Wikileaks And Journalism

I have not written about Wikileaks much because I'm not sure how I feel about what it is doing as a strategy, but I have been amused by watching so called journalists scream about the leaking of classified information. It really does lay bare how vacuous and useless journalism in this country is today.

Glenn Greenwald, as is his wont, has owned this issue. Here is his latest post on the subject. And here is a video of Glenn on CNN:

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    I have an opinion (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by andgarden on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 12:29:09 PM EST
    If you have in your possession the Pentagon Papers, you should leak them. But not every piece of classified information is the Pentagon Papers, and just leaking everything you have in the name of some vague notion of transparency does not serve us well.

    You seem to be (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by Warren Terrer on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:16:42 PM EST
    repeating the lie that will not die.

    Link won't open on my phone, sorry (none / 0) (#47)
    by andgarden on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:38:03 PM EST
    Its hard to see how my opinion could be a "lie," though.

    The lie (5.00 / 2) (#51)
    by Warren Terrer on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:49:44 PM EST
    is that wikileaks is just publishing everything they get their hands on. They are not. Perhaps you weren't repeating it as a lie but just raising it as a straw man. I don't know.

    What's the difference, please (none / 0) (#99)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 12:04:46 AM EST
    between personally publishing "everything they could get their hands on" and giving to various media organizations "everything they could get their hands on"?

    Glenn feels this is crucial somehow, but I don't get it.


    Here's some additional information (5.00 / 1) (#105)
    by Anne on Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 07:21:11 AM EST
    on the "partnership" between Wikileaks and the five media outlets to which the materials were given:  Link
    WikiLeaks turned over all of the classified U.S. State Department cables it obtained to Le Monde, El Pais in Spain, The Guardian in Britain and Der Spiegel in Germany. The Guardian shared the material with The New York Times, and the five news organizations have been working together to plan the timing of their reports.

    They also have been advising WikiLeaks on which documents to release publicly and what redactions to make to those documents, Kauffmann and others involved in the arrangement said.


    As stories are published, WikiLeaks uses its website to release the related cables. For example, The Guardian published an article Thursday based on diplomatic cables discussing the assassination of former Russian security officer Alexander Litvinenko by radiation poisoning, and WikiLeaks quickly posted three cables on the same subject.

    There's more at the link.

    Maybe you will think I'm splitting hairs, but I think there's a difference between a document dump and the rather careful way these materials are being handled.

    If wikileaks gets damned, I think it's more than fair to damn the news organizations that are actively cooperating in the effort.  

    And I think it puts in some perspective the "outrage" being exhibited by others in the media, don't you think?  


    The Pentagon Papers (5.00 / 1) (#57)
    by Zorba on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 04:44:28 PM EST
    are still "classified," by the way.

    Funny you should mention that (none / 0) (#109)
    by jbindc on Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 11:09:23 AM EST
    Floyd Abrams, Daniel Ellsberg's lawyer, explains why the constant comparison of Julian Assange / Wikileaks to the Pentagon Papers is silly.

    Here's the fun part:

    Mr. Assange is no boon to American journalists. His activities have already doomed proposed federal shield-law legislation protecting journalists' use of confidential sources in the just-adjourned Congress. An indictment of him could be followed by the judicial articulation of far more speech-limiting legal principles than currently exist with respect to even the most responsible reporting about both diplomacy and defense. If he is not charged or is acquitted of whatever charges may be made, that may well lead to the adoption of new and dangerously restrictive legislation. In more than one way, Mr. Assange may yet have much to answer for.

    Good job Julian!


    So, is it fair to say that Abrams is (5.00 / 1) (#110)
    by Anne on Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 12:33:09 PM EST
    advocating a be-careful-what-you-wish-for approach to the citizenry being informed about the actions of their government?  Or is this more along the lines of, "if you don't stop crying, I'll give you something to really cry about?"

    I would point you to Marcy Wheeler on the subject of Floyd Abrams' op-ed:

    In Abrams' mind, Assange is responsible for the response the government is taking toward him, not the government actors themselves. Nor are those who misrepresent Assange's and WikiLeaks' actions-thereby making it easier for the government to curtail legal rights-responsible.

    You know, people like Floyd Abrams.

    Abrams' purported rhetorical questions-can anyone doubt that WikiLeaks would have published the diplomatic volumes of the Pentagon Papers? can anyone doubt he wouldn't have paid the slightest heed to efforts to end the war?-are one of two things that dismantle his entire argument laying the responsibility for the government's overreaction to Assange with Assange. Because-as Digby has explained at length-we have every reason to doubt whether WikiLeaks would have published the diplomatic volumes of the Pentagon Papers. And we have solid evidence that WikiLeaks would shield really dangerous information.

    Because they already have. And because they have now outsourced responsibility for choosing what is dangerous and newsworthy or not to a bunch of newspapers.

    Indeed, back before WikiLeaks ceded that role to a bunch of newspapers, WikiLeaks was actually being more cautious with the publication of sensitive information than the NYT was.

    So rather than blaming the government and the press for mischaracterizing what WikiLeaks has done here and then using that mischaracterization to justify an overreaction to that mischaracterization, Floyd Abrams just participates in it. WikiLeaks is responsible, Floyd Abrams says, and I'm going to misrepresent what they have done to prove that case.

    Effectively, Abrams contributes to the myth that he says will result in new government action restricting the First Amendment.

    Abrams is making the argument he lays out in the op-ed in order to support his conclusion that Assange has put freedom of speech at peril - not the government, mind you, which is hell-bent to hang onto secrecy at all costs, not the government that doesn't want you to know things like the secret war we seem to be waging in Pakistan.

