Swedes are upset?
All this gives a new meaning to date rape, feminism and Swedish Sin, and the poor Swedes are now the laughing stock of the world, and believe me, the Swedes find this utterly terrible, as I read from the blogs. And seems like they too are convinced that this is a set up, much like the rest of us are.
posted by Surfurrus at 10:23 AM on December 7, 2010


Here's a wacky idea: Stop sending stuff to the Middle East. That's not to suggest, mind you, that the material support the US gives to the region is directly converted into the same "financial support" that goes to those unspecified "extremist activities," but it does give purpose to those extremist activities

They are using our oil money, not our support money. They are using our support money to shoot Al Qaeda, at the same time the very same government leaders and princes are giving Al Qaeda money from their own wealth. Cutting them off will do nothing for us, and will positively harm us.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:34 PM on December 7, 2010




I swear it's almost as if zombie Swedish criminal charges can reproduce on their own. It's entirely possible Swedish prosecutors are just completely incompetent, but as I've said before, things just don't add up.

According to the initial leaked reports, A only went to the police station with W to provide moral support, yet somehow by the time they left, it was decided that she was also raped and molested. It's undisputed that on the 14th, a condom broke while she and Assange were having sex.

The Daily Mail article sheds some light on the situation, in a semi-shitty way.
posted by wierdo at 4:04 PM on December 7, 2010


That article is a piece of shit wierdo.

What happened next is difficult to explain. The most likely interpretation of events is that as a result of a one-night stand, one participant came to regret what had happened...
How must Sarah have felt to discover that the man she’d taken to her bed three days before had already taken up with another woman? Furious? Jealous? Out for revenge? Perhaps she merely felt aggrieved for a fellow woman in distress.


...opinion of the author that it is most likely the women made it up out of revenge, but he continues...


The female interviewing officer, presumably because of allegations of a sabotaged condom in one case and a refusal to wear one in the second, concluded that both women were victims: that Jessica had been raped, and Sarah subject to sexual molestation.


...not at all out of line with the current accusations. People don't always understand that they have been victimized at first, this is well known. It wasn't some conspiracy to get them to allege rape, law enforcement officers made that determination first.

Earlier this year, Sarah is reported to have posted a telling entry on her website, which she has since removed. But a copy has been retrieved and widely circulated on the internet.
Entitled ‘7 Steps to Legal Revenge’, it explains how women can use courts to get their own back on unfaithful lovers.
Step 7 says: ‘Go to it and keep your goal in sight. Make sure your victim suffers just as you did.’ (The highlighting of text is Sarah’s own.)


You can google them, none of them suggest false rape accusations. Legal revenge refers to revenge that is legal, as opposed to say assaulting someone or something.

That whole article is a catalog of the many ways to blame the accuser. There is merit enough in the charges they have brought to take the accusations seriously, and the whole situation is messy enough that it's pretty clear that if the CIA did it the CIA is really bad at framing people.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:27 PM on December 7, 2010


You do realize it's possible to glean facts from a biased article, right?
posted by wierdo at 4:33 PM on December 7, 2010


Well, which facts in it are you hoping to highlight?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:35 PM on December 7, 2010


I'm not hoping to highlight anything. I'm hoping to let the people of Metafilter, who have critical thinking skills of their own, take whatever they like from it and leave the bullshit.

Also, I've just now come across an article from the Guardian which will hopefully meet your standards.
posted by wierdo at 4:38 PM on December 7, 2010


I'm trying to imagine Julian Assange having sex.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 4:41 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Clearing up bullshit with articles that obfuscate the truth with spin and omission and opinion like the Daily Mail article does is not a good way to go about it.

Both of the articles you posted state clearly that they were convinced that what had happened to them constituted sexual assault by a police officer after describing what happened, so why are you posting, "A only went to the police station with W to provide moral support, yet somehow by the time they left, it was decided that she was also raped and molested."

