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Government reaction to Wikileaks
December 3, 2010 11:48 PM   Subscribe

“Office of Career Services” sipa_ocs@columbia.edu Date: November 30, 2010 15:26:53 EST To: xxx

Hi students, We received a call today from a SIPA alumnus who is working at the State Department. He asked us to pass along the following information to anyone who will be applying for jobs in the federal government, since all would require a background investigation and in some instances a security clearance. The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified documents. He recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter. Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government.

Regards, Office of Career Services.

Government goofy attempts to censure WikiLeaks became more and more ridiculous. But not ineffective; Amazon cancelled its hosting service under political pressure from Sen. Lieberman's office (Amazon denies), and others 4 companies have quitted Wikileaks recently.

But the question is, would first amendment protect Julian Assange?
posted by - (430 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's actually sound career advice. Comparably, when large portions of the Windows 2000 source code were released, a lot of OSS programmers were careful to avoid any contact with the code, and to suggest others do the same, to avoid the possibility of contaminating their current and future projects with a possible legal claim by Microsoft to copyright or trade secret infringement.
posted by fatbird at 11:52 PM on December 3, 2010 [18 favorites]


I know it's SO cliché and fuckin' tired to say at this point but really, this country's going down the shitter.
posted by ReeMonster at 11:56 PM on December 3, 2010 [17 favorites]


A better suggestion:

DO NOT have any content, posted or linked, on the publicly visible portion of any social media accounts you have tied to your real name that would communicate to a potential employer anything other than that you are a model, upstanding citizen.
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 12:07 AM on December 4, 2010 [37 favorites]


This is blindingly obvious stuff and there is nothing shitter-related about it. It doesn't matter how you feel about Wikileaks. If you're angling for a job at the State Department don't appear to support or endorse the guy who just embarrassed them by illegally blowing the lid off a ton of their confidential info. Done and done.
posted by eugenen at 12:20 AM on December 4, 2010 [17 favorites]


An even better suggestion:

DO NOT have any content, posted or linked, on the publicly visible portion of any social media accounts you have tied to your real name that would communicate to a potential employer that you are a model, upstanding citizen because that clearly indicates that you are hiding something horrible and sinister.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:21 AM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


My bad: this purports to sweep in all federal jobs, not just State Department. I think my point pretty much still stands.
posted by eugenen at 12:22 AM on December 4, 2010


Seriously, though, somewhere today I saw that one of the memos "revealed" that the US did not have a coherent plan for dealing with drug trafficing from Mexico. All I could think was that Julian Assange could have saved himself lots of trouble by just hiring me and having me point out the bloody obvious.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 12:24 AM on December 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


'If they do decide to bring a case, US prosecutors today would likely charge Assange or WikiLeaks with violations of the Espionage Act, a broad 1917 law.'

"Revelations of such vicious schemes as the San Diego Plan and the IWW uprising, viewed against the back drop of actual bloodshed in the Villa raids....combined to form the impression that a real shooting war was being waged on American soil. If something had been needed to tie America's anxieties...the Zimmermann telegram filled the bill..."
In a June 14, 1917 (Flag Day), speech in Washington [Wilson]...

The sinister intrigue is being no less actively conducted in this country than in Russia and in every country of Europe into which the agents and dupes of the Imperial German Government can get access. That Government has many spokesmen here, in places both high and low. They have learned discretion; they keep within the law. It is opinion they utter now, not sedition.
The following day Wilson signed into law the Espionage Act."

'Honorable Treachery' G.J.A. O' Toole. pg 272.

Are we there yet?

Pvt. Manning is 'manning' up to his actions. He must face the consequences whatever his reasoning. He took an oath and signed on the line.
posted by clavdivs at 12:25 AM on December 4, 2010


'It was not those dumb, jejune letters of mine that got us into trouble'
[espionage Act of 1917]
posted by clavdivs at 12:31 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Paypal just permanently froze Wikileaks' account so it's hugely more difficult to donate to them now.
posted by Justinian at 12:34 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Should I turn myself in for having a subscription to the Washington Post?
posted by schmod at 12:38 AM on December 4, 2010 [16 favorites]


So glad that I have no desire to be hobbled by a government job, and that my opinions and interests and speech can remain my own.
posted by Asparagirl at 12:45 AM on December 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government.

This seems to suggest Traffic Analysis will/is being employed. Qua. An Intelligence Cycle. Process by which an agency matches production* with requirements.

*Product. The end result of an Intelligence/Espionage effort.
posted by clavdivs at 12:51 AM on December 4, 2010


I have come up with a potential Conspiracy Theory about WikiLeaks. It looked to me like most of the Anti-WikiLeaks pressure didn't get really intense until after Assange, in an interview with Forbes Magazine, said that their next big document dump would be not from any government, but from a Big Bank. Maybe not so much this particular story (although why didn't it start making the rounds earlier, even before the release when the State Department was acting like they knew exactly what was coming?). But the blackballing by Amazon and other private companies, now including PayPal may have been prompted NOT by a public warning from Senator Lieberman, but rather private messages from banks that said they would no longer extend credit to any company dealing with WikiLeaks. It might be rather important for the Whole Financial Industry to squash this little bug (or just make it a public pariah) before it can make public a shitload of Illegal Acts by Banks Too Big To Fail.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:52 AM on December 4, 2010 [72 favorites]


I agree: corporations are a bigger threat to Assange/Wikileaks than most governments.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:05 AM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


I know it's SO cliché and fuckin' tired to say at this point but really, this country's going down the shitter.

Oh, give it a fucking rest already. This is so not a fucking big deal. It's, like, the opposite of one. All it is saying is: "People who want a job dealing with classified information should probably not publicly support the release of classified information." Frankly, anyone who actually needs this advice is pretty much ipso facto not qualified for that kind of job anyway, and anyone who fails to follow that advice but actually wants that kind of job is probably so fucking stupid they shouldn't have it in the first place
posted by dersins at 1:06 AM on December 4, 2010 [37 favorites]


eugenen: "illegally blowing the lid off a ton of their confidential info. Done and done."

Which law do you think Wikileaks has broken?
posted by winjer at 1:07 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, you meant "censor," not "censure," genius.
posted by dersins at 1:08 AM on December 4, 2010


oneswellfoop: conjecture. This assumes WKLK has the 'Product' they claim. More over what it contains.
posted by clavdivs at 1:09 AM on December 4, 2010


In my opinion anyone who follow that advice but actually wants that kind of job is probably so fucking stupid. they shouldn't have it in the first place.
posted by - at 1:11 AM on December 4, 2010


Which law do you think Wikileaks has broken?
wikileaks needs to be defined before further legal action can be taken. IMO that definition is un folding. now. welcome my friends, to the cutting of the funds part. (waves to F3)
posted by clavdivs at 1:12 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


dersins: really sorry. english in not my first language, not even my second language. sorry for bad english, poor spelling and unusual syntax.
posted by - at 1:17 AM on December 4, 2010 [16 favorites]


anyone who follow that advice but actually wants that kind of job is probably so fucking stupid. they shouldn't have it in the first place.


Do you not understand, like, the world? I ask this because you sound like one of those childish idealists who thinks that governments don't need secrets. If so, I've got some news that may be difficult for you to process.

This may not be a popular opinion here, but they do-- governments do need secrets. They need them to function in the complex and difficult landscape of international relations, diplomacy and intelligence.

Maybe you think that's not true, in which case all I can say is that I thank fucking god you weren't working, say, for any of the Allied governments between 1939 and 1945.

But maybe it's just that you think this particular set of leaked documents isn't important enough to be one of those secrets. That might well be true. I'm not sure I'd disagree with you, in fact. But that's not the fucking point.

The point is that governments need secrets, and governments need employees who can keep those secrets, y'know, secret. These happened to be documents that, rightly or wrongly, the government felt should be kept secret. If you're going to publicly support their release, you're not going to get a job that entails, you know, keeping government secrets. And, frankly, nor should you.
posted by dersins at 1:29 AM on December 4, 2010 [20 favorites]


This whole sensorship thing on the web is becoming out of control
posted by mel001 at 1:31 AM on December 4, 2010


yup
posted by clavdivs at 1:32 AM on December 4, 2010


For a moment there, I though the OP's identity had been redacted!
posted by crossoverman at 1:36 AM on December 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


you may be right that governments need secrets - but the diplomatic cables were not "secrets". they were available to millions of people. Any foreign power that wanted to already knew what they contained.

The only people who were prevented from seeing them were the public.

Do you think governments have a need for "secrets we don't mind other governments finding out but that we keep from our own people". perhaps you could provide an example you consider legitimate?
posted by winjer at 1:39 AM on December 4, 2010 [17 favorites]


conjecture. This assumes WKLK has the 'Product' they claim. More over what it contains.

Of course it's wild conjecture. I labeled it a "conspiracy theory", which is a term I don't consider a seal of approval.

winjer, many if not most of the leaked documents were frank and often uncomplimentary things about other governments and their leaders; they were definititely things we DID mind other governments finding out.


And Censurship, isn't that what the Census Bureau does?
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:48 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


http://www.metafilter.com/98182/Government-reaction-to-Wikileaks#3402982: The point is that governments need secrets yeah, thinks like abu ghraib torture and prisoner abuse and some collateral murder need to be secret. ok, ok... i got it.
posted by - at 1:51 AM on December 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


oh come on "frank and uncomplimentary things"? that's not a secret! Nothing in those cables was an actual secret. If they did intend it to be secret then they would not have been shared with so many people. Even a child knows keeping a secret means "not telling people"!. It's very unlikely they are as dumb as you seem to assume.

Your "frank and uncomplimentary things" are just tittle-tattle. The public are loving it because it's not the horseshit these people normally spout in public, but none of it has been surprising at all, to anyone. If you asked any of the governments involved they would already have either been able to guess this, or would already know it from their own espionage operations.
posted by winjer at 1:54 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


the diplomatic cables were not "secrets". they were available to millions of people.

This is a common misconception, and not true. They were classified as "secret," and yes, something like 3 million or so people are cleared for information that is classified as "secret," but only on an as needed basis. Just because you have a security clearance at the "Secret" level because, say, you are a graphic designer who creates presentations for NUWC , doesn't mean you are cleared to access State Department documents about Dagestani weddings. Pvt. Manning was able to access those documents because post 9-11 a database was set up to be an intelligence clearing house, and it was set up too quickly, and there were holes in the security. He exploited those holes, but he wasn't cleared to access those documents. That's a failure in the intelligence system, but it's not an indicator that the government intended those cables to be accessible to millions of Americans, let alone to other governments.
posted by dersins at 1:57 AM on December 4, 2010 [13 favorites]


Guess what dersins, you may need to take a breather, because your exasperation is kind of hard to read this early in the thread.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 2:01 AM on December 4, 2010 [14 favorites]


The point is that governments need secrets yeah, thinks like abu ghraib torture and prisoner abuse and some collateral murder need to be secret. ok, ok... i got it.

Oh, please. You're either being worryingly naive or dangerously stupid. Of course governments need secrets. Do you think the New York Times should have published the D-Day plans in May 1944?
posted by dersins at 2:02 AM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


"You're either being worryingly naive or dangerously stupid."

My advice is still solid. Believe in me.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 2:06 AM on December 4, 2010


interesting dersins - have you got a reference? From Conflict Health for example this really doesn't seem to have been treated particularly securely.
posted by winjer at 2:06 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, your link completely validates my assertion that this was a technical failure of the intelligence database rather than an overall "millions of people are allowed to know this."
posted by dersins at 2:10 AM on December 4, 2010


The first amendment should protect Assange. So should the fact he's broken no law that hasn't been pulled out of Joe Lieberman's raging asshole.

Its been a beautiful week, watching sad, sad people feebly attempting to frame a whistleblowing effort as somehow "evil". Shit, last time I checked there was massive popular support for slowing down the mad American dash for retarded international glory.

I've been gladdened to see people who should know better shitting themselves hard when someone manages the kind of radical action required. No, wait, it's not radical. No, wait, it is! Gee, I wish people could make up their minds. And when I say 'people' I mean 'people with a nice thick authoritarian streak that just about cuts their brain in half.'

No amendment will protect Assange, people who aren't slaves to the status quo will.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 2:26 AM on December 4, 2010 [16 favorites]


Hello government employees!

Just wanted to say "what's up" and that I'm not WikiLeaking anything, and probably neither of these other kids on MeFi are either. It's a pretty cool place, you should post on here and "chill out," and not mess up any of their lives or waterboard them or whatever. It's the bomb, as it were, you don't have to plot or plan to come chill with us; the party is always going on- ready to detonate at any minute into full-spectrum FUN! Yeah there might be the occasional thread about Barack Obama or whatever, but that's usually well within range of the wide-area topics we discuss here. There's a pretty good dispersal of subjects, and we're all ready and well armed to go wherever the discussion takes us. It's a pretty unguided, free-fire type of deal. Sure some people go to bed early or otherwise take a powder, and others like to talk about the band Anthrax (which usually results in a pretty quick and effective dispersal, lol); but the overall structure remains intact. Some posters are higher echelon than others (you should check out the videogame reviews by 'mkultra,' that guy is a riot- a regular civil disobedience, lol). Most everyone here is a straight shooter, and believe it or not we tend to stay on target, regardless of how much 'disinformation' we might have to deal with, HE, HE. Willy is a little out there and I'm sure you've seen Pete's contributions so I certainly don't need to brief you on that or convert you to his side. What with all the Islamic architectural decorations he had to research and study for school. I thought it was a little extreme, but what do I know. He blew it out of the water though, that's what matters, right? I'm glad I didn't study that, it was a little extreme, you know, and I probably would have blown up- surely you guys don't want to deal with that kind of fallout.
posted by hamida2242 at 2:54 AM on December 4, 2010 [63 favorites]


Paypal just permanently froze Wikileaks' account so it's hugely more difficult to donate to them now.

You can still donate by credit card at the official donations page at https://donations.datacell.com.

That said, I've added PayPal to my list of companies I will personally never do business with again.
posted by twirlip at 3:04 AM on December 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


This may not be a popular opinion here, but they do-- governments do need secrets. They need them to function in the complex and difficult landscape of international relations, diplomacy and intelligence. Maybe you think that's not true, in which case all I can say is that I thank fucking god you weren't working, say, for any of the Allied governments between 1939 and 1945.

The difference being that between 1939 and 1945, you would have been keeping secrets on behalf of fighting war crimes rather than supporting them.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:07 AM on December 4, 2010 [44 favorites]


Way to nuke the discussion.
posted by Cyrano at 3:15 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Paypal got put on my "Do not do business with" list a long time ago. It still surprises me it's not on everyone's.
It's actually sound career advice. Comparably, when large portions of the Windows 2000 source code were released, a lot of OSS programmers were careful to avoid any contact with the code, and to suggest others do the same, to avoid the possibility of contaminating their current and future projects with a possible legal claim by Microsoft to copyright or trade secret infringement.
There's common sense and there's ridiculous paranoia. Seeing something isn't going to legally contaminate your mind and cause anything you create to belong to microsoft.
This is blindingly obvious stuff and there is nothing shitter-related about it.
It's not all that obvious. asking potential hires to avoid even reading stuff in the public domain is downright bizzare. And apparently the only reason this stuff remains classified is because of a policy change instituted by the Obama administration, prior, if anything was ever release, it was immidiately considered declassified -- at least that was my understanding.

And secondly, do we really want to screen for certain viewpoints before people are allowed in the government? I realize it makes sense but is it healthy for a country that only a subsection of the oppinions be allowed to participate in actual governance? My view, is that the answer is no.
DO NOT have any content, posted or linked, on the publicly visible portion of any social media accounts you have tied to your real name that would communicate to a potential employer that you are a model, upstanding citizen because that clearly indicates that you are hiding something horrible and sinister.
it has nothing to do with what you post, they are going to polygraph you. If you read the documents -- even if you tell no one -- you could get in trouble either by being honest in your interview, or failing a polygraph.
Maybe you think that's not true, in which case all I can say is that I thank fucking god you weren't working, say, for any of the Allied governments between 1939 and 1945.

Last I checked wwII wasn't exactly on at the moment.
posted by delmoi at 3:23 AM on December 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


clavdivs: wikileaks needs to be defined before further legal action can be taken.

Good point. In a State Department transcript on WikiLeaks we can read "WikiLeaks Not Media Organization". And it's clear why the gov. say so.
posted by - at 3:38 AM on December 4, 2010


Also, you meant "censor," not "censure," genius.

Look everybody! It's the Greatest American Hero!
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:48 AM on December 4, 2010 [12 favorites]


Do you think the New York Times should have published the D-Day plans in May 1944?

Do you see anything even remoteley* like the D-Day plans in anything Wikileaks has leaked?

*yeah, I'm fucking with you
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:50 AM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Hello Students
I just want to tell you that the stable door fell off and the horse has bolted. Not that you knew we had a horse in the stable in the first place therefore I have to advise you not to look at the horse if you see it. We realize that we can't put the horse back in the stable but we don't want you taking about this if you know what's good for you. So even if you did see it you are not to tell anyone or even talk about it amongst yourselves. Of course there are other people outside school who have seen the horse and are talking about it in newspapers or on the Television but you shouldn't take any notice of that because in this wonderful free land of ours we know that a secrets a secret; otherwise we will just have to shoot you or take you off for waterboarding like we should do that socialist scum who broke the door in the first place. Signed Reichmaster
posted by adamvasco at 3:53 AM on December 4, 2010 [48 favorites]


Half this thread is a dishearteningly spineless go along to get along attitude with a bit of utterly myopic stockholm syndrome sprinkled on top

Pretend this is 1971 and the topic is the Pentagon Papers, and then fucking grow a pair, America
posted by crayz at 3:57 AM on December 4, 2010 [32 favorites]


"I used to be a diplomat and I used to write secret cables, like the ones being released by WikiLeaks."

Whether or not you think the leaking is good or not, it's hardly surprising that anyone getting a higher level security certificate would be investigated, and should this come up, it would influence hiring decisions.

A background check is unlikely to ruffle any feathers, at least here in Australia, but security clearances, especially top secret clearance is extremely thorough here and no doubt would look on anybody supporting Wikileaks very negatively.

You can argue the morality of that, but top secret is top secret, and unsurprisingly they aren't interested in hiring people who may pose a risk of leaking, whether that be due to blackmail concerns or ideological ones.
posted by smoke at 4:00 AM on December 4, 2010


It's not all that obvious. asking potential hires to avoid even reading stuff in the public domain is downright bizzare.

"Works are in the public domain if they are not covered by intellectual property rights at all, if the intellectual property rights have expired, and/or if the intellectual property rights are forfeited.

In a general context public domain may refer to ideas, information and works that are "publicly available"


"On the Internet" doesn't mean "Public Domain." At least not in any sense that would include something classified "Secret" by a government.

(Yes, yes... I know. Three million people. I tell ya what, find a college intern working for the FBI or something. They'll have Secret clearance. But they won't be able to just go into the Family Guy-Style manatee pool of secret balls and pull one out for you. I mean, yeah, sure, they'll have access to secrets. But not three million of them.)

(Whether you think Assange and/or Manning is a hero or a villain isn't even relevant in this regard.)
posted by Cyrano at 4:07 AM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


The first amendment should protect Assange --- Even if he were an American, I suspect it wouldn't, or it wouldn't stop them from trying to prosecute him until he screamed "Uncle."
posted by crunchland at 4:18 AM on December 4, 2010


A similar message was sent by email to my DoD workplace when the war-related WikiLeaks were released. It read something like 'we've blocked access to the domain, because the documents are still classified, and we are reminding you that reading these documents on your home computer is not permitted...'

At the time I thought it was kind of silly, since to really blind myself to what was happening I'd have to turn off the radio, stop watching television news, or not get any news from any internet source. Like being sequestered on a jury, without the hotel room.

When the latest batch of documents was released we got a similar warning. I got up from my desk and went to the bathroom. On the way I passed a Philadelphia Inquirer honor box near our cafeteria. Guess what the headline was? "WikiLeaks releases diplomatic docs"
posted by fixedgear at 4:48 AM on December 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


clavdivs, I'd spouse you for your excellent point about defining wikileaks except that would make me Caesar's wife and I'd still like to be able to read documents like these.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:49 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


In the abstract, I'm okay with the State Department deciding calling attention to Wikileaks is an indication of an inability to handle secret or classified material, given that ability to handle classified material is presumably something they want to assess in potential employees. On the other hand, I hope that, having made the decision, the State Department would only want to hire people who would have avoided doing so with being told. On the third hand, I can't help but wonder if the sort of person who links to the cables at the Guardian on Facebook or wherever is the sort of person who you'd want working for the State Department, in that they want the government to be accountable and held to a high standard. You don't want the to hire the guy who would give the documents to Wikileaks, but you maybe do want the guy who cares what's in those documents.
posted by hoyland at 5:08 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


The first amendment should protect Assange.

This is highly doubtful. Espionage, which is exactly what Assange is doing here, is a crime, defined as such in . The United States has executed people for espionage. Now there's certainly a discussion to be had about whether or not they should have been executed, things being political and all, but there's no real question that the First Amendment is going to be any kind of defense in an actual espionage case.

18 U.S.C. 798 reads, in part, as follows:
(a) Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information—
(3) concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government;
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
(b) As used in subsection (a) of this section—
The term “classified information” means information which, at the time of a violation of this section, is, for reasons of national security, specifically designated by a United States Government Agency for limited or restricted dissemination or distribution;
So, basically, exactly what Assange has done. Anyone who thinks the First Amendment is going to be any kind of defense here has no concept of how the First Amendment actually works.
posted by valkyryn at 5:08 AM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Espionage, which is exactly what Assange is doing here, is a crime"

Great leaping leaps Batman! Espionage? Really? Publicly? And here's my thinking spying was all secret and stuff...
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 5:17 AM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh, give it a rest yourself, dersins. It has nothing to do with expressing support for leaking or WikiLeaks or cheering on the downfall of the paranoid conspiracy-driven mindset that apparently still thinks it’s World War II or something because man wasn’t it so great when we had to do all that do-or-die stuff to fight evil?

No: from the FP freaking “The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified documents.”

The front pages of the New York Times and the Grauniad and Le Monde and El Pais and Der Speigel just became classified. People who might one day want jobs with the feds can’t admit to having read the important news organs of the day because they will then have seen “classified material” without permission.

I mean Christ obviously you wouldn’t want to say to someone you want to get a job with hey it’s so cool what this guy is doing to totally fuck your shit up, I mean this is basic stuff and this is not what everyone is rolling their eyes over and shifting the target like that is almost as funny as Godwinning the thread by likening the release of embarrassing diplomatic gossip and evidence of war crimes with blowing D-Day to the Nazis.