    We already know we have a government that doesn't give a flying fig about constitutional rights to privacy.  We already know we have a government that will lie and distort the facts - even make some up - just to be able to wage a war that never needed to happen, and which resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent people.  

    How do you ever expect the government to be at all accountable for the things it does if it is able to operate in near-total secrecy?  Do you agree, then, with Obama that there's no point in looking back to the Bush years?  That no one should be held accountable for what transpired then - and that it means no one is going to be held accountable for what is happening now?

    Do you really trust your government that much?  

    Floyd Abrams clearly wants you to reject Assange and Wikileaks, and he is doing that by putting you in fear of losing your right to free speech; but how, pray tell, does shutting down and punishing Assange preserve anyone's freedom of speech?  In my mind, it doesn't - it just serves as an example to others who have something to say that they'd better not - or else.

    What's been going on in the media, and with government officials, just seems to me to be classic sheep-herding behavior, quite reminiscent of how we ended up in Iraq: concerted messaging, rah-rah nationalism, demonizing the "unpatriotic" and trying to kill the messenger.  It worked then, and with the help of arguments like Abrams', it can happen again.  And again.

    That may be okay with you, but it isn't okay with me.


    Well said, Anne (none / 0) (#111)
    by Zorba on Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 12:43:57 PM EST
    I agree.  This is the "shoot the messenger" mentality taken to an extreme- "Let's not just shoot the messenger, let's shoot all future possible messengers."  I'd much rather that our government take some time and effort to reflect on why they classify so much garbage, and become more transparent and open.  A truly informed citizenry is a more effective citizenry- but maybe that's the point of all the secrecy.

    Who leaked "everything they have" (none / 0) (#11)
    by Faust on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 12:30:09 PM EST
    Should be read as (none / 0) (#12)
    by andgarden on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 12:32:03 PM EST
    "information lacking in sufficient importance to usurp the democratic system of declassification."

    What about (none / 0) (#15)
    by sj on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 12:57:53 PM EST
    "information lacking in sufficient importance to usurp the democratic system of classification"?

    I'm inclined to be distrustful of the wholesale classification of documents.  

    I think.  I say "I think" because so often the clamor and condemnation has had to do with the release of embarrassing information rather than damaging information (excluding political damage from the definition of "damaging").  And yet...

    I think there's a lot of dross and just embarrassing things that don't deserve the cover of classification.  Perhaps knowing that the collection of such information would be made public would prevent its collection in the first place.  Maybe.  

    And I know that applying classification selectively (based on true national security criteria), instead of collectively (based on political criteria) requires more time and expense.  I'm okay with that.  

    I don't know.  I guess conceptually, and by predisposition, I'm inclined to come down in favor of transparency.  There's definitely some grey area there, though.


    You have good reason (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by brodie on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 02:07:52 PM EST
    to be distrustful -- the USG overclassifies docs each year to a ridiculous extent, so much so that 100s of millions of pages of classified material, scheduled for de-classification review by 2013, remain to be processed as per a 2009 Obama e.o., and each year gov officials manage to de-class only a small fraction of the scheduled amount.  Meanwhile of course the stamping of papers as Secret proceeds at the usual furious pace.

    Interesting too:  the Pentagon Papers volumes that Ellsberg leaked have not yet been technically de-classified (!), while ironically some vols of State papers he chose not to leak have been.


    I think there is national security value (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by andgarden on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 02:47:42 PM EST
    to allow diplomacy to take place off the front page of the newspaper. The people we elect to office are charged with ensuring that there are not too many secrets, as a general proposition. Nobody elected the Wikileaks guy.

    You disappoint me (5.00 / 2) (#38)
    by Warren Terrer on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:18:27 PM EST
    with comments like this. No one every elected investigative journalists either.

    This is why I have grey areas (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by sj on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:18:51 PM EST
    I was nodding my head in agreement with this:

    I think there is national security value (none / 0) (#29)
    by andgarden on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 02:47:42 PM EST

    to allow diplomacy to take place off the front page of the newspaper.

    But then came this:

    The people we elect to office are charged with ensuring that there are not too many secrets, as a general proposition.

    I'm not sure how you make that assumption.  My observation is that in the VAST majority of cases, elected officials are neither making the determination nor providing oversight.  This is not neglect on their part.  They are just simply not in the chain of "custody" of the information.  So, while it is true that nobody elected the Wikileaks guy, nobody elected the bureaucrats* either..

    At this point in time and space (and kind of based on your thought), I'm inclined to come down in favor of transparency.  

    Actually, I'm always in favor of transparency.  To be more specific, I'm inclined to be supportive of Wikileaks.  

    That's right now.  It could change.  

    * Note:  I do not consider the term "bureaucrat" to be pejorative.


    My position is that (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by andgarden on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:34:23 PM EST
    even if you are right that there are too many secrets--no doubt you are--, the primary fix for that is political. There are situations where we must resort to the Wikileaks model, but I don't believe that anything yet released qualifies.

    The political fix (none / 0) (#52)
    by Warren Terrer on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:52:22 PM EST
    clearly isn't happening.

    Whose fault is that? (5.00 / 1) (#55)
    by andgarden on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 04:07:03 PM EST
    Apparently, the people value other things more highly than transparency. Generally, I am inclined to respect that. Leaking classified documents requires a better justification than what has been offered here.