What is confusing to you about it? It isn't somehow, the how is that the actions they described...if true...are sexual assault.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:46 PM on December 7, 2010


This is the funniest shit ever.

[Australian Prime Minister] Mr Rudd announces an international commission on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation during much-publicised trip to Japan, without consulting with his hosts or any of the five nuclear weapons states on the United Nations Security Council.

The whole article reads like Fawlty Towers meets Yes, Prime Minister. An absolute embarrassment.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:22 PM on December 7, 2010


furiousxgeorge wrote: "What is confusing to you about it? It isn't somehow, the how is that the actions they described...if true...are sexual assault."

The somehow is that A didn't go to the police because she considered herself assaulted, but because W wanted her to go (supposedly), yet because Assange later refused to use a condom with W, somehow the condom breaking became intentional with A.

Although, to be honest, if lady A decided was about to have sex with man B and requested the use of a condom and man B refused the request and lady A then still consented to have sex with man B, I fail to see a problem (other than man B being something of an asshat). That's called negotiation.

The story just doesn't make sense to me. It's fishy on so many levels at this point that I feel bad for everyone involved. I suspect that there is some political motivation here and that the two ladies are being used as pawns by the new prosecutor. If it had been as clear cut as you seem to think, I doubt the charges would have been dismissed the first time around.
posted by wierdo at 7:21 PM on December 7, 2010


Wierdo, this is what the early stages of criminal prosecution are like. Almost all the information you're getting has come from Assange's lawyers and it is meant to make you think that the prosecution is bogus and the complaint ridiculous. Perhaps this is true, but until Assange actually appears in court we won't know what the complainants really said and whether there is any other evidence.

Take a look at this thread about a guy charged with "rape by deception" in Israel. The initial response was that the charge was ridiculous. Then we had stories about how how the victim wasn't really upset, and it was all due to vindictive prosecutors. Then we had stories about how the rapist was "cuddly" and had "soft brown eyes". Finally, after the prosecution, we got to read the transcripts and the victim's reactions ... and it became clear that there very possibly had been a real, genuine, hold-her-down-and-screw-her rape and that all the earlier stories had concealed facts that were unfavorable to the rapist (e.g., the victim having been discovered naked and sobbing on a rooftop, and that she was taken to hospital).

I am not for one moment suggesting that anything of this sort has gone on in Assange's case. My point is that we should be sceptical of any story originating from the people who are paid to defend him. They want you to find the charges confusing. They want you to think that the prosecution is bogus. It's part of the defense-lawyer dance with high-profile clients. We'll find out where the truth lies soon enough.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:50 PM on December 7, 2010


Joe in Australia wrote: "We'll find out where the truth lies soon enough."

That we will. But in my defense, much of the information I'm considering comes from the initial press leaks, and not what Assange's lawyer has been saying since. I'd like to see a full translation of W's Aftonbladet interview.
posted by wierdo at 8:06 PM on December 7, 2010


I'm uneasy with dismissing the women's claims, too. But how often is Interpol called out in cases of questioning for sexual assault? How often do you have imprisonment and extradition in such an extraordinarily public manner? These aren't rhetorical questions, I'm genuinely curious if Assange's extradition is unusual, or commonplace.
posted by Nelson at 8:14 PM on December 7, 2010


The somehow is that A didn't go to the police because she considered herself assaulted, but because W wanted her to go (supposedly), yet because Assange later refused to use a condom with W, somehow the condom breaking became intentional with A.

Let's try this again, "Gemma Lindfield, for the Swedish authorities, ... said the first complainant, Miss A, said she was victim of 'unlawful coercion' on the night of August 14 in Stockholm. ... Assange is accused of using his body weight to hold her down in a sexual manner.

"The second charge alleged Assange 'sexually molested' Miss A by having sex with her without a condom when it was her 'express wish' one should be used. The third charge claimed Assange 'deliberately molested' Miss A on August 18.

"The fourth charge accused Assange of having sex with a second woman, Miss W, on August 17 without a condom while she was asleep."


