WikiLeaks! It's a wiki that leaks!
January 1, 2011 8:06 AM   Subscribe

WikiLeaks doing too much for you to follow? CBS has got your back with this dandy little compilation: How WikiLeaks Enlightened Us in 2010. Highlights: Obama worked with GOP to kill torture probe. U.S. authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers. China was behind the online attack of Google. The Obama administration shipped arms to Yemen even as it denied any role in the conflict. Pope Benedict impeded an investigation into alleged child sex abuse. McDonald's tried to delay US legislation in order to help fight a lawsuit in El Salvador.

Credit to this original post by adamvasco.
posted by Rory Marinich (226 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite

 
Thanks. There has been so much noise over the past few weeks about Assange, that the content of the leaks has been overshadowed.
posted by jetsetsc at 8:12 AM on January 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


yay cbs
posted by Ardiril at 8:13 AM on January 1, 2011


Happy New Year!

@jetsetsc: Funny that, eh?
posted by salmacis at 8:13 AM on January 1, 2011


I pointed this out a few days ago, but it's worth repeating: go look at that article about the Pope and notice the bits about how the probe was disrespectful toward Vatican sovereignity.

There is basically no way to read that which does not entail a belief that not only the Vatican but the Church itself is sovereign and extraterritorial, and that crimes committed by priests against Catholics are purely internal matters which governments have no business investigating or punishing. This goes beyond self-interest and venality; this is a claim, fundamentally, that the Church, along with the men who make up its hierarchy, is not subject to the rule of any laws except its own. This is not a crime against individuals but a revolutionary attack on the very notion of laws. The Pope stands against the idea that he is not the highest authority on earth.

And who will punish them for their arrogance? For this assault on the legitimacy of human self-determination and the right of human beings to protect themselves?
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:29 AM on January 1, 2011 [33 favorites]


Glenn Greenwald also has a list.
posted by delmoi at 8:37 AM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


This goes beyond self-interest and venality; this is a claim, fundamentally, that the Church, along with the men who make up its hierarchy, is not subject to the rule of any laws except its own

This would not exactly be an unprecedented view for the Church to take...
posted by brennen at 8:40 AM on January 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


This would not exactly be an unprecedented view for the Church to take...

As I recall, bringing the Church under secular law was a big part of what the political upheavals of the late middle ages/early modern periods were about. Well, that and breaking the backs of independent noble power.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:46 AM on January 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


They clearly aren't journalists. This sounds nothing like what journalists do. You are clearly using some archaic definition of journalist that no longer applies.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:49 AM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wikileaks: proving the world is as bad as you think it is.
posted by oddman at 8:49 AM on January 1, 2011 [19 favorites]


The McDonalds one is almost funny, although it makes me wonder what our government is doing in the back pocket of Big Hamburger.
posted by JHarris at 8:58 AM on January 1, 2011


As I recall, bringing the Church under secular law was a big part of what the political upheavals of the late middle ages/early modern periods were about. Well, that and breaking the backs of independent noble power.

Did we keep all the notes on the "breaking the nobles" stuff? Cos we may need'em again.
posted by Artful Codger at 8:59 AM on January 1, 2011 [20 favorites]


They clearly aren't journalists. This sounds nothing like what journalists do. You are clearly using some archaic definition of journalist that no longer applies.

I'm confused because you're the first and only person to use the word "journalist" in this thread.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:00 AM on January 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


WikiLeaks! It's a wiki that leaks!

You mean, it doesn't hold water?

What really is new here that wasn't already news at some time in the past and already documented, confirmed, or outright demonstrated?

Obama covering up for the GOP? Obvious since his 91st day.
US not investigating crimes in Iraq? Old news.
China versus Google? Almost a TV movie.
Arms shipments? As old as weapons themselves.
Catholic perverts? pppttthhhh...
Corporate America wooing Congress? Aided by "grassroots" lobbying staffed by temps, no doubt.

I'm confused because you're the first and only person to use the word "journalist" in this thread.

CBS has no journalists?
posted by Ardiril at 9:04 AM on January 1, 2011


Highlights:

Sadly, I think this list, even on CBS, will just cause more people to tune out and not care.

Having looked at some of from the linked list, can't say I blame them. Of course the US leaned on Spain, there's no way in hell the US is going to let other countries launch legal proceedings against US citizens, let alone the question of if they even have the right. China being behind the Google attacks isn't surprising, nor is the State Department official not being quite completely honest about the conflict in Yemen. Seriously, that's complaint is weak. The official admitted the US was supplying "advice, training and equipment" but was not taking direct military action, yet it's some kind of "gotcha" now that a cable admits that yes, the US was supplying arms to the Saudi's, an ally, after they requested help? Shocking and surprising, oh yes.

Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church? Yes, they're evil. I sort of admire them, in a horrified way. They've bound the Church (capital C) to an actual city state, which lets them get away with all sorts of shit. Impressive, but why can't we use drones on their border, huh, HUH?!

McDonald's? Ok, they're evil, but dammit, their fries are tasty.

Finally, I love how this was painted as WOW CBS IS REPORTING ON THIS, yet CBS is often just linking to other news sources. They're going to be re-tweeting any minute now, aren't they?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:05 AM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was talking about how Wikileaks are digital terrorists who should be in jail like Osama bin Laden but with news stories. Journalists are not terrorists.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:06 AM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


In the spirit of reviving deleted WikiLeaks posts, it's a little long, but I really enjoyed this interview.
posted by gman at 9:12 AM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


reviving deleted WikiLeaks posts: the undead well-beaten horse. ;-P
posted by Ardiril at 9:15 AM on January 1, 2011


US Defense contractor DynCorp bankrolled pedophilia parties in Afghanistan
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:18 AM on January 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


The McDonalds one is almost funny, although it makes me wonder what our government is doing in the back pocket of Big Hamburger.

I think this is the most important thing about WikiLeaks: it exposes our diplomatic relationships as "good old boys" clubs where the rich, through lobbyists, pretty much get to dictate what the American national interest is. The institution of the wealthy having their needs "peculiarly attended to" as Adam Smith used to say is nothing new, but it is counter to the principles of open democracies and free and fair market practices.

The phone calls my diplomatic representative in El Salvador should be dealing with ought to be about improving the democratic institutions in El Salvador, not protecting the interests of certain individuals in the United States. That's why it's important that the State Department is largely stripped of it's ability to keep secrets. There are certain cases where information should be classified to protect people, but there should generally be a very short time line of seven or ten years. In some cases it could remain secret for twenty or thirty years, but there should be some government body that randomly inspects these classified cables to make sure they are legitimately being used. The punishment for using this secrecy to further private instead of public interest should be very, very severe.
posted by notion at 9:18 AM on January 1, 2011 [22 favorites]


private instead of public interest

How many government pension plans own McDonalds stock? That is your public interest.
posted by Ardiril at 9:21 AM on January 1, 2011


The McDonalds one is almost funny, although it makes me wonder what our government is doing in the back pocket of Big Hamburger.

The response (from the Guardian article) was:

Ambassador Hugh Barclay argued strongly that what McDonald's was doing "ran directly counter to US interests in seeing CAFTA-DR implemented as soon as possible".

Toadying to McDonald's every request would be pretty awful, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
posted by underflow at 9:29 AM on January 1, 2011


Martin Luther : Catholic Church : : Julian Assange : "Real Journalism"
posted by Xoebe at 9:33 AM on January 1, 2011 [12 favorites]


Democracy does not exist.
posted by fuq at 9:33 AM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


...there's no way in hell the US is going to let other countries launch legal proceedings against US citizens, let alone the question of if they even have the right.

Because it's only OK when the US approves of it, right? How's that War On The Rule Of Law going?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:38 AM on January 1, 2011 [12 favorites]


Martin Luther : Catholic Church : : Julian Assange : "Real Journalism"

This thread is already crossed into the absurd!
posted by proj at 9:47 AM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I keep hearing things like this: "Well, yeah, Wikileaks released evidence of {insert evil thing here}. But anybody who's sufficiently cynical already knew that, so Wikileaks is useless."

It's true that many people already knew of or suspected much of this. But, unless one's raison d'etre is to sit on a barstool and gripe about how ignorant the sheeple are, shouldn't more evidence and wider exposure of these things be welcome?
posted by steambadger at 9:51 AM on January 1, 2011 [46 favorites]


Because it's only OK when the US approves of it, right?

No, of course not, but the idea of Universal Jurisdiction is understandably not going to fly in the US. It's not going to fly to such an extent that Obama and Republicans will work together and I can't say I blame. Refusing to give another country legal jurisdiction in your own is not a surprising concept.

The McDonalds one is almost funny, although it makes me wonder what our government is doing in the back pocket of Big Hamburger.

Whaaa? The scene in the link goes like this:

McDonald's: Yeah, we're trying to get three new judges for the court because of this case and we're citing that Free Trade Treaty the US is working on as pressure.

State Department: Wait, WTF?! You shouldn't be doing that shit it's counter to our interests, puts the treaty at risk and draws hostile attention to you, knock it off.

McDonald's: Oh, alright, we'll tone it down, but we're still pursuing this on every legal level we can.

State Department: What? Why? We've already asked the President of El Salvador to look into and make sure things are fair. Knock it off.

McDonald's: Well we just want to make sure they're really fair.

Sate Department: .....

McDonald's: What? Did we do something wrong?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:53 AM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do you think that what Assange and his group has done is Good or Bad for the American public?
Do you think that Assange and his group should be prosecuted and if so, under what law(s)?
Do you think that Assange and his group are "terrorists" as has been stated by some American political figures and, if so, how do you define the word "terrorist"?
Do you believe that Assange and his group have released materials that are harmful to both Am. diplomacy and to our military involvements? Are we potentially harming our military and those it works along with?
Do you believe that those American papers that have published the leaked materials are culpable and ought to be censored or punished?
Do you believe that all of what has been thus far been made available has in fact been presented to the Am public by the newspapers here or have the papers redacted and/or decided what they should and should not relay?
If it were in your power to prevent further materials from being made available, would you do so or want to see them published?
posted by Postroad at 10:02 AM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


steambadger: the sheeple will still remain ignorant.
posted by Ardiril at 10:03 AM on January 1, 2011


How many government pension plans own McDonalds stock? That is your public interest.

By your reasoning, McDonalds can be guilty of no crime, not can any company whose stock price could be harmed.
posted by JHarris at 10:03 AM on January 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


One reason that Wikileaks is important is because it takes the wind out of the people who shout "you're a conspiracy theorist." What Wikileaks has done is provide incontrovertible evidence that often what is going on is not conspiracy theory, it's conspiracy fact. No matter what kind of investigative journalism is done, for example, on Obama's efforts to protect torturers, your typical establishment apologist will whine "oh but that's just a conspiracy theory, please, show me the facts."

Now, when someone starts bitching like that you can say "check out cable 09MADRID392." This undermines the credibility of what Digby has called the "Very Serious People," and that's a positive development.
posted by wuwei at 10:04 AM on January 1, 2011 [32 favorites]


JHarris: that's quite a leap. By my reasoning, US business should be able to rely on the federal government for assistance in international affairs.
posted by Ardiril at 10:07 AM on January 1, 2011


One reason that Wikileaks is important is because it takes the wind out of the people who shout "you're a conspiracy theorist."

No, it doesn't. The links in this post aren't as black and white as they're being portrayed, there's a lot of grey there and the repeated insistence by some that it's all horrible and all governments and corporations are completely evil and thank god for wikileaks paints larger portraits of conspiracy theorists.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:11 AM on January 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've found an easy way seeing as new interesting cables emerge is by reading wlcentral.org. Articles marked 'Cablegate coverage' contain brief summaries of news stories emerging from newly release cables, but they are also very good about following up on cable stories, related debates, and vaguely similar.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:12 AM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


"oh but that's just a conspiracy theory, please, show me the facts."

wikileaks is a CIA plot from inception....kidding that would be a conspiracy.

Wikileaks is all but contained and margainalized, I find more U.S. Horror in open source history. Leak it all, esp. about Russia and China or else scurry back to you bunker.

Phase 5
The dismantling and isolation phase.
(if your hunted, this is the critical junction)
posted by clavdivs at 10:14 AM on January 1, 2011


Brandon: Try reading more carefully. Did I say "all horrible and all governments and corporations are completely evil?" Nope. And what specifically in 09MADRID392 is a "shade of gray?" Thanks.
posted by wuwei at 10:14 AM on January 1, 2011


I suspect cablegate will also provide some 'practical experience' for your more sane conspiracy theorists wuwei, often pushing them towards discussing more realistic conspiracies.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:15 AM on January 1, 2011


Ardiril: "What really is new here that wasn't already news at some time in the past and already documented, confirmed, or outright demonstrated?" (and similar from Brandon Blatcher)

The point is that those who regulate and run our society, and the media who are supposed to help us keep an eye on them, are instead acting in concert to hide or minimise the impact of these findings.

The result is that most citizens, with encouragement from media, simultaneously deny and downplay the stories with a smokescreen of contradictory rationalizations:
- blame the messenger or source (bad Julian! those were seekrits!)
- blame the game (politiks and gummint is too messy for our unskuled brainz. Let the pros handle this)
- and of course, for many people: do anything you want, I just wanna keep my job and not lose the cottage/RV/Harley/401k/health coverage/house.

The net result is that most people generally DO NOT agree that the issues illuminated by Wikileaks are documented, confirmed, or outright demonstrated. Nor do they much care. If it didn't lead on Entertainment Tonight, it can't be important.

Are they sheeple, or is it simply that society has finally found the correct balance of personal economic affluence/instability, abetted by a fractured and incoherent media, that makes the greater issues personally irrelevant?

(on preview, steambadger says it better. But I used more words)
posted by Artful Codger at 10:20 AM on January 1, 2011 [13 favorites]


wikileaks is a CIA plot from inception

Inception is a plot from Scrooge McDuck. Or vice versa?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:25 AM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did we keep all the notes on the "breaking the nobles" stuff? Cos we may need'em again.
What they meant was breaking the backs of independent nobles, and bringing them under the power of the king. I think that's what GenjiandProust's meant anyway. Although I'm not really sure if that's what happened.
What really is new here that wasn't already news at some time in the past and already documented, confirmed, or outright demonstrated?

[list]
Do you have citations for all of those being known in the public domain before wikileaks?
One reason that Wikileaks is important is because it takes the wind out of the people who shout "you're a conspiracy theorist."
No, it doesn't. The links in this post aren't as black and white as they're being portrayed
That's not how political rhetoric works. Sure you can argue that there are shades of grey, but you can't argue that people weren't conspiring behind the scenes. There it is documented in black and white. The McDonnald's one may not be all that bad, but how about the fact that Sweeden was a secret member of NATO and that the opposition party promised the US that they wouldn't remove troupes from Afghanistan even while they were campaigning on doing exactly that?

Where are they shades of gray in shell bragging to a US ambassador about having access to all levels of the Nigerian government? Sure, I think everyone who was well informed probably believed that, but if you did say it, people could dismiss you as a conspiracy theorist. Now they can't.