    And this part.... (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:41:20 PM EST
    The people we elect to office are charged with ensuring that there are not too many secrets, as a general proposition.

    Very much akin to letting the foxes rebuild the henhouse.  It's clear to me that elected officials on both sides of the aisle will not do the right thing unless forced to.  In addition, we have little or no investigative journalism today.  Good or bad, the Wikileaks way seems to be the only way, now to get any kind of oversight or transparency in government.


    The video clip BTD posted (5.00 / 1) (#90)
    by BackFromOhio on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 09:11:21 PM EST
    makes clear that:

    (i)  Assange only published 2,000 of the 250,000 pages of information he received;

    (ii) The information Assange published is classified "Secret," whereas information the NY Times and other newspapers have published is classified "Top Secret".

    Would you speak about the national security value of keeping secret the Pentagon Papers secret or the Bush Admin torture program and memos?


    This is, imo, a quibble (5.00 / 1) (#98)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 12:03:16 AM EST
    What WikiLeaks put on its Web site may be a fairly small amount, but it gave reportedly 250,000 documents to several media outlets.  So what WL published itself or didn't is a distinction without a difference, I think.  It's that kind of argument, presented ferociously as if it actually mattered, that dims my usual admiration for Glenn Greenwald.

    I think GG's (none / 0) (#113)
    by BackFromOhio on Mon Jan 17, 2011 at 03:16:27 PM EST
    point is that if Wikileaks does something, it is decried as wrong and illegal, but if the Times or other news outlet does the same, that outlet is not accused of illegal conduct.  I think GG was also pointing out that when a prominent news outlet publishes "secret" material it received from Wikileaks, Wikileaks is held to blame for the judgment or lack thereof of the other source -- a development GG thinks is wrong, and so do I.  It is convenient to use Wikileaks as a whipping boy, so to speak, but the same people who decry certain conduct as illegal when Wikileaks does it but not when others do it, are guilty of bias and perhaps trying to create a negative image for Wikileaks alone. And, I do think that if Wikileaks gives info to another major news source, that source not only has the same obligation as any other to handle the information responsibly, but that Wikileaks is entitled to rely on the presumed exercise of that responsibility; it can't be that Wikileaks is the only entity that has duties and responsibilities.

    I think that it is the fear of leaks (5.00 / 3) (#104)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 01:01:24 AM EST
    that keeps people from doing their worst.  I will always remember how Iraq was conducted in the early days.....anything goes and anything went, until people started finding out about it.  If things are leak proof, corruption and lawlessness quickly become the norm.

    Gonna sound like a CTer ... (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by Robot Porter on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 12:54:42 PM EST
    but so be it.  The whole Wikileaks thing looks spooked up.  Both Assange and Manning are perfect examples of different intel asset types.  And there's an orchestrated feel to the whole thing.

    From where I sit, things are not what they seem; milk masquerades as cream.

    Heavy... (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 01:25:55 PM EST
    not sure if there is any smoke there, but I like how you think.

    Your theory would certainly explain why the guy hasn't died under mysterious circumstances.


    Iran? (none / 0) (#28)
    by pitachips on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 02:32:52 PM EST

    What should chill people to the bone (5.00 / 7) (#18)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 01:31:40 PM EST
    is the cooperation and unity of purpose that exists now to a great extent between the government and establishment "journalists" and media outlets - all to allow the government to continue to operate in the dark.

    As someone who has been following this, mainly via Glenn, listening to Yellin not so much trying to get answers, but to perpetuate - with Fran Townsend's assistance - the message that Assange is a terrorist, that he is a criminal, that he has indiscriminately dumped classified material was just mind-boggling.  I thought it interesting that Yellin showed the Biden clip where he called Assange a "high-tech terrorist," but neglected to "report" that the day before, Biden had said there was no indication that the release of the cables had caused any damage.  Conventional wisdom is that someone had a little come-to-Jesus meeting with Biden and then sent him out to spread the message about Assange-as-terrorist.

    And, as Glenn mentioned in passing in the clip, and as he mentions in his post - who is Townsend to talk about Assange-as-terrorist when she worked for two men and and an administration that one could make a cogent argument committed actual war crimes?  Who approved torture and warrantless surveillance and black-site prisons and held hundreds of people it knew were innocent for years with no access to legal representation?


    The government has thoroughly co-opted "journalists" and media outlets to the point where it's hard to listen or read without the term "propaganda" coming to mind.

    That's exactly what I find the most telling (5.00 / 4) (#89)
    by ruffian on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 08:30:56 PM EST
    I think it's time to review Stephen Colbert's address to the WH correspondents dinner wherein he called them out as stenographers.

    It's always time to review (5.00 / 2) (#102)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 12:14:22 AM EST
    Colbert's fabulous address. No excuses needed, IMO.

    Nothing new (none / 0) (#35)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:02:31 PM EST
    Even the NY Times, when push comes to shove, will support the Administation then in power on issues of national security and foreign policy.

    The Pentagon Papers were an anomaly--and came late in the game after the American Public and Walter Cronkite had turned against the War.

    The Golden Rules applies.


    Agree, especially about (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by brodie on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:26:20 PM EST
    the unique PP case.  By 1971, even most of the former hawks (with a few notable exceptions like LBJ and Rusk) were saying the War was a mistake, now let's try to see how we managed to get into that mess.

    But Anne is right to note how the "government" works to co-opt the media to get them to publish propaganda.  Been going on for a long while, not just recently since Bush Jr or Obama.  