From Assange’s “State and Terrorist Conspiracies,” an early WikiLeaks mission statement:
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.
This insanity—pretending that what is read and discussed openly by engaged citizens around the world is still “classified” and if you are to work in the federal government you must eschew any and all open contact with this discussion—is a distressingly mad sign of precisely that secrecy tax. Governments do indeed need secrets; I don’t think that anyone is (okay, that most are) arguing that. But this is well beyond the pale, and has been in the United States since at least 1947.
posted by kipmanley at 5:24 AM on December 4, 2010 [34 favorites]


Should have said “FP freaking P.” Obviously I need to go get some coffee.
posted by kipmanley at 5:26 AM on December 4, 2010


I can't believe you guys are linking to stuff, here... So brave.
posted by ServSci at 5:38 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Valkryn, picking up on kipmanley's point above...as Assange and Wikileaks didn't steal the documents, simply published them, does that mean that the Guardian, NYT et al are as guilty of espionage against the US, as they've done the same thing (as have every paper and news broadcast that have repeated the contents of the cables)? And if not, can you explain why not?

(no snark, genuine question).
posted by reynir at 5:43 AM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Reporters Without Borders statement about the move to push Wikileaks off the web.

Espionage, which is exactly what Assange is doing here, is a crime

That's highly debatable, as lots of lawyers are pointing out right now. What Bradley Manning did in leaking the cables is a crime. What Wikileaks did in publishing them is a different matter. You should at least read this, valkryn: Wikileaks Has Committed No Crime:

But in the United States, generally publishing classified information is not a crime. The sort of information that a news organization can be prosecuted for publishing is limited to: nuclear secrets (Atomic Energy Act), the identities of covert agents (Intelligence Identities Protection Act), and certain forms of communications intelligence (Section 798 of the Espionage Act).

Perhaps lamenting that the U.S. does not have an Official Secrets Act like the United Kingdom, right wing columnists have consistently misinterpreted these Acts, or have cited other provisions of our espionage laws which almost surely do not apply to Wikileaks.

The most commonly cited statute by those who advocate prosecuting Wikileaks is Section 793(e) of the Espionage Act. In August, former Bush speechwriter Marc Theissen linked to this section in an article for the Washington Post when he wrote that Wikileaks is “a criminal enterprise” whose founder, Julian Assange, should be arrested by U.S. forces on foreign soil, international law be damned.

But this provision does not apply to those who publish information.

posted by mediareport at 5:46 AM on December 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


What everyone is very conspicuously missing here is what Wikileaks is for. It's not about the content of the cables. It's not about incidents where reporers are blown away by 50mm rounds fired on bare suspicion. It's not specifically about torture or incompetence or cruelty or anything similar.

Assange has written numerous essays on this. He and his friends believe that the world's governments and multinational corporations have fused into an oligarchal conspiracy. It is by no means unified and has many internal conflicts, but it usually gets its shit together in any conflict between itself and the mass of ordinary people who aren't part of it. It is the very definition of Fascism as Mussolini put it, a fusion of government and corporate power into an unstoppable juggernaut, and while there are numerous conflicting sub-juggernauts jockeying for position vis-a-vis one another the one thing they all agree on is to unify against the people when the people organize to protest what the oligarchy is doing.

What Wikileaks is trying to do is to disrupt this organization's internal communications by making it so paranoid that its parts are afraid to communicate with one another. In this sense dersin is exactly right -- the government, and big business, do need secrets and it is precisely this Achilles' heel that Wikileaks is designed to attack. Of course these organizations are, if they are sensible, going to go after Assange and Wikileaks with everything they have. Assange has made no secret on his part that he's out to at least weaken, if not utterly destroy them.

Assange would have been an idiot not to expect this kind of pushback, and so far the evidence is that he may have an ego the size of the Greater Magellanic Cloud but he is by no means an idiot. So far they have had a fallback plan for each countermeasure that has been tried against them. If they are as serious as they seem to be, they most likely have anticipated Assange's capture and the disruption of their entire overt organization.

It is possible that Wikileaks is a mile wide and an inch deep and that once their government and business targets do to them what they are trying to do to their targets, they will evaporate like a shallow puddle on a hot summer day. On the other hand they may have the large hidden infrastructure they've hinted at, ready to spring forth a new incarnation in some unexpected way as soon as the current visible incarnation is no longer viable. This is the rhetoric Assange has used in his essays; Wikileaks has declared war and they are ready for battle. Thus all their own cloak-and-dagger maneuvers, which everyone thought were so comical a couple of months ago.

Whether they are as ready for all this as they think they are will only be known in the future.

P.S. to our visitors from the CIA, hi fellows and be aware that I am not declaring allegiance with Wikileaks or defending their intentions, just pointing out what they're up to. kthxbye
posted by localroger at 5:47 AM on December 4, 2010 [144 favorites]


Isn't this sound advice for students hoping to work for the government? Similarly, whether it's illegal or not someone hoping to work at a religious elementary school shouldn't post pictures of themselves in drag or links to pro-atheist material.
posted by monkeymadness at 5:54 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


when large portions of the Windows 2000 source code were released, a lot of OSS programmers were careful to avoid any contact with the code, and to suggest others do the same, to avoid the possibility of contaminating their current and future projects with a possible legal claim by Microsoft to copyright or trade secret infringement.

There's common sense and there's ridiculous paranoia. Seeing something isn't going to legally contaminate your mind and cause anything you create to belong to microsoft.


My understanding of is this is that not-seeing-the-source-code protects programmers who reverse engineer things. A lot of open-source projects are clones of commercial ones. (I am not a Lawyer, but I've heard) it's legal to clone a commercial project if you reverse engineer it: if you only know WHAT it does, not HOW it does it, you can make your own program that does the same thing. Open Office can exist as-long-as it just copies the functionality of MS Office without copying Microsoft's mechanics.

If I run a company and want to make a Photoshop clone, when I hire you, I need to ask you if you've ever seen any of Adobe's source code. If you have, I'm not going to hire you. Because Adobe can later claim my company has copied their under-the-hood code. But they can't claim that if you've everyone who works for us has never seen Adobe's code.
posted by grumblebee at 6:07 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


...or what fat bird said in the first flipping post. Sorry.
posted by monkeymadness at 6:08 AM on December 4, 2010


It's not all that obvious. asking potential hires to avoid even reading stuff in the public domain is downright bizzare.

It is absolutely obvious, actually. Classified information does not magically become unclassified because it's been leaked; everything that has been released by WikiLeaks is still classified according to the US Government. Granted, a lot of people have seen this information now, but there's no magic number of unauthorized people that have to see something before it suddenly becomes releasable.

By the strictest letter of the law, anyone accessing this information is gaining access to unauthorized state secrets, which is a crime. The whole point of the government performing a background check for a potential security clearance is to determine trustworthiness. If you are so cavalier with secrets as to have evidence of dealing with WikiLeaks dumps plastered all over the internet, then yes, the government is going to look askance at hiring you. And with employment the way it is, it might be a good idea to be just that little bit extra cautious.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:14 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, basically, exactly what Assange has done. Anyone who thinks the First Amendment is going to be any kind of defense here has no concept of how the First Amendment actually works.

But could Assange be charged with espionage if he's not a citizen of the US? The Rosenbergs were civilians but also US citizens.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:14 AM on December 4, 2010


By the strictest letter of the law, anyone accessing this information is gaining access to unauthorized state secrets, which is a crime.

Levels of classification do not apply to civilians. Under which law specifically would someone be prosecuted for looking at these documents?
posted by krinklyfig at 6:17 AM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


To reiterate the point already made numerous times: foreign nationals operating in their own countries are not directly susceptible to United States law. Nor are the laws of the United States applicable to any other country, up to and including nations with which the US is allied or affiliated. Nor, under the statutes of the United Nations, is the US considered to have judicial privilege over the laws of any other nation. I recommend a thorough reading of international and extradition law to anyone who is unclear on this point.
posted by malusmoriendumest at 6:18 AM on December 4, 2010 [12 favorites]


By the strictest letter of the law, anyone accessing this information is gaining access to unauthorized state secrets, which is a crime.

Yeah, that's just patently untrue right there.
posted by mediareport at 6:22 AM on December 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


Seeing something isn't going to legally contaminate your mind and cause anything you create to belong to microsoft.

As a Microsoft employee, I can't generally look at source code that the company doesn't own, at least in areas that are at all related to my own work. The company lawyers call this "tainting", and I've heard it applied both to people and to bodies of work.

/derail
posted by Slothrup at 6:24 AM on December 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Isn't this sound advice for students hoping to work for the government? Similarly, whether it's illegal or not someone hoping to work at a religious elementary school shouldn't post pictures of themselves in drag or links to pro-atheist material.

If I was hiring people for government work I'd want them to be as well informed on current affairs as possible.
posted by dng at 6:28 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


These happened to be documents that, rightly or wrongly, the government felt should be kept secret.

No. The government should not be given a pass to keep things secret wrongly. We need whistleblowers for precisely those occasions.
posted by Marla Singer at 6:28 AM on December 4, 2010 [16 favorites]


Between spammers, advertisers, and employers mining for dirt, I'd suggest the best option is to just stay off the internet altogether.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:34 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


But could Assange be charged with espionage if he's not a citizen of the US? The Rosenbergs were civilians but also US citizens.

I think you're confusing espionage with treason.
posted by waitingtoderail at 6:37 AM on December 4, 2010


Ever notice how the frame of the media from day one has been about Wikileaks and whether Wikileaks is evil and not about, I dunno, killing civilians in Iraq and how killing civilians in Iraq is evil? Really, I could give a rat's ass about Wikileaks.

Here's hoping future conscientious whistle blowers are a little more savvy about setting the media frame. Might as well have leaked to My Space. Traditional media may be becoming less and less relevant but they still have lawyers, they still have ethics committees and they have a deep hesitancy to make themselves the center of the story. You can't bring the entire organization of Reuters up on rape charges and you can't threaten Federal employees for reading the Washington Post.
posted by Skwirl at 6:43 AM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


I wish wikileaks had been around during the reign of GWB.
posted by mareli at 6:50 AM on December 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


Ok, so there's a controversy over whether or not WikiLeaks has committed federal crimes. That's an open question unless and until indictment, conviction and exhaustion of appeal.

For those on the "it's a crime" side of the equation, here's a serious question:

If WikiLeaks is engaged in criminal conduct, as many have alleged, why is it not true that there is also a criminal conspiracy involving the US media that was party to the release?

Extra bonus related question: Since there is some kind of a line separating criminal knowledge that exempts, say, newspaper readers from breaking the law relating to accessing classified information, where does that line fall? The location of that line is neither clear nor bright to me.

I find these sort of questions much more interesting than the "did so! - did not!" tantrums. The emotional energy invested in assertions doesn't have squat to do with the truth value of those assertions.

If I was going to hazard a guess, the Wikileaks controversy won't be decided in US courts.
posted by warbaby at 6:53 AM on December 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


eugenen : This is blindingly obvious stuff

Yup, I'd say we can all agree that governments need some secrets. I would personally say very very few, but I'll accept occasionally not knowing a small bit of info that means life and death to hundreds of thousands of people (with the caveat that keeping such a "hypothetical" secret saves or improves those lives, not cons the public into supporting a war against the wrong country and costs those lives).

So it seems all the more important that our leaders not abuse that privilege by blanket classifying everything; or better yet, how about if the don't do things they wouldn't want made public. I know, crazy idea, right?



and there is nothing shitter-related about it

I would say the "shitter" part comes from the need for the state department to point out the blindingly obvious. When so many people consider WikiLeaks the "good" guys outing the US government as the "bad" guys, that it doesn't occur to polysci majors that exposure to classified materials might harm their future job prospects - We have a problem.

And WikiLeaks ain't it.
posted by pla at 7:00 AM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


The difference being that between 1939 and 1945, you would have been keeping secrets on behalf of fighting war crimes rather than supporting them.

Is it your contention that with millions of soldiers deployed around the world fighting in every theater there were no war crimes committed by a single allied act during WWII? No Mai Lai massacres in some village, no murder or torture of POWs, no accidental bombing of orphanages? Or was it just that Mussolini was somehow more evil? Did we report whatthe Russians did to the Nazi POWs?
posted by humanfont at 7:10 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Governments need secrets to function: agreed.

However, once governments have a secrecy protection mechanism in place, they tend to stuff all kinds of Things We Would Rather Not Have Happening into the secrecy protection mechanism. Atomic secrets, yeah, probably a good plan to keep a lid on that for a while. On the other hand, the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment continued for forty years until a leak exposed it. As it was a secret, the project continued through one bureaucrat after another until it was exposed.

The function of leaks related to Things We Would Rather Not Have Happening is that it causes re-evaluation of what gets classified and generally ends up with another round of transparency, until people get complacent again. Government, like a forest, must burn every so often.
posted by adipocere at 7:16 AM on December 4, 2010 [20 favorites]


Skwirl, Wikileaks has gone to great efforts to make the content of the leaks the main focus, and not hog the spotlight for themselves. If you're trying to insinuate that their primary focus is to shine the spotilight on themselves, that's disingenuous. They created a whole separate website called collateralmuder.com just to bring the Iraq video leaks to light, for chrissakes. Our politicians and mainstream media that focus on irrelevant crap, but that' not the fault of Wikileaks.

As for Wikileaks' relationship to mainstream media, have yourself a gander at what Julian Assange says in this video (conveniently forwarded to just the right part for you) -- he claims that the NY Times told him to make the documents public first, and then they would report on it. They wanted Wikileaks/Assange to be the fall guy in case there was a political shitstorm over it; they didn't want to take the risk themselves.
posted by Marla Singer at 7:16 AM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


That video worked when I tried it in a separate tab. Dang. Well, the part you want is at !!:28.
posted by Marla Singer at 7:17 AM on December 4, 2010


11:28. need coffee
posted by Marla Singer at 7:18 AM on December 4, 2010


Stuff that has been released and widely disseminated is not automatically declassified. But it should be. There should be one guy whose job is to identify when documents have been widely leaked, and to declassify them.

Otherwise we end up with a situation where the general public can easily and legally view these documents, and certain government workers cannot. This puts them in a pointless bind, and generates reams of needless and career-damaging bureaucracy. The classification system should only continue to be used where it serves a purpose, and here, the purpose has evaporated.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:19 AM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


What Wikileaks is trying to do is to disrupt this organization's internal communications by making it so paranoid that its parts are afraid to communicate with one another

The obvious outcome for the oligarchy would be to create more centralized control. Certainly individual agencies will better centralize their control of information and decision making. Centralized leadership tends to make worse decisions, especially ethically, but tends to be more efficient at implementing those decisions. The efficiency of dictatorship.

Meanwhile, it's well known in sociology that examples of people that push the boundaries of social decorum and taboo too far end up encouraging average people to be more compliant to social norms and more conservative.

If disrupting the oligarchy is the goal of Wikileaks, then they're likely to find that the metaphorical giant will awaken from the wikileak induced fever stronger and with a better immune system and a bit more pissy than before.
posted by Skwirl at 7:20 AM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile, it's well known in sociology that examples of people that push the boundaries of social decorum and taboo too far end up encouraging average people to be more compliant to social norms and more conservative.

I have a degree in sociology, yet I'm not familiar with this at all. Citation please.
posted by Marla Singer at 7:27 AM on December 4, 2010 [12 favorites]


So glad that I have no desire to be hobbled by a government job, and that my opinions and interests and speech can remain my own.

They've got your number. Just wait to see what happens when you get your next parking ticket.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:48 AM on December 4, 2010


[[ The difference being that between 1939 and 1945, you would have been keeping secrets on behalf of fighting war crimes rather than supporting them. ]]

Is it your contention that with millions of soldiers deployed around the world fighting in every theater there were no war crimes committed by a single allied act during WWII?


No.

My contention is that our hypothetical Operation Overlord secret keeper is doing so on behalf of a military effort against a nation that has declared war on us - so against whom we are acting in self-defense.

This is not the case with secrets about our having bombed Yemeni civilians.

But since American Exceptionalism makes it difficult for most people to think objectively about the actions of our military, let's try an analogy that doesn't involve cruise missiles...

A psychiatrist holds his patient's secrets in the strictest confidence... until it becomes clear that those secrets are going to get someone killed. At that point, they are not merely allowed but required to break that confidence.

You see where I'm going with this?

Private Manning took an oath to defend the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic, I believe.

He is doing so - at great personal cost.

If the world survives the end of the American empire, he will be remembered more kindly than many of the people commenting in this thread.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:02 AM on December 4, 2010 [18 favorites]


By the strictest letter of the law, anyone accessing this information is gaining access to unauthorized state secrets, which is a crime.

Levels of classification do not apply to civilians. Under which law specifically would someone be prosecuted for looking at these documents?
posted by krinklyfig


Yes, they apply to civilians. There are lots of civilians working as government contractors (which are just plain old companies) who have clearances. Perhaps you meant that it wasn't illegal for someone who doesn't have a clearance (and hence has not pledged to safeguard this information) to access this information. At this point I'm not sure if that's true or not.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 8:06 AM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Perhaps you meant that it wasn't illegal for someone who doesn't have a clearance (and hence has not pledged to safeguard this information) to access this information. At this point I'm not sure if that's true or not.

This quote from MeFi's favorite philosopher* is eternally relevant:

There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

* Yes, I'm being facetious.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:11 AM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


The obvious outcome for the oligarchy would be to create more centralized control.

I think you're missing the basic point, skwirl; first and foremost control requires communication. Whether a function is performed by ten large entities cooperating or one ten times larger entity, the various parts have to communicate to work toward a common goal and not duplicate or worse cross effort.

Take the Collateral Murder release. Those videos exist for a reason. They're necessary to train and evaluate the people who are trusted with millions of dollars worth of high-tech death machinery. Without those videos there's no way to even know whether the protocols are being followed in the field. A natural reaction to the leak would be to turn off the cameras. Can't leak film that really doesn't exist, after all. But if it doesn't exist all of the positive functionality -- making sure your guys are doing it right, in this case -- also goes away. And it has the same effect on thousands of unrelated communication channels throughout the organization. Once you're more worried about how it will look on CNN than on whether it accomplishes its purpose, you're no longer doing your actual job.

A company or government is ultimately made up of people. Those people have to be told what to do (or do the telling at the higher levels), and they have to be monitored to make sure they're doing what they're told, and the overal work of thousands of them has to be synchronized. In any organization larger than a bicycle shop that is going to require written, recorded, or recordable communications.

But if the organization is too afraid to make those communications because of the possibility that they might be intercepted and leaked, it will fall apart. Making the organization larger by consolidating smaller into larger doesn't help that; in fact, it makes the collapse that much more thorough because it's not just BoA failing and not getting rescued, it's the whole larger unit that absorbed BoA.
posted by localroger at 8:15 AM on December 4, 2010 [13 favorites]


Absolutely incredulous. People are supposed to accept the fact that Wikileaks now poses a contamination threat to their career? The spirit of that message is baffling. I would say shoot the messenger, but then I'm not feeling particularly manly.
posted by tybeet at 8:18 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Isnt this post about Columbia and the superficiality of online 'personalities' promoting careerism and online groupthink?

I'd give you all C- minuses here...which is probably a Columbia 4.0
posted by lslelel at 8:21 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


That said, I've added PayPal to my list of companies I will personally never do business with again.

I would love to see your list, and I would like to know how much your ability to navigate through life has been affected.
posted by flarbuse at 8:28 AM on December 4, 2010


Yes, they apply to civilians. There are lots of civilians working as government contractors (which are just plain old companies) who have clearances. Perhaps you meant that it wasn't illegal for someone who doesn't have a clearance (and hence has not pledged to safeguard this information) to access this information. At this point I'm not sure if that's true or not.

What I meant was, classifications exist for the purposes people who work for the government, not the citizens outside of that. "Civilian" wasn't precise. Classifications aren't legal code. I am not aware of any law which prevents people from reading leaked classified material. The legal responsibility is on someone with access who leaked. I am not sure that any law which proposed otherwise would be enforceable in any reasonable manner.

I think you're confusing espionage with treason.

While espionage is illegal, it's not possible to charge someone with espionage who is not a citizen.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:32 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Perhaps you meant that it wasn't illegal for someone who doesn't have a clearance (and hence has not pledged to safeguard this information) to access this information. At this point I'm not sure if that's true or not.

I have never been asked to keep these secrets, and I have never promised to do so. I am not employed by any government. I am not in the military. I find it hard to believe that anyone who is not in the military/employed by the feds who reads about this in the NYT or follows a link posted in a article (or here on the blue, even) is guilty of breaking whatever law they are supposedly breaking.
posted by rtha at 8:34 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


People are supposed to accept the fact that Wikileaks now poses a contamination threat to their career? The spirit of that message is baffling.

Certainly not "baffling" in the sense of "difficult to understand".

The government's position could not be clearer. If you host this material, we will try to destroy you professionally. If you read this material, we will try to destroy you professionally.

does that mean that the Guardian, NYT et al are as guilty of espionage against the US, as they've done the same thing (as have every paper and news broadcast that have repeated the contents of the cables)? And if not, can you explain why not?

Prosecuting the NYT under the Espionage Act might startle the sheep. The government can accomplish its ends far more smoothly by making this about Notorious Rapist and Hater of America, Julian Assange.

Besides, as the Amazon fiasco shows, to keep a corporation in line, you don't have to threaten it with prosecution. You only have to threaten it with losing money.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:35 AM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Truth, conspiracy, paranoia, confusing hopes/fears with facts and righteousness and hyperbole. No one--not one single poster, leaker, reader, politician, social theorist, etc. knows whether these "leaks" will lead to a better/worse society, greater/lesser freedoms or improved/compromised living conditions for one person, a thousand people or millions of people. It is part of an ongoing social experiment whose outcomes will play out. And I would guess that 2/3rds of the rhetoric regarding the essential rightness/wrongness of this could have been written weeks before the release and reflect much more political ideology than science or knowledge.. I find the righteousness associated with either extreme ( yea, this is good for the world or no, assassinate the bastards ) equally problematic. Though I only live in the States part of the year one of the two or three things I find most troubling is the focus on the US as the enemy of free speech and human rights. Give me a break--in most of the world--and I do mean most--these leaks would never have been published , governments would have gone berserk and the real meaning of oppression would have been acted out. I am guessing, and that is all it is, that the US was a relatively safe target for wikileaks.
I am just as worried by those of you who are so certain of their rightness as I sometimes am by the government. My personal thoughts--it is not a big deal, usually not a good idea to embarrass either friends or enemies and it will not fundamentally change anything. Also, you can mess with the government but the multinationals will, and should, present another whole set of problems and challenges for wikileaks.
posted by rmhsinc at 8:52 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


oneswellfoop: Your theory was bad in that it did not consider basic elements of Tradecraft, I.E. to many assumptions. I know it was an exercise, conspiracy theroies are fun. Your theory was conjecture with no supporting 'evidence' outside your proscribed criteria.

A psychiatrist holds his patient's secrets in the strictest confidence... until it becomes clear that those secrets are going to get someone killed. At that point, they are not merely allowed but required to break that confidence.

The worst analogy I have read on mefi in a while. Shall we be bring Dr. Feilding in?

Private Manning took an oath to defend the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic, I believe.

by you qualifying him as a 'private' you "clearly" point out his obligations, I believe.
Joe, ever here the word misdirection?

* Yes, I'm being facetious.
posted by clavdivs at 8:54 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I guess I'd feel some sort of outrage about this if the US government, or any of the governments of the world, had demonstrated that the purpose of them keeping secrets was for the defense of the state, and not for the defense of lawbreakers, ghastly errors, and things that should never have been done. Yes, how to make the bomb should be kept secret. Who and when we're going to attack during war should be kept secret.