It's a good thing that the DEA refused to use it's wiretapping system to spy on political enemies in Panama. but you can't say that there is no conspiracy. The DEA built a system that could spy on anyone in the country, secretly, and the government knew about it. Even though the US and the government didn't agree on how to use it, there was still a secret system put in place. And ultimately the Panamanians went with another country to run it's wiretapping system, (In this case, the UK).

To be honest, a lot of stuff revealed in these cables surprised me. I had no idea that international governments were intermeshed at such a deep level, that the US government had a lot of sway in domestic laws and criminal justice issues in various countries.

It's totally false to say "Everyone knew it". I didn't know it, and lots and lots of people probably had no idea, and dismissed people who said these things as conspiracy nutcases.
posted by delmoi at 10:27 AM on January 1, 2011 [13 favorites]


Am I mistaken to think that in spite of the general reaction to what wiki-leaks contains is hard facts, most of the information that came to light are individual conversations, suspicions, second hand guesses, perceptions, gossips, projections, and not actual proven facts?
posted by semmi at 10:31 AM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is basically no way to read that which does not entail a belief that not only the Vatican but the Church itself is sovereign and extraterritorial, and that crimes committed by priests against Catholics are purely internal matters which governments have no business investigating or punishing.

This actually holds true not just for the Catholic Church, but for multinational corporations who hold enough sway over the American government to get let off for criminal behavior, as some of the leaked cables amply demonstrate.

I'd probably worry more about what the leaks show a CEO getting up to, than the Pope. A corporation's reach is further, and its crimes more evil.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:31 AM on January 1, 2011


acting in concert to hide or minimise the impact of these findings.

*I* am minimizing "the impact of these findings"; I don't need "encouragement from media" or regulators.

Nor do I watch Entertainment Tonight.

Gee, delmoi, you never read the "Google vs China" posts here on MeFi nor the many posts about Catholic pederasts? "I had no idea that international governments were intermeshed at such a deep level": how deep into your comment history do I need to dig to dispel that statement? Somebody hand me a leaf rake.
posted by Ardiril at 10:34 AM on January 1, 2011


Am I mistaken to think that in spite of the general reaction to what wiki-leaks contains is hard facts, most of the information that came to light are individual conversations, suspicions, second hand guesses, perceptions, gossips, projections, and not actual proven facts?
Well, you could read them for yourself.
posted by delmoi at 10:34 AM on January 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ardiril: By my reasoning, US business should be able to rely on the federal government for assistance in international affairs.

Even when that government assistance runs "directly counter to US interests," according to the U.S. Ambassador? You're scary.
posted by coolguymichael at 10:35 AM on January 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


coolguymichael: Yup, it's called compromise, by definition a range of potential options.
posted by Ardiril at 10:39 AM on January 1, 2011


Gee, delmoi, you never read the "Google vs China"
Where was it documented that the attacks were ordered by the Chinese government, as opposed to independent hackers?

Anyway, while some of the stories involve new details about things we know (for example, we not only know that it was the Chinese government, but that it was a specific minister who decided to do it after Googling himself and getting pissed off about what came up)

Also, that's only one of the items on your list:
Obama covering up for the GOP? Obvious since his 91st day.
US not investigating crimes in Iraq? Old news.
Arms shipments? As old as weapons themselves.
Catholic perverts? pppttthhhh...
Corporate America wooing Congress? Aided by "grassroots" lobbying staffed by temps, no doubt.
I mean come on, you list the fact that U.S. was not only delivering arms, but actually operating drones and doing strikes in Yemen while telling the local population that everything was being done by the Yemeni government. I have no idea what you're talking about with "Corporate America wooing congress".

Also, no offense but you don't seem to be able to understand things in very much detail. You consider the US interfering in the Spanish, German, and Italian judicial system to fall under the general category of "Obama covering for the GOP". I would imagine that the citizens of those countries might be both surprised that it happened and pretty significant.

It's as if you think that because we know about something, everything else that's somewhat similar to that thing isn't worth knowing. Which seems pretty bizarre.

And again, there's a huge difference in believing something because it seems like it's true, and actually having proof. Sure people might have thought the US was doing these things, but people might have disagreed or come up with other explanations. Now we know for sure that these things were happening.
posted by delmoi at 10:43 AM on January 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


And what specifically in 09MADRID392 is a "shade of gray?"

Nothing. It's pretty black and white that the US isn't going to allow Spain to legally try American citizens and I can't say I blame them.

That's not how political rhetoric works. Sure you can argue that there are shades of grey, but you can't argue that people weren't conspiring behind the scenes.</em.

OF COURSE people are conspiring behind the scenes, even allies, that's like a basic act of interacting. A and B are always talking about or doing something about C, be it a 3 person company or group a friends or America, Britain and Canada. The specific acts matter, not the fact that they're doing it, which is what I think you're saying.

posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:45 AM on January 1, 2011


Isn't Mugabe's involvement with blood diamonds kinda the epitome of 'we already knew that already'? Yet, these wikileaks based revelations by The Standard will positively impact Zimbabwe.

In fact, you only 'knew all this' if you were already a sane conspiracy theorists. In other words, you made reasonable assumptions about what goes on behind the curtain based upon your knowledge of history, human nature, power, etc. In many cases, we simply did not know enough about the specifics necessary for credibly criticizing the powerful people who're causing the problems.

There are of course individual cases where the details were fully known already. In those cases, the cables still reveal the private opinions of American diplomats. These opinions are immediately powerful specifically because they are private. Yet, their idealism hints towards some far away possibility of a foreign policy that benefits all people, not just the powerful. I hope that people will expect more from their governments after cablegate.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:46 AM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Nothing. It's pretty black and white that the US isn't going to allow Spain to legally try American citizens and I can't say I blame them.
So you believe it's OK for the US government to kidnap innocent people from various countries, imprison them, and torture them for a few years before dumping them back out of the system after their innocence has become obvious -- and no one involved should face any consequences for their actions?
posted by delmoi at 10:47 AM on January 1, 2011 [10 favorites]


Quick takes
-McDonalds in Elsalvador -- I see this as bad behavior by the hambugler, not the US diplomats.

-Dyncorp Dancing Boy Parties In Afghanistan -- reported, afghan gov asked for coverup state said no. Organizers taken out of country. Needs followup from justice in loft of prior Dyncorp staff behavior wrt to child sex allegations in other conflicts. Story deserved more attention from media who originally covered it.

-Spain/Germany (and now Polish ) investigations an US presure to stop it. US continues to utterly fail to hold those accountable. At the same time it's our responsibility and having other governments start indicting US agents would spawn a domestic political keffiyehs as damage relations with those countries. I don't think it was wrong to pressure these other governments, but I also think shame on us for ignoring the clear violations of law.

-Google / China -- shame on China.

-Arms/Yemen -- so what?

-Pope Bennedict -- pope should replace Swiss gaurd with Dyncorp mercs

-Iraq NG -police brutality -- this is the Iraqi Governments problem.

Other revelations
-Arab leaders actively lobby the US to attack Iran --US says no
-Germans pressured after the plan to unilaterally resume sales of weapons to China in violation of post Tianamen Sq. Sanctions
-Sweden secretly sort of in NATO
-Burlesconi and Putin partners in crime
-Prince Andrew brags about resuming and winning the great game and thepower of the British empire while blasted in Central Asia.

Non-Cable WL leaks of note:
-War logs-- contrary to reports US mil kept detailed casualty stats on civilian deaths

Other things we've learned:
-Handing over your secret documents to hackers is a great way to get them organized. From what I hear searching cables and incident reports in the Stare and Military databases is a nightmare and it's impossible to get the big picture.

-Generals who hang out with Rolling Stone are more likely to cause real harm to US policy than 250k emails written by their subordinates.
posted by humanfont at 10:50 AM on January 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


delmoi: I understand the details well enough to say that you are splitting hairs.
posted by Ardiril at 10:58 AM on January 1, 2011


-Spain/Germany (and now Polish ) investigations an US presure to stop it. US continues to utterly fail to hold those accountable. At the same time it's our responsibility and having other governments start indicting US agents would spawn a domestic political keffiyehs as damage relations with those countries. I don't think it was wrong to pressure these other governments, but I also think shame on us for ignoring the clear violations of law.
The crimes happened in those countries, so of course they have jurisdiction
-Generals who hang out with Rolling Stone are more likely to cause real harm to US policy than 250k emails written by their subordinates.
The state department doesn't work for the military. At least it's not supposed to.
posted by delmoi at 10:59 AM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's worth repeating humanfont's last point. Insiders will leak whatever strokes their egos or benefits their career, usually stuff about upcoming secret activities. And that may prove a serious problem if he's discussing important operations. An Army private who leaks oodles about past activities may severely embarrass the politicians who gave those orders, but actually he's not endangering upcoming military operations.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:59 AM on January 1, 2011


delmoi: I understand the details well enough to say that you are splitting hairs.
Hmm... Yeah, people who actually know things are just "splitting hairs". Right.
posted by delmoi at 11:02 AM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Then convince me of the global significance of any one of those revelations.
posted by Ardiril at 11:04 AM on January 1, 2011


We don't seem to have a problem trying Spanish citizens.

And, under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction, it is only exercised where the country holding more typical personal jurisdiction does not act to indict the alleged criminal. From the cable:
Zaragoza has also told us that if a proceeding regarding this matter were underway in the U.S., that would effectively bar proceedings in Spain.
link
posted by wuwei at 11:07 AM on January 1, 2011


humanfont: Pope Bennedict -- pope should replace Swiss gaurd with Dyncorp mercs

lol
posted by memebake at 11:13 AM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's pretty black and white that the US isn't going to allow Spain to legally try American citizens and I can't say I blame them.

I suspect you don't really mean what you say here; Spain is perfectly entitled to try an American citizen who robs a bank in Madrid, for instance. So, I suppose what you're saying is that the US isn't going to allow Spain to try Americans for crimes committed outside of Spain. But the US claims the right to try foreign nationals who commit war crimes or crimes against US citizens overseas; why should Spain not be allowed to try US citizens who commit crimes against Spanish nationals?
posted by steambadger at 11:24 AM on January 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


It's true that many people already knew of or suspected much of this. But, unless one's raison d'etre is to sit on a barstool and gripe about how ignorant the sheeple are, shouldn't more evidence and wider exposure of these things be welcome?

Assuming the alternative to sitting on a barstool and griping is to mobilize politically or something, it's worth pointing out that when the "sheeple" you speak of shrug their shoulders and say "I dunno", they're really saying "I don't care". We didn't need Wikileaks to bring anthropogenic climate change to light or to expose American soldiers torturing prisoners at Abu Grhaib. It wasn't a secret prior to the invasion of Iraq that the 9/11 hijackers weren't Iraqi and that Hussein and Bin Laden didn't get along. Hell, it wasn't a secret that the WMD/Chemical/Biological/Nuclear claims were overblown. This isn't about ignorance, it's about "now watch this drive". It's about people seeing evidence like this and still just going about their business unaffected because it doesn't matter to them.
posted by Hoopo at 11:30 AM on January 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Quick takes

You mean immoral and indifferent takes.

-Dyncorp Dancing Boy Parties In Afghanistan. . .

Yeah, child prostitution paid for by tax payers. Yawn.

-Arms/Yemen -- so what?

Arms/Al Qaeda and 9/11 -- so what? Or does an American need to die before you care about violence?

-Iraq NG -police brutality -- this is the Iraqi Governments problem.

The United States claimed it was going to change the behavior of the Iraqi government. In order to maintain political power, the United States is allowing the same torture chambers to continue operating, and has directly instructed soldiers on the ground to report abuses but to do nothing about them. I imagine the CIA had the same orders while they were training Iraqi interrogators there in the 1980s.

In other words, we only respect national sovereignty when it's in our interests, even if it's torture.

-Generals who hang out with Rolling Stone are more likely to cause real harm to US policy than 250k emails written by their subordinates.

There are only 2,000 of 251,000 cables released.
posted by notion at 11:31 AM on January 1, 2011 [10 favorites]


There are tons emerging about corruption, embezzlement and wasteful spending all over the world. We learned early on about planes loads of cash that flew into Iraq and Afghanistan immediately flying back out, presumably to the Swiss bank accounts of Hamid Karzai, etc. There has been a steady stream of such revelations, especially from El País.

Bolivian government faked a terrorist threat.

Gabon's late president channelled money Nicolas Sarkozy's election. Bulgaria does nothing to stop rampant corruption. How Gabon robed African banks.

U.S.'s DEA has been engaging in all manor of expensive & wasteful adventures all over the world, especially Africa.

Iraq security firms operate 'mafia' to inflate prices.

Sudanese president stashed $9bn in UK banks. Corruption in the Dominican Republic.

As noted up thread, we should not forget about all the light that's being shed on past news stories, like Alexander Litvinenko murder, Israel and Bangladesh, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:32 AM on January 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


In 2010, WikiLeaks released only about 2,000 of the approximate 250,000 cables it claims to possess, and the pace of those releases dropped dramatically as the holidays approached. If Assange's promises are to be believed, 2011 will be another important year for learning about the hidden forces that drive our world.

And it will be another important year of "news" orgs like CBS scrambling to catch up and retain some semblance of relevance.
posted by blucevalo at 11:35 AM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Patriotism is scary as fuck.
posted by maxwelton at 11:38 AM on January 1, 2011 [10 favorites]


So you believe it's OK for the US government to kidnap innocent people from various countries, imprison them, and torture them for a few years before dumping them back out of the system after their innocence has become obvious -- and no one involved should face any consequences for their actions?

Of course not, but Spain or another foreign country aren't going to be the ones to do it. I'd love to see Cheney behind bars for that and all sorts of other shit. But if the US isn't going to prosecute him, then it doesn't surprise me that they're not going to let another country do it.

We don't seem to have a problem trying Spanish citizens.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but that link was about a US citizen who fled to Spain.

I suspect you don't really mean what you say here

You're correct, my terminology was sloppy, apologies.

But the US claims the right to try foreign nationals who commit war crimes or crimes against US citizens overseas; why should Spain not be allowed to try US citizens who commit crimes against Spanish nationals?

From a moralistic point of view, you're right, it should be equal. From a real world point of view, not gonna happen. You can say that's wrong and unfair and I would tend to agree, but still, ain't gonna happen.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:38 AM on January 1, 2011


Most of us here do not rely on US TV for our information. In that way we are a small; very small minority. The majority, the mainstream, half watch / listen to TV news / radio. The majority of these "news" outlets have become lazy, pandering to their advertisers and not upsetting the staus quo. Now Pandora's box is opened and what is now known, maybe previously suspected, cannot be unkown.
As stated in the doomed FPP It's an old conflict: the press vs. the government.
Big media have tried to ignore the leaks focusing on the players but now they can't get away from the fact that the duely elected US government is a crock of shit in many of its public dealings and statements.
Meanwhile
Obama and GOPers Worked Together to Kill Bush Torture Probe. (its like the flame at Liberty Island fell off)
Meanwhile Pakistan is aiding the Afghan insurgency and the US is still handing the Pak government $1 billion a year. (How's your healthcare doing USA; how's New Orleans getting on?).
Meanwhile The Saudis keep the cash flowing to the enemy, so the TSA gets to grope you, but you couldn't talk about that because you can't be weaned off the oil tit.
Maybe just maybe joe in the street will finally see what is happening and that it is him and his family who is losing out.
Fourty years ago US citizens were a little more vocal and critical about what was being done in their name.
posted by adamvasco at 11:39 AM on January 1, 2011 [13 favorites]


It gets murky when the US President approved the bank robbery plan. Because that's what seems to have happened and that's where the investigation would lead. Bush approved secret prisons, extraordinary rendition and enhanced interrogation tactics that John Yu claimed weren't torture so long as well who are we kidding that's just lawyer speak for torture by another name. That's where this goes. The domestic political calculous of a Spanish judge trying to arrest Cheney and Bush would be a shitstorm and upend our relations with Germany, Poland and Spain. You think the tea party nut jobs are a headache now. Imagine this 24x7 on Fox.
posted by humanfont at 11:48 AM on January 1, 2011


It's about people seeing evidence like this and still just going about their business unaffected because it doesn't matter to them.