    Presidential admins have longed sought to massage or manage the press.  And we know how the Pentagon and CIA have also, for many decades now, sought to manage the news by infiltrating their people into news orgs or otherwise by assigning "asset" status to a number of bought-off journos.


    Not even necessary to co-opt directly (5.00 / 1) (#101)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 12:13:09 AM EST
    if you understand how today's media works.  Send the VP out to call Assange a "terrorist," and every media outlet in the country will press guests about that characterization because it's sensational and over-the-top.  Mission accomplished.

    One former NY Times reporter (none / 0) (#56)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 04:09:14 PM EST
    now with Fox by the name of Judy Miller comes to mind.....

    Where would Cheney be without her?  Maybe we would not be Iraq....


    Ellsberg was also (none / 0) (#114)
    by jondee on Mon Jan 17, 2011 at 04:03:42 PM EST
    taking it to a lot of other papers, so the Times scoop-greed came into play.

    You left out (none / 0) (#91)
    by BackFromOhio on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 09:17:10 PM EST
    the outing of Valerie Plame.

    I think GLenn Greenwald made mincemeat out of Fran T, and also showed up the CNN moderator -- whom Glenn kept reminding of her claim to be a journalist.  Shame on Biden for allowing himself to be such a patsy; he should know better -- or has the national memory of the 1950s been erased?  DOes no one take out a moral compass any more and use it to draw a line?


    The CNN host was more (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by KeysDan on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 01:33:38 PM EST
    irritating to me than Fran Townsend. After all, Fran was just being Fran, your basic Bush hack.  Glenn's most sanguine point for the CNN audience was that publishing the secret information was not against the law and indeed, it is a part of investigative journalism.

    While implicit, Glenn might have explicitly underscored that Assange was not the leaker, but the publisher; the campaign to discredit has successfully conflated the two. Although, Eric Holder is apparently in the midst of a grand jury process, in Northern Virginia, investigating conspiracy with the leakers.

    Of course, conspiracy is always a tough one to nail, but a grand jury indictment would serve the administration which, based on Biden's "closer to terrorism than Pentagon Papers", is not amused.

    What is the strategy and what are (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by oculus on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:55:11 PM EST
    the goals of WikiLeaks?  (I don't want to open their website).  Thank you.

    Why not? (none / 0) (#59)
    by Faust on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 05:05:03 PM EST
    Paranoia. (none / 0) (#60)
    by oculus on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 05:09:07 PM EST
    If (none / 0) (#72)
    by lentinel on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 06:15:42 PM EST
    paranoia is justified, is it still paranoia?

    no, not from (none / 0) (#95)
    by BackFromOhio on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 09:38:31 PM EST
    a clinical vantage point.

    JA has written on this (none / 0) (#66)
    by waldenpond on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 05:51:24 PM EST
    You don't have to go to his site.... I don't think his writings are up on it but, if interested you could search for his writings on these topics and I have seen a couple of videos....  the first lie that won't die is that JA (individual blame rather than WL) dumps data without regard and I think the second one that will not die is that he is not a journalist because he doesn't write (but he does, so eh, go figure).... the goal of the site is additionally security.... an anonymous way to get out data as whistleblowers are often attacked not protected.

    I would sum up a part of his philosophy as 'open govt, individual privacy'


    I don't mean (none / 0) (#71)
    by lentinel on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 06:13:06 PM EST
    make an assumption - but I wonder if the reason that you don't want to open the Wikileaks website is because of patriot-act-inspired fear of some kind of government reprisal or invasion of your privacy.

    I know that those thoughts have crossed my mind.


    Tempting to see if they would come (none / 0) (#74)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 06:21:35 PM EST
    Would be an interesting test.

    Maybe... (none / 0) (#78)
    by lentinel on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 06:35:10 PM EST
    but the thing about it is that you wouldn't know if they were putting you under surveillance or monitoring your emails or telephone calls.

    Makes me feel real safe, though.


    If they were monitoring me (none / 0) (#80)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 06:41:20 PM EST
    they would fall asleep....Maybe that would deter them from other abuses....

    Not me. (none / 0) (#87)
    by lentinel on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 07:41:32 PM EST
    I've got some very exciting stuff going on.
    They'd be clamoring to be my monitor.

    Then you should (none / 0) (#84)
    by dead dancer on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 07:06:38 PM EST
    install Tor
    and go see or yourself.

    Haven't we passed the time when "journalist" had much to do with how data/information/news is distributed. Most journalists are hacks.

    Would this have played out differently had Assange not been singled out?


    When (5.00 / 0) (#68)
    by lentinel on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 06:04:35 PM EST
    the "anchor" tells of Assange's book deal, she says he is being paid, "One point three MILLION dollars".

    The intro is so biased against Assange.
    What a set-up.

    I wonder what emphasis she would put on the amount we spend every week on the war in Afghanistan. "Two point five BILLION dollars"... It is to laugh.

    Journalism is at a true all time low.
    CNN is as low as FOX as MSNBC as CBS as NBC as ABC and the rest of the herd of money-grubbing upwardly mobile hack emporia.

    Happy Holidays.

    Had a good laugh (5.00 / 2) (#81)
    by NYShooter on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 06:45:29 PM EST
    I haven't tuned in network, or cable, "news" in a long time due to the many reasons already cited here. But, for some reason, I caught a glimpse on CNN (or CNBC) the other day and was treated to banality as an form the likes of which surprised even me.


    "Reporter" A, making a statement of some significance such as, "President Obama was observed whispering to one of his National Security Advisors, and overheard that he had decided to go to war with Iran."

