« Freedom of Speech | Main | National Security Journal Blog - 6 December 2010 »

05 December 2010

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Medicine Man

I can't speculate on why the political right is hypocritical on this issue, but I have a theory I like on why the chattering classes are in a froth; it is an infringement on their turf.

In days bygone, the press got to decide how information like this got leaked to the public; what got held back, how the story would be massaged or spun, and what access/favors would be traded for that spin. Assange is middle-manning them out of the picture.

JTCornpone

I completely agree with the sentiments expressed in your post. I am writing only to call your attention to an interesting article in the WP by Baruch Weiss. (Blood pressure alert-he is one of the lawyers who got the AIPAC guys off). Anyway apparently there is no law which states simply that it's illegal for anyone to release classified information. Here is a link:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/12/03/AR2010120303267.html

The article describes the difficulties encountered in prosecuting such cases.

Please keep up the good work.

JT

Fred

Scooter Libby outing a CIA agent was a-okay with the right, especially as it helped sell that unnecessary war. I believe they still want a pardon for Libby. And don't forget Robert Novak, his employers and publishers.

Retired (once-Serving)Patriot

I think the chatterers are so upset because, in this instance, they are not in control of the dribble of half-truths and innuendo coming from their numerous anonymous sources. Sources that almost always are their very good friends and colleagues.

Funny that. Journalists are among the loudest critics of the issue and Assange's actions. Yet, when their hostages - er, readers - complain about low information value and the hidden identities of quoted officials, these self-same journalists tell us to take it on faith, that they have the People's best interest at heart and that absolutely, positively they are not influenced by their corporate bosses. And to assure us that the millions they earn in no way makes themselves any different than the average person.

Most disturbing to me is the use of this most recent disclosure to call for outright assassination, rendition/ torture and government takeover / harassment of legitimate web service providers. And the intimidation of citizens who may seek to view what their government is doing in their collective names. And the spinning of self-referential and circular information to amp up the rhetoric for yet another war in SW Asia.

I don't know if Assange believes he is as much a revolutionary as Bin Laden, but his indirect action, his global guerrilla style (a la John Robb), could very well have as deep an impact on our nation as the over-reaction to Bin Ladenism has had.

RP

batondor

for precision: NOC = Non Official Cover...

I have been struggling with this issue and may have some comment... but I last week I saw "Fair Game", the reenactment of the Joe Wilson / Valerie Plame saga and can recommend it for its balance (i.e., Joe Wilson is pretentious and Libby is allowed to 'make his case' is rational terms... though I have no doubts about who was 'right' and who was 'wrong'...). I'd be curious what you and the others think of it, Pat...

William R. Cumming

Well the assessment of longterm damage may be different than the assessment of short term damage by the leaks.

Let me know when any specific policies or personalities have been changed as a result of the leaks?

Anna-Marina

As an émigré, I am fascinated with the coming out of well-articulated American ideas which mirror the dissident voices of the former USSR. “The mass of those who serve systems of terrible oppression and state crime are not evil. They are weak.” In other words, they are cowards. The awakening in the US is going to be very painful, and the majority will refuse to reason – mostly because of inconvenience (intellectual dishonesty).
http://www.truthdig.com/report/page2/happy_as_a_hangman_20101206/

jon

Precisely as you say.

Perhaps a great deal of the hostility from pundits, officials and Villagers is that they perceive this as an intrusion on their own chattering, which only they are permitted to selectively release for their own gain.

I think the USG should take pride in the quality of these raw communications, which mainly serve to shed perspective and color on the operations and personalities of the governments we do business with. I wonder how this compares with other governments' product?

No one appreciates having their gossip and private conversations aired in public. But the harm should be slight. After all, the host governments, who are the subject of these missives, should be well aware of what they have done and how it is perceived. It's only the public that this will come to as news and a shock.

Farmer Don

The saying is "The media can't tell you what to think, but it can tell you what to think about".
With the leaks this is no longer the case for a while.