People will ignore unsettling evidence as long as they can, yes. But the world isn't neatly divided into those Enlightened Few who See The Truth and the unwashed masses who will block out anything that interferes with their enjoyment of Monday Night Football. Everybody has a different tipping point, that's all; and with every new revelation, a few more people will be compelled to take notice. We may never reach critical mass, but it's at least conceivable that we will.

In theory, anyway...
posted by steambadger at 11:59 AM on January 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


On more reflection, I'm not sure I like the old "sheeple" argument. It seems a lot like a slangy version of the old Marxist "false consciousness." What I think actually is also a significant factor is that people have been afraid to vocalize their suspicions about how the game is rigged. I heard a story once, maybe in a documentary, where a person talked about putting an anti-war yard sign out during the Vietnam War. She said at first hers was the only one and she felt like she was alone...later other people in the neighborhood admitted to her that they felt the same way, but felt like they were the only ones as well. Little by little, more signs went up.
posted by wuwei at 12:01 PM on January 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Of course not, but Spain or another foreign country aren't going to be the ones to do it.
You understand that the people kidnapped were residents of Spain, right?

If the Chinese government kidnapped an American citizen of Chinese descent for criticizing it online, you don't think the US government would prosecute the agents who did it if we knew who they were?

Do you also think the UAE shouldn't prosecute the Israeli assassins who killed someone on their soil if they ever get a hold of them?

With regards to Germany, and Italy, it involved crimes that took place in those countries Why on earth do you think governments shouldn't prosecute someone for crimes that are committed in them?

I am really confused here. Do you not understand what happened? Do you believe that in general people are prosecuted based on where they are from, not where the crimes took place? Obviously if people commit a crime on behalf of a government, that government is not going to prosecute them. So it's absurd to argue that only the governments that ordered the crimes should prosecute them.
From a moralistic point of view, you're right, it should be equal. From a real world point of view, not gonna happen. You can say that's wrong and unfair and I would tend to agree, but still, ain't gonna happen.
Well, it's more likely to happen if the US can't secretly suppress court proceedings in other countries, which is what wikileaks is trying to prevent, by making it more difficult for governments to cover up crimes.

And by the way, even if you think that this won't change anything in the US, it's already affected elections and caused resignations in other countries. The cablegate releases have caused A German Minister to be fired because he spied on German politicians (for the US) when they were trying form a parliamentary coalition after their election.
posted by delmoi at 12:06 PM on January 1, 2011 [12 favorites]


If you are arguing about the means with which this information was obtained or about the quality of the information, I would submit that you are missing the point.

Information is information - there is no "quality" threshold other than not being patently libelous. For me, this is Liberty 101 - governments are obliged to keep secrets and the press (however you want to define "press") is obliged to uncover those secrets. The truth is to be served, not the state.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:10 PM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Maybe just maybe joe in the street will finally see what is happening and that it is him and his family who is losing out...

Or maybe just maybe joe in the street believes that discretion (i.e. "secrecy") is essential to diplomacy and does not support wikileaks' indiscriminate crusade nor sympathize with the pompous ideologue at its helm.
posted by generalist at 12:23 PM on January 1, 2011


"which is what wikileaks is trying to prevent"

Right now, the only thing wikileaks is trying to do is remain credible. With Manning's name all over the news, Assange cannot promise to provide anonymity to future collaborators, nor can he guarantee his collaborators' freedom when he himself has already spent time in a cell waiting for bail on a petty misdemeanor. Unless he publishes something truly world-shaking, and thus earning espionage charges, Assange's best hope for relevance is merging with icanhazcheezburger.com.
posted by Ardiril at 12:24 PM on January 1, 2011


There are international arrest warrants for Henry Kissinger issued by France and Spain over war crimes during the Chile war.

The Bush Six should similarly be indicted for war crimes throughout Europe. We'll never see them behind bars of course, but it'll prevent them from traveling much, obstructs gaining a security clearance, likely prevents senate conformation for cabinet level posts, etc.

Obama cannot prosecute the Bush Six for political reasons. Spanish likewise cannot prosecute Franco's remaining people. There is no sovereignty question here, merely politics.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:29 PM on January 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


And by the way, even if you think that this won't change anything in the US, it's already affected elections and caused resignations in other countries. The cablegate releases have caused A German Minister to be fired because he spied on German politicians (for the US) when they were trying form a parliamentary coalition after their election.
posted by delmoi at 12:06 PM on January 1 [+] [!]



Last year's climate summit in Copenhagen was a political disaster. Leaked US diplomatic cables now show why the summit failed so spectacularly. The dispatches reveal that the US and China, the world's top two polluters, joined forces to stymie every attempt by European nations to reach agreement.
posted by infini at 12:34 PM on January 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


the world isn't neatly divided into those Enlightened Few who See The Truth and the unwashed masses who will block out anything that interferes with their enjoyment of Monday Night Football

I agree, what I'm saying is that rather than enlightened vs ignorant, we're dealing with people who are bothered by the behaviour we're talking about vs people who really just don't care. Again, it's not ignorance and it's not blocking things out. It's different priorities. The tipping point is when they mess with Monday Night Football, not when they take nekkid pictures of your neighbour at the airport or send that darker-skinned dude down the block to be tortured in Syria or use your tax dollars to bail out Wall Street.
posted by Hoopo at 12:38 PM on January 1, 2011


I'd imagine most leakers will accept that Manning case merely says "Don't brag about it."

Yes, that might change if we discover that Adrian Lamo's chat logs were forged, especially if Obama then outs counter intelligence sources to gain a conviction. If otoh we learn that Manning was fingered by his CO after SIPRNet set off an alarm for excessive usage from his command, well that'll dissuade megaleaks, but it'll actually encourage minor leaks of the usual sort.

Btw, we're already learning lots about how much counter intelligence uses network and database logs, which'll surely benefit leakers overall.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:39 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


With Manning's name all over the news, Assange cannot promise to provide anonymity to future collaborators

Manning is alleged by the mainstream press to be the source, but WikiLeaks has not identified Manning as the source of the cables.

As far as anyone knows, WikiLeaks has continued to protect the anonymous identity of its sources, not just for Cablegate but for its other exposes — unless you have credible evidence to the contrary, which you'd like to share.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:39 PM on January 1, 2011


With Manning's name all over the news, Assange cannot promise to provide anonymity to future collaborators,

Exactly how was wikileaks going to prevent Manning from confessing to a known sociopath?
posted by empath at 12:42 PM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


With Manning's name all over the news, Assange cannot promise to provide anonymity to future collaborators...

He certainly can't guarantee anonymity to collaborators who choose to discuss their actions in great detail with random chat buddies. He also can't protect the anonymity of people who walk into their bosses' offices and say "Hey, guess what I did?", or who walk about the street in clothes emblazoned with "I just leaked thousands of confidential government documents, and all I got was this lousy tee shirt." Would anybody expect him to?
posted by steambadger at 12:43 PM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


With Manning's name all over the news, Assange cannot promise to provide anonymity to future collaborators
Right. So you basically have no idea what's going on, do you? I mean, I could point out that Manning bragged about being a Wikileaks source on IRC to Adrain Lamo, who turned him in. But in your mind that would just be "splitting hairs".

Anyway.
Yes, that might change if we discover that Adrian Lamo's chat logs were forged
The fact that Lamo is changing his story, as well as the fact that Lamo is a nutcase who used deception to commit crimes in the past really makes me wonder about it.
posted by delmoi at 12:53 PM on January 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Jack Bauer would show us the right thing to do. Where is he, now that we need him?
posted by Artful Codger at 12:58 PM on January 1, 2011


JHarris: that's quite a leap. By my reasoning, US business should be able to rely on the federal government for assistance in international affairs.

My statement was to show that using the worth of the stocks in government pensions to justify modifying our foreign policy, or even putting up with such interference is, frankly, stupid. It's seriously weak sauce; it can't be more than a few percentage points. If the health of McDonalds is so valuable to our country then a lot of other stupid things seem more plausible, relatively speaking. If McDonalds wields that much influence in our foreign policy, how much does Big Oil wield? Do we need to have Hillary Clinton impose trade sanctions against the villainous empire of the dread Burger King?

In any case, tying pensions to the stock market was a bad idea because it makes such confounding arguments seem, at a glance, almost plausible.
posted by JHarris at 1:15 PM on January 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


You understand that the people kidnapped were residents of Spain, right?

Where were they kidnapped from?

If the Chinese government kidnapped an American citizen of Chinese descent for criticizing it online, you don't think the US government would prosecute the agents who did it if we knew who they were?

Sure, if they could get their hands on them.



There's the tricky part, getting a hold of them.

I'm not really sure what problem is here, in terms of understanding. The U.S. isn't going to let anyone else prosecute Senior Administration officials. I'm astounded that anyone would think that could happen.

posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:20 PM on January 1, 2011


Brandon: is:ought fail.
posted by wuwei at 1:36 PM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jack Bauer would show us the right thing to do. Where is he, now that we need him?
posted by Artful Codger at 3:58 PM on January 1 [+] [!]


Standing outside Manning's holding cell at Quantico asking him on the hour if he's alright 23 hours a day and watching him do figure eights in Manning's exercise room the other hour. Longing for the good old days when you could just tie the guy in a chair and pour water down his throat tell he pissed himself and said the right things. 6 months of this shit, Christ it's like watching grass grow. Jack Bauer needs a cigarette.....
posted by humanfont at 1:43 PM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


With Manning's name all over the news, Assange cannot promise to provide anonymity to future collaborators

Wikileaks didn't release Manning's name. Manning talked to a friend about the documents, and that friend turned him in.
posted by odinsdream at 1:48 PM on January 1, 2011


Would it be out of line to ask that people commenting here be at least somewhat sure that they're not just spouting outright bullshit?

This story has been very, very well documented so far. You could just read a bit before talking out your ass, you know, so you don't look like an idiot. I'm purposefully not talking about any specific person, but there are a number of comments so far that are just so far out of touch with even the simplest facts.
posted by odinsdream at 1:55 PM on January 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ideally, we should focus this thread on discussing interesting leaks. All the debates around Bradley Manning are more appropriate for another thread.

There is an interesting article from Javier Moreno on Why EL PAÍS chose to publish the leaks, which cites exposing the 'incompetence of political elites' as one central motivation.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:07 PM on January 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


If the Chinese government kidnapped an American citizen of Chinese descent for criticizing it online, you don't think the US government would prosecute the agents who did it if we knew who they were?
Sure, if they could get their hands on them.
Okay... so why are you acting surprised that people in Spain (and Germany, and Italy) would want to prosecute crimes against their own citizens or that took place in their own countries? I don't really understand what kind of argument you are trying to make here...

Also, in the case of Italy the crimes did take place in Italy, and in fact convictions were acquired.
Twenty-three Americans were tonight convicted of kidnapping by an Italian court at the end of the first trial anywhere in the world involving the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" programme for abducting terrorist suspects.

The former head of the CIA in Milan Robert Lady was given an eight-year jail sentence for his part in the seizure of Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, known as Abu Omar, who claimed that he was subsequently tortured in Egypt. Lady's superior, Jeff Castelli, the then head of the CIA in Italy, and two other Americans were acquitted on the grounds that they enjoyed diplomatic immunity.
I don't know about the situation in Spain, but in the German case Khalid El-Masri was a German citizen who was kidnapped in Macedoina, flown to Afghanistan and tortured. He wasn't guilty of any crime or associated with any terrorists in any way -- all of this was due to an apparent mistaken identity. The U.S. leaned on the German government not to prosecute the CIA agents who actually kidnapped him.

Anyway, I'm still confused about what you are trying to argue here.
I'm not really sure what problem is here, in terms of understanding. The U.S. isn't going to let anyone else prosecute Senior Administration officials. I'm astounded that anyone would think that could happen.
We are talking about CIA agents who actually did the work, not the top officials in Germany and Italy. Beyond that, how exactly are they supposed to stop it without subverting the legal systems of those countries?

The fact that the U.S. government was apparently able to successfully prevent prosecutions in various by using political pressure in various countries is obviously something that people in those countries would probably take seriously, just as we would take it seriously if Chinese spies were able to break U.S. law and get away with it.
posted by delmoi at 2:17 PM on January 1, 2011 [10 favorites]


Okay... so why are you acting surprised that people in Spain (and Germany, and Italy) would want to prosecute crimes against their own citizens or that took place in their own countries?

I'm surprised that people are surprised that the US leaned on other countries to prevent trials or prosecutions. Of course they did, it would be news if they didn't.

I don't really understand what kind of argument you are trying to make here...

Oh, it's simple, that America isn't turning over these people to other countries for them to prosecute. Not gonna happen, even it would be completely justifiable and morally right because of the legal and political fallout.

Also, in the case of Italy the crimes did take place in Italy, and in fact convictions were acquired.

Sure, in absentia, which means those convicted better not be caught by the wrong if they're in Italy. But I suspect, and please correct if I'm wrong, it won't mean a whole lot, it'll just be an empty symbolic gesture.

I don't know about the situation in Spain, but in the German case Khalid El-Masri was a German citizen who was kidnapped in Macedoina, flown to Afghanistan and tortured.

There is no question that what happened to El-Masri was completely fucked up in two ways. First it happened, based on mistaken identity, second after it was realized it was mistaken identity some lower level officials weren't keen on letting him go. I would totally love to see those in America who were responsible for that punished. I'm glad that El-Msari at least won a bit of money, which may help him recover.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:14 PM on January 1, 2011


Manning leaked and sits in a cell. Assange hasn't done shit for his defense. That wikileaks was not directly responsible for his apprehension is immaterial. So why should potential leakers trust Assange?

I abstracted earlier to give the leaks' content the benefit of the doubt, some semblance of importance, but even then, they fall short. Wikileaks supporters exaggerate the value of Manning's leaks, and I showed that even these exaggerations hold no value.

This all reflects on Assange's character as a scammer, out to boost his own importance and ego at the expense of others. That pursuit and his impatience in releasing diplomatic dross warped his judgment and tainted any nobility that Wikileaks could have had.

So far, WikiLeaks has been no more than a debacle in the court of public opinion, and having lost their public, they have forfeited their strength.
posted by Ardiril at 3:24 PM on January 1, 2011


Manning leaked and sits in a cell. Assange hasn't done shit for his defense.