    "Reporter" B, "Yes, I happened to see that, and noticed that whenever Pres. Obama is talking about National Security matters he tilts his head to the left and blinks several times."

    "Reporter" A, "You know, that's interesting, because I, too have noticed that Presidents in general have these mannerisms when discussing secret matters."

    "Reporter" B, "You're right, George Bush had a way of humming silently just before making a comment on security issues, and so did Jimmy Carter."

    "Reporter" A, "Well, I guess its understandable that when such important issues are weighing on a President that they assume certain unique characteristics."

    "Reporter" B, "How fascinating!" and, after the next break we'll be bringing you the latest weather drama in the Northwest."

    And, "going to war with Iran?"

    Not a word.

    Come on, Tent, time to have an opinion (none / 0) (#1)
    by Dadler on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 11:34:25 AM EST
    You cannot possibly stand with the irrational and dishonest and useless windbags hoping to send Assange to the metaphorical and literal gallows. Glen utterly kicked their asses and easily exposed that there is ZERO intellectual substance to either the media or their lackey arguments on this issue.

    I don't care how hawkish you are on Afghanistan, you cannot sit on the fence here, now post up again and make a move.

    I have an opinion on that (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 11:45:43 AM EST
    It is ridiculous.

    Wikileaks broke no laws. Assange on Wikileaks is clearly acting within the law.

    Any journalist not defending him and Wikileaks on the leaks issue is a hack, and they all seem to be hacks.

    I am unsure about THE STRATEGY Assange is using here for what his stated goals are.

    Those are different things.

    Assange and Wikileaks do not need me to agree with their strategy. They do need people to stand up for their rights.

    I do that.


    What other strategy options (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by oldpro on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 12:03:26 PM EST
    are there?

    What might be more effective in drawing the public's attention to governments lying and covering up than publishing them 'in their own words?'


    I'm not sure (none / 0) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 12:08:31 PM EST
    That's why I have not written on the subject.

    I don't understand why he's (none / 0) (#8)
    by observed on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 12:24:25 PM EST
    holding on to the BOA stuff.

    SL works with large outlets (none / 0) (#23)
    by waldenpond on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 01:51:37 PM EST
    WL doesn't publish alone now.  Der Speigel, NYT etc need time to research the data and decide what to use, get sources and write articles.

    WL was criticized for not doing enough research and editorials on their data.


    Is it known that he's (none / 0) (#24)
    by observed on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 01:56:00 PM EST
    given them the BOA leaks?

    "people to stand up for their rights" (none / 0) (#26)
    by Andreas on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 01:58:13 PM EST
    Any journalist not defending him and Wikileaks on the leaks issue is a hack, and they all seem to be hacks. ...
    Assange and Wikileaks do not need me to agree with their strategy. They do need people to stand up for their rights.

    I do that.


    ... That's why I have not written on the subject.

    Correct. BTD still has not written a word about the ruthless attempts by the Democratic Obama regime and the Republicans to silence Julian Assange. I am not surprised.


    Assange has not committed a crime-- (none / 0) (#30)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 02:51:27 PM EST
    that is a good point....

    But that does not mean that any administration would not have a valid interest in keeping their diplomatic cables confidential.  Some secrecy is needed for diplomacy.  All lawyers would know that.

    The leaking of the cables has no apparent purpose other than to embarrass the State Department.  Just general mischief.

    And, it is not just Obama but Hillary who has problems with this too....


    I think your attack on BTD is (none / 0) (#92)
    by BackFromOhio on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 09:21:40 PM EST
    unfair; by posting the GLenn Greenwald video here, BTD has educated myself and many others, through the voice of an expert who spoke quite eloquently.  Sometimes the essence of smarts is to delegate to other very smart people.

    Except where he (none / 0) (#2)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 11:41:27 AM EST
    compared Assange to Bob Woodward.  

    Not even close.


    Right, Assange is not (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by observed on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 11:44:46 AM EST
    an as$-licking, war-mongering hypocrite.

    Or a journalist (2.00 / 1) (#5)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 11:46:00 AM EST
    Define journalist (5.00 / 0) (#10)
    by Faust on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 12:29:13 PM EST

    You may be right (2.00 / 1) (#20)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 01:36:36 PM EST
    But the comparisons (IMO) are based on Woodward in the days of Watergate.

    And if Assange is a journalist, as oldpro points out, why hold onto the BoA stuff as leverage?  A real journalist would put it all out there - not hold information hostage.


    Maybe all the information isn't in... (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 01:49:09 PM EST
    maybe he has people poring over it to make sense of it, maybe he's protecting the sources who provided it - there could be any number of reasons, and one of them certainly could be that it is insurance of a sort.

    Whatever the reasons for not disclosing what has been provided to him, it hasn't stopped BoA from shutting down people's ability to donate to Wikileaks; what's next - effectively steering your money to companies BoA wants you to do business with by making it impossible for you to do business as you wish and not allowing you the courtesy of making your own decisions?

    All I can say is, Bank of America may have more - and worse - secrets than the government does, and I wouldn't be at all shocked to find out they were in on a lot of it together.

    You could not pay me enough money to have accounts there or at any of the major banks.


    Then again (2.00 / 1) (#25)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 01:56:16 PM EST
    If all the information isn't in, how and why is it holding it out there for leverage?

    I despise the big banks as much as anyone, but frankly, after all his posturing, I hope it turns out to be a big fat nothing.