I'd defy you to sift through these documents and find more than a fraction of a percent that can be categorized this way. No, government secrets tend to be Iran-Contra, COINTELPRO, MK-ULTRA, Tuskegee, Abu Gharib, and that president Roosevelt was confined to a wheelchair. We cover up criminality, vanity, murder, and torture. And we find out about this because of leaks.

The cry of treason is the greatest defense the professional criminal ever had, and as long as people believe it, injustices can be perpetrated forever, in our name, by our government, without us ever knowing it and being able to do anything about it. Democracy relies on the tattletale to survive.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:57 AM on December 4, 2010 [38 favorites]


Stepping gingerly over the whole topic of whether or not current U.S. military and state department interventions = war crimes, let me offer this following career anecdote:

After I passed the bar, I had to go talk to somebody about my civil disobedience conviction. It was such a minor thing, like a traffic ticket, that I was really surprised when it earned me a big 'ol lecture during the bar interview.

I probably would have got myself arrested anyway, but it would have been nice to know about the consequences first.
posted by angrycat at 8:59 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I find it interesting that folks stating that non-cleared civilians are committing a crime if they view classified information seem to be approaching that issue from the espionage-is-treasonous-and-therefore-a-crime direction. Of course governments have certainly been able to make that logic stick but as an ACLU member I tend to feel that more eyes and voices involved is actually quite a bit more patriotic than surrendering to fear and paranoia.
posted by kalessin at 9:04 AM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


1- People need to differentiate between what is and what ought to be. The government ought not do a lot of things, but as it stands right now, they do them, things are legal and illegal. You can't argue what ought to be about something that already happened under existing rules and laws. It ought to be legal to smoke pot, but it isn't, and doing so is breaking the law.

So, the advice given is sound. If you want to play in the government work game, you better not break any of their rules. It is irrelevant in that context, to argue about what should be legal or not, what should be classified or not and anything else. It is definitely possible that 5 years from now, during the clearance interviews, for wikileaks to never come up. But you never know, and a question could come up where you either have to lie, or fess up. Fessing up might get you kicked, lying will for sure if you get caught.

And if you think all of this is silly, god bless you. But, as they say, don't come crying to [whoever] if that ends up biting you in the ass.

2- Manning is (mostly) a whistleblower. He broke his employer's rules to expose what he thought were bad acts. This is complicated by his being in the military and all. When you sign up, you give up a lot of protections for things like that, and take various oaths.

We don't know what was in his head when he did it. It seems relevant that if he actually believed what he was doing was for the greater good, why he didn't turn himself in. Why didn't he publish it himself? It is possible he just didn't think through the implications. But that's hard to believe given his position in the Army. It seems, at least, more complicated than "hero versus traitor". Why wikileaks and not, say, any US newspaper?

3- Clearances are always "need to know". There are two overlying systems of information access: the secret, top secret, etc., classifications. No matter what, someone can't view things above their clearance level. And they have to act to protect any information they do have access to. But there is also the need to know access "tree". As others upthread have said, having a clearance doesn't mean that you get access to everything cleared at that level. You still have to be given permission based on what work you are doing.

4- Wikileaks isn't covered by the first amendment. They don't operate in the US and nobody involved is a US citizen that I know of. Could not be more irrelevant.

5- Wikileaks' [stated] mission is a mostly good one. I'm not so sure about Julian Assange. He seems unhinged. Being paranoid and ending up right doesn't change the fact that you are paranoid. He started from the assumption that the US was doing bad things, and set out to prove that. In a sense, he got "lucky" in that he has been able to prove that he was right. When I hear him talk, he sounds almost like he has a messiah complex. He IS anti-American- not because of what he did, but because of the words that come out of his mouth. He doesn't like what the american government does, and he doesn't like what american business does, and he doesn't like the fact that americans choose to support the same. He's got that right, of course, and I respect his right. But you really can't say he is not anti-american simply because you agree with him.

And he is in one sense naive- war crimes happen. They always will. War is no good, and we (humanity) shouldn't be doing it. But Assange is either purposefully or naively framing it like the US set out to commit these crimes. And where he really lost all credibility was that video edit thing. Just the thought of editing a video of people killing other people to make it more impactful is disgusting, especially for an org who is all about letting the data free and letting the user make the determinations.

He is a nut with an imagined grudge. The fact that he is right doesn't make him any less of a nut.
posted by gjc at 9:08 AM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


I find it interesting that folks stating that non-cleared civilians are committing a crime if they view classified information seem to be approaching that issue from the espionage-is-treasonous-and-therefore-a-crime direction. Of course governments have certainly been able to make that logic stick but as an ACLU member I tend to feel that more eyes and voices involved is actually quite a bit more patriotic than surrendering to fear and paranoia.

I agree with you to the extent that viewing these documents actually is a civil liberty. I don't know that it is. If there is no law against it, then hell yes we should do everything we can.

The complications are the collateral damage in this fight: right or wrong, the leak exposed other third parties to, um, exposure for doing various things. I'm not sure how I feel about letting those people get sold out for some kind of greater good. It's an ends justifying the means issue for me- the end seems to be to stop the US from shooting people. Increasing the risk of other people getting harmed in an attempt to do so just doesn't sit right with me.
posted by gjc at 9:15 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Assange is either purposefully or naively framing it like the US set out to commit these crimes.

Or, you know, free of the American Exceptionalism that deludes someone into thinking that it makes any difference whether we meant to blow up those children or if they were just unlucky enough to get in our way while incompetently administering our criminal war of aggression in their country.

Once one achieves that enlightenment, "anti-Americanism" is difficult to avoid.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:32 AM on December 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


4- Wikileaks isn't covered by the first amendment. They don't operate in the US and nobody involved is a US citizen that I know of. Could not be more irrelevant.

The Bill of Rights applies to non-citizens too. The dual dodge behind which BoR-free zone Gitmo remains open is (1) it's not in the US so US courts have no jurisdiction there and (2) the residents are "enemy combatants" and it's established that the BoR can be suspended for everybody, not just aliens, in a war situation. (Honest Abe did it first.)

So yes, in a US court the First Amendment applies to them.
posted by localroger at 9:36 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


People seem to be arguing positions that don't exist in the original post. Nowhere does it say that you can't read newspapers or any of the other ridiculous stuff people are claiming. And nowhere does it say that providing a link is a crime. It simply makes the common sense observation that providing links to classified information might be detrimental to a career in a classified information job.
posted by JackFlash at 9:39 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, if anyone is interested, you can get it here as a torrent and never work for the government again/sarcasm

Our government is not infallible. It baffles me that people will get all bent out of shape over shit we pretty much already new.

Besides, information needs to be free, and last time I checked the government is suppose to be accountable to us. Should there be no secrets? No, somethings should be secret, but our government has been making most everything a secret these days. With secrets comes ZERO accountability.


Don't forget to seed!
posted by handbanana at 9:39 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


*knew, not new...
posted by handbanana at 9:40 AM on December 4, 2010


Is the next stop...'Logans Run'?
posted by clavdivs at 9:50 AM on December 4, 2010


I'm not sure how I feel about letting those people get sold out for some kind of greater good.

For soldiers, for instance, being ordered to do something illegal or treasonous is not sufficient defense for going ahead and doing that thing. Soldiers are required to refuse to carry out an illegal order. If they ken that it is illegal then they either follow that order on their own recognizance or they refuse it toward upholding the actual law. I know they can be imprisoned or punished for refusing to follow an order and I'm sorry it puts them in that position, but I do not think it allows them to say that it was okay for them to do an illegal thing because they were ordered to do so.

Similarly, people who are exposed by the sudden leak of diplomatic secrets? They know the risk of betrayal every time they operate in secret. It sucks, yes, but they undertake the risks as part of undertaking the job. Ethically, I care that they are doing what they think is right for me and my country's sake and I thank them for their efforts, but the fact that publication of their secrets puts them at risk is not my immediate problem, and I think that they are mindful of the greater good as they execute their jobs.

We all bend in different ways toward our greater goals. I thank them when they do their thing. I hope they would thank me when I do my thing. Such is the patriotic system.

Also? Secrets are not democratic. If anyone's treasonous when secrets are around, it's the folks keeping the secrets.
posted by kalessin at 9:57 AM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is not the case with secrets about our having bombed Yemeni civilians.

Wait no civilians were killed in WwII? IIRC the Japanese were the ones who bombed abd invaded portions of our Pacific empire (philipines, Hawaii). Note Hawaii wasn't a state at the time and we'd crushed the native Philipino resistance. Yet these acts were used to justify the firebombing of Tokyo, nuking Hiroshima & Nagasaki and a brutal assault on Okinawa.

Today in the regions of Yemen where we are engaged in warlike action, we face a group of committed extremists who just this past year+
-infiltrated a military base in Texas killing many at Ft Hood
-attempted to blow up an airplane over Detroit on Christmas day. Seeking to kill civilians on the ground and in the air.
-forced a misguided cartoonist into hiding over everybody draw Mohammed day.
-tried to detonate a carbomb in times square
-claimed credit for blowing up an aircraft near Dubai and attempted to blow up airplanes using explosives in printer cartridges.

Al Qaeda declared war on us in 1997 publically and on video. The publish monthly magazine of their criminal exploits (Inspire). They advise their followers to kill civilians everywhere purely because "their governments can't protect them all"

Local leaders everywhere should understand that if you harbor Al Qaeda leaders we are going to bomb your town. We may kill the people we seek or we might miss and hit your kids, your wife, you inlaws, cousins etc. This is the price you will pay based on your bad judgement. I'm reminded of the dialogue in Clerks about all the electricians and construction workers on the second death star.

The leaders of the tribal areas are sophisticated world class negotiators. They know the consequences of their continued acts and apparently they are willing to offer up their kids to drones for the cash they get from the Al Qaeda leaders and political clout they feel from their gangster allies. That is their problem.

Back to the core topic. I think the docs are out now. I suspect that were one to thank Manning or support wikileaks publically then it would be very difficult to get a clearance since you would seem to be implying that you would have leaked things under similar circumstances. I'm sure if you blogged about reading the archive or produced your own analysis of docs, then it might come up during an interview /background check. You will be expected to explain it. A career councilor or lawyer would tell you don't do it, then you won't have to explain it. The risk is small, but not insignificant depending on how you answer.
posted by humanfont at 10:03 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Local leaders People everywhere should understand that if you harbor Al Qaeda leaders Jews we... may kill the people we seek or... your kids, your wife, you inlaws, cousins etc. This is the price you will pay based on your bad judgement.

See what I did there?
posted by Joe Beese at 10:09 AM on December 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Wait no civilians were killed in WwII?

I bet a lot fewer of them would have been if something like Wikileaks had been around to bring the firebombing of Dresden to the front of the news cycle.
posted by enn at 10:10 AM on December 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Also, can someone tell me how or if it is possible to reach Wikileaks from the US right now? My assigned Speakeasy nameservers will not resolve wikileaks.org (I get a SERVFAIL) nor will 4.2.2.2.
posted by enn at 10:16 AM on December 4, 2010


-infiltrated a military base in Texas killing many at Ft Hood

Wait, really? Is this the talking point now? I know some delusional people seem to believe that all muslims are part of an international conspiracy to undermine the west, but are people really pushing Nidal Hasan as some kind of enemy infiltrator?
posted by kafziel at 10:17 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


...nor will the supposedly authoritative ns1.everydns.net, I meant to add, which fits with what the news has been reporting about EveryDNS dropping Wikileaks. Is there a direct IP or a working foreign nameserver anyone can recommend?
posted by enn at 10:18 AM on December 4, 2010


And where he really lost all credibility was that video edit thing. Just the thought of editing a video of people killing other people to make it more impactful is disgusting, especially for an org who is all about letting the data free and letting the user make the determinations.

The editing was done for time, if I remember correctly. It might have been tougher to get as many viewers of the unedited version. That said, a distinction there (and one that is perhaps critical) is that both edited and unedited versions were released. Going with the assumption that the unedited version is what it says on the tin, that allows the interested viewer to decide whether to trust the WL-edited version.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:18 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Joe Besse,

You bring up a good point.
People seem to forget history as to why Al Qaeda leaders have the ideology towards the US and the West in general.

We (US) aided and armed these groups during the Cold War to try and fight the ideology of Communism (One can't kill an idea, only people who support an idea).
When we were done using them, we stop aiding them.

It is so easy to classify an us vs. them mentality to people half way across the world who live in impoverished areas where groups like Al Qaeda aid poor people who have very little.
Plus I think having a school blown up by mistake and picking up dead children from the streets would leave a bad taste in your mouth none the less.
posted by handbanana at 10:19 AM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Just the thought of editing a video of people killing other people to make it more impactful is disgusting

I'm completely certain that you apply this standard to network news stations with rigorous consistency. Remind me, which such stations exactly chose to broadcast the full, 40-minute version of the Collateral Damage footage? It's somehow slipped my mind.
posted by enn at 10:20 AM on December 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


I've just noticed that the none of the links provided in the OP actually point to the source material quoted or any news item substantiating or discussing it. (Maybe no one noticed because we've all read about the story elsewhere already anyway, or maybe people are confusing it with this story in which law students at Boston U were essentially told the same thing?) In any case, here are two links pertaining to the Columbia U erm, career advice. If you're not afraid to follow them that is. Booga booga!
posted by Marla Singer at 10:20 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


enn,

Wiki leaks is reformatting their site.
Go to Wikipedia and it will give you their new site domains.
posted by handbanana at 10:22 AM on December 4, 2010


Daniel Craig is Julian Assange in this year's biggest high-octane spy-thriller:
The Transparent Threat

Sorry, but the script is secret right now.
posted by fuq at 10:24 AM on December 4, 2010


The main concern over these cables as that could fall under the catagory of MAJOR DOCS. It seems beyond a doubt that wikileaks is a NETWORK with a common HANDLER.

I bet a lot fewer of them would have been if something like Wikileaks had been around to bring the firebombing of Dresden to the front of the news cycle.
posted by enn

Daniel Craig is Julian Assange hey im pissed too, no james bond this year, means cheap budget.
posted by clavdivs at 10:30 AM on December 4, 2010


http://213.251.145.96/
http://wikileaks.nl/
http://www.wikileaks.ch/
posted by adamvasco at 10:31 AM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Thank you, handbanana.
posted by enn at 10:33 AM on December 4, 2010


Local leaders People everywhere should understand that if you harbor Al Qaeda leaders Jews we... may kill the people we seek or... your kids, your wife, you inlaws, cousins etc. This is the price you will pay based on your bad judgement.

See what I did there?


Wait, what? How is "Al Qaeda" at all analogous to "Jews" beyond "groups of people who don't eat pork"? I don't agree with his initial point, but in the rush for dramatic effect, I think you missed the "logic" off-ramp.
posted by Amanojaku at 10:34 AM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wiki leaks is reformatting their site.
Go to Wikipedia and it will give you their new site domains.


I would recommend Wikileaks twitter feed over that; more timely updates and less chance of error. There's also WL Central: The unofficial Wikileaks information resource.
posted by Marla Singer at 10:44 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Amanojaku,

Its not a completely analogous situation, but to say if you have any relation, relative, or proximity to these groups, sorry, you are aiding an enemy in our eyes and the ends justify the means, including death.

Not exactly "missing the logic off ramp", perhaps you just didn't follow it.
posted by handbanana at 10:44 AM on December 4, 2010


that would make me Caesar's wife and I'd still like to be able to read documents like these.
posted by MonkeyToes

Please and Do. But your humor might imply (I) am a NOTIONAL AGENT. [which is absurd] If you are joking...Caesers wife is above reproach. read on, I encourage it and I see no lack of courage in this thread by anyone.

I think you missed the "logic" off-ramp.
I will second. misdirection or derail is not that if it asserts other relevant data more to the question at hand. Asking questions and discussing similarites are a far cry from Joes' tobbaggon run into "we are going to be rounded up".
I find it undermining as it denies our ability to resist under our own terms. IMO, he is 'stealing' perspective and reason.
posted by clavdivs at 10:49 AM on December 4, 2010


Diplomacy is negotiation on behalf of the national interest. In terms of achieving our national interest (whatever you believe that to be freedom, cheap oil, continued primacy of the dollar on the world economy), diplomacy is the alternative to war on the one hand and capitulation of national goals on the other.

I always understood that when negotiating, whether for a used car, a reduced prison sentence, or the abandonment of a nuclear weapons program, secrets are necessary. You don't divulge your bottom line number, you don't divulge your hidden strengths, and you don't divulge your knowledge of your adversary's hidden weaknesses.

That's why, on balance and based on what I've read so far, I don't support Wikileak's release of these State Department wires. They were classified at a low level of secrecy and on a need-to-know basis to balance the need for negotiational secrecy versus interagency intelligence-sharing. That's why they were available to 3 million sworn agents of the United States (its soldiers and diplomats), but not to all 300 million of its citizens, or to citizens of other countries.

Do I think some good has come of these leaks? Yes, knowing about these abuses may help us address the illegal practices of the Iraq war. Then again, Cablegate wasn't limited to these documents.

But do I think bad has come of these leaks? Yes, as an American, I do. It was probably beneficial to have an American diplomat at that Dagestanian wedding, if only so we knew who was carrying the biggest guns. Are American diplomats less likely to be invited to Dagestanian weddings in the future after this leak? I suspect so. Is America going to harmed by the future loss of this intelligence gathering opportunity in a volatile spot in the world? I say yes.

A non-American should feel free to act or make arguments counter to America's national interest. An American should feel free to make arguments about what constitutes America's national interest (for that matter, an American should also feel free to make arguments counter to America's national interest -- the First Amendment's greatest strength is its ability to endure in the face of paradoxical calls for its abolishment). But I think it's absurd for anyone to argue that secrets are not useful tools to America's diplomats who, in some large or small degree, are posted around the world to negotiate for things Americans want (or at least have voted for).

I don't think it's American exceptionalism to expect this for our State Department. (Nor, to address the links in the OP, am I surprised when the State Department does what it can to limit the spread of this information that hinders its mission.) I am sure the Dagestanis have the same expectations and practices for their foreign ministry, and so does every other country in the world that holds goals that its neighbors next door or across the world may not share.
posted by hhc5 at 10:52 AM on December 4, 2010 [12 favorites]


It's actually sound career advice. Comparably, when large portions of the Windows 2000 source code were released, a lot of OSS programmers were careful to avoid any contact with the code, and to suggest others do the same, to avoid the possibility of contaminating their current and future projects with a possible legal claim by Microsoft to copyright or trade secret infringement.

There's common sense and there's ridiculous paranoia. Seeing something isn't going to legally contaminate your mind and cause anything you create to belong to microsoft.
It's not an issue of a contaminated mind, it's that if you post an analysis of some section of the Windows 2000 code on Kuro5hin, and then your OSS project does something similar to what MS has done that was in the released code, it becomes much much harder for you to defend yourself in court. Or rather, it's much easier to defend yourself against an infringement claim by MS if they're unable to demonstrate that you had contact with the released source code, against your assertions that you deliberately avoided contact.

Being told to avoid reposting, linking, or commenting on the Wikileaks dump is like being told "If you want to work at Walmart, don't post anti-Walmart screeds in your Facebook profile". It's that simple.
asking potential hires to avoid even reading stuff in the public domain is downright bizzare.
They weren't told not to read it, they were told not to connect themselves to it if they want a state department career. And it's not in the public domain--all the material is still classified.
posted by fatbird at 11:02 AM on December 4, 2010


And it's not in the public domain--all the material is still classified.

I keep seeing people say this, and I don't think they understand the term. "Public domain" is exclusively a description of copyright status. It has nothing to do with any other restrictions that may exist. It is entirely consistent for material to be in the public domain and also classified — indeed, since work product of the federal government of the US has no copyright protection, most US classified information is in the public domain.
posted by enn at 11:06 AM on December 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


It's an email from an alum to his alma mater. It's not the official position of the state department, though I'm sure their official position is essentially the same.

They weren't told not to read it, they were told not to connect themselves to it if they want a state department career.

And as I said upthread, in my DoD agency we were told via email from our office of counsel not to read the documents.
posted by fixedgear at 11:11 AM on December 4, 2010


Its not a completely analogous situation, but to say if you have any relation, relative, or proximity to these groups, sorry, you are aiding an enemy in our eyes and the ends justify the means, including death.

Not exactly "missing the logic off ramp", perhaps you just didn't follow it.


I completely oppose any policy of "execution for association." But replace "death" with almost any other consequence, and the Al Queada/Jew analogy still doesn't work.

For example, it's illegal to harbor or aid terrorists -- not something that most people would find objectionable, in and of itself. But replace "terrorist" with "Jews" and my gosh! "Harboring or aiding Jews is cause for criminal charges that may result in my imprisonment! We're Nazi Germany, and I never realized it!"

Sorry -- it's a crummy analogy, chosen for impact rather than accuracy. It was unnecessary, too -- killing innocent people in order to create fear in a larger populace is terrorism. No Godwining necessary.
posted by Amanojaku at 11:19 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


"killing innocent people in order to create fear in a larger populace is terrorism"

Then wouldn't the United States be guilty of terrorism by your standard?

It wasn't a projection of the US being Nazi Germany by any means, but how the US views and treats Muslims by many is somewhat analogous, least we forget about last week some nut jobs in Oregon decided to blow up a mosque due to some idiot's failed Christmas tree lighting bombing. Or idiots in Oklahoma voting to ban Sharia law, as if that is actually a legitimate concern.

Some times impact is more important than accuracy, as you've demonstrated in your previous posting.
posted by handbanana at 11:24 AM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


backseatpilot: "... If you are so cavalier with secrets as to have evidence of dealing with WikiLeaks dumps plastered all over the internet, then yes, the government is going to look askance at hiring you. And with employment the way it is, it might be a good idea to be just that little bit extra cautious"

Well, good thing that the government isn't particularly going on a hiring binge right now then, what with deficit reduction and right-wing orthodoxy being the name of the day (thank you, Mr. Simpson and Mr. Bowles)
posted by symbioid at 11:24 AM on December 4, 2010


Just a little over a year ago many of us stayed up for nights on Twitter to retweet messages from Iranian people who were outraged at their election. Iranian students in the streets were risking their lives to film with their mobile phones and then reveal the tyranny to the world.

Now, we see American students being told to bow to a government that would tell them what to think, read, say, and even feel ... and the big threat is not even demonic or deadly ... the students are to bow to this edict for fear of losing a *job offer*?!

I'm going to be very depressed if there is not SOME glimmer of a backlash from American students.
posted by Surfurrus at 11:26 AM on December 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


Nicely put, Surfurrus. The pathetic pants wetting in this thread is genuinely sad.

Incidentally, to the various people weighing the lives of US/UN soldiers, Afghanistan civilians and Al Qaida, it might interest you to know that Al Qaida hasn't been in Afghanistan for some time. The Taliban remains in Afghanistan. You can read a little here about the difference and why it matters.
posted by Marla Singer at 11:42 AM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Leaked video of Assange!
posted by iamck at 11:43 AM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Then wouldn't the United States be guilty of terrorism by your standard?

Yes? That was kind of my point, and I didn't need a strained metaphor to make it.