First off, Assange has not admitted or acknowledged that Manning was the source; if he did so, that would be evidence against Manning. Second off, what do you want Assange to do, and how do you know he hasn't? We know only what Assange chooses to do in public.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:33 PM on January 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm surprised that people are surprised that the US leaned on other countries to prevent trials or prosecutions. Of course they did, it would be news if they didn't.
Well... so what? I don't see what point you are making with this.
Oh, it's simple, that America isn't turning over these people to other countries for them to prosecute.
Right, but this is totally irrelevant to whether or not the US was subverting the judicial process to prevent them from even being charged. It may not be surprising to you, but it might be surprising to the people in those countries, who may have believed they had an independent judiciary.

Now, assuming that that's the case, we can expect two results: One, citizens of those countries would support politicians who promise to institute policies to prevent foreign interference in the judiciary, and two, people in those countries would be less willing to cooperate with the US government over concerns that what they do might be leaked.
posted by delmoi at 3:38 PM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


"how do you know he hasn't?"

Manning is still sitting in his cell, isn't he? That pretty much says Assange hasn't done shit for him. (It does not say that Assange hasn't tried.)
posted by Ardiril at 3:50 PM on January 1, 2011


Here we go. Again people distract from the content of the leaks by make ad hominem attacks against Assange.

You know what would be great is if everyone else just ignored them and continued talking about the leaks.
posted by empath at 4:00 PM on January 1, 2011 [11 favorites]


empath: I already invited delmoi to pick any leak and convince me of its world-shattering importance. I am still waiting. Perhaps you could pick up that banner.
posted by Ardiril at 4:06 PM on January 1, 2011


Manning is still sitting in his cell, isn't he? That pretty much says Assange hasn't done shit for him. (It does not say that Assange hasn't tried.)

Seriously, what do you expect Wikileaks to do? Tunnel into Manning's cell?
posted by steambadger at 4:16 PM on January 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


I already invited delmoi to pick any leak and convince me of its world-shattering importance.

Nobody with any brains actually takes that invitation seriously. Why? Because you haven't troubled to specify the amount and nature of evidence you would find convincing. So you're basically demanding that people submit to an unseen burden of proof, and reserving the right to raise the bar whenever you feel like it. And having made this totally unsatisfiable request, you're now going to spin people's lack of response into some kind of validation for your position. Nuh-uh.
posted by Ritchie at 4:20 PM on January 1, 2011 [21 favorites]


What do I expect Wikileaks to do? Absolutely nothing, and so far, they are doing a damn fine job of it. Your question should be 'What do Wikileaks' supporters expect Wikileaks to do?' Or even, 'What should potential leakers expect from Wikileaks?' I'm not the one with the public image problem.

Ritchie: Sorry, doesn't work that way. The onus is on Wikileaks' supporters, not the rest of the world. Otherwise, your statement makes this post and thread pointless.
posted by Ardiril at 4:23 PM on January 1, 2011


] oops, during a heedless moment, Ardiril for the first time ever on the internet uses the word 'sorry' [
;-P
posted by Ardiril at 4:26 PM on January 1, 2011


What do I expect Wikileaks to do? Absolutely nothing, and so far, they are doing a damn fine job of it. Your question should be 'What do Wikileaks' supporters expect Wikileaks to do?'

Release and publicize leaks from a variety of sources. What did YOU expect them to do?
posted by empath at 4:27 PM on January 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


It does work that way. Maybe you're used to being in control of the terms of debate elsewhere, but here you're just another poster and nobody is under any obligation to do anything for you. It's not unreasonable to ask for evidence. It is unreasonable not to set a threshold for the level of evidence you want.
posted by Ritchie at 4:30 PM on January 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


I mean, did you expect a revolution? Congressional hearings? War? It's just information about the inner workings of the American government and the more of that we have the better.

The 'so-what' chorus sound to me like the people who 20 years ago said the internet wouldn't change anything. I mean, why would people spend 3 hours downloading a song when they can just go to the store to get it.

Wikileaks is the first real-world implementation of a set of disruptive technologies (anonymizers, encryption, etc) that is only going to get more pervasive, and will rapidly outpace the ability of governments to control them.

Assange and wikileaks are not an end, they're a beginning.
posted by empath at 4:34 PM on January 1, 2011 [11 favorites]


pick any leak and convince me of its world-shattering importance. I am still waiting

So, I just want to clarify your position so I'm not misinterpreting, take this story from the OP (different link, same story):

"US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished."

You're arguing that the correct reponse to this story is "big deal, everybody knew about it anyway, nobody cares, it isn't important" or sentiments to that effect? That's what you appear to be saying, and I'd be interested to hear you expand on your justification of that stance.
posted by chaff at 4:36 PM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure I like the old "sheeple" argument. It seems a lot like a slangy version of the old Marxist "false consciousness."

Oh I love it because it does breach false consciousness. In this case the legal right of Spain to try U.S. citizens. But here is the twist with the neighborly yard sign analogy, the Spanish courts can indict Mickey Mouse, the point is, if this becomes a precedent then the U.S. citizens involved will be tried here, convicted here, sentenced here, then pardoned here, making extradition all but impossible. Can you charge a person twice for the same offense in international court? Lets find out . More commerce for lawyers. bad for tourism.
posted by clavdivs at 4:40 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Classify, investigate, substantiate and publicize important leaks and not dilute their importance with loads of self-serving faux aggrandizement displayed by the site's founder. Way back when, I thought Assange would fulfill a vital role in exposing the world's corruption but all he has managed to do is air massive loads of skidmarked underwear with little regard for those who provided him his fodder.

Ritchie: I am not the only one to convince. I just happen to be the only one hanging around here on a Saturday holiday.

chaff: old news, check MeFi tags 'Iraq' and 'abuse'. WikiLeaks didn't expose anything new there, except perhaps some instances.
posted by Ardiril at 4:45 PM on January 1, 2011


Wikileaks is the first real-world implementation of a set of disruptive technologies (anonymizers, encryption, etc) that is only going to get more pervasive, and will rapidly outpace the ability of governments to control them.

That televison 'seeing by wireless' was real po-dunk ya. Scientists used to measure water flow in NYC when' I Love Lucy' came on. This wikileaks is better then Lucy but not enough choclates on the conveyor belt IMO.
posted by clavdivs at 4:47 PM on January 1, 2011


Going back to this comment:
One reason that Wikileaks is important is because it takes the wind out of the people who shout "you're a conspiracy theorist."
No, it doesn't. The links in this post aren't as black and white as they're being portrayed, there's a lot of grey there and the repeated insistence by some that it's all horrible and all governments and corporations are completely evil and thank god for wikileaks paints larger portraits of conspiracy theorists.
That's how the Madrid cable got brought up. Again, it may not be surprising, but the fact that something is not surprising does not mean that everyone believed it before it happened. So for example, even if people in Spain suspected U.S. diplomatic pressure prevented the prosecutions from going forward, that would not have prevented people from saying "oh, that's just a conspiracy theory". But now, that's no longer the case. You can't say that, because it's right there, spelled out on paper.
posted by delmoi at 4:49 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am not the only one to convince.

What would be the earth shattering importance of convincing a few random people on a message board of the importance of the leaks? All of those leaks are important to someone, whether or not they are relevant to you.
posted by empath at 4:50 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't really think it's worth anyone's time to engage Ardiril here.
posted by delmoi at 4:52 PM on January 1, 2011 [17 favorites]


The fact that the U.S. government was apparently able to successfully prevent prosecutions in various by using political pressure in various countries is obviously something that people in those countries would probably take seriously, just as we would take it seriously if Chinese spies were able to break U.S. law and get away with it.
posted by delmoi

well, that may be true but here is a current example, which i find cool, as I love the russian people and do not have a problem with PR value as a matter of fact it is what is to be expected in some aspects of intelligence work esp. when agents in place have been blown.
oh, here she is. I like the style and respect the similes of russian intelligence. as to chinese intelligence, well, i think they speak for themselves. or rather not. i wont and have not so ya.
posted by clavdivs at 5:00 PM on January 1, 2011


I am not the only one to convince.

So? It doesn't matter if there's one person to convince or one thousand. You're the one commenting. You can't go making obnoxiously high-handed requests for evidence and then pretend people haven't responded because the evidence isn't there. A bit of respect for the other people hanging around here on a Saturday morning would seem to be in order. We're not your employees. We don't know you. For all we know, you don't even care about evidence. Maybe you're one of those people who just believes what everyone else believes - or maybe one of those knee-jerk contrarians who disbelieves stuff generally accepted as common knowledge. Yet you seem comfortable making totally open-ended and one-sided demands on total strangers.

I don't really think it's worth anyone's time to engage Ardiril here.

It's either this or Angry Birds.
posted by Ritchie at 5:04 PM on January 1, 2011 [7 favorites]


i submit to you troll + threadshitting = trollshitting

it's amazing to me that hard evidence confirming abuse of power by the US and other countries all over the world isn't ... you know ... evidence. let's not even speak of whether it is newsworthy evidence or not. the fact that evidence is being pooh-pooh as inconsequential because it is not evidence *enough* is, well, amazing.

never mind that with only 1947 cables Wikileaks has changed the course of history if only by shaming the supposedly independent 4th estate called journalism. never mind that with only 1947 cables Wikileaks has demonstrated how indistinguishable Republicans and Democrats are when it comes to defending Empire.

there is no amount of money that could buy the kind of consciousness raising that Wikileaks has not just created with these cables but has GLOBALLY NETWORKED by the way they went about with the leaks. because, when you have only 1947 leaked cables activating "sheeple" politically on gossip blogs like OH NO THEY DIDNT you know that this information and this evidence that so many people are pooh-pooh is anything but inconsequential.

how about this: let's play the trollshitting game. go out and prove to us that the 1947 leaked cables out of aproximately 250,000 are inconsequential. yes, we can play the trollshitting game all night long. the problem is, stories like the DynCorp child prostitution parties are already proving how wrong the nay-sayers are.
posted by liza at 5:04 PM on January 1, 2011 [16 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher America isn't turning over these people to other countries for them to prosecute. Not gonna happen, even it would be completely justifiable and morally right because of the legal and political fallout.

Wikileaks' goal is to change the nature of "legal and political fallout". Assume that an indictment for, say, Dick Cheney, is granted in a foreign court. Assume the indictment is based on compelling moral justification. We can expect that US diplomats negotiate (alternatively, engage in bribery, intimidation, and corruption) and more senior officials quash the indictment. These officials and the US diplomats concoct some lying story as to why the indictment was quashed. Compliant (alternatively, corrupted) media put that story to the public, and it passes Joe Sixpack's "sniff test".

Wikileaks, and its successors, is secondarily intended to publicize the internal narrative, alternative to the lying story. To expose the backroom deals where the terms of un-indicting Cheney are actually discussed. The bribery, the intimidation, and the corruption. Things that do not pass compelling moral justification, indeed things that there is compelling moral justification for stopping.

The corrupted media will attempt to prop up the official story and/or discredit the exposed story, but not all of the media, especially not the independent internet, eg us here, will do so; and it is in the nature of Joe Sixpack that he believes governments are corrupt and evil. Even if he accepts that evil as a fact of life that he can do nothing about and chooses to ignore, or worse, chooses to attempt to argue others into ignoring (eh Brandon?). So Joe Sixpack is quite likely to actually believe the exposed story. More importantly, politically aware and motivated people now know the truth, and can make hay of it.

Primarily the intention of Wikileaks isn't so much to expose the evil deeds of diplomats, but to disrupt the capacity of diplomats to actually engage in evil deeds in the first place. Where communication will, or very likely will, end up exposed to the public, that factor must be considered. It moves the window of moral justification.

Open bribery, intimidation, and corruption can and will still be engaged in. Rather than saying "we believe the indictment was based on false evidence from an unreliable source" (a palatable lie), the US diplomats can and in some cases will say "Fuck you. We do not care about the morality of Cheney's actions. They had practical financial benefit to us. We are not handing over Cheney, because he is still useful to us, and knows many far worse secrets, and if you try to take him, we will cost you hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds to thousands of lives." The figleaf of morality is stripped.

But that figleaf of morality is very, very important to human beings. Not just Americans. Worldwide, people are taught not to lie, not to steal, not to harm other "good folks". The definition of "good folks" is flexible, but the Americans at least have somewhere between a few decades and a few hundred years of at least entertaining the idea that "good folks" are pretty much everyone. Rather a lot of American politicians mouth relevant platitudes to this effect.

So it comes down to this. This is the Wikileaks Gambit, the intended outcome of Assange's plan: power may continue with lip service to morality, and greatly reduce breaches of morality; or it may continue with breaches of morality, and greatly reduce the lip service.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:12 PM on January 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


"You're the one commenting."

... and you're the ones making exaggerated assertions. Anyway, call it what you will, go ahead and discuss the leaks.
posted by Ardiril at 5:13 PM on January 1, 2011


Keep in mind that one leaked diplomatic cable was enough to bring the US into WWI.
posted by empath at 5:18 PM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Actually liza, I'd say that Wikileaks ultimate impact is still fairly unknown, not because they're bumbling idiots or geniuses, but they're just that new. What will be interesting to be is the long term reaction from governments, not these sloppy initial ones. It's an arms race of sorts, where one side acts and the other reacts.

Correct me if I'm wrong ya'll, be isn't Wikileaks/Assuage's goal to goad governments into overreacting in ways that affect their citizens so that citizens start to fight back, thus bringing the whole corrupt system down?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:18 PM on January 1, 2011


I already invited delmoi to pick any leak and convince me of its world-shattering importance.

if it's not important, why are you bothering with it?

flag it and move on
posted by pyramid termite at 5:20 PM on January 1, 2011


This important/not important, consequential/not consequential dichotomy is distracting and entirely beside the point, in my opinion.

I mean, really, who gets to make that decision? I think there is a very reasonable argument to be made that mainstream media today suffers from entirely too many gatekeepers. "Balanced" reporting has utterly failed to move the ball forward, as far as I'm concerned. And, if bias is a concern, what better solution is there than to just dump information out and let anyone interested reach their own conclusions?

Arguing for any kind of censorship in these instances strikes me as more dangerous than allowing all obtained information to be dispersed. Sure, that could lead to an occasional "bad" situation - but the press is, and always has been, a check on power. The only real power the weak and exploited and dispossessed have is the truth.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:31 PM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Correct me if I'm wrong ya'll, be isn't Wikileaks/Assuage's goal to goad governments into overreacting in ways that affect their citizens so that citizens start to fight back, thus bringing the whole corrupt system down?

It is not clear what you're basing this on. Could you point to the piece of information you're using to come to this conclusion?
posted by odinsdream at 5:33 PM on January 1, 2011


Wikileaks' goal is to change the nature of "legal and political fallout".

Sure, but in order for change of that nature you have to get Joe Sixpack to think there's a problem.