    I find it interesting that, rather than be (5.00 / 3) (#31)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 02:52:54 PM EST
    upset or outraged or chilled by the way in which the government and the banks are going after Assange, you're more irritated by his "posturing" about the information Wikileaks has on a major bank that is thought to be Bank of America.

    Given that we are now a nation whose government puts out contracts on those it considers terrorists, and that our government has gone out of its way - with the able assistance of its propaganda media outlets - to flood that media with a decidedly one-sided picture of who Assange is and what Wikileaks is all about, not hesitating to call him a terrorist, I can't say that I blame Assange for "posturing" or anything else that would make it harder for him to be disposed of or disappeared.

    For my money, I would love to see the entire financial industry exposed for the vampire squid they are - and I think the more we know about what the government is doing, the better; at a minimum, it would be nice if the powers that be did not feel they could act with impunity.

    It may, however, be more important to you that Julian Assange be shut down, at least until he finds a more acceptable way to peel back the curtain - maybe when he gets a CNN gig, he'll have more credibility for you.

    To each his own, I guess.  


    You assume (none / 0) (#34)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 02:59:58 PM EST
    that Assange has done absolutely nothing wrong.  I think he may have.

    C'est la vie.


    Sorry (none / 0) (#21)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 01:39:02 PM EST
    it was observed's well, observation, about the BoA stuff.

    Assange is acting as a journalist (none / 0) (#32)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 02:55:35 PM EST
    Maybe not a very good one, but he is performing that role when he publishes leaks from the government.

    The seeming randomness of the leaks....and perhaps withholding other information that might be relevant....would indicate that Assange is simply not a very good journalist....  


    He's a hacker (2.00 / 1) (#33)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 02:58:45 PM EST
    And to say he has committed no crimes is pretty definitive when you have no idea.  Especially as leaking classified information about a current war certainly may be a crime.

    Didn't watch the clip, did you? (5.00 / 3) (#43)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:29:23 PM EST
    It isn't a crime to publish material - classified or otherwise - that one did not directly obtain from the government.

    Those "anonymous" government sources who regularly feed the NYT and the WaPo information they are not authorized to?  They are the ones who may be committing crimes - the outlets to whom that information is given and which publish it are not.

    You echo the nonsense coming from the likes of Fran Townsend, for heaven's sake; she has a vested interest in perpetuating these kinds of lies - what's your excuse?


    Hmmm... (1.00 / 1) (#46)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:37:56 PM EST
    Since he received his information from a United States Army private - isn't that "the government"?

    And you have already declared him to be absolved of all bad things when no one, I repeat NO ONE knows the whole story.  Takes "innocent until proven guilty" to a whole new level - where you can't even conceive the possibility that something is wrong here.

    Of course, if one is going to leak documents that are going to make powerful governments angry, then one should expect that said governments might retaliate and go after one.  The whining now that everyone is being mean to him is ludicrous.

    He is not a hero.  He's just looking to cash in  (see his reported book deal, anyone?).

    If he was truly doing this for good and a belief in transparency, he would have released them all in one dump - not held them back, not held a "poison pill" (as he has done).  But this is all about him and what he can get out of it.

    But I don't expect anyone around here to see it, and instead will blindly continue the hero worship.


    Hero worship? (5.00 / 1) (#58)
    by waldenpond on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 04:46:31 PM EST
    ahahaha!  OK, I will ignore that your own paragraphs were completely contradictory but your last sentence made me laugh...

    Assange is clearly a flawed human being.... but he's only a part of a growing system that is merely showing how flawed govts are.  WL is new but not so new as the USians are trying to portray.  Some  USians have such a flawed view of themselves and pretend that WL hasn't been releasing data for several years now... just noticed because they can't deal with how corrupt their govt is and have to keep pointing at the shiny object that is Assange.


    Assange doesn't work for the (5.00 / 1) (#61)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 05:11:00 PM EST
    US government; he did not come into possession of whatever materials he has because HE had direct access and HE took, printed, copied them, but because someone else gave the material to him.

    Much as Dana Priest got the information she got to expose the black site prisons, and James Risen and Eric Lichtblau got the information on the government's warrantless surveillance program from people who worked for the government and had access to the information.

    How do you not see that Assange and Wikileaks came by the information THE SAME WAY people who write for major media did?  How do you not know that what Wikileaks did not publish material that had not already been published in major US and foreign newspapers?  How do you not know that Assange sought the advice of the US government - they refused to assist - before publishing the material to make sure he redacted anything that might put lives in danger?

    Oh, that's right - you don't really care about the facts, just making assumptions about Assange.

    I have not absolved him of anything, but then again, he hasn't been charged with anything, despite the best efforts of the government that is supposed to live by "innocent until proven guilty" to paint him as guilty of the most heinous of crimes.  Your government seems to have lost its grasp on that most basic of concepts, and the media are being, for the most part, complicit in the wholesale damnation of someone who has not been charged with anything.

    As for his "cashing in," when the full force of the government is after you, when the banks have banded together to deny you the ability to make a living, how would you suggest he pay for his considerable legal fees?  Oh, wait, I know: he should have thought of that before he did what he did, right?

    As for releasing everything in one huge mass "if he was truly doing this for good," that comes close to being one of the most ridiculous things I've heard yet, but entirely in keeping with someone who clearly has not bothered to spend any time at all on learning the facts.

    Give me a break.


    No doubt (none / 0) (#62)
    by sj on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 05:17:35 PM EST
    If he had "released them all in one dump", that would have been an argument for how careless and irresponsible he was.  So much twisting into logic pretzels to justify what amounts to a personal disapproval.  