It wasn't a projection of the US being Nazi Germany by any means, but how the US views and treats Muslims by many is somewhat analogous

"I'm not saying we are Nazi Germany ... just kind of like it."

Some times impact is more important than accuracy, as you've demonstrated in your previous posting.

I disagree -- let's leave dramatic-but-wrong to the Republicans -- and I don't think you've really understood my objection to Joe's analogy, but this is starting to become a derail, and so feel free to just MeMail me if you want.
posted by Amanojaku at 11:52 AM on December 4, 2010


How is "Al Qaeda" at all analogous to "Jews" beyond "groups of people who don't eat pork"?

In both cases, the belligerent military empire that has manufactured excuses to invade and occupy foreign countries, perceiving an "existential threat" (read: one not correlated with actual miltary, economic, or political power) to itself, declares a certain class of people so needful of extermination that even non-violent interference in the empire's attempts to exterminate them will be punished not merely by death for the non-violent interferer but - as a measure of creating obedience through terror - for any innocent person in the vicinity.

For bonus points, membership in this class is not determined by a person's self-identification but by the empire itself - in a manner unchallengeable in court.

I suspect that you did not see this rather obvious similarity - and will continue to resist it now - because "al Qaeda really threatens us!". I would remind you that, by the government's own estimate, there are less than 100 al Qaeda in Afghanistan. To keep us safe from them, how many Afghans are we entitled to kill?

All of them? And if not all, what percentage? Can you give us at least a ballpark figure? Or will it, like pornography, be something you recognize when you see it?
posted by Joe Beese at 11:52 AM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


"American students" as a whole aren't being told anything. Potential job applicants are being told by a career services office that they shouldn't advertise their unwillingness to perform a job function if they want a job with a particular employer. I also have a job that requires secrecy (lawyer), and if I approvingly linked to some entity that sought to undermine the concept of atty/client privilege, I wouldn't expect an employer to give me a job as an attorney. Potential diplomats who like wikileaks can either keep that information to themselves or pursue another career. This doesn't seem problematic or pants-wetting to me.
posted by Mavri at 12:00 PM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


On a related note (but slightly off topic), I recently had a conversation with someone with a high security clearance who told me that the government will not hire you or grant you a clearance if you admit or it comes out through a polygraph, that you have downloaded music without paying for it. I think the US government is drawing some very tight lines here. Tight lines may be great and even expedient in the short run but they have a tedancy to break under stress or become a noose for their creator.
posted by Xurando at 12:14 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Joe, do you actually expect people to take you seriously when you compare members of a terrorist organization that has killed thousands of civilians with holocaust victims? Because, really, that sounds kind of unhinged to me.
posted by dersins at 12:16 PM on December 4, 2010


Apologies, Mavri, but I'm trying to imagine what an "entity that sought to undermine the concept of atty/client privilege" would be. Some generic threat to lawyers? Do you have to hide from discussions? blogs? people ranting on the street?
posted by Surfurrus at 12:20 PM on December 4, 2010


Call me crazy but is the meat of the post that a Columbia alum who called up and pretty much said "hey, tell everyone not to post this shit on facebook, cuz when they come knocking for a job with the state department it might be embarrassing, stick to posts about how drunk you got last night". That doesn't sound that bad, it just sounds ......... Pragmatic.

I don't intend lessen the import of the initial leaks, or make light of the countless deaths, but I, and probably may others here, would end up in jail if we started leaking shit we learned at work every day. In my case having a history of passing around financial information would be a pretty good reason an employer not to hire me.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:21 PM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


I always understood that when negotiating, whether for a used car, a reduced prison sentence, or the abandonment of a nuclear weapons program, secrets are necessary.

One specific reason that women have been and still are paid less then men is because there is secrecy around salary negotiations and discussed salaries.

I don't understand how secrecy is necessary for a used car deal if the dealing is being done in good faith. I am also confused by how secrets in sentencing could further fair and just corrections. The only use of secrets that I think of in your examples would only function for unethical purposes ("this is not a flood car" "it's been kept in this garage" non-disclosure to get a reduced prison sentence would be unethical for an attorney to participate in (IANAL), and keeping where nuclear waste is buried secret could result in an unintended unearthing) so I'm not sure why you think it would be necessary. Could you please explain?
posted by fuq at 12:25 PM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Leaving aside the specific Wikileaks aspect... I'm always fascinated by the number of people on threads like this, lawyers especially but not only, who seem so willing, even positively happy, to embrace huge constraints on their day-to-day activities and behavior so as to safeguard their career viability at some later point. To me that seems like no way to live, but there seems to be a strain, particularly in American culture, whereby it's actually a point of pride to make and to boast of these sacrifices. Personally I can't imagine wanting to work for the kind of employer who would want me to spend my student days shielding myself from the most important news stories of the day...
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 12:25 PM on December 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


Potential diplomats who like wikileaks can either keep that information to themselves or pursue another career. This doesn't seem problematic or pants-wetting to me.

So, basically, to perpetuate a State Department that needs to lie to the American people in order to function, all new applicants must be able to lie about knowing/seeing/hearing or linking to something that is front page news?
posted by Surfurrus at 12:25 PM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


is the meat of the post that a Columbia alum who called up...

Yup.
posted by Ardiril at 12:29 PM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Surfurrus: Now, we see American students being told to bow to a government that would tell them what to think, read, say, and even feel ...

It appears that you are delusional. This could be detrimental to your job prospects.
posted by JackFlash at 12:30 PM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's almost like the State Department wants to confine its hires to the willfuly ignorant or the deceitful.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 12:37 PM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


So far the US government has directed all Federal agencies to tell their employees not to access Wikileaks (roughly 2.7 million Americans). Government contractors are also telling their employees to not access Wikileaks (another couple million people). Now potential government employees are told not to access Wikileaks. Pretty soon I wouldn't doubt if anyone that receives Federal funding is told not to access Wikileaks.

Everything is going according to Wikileaks' plan. The machine is eating itself.
posted by ryoshu at 12:38 PM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Now potential government employees are told not to access Wikileaks

This is simply not true, at least according to the post we're theoretically discussing here. In point of fact, according to the post potential government employees are being told not to link to or otherwise promote the spread of the wikileaks documents if they want to be seen as people who are capable of keeping their potential employer's confidential documents confidential. I truly do not understand why this should be even remotely controversial, except to frothing handwavey idealists who have no understanding of how the world actually works.
posted by dersins at 12:43 PM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I missed the part where the state department told students to lie. I did read the part where some guy called Columbia and said maybe people who want jobs with the state department should refrain from passing on the contents or making comments about them on facebook. He didn't even say "don't go to the bar tonight and tell some random stranger that you checked out wikileaks."
posted by Ad hominem at 12:45 PM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I suspect that you did not see this rather obvious similarity - and will continue to resist it now - because "al Qaeda really threatens us!". I would remind you that, by the government's own estimate, there are less than 100 al Qaeda in Afghanistan. To keep us safe from them, how many Afghans are we entitled to kill?

All of them? And if not all, what percentage? Can you give us at least a ballpark figure? Or will it, like pornography, be something you recognize when you see it?


I wish I'd thought to address these points preemptively, because I just knew pointing out a flaw with any part of an argument would be taken as condoning and supporting the opposite position, especially on the internet, double especially when it comes to anything less than 100% left-wing agreement on Metafilter. Oh wait, I did:

I don't agree with his initial point...

I completely oppose any policy of "execution for association."

I'm not seeing the "rather obvious similarity" because there is no possible non-absurd policy against terrorists where one could substitute "Jews" and have it not sound bad. "We're going to investigate suspected Jews"? "We'll make sure all suspected Jews have a fair trial"? "If a Jew is found guilty, we'll put them in jail like any other criminal"? Not bad policies for terrorists; not so great for Jews, though, no?

Shitty analogy is shitty, that's all.
posted by Amanojaku at 12:49 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


So it takes the Swiss to show some cojones.
Swiss host Switch says there is 'no reason' why WikiLeaks should be forced off internet, despite French and US demands
posted by adamvasco at 12:50 PM on December 4, 2010


This is simply not true, at least according to the post we're theoretically discussing here.

In this thread we have an actual US employee confirming that he has been instructed not to read these documents by his employing agency's lawyers. What you are defending is not what is actually being done.
posted by enn at 12:54 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Call me crazy but is the meat of the post that a Columbia alum who called up and pretty much said "hey, tell everyone not to post this shit on facebook, cuz when they come knocking for a job with the state department it might be embarrassing, stick to posts about how drunk you got last night". That doesn't sound that bad, it just sounds ......... Pragmatic.

"Psst! Don't discuss any of the news that's currently splattered all over the front page of the NY Times, BBC, Guardian, CNN, Der Spielgel, MSNBC, etc. where Big Brother can hear you, because that stuff is SECRET!" is nothing more than pragmatic career advice, and not an outrageous attempt by a government whose misdeeds are being exposed to silence its potential critics? Yeah OK then.

BTW, when you're in the checkout like at the grocery store in a couple of days and you accidentally glance at the cover of TIME magazine, be sure to avert your eyes and cross yourself.
posted by Marla Singer at 12:58 PM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Shit is about to get real, fuck my potential cushy state department job. Unpunished classified cables contain references to UFOs, according to Assange.

Assange answers readers questions.

He also says he used hosting on amazon to show that certain jurisdictions suffer from a free speech deficit.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:01 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


In this thread we have an actual US employee confirming that he has been instructed not to read these documents by his employing agency's lawyers.

So what you're saying is that you don't understand the difference between an employee and a "potential employee," which is not only what the statement I was responding to said, but also what I discussed in my response to it?
posted by dersins at 1:01 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


"I truly do not understand why this should be even remotely controversial, except to frothing handwavey idealists who have no understanding of how the world actually works."

Just keep towing the line....

There is nothing wrong for striving for idealism, while recognizing realism.
Only a fool, or one without a backbone would accept such nonsense.
posted by handbanana at 1:02 PM on December 4, 2010


Hey, -, do you have anything that proves the existence of this email? Or, for that matter, anything to post above the fold that is new?
posted by Ardiril at 1:03 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Attention citizens!

It has recently been revealed that certain documents have been leaked to the public. While we cannot stop you from accessing these documents -- yet -- you may run across the classified information contained in the documents while browsing the World Wide Web. We would like to remind you that discussing current events is not against the law at this time, however any sort of critical thinking or examination of these specific current events may negatively impact your future with the government.

Additionally, the weekly chocolate ration has been increased to .9 ounces.

Thank you for your cooperation.
posted by ryoshu at 1:06 PM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


If the world survives the end of the American empire, he will be remembered more kindly than many of the people commenting in this thread.

These types of thinly-veiled personal attacks have no place here.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:08 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, this statement from Assange is amusing and intriguing.


Many weirdos email us about UFOs or how they discovered that they were the anti-christ whilst talking with their ex-wife at a garden party over a pot-plant. However, as yet they have not satisfied two of our publishing rules.
1) that the documents not be self-authored;
2) that they be original.
However, it is worth noting that in yet-to-be-published parts of the cablegate archive there are indeed references to UFOs.

posted by angrycat at 1:11 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I called the UFO thing in the last thread. Stargate, fuck yeah! Too bad they won't let me go now that I read wikileaks.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:13 PM on December 4, 2010


How is "Al Qaeda" at all analogous to "Jews" beyond "groups of people who don't eat pork"?

In both cases, the belligerent military empire that has manufactured excuses to invade and occupy foreign countries, perceiving an "existential threat" (read: one not correlated with actual miltary, economic, or political power) to itself, declares a certain class of people so needful of extermination that even non-violent interference in the empire's attempts to exterminate them will be punished not merely by death for the non-violent interferer but - as a measure of creating obedience through terror - for any innocent person in the vicinity.


Joe, time to rein it in, I think.
posted by angrycat at 1:15 PM on December 4, 2010




Patently false.

Ch. 37 of title 18, US Code, consistently uses the term "whoever."

Please everyone, just look it up.

posted by Ironmouth at 1:23 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Joe, do you actually expect people to take you seriously when you compare members of a terrorist organization that has killed thousands of civilians with holocaust victims? Because, really, that sounds kind of unhinged to me.

What I expect is that people blinded by American Exceptionalism will be not understand that it is the work of a terrorist organization to kill thousands of civilians even when the United States does it - as we have in Afghanistan, on top of the tens if not hundreds of thousands we have killed in Iraq.

What I expect is that they will angrily insist that when we do it, it is justifiable - or, at worst, "regrettable" - because they believe as an article of faith - one drummed into them continuously since childhood - that America is fundamentally Good, thus making all her actions fundamentally well-intentioned.

To them, anyone contesting this article of faith will indeed seem "unhinged". I apologize that I am unable to care what you or anyone else thinks about that as much as you seem to feel I should.

Joe, time to rein it in, I think.

Do you have an actual argument to make against what I've said? Or at least an explanation that you feel offended?

Or is this just a generalized STFU?
posted by Joe Beese at 1:28 PM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


It has recently been revealed that certain documents have been leaked to the public. While we cannot stop you from accessing these documents -- yet -- you may run across the classified information contained in the documents while browsing the World Wide Web. We would like to remind you that discussing current events is not against the law at this time, however any sort of critical thinking or examination of these specific current events may negatively impact your future with the government.

These materials are classified. It is illegal to disseminate them if you hold a security clearance. Why is it so crazy that the government wants to keep its diplomatic cables and military information a secret? Why is it crazy that the government is attempting to enforce its own laws? Seriously, I don't see any problem with this.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:29 PM on December 4, 2010


"Swiss host Switch says there is 'no reason' why WikiLeaks should be forced off internet, despite French and US demands"--yep, the same folks who brought banking secrecy, stashing Nazi confiscations and with holding information to the detriment of other European economies. And as for the assertion that he chose Amazon to demonstrate the weakness of free speech in some jurisdictions is just poppycock. He should have tried China, Indonesia, India, UK, my beloved Ireland, Germany and the list goes on. I really don't care if Switzerland hosts wikilieaks--and it is in fact a fine country but they do have a few secrets. If you think countries maintain long term international neutrality by being completely transparent you live in another world than I do.
posted by rmhsinc at 1:30 PM on December 4, 2010


rmhsinc,

The countries you listed don't necessarily support the idea of 'freedom' the United States screams at the top of its lungs all the time to others around the world. Hence showing the US isn't necessarily 'free'. Therefore, trying to host them wouldn't hold the same point.
posted by handbanana at 1:33 PM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


What I expect is that people blinded by American Exceptionalism will be not understand that it is the work of a terrorist organization to kill thousands of civilians even when the United States does it - as we have in Afghanistan, on top of the tens if not hundreds of thousands we have killed in Iraq.

Right, I understand you feel that way, and regardless of whether I agree with you I can at least see your rationale. But that's not what I and others were taking exception to. What we were taking exception to was was not your analogizing the US government to a terrorist organization, but analogizing members of a terrorist organization to victims of genocide. That's the unhinged part.
posted by dersins at 1:33 PM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


@Xurando: Really? So if you, say, downloaded music from Napster when you were in high school ten years ago, that is still enough to get you disbarred from a government job forever and ever? Isn't this something ALL students have done at some point, certainly over the past ten years?

I'm trying to figure out the logic behind that, because it honestly seems a bit silly. And it's certainly getting into the 'thoughtcrime' territory discussed above.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 1:40 PM on December 4, 2010


I don't understand how secrecy is necessary for a used car deal if the dealing is being done in good faith.

Assuming that you really asking, in good faith, for me to explain the mechanics of bilateral negotiation, then let me give you simplest example I can think of:

I really need a car. My urgency means I am willing to pay up to $10,000. However, I would like to pay less. The car dealer has a contrary interest: he wants me to pay at least $10,000. Like me, he also has some flexibility in what he is willing to accept, based on information he is keeping secret, such as how far behind he is in his monthly sales quota, how much he purchased the used car for, and how much profit he needs to run his business.

Therefore, when I begin negotiations, I make an initial offer to buy the car at $7,500 and keep secret (1) how urgently I need the car and (2) the fact that I will pay up to $10,000 to satisfy that urgency. Were I to divulge my secrets (my "bottom line number") at the start of negotiations, the car dealer would be unlikely to offer me anything less than $10,000.
posted by hhc5 at 1:40 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why is it so crazy that the government wants to keep its diplomatic cables and military information a secret?

This is why:
The number of new secrets designated as such by the U.S. government has risen 75%, from 105,163 in 1996 to 183,224 in 2009, according to the U.S. Information Security Oversight Office. At the same time, the number of documents and other communications created using those secrets has skyrocketed nearly 10 times, from 5,685,462 in 1996 to 54,651,765 in 2009. Not surprisingly, the number of people with access to that Everest of information has grown too. In 2008, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found, the Pentagon alone gave clearances to some 630,000 people.
It won't work. It can't work. The overclassification of material makes Wikileaks possible.
posted by ryoshu at 1:42 PM on December 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


What we were taking exception to was was not your analogizing the US government to a terrorist organization, but analogizing members of a terrorist organization to victims of genocide.

1. One is considered a member of al Qaeda if the US government claims you are - even if you do not identify as such. One was considered a Jew if the Nazi government claimed they were - even if the person did not identify as such.

2. The US government claims that al Qaeda is a threat to its existence - despite al Qaeda's lack of economic, political, or military power. The German government claimed that Jews were a threat to its existence - despite the Jews' lack of economic, political, or military power.

3. The US government claims that the threat to its existence justifies killing any member of al Qaeda - as well as anyone who shelters them. The German government claimed that the threat to its existence justified killing any Jew - as well as anyone who sheltered them.

You may take as much exception to these comparisons as you like.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:48 PM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yep, there it is-- the unhinged part.
posted by dersins at 1:49 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


"However, it is worth noting that in yet-to-be-published parts of the cablegate archive there are indeed references to UFOs."

Since UFO stands for Unidentified Flying Object I suspect that drones frequently qualify.
posted by Manjusri at 1:49 PM on December 4, 2010


Joe Beese, if an analogy takes that much explaining, then it's a really bad analogy. Give it up.
posted by rtha at 1:54 PM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


These materials are classified. It is illegal to disseminate them if you hold a security clearance. Why is it so crazy that the government wants to keep its diplomatic cables and military information a secret?

Because *it's not a secret anymore.* It's on every major news site. To pretend otherwise is denying reality, and *that's* crazy.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:58 PM on December 4, 2010 [5 favorites]




Joe, it wasn't so much STFU as it was, Joe, you've crossed the line again. You know what the line is. You are arguing with an analogy that manages to be both incredibly complicated and very offensive at the same time.

I'm not offended because I'm not taking the analogy seriously; nor do I think you think Jews are, say, devoted to killing non-Jews. But you're filling the thread up with this analogy, and you're steering the conversation into a not good place.
posted by angrycat at 2:03 PM on December 4, 2010


"Why is it so crazy that the government wants to keep its diplomatic cables and military information a secret?"

Via the wikileaks twitter feed, "Kennedy on why WikiLeaks matters".
posted by Manjusri at 2:05 PM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


To pretend otherwise is denying reality, and *that's* crazy.
To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself -- that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed.
posted by ryoshu at 2:06 PM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Here's a nice summary of Seven Key Things We've Learned So Far thanks to the cable leaks.
posted by Marla Singer at 2:06 PM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


These types of thinly-veiled personal attacks have no place here.

I don't see a "personal attack," thinly veiled or otherwise, here. I see polemic.

What I see in this thread is a lot of piling on and a lot of arrogant, supercilious dismissal of dissenting opinions, or at the very minimum, an urge to define them as something not to be taken seriously.

The outright mockery of someone who doesn't have English as a primary language is really attractive too.
posted by blucevalo at 2:07 PM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Because *it's not a secret anymore.* It's on every major news site. To pretend otherwise is denying reality, and *that's* crazy.

What other position could the gov't possibly take? Sure, right now they are doing that thing of "if we repeat it enough it might just be true" but they are not gonna throw up hands and say surrender.

It would have been nice if one of the links in this multiple link post pointed to the source of the phone call which led to the email, BTW.
posted by fixedgear at 2:18 PM on December 4, 2010


handbanana: If I follow your logic then I should assume that Assange was actually complimenting the US regarding free speech/free press in the US. It seems his other rhetoric does not match that. If you are worried that one of your friends might betray you be sure and embarrass the one you trust the most to show the others what real trust is about. If you are worried about international drug smuggling clamp down on Canada and embarrass them publicly for their failures to show other countries just how good Canada is at maintaining its border security. I do not think so. As one who lives in Europe some of the year I really do not believe America "screams" about it free speech/press. If they do I do not see it reflected in the European press, editorials or popular press. There are ample issues where we are appropriately taken to task for our policies and self important rhetoric--but not free speech. Like it or not--we are blessed along with a few other countries with substantial free speech. While am sometimes personally appalled at certain expressions of free speech I am not aware of another country where you can carry a fire arm to a presidential rally, carry a sign that calls the President a Nazi and wear a t-shirt emblazoned with ethnic/racial slurs or language generally considered obscene or vulgar.
posted by rmhsinc at 2:19 PM on December 4, 2010


I want to clarify a few things. First of all I don't mean to be advocating for a collective punishment of non-combatants. It is my view that airstrikes should be conducted as a means of attacking targets such as a convoy carrying a terrorist leader, a compound where militants are housed or other target containing combatants. That being said if the local leaders in a region are actively sheltering these individuals and providing safehouses and weapons depots gentian must understand that there will be people in their village and town who all get killed because some imagery analyst in Kansas identified the wrong target. It is going to be another terrible tragedy. One that can be avoided by choosing a different strategy for dealing with the alqaeda, Haqqani network / Quetta Shura /Shining Path / etc.

I also think it is important to note that the Taliban / Al Qaeda leadership does not make these kinds of considerations in their attack. In fact the recent attempt to detonate a cargo plane over Chicago and the Times Square attacks were both seeking maximum noncombatant casualties. At least the attack on the USS Cole was an attack on a military vessel. I fail to see how going into a church in Baghdad and taking the congregation hostage is anything but an attempt to kill a bunch of innocent people. It wasn't like the kidnappers/killers had sole bad intel that Joe Biden was at Sunday mass.

And that is why I reject the accusation that the US or the Spanish or the British or anyone else who has been attacked by Al Qaeda and their allies are at all on the same level as the terrorists. This isn't American exceptionalism. This is a case of we are trying really hard to co tainthr murderous impulses and advance the cause of civilization and they are seeking an appocolyptic genocide against all non-Muslims and any Muslim they think isn't pure.
posted by humanfont at 2:26 PM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


[W]hile all eyes are focused on WikiLeaks, and Mr. Assange, "the human and physical infrastructure of a much larger, more distributed movement continues to expand and consolidate far beyond the spotlight. If Mr. Assange is murdered tomorrow, if WikiLeaks' servers are cut off for a few hours, or a few days, or forever, nothing fundamental is really changed. With or without WikiLeaks, the technology exists to allow whistleblowers to leak data and documents while maintaining anonymity. With or without WikiLeaks, the personel, technical know-how, and ideological will exists to enable anonymous leaking and to make this information available to the public. Jailing Thomas Edison in 1890 would not have darkened the night.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:28 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


A similar message was sent by email to my DoD workplace when the war-related WikiLeaks were released. It read something like 'we've blocked access to the domain, because the documents are still classified, and we are reminding you that reading these documents on your home computer is not permitted...'