Considering the relative ease that the US went to war in Iraq, that's a scary thought. Anyone with half a brain and 15 minutes of searching and reading on the internet would have been like "Are you kidding me?!" Or would they have? The American psyche was still reeling form 9/11 so the desire to get up on stage and start punching others was strong, both in the administration and in the citizens. No, it wasn't everyone, but it was large percentage. Large enough that thought "This is good. This is not a problem." That's the part I keep thinking of, in terms of Wikileaks i.e. "Will people think this is a problem?" Being American and under no illusions about my country and our general "We're No. 1" attitude, I'm thinking it'll be pretty easy to paint wholesale classified info dumps as reckless and endangering the "fine men and women fighting for our freedomes"

...chooses to attempt to argue others into ignoring (eh Brandon?).

No, I'm mostly thinking out loud about whether Wikileaks will work in the long run. I love the idea, but I'm notsold that it'll work based on what I've seen so far and even if it does, it won't be smooth transition. Would a more selected list of cables, say a top 10 or 20 have been better? When the Iraqi torture scandal broke, they was big news and certainly the administration lost some political clout. If Wikileaks had concentrated on those sorts of bombshells, the effect might be better.

Everyone knows governments do...things, hell anyone with a bit of power tends to abuse it in some fashion, whether it's the shift supervisor's ability to delegate shitty work while leaving early or a government's ability to suppress information, people understand that and sorta forgiving of it to a certain point, especially it's on the scale of national or international politics. Remember Bush's arrogance was regarded as positive by some, a manly attribute of a true leader. I'm skeptical of Wikileaks ability to break that mental logjam.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:45 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is not clear what you're basing this on. Could you point to the piece of information you're using to come to this conclusion?

Assange's own words.
posted by empath at 5:57 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


odinsdream It is not clear what you're basing this on. Could you point to the piece of information you're using to come to this conclusion?

Here (Conspiracy as Governance and State and Terrorist Conspiracies).
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:58 PM on January 1, 2011


No, I'm mostly thinking out loud about whether Wikileaks will work in the long run.

I think that's kind of looking at the thing the wrong way, or in a too-limited way. Was Alta Vista a world-changing phenomenon? Well, no. Alta Vista was just one attempt at indexing the web, and had lots of flaws. But the search engine has fundamentally changed the world, once Google created it's implementation. Same goes for Napster. Napster itself failed. But peer-to-peer filesharing is still slowly destroying traditional methods of content distribution.

To get an accurate idea of what the long term consequences are going to be, one has to imagine more wikileaks-like organizations, a more decentralized wikileaks, and a more convenient wikileaks. It doesn't take much to see the phenomenon of anonymous, encrypted drop box and distributed publication becoming incredibly disruptive to large organizations.

Eventually it will be impossible to operate as a large organizations and keep secrets. The consequences of that new reality are going to be hard to predict.
posted by empath at 6:03 PM on January 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


Correct me if I'm wrong ya'll, be isn't Wikileaks/Assuage's goal to goad governments into overreacting in ways that affect their citizens so that citizens start to fight back, thus bringing the whole corrupt system down?
No. You're thinking of Osama bin Laden.
Assange's own words.
Nothing in that supports the idea that Assange wants governments to "overreact so their citizens start to fight back". The idea outlined there is just to make it harder for people in power to conspire, and therefore stop doing it.
posted by delmoi at 6:08 PM on January 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher anyone with a bit of power tends to abuse it in some fashion, whether it's the shift supervisor's ability to delegate shitty work while leaving early or a government's ability to suppress information, people understand that and sorta forgiving of it to a certain point, especially it's on the scale of national or international politics. Remember Bush's arrogance was regarded as positive by some, a manly attribute of a true leader. I'm skeptical of Wikileaks ability to break that mental logjam.

Fair point, and I think this can be more broadly extended to explain a lot of unpleasant crap in human relations (cf Pick Up Artist tactics, and Paul Fussell's classic Caste Marks) - the powerful tend to behave like shitheads, because they can get away with it, therefore those who get away with behaving like shitheads are presumed to be powerful, and get treated as such.

The answer though is that the public will just as readily, even more readily, form a mob to hang a shithead high, as to to vote one into office. But before the mob get in behind you, they have to believe that the plan will work.

Which is actually the core problem with "thinking out loud about whether Wikileaks will work in the long run" and not being "sold" on whether it will work. It will work if people are "sold" on it. To put it another way, you're not measuring or analyzing whether it works, what you are actually doing is participating in determining whether it works.

I'm not saying you're wrong to question. It's a vital part of the process. You have that right, and addressing your questions is a legitimate and necessary way of strengthening your, and others', belief. If addressing your questions fails to convince you, that indicates either a fault in the method of addressing your questions, or that your bottom line position is that you want the answer to be no.

Reality answers all questions, but it does so after the answer has actually been determined.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:16 PM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


In fact, the "Conspiracy as government" doesn't discuss anyone who is not a member of the conspiracy (i.e. ordinary citizens who would be fighting back) or even the potential reaction of the conspiracy itself. It simply describes a mathematical model of a conspiracy, and what might happen, under that model, if it was unable to effectively use electronic communications (or, ultimately, write things down)

The basic idea is that the more a "conspiracy" (broadly defined as any group of people working together with some amount of secrecy -- so any government, any corporation, etc) uses advanced technology and documents what they do the more effective they can be.

In fact, it doesn't even talk about wikileaks or any particular type of attack at all, let alone any reaction that might result from openly attacking it. It simply suggests that making it more difficult for different edges in the graph to communicate, the "conspiracy" will weaken.

There is literally nothing in the document that suggests he is trying to get governments to overreact, which wold then cause citizens to fight back. He doesn't even discuss any potential reactions at all -- other then to simply give up and stop trying, or become less ambitious.

Bin Laden has said something about how they plan to make life "unbearable" by having the government overreact. I can't find the quote though.
posted by delmoi at 6:26 PM on January 1, 2011


empath and aeschenkarnos, thanks for providing links. It's not clear at all how anything in the linked article is relevant. Could you explain how you're reading it otherwise?

I'm still interested in hearing from Brandon Blatcher, though, since he's the one who made the assertion in the first place, without anything to back it up. If this is just his opinion, fine, but surely it's based on something.
posted by odinsdream at 6:27 PM on January 1, 2011


It's not clear at all how anything in the linked article is relevant. Could you explain how you're reading it otherwise?

The question before us is "Is Wikileaks working?", which is dependent on what "working" means; whether it means "revealing evil", "stopping evil", or some combination. The articles explain what Assange means by "working", and explain how revealing evil makes evil much more difficult to do.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:39 PM on January 1, 2011


Thanks for the clarification; I want to further clarify that my specific question was to Brandon Blatcher regarding what he bases his assertion on; that Assange's goal is to cause governments to overreact and thus force their citizens to revolt. You and empath linked to the Assange conspiracy article apparently as an answer to my question, which it isn't. I see now that you were not claiming it as such.

Sorry for the confusion. I look forward to Brandon's response.
posted by odinsdream at 6:46 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The question before us is "Is Wikileaks working?", which is dependent on what "working" means; whether it means "revealing evil", "stopping evil", or some combination. The articles explain what Assange means by "working", and explain how revealing evil makes evil much more difficult to do.
Um, no, let's review:
Correct me if I'm wrong ya'll, be isn't Wikileaks/Assuage's goal to goad governments into overreacting in ways that affect their citizens so that citizens start to fight back, thus bringing the whole corrupt system down?
Now, the answer to that question is no.

Then Odenstream asked: "It is not clear what you're basing this on. Could you point to the piece of information you're using to come to this conclusion?"

And in fact, since the answer is no, there is no peice of information that could confirm it. But none theless empath wrote
Assange's own words.
and aeschenkarnos wrote
Here (Conspiracy as Governance and State and Terrorist Conspiracies).
Both linked to Conspiracy as Government which doesn't say anything about causing overreactions or even any reaction whatsoever, except for implied capitulation.
posted by delmoi at 6:48 PM on January 1, 2011


Brandon I think you are missing the impact of the slow drip drip drip nature of the leaks American politics. This is a war of attrition. At the rate Wikileaks is publishing it could take years for it to come out. And after this is published they the Gitmo Papers, Manning's last gift to them. The Gitmo papers are rumored to be the case files of every person held in Gitmo, why we are holding them, what we did to them, etc. I expect there will be a lot of really awful stuff in their, which many will dismiss as Yawn we knew Gitmo was awful.

There has already been political fall out (not all of it "good") but it is having an impact:
-Morgan Tsangarai is in hot water in Zimbabwe (bad thing)
-The Taliban have claimed to be holding secret tribunals to sentence collaborators identified in teh Afghan war logs. (bad, but maybe BS on their part)
-Spain has apparently voted down a P2P filesharing law (I don't care)
-Spain is also holding investigations into the Judiciary to understand the impact of American pressure (thus we see the whole diplomatic kerfuffle unfold that the secret pressure was meant to avoid, only instead of US people being pissed its Spanish citizens).

My personal view is that the fallout of this will be anarchy and instability. The limited good that comes from the leaks, will be overwhelmed as people settle petty scores based on gossip in the cables. The thugs in Burma will get their nukes, Mughabe will crush the opposition, the religious police will get to arrest a few Saudi princes for attending underground parties. Some Eritrean human rights workers will be shot or driven in to exile. This stuff almost always backfires, because liberals fail to recognize that the right will exploit this to their political advantage and ignore any allegations against them. Just watch as the Republicans hold Hillary's feet to the fire over minor things in the cables, while ignoring anything by Bush-Cheney & Co.
posted by humanfont at 6:51 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eventually it will be impossible to operate as a large organizations and keep secrets. The consequences of that new reality are going to be hard to predict.

This is what I'm having most trouble swallowing, the idea that it'll be impossible to operate as a large organization and keep secrets. That seems extremely naive in that it ignores the arms race aspect of leaking. Wikileaks reveals links, government changes operation while still retaining power. People like being power, part of the group, having perks especially if they think it's the morally right thing to do. The ability to take down or limit the movements of a large bear doesn't matter much if a swipe of its claw can still kill you. You're just buying yourself time to dream that you're doing something.

There's also a question of defining "large organization". Is it 25 people? 50? 100? 1,000? The number almost doesn't matter, as I see governments picking up the loose structure of terrorist cells, small groups working independently towards a common goal.

But the search engine has fundamentally changed the world, once Google created it's implementation. Same goes for Napster. Napster itself failed. But peer-to-peer filesharing is still slowly destroying traditional methods of content distribution.

Indeed, we got Hulu and Netflix streaming, two services that cost money, i.e. content providers adapted. No doubt governments will also.

It will work if people are "sold" on it.

My point here was that people aren't being sold on it and in light of the selling of the Iraq war, I'm not sure it's possible.

I'm still interested in hearing from Brandon Blatcher, though, since he's the one who made the assertion in the first place, without anything to back it up.

No, I plainly asked a question, I didn't assert anything, because I wasn't completely sure that Assuage specifically wrote that. A quick look back at the links empath and aeschenkarnos posted, which were the ones I was thinking of, confirms that no, he didn't.

I was extrapolating, because if the goal is make the government paranoid and fearful, then of course it's also going to be clamping down on citizens and their access to information, which would cause blow back also. At least I hope so. The porno scanners and personal groping at US airports still seem to be happening, despite the insanity of them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:55 PM on January 1, 2011


I and presumably empath were answering the question implicit in this whole overall thread. Odinsdream wanted a specific answer to a specific question he/she posed to Brandon Blatcher. Let's leave it 'til Brandon Blatcher gets back.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:55 PM on January 1, 2011


Which he did. :)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 6:57 PM on January 1, 2011


empath: Keep in mind that one leaked diplomatic cable was enough to bring the US into WWI.

Come on. Let's not ignore decades of building alliances and the rise of oil as Britain switched from coal as the real reasons for the oil wars that the west has been fighting since 1914. Even the WikiPedia entry states "The revelation of its contents in the American press on March 1 caused public outrage that contributed to the U.S.'s declaration of war against Germany and its allies on April 6."
posted by notion at 7:10 PM on January 1, 2011


Seems like the shit hit the fan and everyone got hit. Can someone who is more familiar with the cables think of anyone who comes out looking good?
posted by Ad hominem at 7:15 PM on January 1, 2011


Bin Laden has said something about how they plan to make life "unbearable" by having the government overreact. I can't find the quote though.
A 1998 memo written by al-Qaida military chief Mohammed Atef reveals that Osama bin Laden's group had detailed knowledge of negotiations that were taking place between Afghanistan's ruling Taliban and American government and business leaders over plans for a U.S. oil and gas pipeline across that Central Asian country.

The e-mail memo was found in 1998 on a computer seized by the FBI during its investigation into the 1998 African embassy bombings, which were sponsored by al-Qaida. Atef's memo was discovered by FBI counter-terrorism expert John O'Neill, who left the bureau in 2001, complaining that U.S. oil interests were hindering his investigation into al-Qaida. O'Neill, who became security chief at the World Trade Center, died in the Sept. 11 attack.

Atef's memo shines new light on what al-Qaida knew about U.S. efforts to normalize relations with the Taliban in exchange for the fundamentalist government's supporting the construction of an oil and gas pipeline across Afghanistan. As documented in the book I coauthored with Guillaume Dasquie, "Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth," the Clinton and Bush administrations negotiated with the Taliban, both to get the repressive regime to widen its government as well as look favorably on U.S. companies' attempts to construct an oil pipeline. The Bush White House stepped up negotiations with the Taliban in 2001. When those talks stalled in July, a Bush administration representative threatened the Taliban with military reprisals if the government did not go along with American demands. . .
Osama bin Laden is rumored to have talked about luring the United States into Afghanistan, also known as the Graveyard of Empires, but I doubt he ever thought of reforming Western governments. He is a religious nutcase who believes in justice for Muslims only, but that doesn't make him much different from people who believe in justice for Americans only. He wanted war between the West and Islam so he could kill all of the non-believers.
posted by notion at 7:26 PM on January 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oops. And the source of the quote.
posted by notion at 7:27 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is what I'm having most trouble swallowing, the idea that it'll be impossible to operate as a large organization and keep secrets.

Well, it's only supposed to make it more difficult, not stop it entirely. If Wikileaks makes it the government less likely to engage in human rights abuses, and so on, it will have been worthwhile.
posted by delmoi at 7:44 PM on January 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


@BrandonBlatcher

what delmoi said plus one more point:

i can't find my notes now so i can't pinpoint the minute at which he says this, but on the WIKIREBELS documentary Julian Assange bemoans the fact that after Wikileaks was built and before Collateral Muder, the hordes of indy media collaborators just didnt come [i make note of this on my post about the documentary at my blog].

Collateral Murder makes sense if you take into consideration that after 4 years, Wikileaks was still being treated as a quirky experiment on transparency but nothing of real consequence. they had after 4 years not created the kind of trifecta needed for them to become an epidemic within the body of mainstream media.

so it took COLLATERAL MURDER, THE WAR LOGS and now CABLEGATE to show the world they really mean business. yet that's really not the whole story.