    Actually, I support your views (none / 0) (#53)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:53:24 PM EST
    on the Assange leaks generally more than you might think.

    I agree:

        (1) That keeping government cables classified can serve a valid purpose;

       (2)  The leaks in this case do not speak well for Assange--he appears motivated by fame, not true concern about any issue;

       (3)  That the leaks apparently harm U.S. diplomatic efforts.

    Many here would not agree.  

    But there are no facts suggesting that Assange is guilty of any crime.   All we know is that he published the leaked cables.....That is not a crime...


    Glenn G - made (none / 0) (#93)
    by BackFromOhio on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 09:35:56 PM EST
    clear that there is no evidence that Assange committed a crime.  Assange has his government sources, and the NY Times and WAPO have theirs, but, as much as the government may be embarrassed by the 'leaks' reported in those papers, it does not accuse them of crimes because they don't commit them.  Assange is in same position.

    This whole uproar over Assange reminds me of the uproar about Sarah Palin, etc., in that the uproar itself is more of an issue that what has been done, said or leaked.  The U.S. Government is acting very threatened by all this.  Shortly after the last group of leaked docs published by Asssange, an Asst Secretary of State under Powell was interviewed by the cable new (can't recall if it was MSNBC or CNN) and said that most of the leaked "information" was not even information, and would do very little if any meaningful damage tothe U.S.


    Assange hasn't leaked a thing (5.00 / 0) (#44)
    by sj on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:31:11 PM EST
    He has published.  So while leaking classified information about a current (undeclared) war may be a crime, he has not committed it.

    Okay, perhaps Eric Holder (none / 0) (#36)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:08:19 PM EST
    can prove that Assange was actually involved in engineering the leaks from gov't computers....Seems doubtful but anything is possible.

    But at the moment, we only know that Assange published--not leaked--but published various cables.  That is not a crime.....


    Which (none / 0) (#41)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:27:49 PM EST
    makes him not a journalist. It makes him a conduit.

    Thank you for proving my original point.

    Oh, and for Romberry and the "2" rating - Assange IS a hacker, which means, that yes, he HAS committed crimes.


    You know what a conduit is in connection (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:40:51 PM EST
    with the news, right?  A publisher.....

    You are making no sense here...


    Look up the definition of "journalist" (none / 0) (#63)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 05:19:22 PM EST
    Psst...it includes having something to do with creating your own work - not just posting crap on a website.

    Oh dear (5.00 / 2) (#64)
    by sj on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 05:26:23 PM EST
    Then there are even fewer journalists than I had realized.

    Everyone has committed crimes... (none / 0) (#50)
    by sj on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:46:30 PM EST
    ... to greater or lesser degrees.  Sometimes one gets caught.  And apparently he has conviction of some sort and paid a small fine.

    So what?


    And (none / 0) (#42)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 03:28:55 PM EST
    The only information we have about a supposed grand jury being convened in Alexandria, VA by Eric Holder comes from Assange's own attorney.

    Maybe it's true, but I wouldn't necessarily bet the farm on what his lawyer says to the media.


    only basis on which (none / 0) (#94)
    by BackFromOhio on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 09:37:44 PM EST
    U.S. could accuse Assange of a crime is coerced testimony from Brian Manning, who, as we know from TL post a few days ago, is being held in solitary 23 hours per day, etc., without having been charged himself.  

    Assange is as involved as (none / 0) (#97)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 10:03:45 PM EST
    the driver of the get away car in a bank robbery is involved.

    Uh, no (5.00 / 1) (#103)
    by Harry Saxon on Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 12:33:50 AM EST
    otherwise the NYT, WaPo, etc., could be held as guilty as well for publishing classified information without authorization which they have done in the past.

    As pointed out here, from www.lossofprivacy(dot)com:

    This is, unfortunately, what a failure journalism has become. The journalist here is woefully ignorant and/or misinformed on the topic at hand. It must be noted that Julian Assange has committed no crime despite the fact that the US government wants to label him a terrorist. News outlets publish top secret information every day. It's not a crime. That's what investigative journalism does and, yet, we do not see the New York Times being labeled a terrorist organization. No one at CNN has done any significant research, including the fact that Julian Assange has not even been arrested in regards to the leaked cables.

    Click Me


    More Assange fun! (none / 0) (#65)
    by jbindc on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 05:27:25 PM EST
    How Wikileaks Just Set Back Democracy in Zimbabwe.

    So glad he is all about truth and justice (cough) for the world and not about his own wallet!  He is serving democracy and freedom!  (Oh, wait....)

    The people of Zimbabwe thank and hail Julian Assange!

    Somehow, I knew you'd be hard at (5.00 / 2) (#67)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 06:02:49 PM EST
    work, digging up "proof" of Assange's evil ways...it probably never occurs to you to question the motive of the media that's doing the same thing, does it?



    Media is just lazy (none / 0) (#70)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 06:07:45 PM EST
    is what I would assume....

    If they are deliberatley covering for B of A wrongdoing, that would be a very good story indeed.  If Assange has that, he should publish it....


    Isn't that what many here do with Obama? (none / 0) (#73)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 06:19:52 PM EST
    Strain at a gnat to find fault?  Cavalierly cavil at anything and everything Obama....

    I note the tendentious process you decry in this instance is widespread here.


    Maybe (5.00 / 1) (#76)
    by sj on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 06:28:15 PM EST
    But there are also those here who are straining just as hard to find virtue.  That's pretty widespread here as well.