The story is about a bit more than the damn condoms. They went to the police with a story about behavior that is rape, but that many people don't seem to realize is rape, and made the charges when the police informed them what he did was illegal.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:41 PM on December 7, 2010


As noted elsewhere, a point of comparison: Interpol did issue a Red Notice for Polanski.
posted by kipmanley at 8:42 PM on December 7, 2010


*what they accused him of doing was illegal. I spent the last thread I was involved in on the topic of these accusations arguing that it was plausible they are trumped up, I don't want to make it sound like I am convicting him because there simply isn't enough evidence for the public to make that call. I just don't like the accusations being characterized as just he said/she said about a broken condom.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:45 PM on December 7, 2010


Anyone mentioned Al Capone yet? How they eventually got him for the [relatively] lowly crime of tax evasion?

[CTRL-F, "Capone"] No. Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle.

It was the first thing I thought of.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 10:37 PM on December 7, 2010


furiousxgeorge wrote: "The story is about a bit more than the damn condoms."

The story has become something about a bit more than the damn condoms. One of the things I find odd is that it was all about the condoms in the initial leak, at least according to media reports of the Aftonbladet story.
posted by wierdo at 6:11 AM on December 8, 2010


Warning: Words from Assange's mouthpiece follow..
And in London, Stephens told AOL News on Thursday that the offense under investigation isn’t rape at all, but rather something called “sex by surprise,” which he described as a minor — and uniquely Swedish — offense that carries a 5,000 kroner fine — about $715.
--Wired Threat Level Blog

If true, that makes all this furor over his "rape" charges pretty ridiculous. It also makes the whole thing seem like more of a pretext to get Assange into custody. I don't know how they do things over in Europe, but on this side of the pond, it's rare for anyone to bother with the extradition process on charges with such a light penalty.

If a person had a warrant out for their arrest on what amounts to a misdemeanor charge in Florida, it's unlikely that Florida would be willing to pay to transport the alleged criminal from Alabama or Georgia, much less somewhere farther afield. (and it's not fleeing if you leave the jurisdiction prior to the issuance of a warrant)

It will definitely be interesting to see how all this ends up playing out.
posted by wierdo at 7:16 AM on December 8, 2010


The story has become something about a bit more than the damn condoms. One of the things I find odd is that it was all about the condoms in the initial leak, at least according to media reports of the Aftonbladet story.

Dude, the initial story was that it was straight up rape. You are bending over backwards here.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:07 AM on December 8, 2010


If true, that makes all this furor over his "rape" charges pretty ridiculous.

"Gemma Lindfield, for the Swedish authorities, ... said the first complainant, Miss A, said she was victim of 'unlawful coercion' on the night of August 14 in Stockholm. ... Assange is accused of using his body weight to hold her down in a sexual manner.

"The second charge alleged Assange 'sexually molested' Miss A by having sex with her without a condom when it was her 'express wish' one should be used. The third charge claimed Assange 'deliberately molested' Miss A on August 18.

"The fourth charge accused Assange of having sex with a second woman, Miss W, on August 17 without a condom while she was asleep."
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:15 AM on December 8, 2010


You're more than welcome to keep reposting the same thing over and over again. It doesn't really do anything other than take up space in the database, but whatever floats your boat.
posted by wierdo at 8:24 AM on December 8, 2010


Gee, I wonder why Visa and Mastercard hopped on board.

Don't worry, though, you can still use them to get money to the KKK.
posted by rodgerd at 11:05 AM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I will keep posting it as long as you bounce back to pretending not to have read it and that we are just talking about broken condoms, thanks.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:25 PM on December 8, 2010


furiousxgeorge : Dude, the initial story was that it was straight up rape.

Yes, this fascinates me, can you provide a link? The initial story that I read has both of these women just fine with their status as sex-groupies, until they discover Assange has other groupies willing to do him anywhere, anyhow, anytime. Then suddenly (whether "encouraged" by some random government agent or just pissed off at him), they decide that certain details of their encounter may allow them to cry foul under Swedish law.