CABLEGATE is more than anything Wikileaks "teachable moment". by joining forces with GUARDIAN, SPIEGEL, EL PAIS, they did what was missing before: to innoculate "the few" within the system so they could successfully uncover the "power of context" within the cables. it was the only way they could get the legitimacy need to create the "stickiness factor" wikileaks needed to become epidemic.

now, this is a flat assertion of the game. given how thick the network of "conspiracy by government" is, i am certain this is just the beginning. i still am not sure though whether we will need to go through various epidemic moments before reaching the "tipping point" or if it may well be that we will have to reach a multitude of tipping points before wikileaks ceases to be the focus as "a thing we all need" to become an epidemic ideology and technology.

we're just 1947 cables into this saga. we'll be able to revisit this thread by this same time in 2012. whatever the case, there is no going back.

if telecoms and the corrupt politerati get their way to tie the threat of the need to know to net neutrality, we will get the much awaited disruption of "the sheeple" that nay-sayers are decrying.

am not speculating about whether this will happen. am just speculating about when.
posted by liza at 7:57 PM on January 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is what I'm having most trouble swallowing, the idea that it'll be impossible to operate as a large organization and keep secrets. That seems extremely naive in that it ignores the arms race aspect of leaking. Wikileaks reveals links, government changes operation while still retaining power.

Well you are glossing over what 'changes operations' means.

Back to Assange conspiracy model -- Assange isn't actually against institutions or large organizations in general, what he's talking about is groups that exist within large institutions using secret channels of communications to exert control on the organization or government in ways that they aren't explicitly authorized to do. They can be thought of as nodes on a network without strict, hierarchical lines of command.

The point isn't to make government less effective by causing it to overreact, the point is to make conspiracies using the government less effective by shutting down channels of secret communication or making them less effective.

It would be very possible to make the actions of a conspiracy more secure by shutting down those channels, but the act of doing so will by necessity make the operation of the conspiracy less efficient, by shutting out nodes on the network.

If people can't communicate secretly without slowing down or limiting their communications bandwidth somehow then the conspiracy will start to fall apart and become disconnected or otherwise become less effective, or they will start to have to operate in the open, which will start to cause resistance from the public or other institutions, or the institution itself.

This doesn't, btw, have anything to do with Freemasons or the Illuminati or anything like that -- it's just any group engaging in illegal activity that are co-opting legitimate institutions to do it -- whether it be something like Iran-Contra, or polluters, or embezzlers or CIA torture, or police corruption.

In an environment where leaking is pervasive, either they shut themselves down through introducing inefficiencies in their operations, or they operate in the open.

Wikileaks is clearly not enough. We need more organizations like that to flush these sorts of things out.
posted by empath at 8:08 PM on January 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


and let me explain the telecom point am making: CABLEGATE isn't just about the diplomacy and intelligence communities. it is about the whole system of "conspiracy by government". the reactions they have gotten from the likes of Amazon, PayPal, Visa/Mastercard are the "government" reactions they probably couldn't even dream of. it shows that when going after dissenters, Power isn't limited by the constitutions of governments. just leave it to the TOS of a corporation.

the US gov reaction but for some asshole calling for Assange's assassination is nothing compared to the freak out of these corporations. it shows who are they real faces of Power and it's why it's left so many people in a quandary: how many of us depend on PayPal, Visa, Amazon for our quotidian and even our livelihoods?

seriously, *i* am grappling with the question because from where i stand, there's no way for me right now to cut the cord. meaning, with every VISA purchase am feeding the beast that wants to do away with the power of Wikileaks.

so, CABLEGATE as it shows McDonalds, Shell, DynCorp and other corporations in their hideous glory *is* feeding the knowledge virus but at the same time we continue to sustain the corruption revealed by wikileaks with each swipe of my bank card.

1947 cables are just the beginning. the question is, what number will be "the tipping point"? 5,982? 36,128?
posted by liza at 8:14 PM on January 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


The tippiing point is when wikileaks leaks the russian and chinese material. God help them then.

how many of us depend on PayPal, Visa, Amazon for our quotidian and even our livelihoods?
I don't use any of these. You should not either, adhere to your beliefs if not, they are empty and meaningless.
posted by clavdivs at 10:10 PM on January 1, 2011


Delmoi wrote: [T]he fact that something is not surprising does not mean that everyone believed it before it happened. So for example, even if people in Spain suspected U.S. diplomatic pressure prevented the prosecutions from going forward, that would not have prevented people from saying "oh, that's just a conspiracy theory". But now, that's no longer the case. You can't say that, because it's right there, spelled out on paper.

Furthermore, there's a big difference between people sitting around and saying "yeah, I bet the CIA pressured the government," and being able to say that US official X warned German official Y to pressure German prosecutor Z, after which prosecutor Z dropped the case. At the very least it warns the German public about the nature of those officials and makes it less likely that other officials will kowtow to US pressure.

I'd like to pose a question: does anyone here think that an independent German judiciary is a bad thing? Does anyone here want the USA to be able to suborn foreign officials? And is there anyone here who thinks that despite the fact that Germany ought to have an independent judiciary and honest officials, it would have been better for US manipulation to have remained secret?
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:10 PM on January 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


The tippiing point is when wikileaks leaks the russian and chinese material. God help them then.

I really don't see it making much difference to them. If it gets that far the US government may even end up helping them covertly, on the grounds that at least the hurt will be spread equally.
posted by JHarris at 10:37 PM on January 1, 2011


riiiggghhtt.
posted by clavdivs at 10:42 PM on January 1, 2011


The tippiing point is when wikileaks leaks the russian and chinese material. God help them then.

There is no tipping point. There will never be a wiki-revolution. That sucks, don't I know, but there will be no tipping of the global regime.
posted by localhuman at 10:44 PM on January 1, 2011


Does anyone here want the USA to be able to suborn foreign officials?

Never underestimate the degree to which Americans believe that their government ought to have no limits to its reach and authority. It's not an uncontroversial idea in this country that other nations and peoples have the right to do things that aren't in our interest.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:25 PM on January 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


The UK training of Bangladeshi death squads is rapidly becoming a big friggin deal.

p.s. I suspect Assange's ideas today are much more down to earth, and differ little from more ordinary activists, like say "activists need details about wrongdoing to fix stuff" and "we must maximize the impact of out leaks". Yes, they started more philosophical, but reality impacts ya after a while. In particular, Assange has only really learned the importance of journalists after founding wikileaks.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:17 AM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is no tipping point. There will never be a wiki-revolution. That sucks, don't I know, but there will be no tipping of the global regime.

Oh, and also? You're all gonna DIE.
posted by JHarris at 12:33 AM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the subject of Wikileaks changing how large organisations operate, here's Christopher Graham, from the the UK Government's Information Commissioner’s Office:
Whatever view you take about WikiLeaks – right or wrong – it means that things will now get out. It has changed things. I'm saying government and authorities need to factor it in. Be more proactive, [by] publishing more stuff, because quite a lot of this is only exciting because we didn't know it. You can't un-invent WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks is part of the phenomenon of the online, empowered citizen ... these are facts that aren't going to go away. Government and authorities need to wise up to that."
Its an interesting article, he basically says exactly the same as Assange's old essay: Governments have the choice to either clam up or become more transparent, and becoming more transparent is the only sensible option.
posted by memebake at 3:10 AM on January 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Phase 5
The dismantling and isolation phase.
(if your hunted, this is the critical junction)


Ah, that's good to hear. I always wondered what came after Phase IV.
posted by kaibutsu at 3:32 AM on January 2, 2011


That sucks, don't I know, but there will be no tipping of the global regime.

So the "global regime" will last forever, unlike any other regime in history? Seems unlikely.
posted by steambadger at 7:15 AM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


All this tipping point talk sounds nonsensical and vaguely revolutionary. Governments are made up of people. We can improve them by punishing more people who exploit them for criminal gains.

Examples : American will benefit from prosecuting war profiters and from Spain, Germany, etc. all indicting the Bush Six. The U.K. would benefit by indicting whoever decided to train Bangladesh's RAB death squad. Bolivia will benefit from prosecuting whoever order the faking of a terrorist threat. etc.

There isn't any need to expose diplomatic cables for these prosecutions to take place. It would suffice to merely protect and reward whistleblowers, hell even more independent prosecutors might help. Assange's creation merely provides a baseline of anonymity for whistleblowers while threatening further embarrassment for political elites who don't implement protections themselves.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:38 AM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not an uncontroversial idea in this country that other nations and peoples have the right to do things that aren't in our interest.

Ironically the same people who believe this tend to decry the idea of "world governments."
posted by odinsdream at 10:11 AM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


All this tipping point talk sounds nonsensical and vaguely revolutionary

Yes, well. Start truly looking at the sickness of western and as its epitome, American society: where elections have become little more than reality TV news popularity contests between candidates from two parties that have proven themselves completely unserious about solving any of our myriad looming financial/social/environmental crises or doing much of anything but desperately attempting to maintain the status quo and power of all existing institutions/actors

Revolution is just a word, but ask yourself this - how truly truly sick is our society if it took a single aggrieved private in the army and a handful of weirdo hackers to expose all this dirty laundry of TPTB. How many millions of people had this information and just looked the other way? Or at least certainly wouldn't have dreamed of giving this information to the New York Times, who almost certainly would have let it rot

And why was it classified? If the Obama administration wants to lean on the Spanish government not to prosecute the Bush administration for their war crimes, they can do so publicly. Oh right, but the citizens of the US and Spain might be disgusted by such a move and act to stop it if it was done in public. In whose interest is our government acting when the actions themselves must remain forever hidden from the public?

And yet, take that away, and what government do you have left? Not one that looks very much like that of today
posted by crayz at 10:14 AM on January 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


aeschenkarnos asks "Is Wikileaks working?".
From the Cryptome pdf
Only revealed injustice can be answered; for man to do anything intelligent he
has to know what's actually going on.

Big Media chose the easy story to start with, the personalities. Todays media is steeped in the cult of the personality so it was an easy choice.
However the leaks are leaked and the information is out there. The public at large is now learning that grossly immoral actions have been taken by their governmments.
This applies not only to the US. (See this story about embezzled Central African funds finding their way into political funds supporting Sarkozy).
One way I see Wikileaks as "working" is that now the story is being separated; the leaks proper from the purveyors of leaks; so Wikileaks will succeed if the public (that means us and all other interested parties in goverment transparency) keep this information flowing and don't hide it or just shrug our shoulders and say "we knew this shit anyway". We didn't know it. We suspected it. We now know it.
The activist way is to use this information to question authority and spread the news, keeping the story alive. Big media cannot ignore the leak contents if people are questioning their political representatives who then take a stand.
(*Taps foot impatiently*, waiting for the rumured bank leak. When it's about money everyone sits up.
posted by adamvasco at 10:41 AM on January 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, it's only supposed to make it more difficult, not stop it entirely. If Wikileaks makes it the government less likely to engage in human rights abuses, and so on, it will have been worthwhile.

The point isn't to make government less effective by causing it to overreact, the point is to make conspiracies using the government less effective by shutting down channels of secret communication or making them less effective.

That strikes as a naive line of thought. They're not going to say "Oh no, Wikileaks might get ahold of this, we must not do this," they're going to find different ways of keeping it secret. It's like reading Assuage's description of conspiracies, where conspirators are represented as nails with pieces of twine between them to in symbolize communication. He wants to cut those pieces of twine, cutting ofr communication. The first thing I thought about reading that was "Dude the average person has more than one way to communicate, let alone high tech governments. You're not going to cut off communication, even on the high end encrypted channels, they'll just move to something else."

In an environment where leaking is pervasive, either they shut themselves down through introducing inefficiencies in their operations, or they operate in the open.

Not buying it, sounds like the usual issue with geeks and problem solving i.e. the seeking of technological solutions to social problems. For instance, take the soldiers on the Collateral Murder video. They felt they were in the right, doing what is is good and proper. They enjoyed it. You're not going to cut off communication between that type, short of killing them or locking them in solidarity confinement forever.

Where there is a will, there is a way.

The idea of transparency saving everything also calls into question how far you want to it. Implicit in the argument for Wikileaks is the leaking of any and everything on smaller levels be it local government or local business or family. True this: the next time you see two co-workers or family members going off to talk amongst themselves, demand to know what they talked about, see what happens. More than likely, if it's to their benefit, they'll say something. If not they won't, or will outright lie. In both cases, they'll note your demands and make plans to avoid that situation in the future.

I'd like to pose a question: does anyone here think that an independent German judiciary is a bad thing? Does anyone here want the USA to be able to suborn foreign officials? And is there anyone here who thinks that despite the fact that Germany ought to have an independent judiciary and honest officials, it would have been better for US manipulation to have remained secret?

To me, you're asking the wrong questions. It's natural that governments to deal, negotiate, persuade and strong arm each other. People do that, it's not surprising that large organizations, which are composed of people to do also. It's not even necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, it's almost like a social glue. It's written into communication and interacting with others and it's not going away. If you true to force it to go away, even from a morally right point of view, it'll just evolved and move.

None of what I've written should be taken as me hating Wikileaks or even hoping it doesn't work. I'm just not convinced that it's a unilaterally good thing or that it'll work and that if it does work on some level, that the changes will be painless. At heart, I'm distrustful of most organizations, particularly one's who want to tell me they're doing what's right and good and moral. Those who appoint themselves moral guardians should definitely be watched, however much one may wish for the changes they're supposedly working for.

One way I think Wikileaks might work is puts pressure on and prompts changes in countries other than America, who then in turn apply pressure to the US. 'Cause for the now and the foreseeable future I don't see Wikileaks doing much damage in the land of the free, home of the brave. As a whole, we're too stuck on ourselves, too "patriotic" where patriotism is defined as being with us or against us.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:34 AM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem for those pushing the RAB story will be the same as the critics of the School of the Americas faced after it's reforms. The British will detail the human rights training, call put the civilian protections they were trying put in place by training the RAB on rules of engagement and talk about how they stopped the torture. They will run some b roll of happy professional officers, show some action taking down terrorists and then perhaps a nice infographic showing progress areas. Then close saying that evil wikileaks almost shut the program down.
posted by humanfont at 11:38 AM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


They're not going to say "Oh no, Wikileaks might get ahold of this, we must not do this," they're going to find different ways of keeping it secret. It's like reading Assuage's description of conspiracies, where conspirators are represented as nails with pieces of twine between them to in symbolize communication. He wants to cut those pieces of twine, cutting ofr communication. The first thing I thought about reading that was "Dude the average person has more than one way to communicate, let alone high tech governments. You're not going to cut off communication, even on the high end encrypted channels, they'll just move to something else."

There isn't a technological solution. Communication is pointless unless someone is being communicated to, and they can't read it without it being unencrypted. The only solution is to communicate with fewer, more trusted people.

And nothing destroys conspiracies faster than paranoia.
posted by empath at 11:53 AM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


For instance, take the soldiers on the Collateral Murder video. They felt they were in the right, doing what is is good and proper. They enjoyed it. You're not going to cut off communication between that type, short of killing them or locking them in solidarity confinement forever.

Fine, then when it's in the open, either society will judge it as a problem and do something about it or not.
posted by empath at 11:56 AM on January 2, 2011


It maybe that a world of perfect transparency finally reveals that the problems of society are so pervasive and unconquerable that everyone decides to stop giving a shit about what everyone else is doing and just gets on with their lives.
posted by empath at 11:57 AM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


WikiLeaks' Assange: 2,000 sites now have all documents
posted by homunculus at 12:31 PM on January 2, 2011


When do we get the rest?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:51 PM on January 2, 2011


Pretty sure that is just referring to the insurance file.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:03 PM on January 2, 2011


I wonder if the swedish paper that has all the cables got it from cracking the password (not that they cracked it themselves... maybe someone passed it to them)
posted by empath at 1:21 PM on January 2, 2011


Pretty sure that is just referring to the insurance file.