I got two of these, and they both had a considerably more threatening tone. One actually came from a former employer. Both of these jobs categorically forbid me from coming in contact with anything classified or defense-related, so I suppose that the memo technically made sense, but, boy are they missing the point....

Regardless of the merits/drawbacks to Wikileaks, I'm finding the reaction to it to be much, much more troubling from both the Government and the public.
posted by schmod at 2:34 PM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


It would have been nice if one of the links in this multiple link post pointed to the source of the phone call which led to the email, BTW.

Yeah, it sure would have, as I pointed out in this post (in which I provided two sources that the OP should have, plus a related one).

As to the question of what else the government could possibly do - well, things like resignations, Congressional investigations and criminal/DOJ investigations come to mind.
posted by Marla Singer at 2:44 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


rmhsinc,

You are not following logic. The reason for using Amazon was to show under government pressure, a US company would pull the plug on hosting Wikileaks material.

We have the Bill of Rights which we champion to others around the world, and verbally condemn countries that do not allow dissent (i.e. China).
Many countries have the fundamentals found in our constitution in theirs, particularly those founded after WW2 and post-colonialism.
posted by handbanana at 2:48 PM on December 4, 2010


we are trying really hard to... advance the cause of civilization

Which of the Seven Key Things We've Learned So Far would you say best demonstrates how we're advancing that cause?

Our bullying Spain out of prosecuting Bush-era torture of its citizens in Guantanamo?

Or our spying on UN officials in violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations?
posted by Joe Beese at 2:51 PM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


On the Internet" doesn't mean "Public Domain.

Judith Griggs (Cooks Source) disagrees!
posted by ericb at 2:51 PM on December 4, 2010


The "public domain" argument is a red herring. The simple truth is that a bunch of things that used to be secret not only aren't secret anymore, they're front page news, and to pretend otherwise is (as has already been said) delusional.
posted by Marla Singer at 3:01 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


The whole point of the government performing a background check for a potential security clearance is to determine trustworthiness.

It seems more like it's to determine the ability to follow arbitrary rules even when that goes against your better judgement or moral standards. It seems to me that a word meaning 'worthy of trust or belief' should mean something more than an ability to follow the rules.

Just because you have a security clearance at the "Secret" level because, say, you are a graphic designer who creates presentations for NUWC

If you aspire to be a graphic designer who creates presentations for NUWC, make sure you don't discuss the leaked cables online...

it's illegal to harbor or aid terrorists -- not something that most people would find objectionable

Really, what about this terrorist? Or this one? I'm sure, depending on the particular person or group that's been labelled by one government or another as a terrorist, there will always be plenty of people who will find it objectionable.

Were I to divulge my secrets (my "bottom line number") at the start of negotiations, the car dealer would be unlikely to offer me anything less than $10,000.

Were you a car dealer worthy of my trust, you'd take my budget and my vehicular requirements and recommend to me something which fitted the bill. Then you'd sell it to me for what it was worth, not how much you could take me for based on my lack of knowledge about the car trade. That buying a car doesn't work that way is not an indication that the way it works is correct or necessary, nor that car dealers should seek legal injunctions against people publishing information that could undermine their negotiating position.

because there is no possible non-absurd policy against terrorists where one could substitute "Jews" and have it not sound bad

If anyone was following a non-absurd policy against terrorists, I'd take this argument more seriously.
posted by robertc at 3:04 PM on December 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't see a "personal attack," thinly veiled or otherwise, here. I see polemic

Bullshit. Making a generalized negative comment about people you disagree with is a personal attack. Seriously, he's saying "you guys suck" and that's it. He's not presenting argument at all.

Also people are just shooting from the hip regarding facts they could easily look up. So tired of that. If you have something to say about what the law says or what the government's policy is, then look it up. So simple.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:08 PM on December 4, 2010


Making a generalized negative comment about people you disagree with is a personal attack.

No, it's not. Or, in your parlance, bullshit.
posted by blucevalo at 3:17 PM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


He's not presenting argument at all.

I respectfully disagree.

Since I'm sure no one wants to inflict a MeTa thread on the mods on a Saturday night, I will officially withdraw from the conversation.

If my comments are unacceptable, the mods will remove them sooner or later in response to the flags I trust you've already sent.

If you need to expatiate further on why I suck, either to me or to others, let MeFi Mail suffice.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:19 PM on December 4, 2010


Columbia faculty member Gary Sick posts on his blog about Wikileaks.
posted by blucevalo at 3:20 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm sure you understand that there is a difference between "nobody knows" and "this is classified as secret so if you have a clearence don't bandy it about". Yes the government is following the letter of the law and saying to certain federal employees and clearance holders " you have an agreement with us regarding the handling of documents we have classified as secret" , yes is seems dumb but they aren't trying some crazy mind trick trying to pretend nobody knows the documents exist.

As a very dumb analogy, if my medical records got leaked to reddit, I still wouldn't want everyone at the hospital accessing it and posting it to metafilter even though they are technically no longer a secret. They are still confidential medical records protected by HIPAA.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:24 PM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


So, basically, to perpetuate a State Department that needs to lie to the American people in order to function, all new applicants must be able to lie about knowing/seeing/hearing or linking to something that is front page news?

If you read the damn email that is the subject of the post, instead of the one you've apparently made up for recreational outrage purposes, then the answer to your question is clearly and obviously no. Some dude called up and suggested the kids who want jobs requiring clearance not post about wikileaks on social media. He didn't say they couldn't know about it, read about it, or discuss it. No one is going to be convicted of thought crimes for looking at the cover of Time.

Not linking to something on a publicly accessible place under your real name that will illustrate that you can't perform a job doesn't seem like a particular hardship to me, no. It also seems stunningly naive to think that a person should be able to do so without endangering potential employment. Since you didn't like my first analogy, I'll try again. I work with extremely poor people who have serious psychiatric disabilities. Do you really think we should hire someone who had a blog post advocating for the dismantling of Medicaid, or the closure of all homeless shelters? What about a pharmacist who posts that he would never fill a birth control prescription--is it ok with you for a pharmacy to take that into account when making its hiring decision? If a job requires security clearance, ability and willingness to keep a secret is a relevant job skill.

Someone who is adamantly opposed to govt secrecy can work to dismantle it from the outside, or they can keep their yap shut, get hired by the feds, and become a whistleblower and be feted by all of Metafilter. What they probably shouldn't do if they have any sense whatsoever is be publicly pro-wikileaks and then whine when they can't get a job with security clearance.
posted by Mavri at 3:24 PM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


There is a MeTa.
posted by fixedgear at 3:26 PM on December 4, 2010


He recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter.

That is the troubling part. It's not that the State Department doesn't want you to just stop linking to the documents or posting them. It's that they don't want you to comment about them at all.

When you have an official government organization actively using the threat of future job security to discourage active political discussion and debate, something is fucked.

Watch it people, if you discuss this you could jeopardize your credit rating!
posted by formless at 3:31 PM on December 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


What they probably shouldn't do if they have any sense whatsoever is be publicly pro-wikileaks and then whine when they can't get a job with security clearance.

So who the hell that fits your description is whining?
posted by blucevalo at 3:31 PM on December 4, 2010


The "public domain" argument is a red herring. The simple truth is that a bunch of things that used to be secret not only aren't secret anymore, they're front page news, and to pretend otherwise is (as has already been said) delusional.
posted by Marla Singer

It is 'front page' to 'you' not to 'them'.
posted by clavdivs at 3:32 PM on December 4, 2010


Not linking to something on a publicly accessible place under your real name that will illustrate that you can't perform a job doesn't seem like a particular hardship to me, no.

What job is that? They're students, not government employees, and discussing or linking to publicly available data seems more like their 'job' than maintaining the fiction that these aren't being discussed across the planet.

The government should just drop the now-useless classification and let everyone get on with their lives, instead of holding the threat of future employability over a bunch of students.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:41 PM on December 4, 2010


[Folks - there is an open MeTa thread that is sort of about this thread. Doing random "How do you like how this sounds if we say it about $OTHER_GROUP" weirdness isn't an okay way to talk to each other here. Meta-discussion in this thread goes to MetaTalk, thanks. ]
posted by jessamyn at 3:46 PM on December 4, 2010


governments need secrets

Why?
posted by regicide is good for you at 3:47 PM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


When you have an official government organization actively using the threat of future job security to discourage active political discussion and debate, something is fucked.

Something is fucked, and that's common sense. If you want a job with an organization, don't do things that are incongruous with their mission. That's all.
posted by gjc at 4:04 PM on December 4, 2010


OMB memo to "all agency employees and contractors" forbidding access to classified material, including Wikileaks material, by employees who do not have appropriate security clearance.
posted by blucevalo at 4:11 PM on December 4, 2010


OMBs memo to agency counsel. It's kind of useless without the attachment.
posted by fixedgear at 4:22 PM on December 4, 2010


governments need secrets

Why?


I can't tell you.
posted by fuq at 4:27 PM on December 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


Making a generalized negative comment about people you disagree with is a personal attack.

I read his comment as a prediction that Manning would be vindicated and his public image rehabilitated, not that MeFites suck.

It annoys me when Joe shows up in the Obama threads, but I find it kind of awesome when he shows up in any other thread.
posted by Ritchie at 4:54 PM on December 4, 2010


governments need secrets

Why?


Because governments need to be effective. And being effective means keeping some information away from parties against whom the government is taking action.

Think of it this way--should the public know information related to government investigations as it is collected? Because the Goldman Sachs of the world would then destroy evidence or think up defenses or fire potential witnesses, amirite?
posted by Ironmouth at 4:55 PM on December 4, 2010


OMBs memo to agency counsel. It's kind of useless without the attachment.

I agree, but I thought it was still interesting.
posted by blucevalo at 5:02 PM on December 4, 2010


Here is why they are saying not to access the materials. This is from the Security Clearance Adjudication Guidelines:

Guideline K
Handling Protected Information


33. The Concern. Deliberate or negligent failure to comply with rules and regulations for protecting classified or other sensitive information raises doubt about an individual's trustworthiness, judgment, reliability, or willingness and ability to safeguard such information, and is a serious security concern.

34. Conditions that could raise a security concern and may be disqualifying include:

(a) deliberate or negligent disclosure of classified or other protected information to unauthorized persons, including but not limited to personal or business contacts, to the media, or to persons present at seminars, meetings, or conferences;

(b) collecting or storing classified or other protected information at home or in any other unauthorized location;

(c) loading, drafting, editing, modifying, storing, transmitting, or otherwise handling classified reports, data, or other information on any unapproved equipment including but not limited to any typewriter, word processor, or computer hardware, software, drive, system, gameboard, handheld, “palm” or pocket device or other adjunct equipment;

(d) inappropriate efforts to obtain or view classified or other protected information outside one's need to know;

(e) copying classified or other protected information in a manner designed to conceal or remove classification or other document control markings;

(f) viewing or downloading information from a secure system when the information is beyond the individual's need-to-know;

(g) any failure to comply with rules for the protection of classified or other sensitive information;

(h) negligence or lax security habits that persist despite counseling by management.

(i) failure to comply with rules or regulations that results in damage to the National Security, regardless of whether it was deliberate or negligent.

35. Conditions that could mitigate security concerns include:

(a) so much time has elapsed since the behavior, or it has happened so infrequently or under such unusual circumstances, that it is unlikely to recur and does not cast doubt on the individual's current reliability, trustworthiness, or good judgment;

(b) the individual responded favorably to counseling or remedial security training and now demonstrates a positive attitude toward the discharge of security responsibilities;

(c) the security violations were due to improper or inadequate training.


Persons viewing classified information without a need to know, whether employed by the government or not, might be denied a security clearance.

I've represented people in several of these cases. There is no right to classified information by anyone, including government employees. You have to follow the rules if you are going to get the right to see classified materials.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:03 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


But now, aren't you the one being an idealist? Based on the past history, it seems less likely that governments will keep secrets in order to hide their maneuverings against Goldman-Sachs and more likely that they will keep secrets in order to hide how deeply they are involved with supporting Goldman-Sachs.
posted by Ritchie at 5:08 PM on December 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


When you have an official government organization actively using the threat of future job security to discourage active political discussion and debate, something is fucked.

Something is fucked, and that's common sense. If you want a job with an organization, don't do things that are incongruous with their mission. That's all.


That's not all. As a public, we should have a healthy and open debate about the role of organizations like WikiLeaks and whether they are helpful or harmful to our democracy. By declaring that students should not comment about WikiLeaks or they risk not getting a government job, the State Department is creating a very real chilling effect. Their policy will actively discourage students from debating this important topic at a time in their lives when they should be actively questioning our very foundations. Regardless of what their eventual decision about the issue is.

Many students in university don't know where they want a job at. So they may play it safe and choose self-censorship to keep all options open. That's not healthy for the public.
posted by formless at 5:13 PM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


hhc5 : Therefore, when I begin negotiations, I make an initial offer to buy the car at $7,500 and keep secret (1) how urgently I need the car and (2) the fact that I will pay up to $10,000 to satisfy that urgency.

I see your intent, but honestly, I don't negotiate like that (and made my most recent car purchase and sale about a month ago now).

I researched the car I wanted, figured out a fair price for it, and went to a local dealer with a "take it or leave it" offer. They took it and with a total of an hour of my time wasted (which included a test drive and signing half a ream of papers), we both went away happier.

On the flip side of that, selling my old car... I looked up its bluebook price, took into consideration that it had problems (or I wouldn't have upgraded), told the buyer those problems and an estimated cost of repair, and we agreed on a price within about 30 seconds (I told him the bluebook and the estimated repair cost, he said he could do all that himself for a pittance vs the estimates, and we split the difference, both happy to have gotten a good deal.

Secrecy during a negotiation means that at least one side hopes to screw the other out of more than they would consider the deal worth under full disclosure; I don't do that in my personal affairs, and I damned well won't put up with my government doing it on my behalf.
posted by pla at 5:15 PM on December 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


If you want a job with an organization, don't do things that are incongruous with their mission.

Isn't the mission of this 'organization' something which starts with the words 'We the People'?

Why?

Because governments need to be effective.


I'm going to ask the question: why?
posted by robertc at 5:19 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Think of it this way--should the public know information related to government investigations as it is collected? Because the Goldman Sachs of the world would then destroy evidence or think up defenses or fire potential witnesses, amirite?

And when the government is the one handing billions of dollars to Goldman Sachs instead of investigating them?
posted by formless at 5:20 PM on December 4, 2010


This is from the Security Clearance Adjudication Guidelines:

Yeah, I get the 'logic' (absurd as it is) about the government telling its employees to maintain this fiction. Applying it to students or the public is *way* more problematic. They haven't, presumably, signed any agreements about submitting to these guidelines, and the cat is seriously out of the bag at this point. Vague warnings about future employability are petty at best and chilling at worst.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:25 PM on December 4, 2010


Because governments need to be effective.

I'm going to ask the question: why?


Because with out an effective central government you have anarchy and localized despotism and tribalism. Life becomes nasty brutish and short. We have actual empirical data that have been validated across a number of regions and cultures. Take away the central government, water, sewer, reliable electricity and food and life span plummets.
posted by humanfont at 5:31 PM on December 4, 2010



Because governments need to be effective.

I'm going to ask the question: why?


Governments need to do things. If those things are ineffective, the government isn't worth much.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:33 PM on December 4, 2010


This is essentially the email I received at work.
posted by fixedgear at 5:40 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


The government's response to Wikileaks shows in high relief how much they've failed to account for the internet while crafting their cold-war-era-derived skullduggery in recent years. I wonder if we're at another "sorcerer's apprentice" moment, where the only effect of squashing Wikileaks will be to create a multitude of Wikileaks? I'd say chances are good, since the gov't is giving so very much attention to WL and shouting to everyone about just how much attention they can get by leaking secrets.
posted by telstar at 5:45 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, right, thanks to to Wikileaks the human life span will plummet. Thanks for the chuckles.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 6:12 PM on December 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


To me, the most telling aspect of this is that our self-selected, special snowflake userbase has produced a thread full of the "ironic" posts covering their asses, above, just in case, you know, somebody checks to see if they've read or posted about or torrented the files. This, not to mention the two explicit, "Will the men in helicopters come and get me?" questions over on the Green (at the moment).

This is where we are with this. And there are people in our self-selected, special snowflake userbase who are happy with this state of affairs.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:21 PM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


digitalprimate: Add to that the fact that Julian Assange, who is being actively vilified and pursued by several powerful governments (some of which have been known to kidnap people and send them away to clandestine locations to be tortured), was derided in an early post for being paranoid. Ha!
posted by Marla Singer at 6:30 PM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


cable harvesting implements
posted by hortense at 6:51 PM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


And as I said upthread, in my DoD agency we were told via email from our office of counsel not to read the documents.

We were told here that those documents remain classified despite rumors to the contrary. We were told that accessing those documents could exceed the security rating of our computer systems, and therefore we were not to do it.

Oddly, while the announcement seemed to spell it out in no uncertain terms - nowhere did it say "on government computers" or "this includes your personal computers." I mean, yeah, obviously at work, but it left the question of home kind of vague (I think intentionally).

'Cause I have a clearance (subject to need-to-know, though, of course) and I'm not sure that anyone would care if I READ those documents. Now, if I publicly commented on them, or if I republished them myself, I can see how that would be a problem.

As for me, I don't feel the need to read them anyway. It's enough for me that other people can, and that they are.
posted by ctmf at 8:33 PM on December 4, 2010


Secrecy during a negotiation means that at least one side hopes to screw the other out of more than they would consider the deal worth under full disclosure; I don't do that in my personal affairs, and I damned well won't put up with my government doing it on my behalf.

Suppose I'm willing to pay $10k and you are willing to take $8k. If we reach a mutually agreed upon price between these numbers how has either party been screwed.

There is no Kelly Blue Book when negotiating over auto tariffs or the number of nuclear weapons in your arsenal, or how many millions of dollars a year we will pay you to stop your WTO complaint regarding our cotton subsidies. The assumption is that both parties will have imperfect information and will act to maximize their self interest. This is done because other strategies have failed to work in the context of most human negotiations.
posted by humanfont at 8:48 PM on December 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


This thread is pretty deep already, and this was partially covered by localroger's comments above, but if you haven't read this post on Assange's internal Wikileaks motivations.
posted by stratastar at 9:04 PM on December 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Joe Beese, if an analogy takes that much explaining, then it's a really bad analogy. Give it up.

American Exceptionalism is a hell of a drug.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:23 PM on December 4, 2010


Nicely put humanfont.

Assuming that international parties are not out to screw each other during negotiations is wrong. It's what we do, it's what they do, it's one of the basic principles of economics. Agents are going to maximize their self-interest. And it's in the interests of their own citizens to do so. I'd expect no less of my own government.

But, that doesn't necessarily lead to globally optimal solutions. This is one of the reasons I'm a fan of Wikileaks. It's my hope that increased information will lead to better decision-making for the world as a whole. And it's my belief that this will actually lead to better outcomes for the United States.

Just because people support Wikileaks and Assange doesn't mean they're anti-American. Similarly, being critical of current US policies isn't anti-American.

You know what really makes me pro-American? A belief that in a game situation with more information the US will still benefit, because we bring something to the game besides more information.
posted by formless at 9:31 PM on December 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


stratastar: "This thread is pretty deep already, and this was partially covered by localroger's comments above, but if you haven't read this post on Assange's internal Wikileaks motivations"

That is a very worthwhile and interesting analysis. Definitely worth a read, for people who are beyond the Assange personality and want to delve deep into some fundamental ideas.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:46 PM on December 4, 2010


formless, this is a counter-argument to your point. Secrets may bring globally optimal solutions.

But that's the rub: Government's keep things secret from the citizenry because they want to be able to maneuver in ways that public opinion may not agree with: (if you put it on an up and down vote, free trade wouldn't survive, or the public may bring back the gold currency).

But sometimes the government is locked into deeply flawed group-think and hides the fact not only from the public but itself, the government KNOWS Afghanistan is irreparably corrupt, acts as if it isn't, but doesn't tell the public because they might pull the plug.
posted by stratastar at 9:57 PM on December 4, 2010


Releasing secrets levels the playing field.

The more you have to lose should the table become level, the more upset you might be with Assange. There's big money riding on secrets.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:15 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I get the 'logic' (absurd as it is) about the government telling its employees to maintain this fiction.

This isn't some fake exercise. Ever done a case where someone has lost a security clearance? It means losing a job. You can bitch and moan all you want but there are reasons why the government wants to have secrets and if you cannot demonstrate you can keep secrets, it will not allow you to have a clearance.

This isn't some game. You know, a lot of people, over a lot of years, like me, have done a lot of thinking, a lot of litigating and a lot of work on all of this. So wikileaks then comes out and triex to publish, what, half a million classified documents and suddenly everyone with a computer has a goddammed opinion on the matter without doing one second of research on the actual facts surrounding why and how the government keeps things secret.

So when someone calls the work of thousands of people a fiction, I get a bit miffed. Do some research, learn about the facts.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:44 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do some research, learn about the facts.

Speaking of research and facts, do you yet have the name of the informer who told the US about China hacking Google?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:46 PM on December 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


"Do some research, learn about the facts."

I've read everything I can find by and about Assange and Wikileaks. Have you?
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 10:53 PM on December 4, 2010


Oh and LOL at "a lot of people, over a lot of years, like me, have done a lot of thinking"

Jesus, what's it like to be an expert? Sounds frustrating, kinda like being the sharp kid in class. Behavior most of us leave behind BTW.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 10:54 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've read everything I can find by and about Assange and Wikileaks. Have you?lets

Name one country were it is legal to "leak" secrets.
posted by clavdivs at 11:10 PM on December 4, 2010


fixedgear: sounds like your employer took it a bit farther than mine. Your linked model memo is actually more clear than the memo I got with regard to personal computers. "This requirement applies to access that occurs either through agency or contractor computers, or through employees' or contractors' personally owned computers that access non-classified government systems"

My computer at home does not access non-classified government systems. On the other hand, I do not want to be without a badge (and thus no job) while I appeal my clearance revocation on a technicality. So.
posted by ctmf at 11:14 PM on December 4, 2010


"Name one country were it is legal to "leak" secrets."

Whistleblowers perform a public-minded service for the public good and people like yourself are always very keen to stand in their way, silence them, if they can't do that, ignore them. Fortunately, that shit is now well on the way to being over. So I can see where you might be feeling sad about your lost secrets. I, on the other hand, am ecstatic.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 11:20 PM on December 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I'm off to see The Holy Sea, a band who sing about Australian history- we started as a penal colony- and it's going to be awesome to be rocking out with people who are happy and proud an Aussie struck a blow for the common man. Good times.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 11:23 PM on December 4, 2010


blahblahblah.

name one.
{i say leak it all}
posted by clavdivs at 11:24 PM on December 4, 2010


Jesus, what's it like to be an expert? Sounds frustrating, kinda like being the sharp kid in class.

bye, sorry you could not answer a simple question.
posted by clavdivs at 11:25 PM on December 4, 2010


Name one country were it is legal to "leak" secrets.