And the rest of it sounds like a 3rd-rate Tom Clancy novel.
posted by pla at 5:22 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


A few people have sent me the home addresses and phone numbers of Julian Assange’s lying rape accusers.

My traffic has ballooned from Googlers seeking info and pictures of Anna Ardin and Sofia Wilén in the past 48 hours, and my posts are being linked all over the place from sites as diverse as Indymedia and Democratic Underground to Pajamas Media and Stormfront. In other words, a LOT of people are likely to see and copy their info if I post it, and I won’t be able to take it back once I hit Publish.


Crikey!
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:34 PM on December 8, 2010


After publishing said details, he goes on to say:

My friends, use this information wisely. Thanks for all the support you’ve given thus far.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 5:36 PM on December 8, 2010


@pla: The initial media reports were that Assange was accused of rape. You really need a link for that? Then it was molestation, then it was all dropped, then it came up again. It's confusing and crazy, I know. I have no problem with calling the prosecutors incompetent, or saying the story sounds weird.

Let me try this with more emphasis:


MY ONLY ISSUE IS WITH THE IDEA THAT THERE IS NO SERIOUS ACCUSATION HERE AND IT IS JUST WOMEN COMPLAINING ABOUT HOW THEIR CONSENUAL SEX WENT DOWN. THEY ARE MAKING SERIOUS ALLEGATIONS OF NON-CONSENSUAL SEX. I'M SURE IT IS POSSIBLE THEY ARE LYING, BUT STOP PRETENDING THEY AREN'T EVEN MAKING SERIOUS ACCUSATIONS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT. TRUST ME, FUCKING SOMEONE IN THEIR SLEEP WITHOUT ASKING ISN'T ONLY ILLEGAL IN SWEDEN.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:39 PM on December 8, 2010


Wow. Lose the blink tag, seriously. Damn, I though most browsers since Netscape 4.0 ignored that by default.


MY ONLY ISSUE IS WITH THE IDEA THAT THERE IS NO SERIOUS ACCUSATION HERE

Of course we all consider it a serious allegation. If they had accused him of shoplifting, we might have the same conversation about the likelyhood of a setup, but not 1500+ comments on the topic.


THEY ARE MAKING SERIOUS ALLEGATIONS OF NON-CONSENSUAL SEX.

Yes. Absolutely. Nolo Contendre.


TRUST ME, FUCKING SOMEONE IN THEIR SLEEP WITHOUT ASKING ISN'T ONLY ILLEGAL IN SWEDEN.

I noticed that you bolded that in your original, and believe it or not, I had responded to the charges you listed point-by-point - Though thought better of it before hitting "post" for a change.

Suffice it to say, I can think of plenty of situations where sleep-sex wouldn't count as rape. Yes, I can think of plenty where it would, as well; But oddly, virtually all of those where it would don't occur as either part of a (moderately) long term relationship or during/after a night of screwing like rabid wombats.
posted by pla at 6:25 PM on December 8, 2010


Pla wrote: Suffice it to say, I can think of plenty of situations where sleep-sex wouldn't count as rape.

Where I live the law says that "A person commits rape if ... he or she intentionally sexually penetrates another person ... [when] ... the person is asleep, unconscious, or [...] affected by alcohol or another drug". (See s. 38, s 36 of the Crimes Act 1958)

The point isn't that the assailant thought the sleeping victim would have consented; the point is that the sleeping victim could not consent.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:05 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hate to be a wannamod, but would you guys mind commuting your game of 'speculative pundits' to a more relevant thread, like this one or this one?