Yes, I know, just wondering when said insurance file or pieces of it will be released. Has Julian or any Wikileakians been transparent about when that's going to happen?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:34 PM on January 2, 2011


It's there to make sure no one stops Wikileaks before all the cables are out. It goes out if the slow release is threatened.

I wonder if the swedish paper that has all the cables got it from cracking the password


If they can crack that encryption it's a huge news story on its own. (they can't)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:41 PM on January 2, 2011


Interestingly, the flow of news seems to have practically halted. The Guardian, for example, now has far more stories about reaction to the cables than about the contents of the cables themselves. I'm reluctant to rely too heavily on google trends, but it seems as if coverage peaked in the first week of December and has been in gradual decline since.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:43 PM on January 2, 2011


That strikes as a naive line of thought. They're not going to say "Oh no, Wikileaks might get ahold of this, we must not do this," they're going to find different ways of keeping it secret. It's like reading Assuage's description of conspiracies, where conspirators are represented as nails with pieces of twine between them to in symbolize communication. He wants to cut those pieces of twine, cutting ofr communication. The first thing I thought about reading that was "Dude the average person has more than one way to communicate, let alone high tech governments. You're not going to cut off communication, even on the high end encrypted channels, they'll just move to something else."
Well, first of all "Government as Conspiracy" is just some article he wrote, it's not, for example Wikileaks mission statement or anything like that.

But secondly you're misinterpreting it. It isn't that government's can communicate, it's that they can't communicate securely. Sure, you can use gmail or twitter or write a letter or whatever, but if I were a hacker dead set on reading your correspondence, how many of those ways do you think would be secure? If you move from email to facebook, a hacker just has to hack your facebook account instead of your email.

Secondly wikleaks (which isn't even mentioned in the article) works by subverting the nodes, not the edges. In other words, rather then actually cutting or restricting the communication along the edges, vertexes in the graph become leaky. Moving to different communications mediums doesn't solve the problem, because people can still leak.
More than likely, if it's to their benefit, they'll say something. If not they won't, or will outright lie. In both cases, they'll note your demands and make plans to avoid that situation in the future.
Right, but again if those people were your roommate in a college dorm, suddenly their ability to communicate freely without you knowing would be cut off significantly. They could only do it when you weren't around.

It seems like most of your criticisms boil down to "governments won't like it, so it won't work". First of all, we don't know if it will work or not, we'll have to see. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. You could be right that governments will just take more care to be more secure.
Interestingly, the flow of news seems to have practically halted. The Guardian, for example, now has far more stories about reaction to the cables than about the contents of the cables themselves.
It may be that all the good stories have been published already.

Also, next on WL's schedule is bank of America, and Russian corruption.
posted by delmoi at 3:17 PM on January 2, 2011


Wikileaks stopped with the cables right around Christmas. They started releasing stuff again today. I want to focus for a bit on actual cable content.

This was notable to me, from a cable posted 26 December 10, 09BEIJING728:
" Professor Yu Yongding, also of CASS and Director Xiao Lian's superior, has long advocated that China press the U.S. to issue RMB-denominated debt, and at a recent conference Yu opined that China should receive equities in U.S. nationalized banks as collateral for its U.S. investments."

Media reports have made it sound like the Chinese government is worried that the U.S. will "run out of money" and not be able to pay interest on Treasuries sold to the Chinese government. Or you hear stuff like "ZOMG the Chinese will lose faith in our bonds and stop funding our deficit ZOMG inflation, Zimbabwe."

I thought, when I heard that, that the Chinese government can't actually be that stupid. Since the U.S. is a currency issuer, we can always make our interest payments in dollars. Reading the cable actually clarifies for me that the journalists covering the story are the ones that are stupid.

What the Chinese government is worried about, from the sound of this, is that inflation will kill the value of their dollar holdings. Since the yuan is not openly traded , they end up holding a lot of dollar reserves. And, since there are a limited number of things the Chinese government can buy in the U.S. for dollars (b/c we're not , for example, going to let them buy an oil company) then it stays in Treasuries.

The fact that a faction of the Chinese government is pressing for the US to issue RMB denominated debt tells me that they do, understand what's going on. If they can trick the USG into issuing RMB denominated debt, then the US can't easily make the interest payments. It will require the US to sell stuff to China to get RMB, to make the interest payments. It will also give the Chinese government much tighter control over the U.S. economy. It would turn the U.S. into Iceland, Ireland, Greece, etc, where government liabilities are in a currency that we don't control.

Needless to say, as an American, I think that's a bad thing. We don't even need to issue Treasuries to "fund" anything. Our limits are real resources, not 1s and 0s in a bank account.
posted by wuwei at 4:14 PM on January 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


It would be very possible to make the actions of a conspiracy more secure by shutting down those channels, but the act of doing so will by necessity make the operation of the conspiracy less efficient, by shutting out nodes on the network.

This is true, but sadly the answer is 'so what?' Large-scale conspiracies involving industrial or public institutions can afford the extra security. Sure, it's somewhat less efficient, but the added cost of secure communications is a very marginal increase in overhead. If an institution is corrupted because there are billions or trillions of dollars in illicit profit to be made, a few extra millions for communications security is just pocket change. This is the basic reason that I'm not very supportive of dumping all these embassy cables. If I thought that doing so would inevitably lead to a new era of transparency and open government, then I'd be inclined to agree with him that the possible negative outcomes are actually worth it.

But I don't. There's a long track record of people mistakenly assuming that peaks herald an inevitable change of direction. world War 1 was 'the war to end all wars.' The atomic bomb was supposed to make conventional war obsolete, as were the hydrogen and neutron bombs. During bull markets, a consensus gradually forms that 'this time it's different' and the market will keep rising forever - of course there are always contrarians ready to point out that all markets eventually turn, but absent predictions of when or why they're not adding any useful information to the discussion. The 'Peak Oil' people would have it (in the extreme case) that the lights are going to go out any time now, even though history suggests we're far more likely to adapt to changing circumstances over time rather than experience a sudden cliff-like decline.

So with the leaks. It would have been dangerously irresponsible (in my view) to dump all 250,000 into public view at once. On the other hand, at the rate of publication in the first weeks of December it would have taken years and years for them all to come out. As I predicted, public interest is already starting to wane. There will continue to be some pressure for reducing systematic overclassification of information - although the administration has actually been far more responsive in this area than many people realize.

Of course, far more documents continue to be classified than declassified. But I don't think that's evidence of a deliberate policy to mislead the public; rather, it's an inecitable outcome of information explosion, coupled with the precautionary principle (as it relates to classifying documents because of potential security risks) and Metcalfe's Law (as it relates to classifying documents because of potential noteworthiness). Some will argue that the precautionary principle should be applied to actions from the outset, in the sense that government should not enter into or sustain any activities/relations which carry a risk of ethical compromise, which would obviate the need for any secrecy. Unfortunately, people are unable to agree on exactly what ethical yardsticks or methodologies to employ in the conduct of domestic policy, let alone foreign relations.

It isn't that government's can communicate, it's that they can't communicate securely. Sure, you can use gmail or twitter or write a letter or whatever, but if I were a hacker dead set on reading your correspondence, how many of those ways do you think would be secure?

But secure communication isn't that big of a problem. If you and I seriously wanted to communicate in secret, we could swap PGP keys (or whatever algorithm we deemed adequate) and then send encrypted email to each other. Of course a snooper could still observe that we were exchanging encrypted messages at certain dates and times and infer information from that. But we could lower the quality of that derived information by burying our real communications among many encrypted but meaningless ones, or swapping our messages in public where they would be read by so many that the identity of the recipients would be obscure. Of course, we lose a great deal of efficiency by doing so - but seeing as we're no longer in the days of the telegraph, that's not a big problem. For text-based communication bandwidth is as good as infinite, and any large organization (such as a government) can afford a surplus of employees to sift through an inefficiently-large-but-secure flow of communications.

[re: decline in flow of new stories] It may be that all the good stories have been published already.

If that were the case, wouldn't it mean that most of the leaked material isn't really scandalous at all, and that Assange's 'dead man's switch' is an empty bluff? I don't have a strong opinion about the reasons or significance of this - for all I know it might just be a response to the holiday season, and the flow might pick up speed again this week. I just find myself wondering if a smaller leak of more obviously important information would have advanced the end of increasing transparency more effectively.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:27 PM on January 2, 2011


The fact that a faction of the Chinese government is pressing for the US to issue RMB denominated debt tells me that they do, understand what's going on. If they can trick the USG into issuing RMB denominated debt, then the US can't easily make the interest payments.
LOL Seriously? The idea that the US would ever issue non-dollar denominated debt, much less RMB-denominated debt is absolutely delusional.
posted by delmoi at 5:36 PM on January 2, 2011


But secondly you're misinterpreting it. It isn't that government's can communicate, it's that they can't communicate securely. Sure, you can use gmail or twitter or write a letter or whatever, but if I were a hacker dead set on reading your correspondence, how many of those ways do you think would be secure? If you move from email to facebook, a hacker just has to hack your facebook account instead of your email.

Ok, the idea that government's won't be able to communicate securely is naive. These people want to communicate securely and in some cases, legitimately need to. They're going to find a way to make it happen and it's just going to be arms race of sorts. You can't change the animal once its learned and grown to like its tools. You can't really punish it and I don't think you can offer it something as a reward to not do immoral, fucked up things.

Moving to different communications mediums doesn't solve the problem, because people can still leak.

Changing method and means could certainly prevent people from leaking. They're leaning hard on Manning, real hard. Anyone in that position is going to carefully consider whether they want to pull a stunt like that again.

Manning got really, really lucky in terms of having access to all that info for a relatively low level tech. The military probably won't let that mistake happen again. People will indeed always be a problem when it comes to leaking and there's give and take there. Some will never leak, even if it's bad, because they believe in the overall mission or goals. The question becomes, how do you find and identify the ones who will leak? I don't know.

Right, but again if those people were your roommate in a college dorm, suddenly their ability to communicate freely without you knowing would be cut off significantly. They could only do it when you weren't around.

Ha, not necessarily. They could be texting/emailing/IMing while talking to you. High school students seem to have mastered this. The only change will be that they've now marked you a problem and are routing information around you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:02 PM on January 2, 2011


LOL Seriously? The idea that the US would ever issue non-dollar denominated debt, much less RMB-denominated debt is absolutely delusional.
posted by delmoi at 5:36 PM on January 2
(2011)

I have absolutely no opinion on this but something makes me go hmm, lets see what happens going forward.
posted by infini at 6:03 PM on January 2, 2011


Sure, it's somewhat less efficient, but the added cost of secure communications is a very marginal increase in overhead. If an institution is corrupted because there are billions or trillions of dollars in illicit profit to be made, a few extra millions for communications security is just pocket change.

You are missing the point. They can spend an infinite amount of money on securing communications and it won't solve their problem. The 'leaks' part of wikileaks means that they are getting information from insiders, not from hacked communications.

Manning didn't hack into anything. He had legitimate access. No amount of 'cyber-security' would have prevented that. The only way to stop another Manning is to cut off thousands of people from access to information that they need to do to do their job, in order to protect the actions of a very few people who may be acting inappropriately.

For text-based communication bandwidth is as good as infinite, and any large organization (such as a government) can afford a surplus of employees to sift through an inefficiently-large-but-secure flow of communications.

No, they can't afford that, for the reasons I've outlined above. Every person touching the data is another potential leak. Or they could act in ways that don't encourage people to leak. If Manning hadn't seen a bunch of unethical behavior in Iraq and in the cables, he would never have leaked them.
posted by empath at 6:09 PM on January 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Manning didn't hack into anything. He had legitimate access. No amount of 'cyber-security' would have prevented that. The only way to stop another Manning is to cut off thousands of people from access to information that they need to do to do their job, in order to protect the actions of a very few people who may be acting inappropriately.

Or just disable the CD drive or at least CD burning abilities on sensitive machines.

Of course this becomes a cat and mouse game in reverse of what I've described above: If someone really wants to leak something, they're probably going to find a way. The problem is how the system becomes aware of that and how quickly.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:18 PM on January 2, 2011


And then he can take a picture of the screen.

But the reason that they don't disable those kinds of things is that people who use these machines need to actually do stuff with the data. And sure, you can make it harder for people to copy data around, but then it becomes very inefficient.
posted by empath at 6:20 PM on January 2, 2011


And then he can take a picture of the screen.

Right. People would do well to read about Alice and Bob and Carol and DRM, because it's a pretty analogous situation, and we can all see how well it's turned out for DRM

If your organization or livelihood depends on distributing information to people but preventing those people from re-distributing that information to others, well... welcome to the digital age, the dustbin of history would like a word with you
posted by crayz at 6:34 PM on January 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


And then he can take a picture of the screen.

Sure, but then he's probably not going to get 250,000 cables. And they'll probably install porno scanners to make sure nobody walks in with a camera. And so the game continues. Would this be inefficient? Sure, but frankly being efficient doesn't seem to be a big goal of government and some businesses.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:35 PM on January 2, 2011


And sure, you can make it harder for people to copy data around, but then it becomes very inefficient.

Yes, but as I said earlier a large organization can afford some inefficiency. Manning used CD-Rs because things like USB keys aren't allowed on secure machines, due to unfortunate past experience. Many secure environments already prohibit things like camera phones. Inefficient? Definitely, but they've got good security. In that latter case, the inconvenience is mainly to the individual who can't take their modern phone into the secure area, not to the organization which is imposing the strict security policy.

I think people are overestimating the game-changing effect by mistaking desire for observation. In the past, photocopiers could theoretically have liberated all printed information from the control of those who had printing presses, and some expected cameras to usher in an era of unfakeable truth. And those effects have happened to some extent, but then the Internet in general has had a far greater transformative effect on the operation of governments than Wikileaks. I mean, consider how much effort would have been required in 1990 to look up reference information that's widely accessible on various .gov websites today. Without endorsing existing policy on classification of information, people in the US and most other industrialized countries have access to far more data on the structure and operation of their governments than ever before.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:39 PM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think people are overestimating the game-changing effect by mistaking desire for observation. In the past, photocopiers could theoretically have liberated all printed information from the control of those who had printing presses, and some expected cameras to usher in an era of unfakeable truth.

The photocopier didn't, but the internet has. The same technology that put pretty much every bit of copyrighted material that has ever existed up on bittorrent is eventually going to do the same for classified information. It's inevitable.
posted by empath at 6:43 PM on January 2, 2011


I guess I should qualify that statement with an "if it's valuable". If nobody would care about it, then it won't get shared, obviously, but then why would it be classified if nobody would care about it?
posted by empath at 6:45 PM on January 2, 2011


You are missing the point. They can spend an infinite amount of money on securing communications and it won't solve their problem. The 'leaks' part of wikileaks means that they are getting information from insiders, not from hacked communications.