For one, the United States has whistleblower laws that operate at federal and state levels.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:48 PM on December 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


I posted (from another time zone, so late to answer): So, basically, to perpetuate a State Department that needs to lie to the American people in order to function, all new applicants must be able to lie about knowing/seeing/hearing or linking to something that is front page news?

and Mauvri answered:
Not linking to something on a publicly accessible place under your real name that will illustrate that you can't perform a job doesn't seem like a particular hardship to me, no. It also seems stunningly naive to think that a person should be able to do so without endangering potential employment.

I just want to say that you missed the point. That potential "job" is one that is done in my name and should reflect my values -- especially the NAIVE one that the State Department should be governed by the Constitution as much as all American governmental agencies. Anyone who is employed by that agency should be as interested in cleaning the government of corruption as any person who believes in democracy - whether American or not.
posted by Surfurrus at 12:05 AM on December 5, 2010


Now that the rest of the world has seen the leaks, it's more important than ever that new entrants to the State Department know less than their international peers and the general population about current affairs.
posted by davemee at 12:06 AM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


whistleblower laws that operate at federal and state levels.

''The first U.S. law adopted specifically to protect whistleblowers was the Lloyd-La Follette Act of 1912. It guaranteed the right of federal employees to furnish information to the United States Congress...

The Military Whistleblower Protection Act protects the right of members of the armed services to communicate with any member of Congress (even if copies of the communication are sent to others)".

Yes, but one can say "that does not apply to classified material", in this case, to be more specific, passed to another foreign power or it's equivalent, an anonymous 'Dead drop'. But it is hard to argue against that wikileaks may have garnered this intel but this besides the point.
A law is implace to provide a venue for a citizen/solder to be heard if that individual seeks protection or grievance. Congress is the venue. The republic model of representaion affords this it's effect are evident. As to classified material, even diplomatic cables, it is not legal to give them to another foriegn power. (if someone finds a loophole that would be cool)

if wikileaks is to break the cycle of conspiracy then why open the gates a little. Let it all come out or is that all they have?... this is speculation. Not helpful without bringing the tangents of espionage and public polity vs. truth. so its back to spying and the philospohy of wikileaks which IMO sounds like some really bad short novella i wrote when i was 23.
posted by clavdivs at 1:15 AM on December 5, 2010


Take away the central government, water, sewer, reliable electricity and food and life span plummets.

So what part of providing water, sewer, reliable electricity and food and preserving life span requires the government to be able to keep secrets?

Governments need to do things. If those things are ineffective, the government isn't worth much.

The stuff governments need to do don't require secrets, it's when they want to interfere with the work of other governments that they start needing secrets.
posted by robertc at 3:18 AM on December 5, 2010


I've got $15 for the first paperback published with the first couple hundred of those cables. I just wish I had a penny for each of the copies of the whole file already sitting on computers all over the whole world.

They actually think they can close Pandora's box? Ha! They -never- learn the simple fact: the more noise you make, the more attention you create.

Crank up the samizdat, and start saving the old x-ray plastic, boys: the Pravda will be in business for -years-.
posted by Twang at 3:51 AM on December 5, 2010


As was stated above the memos are specifically a reminder that the material remains classified regardless and that as a person with a security clearance one would be obligated to treat those docs with the same rules as any other classified data. Furthermore the obligation of said clearance means that one should not be celebrating or encouraging the distribution of the docs. This is not about closing the barn door, it is about advising employees and prospective employees of their obligations.

So what part of providing water, sewer, reliable electricity and food and preserving life span requires the government to be able to keep secrets?

Consider your options for electricity:
-Nuclear energy - should we keep the schedules of fuel and waste transport secret? What about the shift changes for security and detailed security ops plans?
-Wind--you better have a plan to negotiation with the Chinese for your rare earth magnets. You probably shouldn't publish that before you are meeting.

Also should we share all the computer passwords for the computer control systems related to the electrical grid?

Not to mention that all this infrastructure is vulnerable to attack by various entities which seeks to disrupt your economy or physically harm you. That means you need a defense department, local police, etc.
posted by humanfont at 4:44 AM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is not about closing the barn door, it is about advising employees and prospective employees of their obligations.

So, it's not about keeping actual secrets; it's a loyalty test.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:12 AM on December 5, 2010 [8 favorites]


For one, the United States has whistleblower laws that operate at federal and state levels.

Hate to burst your bubble, but as someone who currently has a filed complaint at the Office of Special Counsel and who has tried Whistleblower Protection Act cases, the Act most certainly does not protect the disclosure of classified or foreign affairs information.

Specifically, 5 USC section 1213 holds in pertinent part:
(a) This section applies with respect to--
(1) any disclosure of information by an employee, former employee, or applicant for employment which the employee, former
employee, or applicant reasonably believes evidences--
(A) a violation of any law, rule, or regulation; or
(B) gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety;

if such disclosure is not specifically prohibited by law and if such information is not specifically required by Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or the conduct of foreign affairs;
Facts, they can't be beat.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:17 AM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


humanfont if those things were classified under the same scheme as the cables, several hundred thousand people would have access to the computer passwords related to the electrical grid. No. There are secrets and then there are 'secrets'. Your argument, like the plot of a bad thriller, only works if you assume people are all morons.
posted by Ritchie at 5:17 AM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ritchie, it doesn't seem really necessary to compare somebody's argument to "the plot of a bad thriller"
posted by angrycat at 6:08 AM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


By declaring that students should not comment about WikiLeaks or they risk not getting a government job, the State Department is creating a very real chilling effect. Their policy will actively discourage students from debating this important topic at a time in their lives when they should be actively questioning our very foundations. Regardless of what their eventual decision about the issue is.

Here's the real chilling effect: after 9/11 and the Iraq fiasco of 'stovepiping', the government widened internal access to documents within the government so something wouldn't be missed if one official didn't know something another official did know. That's why Manning had access to so many documents. Now, that's all changing and all of the departments are clamping down.

I don't see how anyone could believe that Assange's assault on the system could result in anything but more secrecy. They are going to hold secrets more tightly, not less tightly now.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:15 AM on December 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Here's the real chilling effect: after 9/11 and the Iraq fiasco of 'stovepiping', the government widened internal access to documents within the government so something wouldn't be missed if one official didn't know something another official did know. That's why Manning had access to so many documents. Now, that's all changing and all of the departments are clamping down.

I don't see how anyone could believe that Assange's assault on the system could result in anything but more secrecy. They are going to hold secrets more tightly, not less tightly now.


Right, they're going to hold their secrets more tightly, by sharing them with fewer people - which, if you had read Assange's essays linked to in this thread, you would understand was exactly his intent.

They're closing in on the WikiLeaks guy, but not Osama Bin Laden. That's really all you need to know.
posted by Marla Singer at 6:36 AM on December 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


humanfont if those things were classified under the same scheme as the cables, several hundred thousand people would have access to the computer passwords related to the electrical grid. No. There are secrets and then there are 'secrets'. Your argument, like the plot of a bad thriller, only works if you assume people are all morons.
posted by Ritchie at 8:17 AM on December 5 [+] [!]

Many have already noted above but apparently it needs repeating. As many as 3 mllion people have a security clearance, but this does not grant them acres to SIPRNet(the intel sharing network). Access to SIPRNet doesn't give unrestricted access to all classified data. Data access is partitioned and secured inside of SIPRnet. Manning was able to use his access to SIPRNet and then exploit weak passwords, packet sniffing and other hacks to gain access to far more information than he should have.

This isn't the case that all the secrets were shared by 3 million people. However it would seem that some subset (those with SIPRNet access) could use that access as a point to hack into areas beyond their immediate need to know access.
posted by humanfont at 6:43 AM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Something I now vaguely remember from back in the day, but it took Juan Cole to remind me:
Looking into the matter further, he discovered that, over the last five years, in a program that itself has been a secret, U.S. military and intelligence agencies have reclassified 9,500 documents, constituting more than 55,000 pages, some of them dating back to World War II. And that's just so far. The program under which they've been doing this—which has never been authorized or funded by Congress—is scheduled to continue until at least March 2007.
Specifically (in Cole's post) in the context of Amazon: when those documents were declassified by Clinton, books were written about them. Those books are now also considered classified thanks to this process, despite their public availability. (Amazon continues to sell at least some of them; an extra dollop of hypocrisy in their treatment of WikiLeaks.) —Anyway, this is the mentality at work; this is the mentality being fought; this is the absurdity in a nutshell.

Also I quite like Cole's reaction: "I suppose that as a contemporary historian, I feel about Wikileaks the way I feel about Ben & Jerry’s ice cream as a perpetual dieter. I wish they wouldn’t make it, but when I have a bowl, I have to say I really enjoy it."
posted by kipmanley at 6:46 AM on December 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is not about closing the barn door, it is about advising employees and prospective employees of their obligations.

New York Times: Government Workers Ordered Not to Read Cables
"In a classic case of shutting the barn door after the horse has left, the Obama administration and the Department of Defense have ordered the hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contractors not to view the secret cables and other classified documents published by Wikileaks and news organizations around the world unless the workers have the required security clearance or authorization.

'Classified information, whether or not already posted on public websites or disclosed to the media, remains classified, and must be treated as such by federal employees and contractors, until it is declassified by an appropriate U.S. Government authority,' said the notice sent on Friday afternoon by the Office of Management and Budget, which is part of the White House, to agency and department heads, urging them to distribute it to their staff.

The directive applies to both government computers and private devices that employees or contractors might have, as long as they are accessing the documents on nonclassified government networks. It does not advise agencies to block WikiLeaks or other websites on government computer systems, a White House official said Saturday. And it does not prohibit federal employees from reading news stories about the topic. But if they have 'accidentially' already downloaded any of these documents, they are being told to notify their 'information security offices.' [more]
MSNBC: Fed Workers Told: Stay Away from Those Leaked Cables -- "Directive notes the content 'remains classified'; Columbia U. also warns future diplomats."
posted by ericb at 6:55 AM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's an email from an alum to his alma mater. It's not the official position of the state department...Exactly.

Washington Post:
"Career counselors at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs urged students not to post links to the documents or make comments on social media Web sites, including Facebook or Twitter.

'Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government,' said an e-mail the office said it sent to students on the advice of an alumnus who works for the State Department.

But the employee's warning, 'does not represent a formal policy position,' State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Saturday.

'This sounds like an overly-zealous employee,' Crowley said in an e-mail. 'Our focus is advising current employees not to download classified documents to an unclassified network. While we condemn what WikiLeaks has done, we cannot control what is done through private Internet accounts.'"
posted by ericb at 7:13 AM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Newsweek: Leaked cables show how strong U.S. diplomacy is.
posted by ericb at 7:20 AM on December 5, 2010


Specifically (in Cole's post) in the context of Amazon: when those documents were declassified by Clinton, books were written about them. Those books are now also considered classified thanks to this process, despite their public availability.

Wow. We're through the looking glass here.
posted by Marla Singer at 7:29 AM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Joe Beese: The difference being that between 1939 and 1945, you would have been keeping secrets on behalf of fighting war crimes rather than supporting them.

The common assumption that the US wasn't committing war crimes left and right in that war is just as baseless as the assumption that the US isn't committing them left and right in the current one.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:17 AM on December 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also should we share all the computer passwords for the computer control systems related to the electrical grid?

No. We'd be mad to protect something as dangerous as that with something so easily hackable as a password.

Not to mention that all this infrastructure is vulnerable to attack by various entities which seeks to disrupt your economy or physically harm you. That means you need a defense department, local police, etc.

And what is motivating these 'entities'? Perhaps that similar disruption was imposed upon their economy or person. The way to break a circle of violent retribution is not to keep circling.
posted by robertc at 9:42 AM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain the point of classifying documents? I had thought the idea was to keep secret things secret, but right now it seems to be functioning much like an index of proscribed books.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:43 AM on December 5, 2010


which, if you had read Assange's essays linked to in this thread, you would understand was exactly his intent.

Please do not assume anything. Marla Singer, it is not working as intended this wikileaks. You will see this in the coming days.

Wow. We're through the looking glass here.

Do you know what this statement means as related to espionage?
posted by clavdivs at 9:55 AM on December 5, 2010


Can someone explain the point of classifying documents?

"As defined in the Classified Information Procedures
Act (CIPA), passed by Congress in 1980, classified information
is any information or material that has been determined
by the United States government pursuant to an
executive order, statute, or regulation, to require protection
against unauthorized disclosure for reasons of national
security and any restricted data, as defined in paragraph
R of section 11 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42
U.S.C. 2014[y])

The act names executive orders before legal statutes,
because these orders—more than acts of Congress, decisions
of the Supreme Court, or other rulings—are among
the principal governing authorities in matters of security
classification and access to classified information. In addition
to executive orders, there are also other non-parliamentary
government directives that present guidelines on
classified information and access.
For the present purposes, it is helpful to be a bit more
explicit than CIPA, and—using as a basis various executive
orders, as well as historical practice—define classified
information as materials or data belonging to, controlled
by, and/or produced by the federal government, pertaining
to intelligence sources or methods of collecting information;
cryptology or codes; and the vulnerabilities, capabilities,
or planning of systems, installations, or projects
that relate to national security. Access to information thus
“classified” is restricted on the basis of its relative importance,
the consequences that would follow if it were passed
to the wrong parties, and the individual’s “need to know”
that information."

- http://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Espionage-Intelligence-Security-Lerner/dp/0787675466

{my home library is becoming valuable.}
posted by clavdivs at 10:09 AM on December 5, 2010


Please do not assume anything. Marla Singer, it is not working as intended this wikileaks. You will see this in the coming days.

Don't assume that I'm assuming anything. I'd like to hear your concrete predictions for what to expect in the coming days. Currently, I'm impressed by the accuracy of Assange's predictions. If you can outdo him in that department, I will no doubt be impressed.

Wow. We're through the looking glass here.
Do you know what this statement means as related to espionage?


I was alluding to the world of Alice In Wonderland, where things are ridiculously nonsensical, where absurdity rules, and sensible people (like Alice) find themselves exclaiming in astonishment that things keep getting "curiouser and curiouser." If the phrase has some specific relevance to the field of espionage, I must admit that I'm not familiar with it, so would you kindly care to enlighten me?
posted by Marla Singer at 10:38 AM on December 5, 2010


I think if I might presume a moment to speak for clavdivs that he meant not so much espionage as conspiracy.
posted by kipmanley at 10:45 AM on December 5, 2010




Julian Assange's lawyers say they are being watched.
WikiLeaks founder's lawyers also accuse US state department of inappropriate behaviour in not respecting attorney-client protocol.
Also updates on the Swedish Case including the bizarre demand to have Mr. Assange held incommunicado without access to lawyers, visitors or other prisoners.
posted by adamvasco at 10:59 AM on December 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do you know what this statement means as related to espionage?
"down the rabbit hole"
posted by hortense at 11:07 AM on December 5, 2010


"...I thought it was good that Putin and Berlusconi were shown, in the leaked documents, to be nasty and corrupt, though I thought we all knew already that they were nasty and corrupt, and I thought that the documents probably wouldn't make any difference to them, or the way they ran their countries, but that they might make life quite difficult for the sensible diplomats.

And when I heard that the man with the website, who has never run anything except a website, and has managed to fall out with some of the few colleagues he has, and describes other colleagues as "a confederacy of fools", and people who have given up their time to work for him as "not consequential people", had called for the resignation of the woman in charge of foreign policy for the world's only superpower, who has devoted her life to public service, and done it pretty damn well, understanding that if you want to make some things in the world better, you have to deal with some very difficult people, ideally without your thoughts about the people being spewed out to the entire world, what I thought was this:

I thought that power without accountability was dangerous, and that politicians are accountable to the people who elect them, and people who run websites aren't. I thought that people who are themselves very secretive probably shouldn't tell people who need to keep some things secret that they can't. And I wondered if the man with the website realised that what some people called "freedom of information" was quite likely to make people more paranoid. It was quite likely, in other words, to make people less free."

Emphasis mine. Sauce
posted by dougrayrankin at 11:16 AM on December 5, 2010


Please do not assume anything. Marla Singer, it is not working as intended this wikileaks. You will see this in the coming days.

Well, we could argue all day long about whether the ultimate goal of Wikileaks' asymmetrical war on the entire global hegemony will have any noticeable long-term effect, but if the immediate effect has been for the leak targets to clamp down more tightly on their secrets then in a very precise sense so far it's having exactly the effect Assange claims they intended.
posted by localroger at 11:16 AM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also updates on the Swedish Case including the bizarre demand to have Mr. Assange held incommunicado without access to lawyers, visitors or other prisoners.

That's so far beyond reasonable, I just... wow.

kipmanley: Thanks for the link.
posted by Marla Singer at 11:25 AM on December 5, 2010


Compare the treatment of Assange, who hasn't been convicted of anything and is supposedly only wanted for questioning (incommunicado, with no lawyers?) to that of Roman Polanski, who was actually convicted of rape of a minor. The ownership class doesn't care about any rape charges, they care about their private club being threatened.
posted by Marla Singer at 11:49 AM on December 5, 2010 [3 favorites]







Everytime we witness an act that we feel to be unjust and do not act we become a party to injustice. Those who are repeatedly passive in the face of injustice soon find their character corroded into servility. Most witnessed acts of injustice are associated with bad governance, since when governance is good, unanswered injustice is rare. By the progressive diminution of a people’s character, the impact of reported, but unanswered injustice is far greater than it may initially seem. Modern communications states through their scale, homogeneity and excesses provide their populace with an unprecidented deluge of witnessed, but seemingly unanswerable injustices.


from Assange's essay (pdf)
posted by Shit Parade at 12:41 PM on December 5, 2010


And what is motivating these 'entities'? Perhaps that similar disruption was imposed upon their economy or person. The way to break a circle of violent retribution is not to keep circling.

How do we apply your magic solution to: MS13, Kahane Chai and Hamas, Hells Angels, Aryan Brotherhood, Larouche, the Rashneshi cult, Aum Shinrikyo, and on and on. Then there are guys like the DC snipers, McVeigh and The Unabomber who were ultimately working in a very small group or alone. You can't address all the motivations or even understand them. Then there are the warlords, arms dealers and yellow news media that profits off of conflict and dischord. Inside every extremist group you will find a criminal element that is just making their living off the violence. They don't care about the objectives of the organization, in fact they will
sometimes undermine the group just to retain their position. These entities are very complex structures and that's one of the reasons things like the IP conflict go on and on.
posted by humanfont at 2:27 PM on December 5, 2010


1.]
...to that of Roman Polanski, who was actually convicted of rape of a minor. The ownership class doesn't care about any rape charges, they care about their private club being threatened.
posted by Marla Singer

Reference: Charles Mansion.


Do you know what this statement means as related to espionage?
"down the rabbit hole"

posted by hortense

Not bad. Do you trust the source? Either one. 'UFO' could be misdirection? Speculation. Did he say it? Speculation.

I am working on my 'looking glass' response Marla singer, but i had to work today and need to start dinner.

posted by clavdivs at 3:13 PM on December 5, 2010


manson..thats was funny
posted by clavdivs at 3:13 PM on December 5, 2010


Diplomacy de-escalates tension, prevents wars, makes trade agreements, helps your economy and allows those jobs you have to exist. It allows you to earn the money you enjoy having to live the life you enjoy living.

Assange just fucked with diplomacy. He's a cock. He is the real life equivalent of the Michael Moore caricature in "Team America". Full of noble ideas but so utterly shallow that the has not for a moment considered the full and actual ramifications of his actions. By all means leak that Iraq Apache attack video, leak documents on how private security contractors are acting as though they're beyond the law... this is exactly the kind of thing WikiLeaks should be doing, but leaking diplomatic cables does nothing other than hinder diplomacy and put governments and nations on the defensive. It doesn't bolster openness, it does the exact opposite. I say again, Assange is a cock. Also, he has the worst haircut ever.
posted by dougrayrankin at 3:44 PM on December 5, 2010


Reference: Charles Mansion.

I cannot begin to imagine what relevant point you think you might be making. I'm not going to bother to reply to your posts if you can't bother to make clear posts using complete sentences.
posted by Marla Singer at 3:57 PM on December 5, 2010


dougrayrankin: Oh, I see. The US pressuring Spain not to prosecute US officials for torture was just diplomacy, the necessary kind of thing our government needs to do and to keep secret from us peons for our own good. No one really needs to be held accountable for extraordinary rendition anyway, right? What good could come of that? Same for Hillary Clinton ordering diplomats to obtain credit card numbers, email addresses, DNA samples, et cetera. Nevermind about international law, this is diplomacy. Nothing to see here. Move along.
posted by Marla Singer at 4:14 PM on December 5, 2010 [4 favorites]


charles manson>Tate/ LaBianca murders> class warfare.
posted by clavdivs at 4:16 PM on December 5, 2010


Marla you failed hard in reading my post. I'll post it again in a bold to make it easier.

By all means leak that Iraq Apache attack video, leak documents on how private security contractors are acting as though they're beyond the law... this is exactly the kind of thing WikiLeaks should be doing.
posted by dougrayrankin at 4:19 PM on December 5, 2010


By all means leak that Iraq Apache attack video, leak documents on how private security contractors are acting as though they're beyond the law...

The problem is that if they does that, they risk being called selective and manipulative. I'm not sure I agree with their stance there, but it does make sense.

Inside every extremist group you will find a criminal element that is just making their living off the violence. They don't care about the objectives of the organization, in fact they will
sometimes undermine the group just to retain their position. These entities are very complex structures and that's one of the reasons things like the IP conflict go on and on.


I'm not sure this is the place for RIAA discussions.

Yes, yes, I know.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:05 PM on December 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure this is the place for RIAA discussions.

It is telling that even Bin Laden pays the ASCAP royalties on his tapes. Not to mention the problems he's been having with the writers guild, there is a reason he hasn't been on TV sincere stike.
posted by humanfont at 5:28 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


If you'll pardon me, I don't believe I'm the one failing here, dougrayrankin. I'm glad you're in favor of the leaking of the Iraq Apache attack videos and documents concerning private security contractor abuses. This is a good thing. However, you specifically objected to the leaking of diplomatic cables:

"but leaking diplomatic cables does nothing other than hinder diplomacy and put governments and nations on the defensive."

I provided two examples from the recent batch of diplomatic cable leaks which brought to light gross government misconduct, things that I would hope you would consider to be on a par with the earlier Iraq leaks. I chose those two from this list of seven important disclosures from the recent batch (and there will surely be more), which shows the value and importance of leaking diplomatic cable leaks.

As for your contention that leaking diplomatic cables put governments and nations on the defensive, you might want to consider whether Assange would care much about that considering his publicly stated ultimate goal: "to destroy this invisible government."
posted by Marla Singer at 5:41 PM on December 5, 2010


“Maybe if these statements weren't on the record, but rather exposed as leaks, we'd take them more seriously.”

dougrayrankin: the items cited by Marla Singer are all revelations from the diplomatic cables whose release you condemn so earthily; are precisely that which has so roiled the diplomacy you vaunt so highly.
posted by kipmanley at 5:47 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dang it. Preview failure.
posted by kipmanley at 5:48 PM on December 5, 2010


"leaking diplomatic cable leaks," brought to you by the department of redundancy department.
posted by Marla Singer at 5:52 PM on December 5, 2010


Dang it. Preview failure.