    If you are referring to moi (none / 0) (#79)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 06:37:04 PM EST
    no sale....

    I have criticized Obama here on policy.  Specifically, I criticized Obama here on the oil drilling plan--pre-spill--and did so quite vehemently.  I have said I do not agree with the tax plan and I have said that the stimulus was too small or too tilted towards tax cuts.

    What I found unreal was the refusal by many here to give Obama any credit over DADT repeal....and to try to diminish its importance....Truly Orwellian....


    Why? (none / 0) (#106)
    by sj on Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 09:44:00 AM EST
    Were you referring to moi?  

    I never assumed so.  I assumed your comment was general.  As mine was.  If you wanted to make a pointed comment, then just make one.


    I think you truly (none / 0) (#96)
    by BackFromOhio on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 09:41:07 PM EST
    overstate your case.

    Of course (none / 0) (#77)
    by ks on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 06:31:48 PM EST
    But note the focus.  "Democracy" has been damaged not because the opposition's bad double dealing but because it's been exposed. Backwards as usual.  Also note that the poosition's cynical ploy seemed to more of a political power play than a plan to implement eventual democratic reforms.

    As a strategy, wouldn't it have made more sense for the opposition to "bring home the bacon" so to speak and try to get the sanctions lessened and/or removed and thereby being consistent with their popular internal political stance and showing that they, not Mugabe, can work with the internantional community?  But instead they secretly pushed for the continuance of upopular sanctions, that they opposed at home, in what seemed to have been a plan to get into office faster...and of course institute those..eventual...always eventual...democratic reforms.


    And somehow I knew (none / 0) (#108)
    by jbindc on Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 11:04:44 AM EST
    That once again, it's all about persecuting poor misunderstood Julian who is just there to fight for the little guy.

    The hogwash - it burns.


    It DOES burn... (5.00 / 1) (#112)
    by sj on Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 02:31:53 PM EST
    ... you should be more careful with your virtual esophagus.

    I think you have a point here (5.00 / 2) (#69)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 06:05:35 PM EST
    Assange's publishing of the emails definitely has a downside.....but no apparent upside....

    andgarden in essence said above that leaking classified information should have some clear benefit, else it be just nefarious mischief....

    I certainly don't think of Assange as heroic but neither do I think he is guilty of a crime....There is a lot of room in between.


    I think what you meant to type was (5.00 / 3) (#88)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 08:04:26 PM EST
    How the NYT set back democracy:

    I do think that Wikileaks is not only a net good for transparency but the future of the medium. However, I think people should incorporate the potential setback for democracy in Zimbabwe, based on a Wikileaks cable, into their analysis. Important caveats to the story: the treason charges against opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, based entirely on that cable, have been dropped, and it was the New York Times, not Wikileaks, who made the decision to publish the cable. So you have to say that the Times set back democracy in Zimbabwe if you want to be accurate (and you have to recognize the fact that Mugabe hardliners would use any pretext to muscle out Tsvangirai).

    My emphasis.

    Not Wikileaks - The New York Times.


    Well that was impartial (none / 0) (#75)
    by waldenpond on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 06:21:53 PM EST
    The leak was from Nov so what's happened?  Looks like nothing.

    Here's a link to a BBC article.  Oops... I don't think the US shares your portrayal that Tsvangirai is the harbinger of democracy you claim.

    The article links to a NYT piece that erroneously links to Karzai cables.  Will provide a non-wiki link to the actual cable if I can find one for those of you that are paranoid.


    Still, it smacks of a junior high school stunt (5.00 / 1) (#82)
    by MKS on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 06:50:55 PM EST
    Like throwing the fire alarm and watching with glee at the ensuing commotion.  Maybe no one is harmed (knock on wood and as is hopefully the case in Africa) but is any good really served?

    And at minimun it would appear that a few Foreign Service Officers have been emabarrassed, which means their careers are probably over.  And for what?

    Knowing Gaddafi has a mistress is worth it all?  This is tabloid titillation.  Not wistle-blowing....


    Exactly (5.00 / 3) (#83)
    by andgarden on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 06:54:47 PM EST
    There's a faulty premise that any leak is a good leak. That notion is not only obviously false, but fundamentally undermined by this very episode.

    I don't want to know (5.00 / 1) (#85)
    by waldenpond on Tue Dec 28, 2010 at 07:12:46 PM EST
    I don't get people who live in denialism.  It's one thing I would never care to listen to an explanation for.

    Tsvangirai was actually effecting his people with international policy using strategic political pressure of maintaining sanctions to create change.... the people now have the opportunity of discussing sanctions, discussing the potential of different leaders, but if you consider having a blonde mistress the equivalency of sanctions and want to call it tabloid.... ok, sure.

    You look at the disclosure of a mistress as tabloid, I look at it as an example of US govt incompetence and yet another demonstration it is wasting my money on effing bullsh@t.


    Have you ever listened to (none / 0) (#100)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 12:07:58 AM EST
    what she's had to say on a wide range of national security subjects on CNN in the last year?

    Dick Cheney is criminal scum of the lowest order, IMHO, and I'm more than slightly inclined to discount anything anybody who's ever voluntarily associated wit him says.  But Townsend has overwhelmingly been thoughtful and moderate in her appearances on CNN, to my very great surprise. (caveat, I've not watched her set-to with Greenwald, which could certainly be an exception)

    I reccomend you do so (none / 0) (#107)
    by Harry Saxon on Wed Dec 29, 2010 at 10:18:07 AM EST
    at your earliest convenience.