I'm one of the weak ones Anna-Marina mentions. Was going to close my amazon and paypal accounts to protest, but didn't because even this little action would bother my life style too much. Think I might just sent WikiLeaks a US$ donation by check instead.

dh

"What I cannot understand is how the chattering classes, especially those of the conservative bent do not see the hypocrisy of damning WikiLeaks while with full throats they overwhelmingly supported this country foolishly choosing to start two completely unnecessary wars of choice."

Short attention spans I think. What I hear is we've got the wars....OK now we have to win them.

Roy G

Juan Cole has an excellent column today, where he states the obvious – that the AIPAC spy scandal is equivalent to Wikileaks, yet the Assassinate Assange Mob has been totally silent about it:

"Whether the allegations about AIPAC routine spying are true or not, Rosen and Weissman certainly did exactly the same thing Julian Assange did, and yet they are free men...You have to love hypocrisy when it is taken to this Himalyan scale. It has a kind of putrid beauty."

http://www.juancole.com/

William R. Cumming

Leslie Gelb being reported as saying the leaks helpful because it shows a competent foreign service! Respectfully disagree!

Mark Gaughan

Pat,
You're right on the money.
Mark

b

Part of Assnage's plan is to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the ruling classes of the various nation states.

The U.S. ruling class and others have fallen for it.

A little quiz. Who said this?

We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas. And we recognize that the world’s information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it. Now, this challenge may be new, but our responsibility to help ensure the free exchange of ideas goes back to the birth of our republic.

And who said this?
The more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable. They can begin to think for themselves.

A cookie each for the first three who get this little quiz right without using Google.

WP

Sometimes bureaucrats just cannot help themselves. You government workers and prospective government workers, listen to momma, hear no evil, see not evil, speak no evil, child, just do not even look at those vile things!>

Imagine the stupidity of this command! I do not think I would hire any student of diplomacy who had not real all of them. They are a wonderful case study of the diplomatic Art(?).

I am just waiting for some idealistic and unwise congressional intern revolted by the corruption in Congress to find the boss's personal email program open (the one used to raise campaign funds) and to hit CTR+A and then forward the mass of emails to a wide distribution list during lunch one afternoon. Then we will find out the quid's pro quo for selling out the country over the last few years and also discover how absurdly low was the market price of a bailout of the financial industry.

robt willmann

Yes.

One of the first things that came to mind was the "outing" of CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson, blowing her cover in order to retaliate against her husband for speaking out against the Iraq invasion and perhaps for even more nefarious reasons. It was said that she worked on the issue of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. Compromising or destroying any of her informant networks or activities related to nuclear proliferation puts those involved in her outing right at the top of the list of bad actors.

I have read -- but have not checked out the reasoning behind -- an article I read that said that a reason president Bush jr. did not pardon Irving Lewis "Scooter" Libby was that if he did so, Libby would no longer be able to assert his 5th Amendment right to remain silent regarding some issues related to his case, and therefore Bush was protecting himself by not issuing a full pardon. However, I have not researched the point and so I don't know if it is valid.

The federal government's hypocrisy is monstrous, in that it discloses "classified" and "top secret" information regularly as it desires in order to influence public opinion or otherwise. By giving itself the "authority" to make secret what it wants to, it can play how it likes to. Remember Colin Powell's pathetic snake oil sales act before the United Nations security council to help gin up the invasion of Iraq in 2003? Was everything he said and displayed previously in the public domain? And Bob Woodward with his books devoid of references and footnotes claiming to tell the inside story; does he deal in "secret" information? I don't recall ever seeing on C-Span television any of the meetings he likes to describe.

Showing that the emperor has no clothes and is just another ordinary person with no more "power" than others consent to give him or her is something a government fears more than rumblings of rebellion, because when people no longer cooperate and ridicule those who claim "authority" only because others let them, the game of oppression is over and you are once again free.

Medicine Man

Donate to Wikileaks? Just because Assange is making certain well-coiffed, media narcissists squirm, doesn't mean he is a heroic revolutionary.

Norbert M. Salamon

I find it FUNNY that 91 out of 25000+ dispatches should cause so much NOISE, often illogical, unlawful, and totally beside the point.