Actually, you phrased it much better than I did.
posted by Marla Singer at 5:54 PM on December 5, 2010


Do you trust the source? Either one
I am not sure I can trust anyone with platinum hair.
posted by hortense at 6:00 PM on December 5, 2010


A Spanish prosecutor pursuing criminal charges against American officials would have a serious impact on relations between the US and Spain. No US President would hand an American official over for prosecution in a case like this, nor would the congress or voters let them do it.

The collection of information about foreign diplomats in the US or anywhere is pretty routine. It seems like comaing about gambling in the casino.

Also rendition is not secret prisons. Rendition is where we deport you to the Kingdom and then leave the room while the hook your nuts to a car battery and then we come back and are surprised that you are sudden talkative. Of course everything you say is just bullshit to give is the appearance that we are in charge. A secret prison is where we setup a supposed civil or military institution in your country and then keep you locked up like an Austrian's second wife/daughter.

It should also be noted that the cables contain gossip and speculation. Just because a US diplomat thinks Burlusconi and Putin have secret contracts to enrich themselves does by make it a fact.

Personally I wish the state department would publish more of these cables in an unclassified manner. Our foreign service is apparently one of the best foreign news beureas out there.
posted by humanfont at 6:07 PM on December 5, 2010


Have a web server? Mirror Wikileaks.
posted by azarbayejani at 6:31 PM on December 5, 2010


From Wikileak's Twitter feed: "Sarah Palin says Julian should be hunted down like Osama bin Laden--so he should be safe for at least a decade."
posted by Marla Singer at 7:36 PM on December 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


BBC reports that a list of securities facilities vital to the United States have been leaked.
posted by Phire at 8:33 PM on December 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton briefly addressed the issue at a State Department reception last night, saying "she found it extraordinary to greet so many talented people. She then said: 'I am writing a cable about it, which I'm sure you'll find soon on your closest website."

Perhaps the administration is not hiding weapons of mass career destruction after all.
posted by anigbrowl at 8:33 PM on December 5, 2010


;)
posted by clavdivs at 9:50 PM on December 5, 2010


'Wow. We're through the looking glass here.'
posted by Marla Singer

'I was alluding to the world of Alice In Wonderland, where things are ridiculously nonsensical, where absurdity rules, and sensible people (like Alice) find themselves exclaiming in astonishment that things keep getting "curiouser and curiouser." If the phrase has some specific relevance to the field of espionage, I must admit that I'm not familiar with it, so would you kindly care to enlighten me?'
posted by Marla Singer at 1:38 PM

1. Alice had a choice. The rest is "Jabberwockey"
2. Secets are curious and deadly. This is why it is secret. (this is In-joke with open source referents)

3. A Looking-glass is a mirror.

4.'The land is contested by two competing factions, the Reds and the Whites. Each side has its King and Queen, knights, armies, and castles'. Looking-Glass Land.

5. 'The looking-glass world is divided into sections by brooks, with the crossing of each brook usually signifying a notable change in the scene and action of the story: the brooks represent the divisions between squares on the chessboard, and Alice's crossing of them signifies advancing of her piece one square'

6.'The Looking Glass War'. 'The story comes to its tragic but inevitable end when, Leiser, not knowing the fate of the operation, continues with his mission and as a consequence of Smiley's intervention, receives no response to his transmissions. He follows the "War Rules" and plays out the losing game to the end, and due to his prolonged and slow transmissions..."

[My favorite. Back on track.]

7. 'Looking Glass is the nickname for the Airborne Command
Post, which was implemented by the U.S. Strategic Air
Command (SAC) during the Cold War to ensure that
operations would continue in the event that the primary
strategic command centers were rendered unusable. The
name “Looking Glass” derives from the fact that the
aircraft used are equipped to fulfill, or “mirror” all functions
normally performed on the ground...'

- http://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Espionage-Intelligence-Security-Lerner/dp/0787675466
under 'Looking Glass'

That is a my specific referent.

One goes through the 'looking glass' once and then it is up the individual to find "the way out" but alas it is but a dream.

I'd like to hear your concrete predictions for what to expect in the coming days.

Concrete?
No U.S. Intelligence officer past or present would dare post this nay post at all. They sign papers and stuff. This is a fact. I have studied espionage for 35 year and these leaks only leave conjecture and speculation. Assange does not concern me. I outlined a story about a place were people dropped personal secrets in a box labeled so and no one opened it. Ever. that was 23 years ago. Of course I was stealing from other author. The question of asymmetrical warfare is only of interest if another nation-state can be linked to wikileaks which I doubt highly. Assange used espionage tactics to achieve his end. I have no judgement to that though i have an opinion. At this point i will not even speculate as IMNYIA.
$I;]=
posted by clavdivs at 10:58 PM on December 5, 2010


Here is a kill-switch i do see if things get bumpy.
U.S. government personel preosecuted en masse by foreign powers.
Inside the United States, Charge all accused with a crime, they pled guilty, they tried and sentenced. The President of the United States signs the biggest pardon list in history.

oooooh!

posted by clavdivs at 11:08 PM on December 5, 2010


BBC reports that a list of securities facilities vital to the United States have been leaked.
posted by Phire

This is a suggests asymmetrical warfare and could turn the worm.
posted by clavdivs at 11:11 PM on December 5, 2010


clavdivs, I don't see anything that looks like a concrete prediction in your posts, but then I don't see anything really coherent there at all. Apparently you can't or won't be clear, so I'm through bothering with you.
posted by Marla Singer at 12:01 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


if you cannot comprehend what I say; how can you discern if I have made a 'concrete' prediction. Moreover, i never made one. I just opined that the next 72 hours will be interesting.

so, what is curious about this post to use a carroll ref...oh your done bothering well back to your cables of glee.
posted by clavdivs at 12:19 AM on December 6, 2010


Another Wikileaks thread driven into the ground by a sawmiller's handful of the obsessed.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 12:27 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


yes, you should be ashamed.
posted by clavdivs at 12:39 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


if you cannot comprehend what I say; how can you discern if I have made a 'concrete' prediction. Moreover, i never made one. I just opined that the next 72 hours will be interesting.

Ooooo my turn! I predict that the next 72 hours will be approximately 3 days.
posted by Justinian at 12:54 AM on December 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


i do like you. you see, blurted facts like the blurted words...well most.
Start Here.
Then for a penny!


"The key problem, he finds, is that the administration[Bush]has asked Congress to create new laws only when the administration felt it had no alternative (and Congress has been content to stand aside). As a result, there exists no “mature legal architecture” (i.e., substantive legislation of adequate breadth and flexibility) for dealing with the civil liberties and human rights concerns that arise in response to aggressive counterterrorism policies."

-http://www.amazon.com/Law-Long-War-Future-Justice/dp/B001LRPTGG

This is the issue of the OPs post. Legality.
my opinon is that wikileaks will be deemed, some day, in violation of the Espionage Act. or worse. The trick is the espionage part , he/they used espionage and arresting him/they may not (seems the "word" is not) stop more leaks. This is were the subject matter of wikileaks gets 'confused' with the realitry of American Law.
posted by clavdivs at 2:00 AM on December 6, 2010


will there be "aggressive counterterrorism policies" for wikileaks' 'Product'?
posted by clavdivs at 2:13 AM on December 6, 2010


Diplomatic cables like these exist on the computer systems of every government in the world, not just the US.

Marla Singer, I think you're confusing the way the world works with they way you want it to work.
posted by dougrayrankin at 4:46 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wikileaks publishes a list of critical infrastructure. Thats not infrastructure which criticizes, it is the infrastructure that keeps things moving. What whistle are they blowing by publishing this list? Arn't they just giving a target list to any local group that has an axe to grind with the US?
posted by humanfont at 5:12 AM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


'Sex by Surprise' at Heart of Assange Criminal Probe

The international manhunt for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a sex-crime investigation in Sweden apparently stems from a condom malfunction.

Assange's London attorney, Mark Stephens, told AOL News today that Swedish prosecutors told him that Assange is wanted not for allegations of rape, as previously reported, but for something called "sex by surprise," which he said involves a fine of 5,000 kronor or about $715...

"Whatever 'sex by surprise' is, it's only a offense in Sweden -- not in the U.K. or the U.S. or even Ibiza," Stephens said. "I feel as if I'm in a surreal Swedish movie being threatened by bizarre trolls. The prosecutor has not asked to see Julian, never asked to interview him, and he hasn't been charged with anything. He's been told he's wanted for questioning, but he doesn't know the nature of the allegations against him."

...Despite what has happened, the woman who organized the event and had Assange stay at her apartment told Aftonbladet that she never intended that Assange be charged with rape.

"It is quite wrong that we were afraid of him. He is not violent, and I do not feel threatened by him," she told the newspaper in an interview that did not identify her by name. "The responsibility for what happened to me and the other girl lies with a man who had attitude problems with women."


From a few days ago but I hadn't seen it.
posted by mediareport at 5:33 AM on December 6, 2010


Diplomatic cables like these exist on the computer systems of every government in the world, not just the US.

Marla Singer, I think you're confusing the way the world works with they way you want it to work.
Wait -- the whole world? Not just the US? Are you sure? Gosh, this changes everything! hamburger

The way I think the world works is: international banks and corporations effectively rule the world. They own all of the property worth having and they use it to make sure the maximum amount of wealth created by the world's peons funnels upwards toward themselves. They own the media, which they use to misinform and guide public opinion to their own ends. They buy politicians with their campaign contributions, by which practice they effectively own the "free" governments of the world, since you can't run an effective political campaign without huge amounts of their money. They own the military industrial complex, which they keep profitable by waging endless wars (and increasingly, in the US, by militarizing the police).

The powerful are well aware that they're powerful and they work hard to stay that way; and an important part of their strategy is keeping the peons uninformed of how the world really works. How do you think it works? Do you think it's a meritocracy, like a Sims game, where you as an individual can accomplish all of your hopes and dreams just by building your skill levels high enough and working hard, regardless of your upbringing or circumstances? Do you think that the legal system and political processes available to you are sufficiently fair? Do you believe there is liberty and justice for all? If you do, well then bless your little heart.

Members of the ownership class vie against each other at times; they're not monolithic. But they are united in their opposition to the working class. They iron out their differences and effectively conspire against the working class at places like the G8 summit and World Trade talks, as well as in meetings between world leaders and diplomats. I suspect that a large part of what you would consider mere diplomacy and "keeping things running smoothly" is what I consider class warfare.

Why exactly is it that although worker productivity has skyrocketed in the past thirty years, real wages have stagnated? Why is it that the powerful can meet and talk, but if an employee at Wal Mart (America's largest employer now) so much as breathes the word "union," he's out the door? Funny how the term class warfare tends not to get used unless the oppressed make a move against their oppressors, when the reality is that class warfare is an everyday fact of life; it's being waged against us constantly.

Bill Moyers, as featured in this recent MeFi FPP, laid it out at length and in detail. The transcript of that speech is a long but worthwhile read.

As Carlin said, "It's called the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it."
posted by Marla Singer at 8:36 AM on December 6, 2010 [16 favorites]


Members of the ownership class vie against each other at times; they're not monolithic. But they are united in their opposition to the working class. They iron out their differences and effectively conspire...

Wal-Mart, global warming cases will get hearings before Supreme Court


Swiss cut off bank account for WikiLeaks' Assange

posted by clavdivs at 9:19 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hitchens: Turn Yourself In, Julian Assange
posted by BobbyVan at 9:34 AM on December 6, 2010


Senators unveil anti-WikiLeaks bill.

hmmm
posted by clavdivs at 10:45 AM on December 6, 2010




The way I think the world works is: international banks and corporations effectively rule the world. They own all of the property worth having and they use it to make sure the maximum amount of wealth created by the world's peons funnels upwards toward themselves. They own the media, which they use to misinform and guide public opinion to their own ends. They buy politicians with their campaign contributions, by which practice they effectively own the "free" governments of the world, since you can't run an effective political campaign without huge amounts of their money. They own the military industrial complex, which they keep profitable by waging endless wars (and increasingly, in the US, by militarizing the police).
But this is the problem... of course banks and international corporations are powerful. They need to be in order to facilitate the lifestyle we live today. Do you think some entrepreneurial chap in his basement laboratory would come up with the medicines we have today? Do you think the Wright Brothers' grandsons would be able to build a 747 in their shed? Would the internet have been the success it was were it not possible to make money off it? You seem to advocate an end to everything you rely upon, and I do mean everything, and yet you have nothing yourself to put forward in its place. It's an empty philosophy perhaps informed by watching too many reruns of Fight Club? You also forget that while going on about this minority who control everything and have everything their way, you're there telling the majority of people they shouldn't be living as they are. Things need to change. Truth is, most people are happy this way and don't need nor want the changes you seem intent on forcing upon them.

I presume from your stance that you are not someone privy to the kinds of things that Governments decide to keep protectively marked? What do you think of the literally millions of people who just work from day to day in that environment making a living who, having read the material and judged it in context, decided that actually it was quite reasonable for that piece of information to be protected? I assume that you will label them slaves/mindless drones or some such, though I would like to be pleasantly surprised.
posted by dougrayrankin at 11:17 AM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thats not infrastructure which criticizes, it is the infrastructure that keeps things moving. What whistle are they blowing by publishing this list? Arn't they just giving a target list to any local group that has an axe to grind with the US?

Well, I for one, am surprised to see that USA thinks the only thing vital in my country is a cobalt nickel mine.
posted by ymgve at 11:26 AM on December 6, 2010


That's another thing I take issue with. What on earth is being exposed here other than "Useful places to target if you intend to conduct acts of terrorism."?
posted by dougrayrankin at 11:30 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]




I will never understand how intellectual people can hold such a simple worldview as "The way I think the world works is: international banks and corporations effectively rule the world." I assume one holding such views is either too narrowly read (in politics and anthroplogy), or not broadly enough traveled. Human civilization is much more complicated than a simple class war. Go and travel the world a bit, meet the locals and get out of the commune for a bit.
posted by humanfont at 11:38 AM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Columbia University Reverses Anti-WikiLeaks Guidance

Does that deserve a new FPP? I think I'll go post in in the MetaTalk thread, too.
posted by fixedgear at 11:40 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do you think some entrepreneurial chap in his basement laboratory would come up with the medicines we have today?

Um. yes, I think so. Seriously, suggesting that pharmacological development is private and profit-driven is one of the most naive things anyone has said in this thread. (Though admittedly it did get us Viagra.) Maybe not a "basement lab" but publicly funded R&D, yes.
posted by mek at 11:40 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Twitter is censoring #Wikileaks.

What Twitter decides to put on its "trending now" list is not censorship. Claiming such is an absurd argument. Twitter could censor wikileaks by deleting all #wikileaks post or removing the @wikileaks account. In fact there is some argument that they should since it is being used as a hub for an ongoing cyber warfare attack against the interests of the United States.

If a foreign entity wants to bring down the United States then it is certainly in our right as a nationstate to bring them down.
posted by humanfont at 11:50 AM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, that list isn't that useful if you want to commit acts of terrorism. It's probably useful if you want to commit acts of sabotage, but terrorists would prefer "softer" targets, which actually instill terror in people. Blowing up a mine will mostly make people angry.
posted by ymgve at 11:53 AM on December 6, 2010


Marla Singer: Twitter is censoring #Wikileaks.

Although if you read the whole article, its not so clear that they are.
“Hi – I work at Twitter on trends and other projects. Twitter hasn’t modified trends in any way to help or prevent wikileaks from trending. #cablegate was trending last weekend and various terms around this issue have trended in different regions over the past week. Trends isn’t just about volume of a term but also the diversity of people and tweets about a term and looking for organic volume increases above the norm. I hope this helps.”
Call me a dunce, but I kinda trust Twitter on this, simply because they have nailed their brand to the 'uncensorable' post so often with Iran and so on. It would be brand-suicide with their core audience for Twitter to mess with their trending algorithm to keep WikiLeaks off it - and what would they hav e to gain by doing it? So I'm giving Twitter the benefit of the doubt.
posted by memebake at 12:05 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seriously, suggesting that pharmacological development is private and profit-driven is one of the most naive things anyone has said in this thread.

suggestion?
posted by clavdivs at 12:11 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


memebake: If you keep reading, you'll find that Twitter's explanation doesn't hold water. It's a long read, but a thorough analysis which picks apart Twitter's explanation completely. In the end they simply have to be lying; that's the only rational conclusion.
posted by Marla Singer at 12:11 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pharmacological development isn't necessarily profit driven and much of it is underwritten by various government and foundation grants for basic research. It would seem that no matter the motivations for the scientific breakthroughs there are long supply chains to get the necessary lab materials, expensive computer equipment and maintain the staff necessary to run the thousands of tests to isolate and build a manufacturing system for these products. You have to run thousands of tests and experiments over many years, and have a system in place for testing the efficacy and safety of the drugs. All of this requires big pools of money that is only available to governments, venture capital firms, a foundation or a big pharmaceutical company. Suggesting that its just going to be a long inventor with a test tube, is a bit ridiculous.
posted by humanfont at 12:35 PM on December 6, 2010


I will never understand how intellectual people can hold such a simple worldview as "The way I think the world works is: international banks and corporations effectively rule the world." I assume one holding such views is either too narrowly read (in politics and anthroplogy), or not broadly enough traveled. Human civilization is much more complicated than a simple class war. Go and travel the world a bit, meet the locals and get out of the commune for a bit.

I know, right? Bill Moyers is such a cave-dwelling, uneducated moron.
posted by Marla Singer at 12:57 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


NY Times: Arrest of Assange Appears Near

My only question is: what took so long? Assange is the geopolitical equivalent of the BP oil spill.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:04 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


My only question is: what took so long? Assange is the geopolitical equivalent of the BP oil spill.

...which was dealt with in such a timely manner.
posted by Marla Singer at 1:11 PM on December 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Marla Singer: If you keep reading, you'll find that Twitter's explanation doesn't hold water. It's a long read, but a thorough analysis which picks apart Twitter's explanation completely. In the end they simply have to be lying; that's the only rational conclusion.

Yeah, I did see that bit. It is suspicious that Wikileaks hasn't been in the trending list more. But, I just dont see why Twitter would bother to censor their Trending feed. Who would they be offending if Wikileaks was trending more than it already has? Anyone whos even glanced at the papers or the news in the last week will have seen that Wikileaks is 'trending' IRL like crazy. What would be the point of Twitter risking their reputation to hide it?

In summary: I think the lack of Wikileaks trending is weird and I'm glad that people are checking it out in detail, but I'm prepared to give Twitter the benefit of the doubt with their answer of 'the algorithm is complex' for now. Hell, if Twitter has rolled over then we're really fucked. Am I trusting them too much?
posted by memebake at 1:11 PM on December 6, 2010


...which was dealt with in such a timely manner.

Precisely my point. Here's hoping Assange is "dealt with" soon.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:21 PM on December 6, 2010




Hell, if Twitter has rolled over then we're really fucked. Am I trusting them too much?

I'm personally inclined to believe the data analysis over the PR. But it's fun to resort to this when you're really undecided.
posted by Marla Singer at 1:26 PM on December 6, 2010


Actually, that list isn't that useful if you want to commit acts of terrorism. It's probably useful if you want to commit acts of sabotage, but terrorists would prefer "softer" targets, which actually instill terror in people. Blowing up a mine will mostly make people angry.
You're absolutely right, I apologise I was using the term terrorism in the broadest sense of the word rather than its specific meaning within the whole terrorism, sabotage, espionage, subversion quadri-something or other.
I know, right? Bill Moyers is such a cave-dwelling, uneducated moron.
Argument from Authority Fail
posted by dougrayrankin at 1:48 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


dougrayrankin: "I assume one holding such views is either too narrowly read (in politics and anthroplogy), or not broadly enough traveled."

Marla Singer: "I know, right? Bill Moyers is such a cave-dwelling, uneducated moron."

dougrayrankin: "Argument from Authority Fail"


That's hilarious...and a wee bit sad.

Color me skeptical about the Twitter response too, but I'm still holding out hope. Maybe the algorithm they put in to bump Bieber off the results took wikileaks off as well?
posted by Manjusri at 2:20 PM on December 6, 2010


Erm, Manjsuri... I didn't say that (the first line).
posted by dougrayrankin at 2:26 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I apologize doug, I got lost in the quotes. But that's what Marla was responding to. It wasn't an argument from authority but a response to...whatever the opposite of that sort of argument is.
posted by Manjusri at 2:35 PM on December 6, 2010


Argument from Authority Fail

Whut? Marla Singer wasn't saying that the argument that banks run the world was true because Bill Moyers said it. The Bill Moyers reference was to point out that someone who is (I guess?*) generally regarded as being well-read and knowledgeable can hold that view. It was a specific refutation of humanfont's statement "I assume one holding such views is either too narrowly read (in politics and anthroplogy), or not broadly enough traveled."


*I don't really have a dog in this, I just find that the only thing more annoying than accusing other people of logical fallacies is accusing other people of logical fallacies poorly.
posted by logicpunk at 2:38 PM on December 6, 2010 [2 favorites]






Yeah, whilst she was not responding to me directly, it's a perfect example of "Look, person X shares my view and person X is important/well regarded/intellectual" - even though employed as a refutation of someone else's post, it was still a perfect example of argument from authority.
posted by dougrayrankin at 3:10 PM on December 6, 2010


Well, no, it was just a refutation of someone else's ad hominem. Which isn't even necessary to begin with, of course. The one person who has failed to make any sort of legitimate argument is you as your appeal to the capitalist status quo has failed to point out these great innovations of the last decade. These are the people that brought you global economic meltdown, millions of deaths and millions more displaced... but smartphones too, I guess. Now we can't even muster up the political will to let the Bush tax cuts elapse but we can all collectively drop everything to chase all over the world for a sinister, ideologically-driven cartoonish archvillain. Pardon me, but I think this episode is a repeat.

Your Wright Brothers example is piss-poor as even you acknowledge, and then you argue that Boeing couldn't make a 747 if they weren't a corporation (what does this even mean?). Yet Boeing is a prime example of the military-industrial complex which exerts an undue influence on American democracy and is one of the primary causes of our current political stasis. Why does Boeing have to get a bunch of fat military contracts to build bombers to dump fire on Muslims to sustain my lifestyle? Oh right, oil.
posted by mek at 3:53 PM on December 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, whilst she was not responding to me directly, it's a perfect example of "Look, person X shares my view and person X is important/well regarded/intellectual" - even though employed as a refutation of someone else's post, it was still a perfect example of argument from authority.
No, wrong. I provided an example of someone so obviously well-read, well-traveled and experienced who did believe in a corrupt overclass in order to show just how laughable the assertion was that only an undertravelled naif could possibly hold those views. My example definitively disproved the assertion, and your reading of it as an argument from authority is even more laughable.
posted by Marla Singer at 3:57 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Your Wright Brothers example is piss-poor as even you acknowledge, and then you argue that Boeing couldn't make a 747 if they weren't a corporation (what does this even mean?). Yet Boeing is a prime example of the military-industrial complex which exerts an undue influence on American democracy and is one of the primary causes of our current political stasis. Why does Boeing have to get a bunch of fat military contracts to build bombers to dump fire on Muslims to sustain my lifestyle? Oh right, oil.
Take off the tin foil hat. I didn't acknowledge that Wright Brothers example was piss-poor (where did you get that from?) and I still await Marla's explanation of what marvelous society we would have in place of the existing system when everyone has subscribed to her point of view.