Interesting. Are you sure? One aspect of wikileaks that I have dismissed but am now revisiting is the brilliant 20th CI OP known as “The Trust” devised and executed by Felix Dzerzhinski, who advocated the production of ‘arithmometers.’ The operational plan and targets fit right in with versatility of operational parameters and it’s ability to keep intact yet change operational goals.
posted by clavdivs at 6:57 PM on January 2, 2011


Interesting look at the system Manning was using that facilitated the theft.

The same technology that put pretty much every bit of copyrighted material that has ever existed up on bittorrent is eventually going to do the same for classified information. It's inevitable.

It's a question of how and when. Putting up classified documents now that show bad shit was done in Iraq probably isn't going to mean much. Hell, had Wikileaks been around for the run to the second Iraq War, I doubt leaks would have prevented that. The administration and the populace wanted to punch a lot of dark skinned foreigners and send a message, truth didn't have a lot to do with anything.

Again, my point here is not so much to bash Wikileaks, but offer a counter point to the idea that the organization will save us all. I would not bet on that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:02 PM on January 2, 2011


technology that put pretty much every bit of copyrighted material that has ever existed up on bittorrent

Oh, really? I bought a copy of Inception last week, since it was one of my favorite films in 2011. Certainly, I could have downloaded a copy instead (although since I like high-quality video, it seems a lot more efficient to just own a copy on disc than to spend days pulling it down from BitTorrent).

But that's just the release version of the film. If, as you say, all copyrighted material is available, where's the raw footage? Maybe I want to assemble a blooper reel, or study Christopher Nolan's creative process. I'm pretty sure that material is not on BitTorrent. The stuff I can download from there is copyrighted, but it's also published - it is information which has been made widely available in the stream of public commerce, and whose legal protection of copyright has been made obsolete, in some respects, by widespread access to easy digital copying. But although a great many people shared my love of that film and there would be enormous demand for the unpublished raw footage if it were available, it remains tightly controlled by the studio which owns the material. As does the raw footage of almost every other film. As do the individual tracks of most music recordings - acappella tracks do make their way onto BitTorrent, but usually as a discreet marketing exercise to stimulate production of remixes.

And so on. What's easily available on BitTorrent is what's easily available to the consumer. While digital copying has overcome the limitations of video and audio tape for copying films and music, it has democratized distribution of information, not access to it.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:14 PM on January 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


The administration and the populace wanted to punch a lot of dark skinned foreigners and send a message, truth didn't have a lot to do with anything.

This is totally unfair to the American public. The Bush/Cheney group went on a targeted propaganda effort to falsify information about Iraqi WMDs and link 9/11 with Saddam Hussein. Compared to our predecessors in the 60s and 70s, when the Pentagon basically said "we're carpet bombing Southeast Asia" without too much comment in the press, the American public today are saints. It was only until the draft that anyone decided that the War was an important issue.

The Iraq War is one of the few (if not the only) wars in history that was protested by millions of citizens before it even began. All of the evil tricks dreamed up at the top of the Executive branch are exactly what I want to be leaked before millions of people are murdered again.
posted by notion at 7:21 PM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


But that's just the release version of the film. If, as you say, all copyrighted material is available, where's the raw footage? Maybe I want to assemble a blooper reel, or study Christopher Nolan's creative process. I'm pretty sure that material is not on BitTorrent.

I don't know about movies, but there are tons of raw stems and acapellas from various songs out there.

Again, just because something hasn't been done doesn't mean it won't be done. And don't limit your thinking to wiki leaks. As I said before, that would be like thinking peer-to-peer was over when Napster died. Wikileaks is only the first example of a wider phenomenon.

When you can drop that all of that stuff on a thumb drive, I can guarantee you it will eventually find its way to distribution. But again, only if it's valuable enough that people want to distribute it. If it's just footage of Keanu Reaves eating a sandwich on set, it may get leaked but if nobody cares, it's not going to be easily accessible.
posted by empath at 7:23 PM on January 2, 2011


What's easily available on BitTorrent is what's easily available to the consumer.

Some consumer. Or some PERSON. All it takes is one person to have access to it for it to get everywhere, as can be seen by all the leaked albums and 0 day releases.
posted by empath at 7:25 PM on January 2, 2011


Wikileaks is only the first example of a wider phenomenon

What makes you think that?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:33 PM on January 2, 2011


Because it's a good idea and other people will (and already are) copying it?
posted by empath at 7:34 PM on January 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


And so on. What's easily available on BitTorrent is what's easily available to the consumer. While digital copying has overcome the limitations of video and audio tape for copying films and music, it has democratized distribution of information, not access to it.

It's true, but this is mainly a question of the quantity and location of data. This leaked information was already digitized, fairly small, available to millions... and just one guy leaked it. So yes, clearly there's a practical human component - information doesn't free itself; but people often want for various political, financial, personal or other reasons information to be shared

So one could construct some sort of hand-wavy equation, taking for a given set of information, the number of people with access to it, it's portability on the technology those people have access to, and those people's motives for releasing the information, and outputting the likelihood that that information will be leaked in the next N days

10TB of raw digital film accessible to a few hundred people at the movie studio - going to get a pretty low score right now. In 2025 when you can walk around with a 100TB wireless NAS in your pocket, we'll see
posted by crayz at 7:45 PM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Empath, have you studied the methodology of Robert Hanssens' information theft and distribution, it did tremendous damage and before you venture into peer to peer privacy between the kgb/svr-fbi/cia is the pirate bay and confessional larks all you can muster. Hanssens' actions led to beefed up IT security procedures. This cost was in the tens of millions if not hundreds just on internal security. One spy in an era with secrets leaked that you could might comprehend after some study but I give you the benefit of the doubt. The ability to adapt counter-measures for further security after wikileaks releases it's mother lode will outpace leakers in the ‘perpetual leak’ scenario you posit. Hannsen made mistakes you IT folks would catch today in a no time. The ability to retrieve and send the data cannot remain totally anonymous and that’s were you underestimate physical security in a ‘ethereal’ world.

Another tactical mistake was using cables and not some hand picked zingers that would get ALL the uncles folding shops and re-tasking like a motherfucker. In attack go for the debilitating/kill zone if using the tactics of your adversary, if not, CI is going to have that more then average stunned look of I-Told-You-So.

'Eye on the TV
'cause tragedy thrills me
Whatever flavor it happens to be

Like:
"Killed by the husband" ...
"Drowned by the ocean" ...
"Shot by his own son" ...
"She used a poison in his tea,
Then (she) kissed him goodbye"
That's my kind of story
It's no fun til someone dies.'

-Tool, Vicarious
posted by clavdivs at 8:49 PM on January 2, 2011


totally 'anonoymous' rather.
posted by clavdivs at 8:52 PM on January 2, 2011


Because it's a good idea and other people will (and already are) copying it?

What makes it a good idea and who else is copying the model of soliciting and then publishing leaks?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:58 AM on January 3, 2011


Wikileaks Central reveals Bank of America hires Booz Allen Hamilton one of the largest US intelligence contractors; itself is no stranger to controversy. (Greenwald); (wiki).
posted by adamvasco at 4:47 AM on January 3, 2011


Brandon Blatcher: who else is copying the model of soliciting and then publishing leaks?

BalkanLeaks
Brussels Leaks (covers EU leaks)
IndoLeaks (covers Indonesia)
OpenLeaks
PinoyLeaks (Philippines)
PirateLeaks (Czech Republic)
Rospil (Russia)

(list via)

Now that Wikileaks has popularised the idea, its easy to copy. The formula is "anonymous document drop-off + bit of leg work to establish validity of docs + web site + guts". A generic term is starting to come into use - Leak Amplification.

Note that several of the sites in the above list target countries with serious problems of corruption in government. Its easy to see that those sorts of governments have the most to lose from Leak Amplification.
posted by memebake at 5:00 AM on January 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


Thanks for the link membake, that's cool!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:36 AM on January 3, 2011


And here's another one
In response to moves by France to ban a Monsanto GM corn variety in late 2007, the ambassador, Craig Stapleton, a friend and business partner of former US president George Bush, asked Washington to penalise the EU and particularly countries which did not support the use of GM crops.
posted by adamvasco at 7:25 AM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Crayz,
You really nail the importance of cheap storage here. Inexpensive hard drives and solid state USB memory devices have really accelerated the spread of knowledge. Hard drives aren't very sexy as a technology-- you don't see front page stories in the NYT about the latest development in hard drive technology, the way you do about the latest smart phone.

It's awesome (as in awe inspiring) when I really think about it. An 80 GB , 2.5 inch hard drive is available for less than 100 dollars. I have it on good account that the tolerances in a modern hard drive are tighter than the much vaunted Swiss watch that sells for 10 times as much money.

It's not just in portable storage either-- the rise of Google was based on inexpensive hard drives too, because all the individual servers wired together had, that's right, a small hard drive inside.
posted by wuwei at 9:56 AM on January 3, 2011


does this USB memeory device give off a electronic signal or siganture when in use?
posted by clavdivs at 10:13 AM on January 3, 2011


There'll probably be legislation mandating that devices do that at some point.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:38 AM on January 3, 2011


Truthout has an interesting article: WikiLeaks, Ideological Legitimacy and the Crisis of Empire.
posted by adamvasco at 12:32 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bank Of America Bracing For Potential WikiLeaks Document Dump
posted by homunculus at 1:32 PM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ack I screwed up the link to the cable. Here it is.

Although in the past I wouldn't think there was a chance that the USG would issue RMB denominated debt, it wouldn't surprise me if the Beijing government tried to get an American financial firm to do the lobbying for them. With all the b.s. talk around about the debt, deficit and austerity, I'm sure the stage is already set for this.
posted by wuwei at 11:15 PM on January 3, 2011


In today's cables, there is a bunch about Germany and U.S. espionage activities, which are described as 'spying on everybody', apparently France is not amused. We've also just learned more about Saddam Hussein's relationship with the U.S. prior to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:24 PM on January 3, 2011


Um, that particular cat (Saddam Hussein's relationship with the US prior to the invasion of Kuwait) has been out of the bag for twenty years. Not that it's unworthy of discussion, but anyone (like AntiWar.com) who thinks this is startling news can't have been that interested, because this Glaspie-Hussein interview is pretty famous.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:03 AM on January 4, 2011


Not every thing that comes from WL is going to be a revelation. I don't see the problem with that.
posted by Ritchie at 1:45 AM on January 4, 2011


I don't either, but I'm questioning Jeff's comment that 'we've just learned more about [Saddam/US].'
posted by anigbrowl at 2:21 AM on January 4, 2011


An 80 GB , 2.5 inch hard drive is available for less than 100 dollars.

Hell, I have a terabyte portable HD that cost me a hundred dollars.

Also, yes, people who pay attention know that the US had a close relationship with Saddam Hussein throughout the 80's because he was an ally against the Iranians. The problem is that most people have roughly the political attention span of goldfish, and every time we can get this shit back in front of the faces of the masses is a good thing. Simply pointing it out is far less useful than rubbing their faces in it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:24 AM on January 4, 2011


Getting it back in the public consciousness is fine with me, although I think the patronizing animal metaphors are unnecessary. What I'm criticizing is the (unintentionally) misleading idea that this is new information.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:40 AM on January 4, 2011


There'll probably be legislation mandating that devices do that at some point.
posted by Brandon Blatcher

Would that be the Electron emissions act of 2011?

The problem is that most people have roughly the political attention span of goldfish

thus the neck snapping end to wikileaks
posted by clavdivs at 10:59 AM on January 4, 2011


wow, is this true?

"Ahmadinejad's statements infuriated Revolutionary Guard Chief of Staff Mohammed Ali Jafari, who exclaimed 'You are wrong! \[In fact\] it is YOU who created this mess! And now you say give more freedom to the press?!'

"Cut off the head of the snake"
posted by clavdivs at 11:40 AM on January 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The April Glaspie information has been known for a long time. It is nice to have the full text in the public record.

Here is an old Iraqi transcript from the meeting NY Times.
posted by humanfont at 12:28 PM on January 4, 2011


I don't know if anything new has come out of 90BAGHDAD4237. There was one article claiming that we've learned that State Dept. miscommunication and incompetence wasn't nearly as much to blame for the invasion as some pundits had previously asserted. Yeah, it looks like antiwar.com is just 'rubbing their faces in it'.

In other news, the State Dept. has allocated $30M for "projects that will foster freedom of expression and the free flow of information on the Internet and other connection technologies in East Asia". So there is your ticket if you're an American thinking about starting a wikileaks clone. lol
posted by jeffburdges at 3:22 PM on January 4, 2011


Given the government's typical use of language, I would expect that $30M to be spent on reinforcing secrecy, not on reducing it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:35 AM on January 5, 2011


Israel intentionally kept Gaza economy at brink of collapse.
posted by empath at 9:54 AM on January 5, 2011


Israel intentionally kept Gaza economy at brink of collapse.

Wasn't that kinda obvious? At the first least, they just didn't give a shit, that was plain as day.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:44 AM on January 5, 2011


Call for Submissions: All The Citizens' Men:
Inertial Fallacy Productions is putting together a Creative Commons-licensed anthology of short (no more than 2600 words) critical responses to the diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks in November/December 2010. You're invited. The resulting volume will be printed in several volumes (as well as digitally published) and used as part of a legal experiment.
They also have a map of the embassies from which the cables originated.

I almost did an fpp about this, but then I realized that the person organizing it is a friend of friends of mine which I figured was a little too close to mefi self-posting rules for comfort; I hope someone else will see fit to put this on the front page.
posted by finite at 12:10 PM on January 5, 2011


Aaron Bady: Wikileaks in Zimbabwe, and in the Media
posted by finite at 12:12 PM on January 5, 2011


Israel intentionally kept Gaza economy at brink of collapse.

Brandon Blatcher asked: Wasn't that kinda obvious?

I don't want to hop on the Wikileaks-cables-are-boring bandwagon; many of the cables have been very interesting indeed. But yes, the whole point of instituting the sanctions was to put pressure on Hamas while not causing an outright humanitarian crisis. Here's Wikipedia's article about the 2006-2007 sanctions (aimed at getting the new Hamas-led government to the negotiating table) and here's the article on the 2007-present sanctions, imposed after Hamas' coup.

I don't think anybody could argue that either set of sanctions has accomplished what the Israelis set out to do, or that further sanctions are likely to achieve it, but nobody can deny that the Gaza economy has indeed been kept at the brink of collapse. So I guess the glass is a little bit full.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:58 PM on January 5, 2011


The Guardian are publishing their own book about Wikileaks: "Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange's war on secrecy", its due out 10th Feb, so before Assange gets his own book out. An interesting step in the squabble between Assange and the Guardian.
posted by memebake at 9:51 AM on January 10, 2011


Fans of Wikileaks threads will probably enjoy Saturday's thread:
http://www.metafilter.com/99320/First-they-came-for
... which deals with the issue of the US subpoena to Twitter demanding account details.
posted by memebake at 9:56 AM on January 10, 2011


NBC: U.S. can't link Army private to Assange -- "U.S. military officials tell NBC News that investigators have been unable to make any direct connection between Bradley Manning and the WikiLeaks founder."
posted by ericb at 6:25 PM on January 24, 2011


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