The problem is not WICKIELEAKS, the problem is the misbegotten
USA Foreign policy of the last 30 years or so, married with a suicidal economic behavoir; which since 1980 or so has became the world's largest PONZI SCHEMA - for there is no possible way that the USA taxpayer could honor all the debt incurred by the political class [Federal, State, County, Miniipal], never mind the private debts nor the funding problems of promises.

All the teeth gnashing in MSM and Political class is but an attempt to sideline rational discussion of the future of USA - a subject vorboten under the freedom of speech segment of the Bill of Rights.

Brent Wiggans

Information can be viewed as a kind of commodity. Ordinary spying and even disinformation campaigns such as the successful effort to gain public acquiescence for the invasion of Iraq are normal features of trafficking in information. A massive dump of information whose shear size makes it difficult to discern its overall shape and whose myriad potential effects render the dumper’s true motives unclear threatens to destabilize the market in this commodity. While the U.S. government happens to be the chump whose secrets got blabbed all over the street this time, I doubt that anyone is feeling very secure about things that have been said and done whose value derives to any extend from the control they assumed they would have over their dissemination.

PS

Every time I start to have the slightest sympathy for Wikileaks, they do something like the latest release on cables that identify U.S. national security targets. What was the public interest in that? There have been reporters who dug into the excesses of the homeland security mania, such as states that designated shopping malls as potential terrorism targets in order to get their share of the DHS feeding frenzy. But in those cases reporters printed the absurd and didn't list the real threats with specific locations. When the terrorists blow up one of the world's two largest insulin factories, that won't be any fun for our ever-increasing diabetic population.

flite

Amidst all the histrionics and hyperbole, the sane and simple logic of yours shines brightly. Thank you.

walrus

I've just realised what this contest between the U.S. Government and Wikileaks is all about....

If the Government can make an example of Assange and Wikileaks right now, then they can censor any American or Foreign journalist, anywhere, anytime, without changing the law or raising First Amendment rights issues in a court.

Phil Giraldi

My problem is that the definition of classified is so elastic. When George Tenet set out to write his book he was given a secure room at SAIC and access to all his "papers" from his time as DCI. His book was a for profit venture and he freely used classified material. He made $4 million off the book. Juan Cole's point about Rosen and Weissman is also absolutely on target. If you ause classified information to attack the ruling class you are in trouble. If you are part of the ruling class and use it for almost any purpose everything is all right.

ISL

Following up on my comments yesterday, I see Wikileaks as providing an important (disagreeable to some) service.

IMO, the cable authors suffered from extreme hubris and have now taken a fall. How could anyone with half-a-mind believe that a 3 million person distribution list implied forever secrets. And how could such people write anything that would be embarrassing if a hacker, or an accident (or wikileaks) revealed them?

When I need to "definiteively contradict" a colleague or a boss, I write "diplomatically!!!" to make my point as I assume mr/mrs whoever, will get it forwarded to him or her by a co-worker who doesn't like me.

Wikileaks revealed the system is broken, which has been the subject of numerous congressional inquiries since 911, and umpteen billions. Yet the motto seems to be: Don't fix, classify.

I suspect, as others here have alluded too, the chattering class are responding to the threatened wikileaks release on the FIRE industry. Enough to get the media conglomerates to focus their talking heads on Assange.

However, technology has let the cat out of the bag, and I don't see it getting back in.

As far as I can see, a country with 18% real unemployment, which printed 25% of GNP last year and barely eked out any growth, etc., so the big question, is BofAm solvent? Citibank? How many more trillions will the Fed need to print?

The beaver

Why did the State Department request for its foreign missions to identify and update "critical infrastructure" and "key resources" in countries ranging from Britain to New Zealand, the Middle East and China.?

Me thinks that it is called SPYING. Sorry but as a Canadian that's how I feel when oil and gas pipelines, hydroelectric dams, nuclear facilities, mines and several factories are on the list of supposedly security targets that could cripple the US.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

October 2020

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Blog powered by Typepad