Some of us might want to actually discuss the FPP, is all.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:30 PM on December 8, 2010


or [...] affected by alcohol or another drug

Uh, oh. If I read that literally, I and my wife are both guilty.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:42 AM on December 9, 2010


[blink tags considered harmful in otherwise touchy post. pla, if you'd like to start a "what pla considers rape" maybe take it to your own blog? thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:31 AM on December 9, 2010


Der Spiegel reports that the cables show the US cooperated with China to sink the Copenhagen talks. I don't have the words to express how angry I am right now.
posted by EarBucket at 9:36 AM on December 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Der Spiegel reports that the cables show the US cooperated with China to sink the Copenhagen talks. I don't have the words to express how angry I am right now.

The value of WikiLeaks' willingness to make these cables available to the public lies in the ability of our awareness to change the way we look at our government and how we do or don't participate in it. If the government consistently misrepresents its position to its own citizens, how can those same citizens make informed decisions about who is fit to govern? This modern mania for stretching secrecy beyond actual physical security issues to masking the intent of routine policy positions and government business has made us all less competent as useful citizens. It is tantamount to outsourcing our governance to the monied classes. We should all applaud making this information available, even if some good-intentioned people will be harmed by it. My sympathy is with all those already harmed or placed in harms way by governmental dissemblance and mendacity, the soldiers maimed and killed, the civilians dead or homeless or without loved ones, the destruction of necessary and fragile infrastructure. These far outweigh the hypothetical harms that come from the revelations themselves.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:42 AM on December 9, 2010 [6 favorites]




McClatchy: - From the Saudi-Yemen border to lawless Somalia and the north-central African desert, the U.S. military is more engaged in armed conflicts in the Muslim world than the U.S. government openly acknowledges.
posted by adamvasco at 10:34 AM on December 10, 2010


>A few people have sent me the home addresses and phone numbers of Julian Assange’s lying rape accusers.

[...]

Crikey!


Hey, y'all. I'm psychic.

Report: Assange accuser flees to Middle East, may not be cooperating with police
One of the two Swedish women who have filed sex complaints against the founder of WikiLeaks has reportedly left Sweden and may no longer be cooperating with the criminal investigation.

According to a report at Australian news site Crikey.com, Anna Ardin has moved to the Palestinian territories to volunteer with a Christian group working to reconcile Arabs and Israelis.

Crikey.com reports:

One source from Ardin’s old university of Uppsala reported rumors that she had stopped co-operating with the prosecution service several weeks ago, and that this was part of the reason for the long delay in proceeding with charges — and what still appears to be an absence of charges.

Ardin's blog shows that she has recently posted from the Palestinian territories. Her most recent blog posts make no mention of WikiLeaks or its founder, Julian Assange.

Some of Ardin's most recent Tweets suggest sympathy for WikiLeaks.

"MasterCard, Visa and PayPal -- belt them now!" Ardin urged in a Tweet Wednesday
posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:27 AM on December 12, 2010


^^Previously posted in the wrong Assange thread - I was wondering where all my comments had gone.

And clicking on ericb's link three comments above, I see he's trumped me on reporting this turn of events.


posted by uncanny hengeman at 8:33 AM on December 12, 2010


The first global cyber war has begun, claim hackers.

You can debate the merits of that claim if you like, but I'm rather fond of this quote:

"Swedes are capable of seeing the advantages of WikiLeaks while conceding that Assange may have unsavoury morals between the sheets.''

Sounds about right to me. Any news on the extradition request front?
posted by Chichibio at 3:10 PM on December 12, 2010


For MetaFilter comment junkies who are working their way through this:
This thread was one of a series of long threads about the Wikileaks Cablegate saga. Here's the sequence so far:

Nov 28th
http://www.metafilter.com/97964/States-Secrets (this thread)
Dec 3rd
http://www.metafilter.com/98182/Government-reaction-to-Wikileaks
Dec 7th
http://www.metafilter.com/98280/Julian-Assange-Turns-Himself-In
Dec 9th
http://www.metafilter.com/98335/For-the-Chaotic-Good
Dec 14th
http://www.metafilter.com/98518/Julian-Assange-free-on-bail
posted by memebake at 9:12 AM on December 19, 2010


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