Marla, I imagine you're not an idiot, but I do disagree with your world view in that I have been previously someone who would agree with you and am someone who now does not as I have gotten older and seen more of the world. I urge you, if you have not already, to read Animal Farm. It will take you no more than an hour or so and will provide what I believe is much needed insight into the mindset I believe you hold which is oppositional to the status quo with no actual plan for how to do any better.
posted by dougrayrankin at 4:16 PM on December 6, 2010


Looks like an arrest won't be necessary: Julian Assange has agreed to meet with British police tomorrow. "Assange appeared to be reconciling himself to a lengthy personal court battle to avoid extradition." I wish him the best.
posted by Marla Singer at 4:18 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, you know, I'm open to the idea that I might be wrong in this... and I hate people who can't accept that their chosen ideology might be wrong. Marla, present to me an argument as to why I should agree with your standpoint, that is... (because this is the hardest part for me), that corporations and banks should not exist.
posted by dougrayrankin at 4:19 PM on December 6, 2010


dougrayrankin: You are an eternal fount of comedy. FYI, I read Animal Farm over 20 years ago in high school. I would suggest that you read it again yourself, but you might be better served to read the rest of Orwell's works, particularly his essays. You'll find that he was another idiot who believes pretty much the same things I do.
posted by Marla Singer at 4:30 PM on December 6, 2010


No seriously, I asked you to explain your point of view, I am looking for a serious answer from you as to what life will be like after you've replaced government as it stands with someone acceptable to you.
posted by dougrayrankin at 4:33 PM on December 6, 2010


I think it might be about time to take it to email, dougrayrankin, if you're seriously interested in pursuing an answer.
posted by kipmanley at 4:35 PM on December 6, 2010


I'd be happy to take it to email, but I'd rather be civil here and allow the debate to be seen for all for their benefit. I mean, god forbid we do something in secret. What would Julian Assange do?
posted by dougrayrankin at 4:37 PM on December 6, 2010


dougrayrankin: I don't want to keep going back and forth. I'm going to have to break away from this thread soon anyway, but if you want to get a handle on how someone could possibly believe the dunder-headed notions I do, I suggest you try reading up on sociological theory, particularly conflict theory. That can be pretty dry, though; Orwell's essays are easier and in many cases quite entertaining. That's one place to start.

FWIW, I eagerly read almost all of Ayn Rand's books when I was younger, and didn't believe there could be a flaw with capitalism until I had some frustrating real world experience, followed by a college education.

Great, now all the cool people are going back away from me. Ayn Rand?? Eww! Hey, I got better!
posted by Marla Singer at 5:00 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


dougrayrankin: Just because one objects to the status quo does not mean the only alternative is Animal Farm anarchic communism. False Dichotomy Fail. (I think we're done here.)
posted by mek at 5:03 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Truth is, most people are happy this way and don't need nor want the changes you seem intent on forcing upon them.

Some people are going to be really upset because the way people are happy right now is going to change because the entirety of the Earth's resources can't sustain this happiness. Most people don't want or need these changes, but neither I nor... sigh... Marla fuckin' Singer are inflicting these changes. The changes that are going to make people unhappy are the consequences of our too-happy lifestyles. They are inevitable and the more you delay the consequences the worse they will be. This resource problem is not up for debate and isn't opinion.

Marla, present to me an argument as to why I should agree with your standpoint, that is... (because this is the hardest part for me), that corporations and banks should not exist.

I'll take a try. It is because banks and corporations are imaginary. They are only groupings of humans and physical manifestation of dominant society in the form of technology (by technology I mean buildings and money and so forth..."Technology is society made durable"). Banks and corporations are currently destroying the world and creating the conditions necessary to create the changes that you are so upset that you think Marla is "forcing" upon people. Banks and Corporations should not exist because they are detrimental to the survival of humanity.

Now you explain your philosophy. Why do you think the systemic oppression and murder of hundreds of millions of people is acceptable to ensure the happiness of a very small percentage of Earths population?
posted by fuq at 5:49 PM on December 6, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh this will end well. </charlesgrodin>
posted by kipmanley at 6:11 PM on December 6, 2010


damn foonish book analogies...'THE TRIAL'.' BRIDGES OF MADi...
posted by clavdivs at 6:24 PM on December 6, 2010


and Parson Malthus
posted by clavdivs at 6:26 PM on December 6, 2010


The supposition that Bill Moyers supports the assessment that "international banks and corporations effectively rule the world" is not supported by the speech you linked to. He does talk about a new gilded age, and plutocracy coming into the american polity, as well as the potential dangers of the continued concentration of wealth in the US. Yet he never makes the sweeping assertion that they control the world. I presume this is because he is well read and well traveled. We should also take care when citing a political speech presented on the eve of an election. Particularly coming from one who believes so strongly in the "Power of Myth"
posted by humanfont at 7:13 PM on December 6, 2010


Perhaps, maybe I'm misreading something, or maybe you are taking "ruling the world" with a bit of a more literal slant, humanfont, and if your interpretation were the case, then I, too, would be disagreeing with Marla. But I don't think she's talking about the shadowy "5 Jew Bankers" (to quote SeaLab 2021)... I had assumed she meant precisely what you're talking about.

I am a staunch foe of conspiracy thinking, and am more in line with the thoughts of William Domhoff's research (which is along the lines of your statements) in his Who Rules America site.

In fact, I get really annoyed when you've got people like Alex Jones running around claiming Assange is a "false flag". I think he's just bitter Assange is getting all the attention.

I'm a bit buzzed now, so I can't respond much more coherently, in depth, or on topic, but that's just my .02 on the issue here, and where I think maybe some people are misunderstanding the "rule the world" mytheme (or, I may be wrong, and Marla IS talking more along a general single ruling elite cabal, and in which case, I have to say, I disagree).
posted by symbioid at 7:53 PM on December 6, 2010 [1 favorite]




dougrayrankin: Just because one objects to the status quo does not mean the only alternative is Animal Farm anarchic communism. False Dichotomy Fail. (I think we're done here.)
It was my intention to highlight what happens when someone advocates revolution on the basis of grand ideas to oust the corrupt leaders (in this case the corporations and banks).
I'll take a try. It is because banks and corporations are imaginary. They are only groupings of humans and physical manifestation of dominant society in the form of technology (by technology I mean buildings and money and so forth..."Technology is society made durable"). Banks and corporations are currently destroying the world and creating the conditions necessary to create the changes that you are so upset that you think Marla is "forcing" upon people. Banks and Corporations should not exist because they are detrimental to the survival of humanity.
I do not feel that convincing at all. Banks and corporations are very real, and not imaginary at all. You state that they are the manifestation of dominant society. Do you think that getting rid of them and taking away the benefits that come with them will change things? That all of a sudden no dominant societies will exist? This is the absolute crux of the matter which people seem unable to grasp. There has always been and always will be a source of power amongst human groups. Whether that be banks, a king, a president or a tribal elder... there will always be some figure which someone will accuse of being behind everything. That, simply put, is how society functions. Oh and I still haven't had a serious explanation from anyone as to what life will be like following the downfall of banks and international corporations.
posted by dougrayrankin at 11:52 PM on December 6, 2010


It was my intention to highlight what happens when someone advocates revolution on the basis of grand ideas to oust the corrupt leaders (in this case the corporations and banks).

How do you think this "grand experiment" of democracy got started? If you're not willing to do exactly this... well, apparently you've made your bed.
posted by mek at 11:58 PM on December 6, 2010 [3 favorites]


Live with the WikiLeakable world or shut down the net. It's your choice.

On 21 January, secretary of state Hillary Clinton made a landmark speech about internet freedom; "Information has never been so free," declared Clinton. "Even in authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable."
What WikiLeaks is really exposing is the extent to which the western democratic system has been hollowed out. In the last decade its political elites have been shown to be incompetent (Ireland, the US and UK in not regulating banks); corrupt (all governments in relation to the arms trade); or recklessly militaristic (the US and UK in Iraq). And yet nowhere have they been called to account in any effective way. Instead they have obfuscated, lied or blustered their way through. And when, finally, the veil of secrecy is lifted, their reflex reaction is to kill the messenger.
posted by adamvasco at 12:35 AM on December 7, 2010


wow
posted by clavdivs at 1:44 AM on December 7, 2010


BTW, Corporations are not the only way to 'do' capitalism. Corporations pretty much only exist because of various legal decisions which granted 'person' rights to them. We could legislate and replace them with some different company structure that was more accountable and transparent without denting the worlds capitalist infrastructure that much. Getting rid of their legal status as 'persons' so that the people running them actually had to face the risks they are taking would be a start.
posted by memebake at 1:53 AM on December 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


http://wlcentral.org/node/528
Australia Post has announced on Friday that it would be closing the University of Melbourne Post Office on December 17, and, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, insisted that the closure "has nothing to do with the fact that Box 4080 is the Australian postal address for submissions to the whistleblower website." The post box has long been used by WikiLeaks for submissions and donations via postal mail. "Coincidence? Or has the ever-closing security net around WikiLeaks been tightened a notch further?", asks the Herald's Daniel Flitton. "The architecture and planning building, where the post office is located, is to be demolished soon. But plans are not yet fixed and insiders expressed 'surprise' Australia Post had decided to close so early."
I really dont know what to make of this.
posted by memebake at 2:13 AM on December 7, 2010


The Daily Mail is not known for it's liberal attitude.
Reporter Richard Pendlebury travelled to Enkoping in Sweden to examine alleged sexual assault case against Julian Assange and finds "several puzzling flaws in the prosecution case".
posted by adamvasco at 2:25 AM on December 7, 2010


Assange arrested.
posted by armage at 2:43 AM on December 7, 2010


Well, it's on. 'Cause Assange was just arrested in London.
posted by Justinian at 2:43 AM on December 7, 2010


armage: That article does not say anything about Assange being arrested. It just says he's arranging a meeting with the police.
posted by memebake at 2:46 AM on December 7, 2010


Ah, perhaps you meant to link to this: Assange arrested (by appointment)
posted by memebake at 2:47 AM on December 7, 2010


I think the plan is he'll appear in court in London soon and then be released on bail pending a lengthy argument about whether the case in Sweden is actually legal or not.
posted by memebake at 2:48 AM on December 7, 2010


That daily mail article is actually pretty good, seems fairly balanced.
posted by memebake at 2:56 AM on December 7, 2010


msnbc.com news services updated 18 minutes ago 2010-12-07T10:25:46
LONDON — British police arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Tuesday on a European warrant issued by Sweden, London's Metropolitan Police said.

I take this to mean he is in custody.
posted by clavdivs at 2:58 AM on December 7, 2010


'Many people believe that the 39-year-old ­Australian-born whistleblower is the victim of a U.S. government dirty tricks campaign.
They argue that the whole squalid affair is a sexfalla, which translates loosely from the Swedish as a ‘honeytrap’...

Again there is scant evidence — in the public domain at least — of rape, sexual molestation or unlawful coercion.'

It is a suggestive. But not unlikely. If it were a honey trap, why two 'agents, was it co-ordinated, was it isolated 'revenge'. A larger question is one of security. If Assange was using basic protection such as a condom does he have evidence of his own disproving the allegations. If he does then this suggests he is using the law for 'cover'. INO, "In from the cold." Speculation though smart if wikileaks claims foreign countries want to stop them which is evident.


'The History of the Honey Trap'

"As long as there is espionage, there will be Romeos seducing unsuspecting [targets] with access to secrets."
posted by clavdivs at 3:55 AM on December 7, 2010


It's funny that they're reporting it as "Assange Arrested!" instead of "Assange turns himself in."

Before turning himself in, he submitted an op-ed piece to The Australian which they have published.
WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain's The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes.
[...]
In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said "only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government". The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.

Twitter feeds were calling for a flash mob in London at the time of Assange's scheduled appearance in court, 13:30 GMT, which I guess was about half an hour ago, but I haven't heard any reports on whether it has happened. Any news on that would be welcome.
posted by Marla Singer at 6:02 AM on December 7, 2010


Hearing is in progress - watch Keir Simmons twitter feed, he's a reporter for ITV.

Its getting interesting - Jemima Khan is at the hearing to act as surity for Assange.
posted by memebake at 6:13 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


By all means leak that Iraq Apache attack video, leak documents on how private security contractors are acting as though they're beyond the law...

The problem is that if they does that, they risk being called selective and manipulative. I'm not sure I agree with their stance there, but it does make sense.


Colbert already called him out on that when he pointed out that Assange edited the video to not show the rest of the story on the main link. He actually pressed him hard for two minutes on that and the use of the term "collateral murder." It was funky--as if Colbert was slipping out of character.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:42 AM on December 7, 2010


Also, re: the Pentagon Papers--the case was about whether the government could enjoin publication prior to release, the answer being no. It wasn't about whether those releasing documents could be prosecuted for violations of the Espionage Act.

Something occcured to me over the weekend. Say a Russian spy got documents and published them on the internet for the express purpose of having his handlers read them in moscow. Others could read them too. Would that be covered under the espionage act? (Assuming non-official cover for agent)
posted by Ironmouth at 6:48 AM on December 7, 2010


First MasterCard, now Visa is suspending payments to Wikileaks, a journalistic organization that hasn't been formally charged, much less convicted of any wrongdoing, who merely have an editor-in-chief involved in a sex scandal of dubious validity. Unbelievable.
posted by Marla Singer at 6:51 AM on December 7, 2010


But there is no powerful overclass/oligarchy/plutocracy running the world, lawlessly crushing dissent. Nope. That's just crazy talk.
posted by Marla Singer at 6:53 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


US Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein: Prosecute Assange Under The Espionage Act.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:00 AM on December 7, 2010


Hearing still in progress. People aren't allowed to use phones in the court but some tweets are getting out. This guy seems to be tweeting the most: @AlexiMostrous
posted by memebake at 7:02 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Calm down Marla. America's dirty laundry just got hung out in front of the whole world, and the guy who did it may very well make bail in the land of our supposed British lapdogs. That's not necessarily the work of jackboots, is it?
posted by BobbyVan at 7:05 AM on December 7, 2010


The court is refusing to allow bail, in spite of offers of 20,000 pounds each by Jemima Khan, Ken Loach and journalist John Pilger.
posted by Marla Singer at 7:08 AM on December 7, 2010


BoobyVan, keep in mind that The Guardian, The New York Times, and Der Spiegel among others have also published the cables, with the Guardian providing a searchable database on their site, and not a damn thing has happened to any of those institutions.
posted by Marla Singer at 7:11 AM on December 7, 2010


I know that the NY Times' reasoning (which I don't agree with) for publishing some of the cables is that Wikileaks was already going to release them publicly. I presume the Guardian also justified its publication of the cables on similar grounds.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:28 AM on December 7, 2010


@davidallengreen (lawyer, writer and legal correspondent of New Statesman) says, "Am not - er - an uncritical fan of #Assange or #WikiLeaks, but bail refusal is worrying." and "Even Pinochet got bail."
posted by Marla Singer at 7:29 AM on December 7, 2010


Marla - thanks for linking to the good news about bail being denied. I know that this is for a separate, unrelated charges of rape and molestation, but I'm still pleased to see Assange facing some sort of justice.

I'm under no illusion that this prosecution or any future prosecution will stop Wikileaks, but a responsible government can't stand idly by when it's under direct assault by an organization such as this.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:34 AM on December 7, 2010


The Guardian, The New York Times, and Der Spiegel among others have also published the cables, with the Guardian providing a searchable database on their site, and not a damn thing has happened to any of those institutions.

Those institutions are re-publishing material after it has been published by Wikileaks. There is some evidence that Wikileaks members recruited Manning and encouraged him to hack SIPRNet and steal the documents.

But there is no powerful overclass/oligarchy/plutocracy running the world, lawlessly crushing dissent. Nope. That's just crazy talk.

Mastercard, Visa and Paypal arn't the world unless you're world experience extends only as far as World Market. They are US corporations who probably were getting calls from thousands of people (aka customers and cardholders) who are pissed, as well as contact from congressional investigators and the department of Justice. The Swiss are currently negotiating with the US over bank secrecy laws and US account holders. Also they value secrecy and privacy so they found a way to shut down Wikileaks.
posted by humanfont at 7:34 AM on December 7, 2010


Not a big conspiracy theorist myself, but 'Asange Arrested' is a trending Twitter topic but not #wikileaks? It could be the algorithm. He could be a rapist, or maybe he was set up.
posted by fixedgear at 7:41 AM on December 7, 2010


There is some evidence that Wikileaks members recruited Manning and encouraged him to hack SIPRNet and steal the documents.

[citation needed]
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:49 AM on December 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


*snort* @ conspiracy. I'm not talking about THE JOOZ or anything, I'm talking about the people on the far right side of the L Curve. The distribution of wealth in the US as shown in the graph, and of course likewise in the rest the world, is astoundingly, shockingly uneven. The people with that wealth are well aware of their power and of the status of wealth distribution, but for some reason a lot of the peasants are in denial. Some of the questioning peasants want to squabble over what the ideal hypothetical utopia should look like. Meanwhile, there's a Bastille that needs storming.
posted by Marla Singer at 7:54 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is some evidence that Wikileaks members recruited Manning and encouraged him to hack SIPRNet and steal the documents.
First I've heard Very interesting! Got a source?
posted by BeerFilter at 8:01 AM on December 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Brian Leherer is reporting that the latest link is a list of the most vulnerable U.s. targets.

I don't think he's getting due process, but the dude's got a serious agenda
posted by angrycat at 8:13 AM on December 7, 2010


new post in metafilter on assange arrest.
posted by clavdivs at 8:13 AM on December 7, 2010


wow 3 days.


Some of the questioning peasants want to squabble over what the ideal hypothetical utopia should look like. Meanwhile, there's a Bastille that needs storming
.

Are you calling 'Us-we' a "peasant"? You do relize the storming of the Bastille was an utter failure.
posted by clavdivs at 8:32 AM on December 7, 2010


humanfont are you having difficulty finding a citation for your statement that There is some evidence that Wikileaks members recruited Manning and encouraged him to hack SIPRNet and steal the documents?
You have also been harping on a bit about "world experience". Have you tried traveling outside of USA without a Visa card?
posted by adamvasco at 8:50 AM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Have you tried traveling outside of USA without a Visa card?

Yes.

are you having difficulty finding a citation for your statement thathere is some evidence that Wikileaks members recruited Manning and encouraged him to hack SIPRNet and steal the documents
Cite 1: Lamo, who's cooperating with investigators, wouldn't name the person but said the man was among a group of people in the Boston area who work with WikiLeaks. He said the man told him "he actually helped Private Manning set up the encryption software he used."

Cite 2: Manning explained he "developed a relationship" with Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, but found him elusive. "I don't know much more than what he tells me, which is very little," he said. "It took me four months to confirm that the person I was communicating [with] was in fact Assange."

Lamo asked how he would get in touch with Assange and Manning told him simply "he would come to you", although when pressed he said he used an encrypted online chat programme.
It is unclear the extent to which Manning was pushed by his friends in the Boston area and Assange himself to leak classified materials. I suspect that you will see a criminal probe of the Boston area hacker group that Manning and Assange seem to be associated with. Manning could roll over on them, they could roll over on Manning or Assange, its a prisoners dilemma problem. It is also possible that evidence will be gathered from computers and network traffic that will allow a prosecutor to make a case that puts a lot of these guys in jail regardless of their stories.
posted by humanfont at 11:09 AM on December 7, 2010


Thanks for pointing that out, humanfront.
posted by BeerFilter at 1:12 PM on December 7, 2010


Yeah someone he contacted on a website troubleshooted an encryption installation process for him. He didn't know their identity and communicated "very little" and this translates into humanfont's head as "recruited and encouraging him to hack SIPRnet and steal documents." At least your bias is showing.
posted by mek at 3:59 PM on December 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah someone he contacted on a website troubleshooted an encryption installation process for him. He didn't know their identity and communicated "very little" and this translates into humanfont's head as "recruited and encouraging him to hack SIPRnet and steal documents." At least your bias is showing.

Could you provide a citation? Otherwise it seems that you're accusing humanfront of delusionality w/o cause
posted by angrycat at 7:18 PM on December 7, 2010


Columbia has backtracked on its original letter.

If this has been posted already, I missed it.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:30 AM on December 8, 2010


Adian Lamo has a chequered history and also seems to have a feud going with Assange. So not really the best witness for anything.
posted by adamvasco at 11:42 AM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Could you provide a citation? Otherwise it seems that you're accusing humanfront of delusionality w/o cause

I was criticizing his reading of the "evidence" he provided, so my "citation" would be two comments above the original comment of mine.
posted by mek at 7:22 PM on December 8, 2010


I was criticizing his reading of the "evidence" he provided, so my "citation" would be two comments above the original comment of mine.

To be clear I'm not trying to state this this is the actual historical fact. Just that Manning's lawyers could cut a deal and have him testify along with Lamo that Manning was recruited by Assange. In that case you have two witnesses against one, which always looks good for a jury. Second even with only Lamo's evidence you probably have enough to get warrants where required, haul people before a grand jury and do plenty of other things to make things hard for Wikileaks team members. You have to understand the prosecutor just needs enough evidence to show that there is as reasonable basis for their investigation and prosecution to move ahead. The threshold for that is very very low. If during the investigation phase they decide they have enough evidence to convict at trial, you are likely fucked. The conviction rate is over 90%. Even if you somehow win, you have tens to hundreds of thousands in legal bills and are going to probably have to go bankrupt. Also they can go after you with civil actions, asset seizure and other tools meaning even when you win you lose. Even billionaire like Martha Stewart have trouble in these kinds fo circumstances. All they had on here was a shaky witness and some handwritten notes on a page that were allegedly put there to coverup her insider trading involving a few tens of thousands of dollars.(Aka pocket change to Ms Stewart).
posted by humanfont at 8:20 PM on December 8, 2010


I don't think anyone doubts the USA is capable of conjuring up some bullshit means of detaining Assange indefinitely, if they ever get their hands on him. That's basically their defining characteristic these days.
posted by mek at 8:32 PM on December 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


The strange and consequential case of Bradley Manning, Adrian Lamo and WikiLeaks

Greenwald, from last June, in case folks hadn't read it yet.
posted by mediareport at 9:45 PM on December 8, 2010


Late update, in case anyone is interested: On Wednesday the 15th, the dean of SIPA will be participating in a panel discussion entitled WikiLeaks and Academia.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 5:45 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
Dec 3rd
http://www.metafilter.com/98182/Government-reaction-to-Wikileaks (this thread)
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 9:13 AM on December 19, 2010


WTF?
posted by carsonb at 12:44 PM on December 22, 2010


heh
posted by clavdivs at 12:55 PM on December 22, 2010


Track II
posted by anigbrowl at 1:58 PM on December 22, 2010






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